If you are reading reviews of this hotel you essentially know the deal - it is an above average hotel with large suites and is still "new" to operations. I agree with this overview and the impression that me and my wife decided on was that Garza Blanca might be it's own worst enemy. Why? It is soo nice (upscale accommodations) that you expect more from every aspect of the hotel and you don't always receive it in the service side. When we researched this resort, it was endless and exhausting and I think it was a good decision overall. If you are expecting an 'average resort hotel' you will be very impressed with Garza Blanca upon arrival - it is beautiful and very well appointed comparably.
We arrived on Friday, May 27th and the weekend was definitely busier due to the US long weekend and a wedding that was happening on the Saturday. Service very much suffered when it was busy - I would say this review was going to be much different if service didn't improve (which it did after the weekend) - it doesn't seem like they are prepared to be a busy hotel quite yet.
Check in was fine - yes, they want to have you sign up for a presentation, but just agree and don't go. Anyone who complains about having their time wasted at a presentation at a resort in Mexico "because they were mislead" should be ignored by seasoned travelers. The presentations are always the same at resorts, so stop saying you were cheated of your time, just don't go and stop trying to get a discount. However, they did take us to the wrong room type without saying anything...they took us to a 1 bedroom suite instead of a Junior Suite. I read a review here on TA where they did this previously, so I knew right away and asked to be changed back. The 1 bedroom is very nice and I dare say nicer than the Junior Suite - we just wanted the jacuzzi, etc. They will try to pass it off as an upgrade and you should stay in the 1 bedroom, but I think they have less Junior Suites than 1 Bedrooms, so they try to manage inventory this way. They moved us immediately, we didn't even have to go back to the front desk, so nothing major.
We stayed for 8 nights in a Junior Suite on the all inclusive plan - inclusive makes sense if you are staying at the hotel for meals and lounging as prices for meals/drinks would add up (if you added our daily bills, we ended up 'paying' about $25 for the room itself!). The rooms are large, well decorated and have excellent bathrooms and terraces - overall the best we have experienced in Mexico. The rooms have some quirks but overall the room is beautiful and for the price you can't complain (no matter how hard some people try). The highlights are the hammock, 4-person jacuzzi tub, double sinks, views to the ocean and across to PV. Note that our bed was pretty firm and you will have issue if you *need* a soft mattress but fortunately I like them! And yes, they have the 'do not disturb' door hangers now (if you are reading lots of the previous reviews). Housekeeping was good - usually early afternoon and turn down service comes mid evening - no issues, the ladies were great.
Beach service was terrible for the most part (I had to walk up to the bar to order all our 10 beverages on the first Saturday and not once did someone come to us to take an order). The beach itself is okay overall, a bit small and kind of on two levels - upper where the loungers are and lower where the beach and tide come in. The sand is nicer than most I have seen and the water is good for PV but it really isn't a 'wow' overall (lots of seaweed in the water). Still fun for a land locked Canadian to spend some time each day in the surf!
Internet works sporadically - there is something with their server and assigning wrong IP addresses, so you can connect easily to their networks but you will not be getting any actual access to the internet. Frustrating in this day and age. Miguel at the Towel concierge helped us and he can make sure you get connected in minutes - so look for him.
Noise/Sound issues: Yes, this hotel is very close to the highway and you can hear noise. No doubt about it, unless you are on the beach, you will hear either cars or some construction at various points of your stay. Construction was not a major deal and was hardly noticeable compared to the street noise. Any rooms on the ends (like junior suites) will get this noise while some of the middle rooms would have less issues (1 bedrooms?) I would think.
After the weekend it really slowed down for occupancy and from previous reviews this seems to be the normal atmosphere here - lots of space for loungers, better pool service and quieter overall. Service was still "Mexico speed" so a server comes by maybe 3 times in 2 hours or so. Towels are not the best but you get endless supply (no cards, no giving room numbers, etc) and they provide complimentary magazines, books, sunscreen for use by guests at the pools which are quite lovely.
There are lots of staff and you might think this is a plus, but there is almost too much staff so you are served by about 4 servers/bussers/concierges on average. You end up not really knowing who "your" server is - this can make tipping awkward. We ended up tipping half on our bill and half in pesos in the bill fold as we didn't know who was getting what. We saw a bartender take our 150 pesos tip and put it in his pocket one day, so if you are leaving cash for your server - give your bill directly to your server only, don't drop it at the bar or give to another server.
Room Service was fairly quick for the most part (usually about 30 minutes) but it can be hit or miss - nothing major, but consistency is not there. Sometimes you get cream with coffee, sometimes you don't sort of things. Average prices, okay selection. French toast was really great for breakfast in the restaurant and with room service.
Aquazul (Snack shack at pool) - service was below average and we only went twice as we would rather just order poolside and we didn't go for dinner due to the poor service at lunches (probably due to the busy weekend when we were trying Aquazul). Drink service was good, but service was slow overall. They almost ignore you until you tell them that you are sitting at a table because you actually want something...
Blanca Blue - the main restaurant is beautiful and food was definitely above average - we really liked the food. Selection was smaller if you are staying more than 3-4 days, but that is okay as some items were must-have-twice items (asparagus/prosciutto ravioli was amazing). Service is a bit better here and this was one of the highlights - go to this restaurant for sure. Great wine list, they can make almost any drink, great coffee and a cigar menu! It can be hard to get the bill at the end so make sure you ask for the bill and don't say something like "thanks, we are fine" as they will literally leave you alone and not come back.
Overall they could use some tightening up on service standards to equal the beautiful hotel itself, but for the current lower pricing they are offering I would recommend this hotel to most vacationers.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Spectacularly flanked by the vibrant blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the verdanant tropical forests of the Sierra Madre mountains, Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa nestles gracefully just minutes south of historic Puerto Vallarta, one of Mexico's most dynamic and sophisticated vacation destinations.All Suites feature in-style decor that include marble floors, granite countertops, private terraces, whirlpool tubs and artisan in room amenities.Our ultra-chic gourmet restaurant is one of Puerto Vallarta's most sophisticated and premier dining options, catering breathtaking ocean views, a stylish lounge, a 230 label award-winning wine cellar, and a selection of unique contemporary dishes tailored to scintillate your senses. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Garza Blanca Preserve Hotel Puerto Vallarta
- Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort And Spa