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The Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta
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Reviewed January 13, 2008

I wanted to take a minute to chime in my thoughts on this resort.

My wife and I (both 35 yoa), with our two small children (ages 2 and 2 months), spent 6 days at the Grand Mayan from January 5-10. The resort offers many positives and some negatives. For the most part, we enjoyed our stay - It's a nice place.

First, the good....

1. As many others have said, the pool area is great. The pool is divided into many different sections, some very quiet, some very active. If you are looking for quiet away from children, you can find it. If you are looking for a pool with a bunch of kids jumping in and out of the pool, you can find that too.

The "activity" pool, as I called it, is located in the center of the pools and it operates as the scene for the coordinated activities by resort staff (volleyball, aerobics, spinning etc...). I only played a few games of volleyball which were pretty fun. They also have a "tequila volleyball" game at 4 p.m. which consists of approximately 9-10 people, on each side of the net, hitting the ball back and forth until somebody screws up - the offending party then having to drink a tequila/punch mixture out of a squirt bottle held by the resort staff. Not for everyone, but I had a good time with it.

There are two shallow pools located, roughly, on each side of the activity pools where we spent most of our time as our two year old could enter/exit the pool as she wanted. This was a nice feature as our two year old, being the independent type, doesn't always want mommy or daddy holding her. One of us just followed her as she ran back and forth doing what two year olds do.

The lazy river is very fun. The resort starts up a wave generator on, from what I could tell, a 10 minute on 5 minute off cycle that throws up some small rapid type waves in a section of the river. This occurred from 1 to 3 p.m. Pretty much everyone who went through the rapids enjoyed them, but I did talk to several people who stayed away from the river after looking at the waves. Regardless, the river is at most 3-4 feet deep so an adult can put his or her feet down even if a wave bucks them off their tube - although I never saw this happen.

2. The resort is very clean.

3. The restaurant food that I tasted (samba, tramonte) was certainly above average and priced, for the most part, reasonably. If you are looking for a steak or lobster, you are going to pay ($25-40 pp)- if you can settle for pasta,fish or chicken, it's not too bad (about $10-20 per plate).

4. The staff is generally friendly and english is widely spoken and understood - although I normally try to butcher spanish.

From my perspective, the resort is a wonderful place for kids. Many pools, a waterslide, wave tanks (1-2 foot waves not enough for any sort of boogie boarding or surfing), a small train that goes around the resort and a nice beach. I think couples without children could certainly have fun here too as there are plenty of activities and the resort is big enough to get away from everyone. Anyone who has any further questions is welcome to email me.

Now the bad....

1. The construction noise is absolutely real. On the weekdays is started up around 7 a.m. and consisted of back up alarms and normal construction sounds. Since our baby was keeping us up anyway, it wasn't a huge deal for us - but that may not be the case for everyone.

2. Our first floor room one bedroom unit faced a parking garage and was close to the construction. As I exchanged here from my Pueblo Bonito timeshare, I understood that the Mayan resort owners would get preferential rooms (which is true and is a plus for the resort owners)I still didn't like the room though.

We had significant problems getting the room keys to work upon check-in which required me to eventually (after getting the keys rescanned 3 times) insist someone from the concierge accompany me back to the room to fix the problem. Somebody did help me then with no complaints and the problem was resolved.

Lastly, a few hours after our check in the resort told apparently told another couple the room we were in was available as they came into our room while we were in it eating dinner. They were understandably embarrassed. Not sure how that happened.

3. The room service was, in a word, terrible. My families' bags didn't make it to us for two days which meant we were ok for the pool, but not for any restaurant. As such we ordered room service the first night (pasta and another dish I can't remember) - hated it - and then again the second night thinking "it couldn't be that bad again" fajitas this time........it was. Suffice to say, any dress code concerns went out the door after that but we got our bags the next day so it wasn't a problem.

4. The grand mayan holds itself out as a family friendly resort - but I found the food offered to children was somewhat lacking. Chicken nuggets with fries, pizza and burritos. Maybe thats because kids won't eat much more than that, but It would have been nice for a fruit, yogurt or other healthy alternative. Any sort of juice was a minimum of $3.50 as well. They do make smoothies for kids as well for $4.50, but they were quite good. All drinks, for that matter, were expensive - but that is normal at any resort. The resort does have daily drink specials (2 for 1) that we only found out about on the last day - that could have saved us some money.

5. The pool chair reservations...pretty much every chair that may see any sun during the day is "reserved" by 8:30 am. People grab a bunch of towels from the towel guy and place them on seats. Actually, most of the prime seats (in the sun and poolside or the few daybeds they offer) were gone by 7:40 am or earlier. I found it easier to simply get my butt out of bed and grab some seats as opposed to not getting out of bed and being pissed off about not having good seats. However, if you want your choice of seats - reserve them before 7:15 and even that may not be early enough for the day beds (each one that i saw was ferociously guarded by a grandparent or whoever drew morning duty in a group - who obviously got up earlier than I did.)

We went on the timeshare presentation and, while it is certainly a grind, I found the sales staff to be courteous, persistent, but courteous upon hearing our denial. The only grouse I had stemmed from the fact that once we said no - they shepherded us to a "exit interview" where they then tried to sell an alternate plan through HSI - that was a bit much in my opinion. As long as you go into the process with your eyes open though, you have no room to complain in my opinion.


In summary, my family had a great time. I would go back again when the kids were a little older (5-7 yoa probably being the best time). The resort is very nice, but there were some problems which kept me from giving the resort five stars. If anyone has direct questions, please feel free to contact me.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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13  Thank DuckUnder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 8, 2008

Amazing resort, the central water park is spectacular, with wave pool, swim up bars, central sports area, daily activities pool side, water slide, access to beach, and lazy river !

Other reviews were really helpful!!!

Our tips, 1. You can get a taxi from the airport (SMALL CAR ) for $22.00 usd, get this at the official booth just as you exit the airport terminal

2. No extra tips required!

3. When at the hotel, make sure you get the room you paid, or booked, whether ocean side or parking side view and proper size of room.

4. Front desk will send you then to the "shark den " this is the desk just behind and at the corner of the lobby, for your wrist band.

ASK the front desk what colour wrist band you should get, either silver or gold colour. NOW IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO GO THROUGH THE SCARY TIME SHARE ISSUES...... Go to the desk and DO NOT PROVIDE THEM YOUR ROOM NUMBER !!! They say that they need it so they can tell you where your room is, NOT REQUIRED !!! Just get your wrist band, and then head just around the back of the front desk and ask the conceiege where your room is. They are great and will not time share you!! They will give you a map and will show you the way to the building you are in.

We had to get quite curt with the shark den to insist that we were NOT interested in the breakfast, nor the tour nor anything else!

The less you tell them the better.

Of course if you don't care, do the breakfast, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The option to put the charges on your credit card is there. Like pool bar charges, gym visits $10.00 per day and internet use, $5.00 per 30 minutes.

MAKE SURE you check your credit card charges when you return home! We had paid all in cash when settling the account, then made sure we had the zeroed off statement, and when home found the had double charged. Of course the fax to them with the obvious zero balance is in the dispute mechanism.

Take care and have a great trip, once you are in there, it is great!

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
10  Thank Aviatorstarboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2008

I did appreciate the advice I received on this web site prior to my trip. I took to heart the advice about getting through the airport's gauntlet of time share salepeople and to ask for a room on the side of the Hotel away from the construction. My 2 bedroom suite was luxurious and that is based on having traveled throughout Europe and the Caribbean and staying at very nice resorts. We have stayed at all-inclusives on past trips to Mexico and the Caribbean and consider this resort a step above the 5 star all-inclusives. We were warned about the hard mattresses and pillows, however if they were soft, we would have been warned about that also. You can't please everyone. We enjoyed a buffet breakfast each morning at the Samba outdoor restaurant by the pool. The food was excellent and the staff was friendly and helpful. All the poolside chairs were covered with towels by 8:30 am however we are beach people and were not upset. I can see others being upset by this. We did lunch on the beach and appreciated the staff who took care of us. On a couple days the service was a bit slow on the beach however it was Christmas week and we expected it. We were a group of 12 and called for vans or taxis to take us into the city. We never had a problem with the taxi fares. On this website, some had reported taxi drivers overcharging depending on the direction to and from the hotel however I asked the Grand Mayan staff the appropriate amount prior to each trip and the taxi drivers were all consistent. We were surpised to find out that the Grand Mayan golf course is only 12 holes because of development on the other 6 holes. There are ample nearby 18 hole golf courses. My fellow traveler played each of our days at a different course. I can say with confidence that Vista Vallarta is the place to go. We also went to El Tigre and Marina Vallarta. We only ate dinner 3 times on the Grand Mayan premises. The on-site Italian restaurant was very good. A beach night experience was just alright but the entertainment was excellent. The buffet dinner at the nearby Sea Gardens condo building was a disapointment. The Porto Bello restaurant in the Marina Vallarta area was excellent. La Porteno served very good steak but was very busy and had slow service. La Laguna served very good seafood and we were all happy with the service. La Laguna and La Porteno were 5 min. taxi rides from the Grand Mayan. The Brio gym had ample treadmills, ellipticals and bikes. The weight room had dumbbells, and a large assortment of weight lifting equipment. The staff brings over cups of cold water and cold towels. The only Internet access is from the Internet Cafe so if you want to stay connected, buy the week membership and plan on spending time there. They really need to activate the resort wide wireless service which seems to be in place based on my computer's wireless searches but not accessible to the guests. Overall opinions about the Grand Mayan are that the staff was friendly and helpful, the accomodations and facilities were clean and well maintained, the pools were beautiful, and I give my experience 5 stars.

  • Stayed: December 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
13  Thank paulcoop
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2007

The pool area is excellent. It was clean and offered several excellent pools, a lazy river tubing area and a wave pool. Waiters are everywhere offering drinks, constantly...

We had booked a one bedroom suite and found ourselves on the 2nd floor overlooking a construction site. We asked to move our room to a better location, with a better view. They gave us a regular room facing the pool area. It was a much better view and much quieter. But, the day after they moved us there, we learned they weren't going to change our rate for a clearly down-graded room. We ended up moving a 2nd time to another suite overlooking the same construction site we rejected the day before. There's nothing like hammering and sawing noises when you're trying to sleep late on your vacation.

The room furniture was very uncomfortable. It looked great but you couldn't get comfortable in it.

Our outside terrace pool mysteriously lost all it's water at night. The next moring, it would suddenly be filled again.

The wonderful big bathtub in the bedroom was un-useable. The water trickled out of the spiggot veeerrrry slowly. It would have taken forever to fill the tub. Worse, the water was lukewarm so you could only use the "hot" water spiggot. We gave up on it, and never used it.

I found the waiters all over the complex crazed about making sure we didn't need another drink. This was fine at first. But it quickly became ridiculous. I would swear that the waiters are given commissions for selling drinks.

Immediately after checking in, we were asked to attend a time share presentation. We were offered attractive incentives to do so. Having just recently been accosted at the airport by time share sharks, we didn't really appreciate the hotel trying to sell us time shares, too. We politely said, "no." Two day's later, we got woken up at 8am by an unrequested, unwanted phone call asking us to meet down in the time share selling lounge for a free breakfast. The whole town is crazed about time shares. We were invited twice to these presentations when visiting the downtown area, once by a guy who offered us $300 from his truck as we walked down the sidewalk!

We went golfing. We were'n't informed of the dress code, leading to a change in dress back in our room, delaying our tee-off time. They required us to take along a caddy. He provided no value at all except for mocking our attempts at spanish.

There were many situations during our stay where I feel the hotel purposefully tried to create un-needed opportunities for us to tip someone. During golfing, there was a fast food place where, perplexingly, a waiter stood outside of the counter, took our orders then turned and relayed our orders to the food preparer two feet behind him. Couldn't we have provided our order directly to the food preparer just as easily?

We had many great times during our stay. The hotel's Italian restaurant provided several great meals. We enjoyed ourselves during our stay. But I wouldn't go back to the Grand Mayan. There are better facilities elsewhere, with better trained staffs and less of a concerted determination to nickel and dime you every chance they can get.

  • Stayed: December 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
6  Thank JLP_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 15, 2007

We traded into the Grand Mayan through RCI. We have been to Puerto Vallarta before, but not to this relatively new property. First, to get there, we actually walked out of the airport, crossed the street over the footbridge, and caught a city taxi for $10, much less than the $28 charged by the official airport taxis.
Upon arrival, the registration desk area was orderly and there was a greeter to help as we entered. All the desk staff, as well as the concierge whom we used a lot, were very helpful and friendly. They have been trained well in customer service. The activity staff was also great.
Our room was gorgeous, on the 3rd floor facing the pool and ocean. Clean tile, granite, a large tub on the bathroom, a tiny pool on the large balcony, a beautiful shower...all first class. The maid was wonderful as well.
Now for the pool area: definitely the largest pool I've seen but it really seems like about 7 different pool areas. We stayed 5 nights and I was still a little confused going around all the foliage, palm trees, etc. to get from one side to the other. HINT: Wear something on your feet when outside. The sidewalks are pebbley and rough. We took advantage of the ping pong and pool at the activity center.
We also loved the wide beach, and borrowed their boogie boards every day. We also played beach volleyball religiously.
The "Lazy River" is great, especially when they have the waves on. Using their abundant number of tubes is free now. We also kayaked over at Mayan Palace.
We did most of our own cooking. Bought food at a large grocery close to the airport. We did find a delightful restaurant called Estudio, which is right next to the Dolphin Experience, about a 8 minute walk just past the Mayan Sea Garden. You might be able to hitch a ride over there on one of the golf carts.
We also did the Canopy Adventure with Veronos. It was GREAT.
Also, there's a nice Internet cafe. Note that you buy a block of time that you can use by the minute during you stay. So you can just check email or weather for 4 minutes and then log off.
We will try to return with friends next year or as soon as possible.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
12  Thank BoulderBill_7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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