We upgrade from the Mayan Palace (you can read my review over there to see how we got to this point) and I'm glad we did.
We are owners in another timeshare company, so I never expected ocean views or first class service that I get from my own hotels. When we arrived at the Grand Mayan, it was from initial check in from the Mayan Palace and things weren't quick or smooth, but eventually all the information was transferred over and we received our bracelets, made a reservation for the timeshare presentation (which we were compelled to follow through with since they upgraded us from a gutted hotel) and made our way to our 3rd floor room - facing the Santuarium. It took HOURS for us to get our luggage delivered to our room, so if I could do anything different, that would be it. By the time we had our luggage (so we could change into vacation clothes from our Seattle-cold-weather-travel-clothes) it was too late to hit any restaurant for food. I don't know why it took hours to get luggage across the parking lot, but I'll tell you it wasn't a one-time mixup. When we checked out at 10am, they stored our luggage to have it waiting for us at the curb at 1:30pm (does it take 3 hours to get luggage across the complex) and they STILL took 45 minutes beyond that. Next time we'll just transport our luggage ourselves.
The Santuarium was awesome. It's an open air entertainment center with drinks and entertainment. Singers, dancers, piano players, sax players, sand artists - it changes every night and is a GREAT way to experience something new without it costing a dime! You can dance if you want or just sit back and watch the entertainment. The Johnny Depp character was hilarious and funny to talk to.
The resort is fabulous and if you get a chance to upgrade from the Mayan Palace you will NOT be disappointed. We were there the first week of January and we heard the pools were cold, but they weren't bad at all. Interestingly enough, if you start at the swim up bar..it's kinda of chilly. But when you walk the pool all the way to the kids/family pool, it gets warmer and warmer. Try all the pools, you won't be disappointed. We never had a hard time finding a place to sit because there are seats everywhere. The grounds are beautiful but it took me 5 days of walking it before I wasn't completely lost. Not that it matters, walking around is worth the trip. It is not a resort for the disabled, since you have to walk everywhere and no place is close by another. But we are young and active and we loved exploring the landscape.
The wave pool is for kids. It's 4 feet deep at it's deepest, but if you want something easier than the waves on the ocean, this is great. The water slide looks simple, but it's surprisingly fun to go down on inner tubes. The lazy river is as great as everyone says and it's the real reason why we upgraded.
The food is expensive and I didn't eat a single thing that made me think it was worth the price. In fact, after snacking on nachos one afternoon, we both felt so icky and heavy that we didn't even attempt to eat dinner that night. The last night we were there, we decided to eat at the Italian place right by the main entrance, and one bottle of wine and an entry that we split ran us over $50. Honestly..not worth it. And what is with the price of wine in Mexico? Crazy.
Happy hour is from 11-1 only (at the inner pools) and 12-2 at the beach. Considering a daquiri costs $8 normally, this is the only time it's reasonable to order drinks here.
So do what we did: (and it's sneaky but smart). We went to the grocery store (which I can't remember the name of, but the taxi drivers know and it's a block in front of Walmart. Awesome place) and bought all our alcohol and mixers for super cheap. We packed an insulated shopping bag from the states - filled it with ice from the ice machine and took our drinks secretly to the beach and pools. We mixed, for example, rum and cokes in a coke bottle so it looked like soda. Then we saved any plastic cups (they serve the same ones from all the bars in the resort) and just refilled those from our supply. Super cheap and nobody really cared.
We rather like bargaining with beach vendors, but these ones are all hired by the Mayan complex and they work out of the beach flea market. You aren't going to be able to haggle too much with them, but they are fun in their own way. I lost my sunglasses in the waves and had to buy a new pair. Then we bought a personalized band to hold them on my head from one of the vendors. He was so nice and sat and talked to us while he made my name on the band, and we learned some useful spanish words.
The rooms are gorgeous and the housekeeping is amazing. We had a one bedroom that had the dipping pool on the deck, but it never got any sun and it was cold so we never really used it. Our view over the Santuarium was just fine. It let us know when the music was starting and time to get moving!! The walk to the taxis, etc is long if you aren't active. The beds are hard. REALLY hard. We never have a problem sleeping on vacations because we are active and tired at the end of the day, but these were really some of the most uncomfortable we found. Maybe it was the pillows? We took some spare ones out from the livingroom and they were a little better. Also: you can hear the neighbors just fine (or more accurately...they can hear YOU, if you know what I mean). Maybe it's the marble that bounces sound around. The doors slamming from the next door or across the hall units are quite audible as well. It's not horrible, but we put extra towels along the bottom of the doors connecting next door and the main door to the hallway. It helped a TON.
We also used the city bus to get into the Malecon which is fantastic and about 50 cents/person each way. FAR better than the $35 taxi ride you'd take. However, you have to walk alllll the way to the Sea Gardens and you can't do that through the resort. You have to take the street. It's a bit of a wait, but if you're saving money, the bus is the way to go. Make sure you look for "centro" and "DIRECTO" on the bus otherwise you'll be on that thing for about 2 hours. You'll know you found the right bus stop when there are more gringos than nationals.
We went through the presentation and we expected awful things. It wasn't so bad, really. They called me 3 times (in the morning) to make sure we were going and that was annoying, but not unexpected.
I didn't turn over my credit card and I stuck to my guns that I was NOT buying and there was nothing they could do to break me out of my current timeshare with another company. It took a solid 4 hours and sometimes it felt sketchy as we moved through 6 different people. But in the end, we kept our upgrade , we got a measly 10% discount on our bill and we never got bothered again. We never had plans to buy, so we both approached the presentation in a humorous way (let's see what pitches they'll try..) and we didn't have any other plans that day. Not a big deal.
I would honestly stay at this resort again. At one point in the presentation, they made us sign a promise (since we weren't buying) to not return again in 5 years which I found amusing. Are they really going to deny our business? Maybe they will..we'll try in Cancun or something :)
We enjoyed every moment of the pool, the beach (it wasn't easy to find a chair, but then again, this is January and maybe that's why) and the Santuarium. I wouldn't eat at any of the restaurants if I can avoid it unless you have a bunch of money to spare. The bellboys are great for suggestions on where to eat in town. We also spent a day in Bucerias which is a cute place but if you think the flea market in downtown Puerto Vallarta is bad...this place will drive you crazy. Also, look out for the guy who has a mirror on the ground pointing up under women's skirts. Make a game out of seeing if you can find him. He's there.
Bucerias is high pressure and small, so don't plan on a whole day. The food is great, though and it was worth the taxi trip.
I would return. I would love to bring the kids next time because they'd love the pools.
- Also Known As:
- Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta Hotel Nuevo Vallarta
- Wyndham Nuevo Vallarta
- Grand Mayan Resort Nuevo Vallarta
- Grand Mayan Puerto Vallarta