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“Not Quite What We Expected”

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Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta
Ranked #18 of 121 Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed February 21, 2013

We stayed in the Preferred tower where the views are not as good as in the cheaper suites. The only advantage is the spa tub on the balcony and the snack bar. We have stayed in Secrets Capri Cancun about 7 years ago and found a marked difference between the two stays. Not sure if Secrets has gone downhill a bit in the last few years or if this Secrets is just not as good as Secrets Capri.

1. We found all the staff fabulous. You would be hard pressed to find any complaint there

2. Food was excellent at times and not so good at others. Our favourite restaurant was the French. The food and atmosphere was top notch. Surprisingly the Market Garden was our next favourite. Both the lunch and breakfast buffet and the dinner a la carte were great. We don't usually like buffets as they are often filled with sub par food, usually all about quantity and not quality but this restaurant was a highlight. The Mexican restaurant was not bad, just not really good Mexican food. The Japanese was a typical Japanese type. Nothing to write about. We did not eat at the Itallian. The Seafood restaurant was a big disappointment. Overcooked shrimp is not tasty regardless of what you serve it with. We had one lunch there and made the mistake of ordering a hamburger. Be warned. It is the same dried up meat patty you get in the barefoot cafe. Couldn't even finish it and I was sharing it with my husband. Never went back. The food at the barefoot grill is not really very good. Bad pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs. Some of the other foods are not too bad, ribs, chicken nuggets, pulled pork. You are better off to put on a coverup and go to the Market Garden. They do make some good snacks around the pool area at 1:00. Keep you eye out for that. They are only there about 1 hour but the food was usually very tasty

3. A warning about the dress code for men. The web site says men can wear dressy closed toed sandals to the dressy restaurants but once you get there you will find this is not the case. Men need closed toed shoes. They will approve runners.

4. They do not supply all alcohol free of charge. The good stuff has an up charge.

5. The decor is outstanding. Everything is stunning. The rooms are very comfortable. The balconies are small and the chairs on them uncomfortable but most people don't spend that much time out there anyway. They do seem to have a mold problem in the showers. They don't drain very well and are completely closed in with no air circulation. We had some black mold on the ceiling in our shower. I tried to ignore it. The room did smell musty so we left the fan on in the shower all the time. We had friends staying there and the first room smelled so musty I don't think you could sleep in there very easily. They were moved to another room. The beach is pretty, nice sand but the waves are pretty strong and I never saw anyone venture out into the water. Lots of great pools though and I saw them testing the water in them several times a day so they are well maintained. Lots of umbrellas so plenty of sun or shade, whichever your prefer. If you like activities around the pool and beach area there are plenty of those.

6. We used the gym and it was quite well supplied. About all they were missing was a bosu. They even had 2 spinning bikes!! I had the best Deep Tissue Massage in the Spa that I have ever had at a resort.

Even though the resort was less than I expected I still give it a very good rating. I don't think you could get better without paying more money. Times are not easy for the hotel industry so I do understand why they have cut back from what Secrets used to be. If I wanted All Inclusive again I would likely stay at Secrets again. We do like to spend more time going out into the community and meeting the people and eating their food and you do miss that when you stay at an All Inclusive.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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12  Thank Thyiela M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 20, 2013

We were at this resort for the week of February 2nd to 9th. This is a smaller all inclusive than we were used to but we would love to go back again. Our room was terrific - we were on the 9th floor and had a wonderful view of the ocean. Please note that there is no smoking unless you are on the grounds or in the lobby on the outside patio and they do tell you that if they smell smoke in your room - there is a cleaning fee - pretty much the same as most places. We also used the laundry facilities and were very pleased. There are no bracelets and no restrictions on the a la cartes. All of the a la cartes we tried were very good - we especially like the Japanese restaurant. The other difference that I noticed is that they also serve various canned beer (Bud Lite) as well as draft around the pool so you may want to bring a coolie cup holder. The service was excellent in all the restaurants with the exception of around the pool - in the morning - it was great - later in the afternoon it got a little slower and they don't encourage self serve. To get around this - just walk into the lobby and ask for one. Another huge plus - there is always loungers available and there is no reason to try to "reserve" one or rush out first thing in the morning. Any time of day you could always find a chair. One of the activities that we really liked was "movie night" at the pool area. Very cool to hang out on a lounger outside under the stars and watch a movie with a cauldron of cold beer on ice to drink. As far as the timeshare people in the lobby - once I explained I was not interested in their info session - they never asked again although we would greet them when we were walking thru the lobby. No charge for the safe - our housekeeping was terrific. There are many activities to be a part of going on around the pool as well as in other areas of the resort and the entertainment staff are very friendly and welcoming. The Superbowl party on the beach was terrific. The staff keep the buckets of beer on the tables full and were offering shots all around. I especially loved the sax's player in the lobby - he was very good. One hint - I wanted a massage and found a great little shop just outside of the main gate called "Healing Hands" - was massaged for an hour for $25 US. Good deal! This hotel is located close enough to walk to the Malecon as well as to other shopping. This was our first trip to PV and when we go back - I'll definitely want to return to this resort.

Room Tip: If you want a swim up room on the ground floor - the sunny ones are on the family side in the Now se...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Patty C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 20, 2013

I'm at Secrets RIGHT NOW and I'm keeping a day-to-day blog on it. I gotta say... so far I'm blown away. Check it out:
http://www.andfabulous.com/2013/02/gaycation-day-1.html
AND
http://www.andfabulous.com/2013/02/gaycation-day-2.html

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Nick G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 20, 2013

This place was top notch in every single department imaginable, except the following.

-Internet is sketchy when running multiple programs with multiple streams of data.
-The cheese on the pizza by the pool could use some work, cheddar was scant.
-The ocean could be a little less salty (not the resort's fault)
-The ketchup isn't exactly the same as North American ketchup. Possibly only noticeable for a super-taster
-There's no lemon's on this resort for drinks or Caesar salads. You get a choice of lime or an orange. When you ask for a lemon, you get a lime.
-There's no north american style salsa, it's all more authentic Pico de gallo.
-There's no relish for hot dogs/hamburgers
-When asking for mimosas by room service, they don't have really large glasses. They'll bring you a bottle of champagne in a fancy bucket of ice, but with tiny little champagne glasses. (Wine glasses will do in a pinch). They apparently don't have any really large fish-bowl style glasses that some of us are used to.

One final note, the resorts average age is at somewhere around 43 years old. If you're younger and want to stay up late, there's daily trips to Old Vallarta or The Malecon to party well into the morning with the Entertainment/Events staff.

Room Tip: All rooms are amazing, low or high, and face the ocean. There's a lack of two bed suites at Secr...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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5  Thank AndrewPNJJJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 19, 2013

We vacationed at Secrets Vallarta Bay from Jan 18-20 and were amazed at the striking facilites, decor and friendly staff. Greeted with cool face clothes and champagne, personally dealt with at reception and promptly shown to our sparkling suite, we had time for the beach and a wonderful supper on our first day. Jesus Vargas Agviar and Alejandro Peniche took a personal interest in us to ensure our room met our expectations and were available throughout our stay to assist us in any way possible. Chef Armando Sanchez at the Bordeaux Restaurant would greet us when we dined there asking our opinions on his magnificent presentations and selections. The Market Cafe breakfasts were superb and Emanuel Santos always had our favorite table ready. At the Oceania Restaurant, Martin Ramos prepared a Spanish Coffee that was a fireworks display and took our breath away.
What a wonderful resort with truly superb, well trained, informed and concerned staff. Our lobby waitress, Meylin Hernandez Draz knew we enjoyed coffee martinis and would get them for us as we prepared to watch the marvelous sunsets over the infinity pools in the lobby each evening.
All the staff we encountered spoke English quite fluently and enjoyed my attempts at Spanish. All were patient and kind and could not do enough for you. When was the last time an individual told you "it is my pleasure to serve you".
Spotless, safe, clean with wonderful private beaches and comfortable chaise loungers, tables, chairs, palapas....this resort works hard to please its clients and does so in spades! We will definitely be back next year, hopefully for more than 10 days.

Room Tip: Rooms on the Secret side do not receive direct sun so the balconeys are cooler. The Now Amber side...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Walter G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 18, 2013

This review will be long! We just stayed here Feb 9th-16th. This was a great resort. Although the resort was not full that week, we heard the staff say about 70% full it was still a good experience and the staff was attentive.

Check in: We got off the bus and we were greeted by the bell boys who promptly asked us to pick out our luggage and got it tagged, gave us a luggage card and ushered us inside for check in. We were greeted with cool towels and a cold glass of champagne. Check in was quick and even though it was only 2pm our room was ready.

Room: Was nice, it was large, spacious and the view was amazing! We had a 1 king - non smoking, ocean view room. We were situated on the 13th floor, the views were great! I think most rooms above 4th floor and up would have a great view. The bathroom was huge! Loved it! I miss the shower. The shower alone was easily the best part of the room. Our bed was comfortable. The Mini fridge was always stocked. The secrets box is nice, you can have room service put your food in it if you don't want to be disturbed after you order it. It locks in the inside of the room so don’t worry about someone breaking in, it is big enough someone smaller could crawl through it. The AC is whisper quiet.

The only 3 issues we had with the room was: 1) Our AC turned off one night and the room got insanely hot quickly. Turns out we didn’t close our balcony door tight and the AC has sensors on the doors which turn it off if they aren’t together. 2) the chair are noticeable when they are slid on the floor. 3) Turn down wasn’t consistent, even when we left the do not disturb light off. Oh and watch out for channel 36, the rumors are true!

Note: The room numbers are on the floor, in front of the door. We spent 5 mins looking for our room, trying to find numbers on the wall and doors. We met others who ended up going down to the front desk to ask where the numbers are after trying the room card on every door.

Restaurants: We ate at almost every restaurant. You might as well, they are included in the price! Yes, the portions are on the smaller side compared to american meals, but thats “fine dining” thats why you order an app, soup/salad, entree and dessert. There is many Vegetarian options. They are very tough on enforcing the dress code. I watched many people get informed they could not enter the restaurant because they were not dressed accordingly and the excuse was always “I was unaware of the dress codes” they are listed everywhere. I think if men have a nice sandal on they should be fine with that but they aren't. Bring pants!! I heard someone say “Well I don’t have pants with us, so you will need to let me in” they don't care you didn’t read the dress code before hand.

Barefoot Grille |Grilled Specialties - This was nice to have located at the pool so you didn’t have get dressed and go eat. I really liked the pulled pork and beef stew. We never had an issue with “cold food” like many people complain about it. It is served buffet style but it was never cold. I was never told “no” if I asked to have something and they couldn’t do it, they directed me to where I could get it, like the market cafe or coco cafe. There was 3 different food every day besides your basics, hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, pizza and salad bar.

Bordeaux |French Cuisine - This was one of our favorite restaurants. The food was great and the service was one of the best we received all week! The french onion soup was good! The duck was cooked perfectly! Get here early - shortly after opening, it gets busy around 7 and you will be waiting up to 45 mins to get in.

Capers |Italian Specialties - We ate here twice, the beef fillet was so good and we loved the broccoli soup. Get here early - shortly after opening, it gets busy around 8pm and you might be waiting up to 30 mins to get in.

Carnival |International Buffet - Typical lunch stuff, however this buffet is on the now side and is the only place with ice cream in the resort.

Castaways |Mediterranean Cuisine - We didn't eat here. They close when they have fiesta’s or some dinner special going on in the evening on the pool or beach. We looked at the menu and it is almost the exact same as Oceana, which wasn’t a surprise as they share a building.

Himitsu |Pan-Asian Fusion - We ate here twice, we didn’t do the grill show, just the a la carte. The food was good, pretty good sushi. I loved there Miso soup.

Tamarindo|Gourmet Mexican - *sigh* we were looking forward to this restaurant after all the great reviews, we were thoroughly surprised on how mediocre our food was. Maybe i'm tainted with a fabulous Mexican friend who is an amazing cook or perhaps we hit an off night, I'm not sure. I got the braised beef and chicken dish and the beef was very tough and hard to chew. It was off putting and neither of us really like the food.

Note: Both Himitsu and Tamarindo weren’t easy to find. They aren't actually located on the 3rd floor like the resort claims but they are on 1st floor. You need to go to the 3rd floor on the now side, go into the shopping village and you will see an unmarked elevator beside Coco cafe at the end of the walkway, take that elevator down to 1st floor and you have both restaurants on either side. Why this is unmarked is beyond me....

Market Café |International Buffet - This was best at breakfast time. They had a good selection of everything to eat. The wait staff is very attentive even though it was just the buffet.

Oceana |Gourmet Seafood - This is the only a la carte lunch place. We ate here a couple times the food was better than the barefoot grill but you can’t go in a bathing suit, it has to be covered up. The dinner was pretty good and they have an amazing view of the sunset.

Coco Cafe - This is a wonderful option if you want something fast and you are fine with a sandwich and a coffee. There blended coffee’s are pretty good. They have a good assortment of snacks, cookies, pastries and cupcakes. Also they have 2 free use computers, You can use it too check in for your flight and print your tickets.

24hr Room Service - this was a savior, when your hungover or just not feeling well... We ordered breakfast a few times and late night food from here. The service was also “less than 35 mins” it was usually about 20 mins. The food was always fresh and fairly hot.

Bars: Not all bars have a premium selection but still a good selection. My biggest complaint was that the drinks aren’t made consistent from bar to bar. I am allergic to coconut and some drinks were made with cream from one bar and the other was using coconut cream. If you need them to change something, specify it at every bar when you order.

Best drink: Sweet Secrets, its like a dirty banana/monkeys lunch.

Best Surprise: They make Caesars! They call the them bloody caesars but they are with Clamato!

Lobby Bar: They have a good selection, grey goose, crown royal, captain morgans. This is where everyone hangs out at night. Almost every night someone fell into the water display. Watch where you step as it gets dark.

Mantees bar: Gillberto was awesome! This swim up bar is always busy. Best pool to be in. It is also heated. Beware everything is free poured, so make sure you eat something during the day.

Entertainment - The staff works really hard to keep people involved. Which is great, but when it comes to evening entertainment its lacking once the shows are over. They really need more to do in the evening, like perhaps a lounge for adults only with a bar with perhaps bar height tables and chairs, pool tables, darts, card games - maybe poker, blackjack, not for money though.

Hotel - The hotel is brand new, looks new not run down yet. Everything is modern and up to date. The layout is easy to navigate, pool area is large and is nicely landscaped. The location is great. You are 15 min walk from the Malecon and you have many shops right outside the resort.The beach sand is soft but the water is rough.

So, lastly I want to address some complaints listed on tripadvisor:

Smoking anywhere is permitted - This not the case, we had 2 people smoking in our party of 4, one lit up in the lobby and was promptly asked to move himself outside to either the deck or out front of the hotel.

Beach Merchants - People said you are harassed non stop. This is not at all the case. They are required to stay behind the fence and security is always watching. Once you say no they left you alone.

Pool towels - Every morning the staff goes around a puts a rolled up towel on every seat, its rolled up at the foot of the lounger the seat is free. Feel free to take it, You can save the seat by unrolling the towel and laying it on there most people understand this, but some people choose to put their book on the seat and/or table to hold it. If you want an extra towel you can take on off the stack on the bench or go up to entertainment window (located to the right or barefoot grill and the washrooms) and they usually have extras there. No signing anything out.

Kids - Secrets is a combined resort with Now Amber which is a family friendly resort. There is no children allowed on the secrets side, not even the beach. I watched security ask parents and their children to leave back to the Now side. They are very separate resorts.

Wifi - When we were looking at booking here there website made it sound like that you had to upgrade to the preferred suites to get this This is not at all the case. There is resort wide free wifi. This has since change they updated the website while we were there and it now states free wifi resort wide. We didn’t get much connection up in our room though.

Abandoned Hotels - There is indeed 2 abandoned hotels next door. One is just a skeleton, no idea what is going with that one but there is security patrolling it. Someone said it was a drug cartel investment and someone got killed and the investment money stopped flowing into it, but that's all hear say and probably not accurate. The other was the Blue Bay gateway, which has been closed since Hurricane Kenna in 2002. AM resorts just bought it and this will be there new location for the Secrets resort! They are in the process of ripping it down now.

The dogs and Roosters - We didn't hear anything at all, perhaps because we were on 13th floor. But on the back side of the resort there is a property with some roosters and dogs.

“No need to tip, its included” - I know people say all tips included but come on, don’t be classless still tip the staff. I'm sure they make way less money than you do.

“Loyalty Program” - Now this is not your typical, you come and stay with us and we reward your loyalty with points/credits and free nights. They are time shares, you pay to be there loyal client. We declined the presentation and the $200 credits. We talked to others about the timeshares, who have them or went the presentation and to us we don’t think it is worth it.

I think that is all. I know it is long, but in short we will be returning to AM resorts in our future.

Room Tip: Anything above the 4th floor will have a great view!!!
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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15  Thank KikiMira
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2013

We're a couple in our late 20's/early 30's who stayed at the Secrets Vallarta Bay between Feb 9 to Feb 16 2013. Since my fiancé and I were travelling with her parents we did a lot of research before booking at Secrets PV. In this review I will focus on answering the questions I had before leaving that I wasn't able to really answer by reading other reviews from those that stayed there.

1) The pools - Most of the pools are not heated and therefore quite cold during this time of year however the most important pool, the one by the Manatees swim-up bar is heated so we spent most of our time there.

2) Beach merchants - Contrary to what I've read by others they were not at all harassing, there also simply weren't that many of them. They are also prevented from getting too close to where the beach chairs are by a very small but symbolic rope fence. There is also staff present to keep them from getting too close to guests areas. A simple no gesture or no thanks will make them go away.

3) Children - Not once did I see a child on the Secrets side of the resort. This is largely due to the design of the resort which essentially makes it very difficult to wander to either side inadvertently. On the ground the only way to get between the Now (child friendly side) and the Secrets (adults only side) is by walking right out on to the beach. Even when a mother with her child tried to come up to the Secrets side the staff kindly told her that her child could not enter. I appreciated this as I chose Secrets in part for the adults only factor. It's good to see the staff are cognizant of this. The only other way to move between the two sides is on the 3rd floor lobby level and even there it's very clear which side you're on at any time. I won't waste time explaining this any further as it will be obvious when and if you go.

4) Pool Towels - There's no official policy that I could find however it works like this. When you proceed out to the pool areas there are purple towels rolled neatly and stacked at a number of tables all over the place, no towel cards needed and you can take more than one if you like. The staff, early in the morning also put towels on most of the more desirable pool chairs. Now this is the key part, if they look all neatly rolled up and nicely placed on the chairs that means those chairs are free for the taking. If they are all unrolled and laid out that likely means someone has claimed that chair.

5) The Drinks - They have a very good selection of alcohol overall. By that I mean if you like vodka you can choose from Grey Goose (regular and Orange), Ketel One, Smirnoff, Finlandia, Absolut (multiple flavours like Peach, regular, Razberry to name a few). They also had Crown Royal, Jack Daniels, Captain Morgans Spiced Rum and of course various regular rums. The gins were Bombay, Tanqueray, Beefeater etc, again top shelf choices. They also had a big selection of Tequila which I personally don't care for too much but if you like Tequila you'll have some choices. Basically their bars (especially the lounge bar) are well stocked with a good selection comparable to most bars or restaurants I've been to in North America. Now the beers, this is where this resort differs from other All inclusives I've been to before. They have Corona on tap but that's not all. They also have Pacifico in cans, Modelo Light in cans (this beer is very similar to Coors Light), Bud Light and regular Budweiser in cans too. For all you Canadians like me out there they serve Caesars (they call them bloody Caesars) but they actually have them. I'm a big Caesar fan and this is the first all inclusive I've ever seen where they serve them so I was very impressed with that. Now for the wine, they actually have a decent selection of wines (mostly all from Chile) which are part of the all inclusive and are not extra $$. They have both a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for reds (both decent and comparable to a basic house red you'd find in most casual restaurants). They also have a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for their stock whites (again both are decent and what you'd likely get as a house white in a restaurant). Now you can order other wines but it costs $$. At every restaurant they will provide you with a wine list however I would recommend you try the free house choices I just mentioned before buying any as these are much better than the mediocre "grape juice" most All Inclusives try to pass off as wine. One thing I will mention is the juice, it's very good, especially the orange juice. It definitely tastes fresh squeezed and well worth a glass in the morning. The coffee on the other hand isn't great in my opinion. One thing that would've put this resort over the top would be if they served Red Bull, but unfortunately they don't. You can buy it for $5 a can in the lobby shop near the coffee shop but that's it.

6) The Food - Ok so this is usually one of the biggest ??? when going to any all inclusive so I'll do my best to provide some valuable commentary on it. First off, no reservations is absolutely correct and rarely will you have to wait to be seated. We usually went for dinner early (around 6-630pm) at which time most restaurants are pretty much empty. If you go around 8 you might have to wait a bit at any given restaurant but just try another and you should have no problem getting seated right away. There are 5 different restaurants plus a buffet option. We never ate at the Buffet other than for breakfast which is quite good, especially the omelette station. In the Now side are the following restaurants: Himitzu (Japanese/sushi/Tepanyaki), Tamarindo (Mexican) and Capers (Italian). Both Himitzu and Tamarindo are kind of hidden away, the only way to access them is to go to the Now lobby (3rd level) and go down the middle hallway (away from the ocean side between the lobby bar and reception and either take the lone elevator or the stairs just to the right to go down to the 1st floor where Tamarindo is on the right and Himitzu is on the left. As these restaurants are a little less easy to find they don't seem to get as busy.

The sushi at Himitzu is decent, nigiri is ok as are most of the rolls and you do get a good selection (about 10 types of rolls), nigiri is limited to salmon, tuna primarily. The tepanyaki can be had a la carte as well so you don't need to reserve a spot at the big grill tables where the chef prepares in front of you (that requires a reservation). The miso soup as well as the tempura was quite good. Now keep in mind the sushi isn't going to be as good as a good restaurant where you pay $40-80 so keep that in perspective.

Capers is located on the 1st level as well but on the pool side of the resort so you'll walk right by it when you go down to the pool from the Now side. We quite liked Capers, food was decent and service was very good.

On the Secrets side 1st floor on the pool side is Bordeau and the Market Café (the buffet). Bordeau is also quite good, especially the desserts which I normally don't eat but hey I'm on vacation so I indulged. One thing to note is that most of the food portions as with all of the restaurants aren't big by north American standards so if you're a big eater get at least one app, a soup and a main entrée. They have no issue with anyone ordering multiple items each.

Out by the pool just above the Manatees bar is Oceana (seafood/steak grill). All but the buffets and Oceana (which is the same as Castaways on the Now side) are only open for dinner (6pm to 11pm). The breakfast buffet is open until 11:30am. If you want to eat after that but before the lunch buffet which opens at 1pm you can go to Oceana/Castaways for lunch as they open at 11:30am. The food there is decent but not mind blowing. They have some decent apps, burgers, club sandwich, onion rings, wings, nachos etc. They always give you taco chips with salsa, guacamole and a hot sauce regardless of what you order. The guac is especially good.

There's also the Barefoot grill which is very basic burgers, hot dogs and a few other choices that vary daily. You can also ask for nachos there even though it's not outside for you to help yourself to. If you're feeling lazy by the pool you can also ask the serving staff to grab you a burger or nachos or whatever and they will bring it right to you.

One thing that's worth mentioning is that all restaurants have numerous vegetarian options (all marked on the menu with a symbol) so if you're not into meat you'll have multiple choices wherever you chose to eat. The other thing I would like to mention is that Secrets has an Iphone/Android app that you can download from Apple's app world and Google's app market which when you select your Secrets resort you can view all the menus for the various restaurants on your phone. They aren't always exactly correct but it will give you a very good idea of what items are on each menu at the various restaurants. We found this very useful when trying to decide where to eat any given night.

7) The Internet - There's free Wi-Fi throughout the resort (we didn't opt in for the Preferred club) but you still get free wifi. We were on the 13th floor (room 2307) and the wifi wasn't very good in our room but throughout the resort, in the lobby, by the pools, in the restaurants and shops the wifi was quite good.

8) Phone calls - Again, not well advertised but you get (again with just a standard ocean view room) free phone calls to anywhere in the US or Canada from your room.

9) The Rooms - Now here's another area where getting a good idea of what you're going to get is hard to determine from the Secrets website. Now as far as we could tell the main difference between the Preferred club (the building on the farthest right when looking at the resort from the beach with the ocean behind you) was that all those rooms have a Jacuzzi or tub on the balcony. Preferred club also got access to a private lounge with snacks and drinks but it was always pretty much empty since most people go to the main areas drink. Who wants to go to an empty bar to drink right? Views from any room above I would say the 3rd or 4th floor is spectacular. There are no rooms that don't face the ocean period. This resort is shaped like a boomerang that hugs the beach so you won't be disappointed with the view.

The bed in our room was really good as was the huge shower which has both a standard detachable shower head and rain shower heads. The shower is easily big enough for 2 people. The tub is also nice but we hardly used it. Lighting in the room is also good as there are a number of different lights you can turn on and fade etc. The rooms in general were the best I've experienced in my dozen or so all inclusive vacations. They really make the stay more comfortable.

The TV is a new flat screen with cable channels like HBO etc. Nothing in HD unfortunately but hey, who's going to Mexico to watch TV right. Channel 36 is 24hr porn in case that's your thing. Mini fridge has Coronitas (small corona bottles) and pop and water. The fridge keeps everything nice and cold. The thermostat is digital so you can program it. The AC is whisper quiet so it won't keep you awake at night. One thing to note is that the AC will only work when the hotel door and balcony sliding doors are closed (there are sensors built into each). In the standard Ocean view room you get all the basic amenities like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower gel, soap etc. In the preferred I think you also get toothpaste and spf 15 sunblock. That plus a slightly improved mini bar don't really seem worth the additional cost for the preferred club option. I would also not recommend the swim out rooms here since you lose the amazing view by being on the ground level. Also, the swim outs on the Secrets side get virtually no sun all day so you probably won't want to hang out there anyway. Given the layout of this resort it doesn't take long to get anywhere from your room to the pool to the beach etc so having a small pool outside your terrace doesn't seem worth it to me. The only issue we noticed with the room was that since we're near the elevator you could hear the ding sound each time it opened on our floor. Again, this is a very small thing and almost not worth mentioning and unlike many all inclusives the walls don't seem like they're paper thin so quiet is usually what you get at any time.

10) Room Service - It's not bad. You can order 24hrs a day and it's free so if you're feeling lazy one morning or late at night give it a try, the longest we waited was about 25min after ordering and the menu selection is quite good. Each room has a "Secrets box" which until I got there I didn't really understand what it was. It's basically a cupboard that's accessible from both within the room and outside your room so room service can leave your food if you don't wish to be disturbed. You can also put your finished plates etc in there and it will be out of sight and will be picked up when your room is cleaned next.

11) Tipping - Now you don't have to tip but if you have any class at all you will as the staff there work much harder than anywhere else I've ever been. Everyone is friendly, they generally understand English quite well and they really do make the vacation much better. We tipped all the time, mostly at the restaurants and bars etc. I usually gave $1 for each drink and tipped $5-10 after each dinner. Again, the service in the restaurants is pretty much better than almost any restaurant I've ever been to and my fiancé and I eat out often and we love to try good restaurants. Given how much more actual value $5 or $10 USD has to a Mexican local be generous and keep the service top notch by tipping. All in all I think we spend about $200-250 in tips for the entire vacation including $20 we left for the maid on our last day when we checked out. One thing I really noticed and appreciated is that service didn't really hinge on if you tip like other All Inclusives I've been to. This alone made me more inclined to tip as well as they seem to pool the tips and then divide it afterwards. Staff don't generally pocket the cash themselves. Having worked in the restaurant industry when I was young I appreciate this more professional way of handling tips.

12) Timeshares - When you get there you will be approached to sit through a quasi time share presentation where they spin it like joining their points club or whatever. Now if you've ever been to Las Vegas and you know how the MLife and Total Rewards points clubs work etc work it's not the same at all. Essentially what they want to sell you is a multi year discount to visit their various resorts including Now, Secrets, Dreams, Zoetree etc. What they want is for you to commit $15K (50% up front then the rest in monthly payments) to get permanent hotel room discounts (about 25-50%) off regular rates. We met people that opted in and they seemed to be pleased with it as you get a couple of free weeks to sign up but overall it wasn't for us. Personally I don't think the somewhat marginal discount you get on booking rooms will really offset the big up front financial commitment. I'm also not convinced that the savings will be very much when you consider how travel site aggregators like Expedia, Travelocity, Itravel 2000 etc give discounts when you book entire packages through them.

In conclusion I would highly recommend trying Secrets Vallarta bay as it's definitely one of the best all inclusives available in the area. Having been to about a dozen all inclusives throughout the Caribbean and Mexico this resort has been the best so far and I've been to the Grand Bahia's and Riu's etc. Give it a try as you won't be disappointed.

Room Tip: Request a room on a high floor as you won't regret the amazing view.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
28  Thank JamesLZ
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 121 Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Price Range: $279 - $1,141 (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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