After reading all the TripAdvisor reviews for Palladium Vallarta and despite all the negative things we read - we took a leap of faith and booked for 7 days. When we booked, we asked for a non-smoking, king room in building 3 with a view and received a smoking, king room in building 2 with no view. Building 2 was good however though a lot of walking to get where you wanted to go.
We stayed in Building 2, which was very recently remodelled in a modern style with new furnishings. All the rooms in the hotel are newly renovated and all share the same style. Many of the TripAdvisor pictures are outdated and what we arrived to was NOT what we expected (which was a good thing!) We had difficulties upon arrival with our safe (no batteries) which gave us grief the first day. We didn't want to carry our money and passports around, and we didn't want to leave it in the room on the first day either. We first went to the front desk, told them our issue, and were told someone would be sent between 10:00 and noon. This was less than ideal but we were agreeable. By 1:00, we returned to find it wasn't fixed. We called again, reminded them, and were told they would send someone soon which was again less than ideal but was fine. After returning again to find no one had came at around 4, we called again and were told on the THIRD call that we had to be there while they dealt with the safe. Gee, thanks - if we knew that the first time! We waited an hour and some more in the room to have someone come and I would say this really hampered the day. Palladium has very friendly staff, housekeeping staff, bartenders, etc. - but the people behind the front desk are really condescending and we were really amazed how little attention they paid to our concerns, issues, or experience.
Each room is equipped with all the amenities you would find in any other hotel, including a coffee maker and mini-fridge. The housekeeping staff leave bottled waters and Coke in your fridge and if you ask and leave lots of pesos, you could get beer as I saw they had Dos Equis on their carts. They don't do this by default. We were very impressed with our housekeeping staff Gregoria.
The bathrooms have jet tubs and the water flow is more than acceptable despite the low flow heads. They have this faux marble look which was nice and European toilets which didn't really flush well. Regarding the jet tub - unless you're bathing at noon or have no concern for your fellow guests in the evening - it is the NOISIEST tub ever. Our room adjoined by a rice paper door to the next room and we felt really uncomfortable using the tub as it was so noisy. The door adjoining the rooms was hollow and didn't dampen sounds, meaning the jet tub was out of the question. We heard the person next door snoring in the night, crying babies that woke us up and even conversations they had. We found ourselves whispering a lot of the time, or having to concern ourselves quite a bit for the neighbours. Not good at all, though the room was nice.
While we were there, the hotel seemed pretty empty and we had no trouble in finding seats on the beach. The beach was okay, with nice white sand. The man made salt-water pool was disgusting and dirty and was filled with LOTS of fish. The beach has lots of rocks and you definitely have to watch where you step. The life guard was very attentive and friendly. There is NO beach bar, though the remains of one are on the beach. It becomes old quick when you constantly have to venture from the beach all the way back to the pool bar to get a drink, then carry it all the way back to your seats. And with EXTREMELY WATERED DOWN ALCOHOL, you'll be going often. After 5 consecutive drinks, I was extremely sober and only after we started dropping 20 pesos into their cup each time did we start feeling tipsy! The pools were ice cold though the infinity pool for adults was warm (though it was more like a senior citizen hangout!). We wanted to have fun in a pool but the main pool was literally FREEZING and had activities going on or too many kids.
The food is blah - the buffet didn't really serve many types of Mexican food and the American food was only so-so. Their chicken was basically a bone with no meat and a lot of the food was incredibly bland. The breakfast buffet is very good wish a pancake station one day, and crepes another day. It's the same each day but it was good! There's enough variety, but after a few days you begin eating the same things over and over. The fruit selection is AMAZING. The a la carte restaurants were pretty disappointing in terms of quality though the experience was good. Our favourite was Bambu - the Japanese restaurant, as it was more flavourful than the bland food everywhere else and the sushi was quite good. Portefino was extremely bland and the menu very boring though the restaurant visually striking. For starters you get a cold bun thing with onions on top, followed by a slice of cold (and poor tasting) pizza. Don't order any beef dishes - it's a hunk of poor tasting fat and that is for ALL the restaurants. The Mexican restaurants food was the worst I ever ate - it was literally a corn tortilla with nothing in it and dry dry dry. The Ribs and More a la carte was okay but not spectacular. The buffet was actually better and I think we made the mistake of going to a la cartes. The food is consistently cold at the buffet - and I mean EVERYTHING. The biggest lie at Palladium is their "Beach BBQ" that we expected to enjoy. On the schedule board where they post the day's information, it listed Beach BBQ many times and it was NEVER HELD. Literally no explanation at all. The bar / coffee area was great and the bartenders were attentive and friendly. We never went to Hemmingways - it was always empty. The Sports Bar was alright, though the food is from a package and imagine this… dry pizza with hot dogs on top! You couldn't even take a bag of popcorn out of there - some security guy literally stopped my girlfriend as she ate from a bag of popcorn and told her to go back into the Sports Bar. She isn't 9 years old or eating like a slob! Get real Palladium.
The hotel wanted a ridiculous sum for early check-out, even though we were booked for 8 days and due to delays only had 7. The idiot at the front-desk said the hotel was completely full and we could stay in our room for $60 until 4, or $80 for 8. Having paid a great deal of money, getting shorted a day and having to lug your stuff around from noon to our departure time at 8:00 PM was nails in Palladium's coffin. When pressed how he could offer us it for $60 when the hotel was 'full', the manager guy literally picked up a phone and shuffled us away. Bad experience and lousy service! A hotel that wants returning customers should, you know, aim to please the one's that came. There was no budging, no understanding, and the guy was so rude that it was really off putting. For those considering Palladium, they have okay change rooms and showers for those out of their rooms at noon and a place to keep your luggage. They keep your luggage in an unlocked room that we freely walked in and out of all day without front desk's concern. The door was literally left wide open for anyone to take your luggage! NOT a good option.
All and all, it probably would be better for a young family or those with a simple palette and low expectations. Couples, you are better off going into the city and staying at a Riu as there was more to see and do in the city. Palladium was okay, we had a good time, and I feel we got our moneys worth - but even so, we wouldn't stay again due to the bad service, lack of things to do and see, and poor food quality and the bad pool and watered down alcohol. There were plenty of positives, though an equal amount of negatives - and that in itself made up my mind.
If you're old or have difficulty walking, try somewhere else.
Young couples, Palladium isn'...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.