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Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta
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Reviewed April 10, 2013

My girlfriend & I booked through our travel agent at Apple Vacations (which uses United Vacations' [UV] service) and overall the trip was seamless (except after arriving in the US & I'll get to that later). Upon landing at the airport on Thursday, passing through customs was not a hassle at all (although we both got the green light vs. the red) and the "airport gauntlet" was nothing bad like I expected (I even got a free margarita sample!), and were easy to pass by when ignoring them. Our prearranged UV ride attendant had our names & easily pointed us to the cab we took to the resort. It was a short 5-10 min ride (depends on traffic) and we were dropped off right at the door of the hotel. We tipped the driver, the luggage attendant, and were greeted with champagne & wet towels. Side note on tips - just because it is an all-inclusive resort, doesn't mean it's ok not to tip the employees. I was surprised to see how many people didn't tip at anytime, but thanks to those scumbags we were treated like a king & queen! Back to the resort, we were booked for a Junior Suite Garden View which we were told had two double beds & wouldn't be ready for 2 hours. We didn't realize our room had 2 double beds (it was on the reservation), and we chose to upgrade to a Junior Suite Ocean View with a king bed which was ready immediately (we checked it out prior to upgrading). We told them it was my girlfriend's birthday on Saturday, so they told us to give them a few minutes to prepare the room. We had drinks in the lobby bar called Bar Redezvous while we waited (Cecilia & Guillermo are incredible people & great server/bartender), and then were given the ok to head to our room on the 9th floor. Side note: all rooms face the ocean, garden view just means the few bottom floors. We can't comment on the preferred tower amenities, since we didn't pay for that. I will say the swim up rooms share one thin long pool, and don't seem that interesting. When we got to our room, they had a 'Happy Birthday' banner put up on the door, and decorated the room with balloons! They also brought another bottle of champagne on ice, a card, & a cupcake for her birthday...very cool! The resort itself was SUPER clean (only a year old but I've never seen such deep cleaning going on 24 hours a day in my life) and the room was excellent, huge shower, toilet had it's own room, huge jacuzzi tub, his/her vanity sinks, programmable safe in the closet, large widescreen Samsung TV (48' maybe?), mini fridge (stocked with bottled water, 5-6 Coronitas [w/opener], Coca Cola glass bottles, Coca Cola Light [Diet], Sprite, orange Fanta, Club Soda, and 2 drink boxes - one apple & one orange), iron & ironing board, scale, plenty of towels, two robes, & two pairs of slippers. The bed was super comfy, and the room had a big balcony with a beautiful view. We spent a lot of time in the pool at Bar Manatees (swim-up bar) which had a great staff working (Cesar, Alfredo, Eduardo, Angel, & Juan Valdez are great) and they would make anything you asked for (inclusive of what they had stocked) and they all had great personalities. We drank here each day until we had enough of alcohol & sun, and ended up in the room for naps & room service. The room service food was mostly pretty good, and had a decent variety. We used them a lot due to sun burns unfortunately, and only made it to two restaurants the entire trip. Oceana for lunch was a beautiful setting, but the food was just ok. For appetizer, I had the mushroom empanadas (small but good), and my girlfriend had shrimp cocktail. For my entree, I had shrimp - which were the same small size as her appetizer and I only had 5 (less than the amount she got). Good, but no entree. She had tuna, which was overcooked (she asked for raw/seared & it was nearly well done) but still tasty. Drinks here were excellent, as was the service. We aren't complainers, and just got room service later...lol. The Market Cafe for breakfast is a buffet, but pretty decent food there. Quality of any decent buffet, just different with plenty of Mexican options. We checked out the beach, and it was also super clean, with warning levels of the tide safety (red the entire time, so we did pool each day). The vendors aren't really pushy, and just want to sell some merchandise. I wish we could review the other restaurants, but we really enjoyed our trip. The other guests were mostly Canadian or Hispanic, but everyone was very nice. Never saw anyone act like jerks or get out of hand, just lots of people not tipping. I forgot to mention the timeshare thing people have brought up in other reviews - it depends on who you book through, but ours was with Osvaldo "Ozzy" with UV. He introduced himself to us when we arrived, and was very nice. He wanted to meet with us on check-in day, but we helped ourselves with some drinks and didn't make it until Friday. He was just trying to upsell on some side activities for our trip (pretty decent prices) but we didn't choose any. He was nice, not pushy, and it was 15-20 minutes. Not a big deal at all, and he arranged our airport pickup for us on the day we left. They didn't show up on time, however, and we ended up taking a taxi there on our own which we had to pay for out of pocket. This wasn't cool, but it's a cheap ride. Same for going into town to La Malecón (downtown Puerto Vallarta pedestrian mall), it was only 80 pesos ($6.40 USD) each way which included tip. Recommend the leather store Rolling Stone - found a cool billfold for my Grandpa & my girlfriend spent 2800 pesos ($224 USD) on some awesome purple boots. It felt very safe there too, so no worries there. Just know that taxi drivers will NOT steal each others' fares, as we found one cheaper than the other and were forced to take the first one but for the reduced price. Back to the airport, it is not very big & easy to navigate through. Now, our problem was our US Customs connection was in Houston (IAH) and their setup was AWFUL. We were in line for over an hour, causing us to miss our connection. Being that the trip was booked through United Vacations (United Airlines sub-company) and United Air, you'd think they would have allowed for more time. But no, we got stuck in Houston and were forced to pay out of pocket for a hotel room, then had to travel to Chicago in the morning (delayed flight from Chi too) before finally making it home. I am definitely going to book a trip here next year, but will likely go with choosing my own flights/hotel rides next time. I definitely don't want to go through Houston if possible or at least give myself more time in between flights. Excellent resort & loved every minute of it though!!!

Room Tip: All rooms face the ocean, garden view just means the few bottom floors. We can't comment on the preferred tower amenities, since we didn't pay for that. I will say the swim up rooms share one thin long pool, and don't seem that interesting
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Matt F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 10, 2013

Great place to stay in PV. Our room was a jacuzzi suite in the preferred tower. Great view of the pool area and partial view of the ocean. Small buffett all day long in the lobby of the tower. Was nice to be able to grab a bite to eat easily and quickly.

Food at all the restaurants was great. Breakfast buffett was almost too much to chose from. Had dinner two nights at Oceana. The French restaurant is nice as well. Overall I thought the food was excellent.

We also played two rounds of golf at Vallarta View Golf Course. Greens fee was included in our rate.

Spa is excellent. A bit pricey, but worth it. My only negative is the music in the spa area was a bit loud for my tastes.

Reccomendation to get to resort. DO NOT PAY FOR A PRIVATE AIRPORT TRANSFER... The companies linked to the site charge $65 (US) per person. You can get a cab for $10 easy as pie.

Be sure to visit the Zona Romantica.

Only negative was the hard sell on the time share.... AVOID THE TIME SHARE SELL AT ALL COSTS, YOU WILL BE TRAPPED FOR AT LEAST 3 HOURS!!!!

Room Tip: Use the local cabs, not private transfers. Upgrade to preferred tower, but get a swim out only if you are traveling with a group.
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank bennettdanville
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 9, 2013

Still here enjoying an awesome birthday.
My wife brought me down here for my birthday we are only staying three days but having a great time. We are staying in one of the master suites with swim out its in the preferred tower. The food has been great service is amazing, The place is very clean and the price is very much worth every penny.
The only issue I have had is ordering room service, asked for the all american breakfast and twice they were unable to get it correct and it's right in there menu. But this is so minor really not worth mentioning just thought it was funny.

I would defiantly recommend this property.

Room Tip: If you can, pay the extra to stay in the preferred tower you will not be disappointed.
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Friendlytraveler6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2013

We stayed for 2 weeks Mar/Apr and found SVB to be everything we have come to expect from this chain. Having stayed 10 other times for 2-3 weeks at Secrets Capri and Secrets Maroma Beach we wouldn't consider any other resort.

We were met by Alejandro and Alex along with Mr. Daniel Navarro, Resident Manager and one of the nicest people in the world that you will ever meet. We were taken to Preferred for check-in with Daniel who was there to answer any questions during our stay. I would be remiss not to mention Raul who was always available to assist with anything and everything. It was also great to see Adriana from SMB there too, always greeting us with her big smile. The rooms are amazing with the most comfortable beds and very roomy with lots of closet and drawer space.

The resort is absolutely stunning inside and out. Even though it's only 1 year old you will see the maintenance crew painting and upgrading to keep all of the building and amenities sparkling and fresh.

Note: Several previous reviews have mentioned the Preferred building access and the fact that there is no need to spend the extra $ to book there, just walk right in. That has changed. Now you must swipe your preferred card at the door to gain access. Great decision.

The pool areas are spacious and lots of loungers, so even when we were there over Easter and it was busy, there was plenty of room. As previously mentioned no towel cards are needed and the towels are plentiful. The servers by the pool are always nearby and anxious to please. Thank you to Eduviges and his team, Mario, Mauricio and the ever smiling Omar!

Food: All I can say is wow! There is so much variety and the food quality is excellent. Our favourite was the Bordeaux with the Maitre'd Eduardo always ready to make sure your evening is perfect. Thank you Gil for being a top notch waiter every night!

Note: It has been said that portions are too small. There are typically 5 courses and for most people that is plenty enough. Understandably there are some with large appetites. No one will mind if you ask for a larger portion. Remember they are there to make you happy and full. Also there isn't usually any wait if you eat early at 6 to 6:30. They to have their busier time after 7:30.

Every morning at 7 and every day at 1pm we would head to the Market Café for breakfast and lunch, being greeted by Secrets "Ray of Sunshine", Yoanna. One of the sweetest people you will ever meet, you will want to put her in your purse and bring her home. The buffet for both meals has everything and anything you could want. Selection and food quality is excellent. Thank you to Maitre'd Carlos and his team, Marco, Geraldo, Cesar and Juan.

Preferred Lounge: The bartenders at Preferred were fantastic, particularly Abraham, Isreal, Big Alex and trainee Luis. I have no idea how they remember to make so many different cocktails. They are all so friendly and have much patience!

Entertainment: We were totally excited to find out that the hypnotist show starred none other than Danny Doyle. We had seen him previous years and have never seen anyone like him. The show is at 9 pm (Tuesdays when we were there) so my best advice is to make sure you have an early dinner that evening so you can attend the show. You will be blown away by his show and never stop laughing. It's even better if you or someone in your group gets hypnotized, you can laugh at them all night and then relay to them for the rest of the trip how they made everyone laugh. Thank you Danny for always putting on the best show!

Note: If you or a friend do end up in the show, make sure you buy the DVD after. You will never regret and watch it over and over.

I will say that we were worried that children from the Now side would be an issue but we never saw or heard them. We have many friends with children that have wanted our advice on which resort they could go to, but having always stayed at Secrets adult only, we couldn't really say. Now we can highly recommend Amber Now. My hairdresser is booking with her family and Grandma and Grampa will stay on the Secrets side and they can now have that Christmas in Mexico as a family that they have always wanted.

We can't wait to book for next spring.

Thank you again to GM Mauricio and RM Daniel for your amazing management team. You excel in guest services and choosing the right staff to please us.

If you have any questions we would be happy to write you back. If you have already made your choice and booked SBV...I am jealous. Wish I was back there!

Room Tip: We stayed on the 7th floor in the Preferred building and the view was phenomenal!
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank canuck888
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2013

This hotel was awesome. I initially was going to write a long review about this hotel, but decided that it wasn't even worth it since I had very little negative to say.

Some things that others have written are true, namely that -
1) there is an abandoned property next door with dogs and roosters,
and
2) taste of food isn't the best (especially the poolside lunch).

Even with that however, everything else was so superb that it makes up for it.

Service was fantastic, one of the best of any "beach-type" resorts I have been too. One thing I particularly liked was that whether you tipped someone nothing or a lot, it made no difference to the service you received - a rare thing for all-inclusive resorts. The staff, whether housekeeping, busboy, waiters, etc. were all very friendly and professional.

Although the food taste was average, the dining experience was still very good. Breakfast was the best in terms of options, taste, and quality. The poolside lunch needs improvement for sure. Dinner was good.

Rooms are VERY well appointed and all views are great. Ours was "garden view", but had a great ocean view. Sleep quality was great.

I would definitely recommend to others.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Tim S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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