We are a couple in our 50s from Vancouver BC who have travelled to many all-inclusives in Mexico and other countries, with our kids, groups of friends, and on our own. This trip we travelled on our own. We chose Marival because we had stayed there about 10 years ago and liked many things about it, including the short distance from the airport, peaceful location, reasonable price and availability of many activities.
Marival Club and Suites is located in Nuevo Vallarta, a quiet, planned resort community on a long, stunning beach, about half an hour north of Puerto Vallarta. The area includes a number of all-inclusives and condo properties but not too many shops or restaurants within close walking distance. There is a small mall, Paradise Plaza, about a 30 minute walk (or 10 minute leisurely bike ride) south of the hotel. It has a grocery store with small pharmacy, small shops and restaurants, and most importantly (for us), a Starbucks (for our good coffee and free Wi-Fi fixes). The charming Mexican town of Bucerias is to the north, best accessible by cab or bicycle (we didn’t walk there ourselves, but some people told us it took them 1.5 hours). Our overall impression of the location: very good for us, but it wouldn’t be ideal for a traveller wanting to be where the action is.
Being one of the older all-inclusives in the area, Marival benefits from having relatively low room density and a wide piece of beachfront. The resort is quite well designed, with noisier areas (disco, theatre) located closer to the entrance away from the majority of rooms (the u-shaped echo chamber design that we have seen in many resorts has been avoided here). There are a number of pools, ranging from kiddie, to lively activity, to quiet adult (our favorite). We only went in the adult pool, which was nicely heated (something we haven’t always found at all-inclusive resorts). The resort public areas are comfortable and clean, but not fancy. The resort is a reasonable size, so it is easy to pop back to the room if you need to retrieve anything. The grounds and resort facilities were impeccably clean. Overpriced Wi-Fi was a disappointment (free Wi-Fi in the lobby would be much appreciated). Our overall impression of the property: Very good.
Low key and family oriented. Our impression: good for us, but probably not great for fun-loving singles.
Upon checking in, we were asked to go with a man who would put on our bracelets and update us on the resort. I knew from reading reviews here that this was aimed at getting us to a timeshare presentation but given that this person held our bracelets, it was pretty hard to not go with him. Our impression of check-in: Front desk service was fine but it is pretty cheesy to prey upon weary travellers with a timeshare ruse. We can expect this at the airport, but at the hotel check-in counter? Our impression of check-in: Bad.
We stayed in a standard room in the Grand section. Rooms are clean but basic. I agree with previous reviewers that the rooms could use a facelift. We emailed the hotel to request a ground floor pool view room and were accommodated. The Grand section overlooks the main activity pool which tends to be noisy, but it was wonderful to be able to step outside our room and sit on a poolside patio. This was the first time we have had a ground floor room and we would look for this again. Bed was comfortable. Satellite TV had quite a number of channels (including several Canadian and American channels). Interestingly we visited a room in the other half of the building and the TV channels were totally different (I’m thinking it must have been on a different satellite feed). Room was a bit musty and air conditioning system didn’t really help to clear that. We tended to shut it off at night, and kept the sliding door open (there was a lockable screen door on the ground floor). No issues with hot water or plumbing. Our overall impression of the rooms: Just OK.
Restaurants and Food
We found the food here to be particularly disappointing and not as good as the last time we were here. Food at the buffet and beachfront snack bar were the worst in our opinion. Part of the issue with the buffet was the atmosphere: dark and muggy with ceilings (best to ask for table in outside covered area). Steam table choices were typically overcooked, difficult to identify and tasteless. Breads and bakery products appeared to be from packages. Meats at specialty restaurants were tough. Desserts tended to be held up with gelatin and topped with fake cream.
We ate at all of the a la carte restaurants. Some of them appear to have undergone renovations quite recently and appear a bit more upscale than the other areas of the resort. Although the food was nicely presented and it was good to be served by a waiter, much of what we ate was tasteless or odd tasting.
Best food choices we tried: breakfast made to order omelettes (also, the woman who makes them is amazingly efficient), fruits, yogurts, ice cream, tacos cooked outdoors on Tuesday Mexican night (if you see Mexican people lining up, follow them!), chips with fresh salsa and guacamole, fresh pizza from wood-fired oven at outdoor snack bar.
Our overall impression of the food: Bleh.
Coffee quality varied. We realized late in the week that you can order a cappuccino, even at the buffet, which makes for a somewhat better coffee experience. Our 2 drinks of choice from the bar were the margarita (frozen or on the rocks) and soda with fresh lime (as a non-alcoholic choice). Both were good. There was an expansive mixed drink menu posted. I didn’t hear people complaining about the drinks. Our overall impression of the beverages: Pretty good.
Most staff were polite and accommodating. Tips are appreciated but not demanded. We had a very touching experience at the Italian restaurant, where we gave our waiter a $5 tip. As he walked away we saw him with his head down doing the sign of the cross. I didn’t think a $5 tip would be unusual, but he sure seemed to appreciate it. Our overall impression of the service: Very good.
There is something for everyone at this resort. My husband played tennis on the excellent courts. He used one of their rackets, although he chose to bring a fresh can of balls. We loved having the bicycles and used them every day. We used them for jaunts to Starbucks, to go to Bucerias, and to visit the North end of Nuevo Vallarta near the Mayan Palace. Although bicycles appear rickety and don’t have gears, they are fine for the flat terrain in the area. Unfortunately, we didn’t get out on the kayaks, as red flag was up on the day we wanted to go out. Beach is 5* for walking: nice and flat and you can take a long walk in either direction.
The typical poolside activities were available for those who were interested. There also appeared to be a very active children’s club.
We left the resort for two day trips. One day we cabbed to Puerto Vallarta and took a water taxi to the small rustic but funky beach community of Yelapa where friends were staying (wonderful – we may go back there to stay). We also took a wonderful day long excursion (with Pegasus) to the Marietas Islands (sailing, whale watching, snorkeling, lunch). Highly recommend.
Our overall impression of activities at and beyond the resort: Very good.
We love Nuevo Vallarta and like many things about the Marival, but the not great food and lack of dining alternatives within walking distance would be the biggest thing that would hold us back from visiting again anytime soon. We realize food is a budgetary issue but we have seen that it is possible to make delicious food from relatively inexpensive ingredients. Even some small things like a self-serve taco bar at the beach restaurant, some Mexican flan for dessert, and a few in-house baked goods would go a long way. I'm not sure how motivated the resort would be to address this issue given their captive audience of timeshare members.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Something Different, Something Better! Welcome to a unique lively beachfront all-inclusive just 10 minutes from Puerto Vallarta airport! Comfortable rooms, special locations- new Mediterranean style Resort Rooms and exceptional 1-3 Bedroom Villa Style Suites starting at 570 sq ft up to 1261 sq ft including Ocean Front. One to Three Bedroom Suites are perfect for families or couples that want to spread out including two story 2 Bedroom Suites and Ocean Front steps from the sea! Romantics and families enjoy endless choices in dining, activities, laying back and relaxing. International all-inclusive dining redefined, award winning chefs offer gourmet dining at 6 restaurants. Treat yourself to 7 bars including swim-up, piano and martini bars. Endless land and water sports- rock climbing wall, activity pool, adults only pool, tennis, disco, evening theater shows, mini-golf and more! Kids waterpark pool, pirate ship, waterslides and fountains. Special kids and teens club programs too. For couples- renew your vows, get married or honeymoon on the beach. For families- the ultimate all-inclusive Family Emotion program with over 10 included extras customized just for your family! Enjoy sea, sun and nonstop fun at Marival Resort and Suites. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Marival Hotel Nuevo Vallarta
- Marival Resort And Suites