My wife and I just returned from 9 wonderful nights from Secrets Maroma Beach feeling rested and pampered. We spent months spent eagerly anticipating our trip (and reading Tripadvisor reviews) and we were not disappointed.
From being greeted upon arrival (I didn't think the drive in was nearly as bad as some have mentioned) by a team of staff to having several staff come up to us during our last few hours there to bid us farewell, I can honestly say that I have never stayed anywhere where the staff have left such a lasting impression. The entertainment staff, however, are really the ones who make this resort truly shine. Lorena, Diana, Willy, "Elvis", "Black Diamond", "Harry Potter", "Bambi", and the other entertainment staff are exemplary at what they do and know exactly how to engage the guests to maximize the fun and "Secrets experience". Like every other all-inclusive, Secrets Maroma has a variety of activities to appeal to guests with different tastes and activity levels. From bocce ball on the beach, beach volleyball, kayak races, guacamole making lessons, and the ever-present pool volleyball (to name just a few)...it has it all. What it doesn't have, however, is staff who are pushy and make you feel bad if you opt out of participating in activity X. The staff are encouraging but not overbearing with 'fun' the main theme that permeates everything they do. They go out of their way to get to know you and by the time you leave, whether it's after a long weekend or two weeks, you leave feeling like you were a valued part of the experience.
The food was as we expected. Having visited their sister resort, Dreams Puerto Vallarta, in December 2010 we knew what was in store, as the restaurants are the same. Was it truly 5* like one would expect at a restaurant where you'd pay a few hundred bucks for a dinner out? No...but that would be near impossible to pull off for a resort this size with the amount of food they turn out and I would hope that people's expectations would be adjusted accordingly. The food was, however, exceptionally good in taste, presentation, portion size, and overall quality for an all-inclusive. The choices at each a la carte are impressive and the buffets, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, had a wide assortment of items that should appeal to anyone. As many have mentioned, the teppanyaki table at Himitsu is a 'must do' and was a great show. I should note that I emailed to reserve the 'show' about 2 weeks in advance and received a confirmation reply within 20 minutes...that blew me away. Our favourite restaurant, however, was Portofino (Italian). Of the nine nights we chose to go their twice and both times left there commenting how our meals were exceptional. The outdoor grill by the pool has good variety (ribs, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, fresh fish, and other buffet-style items) and if you don't like that or get bored (it's the same every day) just order something different from one of the wait staff or throw on a shirt, escape the sun for an hour, and sit down in the grill restaurant that is literally only 30 feet from the pool and offers a wide selection of food. Reading reviews for months and looking at photos, we knew about the Saturday 'parade of chefs' but words cannot truly describe the culinary experience that takes place. I'll let you do your own research on this...but be forewarned: Be poolside for lunch on Saturdays.
The room we stayed in (4th floor ocean view in building 15) was excellent. I emailed the resort several weeks in advance to confirm our booking and was told that rooms were not guaranteed but they would do everything possible to accommodate our request. That had me a bit concerned but I brought (as I would assume everyone would but perhaps not) our booking documents and getting the room we wanted (and booked) was no issue at all. The room was well appointed (having a Nespresso machine is an excellent touch) but there were a few very minor issues. Hot water was a bit lacking for showers and shaving. I didn't mind because I didn't exactly want scalding hot water on my ever-increasing sunburn but the option for a 'hot' shower would have been nice. We're not fussy about turn down service since I'm going to mess the bed up anyways when I sleep on it but it was done every night. I could care less about towel art and don't expect it (even if I tip...which I did)...we didn't get any at all.
The grounds of the resort are exceptionally well maintained and my wife and I commented to each other several times that it seemed like they have more staff than guests some times. There is always a staff member close by to help you or get you something. The wait staff around the pool are very hard working (some more than others) and not once did it seem like they expected any tips. We tipped regularly, especially for exceptional service, and saw some do the same and some people not at all. The drinks were very good and if you wanted more all you had to do was ask. If you want a specific brand of liquor...just ask for it.
The beach, as most everyone mentions, is amazing...'nuff said.
The ambiance around the pools, despite the resort being at capacity, was quite subdued and relaxing. There's no loud music (the jazz in the early afternoon on some days is great to have a siesta to) and even with a few boisterous groups of friends it didn't at all resemble what some other resorts do. Age groups of guests range from early 20's up to people in their 70's and beyond. We had dinner one night with young honeymooners and a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary...very cool.
The pools are great and everyone who reads reviews here already knows that the infinity pool (not really as 'infinity' as it could be but that's OK) is 'cold' (or "refreshing" as I referred to it) and the 'main' pool is 'warm'. They're just different is all and each have their pro's and con's.
If we could make one suggestion to the resort it would be to have designated 'no smoking' areas outside. There was no smoking inside (which is how it should be) but outside, especially around the pool, it would be nice if there were areas either designated for smoking or non-smoking. Additionally, there is a lovely outdoor patio with chairs/tables outside on a deck off the lobby that is a smoking area. It would be great if non-smokers or those who wish not to breathe in smoke while they enjoy a pre- or post-dinner drink could enjoy that as well. A small thing like this would truly make this a 5* experience in my opinion.
It was a wonderful trip and we were sad to leave. We will, however, look forward to returning with the hope that many of the same staff are there to share our next vacation with us.
"Ines" and "Lalo"
- The birds, specifically the "Great-Tailed Grackle" (black bird resembling a small crow), are up at the crack of dawn and they can be LOUD. So bring ear plugs to throw in if you want to sleep in a bit.
- One thing about the restaurants and pool-side eating is that outdoors the birds (Grackle's and small seagull-type birds) are waiting for the moment you step/swim away from your food. They swoop down like something out of Hitchcock's movie and avian chaos ensues. It's impossible to miss this yet people still leave their plates out, oblivious to what's about to happen. Either have the wait staff clean up or walk the 50' to take your plate back...not that hard. At the World Cafe the Grackle's are like stealth fighters swooping in, despite nets to keep them out, grabbing what they can. There's not much more staff could do...just watch where you sit lest you get bird poop on your lovely sun dress like a woman at a neighbouring table did...ugh.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.