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Reviewed November 8, 2010

My husband and I just got back from celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary at Barcelo Puerto Vallarta. We mostly cruise for our vacations but decided to try an all-inclusive for something different. I read a lot of reviews on tripadvisor before we booked this hotel and they were all correct...THIS PLACE IS THE BEST!! We were there from Oct 17 - 24 and had an outstanding time. My review may be a little long but I can assure you that it will answer almost any question you may have about Barcelo Puerto Vallarta. I also uploaded a lot of pics so you can see everything I am writing about. Make sure to remember to pack bug spray as you are right by the rainforest. The “no-see-ums” come out in the early morning and late at night, especially after it rains. I brought OFF! Clean Feel spray and didn't get one single bite. It isn't oily or greasy and it has no odor either.

If you chose to book Barcelo Puerto Vallarta as your next vacation destination, you will not be disappointed!!


***Booking***
After doing some research, we booked directly through Barcelo's own website. By doing so, you automatically get these perks:
20% Off Massages, Spa Service, and Beauty Salon
10% Off Minimarket and Beach Accesories Shop
10% Off Extra Wines list
10% Off Telephone calls
Free City Tour (worth $35 pp)
Unlimited Reservations in all the a la carte restaurants (instead of 3 for a 7 night stay)
Superior Amenities Kit (Special pillows, soaps, and personal bath amenities)

***Airport***
I love that in Mexico you get off the plane and go down the stairs right onto the tarmac. Once inside, we breezed through customs, pushed the button and got the "green light". We found Barcelo's guy waiting for us holding a sign with my name on it. It was great to be able to avoid the "shark tank" full of timeshare people and walk right out the door to our waiting car. It is about a 10 minute drive into the center of PV and then about 15 more minutes to Barcelo. The drive to the hotel was full of beautiful scenery so have your cameras ready.

***Arrival at Barcelo***
Once passed the security gate at the front entrance, the first thing that caught our eye was how beautiful the grounds are maintained and how clean everything looked. We were greeted at our car by the bellman who brought our bags in for us. Once inside the gorgeous lobby, we were each handed a glass of champagne and check in was easy and fast. We were happily surprised when found out we were upgraded to "Premium Club" status. I don't know who made this possible but I'd like to say a big thank you to them.

Things that are included in "Premium Club" plan is free Internet access (which is slow by U.S. standards), free room service, a daily fruit plate, a bottle of Tequila when you arrive, and access to a special room set aside for premium members. This room above the lobby has food & drink in it all the time and there are also 3 computers for your personal use.

There are two buildings across from each other and there is a bar opened until late hours in Tower 1 on the main floor. We were on the 7th floor there and I can honestly say that we never heard a sound from the Cantina. Also, this buildings balconies are always in the shade so if you want full sun on your balcony all day, then ask for Tower 2.

Make sure you hold on to the pool towel cards they give you at check in. You will need this to get a towel at the desk by the Cantina and the card is given back to you when you turn in your towel at the end of the day. Once you are fnished checking in, go directly to the hotel concierge desk and make all your reservations for your the ala carte restaurants. If you want to dine during a less crowded time, choose earlier in the evening. Also make your reservation to have the free breakfast to be delivered to your room that is included but not advertised. You will need to book 24 hours in advance for this.

One of the nice things about the resort is that it's U-shaped and a covered walkway lines the perimeter. That way if it rains, you can walk to all the places around the resort without getting wet. And since it is a smaller resort, it is a very short walk to get to anywhere on the property. Also, they have ramps everywhere so it is very handicap friendly.

***Our Room***
We stayed in #1703 and it was a fantastic room! When you first walk in, there is a living room with a couch that can covert to a trundle bed, 2 chairs, coffee table, 2 end tables with lamps, and a big flat screen TV on the wall. There is also a ceiling fan in this room but the rooms have A/C so you might not need it.

Next on the left is 2 closets, which each have a 3 drawer dresser and a place for hang-up clothes. One has a safe in it and the other has an iron & ironing board for your use. And when you open the sliding doors to the closets, a light automatically goes on which is really nice.

On the right is the bathroom and I was impressed by how big it is. There was shampoo, conditioner, and body wash pump containers in the huge shower. Everyone raves about the rain showerhead that all the bathrooms have and you can now add me to that list. It is truly the best part of the bathroom and we loved it. On the counter was an array of ammenities for your use. It included a shower cap with a scrunchy, lotion, mouthwash, a shoe polisher, q-tips, make-up pads, a comb, a shoe horn, and a sewing kit. There was also glasses and a water bottle too. They had a great hairdryer on the wall and a lit make-up mirror, which I also used as a nightlight since the room is pitch dark when the drapes are closed.

Going into the bedroom area, there is a sliding frosted door that you can close for some privacy if the kids are with you. On the right was a king size bed and it was super comfy. They have a pillow menu that you can choose the type of pillow that you like and there are 5 to choose from. On the wall on either side of the bed are sconces with candles that turn on with the flip of a switch. There is also a radio alarm clock on one of the nightstands.

On the opposite wall is another big flat screen TV, which has lots of channels. There is a long desk with a chair and on it is a coffee maker with all the goodies for your morning cup of Joe. There is also 2 water bottles on top of the desk too. Under the desk is the mini bar fridge which is included in your price and it is restocked daily. Ours included 4 cans of Tecate, 4 O.J. boxes, 4 Diet Cokes, 4 regular Cokes, 2 water bottles, and also chips and nuts.

Next to the desk is a good size table and 2 chairs. Ours had a bottle of champagne, a beautiful plate of fresh fruit on it, and it was already set for two.

Across from the table is a nice couch with a good size coffee table in front of it and it is beautifully back lit by lights.

We are now at the balcony which every room has and they all face the pools and sea. It is quite large with walls on either side for privacy from your neighbor. It has a table and nice wicker chairs on it and on one of the walls is a double towel rack to dry your bathing suits. It also has 2 electric outlets for your needs too.

Our maid for the week was Veronica and she was outstanding. Our room was always spotless and she also made us some cute towel animals too.

***Swimming Pools***
There are 4 pools, and they are swim-up bar, waterfall, sports, and kiddie pool with a cute slide.

As you are facing the hotel from the beach, the building on your right is Tower 1. The pool there has the swim up bar and a great shallow island to lay out on. This is also where daily water aerobics & pool games are held and where the daily activities director is playing music. Weekly activities are posted by this pool so you will know what time each activity will start and meeting point.

The one on your left is Tower 2 and it's pool is more quiet with a beautiful waterfall you can go under. If you want to just lay out or read a good book, this is the pool for you. There is also a large jacquzzi in the middle of this pool surrounded by beautiful boulders.

Right behind the swim-up bar pool is the sports pool. This is where volleyball and water polo are played. And don't miss out on playing tequila volleyball because it's a whole lot of fun! This is a great pool to lay by because hardly anyone is ever there. There is also a jacuzzi to the right of this pool surrounded by beautiful foilage.

To the right of the bridge that is by the swim-up bar is the kiddie pool. It is quite large, about a foot or so deep, and has a cute little slide with easy kid friendly steps to get up to it. Also there is a kiddie playground with a safe structure for the kids to climb on between the swim up bar pool and the waterfall one.
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They have a friendly wait staff by all the pools that will get you anything you need so you never have to leave your lounger. And in the afternoon they came around with yummy chicken drumettes to snack on. We had Lilianna as our pool server everyday and she was terrific. She always had a smile on her face and gave us some great suggestions on new drinks to try. Pool service stops at 6:00 pm.

***Places to eat*** (I have posted photos of all the menus)

El Patio --- Buffet --- (covered outdoor seating)
Breakfast: 7:00 am – 11:00 am
Lunch: 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Dinner: 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm
The food here was good with a lot of variety. Make sure you hit the omelette station and the fresh squeezed OJ machine for breakfast. There is also a smoothie machine to make any kind of fresh fruit one you want. They have a kid sized buffet for little ones so they can serve themselves. Every evening they have a different theme night for the food. We went there on seafood night and it was terrific. And there is a tequilla bar from 12:30 pm to 10:30 pm everyday right at the entrance to the buffet and you pour your own. They usually have about 12-15 different types and you can try any of them for free!! They also have a bunch of lime slices and salt if you like that with your shot. And make sure you try Barecelo's own tequilla because it is very good!

Los Arcos Snack Bar (covered outdoor seating) --- 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
A full lunch menu, wood-fired pizzas and a Charro corner where you can make your own taco's. Their guacamole and pico-de-gallo is out of this world. We ate most of our afternoon meals here. I highly recommend the avocado stuffed with albacore tuna, the grilled catch of the day, and also the hamburgers.

Speciality Restaurants (reservations & formal casual attire required)
Men: Footwear closed or dress sandals, (not swimming shorts) shorts at least knee height, and shirt or T-Shirt (no tank tops allowed).
Women: Are not allowed with beach sandals or swimsuit.

Don Quijote --- Spanish Specialities (indoor with A/C) --- 6:00 pm -- 10:30 pm
We ate here twice and it was very good. They have a terrific "tapas bar" which you start out with and it had cured meats & cheeses, shrimp, calamari, sauteed mushrooms, brochetta, grilled vegetables, and much more. Make sure you order the gazpacho as it comes with all sorts of items you can add to it yourself and it is delicious. And if you order the roast leg of lamb, be aware that you cannot order how you would like it prepared. It will come in slices and it will be well done. Always ask what the fresh catch of the day is because it is always prepared outstanding. The 2nd time we were there we had a window table and got to watch employees & guests release baby turtles into the sea. The sunsets from this restaurants are simply breathtaking.

Grill Los Arcos --- Fine cuts and fish dishes (covered outside seating) --- 6:00 pm -- 10:30 pm
We ate here once and I had a terrific rib eye steak. And make sure you go to the cerviche and salsa bar as it has lots of delicious items on it. For dessert I had the coconut flan and it was amazing. It is about 70-75 degrees during the evening so it is quite comfortable to sit outdoors here.

Capri --- Italian Cuisine (indoor & AC) --- 6:00 pm -- 10:30 pm
This was our favorite restaurant and we went here twice! It has more of an intimate feel to it than all the others and the food was fantastic. They also have a "tapas bar" that you start out with. Both times I had the Caprese salad, then the first time I had the spinach soup, followed by the tagliatelle pasta with pesto. The second time we went I had the minestrone soup, followed by the Frutti di Mare which has a light tasting red sauce and is full of different seafoods. This dish is so authentic that my late Italian mother in law would have loved it. For dessert we had the tiramisu and the profiteroles stuffed with vanilla ice cream with a hot chocolate sauce and both were absolutely amazing.

At all 3 specialty restaurants, we always finished off the night with spanish coffees that were flamed at the table but not the way you normally see them done. The drinks are made in the back, topped with whip cream, and then presented at the table with a saucer under them. The waiter has a container of 151 rum that he lights on fire and he slowly proceeds to pour it into the drinks and all over the sides of the glass. It is truly something to see and the drinks are terrific!!

The manager for these 3 restaurants is Arturro who is very friendly and he always made time to stop by our table and talk with us. And make sure you ask for Lillia as your server because she is outstanding. Both of these people are a great example of what good service is all about!!

***Tipping***
I know that tips are included in your package but we still brought a lot of $1 with us. We tipped our pool cocktail girl, bartenders, servers, and the maid. These people work very hard, for little money, and always with a big friendly smile, so please show them your appreciation with a little extra cash.

***Room Service***
Room Service is $11 U.S. per order, so you can order as much as you want of anything on the menu and it's a flat rate of $11 U.S. If you are "Club Premium", there is no charge for room service.

***Internet***
Internet is $9 U.S. per hour using their office center or $12 U.S. for 24 hours using your own device. And if you buy 6 days, you'll get the 7th free. If you are "Club Premium", internet use is free.

***Activities at Barcelo*** (check out activity board for days and times)
Tennis (reservation required and lit at night)
Table Tennis (2 tables)
Basketball (Full Court)
Water Volleyball (make sure you play "Tequilla Vollyeball")
Water Polo
Kayaks (use of them is free and you get them at the dive shop)
Foam Mats to lay on in the pool (you can use these for 1 hour daily and they are free at the dive shop)
Snorkel (bring your own or you can rent them at the dive shop on premises)
Beginner Scuba Lessons (through dive shop and they are done in the pool)
Yoga Classes
Water Aerobics (daily at 12:15 and it's a blast)
Bingo (done poolside)
Pool Games (daily)
Pottery Painting Classes (It's in Tower 1 and they supply the pottery and the paint)
Fully-equipped gym and steam rooms --- 7:00 am - 10:00 pm

***Nightly Entertainment***
Every night there is a stage show in the theatre starring all the activity directors. There are different themes every night and they include Tropicana, International, 70's & 80's, and Mexican Fiesta just to name a few. They sing & dance and the show is about an hour long. It's not Vegas caliber but these people really put a lot of work into it and they have a great time doing it. To accompany them there is a small band that is terrific and also a female singer who has an amazing voice. The costumes are quite beautiful and they add a lot to the show. And to entertain you while you are waiting for the show to start, they have different games every night that they have audience members compete in. Most nights the show starts at 9:00 pm but there is one night that they have a dinner show and it starts at 8:15. Sadly, we only made it to 2 shows but both were very good. And if you only make it to one show, make sure it's the Fiesta Mexicana because the mariachi band is outstanding!!

***Cantina***
After the nightly show is over, the band and the singer go to the Cantina and play for about an hour. After that, there is recorded music played over the speakers. This is where everyone hangs out at night because it is the only bar that is open. On a couple of nights they had karaoke which was fun to watch. From 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm they serve appetizers in here and they have food here once the restaurants are closed too. There are 3 TV's in the cantina and they will usually have a sporting event showing on them. And if you are looking for some "wild nightlife", a couple of times during the week the activity directors take people downtown to the nightclubs.

***Transportation***
1. We were able to have Barcelo arrange for travel to and from the airport at only $30 (total, not pp) each way. It was fast, easy, and I highly recommend using them.
2. Take the bus if you want to go into downtown! It was easier to figure out than most buses I've taken in the states. It's just 7 pesos (about 60 cents) each way, and you can sit back and enjoy the ride and the scenery. Get off at the last stop and you are in town! The bus runs every 10 minutes during the day/week.
3.If you are not that adventurous, you can always take a taxi into downtown for $13 each way.

***Massages***
The hotel has a beautiful spa but I always like to help the local economy by finding someone who has a business close by. By reading the reviews on tripadvisor, I found Laura who owns Paradise Massage to the left of the hotel down to the beach. She is the second massage place and she has indoor and outdoor massage rooms. Laura and her girls are skilled masseuses and the price was only $40 total for a couples massages. The place is very clean and we chose the outdoor room. It has curtains around it and they have soothing music playing softly. It was so good we went there twice!! They also do manicures and pedicures too.

***Snorkeling***
Again, we found the person to take us out snorkeling on tripadvisor. His name is Martin and he is Laura's uncle. He hooked us up with his nephew Marine and he took us out on Martin's boat. It is nice, clean, they provide the snorkel equipment, and it has a canopy on it in case you need some shade. He took us out to Los Arcos and the snorkeling was amazing!! I have snorkeled before in Mexico and I have never seen this many fish or this colorful. After we were done snorkeling, Marine showed us the eagle nests all over Los Arcos and then he took us by where "Night of the Iguana" was filmed and gave us some history too. It was a great time and definitely worth he $40 we spent for the hour and 15 minutes. .

***Shopping***
There are lots of shops at the hotel and their prices seem very reasonable. They have a mini market, a boutique, handpainted crafts, a clothing shop for both men and women, a silver jewelery shop, and a photo shop. And here's a tip for you. Go to the photo shop and make an appt for one of their photographers to take pics of you all around the property.They do this for individuals, couples, and families and there is no charge for it. The quality of the pictures are good and their prices for the photos are very reasonable.

We didn't go into downtown to do any shopping as we have been to Puerto Vallarta quite a few times. But if you forgot to pack something, there is a WalMart and also a Sam's Club in downtown by where the cruise ships dock.

I did buy a pareau from a local vendor on the beach at Barcelo and found his price to be cheaper than the downtown prices. We also stopped by the little flea market right down the road from the hotel and bought some beautiful handpainted tiles for a very good price.

***Exchanging Money***
1.) The hotel gave a 12-1 exchange rate (which was good) and they don't charge anything to exchange U.S. dollars into pesos.
2.) DO NOT accept ripped pesos from anybody. And if one of the watermarks on the peso is missing, it will not be accepted anywhere.


***Things To Do***
1.) Bring your mask, snorkel and fins and follow the shoreline to the south towards Night of the Iguana. Lots of cool fish to see for free.

2.) If you go just outside the hotel security gate by the bus stop (less than 1 minute walk) there is an activities booth there and you can book excursions cheaper there. You'll even get a discount for booking multiple tours.

3.) The zoo is probably a 15 minute walk up from the hotel's gates & is definitely worth it! Buy the $10 bag of food at the beginning to feed the animals throughout. Admission is $6 USD for adults and $5 USD for children. There are a few different packages, USD $10 to play with one baby tiger or USD $50 and you can play with 5, they won't tell you about the $10 package. And make sure to stop off at Mama Lucia's tequila distillery on the way back and take their free tour.

4.) Take the hotel's free tequilla tour. They take you to two tequilla factories and you get to try the tequilla. The hotel also has a free waterfall tour, which we didn't go on but others told us it was great. You have to sign up a day or so before for both of these.

5.) Down the beach to the left, ladies can get their hair braided for $25 for a full head.

6.) If you go downtown, be sure and stop at the Cheeky Monkey bar right on the ocean. They have a lot of $1 drinks and beers and it was a fun place to hang out and watch the sunset!

7.) If you want to eat at the best local spot in Mismaloya, go to Tony's. You can check out all the outstanding reviews of his place on Tripadvisor.

8.) If you want a great evening excursion, Vallarta Adventures has "Rhythms of the Night" and it is spectacular!
http://www.vallarta-adventures.com/tours/rhythms-of-the-night

Unfortunately, I am only able to upload a few pictures with my review here, so I uploaded all of them on Webshots. You can find my pictures of this beautiful place (including menus for all the resaurants) by clicking on this link:
http://community.webshots.com/user/StanfordsGirl13?vhost=community&action=publicAlbums

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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20  Thank JaniceKrause
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 8, 2010

We loved every aspect of this vacation. The food, the service, the staff, the room, the balcony. The three ala carte restaurants were wonderful. The tapas were to die for--far better than in Spain. We had a tenderloin steak one night--it was the best we've ever had. Honestly! Food presentation was very creative and interesting. The buffet at breakfast and lunch was out of this world. The variety, quality was excellent. Location was good, however, we didn't even want to leave the Hotel. We did go zip lining, what a rush. Canopy River Tours. Guides were fun, professional, and all was very safely conducted. Special kudos go out to Andelina at the tour desk and Martin in the buffet restaurant. Though the hotel was 70-72% occupied, it did not feel at all crowded. The pools and grounds were impeccably maintained. As you can probably tell--we thoroughly enjoyed this vacation.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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1  Thank Gary090
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 8, 2010

We had a wonderfull time. The weather was perfect suceeded only by the hotel accomodations, services and food. Making a perfect vacation even more complete was "Juan" our favorite patron in the buffet restaurant. His cheerful service made each day something to look forward to. We are looking forward to seeing him again next year.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank davehoward2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 8, 2010

resort is gorgeous, food at all five restaraunts very good, service impecable, our standard room had ocean view & was super comfortable & quiet except for one night when there was kareoke by the pool. wish it were located closer to town as it was a long expensive taxi ride to town...but didn't need to leave for relaxation, sun & food & drink. beach is beautiful but small, water sports limited, activities & entertainment only good.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank amyofromrio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 3, 2010

This hotel was beautiful and away from all of the other hotels. They were very accomodating. Food was great. Especially loved the Italian Restraunt. Service was good and the staff was friendly. Rooms were kept very clean and the beds were very comfortable. I highly suggest walking across the street to the Tequila Distillery Leyva the guys working there will show you how tequila is made. There is also a zoo that was pretty cool.

I am very please with this hotel and woud highl recommend it to everyone! We will for sure be back to visit very soon!!!

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank shantan77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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