We just got back from vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, where we stayed at Sheraton’s Buganvilias Vacation Club. We reserved this resort through an exchange with SFX. My husband and I had a very large two-bedroom, two-bath, villa overlooking the pool with a partial view of the ocean. We traveled with two friends, and they stayed in a similar villa. Overall, we were very happy with our stay. The highlights of this resort are its service, cleanliness, and its proximity to downtown PV. The two major negatives were that (1) the beach was rocky and (2) the food and drinks were not exceptional. If you have simple tastes, maybe you’ll be fine with the fare, but if you’re a foodie like me, this is not the place for you. We overcame this negative by walking to many of the great restaurants nearby. I hope you find this review informative!
About a week before we traveled, we contacted the concierge and inquired about travel from the airport to the resort. I was told that there was no complimentary transportation, but they would help me secure a van for the four of us. We paid for the van with a credit card. When our flight time changed to be four hours ahead of schedule, we emailed the concierge and they took care of rescheduling the van for us. It was a nice touch. While it would have been half the cost if we had taken two taxis instead (there was no way four people and luggage was going to fit into one), the van was clean and air conditioned – we certainly traveled in comfort. Thank you, Fabiola Reyes, for being so helpful and pleasant with coordinating the van!
When we arrived to the resort, our rooms were not ready (but they were ready at the published check-in time of 4:00). We were met by the typical timeshare rat who told us, “I’m not here to sell you anything – I am just here to tell you about the resort.” They’re lying. My advice is to get a map of the resort from her, ask for pamphlets describing the local excursions, enjoy the complimentary drink she’ll provide, and SAY “NO” TO THE “FREE” BREAKFAST.
When we got to our room, it was only a one-bedroom. We immediately called down to the front desk and told them that there was a mistake; we had reserved a two-bedroom. They quickly sent up a bellboy who escorted us to our final room. If the resort was full, I am not sure they would have been able to make the change, though.
Our two-bedroom villa was BEAUTIFUL! The veranda wrapped around the entire length of the villa, from the living room to the master bedroom. The kitchen had a full-sized refrigerator, microwave, two burners (no oven), dishwasher, and all the plates, cookware, and utensils we’d need for the week. My husband and I found the beds to be extremely comfortable. The villa had two quirks you should know about: (1) all the doors and windows need to be closed and locked in order for the air conditioner to turn on, and (2) the water pressure in the shower was AMAZING – but be prepared to have your bathroom flood if you don’t angle the shower head towards the wall. There’s a drain just outside the bathtub for a reason! Housekeeping came every day. They changed our towels, made the bed, took out the trash, cleaned the bathrooms, and swept the floor. They were EXCEPTIONAL. It is exactly the type of service I would expect being a timeshare owner. The two housekeepers we ran into were so polite and courteous – we were always greeted with a smile. I really wish I got their names, but we were in room 1286, if that helps any managers reading this review.
The resort property in general was very well maintained and beautiful. It’s an older resort, but they've renovated it very nicely. As I said before the beach is very rocky. It was a great beach for finding sea glass, or sit next to, but bring water shoes. The rocks really hurt my feet. You can walk down a ways to the next resort for a sandier beach, though. There are two pools – one for the timeshare side, and one for the hotel. We didn't venture over to the hotel side much. We used the laundry facilities with no problems. One minor negative... My husband and I were able to locate three ice machines – at any given time, two out of the three were either broken or out of ice. My husband and I actually made a game out of it – we’d take bets on which one was going to work every time we needed some. We ended up just going to the poolside bar for ice every time. Silly.
The location was GREAT!!! Three blocks south of the resort was the start of downtown, and three blocks north was the Mega (Mexican Walmart, they call it). There is a very highly-rated restaurant three blocks south called El Andariego. Check out the reviews on Tripadvisor – and order the bananas foster and guacamole! Both dishes are prepared in front of you. Quite the show and CHEAP!
My husband I got a massage ON THE BEACH. How cool is that? Just be aware that there is nowhere to undress, so if you get a massage on the beach, dress accordingly. I think the beach vendors may have gotten a brief show. :-P
You don’t need a car unless you really want to drive into the countryside. EVERYTHING is within walking distance if you are a relatively healthy adult. We walked all the way from the resort to the far end of the romantic zone, and then took a taxi back to the resort for five bucks (50 pesos + tip). If you want to buy excursions, my advice is to walk two blocks south, where there is a small excursions counter just before Senor Frogs. Buy your excursions there – they were cheaper than in the hotel. The small catch is that you will need to pay their commission with cash and no receipt, but we saved about $50 for the 6 tickets we purchased and we were able to enjoy the excursions with no problems.
I am a foodie. I am always watching the cooking shows on TV and trying out new recipes. I was once a catering director at a large, well-known hotel. My family and friends think I should open a restaurant. I just wanted to tell you all of that so you can take the following comment how you wish: the food and drinks consistently sucked. And, boy, did I give them a lot of chances. The fish tacos tasted like they were frozen. The fries were overcooked and were stone cold when they arrived (but, admittedly, seasoned well). The “tuna panzanella” turned out to be wet tuna salad wedged between day-old pita bread. (Seriously? They need to look up the term “panzanella”. If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll understand why the name of this dish was such a crime). The buffet…. Sigh. There was a sign for crepes. But no crepes were to be found. Flies swarmed (and I do mean swarmed) the salad bar and ceviche bar. The tortilla chips were STALE. If you want Mexican food, go hit the taco trucks in Viejo Vallarta. I’ll begrudgingly admit that the pumpkin bisque was quite good, as was the roasted chicken. The drinks in the buffet and poolside were very weak. By the time Thursday came, we were not interested in the big Mexican buffet/party.
Even though it might not sound like it, we really enjoyed our trip. The positives VERY much outweighed the negatives. Everyone was very friendly and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated how clean everything was. Below are a few last thoughts to help you get the most out of your trip:
1. To make the villa’s kitchen more user-friendly, you should plan to bring the following items with you (or buy them at Mega): plastic wrap or Ziploc bags for any food or leftovers you want to store in the fridge, dish soap, dish sponge, paper towels, salt and pepper, large plastic cups (to bring drinks poolside).
2. Try to find a currency exchange counter or bank early in your trip. Puerto Vallarta will take your US dollars with no problem, but you will get a better price if you pay in pesos. Regardless, bring about 50 one-dollar bills for tipping and making change.
3. Don’t forget the water shoes. The beach is rocky.
4. Bring high-quality BUG SPRAY!!! We had only a few problems with no-see-ums at the resort, but if you will be taking an excursion outside of town, you will get eaten alive. We took a trip into Sierre Madre, and our travelling companions looked like they had small pox at the end of the day. My husband and I didn't leave completely unscathed either.
5. It’s not well-marked, but there is a warm water pool/spa above the swimming pool. It’s quite romantic late at night. Just watch out for the iguanas.
If you haven't booked your trip yet, I highly recommend this resort. And if you have, you'll have a great time! Just remember that this is Mexico... don't take things too seriously!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Distinguished with "Certificate of Excellence 2012" by TRIPADVISOR'S travelers. Awesome 5 star Resort the closest Hotel of its kind to downtown Puerto Vallarta , with a convention center, Spa, Gym and much more, all rooms count with Bay front view, we also offer the best Sunday brunch in Puerto Vallarta and a great Mexican Fiesta too , we also have 11 distinctives H for quality which guarantees the best accomodations services and amenities , this will ensure you will have only the best available services at your disposition in all aspects for you to only enjoy your time off free of worries and have a fantastic vacation with your family . ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Buganvilias Vacation Club Hotel Puerto Vallarta