We’ve just returned from a one week vacation at the Riu Vallarta (July 26 – August 2). I will try to make as objective a review as I can, pointing out the positive and the negatives I found during my stay.
Hotel and grounds: The hotel itself is big and imposing, but the grounds are manageable. It’s not a monster resort, so everything is within walking distance. The lobby is big and spacious and nicely decorated; it’s open air so it can get hot at times, if there’s not a breeze blowing. Everything is very clean, and there’s always a small army of workers cleaning and scrubbing.
The hotel is U-shaped and has 6 elevators, 4 at the bottom of the U (2 on each side of the lobby) and 2 (one each) at the top of the U. Suites and Jr. suites are at the top of the U, and all have a sea view. One thing I didn’t like is that none of the elevators goes to the very ground level, all of them go the Floor 0, but it’s not really the ground floor. This causes that only the elevators on the right hand side of the lobby can be used to access the grounds and the pools by wheelchair, by going to floor 0 and then using the ramps to go to the main plaza, exiting by the theatre.
We had a Jr. suite, and I really like the room design (I also got to see a regular room and the configuration is very similar). Once you enter the room, there’s a spacious hall (about 5 sq. meters) where the minibar, the liquor bottles and the closet are. To one side of the hall is the bathroom (with a Jacuzzi in the Jr. suites), double sinks, hair dryer, and toiletries. To the other side of the hall is the bedroom (we had a king size bed), and 2 steps down, a small sitting area, and then the balcony. The bed was firm, and we had no problem sleeping, since anyways I prefer a firm mattress. There’s plenty of storage room and the closet has a safe box, an ironing table and an iron. One thing to remember is that the balcony door has a sensor that switches off the AC of the door is not properly shut. The AC worked perfectly.
There are two pools, the children/activities pool, and the adult pool. I only went to the adult pool, and during my stay, the pool police was always on the watch for kids. This meant, that the adult pool was a truly adult pool, and no kids were ever there. The pool bar was good, and the bartenders were very funny. My balcony faced the adult pool, and every night it was cleaned and scrubbed. The water was always clean in the morning, which leads me to believe that some people just like to complain and are never satisfied.
There are lots and lots of loungers all around the pools and at the beach. The ones by the pools where always occupied by chair hogs who woke up really early to place towels and stuff to reserve the loungers, which is explicitly prohibited, but this was never enforced.
Restaurants and food: There are 4 restaurants. At 7 am “Don Rafael” serves full breakfast until 10:30 am or so, from then on, until 12 there’s continental breakfast at the “Flamingo Restaurant”. At 12 lunch starts at the Flamingo until about 5 pm. Then at 6:30 pm all the restaurants open for dinner until about 10 pm. Don Rafael is buffet dinner, while Nirvana (Asian), Flamingo (Steak house) and Sir George(gourmet) need reservations. Reservations have to be made on the morning you intend to have your dinner at the specialty restaurant. We went to Sir George’s (which was very good), and Nirvana (which I also liked). I didn’t try the Flamingo Steakhouse. However, for dinner I found that the buffet was most of the time more than adequate at Don Rafael’s. So basically there’s food somewhere in the hotel from 7 am until 10 pm. The sports bar has nachos, burgers, hotdogs, fruit 24 h a day, in case you get hungry between 10 pm and 7 am.
I read in some reports complaint that the hotel falsely advertises 24 h room service. This is not true, the hotel does not advertise or offers 24 h room service, in fact, the hotel does not have room service. What the hotel does offer is food 24 h a day, which it does, if you check the hour of restaurant operation. Again, I think some people like to complain too much.
Now about the food, I was pleasantly surprised about the food at the Riu Vallarta. I’ve been in countless all inclusive hotels and several cruises, and the food was good, not as bland and generic as in other hotels. There is so much food, at every meal, that if you go hungry it’s your fault, not the hotels. Then again, some people don’t seem to make good use of a buffet and cram their plates with every possible dish offered, and then they complain that “there was nothing to eat”. We never ate the same thing twice, and we couldn’t possibly try every choice offered, there was just so much, and some was pretty good too!
I never saw a fly in any of the restaurants, not even at the Flamingo at lunch, which is open air and right at the beach.
Staff: The staff in general is great, from the bartenders, the servers, the waiters, etc. My only complaint is with the staff at check in. When we arrived, they were overwhelmed; it was a bit of a chaos, there was no coordination and it took a while to get my room key. You get an actual key, a key to your safe box, and two towel cards. You have to return them all at check out. The day you check out you get a reminder in your room to take all of these down to the reception desk, otherwise you have to pay $20 USD for each towel and I think $50 for the safe box key.
Guests: During my stay the hotel guests were about 40% from Mexico, 40% from the US and Canada, some 10% from Central and South America (several countries judging from the accents, but most English Speaking people probably just thought they were Mexicans), and about 10% from Europe/Israel. Most people seemed to be having fun, just like we did, but nonetheless there were a couple of tourists who are just miserable and try to make others miserable as well (bartenders, waiters, etc.). Some reviews seem to complain about the number of “locals” at the hotel. Just a couple of comments, first of all, they are not “locals” since most of them go to PV from every corner of Mexico on holidays. Secondly, I really don’t see what the problem is, it makes for a culturally diverse atmosphere, and hey, it’s a free country, anyone who can afford to stay at the hotel can do so.
This is a family hotel, and there are kids, lots and lots of kids. They seemed to be having a great time, and it was fun to see kids from different countries playing together. A lot of the kids were under 5 years old, and there were many toddlers. If you don’t like kids, maybe you have to consider another hotel. I like kids, they don’t bother us, and they were fun to watch, especially at their mini disco at 8 pm.
Entertainment: Yes it’s cheesy, yes it amateurish, but you know what? With the right attitude it’s a lot of fun! It’s not like a Las Vegas show (but then if you want to see that, better go to LV), but the entertainment staff work really hard, and make everyone feel at home. The kids as always seemed to have a blast.
Overall I had a really good time; we relaxed, ate well, had fun, and met nice people. I would recommend this hotel to anybody; your vacation is what you make of it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * In Riviera Nayarit, overlooking the Pacific Ocean * Located on Playa de Flamingos beach, 2 km / 1.5 miles from Nuevo Vallarta * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 9-story building * 3 km / 1.86 miles from various shops * 13 km / 8 miles from the airport * 1 km / 0.62 miles from Flamingos Golf Club * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Amex ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Vallarta Hotel Nuevo Vallarta
- Riu Vallarta Nuevo