To give you an idea of what type of vacationer I am (along with my friend): we are 21 & 22 years old and like to visit places with nice beaches. We aren't big party goers and we don't stay up late.
With that said, the Palms hotel was right on the beach, however has a little walkway with a gate to get there, I don't think any of the hotels have the sand directly as their backyard. All of the lounge chairs on the sand were free for hotel guests and for those who don't wish to come home tan: umbrellas are also there to keep you cool. They do the beverage and bar food service on the beach as well so that is really nice, but don't expect a quick delivery, even if you're sitting at the bar at the hotel... The food did seem very fresh so I'm sure that's why it took a little long, but generally it was fine. Waiting always seems harder in 90 degree humidity anyway.
As far as the location to the nightlife it's about 15-25 streets away from the heart of everything (2 miles). Walking isn't really that bad but we ended up getting a rental car just for convenience on the last day.
The staff at the Palms were mixed. One day the valet / doorman watched as we struggled up the stairs with our big bags with no offer to help, while other days the valet guys would open both doors at once just to let us in. Wasn't consistent, but not really anything to ruin my stay. Matias at the bar/lounge was very friendly at night and the dark haired waitress with glasses at the Essencia Restaurant was extremely good at her job.
Our first night we tried to get in bed around 10pm. Our neighbors however were blasting club music on their (provided) iHome which we could hear CLEARLY through our walls. We may as well have been in the room with them. We decided to call the front desk and they were very friendly about taking care of it and sent a security guy who politely asked them to keep it down. That was nice. We had quiet neighbors for the rest of our stay except for the last night. Must be some sort of bachelorette party because these girls were cackling in their rooms from 1030pm til 1245am until they left. Came back at 4am and apparently continued the party. I'm not going to be the guest who calls security multiple times on their stay, but man did I want to. The walls here, and maybe it's just these two rooms, are paper thin. I am able to sleep through plane noise, traffic, etc. and consider myself a regular sleeper, not a light sleeper, but it kept me up the entire time.
For this reason alone I would not stay in this hotel again. We just wanted to sleep! Sadly, this was just poor construction of the hotel and not the hotel employees fault.
Positives and negatives of the trip:
+ nice, clean rooms
+ house keeping turns down bed with chocolate
+ separate room for toilet and shower (was nice to have two sinks)
- no jacuzzi
+ friendly/helpful front desk
+ 20% off at restaurant
+\- construction next door: didn't actually phase us at all. Sort of just part of the background noise while we were outside, not bothersome and I don't think anyone was really annoyed by it
+ gym has iPod dock
+ pool open 24 hours
- employees all speak Spanish and are often hard to understand, keep in mind I'm from southern CA and we have plenty of Spanish speakers but trying to tell the valet I wanted overnight parking was a task.
- small portions at restaurant for big price, but yummy nonetheless
+ iHome in the room
- ironing board broken/falling apart in our room
+ nice view from room
+ free Keurig coffee maker in the room
One last thing: don't be fooled by the driveway and lobby, honestly it doesn't do the rest of the hotel justice. When we walked in we both were kind of like "oh..." And were a little disappointed because it is not as "fancy" as you'd expect. But the rooms are beautiful and pretty much everything else is really nice. The landscaping is nice in the pool area etc.
Would I recommend this to a friend? Only if that friend is a night owl and doesn't have to worry about loud neighbors. I'm not sure how a family would do in this setting but there did seem to be a good amount of families here, especially around the pool.