My husband and I stayed for 2 weeks in March, 2010. Here is my very comprehensive, (long!) honest review of our trip.
Room: The room was very basic (we brought and left behind a cheap clock radio as there is not one in the room) but very clean. The air conditioner and outside noise (other guests, early morning work crews) was extensive but we wore ear-plugs so sleep wasn’t an issue. Bed was firm but comfy (king sized). The room was cleaned daily, and a polite note to the maid and 20-50 peso tip daily got us our two large bottles of water each day. We had a nice view of the adult pool from our room in block 5 – all the rooms seem to have balconies with some sort of view of the lovely, green grounds and pools.
Internet: There were just two computer terminals for rent. These were challenging to get used to (due to the configuration of the terminal itself and the keyboard) and difficult to get at - they were nearly always busy when we walked by. There is no wireless WiFi service, but we did see there were several internet cafe type places just down the street for those who might be interested.
Money: Our driver told us point-blank that Mexican workers would prefer to be tipped in Pesos! Canadian and American tips must be exchanged for Pesos, and as we all know, money is lost in the exchange. I was suprised with the number of Canadians who go and get American dollars to spend in Mexico! We had about 100 pesos left from our last trip, we took that to get us through the first hour in the country and quickly found a bank, where we withdrew pesos on our debit cards for a very nominal fee and excellent exchange rate.
Grounds: spotless and beautiful.
Beach: gorgeous, huge – you can literally walk all day in either direction. The waves were fun (we both lost a pair of sunglasses to the Pacific). The water is always churned up, so it appears “dirty”. I had heard rumours of “sea snakes” and unfortunately these are true! Our friends saw and took pictures of two, and my husband saw one. These seem to come in on the waves and slither out again. Apparently they may be an eel of sorts, but either way I didn’t hear of them being dangerous, but if you are petrified of snakes, as I am, you may want to beware!
Food: There are two large buffets and 5 a la carts (most of which are also buffets during the day). We ate breakfast every morning at the “Wok/Jap-Jap” restaurant just across from block 5. It was great – cereals, standard trough food, French toast, pancakes, waffles as well as a great fresh fruit bar and eggs (as you like them) station. By the way, bacon must be asked for at the egg station – my husband had a helping every morning and they never ran out as some previous reviews have said. For lunch we often returned to the same spot and enjoyed a Panini, fresh roasted turkey, roast beef, pork roast (all served at the same spot as the breakfast egg station), fresh salads (these varied slightly every day) and trough food. The snack shack (at the Mexican restaurant behind block 5) served burgers, fries, hotdogs and more importantly guacamole and chips. One day I ran in there and grabbed a pile of guacamole to eat with my Panini – sure wish they’d serve it in all the restaurants at lunch but the snack bar was the only consistent place to find it. We ate at all of the a la cart restaurants once (twice at the Mexican because we enjoyed it most). The reservation system was terrible – long, early morning line-ups – the Italian restaurant was most popular and hubby had to wait in line 90 minutes to finally get us in there. I have to say that the food was not great for a la cart – extremely salty (and I am a salt fiend!) I had a super Greek salad at the Italian restaurant (and the tiramisu was fine too) but the entre (some sort of trio of pasta) was blech – like what you’d expect in a cheap frozen dinner! The Brazilian place was okay if you like meat (grant it, it’s not like they’re serving prime rib – it’s cheaper cuts all the way), and the two Asian restaurants were okay as well (some of the spices were a little off – at least one dish at the Japanese restaurant tasted more Thai than any of the Thai dishes) – in fact the sushi, despite all being laced with cream cheese, was quite tasty. As I said, we like the Mexican spot best of all – great service and food . We ate at the buffet the rest of the time and I have to say I didn’t get sick of the food in the 2 weeks! Mexican fiesta nights (Thursdays) were great, and the Mediterranean theme night was also very good (I was surprised to see they had taboule in the salad bar, and it was the best I’ve ever had!) All in all, I would say that they stick to simple, inexpensive ingredients (you won’t see crab or prawns or rib-eyes) and prepare them well – veggies cooked just ‘til crisp, salads varied slightly daily, meats nicely flavoured and tenderized.
Drinks: We didn’t really enjoy the quality of the drinks – the only beer is Sol, yet up the road at the OXXO you can grab your choice of bottled beer for less than a dollar a piece. Hubby brought a collapsible cooler and purchased his beer off site. There was no Baileys or equivalent to be found at the resort, so if you like that in your morning coffee you’ll have to buy that as well. Otherwise, the drinks were mostly sweet with low quality alcohol. My hubby is an early riser and complained that coffee wasn’t available early enough for him – he had to walk up to the OXXO for his first cup of the day.
Tipping: My husband tipped everyone – 20-50 pesos to the meal servers depending upon whether it was buffet or a la cart, 20 pesos to the bacon/Panini lady, 20 or so to the bar tender every couple of drinks, 20-50 to the maid, etc. We were surprised to spy many guests leaving tables without a tip – yikes! Workers apparently make around 6 bucks a day, so tips are a huge part of their wages.
Entertainment: The open air theatre had a show at 9:30 nightly – sad to say we were usually too tired to make it but did go twice and thought it was fun. There was lots going on around the entertainment pool during day – water exercises, bingo, darts, fun little contests, etc. – all with bottles of tequila/t-shirts for prizes. I think you could spend the entire day and night at the resort and never be bored, though there is so much to do and see in the area that it’s not really necessary.
The best entertainment for us came from the people we met. There were people of all ages, from families with children to retired couples – everyone would feel at home here. Since nearly all the guests were from Canada (like us), it became a fun, “hey, do you know Joe from Moosejaw?” kind of thing. Believe it or not, we did in fact end up meeting people who knew people we knew, including a nice gentleman who had known my grandfather some 50 years ago and had some wonderful things to say about him! If you don’t like Canadians, though, stay away from Bucerias! We learned that folks have begun calling it “B.C.-rias”, on account of the inordinate number of British Columbians present. On the other hand, if you want to watch hockey, you’ll never have a problem finding a restaurant showing games and flying the flag!
Laundry: we took our clothes to a laundry just down the street behind the resort (the one that leads to the bridge into Bucerias). It was a 5 minute walk and for 5 bucks your clothes were washed, dried and folded that day. It sure beat the laundry mats we’ve frequented in the past.
Tattoo: There is an amazing tattoo artist from British Columbia (again, just at the start of that road that heads into Bucerias). He tattoos in the Okanagan during the summer and lives the rest of the year in Bucerias. Very professional, very clean, and very talented. We met a few other guests at the Royal Decameron who were pleased with his work and highly recommended him, and so my husband bit the bullet and went in for a cover-up of a much loathed tattoo from his youth. He came out with a huge shoulder/upper arm piece of a shark – it’s absolutely incredible, and we couldn’t have been happier with the results.
We did a Sunday evening in Puerto Vallarta. We took a regular city bus most of the way downtown and then strolled the Malecon. We hit up The Cheeky Monkey down there for the $1 margharitas and some nachos. I would certainly recommend this place for a fun atmosphere and very delicious drinks at a dollar apiece (these were huge and much nicer than what was served at the resort).
We hired the taxi driver who picked us up at the airport and he drove us up to San Sebastian (a good 90 minute drive each way). We absolutely loved this day! It was all the better to be chauffeured around by someone who had lived in the area, so we got all kinds of colourful stories. There is a super museum in an old house, and our driver translated the tour for us. The ancient church is another amazing stop. We ate lunch, bought some locally grown coffee and locally distilled Raicia (not sure of the spelling, but it’s some sort of moonshine made from the agave plant) and enjoyed a taste of authentic, old world Mexico. A word of advice: if you head up this way, there is a lovely kindergarten – I had stopped to have a look as the children were all playing outside, and they came running and shouting, “candy!!” – and guess what? We had none! So – do your conscience a favour and bring a bag of candy or equivalent.
One day we took the Pacifico bus (an hour drive) out to La Penita for the Thursday market, which is totally worth it! Wow, a market like no other I’ve seen.
We also took a city bus (maybe ½ hour) to Sayulita one day, and absolutely loved this beautiful area – well worth the time.
From the resort, we walked to the Mega store and there I found the “real deal” vanilla at rock-bottom prices (as in a couple bucks for a large bottle). Much of the vanilla you see being sold by the vendors has that additive that’s supposed to be not so good for you, and they will try to sell it to you for 10 or 20 dollars. Our San Sebastian driver came out and asked us, “what is it with Canadians and the vanilla? What are you doing with all that vanilla?” LOL! Also at Mega was the cheapest Kahulua - I think it was $11 (rough Canadian money estimate) for a jumbo bottle (larger than the one we buy at home). We bought two and just wrapped them in clothes in my husband’s suitcase.
Otherwise, we visited Bucerias nearly every day, stopping for snacks and beers at many of the restaurants that line the beach. There is nothing like relaxing in front of that gorgeous ocean while friendly servers bring you ice cold Dos Equios! The vendors on the beach were super – they did come by frequently but were polite and could be quite fun. We didn’t buy a whole lot – a couple of hammocks, a “silver” bracelet and a few t-shirts and handbags. We quite enjoy bartering and found the vendors to be easy going and fun, and willing to teach you a few words of Spanish if you were game.
We loved Bucerias, and really enjoyed the Decameron. We’ll certainly return to the area in the future, but would likely choose a condo without all-inclusive, simply because we preferred being out and about, don’t really need the resort-style entertainment and would rather eat and drink at the many restaurants around town. However, if I was to take my children, the Decameron would be the place to stay, as they would really enjoy the activities and casual atmosphere.
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- Also Known As:
- Royal Decameron Vallarta
- Royal Decameron Hotel
- Royal Decameron Puerto Vallarta Bucerias
- Royal Decameron Mexico
- Royal Decameron Puerto Vallarta Mexico
- Royal Decameron Complex Puerto Vallarta
- Royal De Cameron
- Royal Decameron Nuevo Vallarta
- Royal Decameron Puerto Vallarta Hotel
- Puerto Vallarta Royal Decameron