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“The Place Really Grows on You” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Samba Vallarta All Inclusive

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Samba Vallarta All Inclusive
3.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Av. costera y la playa s/n., Nuevo Vallarta 63732, Mexico (Formerly Samba Vallarta by Pueblo Bonito)   |  
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Ranked #15 of 25 Hotels in Nuevo Vallarta
Vancouver, Canada
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
73 helpful votes 73 helpful votes
“The Place Really Grows on You”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

Recently stayed at the Samba Vallarta March 9th to the 16th and wanted to post a review quickly while things are still fresh in my mind. I come to trip advisor whenever I travel and find this to be an extremely valuable resource in making my decision on where to stay when travelling. In fact my decision to stay at the Samba was in large part to prior reviews I have read here. So thanks to all of you who take the time to post there experiences. I hope my review is helpful in your decision as well! I've broken my review into segments so please feel free to skip to what you feel may be of pertinence to your concerns. I will also add that his was my first trip to the Pacific side of Mexico to help you keep my review in perhaps a better context.
Booking

Used selloff vacations for the second consecutive time and very happy with the Service. One thing I've found is its better to actually talk to an agent and have a contact person if issues arise down the road. In my case there were a couple but both were handled promptly and efficiently by Andreas. A new feature now offered is "flex" for an additional $50 per person. Much cheaper than Cancellation insurance and much easier to use if needed. No questions asked if you need to cancel your trip up to 3 hours before flight time. Depending on when you do so if needed you are either issued a full or partial refund of your package cost or full credit towards a future vacation to be used within a year of initial booking. Whatever your time frame you are covered in the event of having to cancel. A very good and affordable option. As an aside I am not payed for this endorsement nor am I in any way compensated by sell off for providing this information. It's likely offered on other sites as well I would imagine. I took it as a cheap insurance policy. You may want to consider it as well. Lastly I have learned that when your booking its best to do so minimum 4 to maximum 8 weeks before departure. This will save you money. The whole last minute booking and you'll save a bunch of money is nothing but a marketing gimmick I have found. At least in my part of the world which is the west coast of Canada.

Flight
Our carrier was Canjet and I felt they were quite good. My daughter travelled with my wife and myself on this trip and in order to save costs we went with the "cheap seats" so to speak but I still found them to be quite comfortable and roomy. I'm a pretty big guy and 5 hours sitting in anything can be a challenge to get comfortable. Having a little person in the middle probably helped but still there seemed to be a little more leg room than I have had on other carriers. In flight service was excellent. Meals were decent and hot. Bar service was prompt and there were several complimentary offerings of water, juice, pop, etc. Flight was on time with no delays both incoming and outgoing.
Arrival
We landed at Puerto Vallarta mid afternoon and chose to take a cab to the Samba rather than the bus. After a long flight the last thing I want to do is have another ride on a cramped bus while it stops at 10 or so resorts on the way. 20 USD or 310 Pesos gets you to the Samba in about 25 minutes. Money well spent in my opinion as you get there before everyone else thus avoiding the rush for room assignments upon arrival. There is a gauntlet of time share guys once you clear customs at the airport and they were a bit more aggressive than what I am used to but just blow by them. Once your outside there's no more to deal with.
Check-In
I requested upon booking ground side near the pool. We got 3rd floor. But as many of you know none of this is guaranteed via your agent. We were advised to come back the next day as many guests were leaving and they would try to accomodate our request. The next day they did get us ground side but no amount of arm twisting could get me a balcony for less than an extra 40usd a night. I was hoping I could get this for about half that. Much in the Mexican tradition I was told to come back and talk to whomever was the boss if I wanted to try and negotiate a better rate. Curiously the "boss" never seemed to be there when he was supposed to be. After a couple of tries I finally caught on. We saved the extra 280 USD and went with regular ground floor in the end. Why am I telling you this? Because if you want a balcony your not going to get a deal on one. But the Samba will try very hard to get you what you requested and payed for as they did with us in the end.
Room
Basic, but clean. King or two double beds. Flat screen TV. Others here have mentioned that the beds are hard. I didn't find that to be the case but as others have indicated bed toppers are available upon request. The Samba was built in 1992 so it is an older hotel and there are some signs of the age of the facility in the room. The toilet tank had a wooden cover rather than a porcelain one and the tank itself was aged cracked in the bowl. The shower enclosure tiling was a bit chipped here and there as well. The furnishings are somewhat dated. In short the rooms are getting close to needing some renovations. For me this was not a big deal but if your fussy on the look and appearance of your room this may be an issue for you. Air conditioner worked just fine. Not noisy at all. As far as cleanliness? Not a problem. Very clean. I did not notice any mold or mildew smell whatsoever. My main complaint on the room was there are no bar fridges. First time I have ever encountered this in Mexico. I like to always have something cold handy at all times so I didn't like this much at all. Problem was resolved after a couple of days when we went to the La Mega 10 minutes away and bought a styrofoam cooler for 60 pesos. Ice machines are located behind the pool bar and on the 3rd floor. Also to be noted is if you want cold beer, water, whatever for the room you have to buy it yourself. Again the La Mega is nearby and for a little money your set with your flat of beer, water and whatever else you may like cold in your room. There is also a small store at the resort itself with these items at a very nominal cost.
Resort
Very well maintained and clean over-all. The Samba website indicates there are 3 pools at the resort and this is sort of correct. Its actually one very large pool segregated into 3 sections. One adult orientated, one a toddler pool, and the last one best described I suppose as a childrens' pool. But it is a very large pool. I never felt crowded at all even on the weekend we were there when the hotel was nearly full. No problems at anytime of the day obtaining lounge chairs in any area. I recommend the area just left of the stairs leading down to the beach. Nice little hedge there that breaks the wind nicely. Gets a little chilly with the wind off the ocean at times. The bathroom at poolside is a little stinky as some have indicated but only when you get near it. Bathroom itself is very clean and constantly maintained so I'm not sure whats with that. I didn't find it to be too much of an issue though some others I met during my stay found it to be a bit of a problem. I never detected any odour poolside and I sat all week right above it. Just seemed to catch a "whiff" when you walked down the stairs to use the facility itself. There is a ping pong table and shuffleboard near the pool bar as well as the towel exchange. Boogie boards are available for use in the ocean. All at no cost. I think Kayaks were available as well though I'm not sure. Someone else here mentioned bikes. You'll have to check on that yourself. There's a games area on the first floor just below the lobby with pool tables and foosball tables as well you might enjoy in the evenings.


Beach

I really wasn;t sure what to expect here as I have never been to the Pacific side of Mexico. My kid Brother made his first trip to Mexico this side several years ago and he made it sound like some type of stinky murky cesspool but I was pleasantly surprised upon seeing it and don;t agree with him at all. No its not the Carribean sea but it certainly has a beauty all its own. The Beach is huge. Almost as far as the eye can see in either direction. Beautiful sand, impeccably clean. It's very nice. Not really a beach you can swim in under the water and see anything as the waves do kick up the sand constantly making the water murky but you can certainly splash around and ride boogie boards on the constant surf. Lovely beach for walking. There are vendors there but they are polite and not pushy. If you want to be left alone they will not hassle you at all trying to make a sale. I spent more time at the pool as my wife prefers that but this is a beautiful beach that I would certainly enjoy if I could have dragged her away from the pool. There are plenty of loungers and palapas to go around and it never felt crowded at all when I was down there sometimes on my own. The Carribean may be prettier but it certainly is more crowded than the beach at the Samba.


Bars

There are 3 bars on site. By the pool, in the lobby and near the dining area. The pool bar closes around 6pm. The lobby bar is open until 1am and the dining bar closes around 11pm. All the bars are well staffed, I never waited long for a drink at any of them. As an added bonus they actually serve Pacifico bottled beer which isn't great but a lot better than beer on tap which is what I have usually encountered on my various trips to Mexico. Brand name spirits are available upon request and if you treat your bartender well you will only have to ask once if thats what you prefer. Several tequilas are available. I recommend the one with the picture of the deer on the label. Avoid the Goat label if at all possible. Again treat your bartender well and you'll only have to ask once and they all seem to know what you like to drink. Special guys to watch for in the Bars are Fermin, Bruno, and Martin. All wonderful guys. Great sense of humour all of them who'll more than oblige you with a good conversation if they have the time to spare during there busy working time.

Service

What can I say? Excellente! From the front desk, the bartenders, the waiters, the food service people. All of them. The best I have ever encountered in my several trips to Mexico. And I've had some very good service throughout all of my stays in this wonderful country. Special thanks again to the individuals I've already mentioned plus also to Salvador and Ricardo who never let my drink stay empty long enough at poolside before asking me if I wanted another one. I spent most of my time poolside but met people on the beach itself who said the same thing. These guys were always hustling to make sure you were well attended to. I only got to know the bartenders on the first couple of days because I assumed I had to get up and walk to the bar for a drink. Special thanks also to Angel at the front desk. Bellhop extraordinaire! From getting our room changed over 'Ariba'! to getting us a van for 13 people to go to dinner on 10 minutes notice at 7pm one evening. If it needed doing this young man got it done.

Fellow Travellers

Lot of Canadians at this resort. And a lot of locals as well. Particularly on the weekends when they travel in from Guadalahara, Mexico City and other parts of the country for a weekend retreat. Did not meet any folks from the States other than one very nice Gentleman from Chicago my last day there. I'm mentioning this as much of what I enjoy when I travel to Mexico is the people I have the pleasure of getting to know for my week away from it all. You may too. To my understanding this is typical of this resort year round. Canadians, Mexicans, a few Americans and I should mention a fair amount of young children and families over all. I like Canadians as I am one (excepting people from Calgary and Toronto as they are Flames and Leaves fans) Mexicans and Americans are alright too. But you may not like this mix so I thought I would mention it for your consideration so you can choose accordingly if this is an important aspect of your vacation. Or not.


Entertainment

The Samba was different in what I have experienced as far as entertainment in other resorts I have stayed at in Mexico. On previous visits to the country there has always been a large anamacion crew of young people who provided the daily activities as well as most of the night time entertainment. The Samba was different in that there was only one person who encouraged people to get involved with water aerobics or volleyball during the day. I somewhat missed not having a crew of young people at first as I have always enjoyed getting to know these young people at other resorts whom I have found to be very talented, witty, and interesting young people from all parts of Mexico, South & Central America or even Canada. Some of them my wife still is in contact with via social media. The Samba however had nightly entertainment brought in for evening shows. One one occasion an excellent traditional dance troupe and on 2 other occasions a band of musicians playing traditional Mexican Music. On another night there was Karaoke with the one entertainment fellow on staff. In the end it was different that what I'm used to but still enjoyable and entertaining over-all. Though I did still prefer the bonds and friendships I made with an entertainment crew prior moreso. Perhaps this is just the way they do things on the Pacific side of the Country? I don't know this just being my first time to this side of the country. Still over-all the entertainment was enjoyable.

Dining

I've left this bit to the last as it was the only real negative I found during my stay at the Samba. We ate daily at the Buffet and in all honesty I can only give it a passing grade. In the reviews I've read I've seen "excellent" right down to "horrible". I'm in the middle here. The food certainly wasn't inedible but it suffered from a lack of variety and quality over-all. I might add that I'm not a fussy eater by any means. Pretty much a meat and potatoes kind of guy. For breakfast I have eggs with something. So breakfast was just fine. Though cut up weiners can never pass for breakfast sausage. Lunch and particularly Dinner buffet went further downhill from there. On our last night there I felt the need to go into Bucerias for dinner. In my prior 5 trips to Mexico I've never felt that wherever I've stayed. The last time I felt that way was in Cuba. And if you've been to Cuba you'll know what I'm talking about here. Thought it wasn't quite as bad as that. Just not as good as anywhere else I've ever stayed in Mexico and I always stay at smaller 4 star resorts when there. The poolside snack bar was okay. Though if you do try a burger be sure and load it up with enough stuff so you can;t actually taste the meat itself. There's plenty of those great Nacho chips with Guacomole and that wonderful salsa that the Mexican people make. Also some good salads. So you'll definitley survive and won't starve to death. Just don;t expect to be wowed by the dinners in particular at the buffet. You won;t starve but bring a few extra pesos to eat off site during your stay. You may feel the "need" as I did. The ala cartes I can;t comment on as I skipped both of them. In talking to other guests I got reviews ranging from horrible to great. You'll have to see for yourself.

Communcations

Wi-Fi service was excellent throught the Hotel. Very important to me as I need to be in touch back home on a continual basis for business purposes. No need to use the internet cafe. Bring whatever you have and it will work well for whatever you need it to. A big plus for me.

Other Stuff

Bucerias is really close by. 20 to 40 minute walk along the beach depending upon whom you talk too or 10 minutes by cab for 65 pesos. I didn;t see any of the town itself other than the flea market due to my cranky 11 year old daughter whom wasn't feeling good that day. The flea market itself is quite an experience. If you don;t like aggressive merchants you may want to take a pass on this. And when I say aggressive I don;t mean in a threatening way. Just that its a very cramped place and someone is hawking something in one ear while someone is doing the same in your other ear. Little more than what I'm used too in Mexico but after 5 minutes I was into it pretty much. I'm in sales for a living so I get the spirit so to speak pretty quickly. Whatever they're asking if your interested offer half and go from there. I got some pretty good deals on gear for back home in the end. Both in Bucerias as well as the vendors on the Beach. Did an evening trip into Puerto Vallarta through Nolitours. Bit of a jaunt from this resort. I'd say about 40 minutes to the Malecon which is the Tourist district in the downtown area. Interesting area but a bit on the busy side for me. And as I say a fair ways to go to get there. I asked one of the bartenders how crazy things would be in a week with spring break. He told me not at all. The Samba would be busier he told me but not with College Kids. They stay closer to Puerto. So if you like to be closer to the "action" the Samba may not be the resort for you. You may want to stay in Puerto or at least closer to it.


Conclusions

The Samba is a nice Family orientated Resort. Over-All its a nice resort to stay at. It's rated as a 4 star but I would peg it more as a solid 3.5. Based on both the condition of the facility as well as the food service. Still it has an ambience about it and a "feel" that kind of grows on you. I found myself doing a lot of comparison evaluation based on other 4 star resorts I have stayed at in Mexico in the Mayan Riviera. Which is probably not fair. It fell short in some areas particulary food but it made up in other areas particularly in service and in atmosphere. After a few days there I started to evaluate it more on its own special qualities rather than on other experiences I have had elsewhere in Mexico. Would I stay at the Samba again? Yes I would. It was a very affordable vacation for myself, my wife and my daughter. And I have to take that into account here in my summary. No the food wasn't as good as other places I have stayed but it was also very child friendly with a great rate for adding my daughter on. The best I could find when I was looking for a family vacation in this area. The same vacation in the Mayan Riviera would have cost me likeley 500 to 700 more CAD. I will look at the Samba again next year. I'll just bring along a few more pesos in case I feel the "need" to go for dinner off site a couple of evenings during my stay. Still be further ahead and still will have a wonderful vacation. My last comment is if your priorites are bright and shiny with gourmet food service the Samba is likely not your resort. Also if you want to be close to the "action" probably best to get a little closer to Puerto itself unless your okay with long cab rides. So there's my review! I hope you find it helpful in choosing your vacation destination now and in the future.

Room Tip: ground near the pool if you like to be close to everything
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SAMBA V, Director General at Samba Vallarta All Inclusive, responded to this review, March 28, 2013
We really thank you for has chosen us to spend your vacation at this your home samba vallarta also we thank you for sharing your experience regarding your stay, we are so happy it was a pleasant one. The guest feedback are very motivating for all of us to continue offering the best. The facilities and quality service of our friendly staff have positioned the property as an attractively priced, intimate, family-oriented option and make us a favorite for vacationers. We hope you continue being one of our most valued guests at this your home “Samba Vallarta Hotel”
The General Manager
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (126)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Calgary
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
56 helpful votes 56 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

Family of 4 (boys 5 and 10) travelled with Air Transat from Calgary on March 9th for a week. This was our 5th trip to PV. We have stayed at the Jalisco and Decameron in the last 2 yrs. We paid the extra for a balcony room and had asked for pool view at the time of booking. We got a 4th floor room facing the RIU Jalisco resort. We tried to change rooms the first couple of days but kept getting told there were no rooms. Its was not noisy facing the RUI so we ended up staying put. Room was cleaned very well each day and boys looked forward to the towel art left every day. Everything worked in the room, excellent shower pressure, comfy beds and pillows. Our room did not smell musty. The safe was the biggest we have ever had in 14 trips south.

The resort gets very busy on the weekends with many Mexican families but was fairly quiet Monday to Thursday. The grounds, pools and beach were constantly being cleaned. They have bicycles you can use but they were too big for our 5 yr old, so we didn't take them out. A few couples we met had used the bikes and rode them to Paradise Village (they wished they had brought a lock to lock them up while they explored on foot).

Very friendly staff, the service was good whether we tipped or not (we always did). The bartenders always remembered our choice of drinks. The security guards around the pool area always seemed to have a watchful eye on our youngest son (he is very independent and likes to wander!).

The beach was sandy, no rocks and went both directions for miles. They have kayaks but they are single seaters and our kids weren't old enough to kayak by themselves. The bartenders will serve you on the beach and around the pool. The beach washrooms do stink outside but never smelled inside. The resort has a shuffle board, ping pong tables, basketball, badminton, etc. Our 5 yr old did some of the kids club activities on the last 2 days with Delicia. She was awesome with the kids. Our older son took part in the soccer and volleyball games on the beach and water polo in the pool.

The food at the buffet was always hot and we found enough to eat. It wasn't the best food we've had nor was it the worst. There are theme nights each night at the buffet. The food in the steamers at the sanck bar was always cold unless you got it right when they refilled it. They need some other means to keep the food warm at the snack bar. I agree with others by getting rid of the chicken nuggets and rubbery pizza. We did both ala carte's and found the service excellent at both. We liked the Italian one better than the Mexican.

If you are an early riser like me you usually can get coffee to go at the buffet by 5 am or by the upstairs lobby bar. We always pack bigger insulated mugs for bar drinks but never used them as the cups weren't the usually tiny size.

I did use the gym (free weights and machine weights) and the equipment was in good shape.

The bus stop is right outside the resort which was handy for our usual trip into PV for the day. The Mega store is also with in walking distance or a $4-6 US cab ride each way. The Mega store used to exchange Canadain money but not any more. The Samba has a bank machine outside and the front counter will exchange Canadian money. We did not use either. The best rate for Canadian money exchange we found all week was at the Grocery store in the Paradise Village Mall.

Would we stay there again.......Yes, if the price was right.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Prince George, Canada
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

Lets be clear from the get go that this is not a glamorous resort BUT it is still a great vacation place and all the reviews about the service is true.It is also true that there is no towel game there. We always found a great spot on the beach with shade and also true at the pool. The drink service on the beach is the best and Salvador is back to refresh your drink at regular intervals, definetly not a hit and miss thing. location is great. Lots to do close by without spending a fortune. One great afternoon we borrowed bicycles and had a great time riding all over nuevo. It is true that the food here is not fabulous in the buffet but there is alway something to eat and if your aren't happy with that you can take a nice walk to Bucerias and have geat meal at Karen's or some other restaurant for a change. Not many vendors bothering you and the beach is fabulous. Lovely clean grounds, pool is heated, Only 180 rooms so not much waling involved on the resort pretty convenient.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

We were looking for one week of sun and relaxation. Spent every day on the beach swimming and body surfing. Food was ok - nothing great, but acceptable - I had nausea all week, but I'm sensitive. Staff were very good! - professional and always polite.

Midsize, comfortable hotel. Highlights for us were the upgrade to the two room suite and the beach. I would have liked slightly larger waves for the boogie board, but I can't complain too much - swimming in the ocean was great! The water was a bit murky but otherwise seemed clean and the temperature was good.

Wifi reception was pretty good - I could surf the net while on the beach.

Met some interesting people. Appreciated that there was a good mix of Mexican with the predominantly Canadian crowd (especially on the weekends).

Would I go back - maybe or maybe not. However, overall there was more positive than negative.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with a view of the pool.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pembroke, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2013

My wife and I enjoyed our stay at Samba during March break. the staff really do make this resort. We have stayed at many different star rated resorts ranging from 3 to 5 star in 5 different counties and have never had such great staff. it is evident that the staff are very happy with their employer. We would like to make special mention of five out-standing staff. Reyes, the waiter in the Buffet, and Salvador, Roberto, Fermin and Andres, who worked as bartenders and wait staff.
The ala carte restaurant was excellent and we went 3 different nights, Mexican, Italian and then the Mexican night again. The restaurant was not too busy while we were there, so we could have eaten at the ala cartes every night if we wanted to. You could always find something to please at the buffet.
Our room was on the first floor on the Riu Resort side. It was not a fantastic room, but we didn't spend alot of time there. You could hear the entertainment from the Riu til about 11 pm.
If we went again, I would book a balcony room on the pool side.
The beach was one of the best we have been to...you can walk for miles and the boogie boarding was fun.
There seemed to be alot of native Mexicans staying at the Samba, which we enjoyed, as the Mexican people are among the most friendly and affectionate people we have every had the pleasure to meet.
If there was anything that could be improved, it would be the reception desk. One of our friends wanted to change her room, and reception was not very accomodating, and there was seemed to be a language barrier with the ladies that worked there. Rosario managed to change her room eventually, but not without numerous visits to the front desk. Also, the vendors were numerous on the beach, but were not overly persistent.
All in all, hats off to Samba, a great small-sized resort.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Comox, Canada
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2013

As always there are pluses and minuses. I wasn't expecting a luxury hotel, and that is not what Samba Vallarta is. Overall, though, I would go back.

The food, I thought, was excellent in the buffet. They're not afraid of spice, and there was lots of flavour. Breakfast was great - omelet bar as well as a fresh quesadilla station. Bacon is at the omelet bar, which I didn't discover until the second week. Otherwise you're looking at wieners for breakfast meat. But, lox and bagels every day, lots of fresh fruit, salsas, eggs, and chiliaquiles. The pancakes, french toast, and waffles are a definite miss.

We ate lunch at the beach bar mostly. They have a burger grill and pizza. The burgers were good.There is also usually guacamole in the fridge (ask at the burger bar) and different kinds of ceviche and chips are also available. The ceviche was really good.

Dinner was a different theme every night. Mexican night was fantastic. The other nights were also quite good, although they changed the rules on the beach barbecue from one week to the next, leaving us looking for dinner one Tuesday and then, having thought we knew our way around the next Tuesday, finding that we didn't have the required reservation.

Bar selection was excellent, as were the staff. The buffet staff seemed a little disorganized. Rather than having assigned tables, it appeared that the staff would just help the people at whichever table happened to be nearest, which meant that some meals we had extremely attentive service and other meals not so much.

The a la carte restaurants were ok. Food was fine, but not that much above the regular buffet in quality. On one occasion at the Italian a la carte, the waiter was trolling for a tip before I had even finished my coffee, which I found very distasteful, having planned to tip as I was leaving, which is my usual practice.

The room was clean, although there was a musty smell near the doorway which was unnoticeable anywhere else in the room. The AC worked well, as did everything else in the room (well, I can't speak for the TV - didn't turn it on at all). I would have liked a fridge and coffee maker in the room though, and there was none, although there seemed to be a spot for a fridge. I would gladly trade the TV for a fridge. We had a balcony room facing the Riu resort at the end of the hotel nearest the beach. It was quiet and comfortable.

The beach was spectacular and there was always room under a palapa. Boogie boards were always available and there were no time limits. I did find the water activities guys less than useful. They were never near the beach hut, and I tried repeatedly to get a kayak but was unable to do so most of the time because there was no staff there. Eventually someone was there and showed no interest whatsoever in assisting us other than tossing us a couple of mangy lifejackets pulled at random from a rack. My girlfriend's jacket was way too big for her and mine smelled like urine. I would have told the staff that, but they were nowhere in sight when we returned the kayaks.

I would definitely go back to this resort, provided that the price stays reasonable. I care more about the beach, the food and the beer than the room, as long as my room is clean and comfortable. If you are the sort of person who wants luxury accommodations though, this is not the place for you.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hudson, Wisconsin
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

My sister and I enjoyed a week at the Samba in January. As reported by many others, the staff is by far the best I've had the pleasure of meeting. Shout out to Ernesto, who was the first person to greet us and made sure our dining experiences were exceptional. The property is older, which is what may keep some Americans away. My only issues were the beach/pool bathrooms, which because of their location close the beach, have a problem with proper sewer ventilation, despite the facilities being cleaned often. The manager indicated they are aware of this problem and hope to build a new bathroom facility in the near future. The other issue was that the a/c vents in our room needed a good cleaning, which would cut down on the mildewy smell common in many tropical resorts. We stuck Bounce dryer sheets in them, which helped a lot.

The pluses definitely outweighed the minuses for me! We love to spend time on the beach and look for a resort with palapas and plenty of room to roam. We walked a lot and I'd say the Samba had the best beach, with plentiful palapas. The grounds, pool and beach were constantly being cleaned/groomed and are very nice. The pool was really big for the number of rooms at the resort and there were always chairs available at the pool or under a palapa. I was told by one of the beach vendors that he worked with/for? Samba, resulting in very few sales pitches, and pleasant encounters. The activities crew has bicycles for guests to enjoy, although a lot of people weren't aware of this extra. I highly recommend riding down to Paradise Village (take a right out of the resort) and planning it for a weekend, when there's less vehicular traffic.

The food at the buffet and specialty restaurants was very good, but the beach restaurant fare could be improved...we only ate there once, on the day we arrived. The food at the buffet was always hot and plentiful and there was plenty of variety for us, especially with all the fresh fruits and vegetables. The staff even made us fresh guacamole! Wait and bartending staff are very grateful for tips and are very deserving of them.

I would definitely recommend a room on the 3rd or 4th floor, facing the pool, which will afford you with a view of the ocean as well. We didn't find the outdoor activity to be noisy. Also, if your bed is too hard, ask for a topper that makes all the difference.

We took the bus into downtown Puerto Vallarta and enjoyed the Malecon (a pedestrian walkway with street performers and shops). We felt safe the entire time. We took a taxi back, and they are plentiful right off the Malecon.

Important to consider if this is your first trip to the Puerto Vallarta area, be sure to book in the Nuevo Vallarta resort area, if walking the beach is important to you. The downtown PVR area is rocky and you can't walk very far on the beach. The Samba sits on 12-miles of gold flecked beach!

If you're looking for a relaxing and affordable vacation and don't need a five star room, I'd recommend the Samba Vallarta.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Samba Vallarta All Inclusive

Address: Av. costera y la playa s/n., Nuevo Vallarta 63732, Mexico (Formerly Samba Vallarta by Pueblo Bonito)
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Pacific Coast > Nayarit > Riviera Nayarit > Nuevo Vallarta
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#11 Family Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
#13 Top resorts Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
#13 On the Beach Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Samba Vallarta All Inclusive 3.5*
Number of rooms: 183
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Samba Vallarta All Inclusive Hotel Nuevo Vallarta
Samba Vallarta Pueblo Bonito
Hotel Samba Vallarta
Samba Vallarta Hotel

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