My wife and I stayed at the Marival Club and Suites in Nuevo Vallarta from January 15-22, 2012. We have travelled to about ten other all-inclusives throughout Cuba, the Dominican Republic and other places in Mexico, so that’s the experience we have to compare this to.
There are a couple of sides to this resort; one is the Marival Club and Suites and the other is the Grand Marival. Everyone has the same wristband and can go to the same restaurants and bars. The Grand rooms, while very similar in layout, are a little newer, are in better locations and are a bit more expensive when booking. We started out in room 220 on the third floor in the Club area, which from the balcony faces directly towards the theatre where the nightly shows take place. You are about ten metres from the roof of the theatre and from 8:30 to 10:30 you will hear it. We went to the theatre a couple of nights and it is ear-splitting inside and only slightly better when you are in room 220. Forget about going onto the balcony anytime between 8:30 and 10:30 because the noise (it’s not really entertainment at that point) is annoying. I slept with my ear plugs that night. The second night was the same as the first except that when the theatre closed at 10:30, some geniuses at the Marival decided they should have karaoke IN THE LOBBY. The layout in the Club area has probably 30 or so rooms on two levels in a circular sort of fashion with their doors opening to an open view towards the lobby. This open area funnels the noise from the ground level lobby upwards and it sounded as if the karaoke was being performed right outside your door. I called to complain and they said it would end in about 20 minutes, but that I could ask at the front desk the next morning to possibly be moved. About 45 minutes later, at 11:45, it mercifully ended and the next morning we asked for and received a room change without too much problem. We moved to a room in the 1900 area which was the same size and style but much quieter. Be aware if you are staying in the Club rooms: many are in a poor location such as the one we had.
There is one buffet restaurant and 4 a la carte restaurants. The buffet was not as good as others we have been too; it was disappointing and we expected better. A couple of highlights however were the juice and smoothie bar at breakfast and the sandwich bar at lunch. You could assemble your sandwich fillings on a plate, choose your bread and then they would grill it for you panini style if you liked. I quite enjoyed them. We liked 3 of the 4 a la cartes; the atmosphere was quite enjoyable and the food was better than at the buffets. It was a nice change to have a menu where you could actually order a salad or a soup or a dessert off the menu; at many other resorts they simply have a salad bar for the soup/salad/desserts. The lounge outside the Mexican and Italian restaurants (on the third level on the Grand side) is a lovely place to sit and have a drink and listen to soft music from the grand piano.
The a la carte reservations are released on Sunday mornings. So at 8:10 on Sunday morning (the day we arrived) I thought I would see if I could book some a la cartes for us. There were 45 people in line already (I counted), so I gave up and came back about an hour later. At that point, there were only a few people in line. They were handing out numbers on pieces of paper and we were number 38. It was about noon by the time they got to our number, but at least you didn’t have to wait there the whole time; we just keep checking in every so often. Part of the problem is that because you can go to an a la carte every night, there are a lot of requests. The other part of the problem is that they open up the reservations for the week on Sunday morning, so everyone flocks to that desk on Sunday morning. If you arrive on a Wednesday or Thursday – well - good luck getting a reservation. We were able to get a reservation for 5 of the 7 nights we were there. Considering that, we were a bit surprised to see a lot of empty tables in the a la carte restaurants. Perhaps that’s because they keep spots open for the Marival Residences and World Spa guests from just down the street or for “members” (time-share owners) who both can come here as they wish.
The resort grounds were kept clean in remarkably good shape. They were well manicured and some of the best cared-for that we have seen. The two shuffleboard surfaces were a good idea and we had an enjoyable hour or so playing on a couple of days. There is also a bocce ball court and while we didn't use it, it looked like fun.
One of the things that we liked a lot was that the resort had bicycles which were in quite good repair (unlike other resort bikes we’ve seen) so we used them nearly every day and explored the area. You can see so much more and cover so much more ground on a bicycle than by walking. They had a guy working in the place where you sign out the bikes; he makes sure the tires are properly inflated and can adjust your seat if necessary. There are bikes of various sizes so even children can go for a spin. Some bikes had child carrier seats and others have a basket on the front to carry some of your stuff.
The other thing that we enjoyed was that the pools at the resort were heated. It made it so much easier to go in for a swim. That was a definite plus for this resort. The wood-burning pizza ovens were great. I loved walking near them for the smell of the wood (pizza was good too!).
We took a bus into Puerto Vallarta one day; it cost 16 pesos and took about 45 minutes. On another day we rode our bicycles to Bucerias; it is about half an hour by bike. We felt safe at all times and wouldn’t hesitate to go off the resort again as we did nearly every day.
We had a few minor “things that don’t work” experiences. When we first went into room 220 the maid was just finishing up so we went in and started unpacking and tried our key to the door. Neither of the two keys unlocked the door even though they had “220” stamped on them (yes some of their rooms still have this antiquated entry system). A call to the front desk brought a maintenance man who spent about 45 minutes taking the doorknob off and lubricating it and putting it back together. It worked, but we kind of had to just hand around while he did his thing. When we moved to the 1900 room, we discovered that the clock couldn’t be changed from the blinking 12:00. A call to the front desk had a replacement brought up. Another small inconvenience was that the lock to the safe wouldn’t work, so we had to make a trip to the front desk to get a working one.
Checkout was a bit confusing. We were leaving the resort at 2:00 a.m. for the airport but the guy at the front desk tried to convince us we weren’t supposed to be checking out until the next day.
The mid-January weather was about 28 every day with a lot of sun, a bit of cloud some days but no rain in sight. It was around 17 overnight, so first thing in the morning you might feel like you needed a sweater but half an hour later it was comfortable again. Nice, warm, dry weather. The sand and water are nowhere near as pretty in colour as they are in the Mayan Riviera by Cancun or Playa del Carmen, but the sand was very fine so you could walk barefoot. The beach was wide and had a very gentle slope; it stretched for kilometres so you could easily walk along the beach and lots of people did that.
We quite liked the Nuevo area and we hope to return again someday. We like trying different places so we would most likely stay at a different resort but I wouldn't discourage anyone from staying at the Marival; just be wary of the Club side rooms. I would rate this resort a three and a half, so because of the rating system in place here, I will err on the positive side and give them four stars.
- Also Known As:
- Marival Hotel
- Marival Resort And Suites
- Marival Hotel Nuevo Vallarta
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Book Something Different and enjoy Something Better! Enjoy our beachfront Sun ‘n Fun Resort with nonstop activities and a wide range of dining choices- 6 restaurants, 4 specialty, 7 bars including 2 swim-ups & Martini bar. Book a Resort room, or even one to three bedroom Suites featuring living rooms and independent dining areas, balconies, terraces and oceanfront locations to spread out and enjoy a villa style vacation. Something for every taste, every age!Special Room Sizes and Locations Provide a Variety of AccommodationsDeluxe Resort Rooms. One Bedroom Suites, including Oceanfront up to 760 sq ft. Two and Three Bedroom Villa Suites, Oceanfront up to 1260 sq ft. ... more less
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