I do not mean any harm by this review, I would just like to post this as a warning/tip to future Puerto/Nuevo Vallarta tourists and constructive criticism of the Mayan Palace that hopefully hotel management will take into consideration to better their establishment. So I will be outlining a list of detailed pros and cons.
1. OVERCHARGING: I get that this is a tourist destination and people will always try to find a way to squeeze as much as they can out of you but this was OVERBOARD. This hotel charges for literally everything, it would not be an exaggeration to say that they charge for breathing. While most hotels offer a complimentary safe box to keep important documents such as passports and cash, the Mayan Palace charges for the use of such safe boxes. That is pretty ridiculous because almost every foreign tourist is going to need to use it. Also, if you have one of the more expensive rooms that feature a kitchenette, make sure to clean up and don't leave any dirty dishes. They CHARGE if you leave a dirty kitchen which is also pretty ridiculous. Next, at the Santuario, this place where there are shows and family entertainment at night, they charge you for SITTING. Do not sit on the chairs if you don't think you'll stay long, just sit on the less comfortable wooden platforms or on the floor. NOT worth paying $5 USD for each person that sits. Finally, WARNING!!!! Do NOT connect to their wi-fi!!! They charge about $100 USD a week for each device that connects to their Wi-Fi. Honestly, it is cheaper to just turn off your phone altogether because there were also weird room charges for sending texts and receiving/making calls. Management, if you want happier guests stop charging for everything!
2. NIGHTLIFE/HOURS OF OPERATION: Mexico, especially its tourist destinations, is known for its nightlife. However, this resort missed the memo. While they have TRIED to have some kind of nightlife with the Santuario, which is mostly just lounging and family entertainment like sand art, traditional dancers, and singers and a bar, there is no real nightlife. Honestly, the shows were pretty boring and we always left 20 minutes after arriving. I would have really liked to see some kind of club or nightlife for younger people like older teens and young adults, or maybe a place to dance and socialize. There should be fiestas and exciting, lively events, maybe something at the beach, but there was nothing at all. Also, there were no activities for children at night at all. In fact, their hours of operation were extremely frustrating. For example, the pool closed at 9pm, which to be honest was a total bummer. It would be great if the pool could be open until late hours because there isn't anything else to do at night! Also, the only grocery store for miles is at "The Plaza" a shopping center in the Mayan Palace and that too closed very early. Extremely inconvenient when we needed water and other essentials.
3. LACK OF FACILITIES: The Mayan Palace is in a resort that includes about four other hotels: the Grand Luxxe, the Grand Bliss, The Grand Mayan, and the Sea Gardens. The Mayan Palace, very obviously, is the bottom two of the five hotels. This is because their facilities are very, very minimal and limited. The Mayan Palace pool is very unimpressive and barely anyone actually goes. What was really frustrating though was that the top three hotels, the Luxxe, the Bliss, and the Grand Mayan, could use each other's incredible pool facilities (we're talking lazy rivers, swim-up bars, water slides, and wave pools) but Mayan Palace guests were NOT allowed to use the other hotels' facilities even though the more high-end hotel guests were allowed to come use the Mayan Palace pool (I don't see why they would want to, to be honest). Guests were essentially "segregated" by these wrist bands that let everyone know what hotel they were coming from and it determined what facilites you could use and in the Mayan Palace guests' case, most often could NOT use.
4. TIMESHARE SELLERS: In order for our family to get access to Grand Mayan pool facilities for three days we had to attend a timeshare breakfast. We are already part of RCI so we've been through this B.S. before. Let me tell you, these sellers were RUTHLESS. They originally told us the breakfast would be 90 minutes max but it ended up being about 5 hours long. When one guy couldn't convince us, they would send another one.....and another one.....and yet another one. The timeshare guy was vicious and got into several arguments with our family. They were very attacking even though they put on this persona that they are not. After we finally refused their offers, the guy was livid....it was extremely uncomfortable. The Grand Mayan facilites were worth it but if you are faint of heart, I would not suggest going to one of these breakfasts.
5. CONSTRUCTION: Depending on when you come and what room you stay at, you might hear the enchanting little sound of jackhammers and drills. Apparently Mayan Palace has been under construction for quite awhile now. However, to be honest it wasn't a big deal to us. We only heard itfor 10 minutes every day, but some guests might find it a disturbance, so just a warning.
6. AMBIENCE: It didn't really feel like we were in Mexico with our surroundings. The architecture of the hotel is very simple and unfaithful to traditional Mexican and Puerto Vallarta architecture. It was just PLAIN. If you want a cool experience, go into the Grand Mayan lobby, that was pretty amazing but that was as far as we got into ancient Mexican culture.
1. THE STAFF: The Mexican people, in general, you'll find, are extremely helpful, genuine, and uncommonly friendly (unless they're timeshare sellers). One of the best qualities of this hotel, and I would say of Mexico in general, is that the staff was so nice, sweet, caring, attentive, and friendly. Every single time we walked by, they would greet us and ask how we were doing. The resort also has a very convenient service where the staff drives guests around in golf carts to get to other hotels, restaurants, or the Santuario. They're always very helpful and go out of their way to get you to your destination.
2. CLEANLINESS: If you are clean freak, this hotel will seem immaculate to you. The walkways, the bridges, the rooms, the lobbies, and every facility are extremely clean. Staff are constantly cleaning, sweeping, and mopping and that's definitely a plus.
3. THE ROOMS: The rooms are spacious, clean, organized and come with flat screen TV's, balconies, big bathrooms, a kitchenette (depending on which room you get and it comes with a mini fridge, an electric stove, a toaster, a microwave, and plates, cups, and utensils), sofa beds, a dining table, and comfortable beds. Most people just go to their hotel room to sleep but we stayed in it for hours at a time because it was very relaxing and comfortable.
4. AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION: It's lovely that we got free transportation from the airport to the hotel in an air-conditioned shuttle.
5. LANDSCAPE: while it didn't look traditionally Mexican as mentioned before, it doesn't mean the place wasn't beautiful. The landscape was pretty incredible as the hotel is sitting on some kind of swamp or lake (which has crocodiles but are rarely seen so now worries!). The landscape really made you feel like you were walking in the middle of the rainforest and the trees and plants are stunning.
Now a list of TIPS to enjoy your visit at Puerto Vallarta:
1. You will be faced with a daunting task the minute you get off the airplane: THE TIMESHARE DEPARTMENT. There is LITERALLY a room you have to pass to exit the airport that is full of timeshare sellers. BEWARE and please, please, please do not fall for it. Puerto Vallarta is KNOWN for its timeshare and activity solicitors so it's pretty much wherever you go. They tend to target young families and seniors, which is just sad. All I did was pretend to sniff them and went, "Smells like scam."
2. Take the City Tour that the resort offers. If you're disappointed with the unimpressive, uninviting beach in front of the Mayan Palace then you'll be introduced to beautiful hidden beaches all around Puerto Vallarta that you can come back to later. I highly recommend the Mismaloya Beach, it has warm, clear water, and is absolutely beautiful. Back to the City Tour, you'll be able to explore downtown Vallarta including the stunning Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral, drive up the Sierra Madre Mountains, enjoy a delicious lunch at a restaurant in the middle of the rainforest and a river (super cool, bring a camera!), go to a tequila factory and try six different types of tequila, and learn a lot about the area through a friendly guide. Tours are offered in Spanish or English, though if you speak both, I suggest the Spanish tour, just feels more authentic.
3. FOOD: while the resorts' collection of restaurants is impressive, they're all extremely expensive. I highly, highly suggest that you take a taxi to the local Walmart and stock up on everything you need there. It costs about $6-$8 USD for the ride and it's definitely worth it. If you have the room with the kitchen you can store foods like meat and milk and make yourself a nice meal instead of spending exorbitant amounts of money on the restaurant food around the area.
4. EXCHANGING MONEY: I don't think I saw one place that accepted American dollars, so make sure to exchange at least $200 to pesos so that you'll have enough spending cash when you go out downtown or anywhere else in the area. The Mayan Palace has a pretty crappy exchange rate so you might want to try another "caja de cambios" downtown where the rates are much more reasonable.
5. BRING INSECT REPELLENT AND SUNSCREEN: I suffered with 20+ bug bites as is expected of any tropical location. What most people don't seem to realize though is that Puerto Vallarta is REALLY tropical, very heavy rainforest and of course a lot of biting bugs and insects. So BRING insect repellent and apply generously. Also, the weather is something most people have probably never encountered unless they live in the deep South or a place like Florida. Coming from California, we did not realize the humidity and the heat was so extreme. We're used to 70-85 degree weather but this is a whole other level. On average, the heat was 90+ and the humidity did not make it better. It does rain every single day, but usually only at night and it lasts only about an hour (there will usually be lighting and thunderstorms but this is usually only from June to November).
6. Slip off your Mayan Palace bracelet when you go out of the resort because the locals know about the bracelet system and WILL target you if they see you are wearing one. By targeting, I meant they'll try to sell you a timeshare or a ridiculously priced activity like scuba diving or snorkeling.
7. PLAN AHEAD: If you want to do anything exciting, which is going to cost ALOT of money (for example, the infamous "Vallarta Adventures" costs $100+ per person for almost every activity they offer), make sure to plan it BEFORE you arrive to Mexico. It's hard to set anything up last minute and you'll probably get ripped off if you try to set anything up while you're there. For cheaper activities I definitely recommend Mismaloya Beach and the surrounding areas which you can get to on the city bus (it is blue and says "Mismaloya" on the front of it). There you can find Vallarta Zoo, which is interesting and unlike any American zoo, yet heartbreaking if you're an animal lover or activist, I would stay away if you define yourself as such. Also you can take a boat ride for around $40-$50 for the whole boat to Los Arcos Marine National Park and feed tropical fish or scuba dive and snorkel for an extra charge. The ocean is beautiful and very clear and it was fun. You can go shopping and exploring in "El Centro", or downtown, where you can find a huge array of restaurants including American ones like McDonald's and a Buffalo Wings restaurant, but also a big selection of traditional Mexican cuisine. I suggest going on a Sunday and staying for the huge Fiesta they have every Sunday Night at the plaza a few blocks in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral.
I hope any future Puerto Vallarta travelers found this review helpful and I really hope that the Mayan Palace Management will take some of my suggestions into consideration.
- Also Known As:
- Mayan Palace Nuevo Vallarta Hotel Nuevo Vallarta
- Wyndham Nuevo Vallarta
- Nuevo Vallarta Mayan Palace
- Mayan Palace Resort