We stayed 1/31/10 through 2/7/10, just my wife and I. We are in our mid 30s and have been to many all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean so I think I can fairly compare this resort to the "norm".
The resort looks exactly as it does in the pictures on its website. I mean exactly, no exaggerated or fake stuff like some other resorts do for advertising. What you see is what you get. Same with the rooms, just like the pictures.
Rooms: Nice size, very well appointed and modern. Nice marble floors, etc. Great shower, tub, and the hot tub on the balcony is a very nice touch. Minibar stocked daily with beer, pop, water, and juice. Coffee maker in room. A/C and all appliances worked perfect. They had very good quality shampoo, soaps, etc. Even supplied spf 15 sunblock at no charge, and they were not tiny little 1-ounce bottles either, rather decent size bottles. I even brought a few home.
We enjoyed excellent service at all the bars including being waited on regularly by servers while sitting at the beach. We thought the very best service could be had at the Marlin bar though. Lobby bar seemed to get a bit busy at times. The bars did offer can beer also, and even included US brands like Bud, Bud light, etc. Canned beer came in very handy for leaving the property for excursions, bringing several up to the room, etc. Liquors were premium as advertised. Plenty of Absolute, Bailey's, etc. We even enjoyed Grand Mariner for nightcaps on numerous occasions. They made many good blender drinks also, it was not just a few premixed colada/daiquiri dispensers like cheaper all-inclusives.
Food/dining: We were very pleased overall. El Patio was our favorite, the fillet mignon there is excellent and the service is top notch and fast. They do an awesome Mexican coffee also. We only did the buffet for dinner once, and that was when it was the Mexican show night when it was set up by the pools for the show, it was very good overall. The Italian place was nothing special but good overall. Seaside grill was good for a more casual dinner (great for lunch also). Oceana is the best for seafood dinner. (Read the final paragraph of this review for the problem with Oceana/Seaside grill) Buffet breakfast was very good, about as would be expected at an AI resort. Room service was a nice touch. They were prompt and the portions were huge, very nice and elaborate spreads. We only indulged a couple times, but it is a great food option to have 24/7.
I won't get into the beach and pools as that has already been done to death here. All were very nice...
There were some children but it was not a problem at all. The kids club seemed to keep them busy and out of the way for the most part. I think it would be a good hotel to bring a kid who is about 5 or older. There were several couples with infants which we thought was irresponsible. They were not bother but we can't understand why people would want to bring newborn babies to a place like this...
The location is great. it is out of the downtown noisy area. It is very cheap and easy to get into town though, the bus stops right near the resort and it is 13 pesos to get all the way to the cruise ship pier in PV (Walmart stop). To continue to downtown old PV, the Malecon, etc it is only 6.5 pesos for the next bus. Real easy to figure out, they are marked well. Beats a $40USD cab ride any day! We were quite impressed with the public transportation system overall. We did rent a car for 2 days though and that was even better. Then you can go to Punta Mita and beyond, the PV Zoo, Misomyola, PV Botanical Garden, most of the canopy and other tours (where you pay next to nothing if you are not coming by a tour outfit and bus) lots of cool mountain waterfalls and secret beaches, etc. There are lots of whales with their babies and tons of dolphins in the bay. It's a must to take a boat trip out to see them and/or swim and snorkel with the numerous wild dolphins. Very cool! You can even take a jetski out to the pods of dolphins and to where the whales are hanging out. Just look for the clusters of two to 3 whale watching tour boats, you see them you know they are sitting on whale(s).
One observation we made was something we are not extremely disappointed in, but it still irks us some. It seemed like late in the week, about Friday or Saturday, a lot of younger guests showed up. Lots of 20-somethings who seemed ready to "party hard". It seemed to change from the couples and family type place to party it up, tatoos, piercings, hooting and hollering types. We also noticed a change in some of the restaurant's menus about that time. Some of the higher-end things disappeared suddenly. No NY strip on the lunch menu at Seaside for lunch, the shrimp cocktail's portion size shrunk by 1/2, no more ribeye, and a few other things. We still managed to get a nice fillet mignon for our last dinner Saturday evening though. I'm not sure what happened but there sure was a change. Maybe a lot more people just getting there got it for pretty cheap like we did? Spring break already? It almost seems that the atmosphere of the resort cheapened at the end of the week. Maybe it's a seasonal thing? More of a crowd you would expect to see at a 3-star AI in Cancun or something...
A few final thoughts. Suggestion: At the airport when arriving, get a bunch of 5 peso coins at the cambio there. The rate there was good (13MX-$1USD). The 5 peso coins are perfect for tipping, and tipping more frequently than you would with dollar bills. The staff is very happy to even get a tip at all, so a 5 or two is not an insult. This resort is not a Sandals level place by any means, but for less than 1/4 the price they come pretty close in service and food.
The Storm: We had pretty good weather with one exception. Late Tuesday evening 2/2/10 a nasty tropical storm blew through. I found it to be cool and exciting but my wife was scared pretty bad. It started with just evening rain but later in then night we could hear loud smashing, breaking glass, thumps, and loud howling on the sea side. I opened the door to look and it was definitely hurricane-strength winds which lasted for about an hour. The ceiling blew up in our room and a big vent and air filters came out into the tub and all over our bathroom. The power went out twice and by the time it was on again long enough for me to connect to the internet I found the wind was still clocking 74mph in PV. It was well over 100mph at the worst of it in my opinion. We didn't lost power for that long though which was lucky. 200+ deck chairs and lawnchairs and umbrellas were completely cleared from the poolsides and in the pools. Not one was still on deck! Some broken windows, the roof was ripped off the Seaside grill, spanish tile roofing on top of the towers was torn up and some were falling 10 stories to the pool area. Many of the rooms sustained ceiling damage, holes blown out, etc. Worst of it on the sea side. The kids trampoline/bungie thing disappeared. Most of the cabana-like shades around the pool area were damaged or totally ripped off. All the couches and furniture in the hotel lobby and bar area were blown out and were blown down the driveway, some 100s of feet away. Pictures and paintings blown off all the walls, the front desk/check in area was totally gutted. All the computers, desks, everything was totally wiped out of there. We did find a computer printer down by the tennis courts... Concierge desk and all that stuff blew away also. The Avis rental car desk got trashed and his computers blew away too. It was quite a sight! We had a rental car for the morning following the storm and through the following evening. Many of the roads were impassable in the morning, trees and power lines down everywhere. Even huge old trees uprooted. Driving around the area it was like the aftermath you would expect to see following a CAT 1 or 2 hurricane. The rain had continued into Wednesday as the system moved out so we headed north of Punta Mita that morning seeking dry weather for the day (and were successful). When we returned in the evening we learned it had poured rain all day at the resort. Nearly 8 inches of rain total came with the storm I was told! Dreams staff did a good job of cleaning up and trying to get things back together. We lost the Seaside grill though and that was a real bummer. They are now trying to blend Oceana and Seaside grill and it was not working out too well in our opinion. Half the seating for lunch, incorrect menus, dinner all messed up, etc. I hope they get it fixed soon because the system they had before the storm was great.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Dreams Villamagna brings Unlimited-Luxury® to families, couples and friends in a picturesque setting with the Sierra Madre Mountains in the distance. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta Hotel Nuevo Vallarta
- Dreams Villamagna Nueva Vallarta Nuevo
- Dreams Villamagna Nueva Vallarta Hotel