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β€œAwesome Trip from an All-Inclusive Newbie”

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Secrets Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa
Ranked #16 of 125 Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Denver, Colorado, United States
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Awesome Trip from an All-Inclusive Newbie”
Reviewed May 1, 2013

So my fiance and I went to check out Secrets as a location for our destination wedding next year. Neither of us had booked an all-inclusive resort before, and really did not know what we were getting into. I imagined an Old Country Buffet attached to Best Western. Luckily, this was slightly better. Going in April is great because it was not 100% booked, there were no annoying 20 year olds who went to Mexico to drink, and the weather is 80s in the day, 60s at night. The staff was friendly and welcoming and the food was really good.

As with any place, you can find flaws if you look hard enough. I personally liked the music playing, but some said that it was too loud. I liked that nobody asked if my fiance was my brother, even though it was not a "gay" place.

Nobody tried to force a time share down our throats, and all of the staff seemed like they were happy we were there, and wanted us to have a good time. That, plus great drinks, is pretty much all that I need to have a good time.

Needless to say, we booked it for next year, and cannot wait to go back.

Room Tip: We were on the 7th floor, it was a gorgeous view, great room.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Jacob_Langness
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed May 1, 2013

People are most gracious everywhere. They do the utmost to make our stay better.
The food is even better than other last 3 Secret Hotels we visited.

The only negative is the loud rock music almost everywhere. It takes away the quiet romantic side
of the holiday. But on the 12th floor, you do not hear much.
We would definitely return.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank doris s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed April 30, 2013

My husband and I stayed at Secrets Vallarta Bay April20-27th. Travelled with Air Transat.

The resort is split in 2. Secrets and Now. NO kids allowed on the Secrets side. Secrets people are free to go to the Now side.

We arrived directly to the hotel with the bus transfer from the airport. The drive was about 10 minutes. Got welcomed by the bell boys who took our luggage and received a cool cloth from another worker.

Check in was simple, got offered some coupons for numerous discounts on spa, romantic dinner on the beach, wine options etc. I asked about more coupons, and then she mentioned going to a breakfast presentation that we right away turned down (not sure what this was, but we weren't interested in wasting our vacation on anything like that) She wasn't pushy at all about it.... and in the end we didn't use the coupons at all (lots of restrictions)

Got shown to the elevators, and were off to our room within 10 or so minutes of arriving.

The rooms were great! We had a standard room with the jacuzzi and it was a lot nicer than normal standard rooms we've stayed in! All rooms have an ocean view!! The big shower had 2 different shower heads, and a drying line for your bathing suits.
Had turndown service every night except our last (not sure why?) Also, if you don't like the pillows that you have, there is a menu of pillows you can request! Amazing right??

The food was great! On the Secrets side are: Oceana, Bordeaux, and Market Cafe. All the rest of the restaurants are on the Now side.
Loved the whole "no reservation needed' experience!!!
Oceana was good for lunch and dinner with great service, and awesome views of the sunset during dinner.
The French restaurant was good, but usually always a wait. Grab a pager and go for a drink to the lobby.
The Japanese restaurant was amazing! We went there 2 times for dinner!!
The Italian restaurant was so so.
Barefoot Grill was ok for a mid day snack by the pool, and they also had some specials each day where they would grill up something (a seafood dish one day, pork fajitas another, beef stir fry the next)

Drinks were awesome everywhere you went! The Cabernet Sauvignon wine was delicious! Watch out with the Mai Tai's... lol

Pools were great. The main pool with the swim up bar was always loud with drunk people. The 2 pools next to it were more relaxing. There were also 2 jacuzzi pools that were good. There were always chairs available. No need to go reserve a chair before breakfast unless you were SUPER picky.

Service was awesome everywhere you went! The hostess at the Market Cafe was always super nice! The waiters by the pool were great, we tipped most of the time just cause. Some of them will replace your half drank beer with a cold one, I loved this!

Weather: Amazing! 28-30 every day! Sunsets-- Amazing!

Wi-fi was alright, but it was free so can't really complain. Was best by the pools and on the balcony.

Love the Secrets resorts (this was our second stay with them, Los Cabos was our previous Secrets vacation in Aug 2012)

All in all, if we come back to Puerto Vallarta, this will be our first choice!!

Room Tip: Higher room away from elevators!
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Ola K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed April 30, 2013

Not a five-star rating kind of place but pretty nice and worth it at the price we got it for.

The Sales Pitch:
First off, yes, agree with previous reviewer with the heads up on the "it's not a timeshare" timeshare presentation. After check in, they immediately took us over to the VIP desk. We had no idea what it was about and it took a while to figure out what the heck the guy was even talking about. He dived right in about how they want to tell us more about their other hotels over breakfast (yep, that's how he characterized it). Then he even said something about bringing our credit cards so they could sign us up for some kind of sweepstakes. Assured us they wouldn't take card numbers and we just had to "flash" the card to make sure we qualify. Also, repeatedly assured us it would be about 90 mins. We agreed because of the $250 gift certificate to they offered us to the spa. It took 2.5 hours (would have been longer had we not finally put our foot down). Basically, they want you to pay $30,000 (that's the basic plan mind you) to become a member and get discounted rates at their resorts worldwide (all you get is a discount). But it took almost 2 hours and 15 minutes to even get them to tell us the price. They had four different people "working" us and would not take "no" for an answer. Funny thing is, they told us what rate we would have gotten for our visit had we been members and we in fact got an even better rate than that. Anyway, bottom line is, we got to enjoy wonderful massages and only paid $25 each instead of $150 each. Was it worth it? Maybe. But it's not a good way to start your vacation. Especially when our main reason for picking this location was based on our belief that it was not a timeshare (and technically it's not but walks like a duck, talks like a duck...). And by the way, the credit card thing wasn't for a sweepstakes. It's because they want to make sure you can sign up and pay right there and then!! The guy said a Visa was okay so I brought my debit card (that also works as a credit card). He said that wouldn't work and made me go back to my room and bring an actual credit card (cause most people don't have that kind of money sitting in their checking out). Just found it to be sneaky and disingenuous and a stain on what would have otherwise been a more favorable review.

Rooms and hotel:
Rooms were very nice. The hotel is less than a year old so everything is clean and new. Rooms are pretty big, with awesome showers and the best mattresses ever. Pools around the hotel were pretty nice as well. Lobby area is really nice and a good spot for a pre-dinner drink. Yes, there is that ugly lot behind the hotel but you really only pass it for a few seconds on the way to your room. Didn't bother us too much. Also, we paid for the upgrade to a higher room (they call it an ocean view but technically all the rooms face the ocean...it just puts you higher up). I think that was worth it but I would not pay for the swim up suites or the preferred tower. The swim up pools are in the shade most of the day and very isolated. Did not look like fun at all. By the way, first couple of days it was super easy to get a lounge chair by the pool or on the beach. But the weekend was packed and it was tough finding a spot. They ended up bringing more lounge chairs out and that was nice.

Beach:
Is not swimmable. I had read that Cabo beaches were not swimmable and I guess in comparison some people would consider this beach swimmable. It's a bit too rough in my opinion. Also, temperature is okay (not as nice as Caribbean) but the sand gives way to rocks as soon as you go in the water and it's painful to walk on. We didn't get far but others told us the water gets deep close to shore.

Spa:
My most favorite part of the entire trip. This space is top-notch and they have a great hydrotherapy area with different temperature pools. Massage was one of the best I've ever had. Pricey though (comparable to what you'd pay at a fancy spa in LA). Heard lots of guests raving about the massage place right next door, which has very good and cheap massages. For us, spa was worth it because we had those hard-earned certificates.

A tip on tips and the service:
Service at this place was AWFUL. Seriously, they need to train their employees. It wasn't malicious or anything but the employees were just clueless on what constitutes good service. It got almost comic sitting there to see how long it would take them to finally come to our table to get our order. Here's just one example. We sit down at Oceana for a late lunch. There are four waiters and four tables. We had been there for a full ten minutes and still nobody came to take our drink order. One of the waiters was walking around fixing/replacing place settings on the empty tables. Ummm, hello?? We finally waved someone over and placed our order. He asked if we wanted water and we said yes. Five minutes later he fills water for the table next to us and never brought our water. He asked if I wanted another diet coke. I said yes but he never brought it. Took forever to get our food. Just very, very slow and not at all attentive service at this place. Same with getting a drink on the beach/at the pool -- you're better off walking to the bar and getting it yourself. Only exception was the French restaurant, where the staff was of a different caliber. Oh, and get this, was told at the Japanese restaurant that they were out of chopsticks?!?! First she said they were "low" on chopsticks when she brought our sushi. And then when I asked if she could bring me some, she said that actually they were out. A very short while later a different waiter brought chopsticks out to a different table. Just weird! And as to tips, my tip is not to bother. The first couple of days we were dropping cash left and right and quite frankly it made no difference. So we stopped tipping and got the same service anyway. Only person who at all appreciated (and earned) it was Ali, the guy who does the kayaks.

Food:
Was so-so. The breakfast buffet on the Now side was great with lots of options and fresh juices. French restaurant was good. Oceana is pretty yummy too and probably only place that I'd say the food stood out. Rest of the food was mediocre (but maybe that's what you get for all-inclusive).

Alcohol:
Lots of premium liquors and beers included. Wine wasn't what we expected. They carried only one label that was included in the all-inclusive. Can't remember what it's called but it was an Argentine wine and they offered two whites (including Pinot Grigio) and a red. If you wanted a different kind of wine you had to buy the bottle. This is a strange definition of all-inclusive but whatever...the wine they offered was actually pretty decent. You may want to bring a bottle of your favorite wine along because you won't have many options unless you pay additional. Also, we asked for Sake at the Japanese restaurant and they said that was $5 extra. $5 is not a big deal but again a weird (and not previously disclosed) exclusion.

Beyond the hotel:
We were only there for five days and didn't do any of the excursions. Went to the "downtown" area and flea market one day. Nothing special at all. Lots of tacky touristy knick knacks. Maybe worth it if you want to do some tequila tasting (but you can get that at the resort anyway). It was about an $8 cab ride there and 15-20 minute walk back.

Our vacation was nice enough (not spectacular). We won't be going back there but I'd still recommend it as a destination for someone who wants a reasonably priced, nice resort for a short getaway. Personally would rather spring the extra money and go to the Caribbean.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Linda A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed April 29, 2013

When we checked in, before we got to our room, we were directed to the VIP desk for info on Puerto Vallerta. That's where we got the first sales pitch to sign up for a "breakfast" to learn more about special opportunities, with a bonus offering of spa certificates. We said no, but were urged to accept and are sorry we did. That breakfast turned into a 2 hour Glengarry Glen Ross style hard sell for a membership into the parent organization's vacation options. After having to strongly and repeatedly decline the offer, and finally stand up and leave, we were give the spa certificates that were promised. But it started our vacation on the wrong foot. That said, the facilities were spotless and the staff was fabulous. Food was so-so. Drinks were watered down.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Sylvia W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Saskatchewan, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 29, 2013

Initially we (my GF and I) booked the NOW side but were somehow upgraded to the Secrets side upon arrival. This turned out to be a huge plus for us as we were able to experience both sides. I don't think we would have been happy on the NOW side because of all the kids, there were a lot! Friends of ours (staying on the NOW side) had to switch rooms because of screaming kids and parents. Also, there were many Mexican families staying on that side and seemed to think the swim-up bar was a lane swim pool for children which became annoying quite quickly. Not to mention our friends Kindle disappeared from her lounger.. Needless to say we spend the majority of our time on the Secrets side and would not stay on the NOW side ever.

Now for the darn review! There was more top shelf booze on the Secrets side, Bailies, Grey Goose, Grand Marnier. The whole resort was incredible, art everywhere, beautiful stone work, we noticed something different everyday. Staff were excellent, Gilberto by the pool and Ruby in the lounge were our favorite as they went above and beyond for us daily, gracias! Our room was cleaned well every day just don't forget to turn the "maid light" back on for turn down service like we did a few nights. The bed was very comfortable and the sheets were soft. I'm not sure if I preferred the view from the balcony or the front door, they were both great.

The restaurants were amazing and deserve their own paragraph. We went to Tamarindo (Japanese) twice, once for the Teppanyaki and the next for sushi. Now, I don't eat fish and I've never tried sushi but I did here and it was so dam good we had to go back a second time. The food quality and dΓ©cor in these places would rival the best restaurants in any major city, you would pay over $100 a couple for a night out like this back home. We ordered room service for breakfast a few times and the omelets were undercooked almost every time so we went to the Market CafΓ© and it was much better, the best coffee I've ever had! One tip would be to order more than one entre and appetizer since they are small servings. I did this every night, besides the first one, and it was never a problem.

We never went to the spa but our friends said its was incredible. We had two massages at "Healing Hands" right outside the resort and they were great, $25 or $300 pesos.

We worked out almost everyday and played tennis twice. Both facilities were awesome!

Would I go back? Yes but not to the NOW side.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank dugrkoz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 29, 2013

We had two wonderful weeks at this resort. It was beautiful with a wonderful view of the ocean from the lobby from which you can occasionally see whales jumping about. Our room was gorgeous with both a walk-in shower and a tub. There is no privacy when you may want to use the tub but it was not an issue for us. Our maid, Tomasa, was excellent, very friendly and made a point of remembering our names. She had a great sense of humour and gave me a smiling salute whenever she saw me! Another person who made a point of remembering everyone's name was Yoana, the hostess at the Market Cafe. She was absolutely outstanding. In fact, all the staff at this resort were exceptional in their friendliness and willingness to help you. Other memorable staff were: Oscar Zunigra and Alexandre in the Carnival restaurant, Marco in Bordeau, and Irma in hospitality. For those who like to relax in a spa, the attendants at receiving are very accommodating and the spa itself is spectacular. Very generous with drinks around the pool. Food was good but could have been varied a bit more. The fitness room although adequate could be expanded because it was usually very busy in the morning. All in all a real 5-star resort.

Room Tip: Ask for a high floor away from the elevator.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Norah S
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 Resort & Spa

Property: Secrets Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa
Address: David Alfaro Siquerios No. 164 | Col Zona Hotelera Las Glorias, Puerto Vallarta 48333, Mexico
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 #16 of 125 Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Secrets Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa 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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