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“Excellent staff, great hotel, hokey marketing tricks”

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Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta
Ranked #18 of 122 Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed January 11, 2013

This is a well designed new hotel on the beach in the Hotel Zone on Banderas Bay. There are four towers that share various amenities on the campus. "Secrets" is the adult-only half of the complex, and this is where my wife and I stayed. "Now" is the family section of the campus. Secrets guests can go to the Now buildings, and vice versa except kids have to stay at Now.

Positives:
Clean, and kept clean 24/7. Good sized rooms with normal package. Free stocked room refrigerator with soda, water and beer. Large, well appointed shower and bath. Wonderful bedding. Food: Well above average for an all inclusive, except at the pool. Skip lunch poolside and go to Market Café for better food and service. We mostly ate breakfast and lunch on property and went into town for dinner.
Bars: As far as premium liquor goes, I drink Bourbon, and the best they had was Jim Beam. Their rum and vodka selection was better, probably for all the fruity drinks they make. No Heineken, limited wine at lobby bar, even the Mexican beer selection was limited to Modello and Pacifico, with the omnipresent Corona for Coors Light afficiandos. Great bartenders, eager to make your time pleasurable. If you can find Alejandro, he's your man. Best restaurant is Oceana, which is a seafood restaurant in the Now building. The hotel was 25% occupied most of the time we were there. No need to get up early to stake a claim on a lounge chair here, most everyone is a mature adult, and happy in this clean and pleasant place. Interesting architecture with heavy use of stone tile and some nautical touches, like the sail overhang at the entrance and teak decks off the lobby.

Negatives: They advertise $200 of hotel cash with your reservation. What you get is a coupon book with weasel clauses and provisos. My mom's cigar box of grocery coupons is worth millions by the same mathmatical conventions used here. Completely worthless and insulting to anyone who can afford to stay at hotels of this caliber. Lastly, at some point you may encounter the hotel's own gang of hyper-polite timeshare sharks, who swim near the main entrance and concierge desk. Their job is to feed referrals to the "Unlimited Vacations" timeshare operation in the Now building. They are an annoyance to steer clear of, although they are strategically placed to be in your face several times a day. Free WiFi is good for email, not much else - there are only 3-4 access points that are chronically overloaded - but maybe that's good, too, since we're on vacation, right? Concierge service is OK, but limited to the concierge website they rely on. Your own advance research will serve you well, use the consierge for making reservations, and taxi drivers will get you there with Mexican precision.

I'd give this place five stars if they would relocate the land sharks completely out of the lobby and into a shack down the street. And finally make public indoor areas, like the lobby, smoke free.

Room Tip: Make sure your room has a full view of Banderas Bay.
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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12  Thank Steven K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 11, 2013

The property is quite new, food is of good quality, rooms are really nice, several pools which are kept clean, a variety of meal options... but staff is the best attribute of the resort. I would totally recommend this hotel to anyone travelling to Vallarta.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Luis M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2013

My wife and I went over New Years and had a great time. When we arrived we got a free upgrade to the Ocean View room but didn't really see how a room in the resort would not have an ocean view; however it was appreciated. The only issue I had with this place is during check-in; the "coupons" that you get requires you to sit down with a rep and give all sorts of information and then they invite you to a "special breakfast" which really felt like a time share deal even though they said it wasn't; we didn't go to the breakfast. As for the coupons, they're kind of worthless, sure you can save $200, it just requires you to spend a whole lot more.

After check-in everything else was excellent; the wait staff by the pools are great and I never went thirsty. I recommend bringing plenty of $1 bills to tip; it's not required but think it's kind of expected, I know it's definitely appreciated. If you have larger bills the front desk can change them for US $1 bills, this is what we did (5 days and tipped out about $80-$100). I've seen other reviews complain about the kids on the other half of the resort; it was never an issue for us and we didn't even really hear them; a total non issue.

As with other places in Mexico, when you're on the beach there are people coming up to you trying to sell stuff; this is a major turn off for us so I think we're done with Mexico but you can't blame the resort for that. The beech is nice but it's a bit rocky going from beach to the water but I think that's common for the Pacific side. All in all the rooms, food and drink were all great and I would recommend visiting.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Casey D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2013

we went there for 7 nights the 3rd to 10th of november.we loved being part of the city walk out of the resort & there is a costco right behind the resort-walked the streets of the town which was awesome-from out the doorway could watch the city wake which we loved-the rooms are good/beds goood-as always all the staff werre helpful/friendly-the rec guys would call you by name by the second days & were friendly/helpful-all the wait staff were also great-the food by the pool during the day was very good with good variety-the only time we did the evening restaurant we did not like-ordered linguine with shrimp-tasted like chef boy r dee w/noodles & precooked shrimp-did room service aloty & that was always fast & good-in all a nice resort would go back to liked being close to town as use to do nuevo & were to far from town this is 5 minute cab to malecon

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank markjohn1957
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 9, 2013

My husband and I were here in early October for 8 days for our honeymoon. It was the end of the rainy season and the resort was empty, like 12% capacity. It was absolutely incredible! The weather was perfect the whole time. I would recommend going this time of year.

To start the rooms are very nice, we stayed in a swim out suite and we would definitely book it again. In the mornings we usually headed to the swim up bar but by the afternoon we headed back to our suite, lounged on the patio and enjoyed the swim out. They will come by and serve you food and drinks all day. The rooms are very clean and the beds are comfortable.

The property is beautiful, we enjoyed watching the sunsets from the lobby every night. All of the pools are clean and well maintained. The beach area was average. They have lounge chairs and huts but you can't really lay in them because of the locals trying to sell things on the beach, they are their from sun up to sun down and if you even go by the beach they will try and sell you something.
We enjoyed all of the restaurants, the service was top notch and the food was delicious. We also ordered room service, limited menu but decent food. I absolutely loved the pastry basket. We also enjoyed the little coffee shop located on the NOW side of the resort. The barista was great I think her name was Jasmine. The coffee was good and she made a really good drink with ice cream, I don't remember what is was called. I could go on and on about the food!!!! You won't be disappointed.
Since the resort was so empty we did not really participate in any of the daily activities such as water aerobics, beach volleyball, yoga and so on. I would imagine if the resort had more people these activities would have been a lot of fun.
We ventured off of the resort a couple of days (not on any excursions) and I would recommend that if you want to see more of the culture. We took the city bus downtown and walked around; It was a fun experience, especially the bus ride :). We felt safe the whole time and everyone that we encountered was friendly. Again they are trying to sell you stuff the whole time so if you don't like that this would not be for you. We also took a taxi to and from the marina. I was fun to walk around and see all of the fancy boats that were docked.
The spa experience was incredible, we got messages with our honeymoon package. The prices are typical for a spa with a resort, expensive!

We also did the romantic dinner on the beach one night, that was fun and I would do it again. The breakfast in bed was beyond amazing, so much food and so good! I would book these closely upon arrival if interested.

I could go on and on with this review! We had an amazing experience and I would recommend this resort to anyone. The grounds are beautiful, the food is delicious, the spa was worth it, the people and staff are extraordinary. It really is a home away from home:)

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Pratts_22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 8, 2013

My girlfriend and I traveled to Secrets in early December, 12/2/12-12/9/12. The resort was approx. 50-75% occupied, and the staff did an excellent job of handling the guests. The weather was exceptional, high of 85 degrees and partly sunny every day. Not a single drop of rain! We’ve been to islands in the Caribbean, as well as Cancun during this time period, and the weather in PV was as good, if not better, than anywhere else during this time period.
When you first arrive and clear MEX customs, walk right through all of the salespeople until you get outside of the airport. We are experienced travelers, but we still made the mistake of stopping to talk to a few of these sales people along the way. DO NOT MAKE THAT MISTAKE. GO OUTSIDE TO FIND YOUR TRANSPORT TO THE RESORT… don’t waste time because they are selling you what you can get at the resort for much less.
We were booked in the Preferred Club, so upon arrival, we were greeted with champagne and a cold hand towel, and we were escorted to the Preferred check in. After check in, politely turn down the sales pitch for the timeshare. Again, don’t waste time. There is too much fun to be had at the pool!

Beach Vendors: “No Gracias” is the key phrase. Be firm. As the week progressed, we purchased souvies from some of them for our friends/fam, but do it on your terms. Don’t be bullied, and they are not an issue. Early on during our week, we sat on the beach towards the water. During that time, the vendors were relentless. As the week progressed, however, we ended up sitting on the deck just shy of the beach, and the vendors completely left us alone.

Beautiful resort: We stayed in a Preferred Jr Ocean View Suite on the 5th floor for our first two days, then decided to upgrade to a Master Suite Ocean Front on the 2nd floor for the remaining 5 days. If you have the Dinero, do it, because the view is beyond great! The property is in tip top shape and very modern. It is a gorgeous property, despite the vacant building to the south of the resort. Eventually, we inquired about the abandoned resort to the south, and found out a very interesting story. It was built 25-30 years ago, and the owner died while construction was underway. His family then could not come to an agreement about how to equally split the property, and because of this, it has sat vacant for all that time. It now needs to be torn down, but no one has done this due to the expense… so there it stands.
Beach: The beach is the only real downfall of this property. It is extremely rocky close to the water. The sand is brown, not white, so it heats up and it’s not great to walk on. Also, the water is not turquois like the Atlantic side of Mexico or the Caribbean, but the water is warm and nice to swim in (once you get past the rocks). If you and your other half are die hard beach people, you will be let down… but if perfect weather and cold drinks oceanside are your thing, then you’ll be as content as we were.

Food Choices: We are not sure what the complaints are on tripadvisor. The food was as good as we’ve ever had on an all inclusive trip. We ordered room service for breakfast every day, and the service was excellent. We then ate at the pool grill for lunch, which was nothing special, but sufficient for a pool side grill. We tried Oceana for lunch a few times, and the shrimp tacos were MUY Bueno, although the service is very slow. We went out almost every night for dinner, and again, the food was more than ok. It’s an all inclusive resort, people. It’s not a fine restaurant in France. My question to the people that are not happy with the food is this… have you ever been to all inclusive resorts before?? We’ve travelled to many high end all inclusives, including Sandals, Secrets, Riu, etc in the Caribbean and Mexico. The food at Secrets Vallarta Bay is fine. Not great, but very edible. It’s an all inclusive, not a fine dining experience in Paris.

Adults Only: We did not experience any problems with the Now resort next door. Kids are not allowed in the Secrets portion of the resort. There were kids on the beach from time to time, but they never overstayed their welcome. There was one time when a few kids tried to play volleyball on the Secrets volleyball court, and the playmakers chased them off right away. As for the restaurants and kids being allowed in the restaurants that both resorts shared, we never encountered this problem. Possibly because we usually ate late, but regardless, they were not an issue. You are on vacation in a tropical place…what the heck are you eating at 6pm for??!!
Downtown: We never ventured off the resort, although, downtown was only a 5 min and $10 cab ride away. We always felt entertained and content staying on the resort for our evening activities. If we go back, we’ll probably go into downtown, as it was so close and convenient, but for this trip, we never did it.
Tipping: Tipping is not necessary to get good service, but due to how hard the workers worked to make us happy, we tipped $1-$5 dollars every time we got a drink or ate at a restaurant. Bring $200 in small bills so that you can tip the staff. They are great and deserve it. Enough said.

Spa: We did not use the spa or the massage parlor at the street, although we talked about doing so every day. We just ran out of time. There are people from the spa that try to get you to utilize it. We used the patented “no gracias”, and they immediately left you alone. The spa is a nice option, but we didn’t ever get around to using it. Maybe next time.
The STAFF: I want to take this portion of my review to compliment several workers. They were all very helpful, but I want to specifically call attention to a few of the standouts:
Antonio was a ton of fun and an excellent server in the Oceana Restaurant for lunch. He brought us a lot of smiles at lunch time with his stories and good service.
Alejandro was a smiling face and an excellent bartender every morning and afternoon in the Preferred Lounge. He always had a tasty and excellent drink suggestion for the day. He was awesome!
Raul was an excellent concierge in the Preferred Check In area. He was the one that suggested we upgrade to the Master Ocean Front Suite, and made it happen. He greeted us every morning and knew our names from day one. He is very good at what he does and should be commended for being such a good host.
Miguel, a server on the beach and pool was simply great! He worked his butt off in high heat, always going above and beyond. Whether it was finding us loungers for our day in the sun, or getting us drinks anytime we were low, he went above and beyond to make our days by the pool and on the beach awesome!
Margarito at Capers was a great server. He made our last night at the resort a most memorable night. Great service with a smile and he had great suggestions for our meal. He also had very good knowledge of the wine choices, and suggested an excellent bottle of wine for us. We were very happy with his service.
Overall: We will definitely go back to this resort next year. We had an excellent experience at this beautiful and new property, and cannot wait until next year.

Room Tip: Upgrade to the Preferred Club. It is worth it.
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank wsujohn8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2013 via mobile

I stayed with Kyle family for new years eve. The beautiful property was completely overwhelmed by excessive occupation. It appears that they were not prepared for such a high demand. While food is acceptable, they need to step up on their specialty restaurants. Great fun, and nice rooms.

  • Stayed: December 2012
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3  Thank carlosgomezva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta

Address: David Alfaro Siquerios No. 164 | Col Zona Hotelera Las Glorias, Puerto Vallarta 48333, Mexico (Formerly Secrets Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa)
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Jalisco > Puerto Vallarta
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #18 of 122 Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Price Range: $301 - $1,104 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta 4.5*
Number of rooms: 271
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Romantic. Refined. Remarkable. Located on the golden sand beaches of the Pacific coast within walking distance of the famous El Malecon boardwalk, this vibrant oceanfront resort provides adults 24/7 access to amazing nightlife, non-stop entertainment and Unlimited-Luxury(R). ... more   less 
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