Old Reviews – Dreams Huatulco Resort and Spa

  Gala Resort – Huatulco   Linda, Mike and Sarah

March 2008

We were at the Gala Resort in Huatulco Mexico Feb 29 to March 7th. We had never been to Huatulco and loved the area. Our favorite Mexico destination to date!

Rooms
The check in was very efficient and quick. Our initial room was on the ground floor and next to the entertainment stage. We requested a move which they were able to accomodate, and moved up a floor and farther away from the noise. We had heard others did the same, and changes were very easy to make.The rooms were average. All seemed to have a balcony, even the ground floor had a separate ‘patio’ type area which was very nice.

Pools
There are 4 pools. One is private for the Royal Club members. There is a ‘kiddy’ pool, about 1-2 feet deep. It was small but never very busy. The other two pools were where most of the action was. One associated with a swim up bar where all the games were. It seemed to be more of an adult pool, although kids were allowed there. The 4th one, where we spent most of our time, with our 9 year old daughter was quite nice.There were 2 mini waterfalls, and it led to a smaller pool area, about 1 foot deep, where lots sat in chairs, or used floaties.The pools were always clean and although busy, we never had a problem getting chairs. Lots went out early to reserve, but we often didn’t get there till after lunch and always found chairs.

Beach
The beach was very nice…very clean, never very busy. We had read lots of reviews about too many vendors but we didn’t experience that at all. There was a red flag up most days, indicating a strong undertow, so we never went too far but the water was beautiful and warm. Great spot to find shells! There was a small area where you could go snorkelling ( free equipment at the poolside ). While we were there it was a little bit stormy a few days ( windy and huge waves). While amazing to watch, it actually wiped out one area of the beach where about 6 chairs and table were. The area had to be roped off and they were working on it when we left. When I say stormy weather..this was only in regards to the wind and waves. It was hot and sunny every day…a little bit of rain one morning, for maybe 40 minutes and that was it.

Restaurants
The main buffett where we had most meals was average. It was not very big, and the variety was not great. We are used to this with other resorts but this one seemed a little smaller than others, and a little less variety. But it was all tasty! There are 3 specialty restaurants and we tried them all. The Italian and Mexican were good, service excellent, but our favorite would be the Mediterranean (sp?). The steak was very good…atmosphere great, we sat in an outdoor restaurant right by the beach.

We did hear of people getting sick on our trip, as did I (!), but it was shortlived. We heard lots that were sick had seafood; however, on the flipside, we would then hear " I ate seafood all week and was fine! ", so hard to say the reason.

Activities

Kids Club
Our daughter went to the kids club one day. I have to say it’s probably the best of all the ones we’ve been to over the years. It had a secured entrance where you had to be buzzed in by staff, sign in and sign out. There was a small pool there with a slide, as well as a fair sized playground area. The schedule is posted daily and has a wide variety of activites; pool games, crafts, meals, etc.It never seemed too busy and there was always lots of staff.

Pool Games/Beach Activities
We found the staff really, really good. There always seemed to be some sort of activity going on if you were interested in participating. Beach volleyball, water polo, archery lessons, cooking lessons, water aerobics. Very high energetic staff.

Tours
We went to the 1 hr meeting with Sunquest to learn about the differant tours and found it very informative. We heard really good reviews about the Jungle Tour, but we didn’t go ourselves.

My husband and daughter went on the horseback riding tour and really enjoyed it. It was from 9:00 – 2:00 . They rode their horses through a small town, along a trail, and then did some riding on the beach. There was a short stop at the beach for a swimming break. There are little dogs in the town that try and chase the horses. So the leader brings along his own dogs to scare these ones off!

Our favorite ‘tour’ though was when we hired a tax driver to drive us around for a few hours. We had met "Luciano" a driver who spoke English really well, when we went into town one day. He gave us his card, and we phoned him back and booked the tour. He showed us the richest of the richest areas, and the poorest of the poor; the ‘real’ Mexico as he said. He knew the area very well, and gave us a very informative tour! He charged $12.00 an hour but we paid much more than that,knowing that for one of us to go on an organized local tour would be about $80 each.

We went into both little towns that are nearby; Santa Cruz and La Crucaseta (sp??). Both had their own good points…Santa Cruz was much smaller, is where the cruise ships come in, and the shops are more expensive. We were told when the ship is in, and the tourists come off, the prices in the shops go up 30%. LaCrucaseta was bigger and had a big market area where you can get some good deals. There’s a beautiful square with an old church in the middle. We were there on a Sunday and the church was full with mass. Be careful walking around on the streets and sidewalks…lots of potholes! My husband stepped in one and twisted his knee! Our favorite snack was ‘mango on a stick’. The vendor will carve the mango in front of you and put it on a stick to eat.

We would definitely go back to Huatulco again but would likely try another hotel. Although we liked the hotel, we would want to try something differant. The Gala is closing down April till this Fall for renovations. It has been bought by Dreams Vacations…they had two ‘demo’ rooms that had been renovated to show the new look, and it did look quite nice.

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  Gala Resort – Huatulco   freezing

March 2008

We (group of 24) stayed at the Gala March 7-14 and were very impressed with the Gala and Huatulco area. We have been to resorts in Cancun, the Mayan Riviera, Varadero, and Holguin and found the Gala to be comparable to the rest, except in management services – where the Gala stands out from the rest.

Arrival – we flew Skyservice out of Winnipeg. What can I say about Skyservice except they got us where we were going alive, on time, and with all of our luggage. The Huatulco airport had friendly employees, unlike the military-like atmosphere in many other airports in Mexico and Cuba. They had a separate immigration line for families with younger children to get them through the line-up faster, so we didn’t wait in line long. We gathered our luggage which was off the plane VERY quickly, sent it through the x-ray and hit a green light, so our luggage was not inspected. A few people in our group did hit a red light and their luggage was quickly and gently inspected, so the experience of a “red light” is nothing to be feared here. We were on the bus in no time. We arrived at the Gala before 11 am, and were escorted through to a room for Royal Club check-in. There were plenty of staff with trays of cold juices, yummy drinks and large cans of Sol beer, so you had a cold drink in hand before you even checked in. Check in was very swift and easy – the best check-in experience so far. Even though it was 11 in the morning, most of our rooms were ready for us. Great service!

Room – We stayed in a Jacuzzi Junior Suite (1 of 12 available) on the “quiet” side – room #520, which is on the top floor of the “wings” of the resort and right at the end facing the ocean. The room was very large with 2 double beds, a sofa bed, table and chairs, Sony PlayStation, and DVD player. There was also a separate “dressing room” with a large dresser, mirror, chair with ottoman, and a coffee maker. There were 2 patio doors leading onto the very large balcony with Jacuzzi – 1 from the “dressing room” and one from the main bedroom. The room also had a very large side window so you not only had a view of the ocean, but of the hilly area beside the resort. It was VERY clean. By the way – games for the Playstation can be borrowed at the Royal Club Concierge desk. The Jacuzzi was wonderful on hot afternoons, when we filled it with cool, refreshing water. It only took about 15 minutes to fill and was well worth the wait. Our balcony received full sun during the day, but always had a shady area nearer the doors, so there was a spot for everyone. Extra towels were provided on the balcony, so you didn’t have to use pool or bathroom towels when you used the Jacuzzi. Our room was THOROUGHLY cleaned every morning and had nightly turn-down service every evening when they replaced used towels and replenished toilet paper etc. (for the second time in a day) and left little chocolates on your pillow. Our first night there, there was a fruit basket and “welcome” plate with our names imprinted on the bottom of the plate covered by gelatin and chocolates – nice touch. This was one of the best rooms we have stayed in – it was a little old, yes, but in immaculate condition.

Beach – the beach was nice. There are better beaches in Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and in Cuba, but there was nothing wrong with this one. There were plenty of palapas and space available on the beach. As previous posters have mentioned, it drops off steeply, but we didn’t find this a big deal and our 10 year old son had no problems with it either. Boogie-boarding was great fun in the surf. There was the occasional jelly-fish, but this is not the fault of the resort. 2 people in our group got stung, including my 10 year old, but it was not a huge deal – like a bee sting. I think different people react to jelly-fish in different ways, though, so I guess we’re lucky. The biggest complaint I have of the beach was the incessant string of vendors prowling up and down the beach. They were not aggressive when you said “no”, but the sheer number of times you would be approached was quite aggravating and not at all relaxing. Maybe sitting in the roped-off area of the beach reserved for Royal Club members was more akin to a cage where the vendors could corner you was part of the problem? Anyway – it was not irritating enough to ruin the trip, but I think the resorts in the area need to begin to establish boundaries/limitations for the vendors – both on the beach and in the town of La Crucecita, where the vendors would approach you right at your table in restaurants and bars. A MUST-DO on the beach is to pay a visit to Rudy who can be found at the end of the Gala beach under a blue beach umbrella. He goes out “fishing” in the morning with his net and rubber inner-tube and comes back with fresh shell-fish. For a few bucks (less than $20), he will make you a plate of fresh, raw shell-fish to eat. Delicious!! You can look on youtube for “Bizarre Foods” (a Travel-Discovery Channel show) on which he was featured in the Mexico program. We also had freshly cooked lobster (biggest and freshest ever) right on the beach which Rudy can arrange, but the lobster were hard to come by later in the week as the lobster season was ending.

Pool(s) – I didn’t spend much time in the pools, but they seemed clean and cool – but not too cold. The reading pool was really relaxing with shade and shallow water where you could put your lounger right in the pool, sit back and relax. There were always fun activities going on in the main pool. The pool bar was not usually very busy – I think this may be because as you sit at the bar, you face a shelf of liquor, and not the staff behind the bar. I always like to sit at a pool bar, visit with people, watch the bartenders, and get to know them. That was not possible at this pool bar so I know I spent VERY little time here.

Restaurants/Wait Service – I don’t vacation for the food, so this will be brief too. The buffets were average – no better and no worse than anywhere else I have been. You certainly won’t starve and there is always something for the children – burgers, hot dogs, pizza and fries, etc. We went to 2 a la cartes (all 24 of us) – the Italian (good onion soup), and the Mediterranean (not bad beef medallion, not a lot of seafood on the menu). The Mexican night at the buffet (Thursdays) was fantastic as well as the “Cowboy” night – barbequed steak and ribs, etc. (Wednesdays) which was my favourite. The wait-service was not outstanding, but was not terrible either. I will say that an upgrade to the Royal Club with preferential a la carte reservations made through the 6th floor concierge may be worth the cost difference alone. Every morning in the lobby I would see long line ups for reservations. This was not an issue for Royal Club members.

Departure – We had to leave our room by 6:30 am, so it was a very early start. The Gala provided us with a continental breakfast since it was too early to eat at the restaurants. We got to the airport swiftly and checked our bags in without incident. We were able to “check in” to the airline the night before from our resort, so that part of the airport check-in was already taken care of. We waited in the general area of the airport until close to take-off time. The general area has a small restaurant/snack-bar and gift shop where you can buy t-shirts, silver (a large assortment) and other gift items. After you go through the gate area, there is a small snack cart and a very small table of silver jewelry as well. Not much through the gates, so I recommend going through as late a possible without missing your flight. Skyservice was on time and got us home without incident.

Overall I loved this resort and REALLY loved the Huatulco area. We may just return to the area some day (we have never repeated a vacation destination). We did a few excursions and day trips that will be reviewed separately. It is a real shame that the Gala has sold. The building needs some renovating, but it is unfortunate that it will no longer be Gala-owned. I hope Dreams does as good a job with customer service as the Gala did.

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  Gala Resort – Huatulco   Greg

December 2007

I was at the Gala from the 30th Nov until Dec 7th, 2007. We flew down on Skyservice. The tour package was put together by Signature Vacations. It was my first trip to Mexico and I had read some of the reviews on this site before leaving. Our plane left Vancouver on time and arrived on time. Same was true on the flight home. We were met by Signature staff on arrival and taken to the hotel in air conditioned buses for the 20 minute drive. Five minutes after arriving at the hotel I was checked in, drink in hand, and in my room. Within 15 minutes I was poolside. The rooms were large and clean and very well air conditioned. I had the basic package and yet had a room facing the ocean with a balcony. The room had two queen sized beds. The mattresses were a bit hard at first but not a serious problem. The rooms were cleaned daily and the mini bar was restocked.

Food at the Gala was good, plentiful and varied each night. The bars were open from 11:00 am until 1:00am. The pools were very clean as was the beach which was remarkably clean. I didn’t play the golf course down the road but those who did loved it. I took three tours in the seven days I was there and they were fine, especially the tour of the bays. The trip to the falls will ruin your stomach on the 35km winding gravel road, so be warned. I wouldn’t do this again.

Hotel staff were very accommodating but very few actually speak English well enough to hold a conversation. Most know basic English, enough to get by. Each day the Signature reps were on site in the morning and late afternoon to deal with tour members and were very helpful. This is not a 4 or 5 star facility but it is a very high 3 star or low end 4 star, far more than you need since no one spends very much time in the room. I was so impressed with the quality and value that I plan on visiting the place next year. The hotel will be closing in Feb for an upgrade and to add 100 more rooms. Based on my experience I have no reservations recommending the Gala Resort in Huatulco. Final point, they accept Cdn currency on par with the US dollar. I brought US dollars and would recommend you bring at least 50 $1 dollars for tips for seven days. Exchange is 10 pesos to the US/CDN dollar. The average hotel wage is 45 pesos per day so the staff lives off tips. Please be generous.

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Gala Resort – Huatulco Jim

April 2007

Just got back. Great place. Great resort. Great staff. On the surface, very clean. One big problem, everybody got sick. In our group 6 of 7. We talked to most everybody there, and without exception, everybody had somebody in their group that got TD (Traveler’s Diarrhea). In many cases, it was 2 for 2. One large group claimed that only 20% of there group was afflicted. That was the best we heard.

If you go be very careful of the food and be even more careful of the on-site doctor (young guy, new Mercedes). Two in our group went to see him. They immediately and always asked how much it would cost, to which he just kept telling them to come back tomorrow. On the last day he slipped them an invoice for $550.00 under their door. To make matters worse the hotel and our on-site travel representative backed him up. No check out slip (needed to get to the airport) until the bill was paid. It wasn’t about the money ($550) as that was minimal compared the cost of a vacation with 3 rooms and 7 people, but it sure left a very bad taste in our mouths in addition to our tight stomachs.

Hey, at least we all lost weight!!!

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Gala Resort – Huatulco Canada

March 2007

We stayed at the Gala Feb 23 – Mar 2/07. This is a great retreat and low key resort and Mexican location. Our review and star rating are solely based on all of our numerous travels throughout Mexico and the Carribean.

We booked though Signature out of Toronto – 10 of us got a group rate and no one was disappointed.

Flight – Skyservice provided cramped service once again and the meal was not memorable. Best part was the packaged cheese and crackers. However, the attendants were good and the flight there was smooth – back was bumpy but air happens – and the bonus was movies worked both ways…

Huatulco airport – smooth, fairly quick but we were the only flight on a Friday evening – this isn’t a large airport – luggage offloaded manually in good time…..When you return home – no lighters allowed and no duty free once you clear customs….watch the luggage weights…

Gala arrival – ride in the large tour bus is approx 25 minutes – very winding roads – good driver – checkin is very efficient. Cold drinks offered and lots of porters to take the baggage to your room… one of the best checkins we’ve experienced. We had requested 5 rooms close together with Kings and an oceanview – we received -none close together – none of us had a king bed – and 2 of us had oceanview….they did give us an option of changing rooms the next day – but unpack and repack we didn’t want to do – the views on the beach anyway…

Gala pool/beach – pools are very chopped up – when activities are going on at the main pool/swimup bar – not many other people can swim, float, etc…. the Royal Gala pool which is premium is smaller than the pool in our yard and under used – the kiddie pool had more adults than children but very shaded – We’ve stayed at the Barcelo they have a huge pool .- better than the Gala’s in our opinion …beach at GAla is nice, sand hot and hotter as day goes on – a lot of undertow on the beach – watch the flags. lots of palapas too – And yes people save chairs but it doesn’t start til after 7 a.m.

Rooms – are room was 361 partial oceanview but nice – dated but extremely clean and well kept. Safe worked great, TV limited channels and old, old movies. Hot water random on occasion and pressure fluctuates. We had turn down service we didn’t pay for – but I guess tips go a long way here – no swans but a turned down bed!!!! – Towels always fresh in room and all bedding removed and fresh with each guest turnaround…Cudos to the maid service at the Gala….Room Service is a bonus at this resort – good food – quick service – sometimes they screw up and order but it could be worse – no room service…..no coffee maker in nonRoyal rooms but room service delivers and more….

Food – buffet service adequate and equal or less to all resorts we’ve stayed at. We found dinners at buffet just OK…..service was random and we tip well. A la cartes were good but just good – but service again was very good…..Breakfast and lunch always good as in most all inclusive resorts

Bars – top shelf liquors offered but be sure you request them – corrona on tap at the pool bar – we found service hit and miss though – I think they are understaffed….tipping gets their attention as well. Service at pool and beach great – swimup bar in water – so-so….they serve a nice dry sweet German wine at the resort – forget the brand though….

Massage – get one after getting off the plane – you will love it and it is basically $1 a minute…and the ladies are kind to your bode….

Santa Cruz and La Crucecita – great shopping – not a lot of bartering though – stay away cruise ship arrival days. I have a great vendor we found that offers the ‘not usual’ stuff – email me at judesgarden@aol.com should you like nice pottery, silver, etc. that doesn’t look like all the usual…I wouldn’t even barter to get what we wanted….

Tours – we did the bay tour – great and relaxing but bring your own liquor they only supply beer or tequila (later in the trip) – the beach restaurant is a money grab/tourist trap and should be avoided – fries were $4 US for maybe 20 fries – ouch – the pineapple/shrimp special was rich and delicious but overpriced at $20 US – the prices are outrageous for food – but corrona is 1.70 US – so fill your boots – I’m writing Signature to express my dissatisfaction with this offering on the beach….but the cruise is fun and very relaxing……

Conclusion – I have posted pix on http://community.webshots.com/user/judestravel so check it out …. We would definitely return to Huatulco again and would stay at either the Gala or Barcelo and even Brisas as my daughter stayed there Jan 07 and loved it….. You can’t beat the weather and bring lots of sunscreen… Gracias..

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Gala Resort – Huatulco The Scott’s ~ Canada

March 2007

FLIGHT:
We left Toronto on Feb. 23 right on time via Skyservice…everyone knows…basically a cattle car to get you to your dream destination. I’ve always not minded plane food, but the beef quesadilla they served in a box was disgusting. Only thing more disgusting was that they served us the exact same meal on the return trip

TRANSFER & CHECK IN: We arrived on time, first off the plane, last to get luggage, go figure. Got the red light at customs for first time, however, the agent only asked me if I had any fruit and let us go. Arrived at the resort, we had upgraded to Royal Gala so had a separate check in room and were in our room in minutes. Changed quickly and went to the buffet for a quick bite.

Had a quick walk around of the resort and took in the ocean views to get our bearings then retired fairly early and unpacked and organized…I seem to need to do this in order to fully enjoy the rest of the holiday.

FIRST DAY:
Our first day we awoke to bright sunny cloudless skies and hot hot weather. Every day was the exact same, it was awesome. We went to the Royal Club area of the beach, didn’t need to reserve lounges here, there was always some. Had a fabulous day just relaxing.

FOOD:
We ate at the buffet the first night. In the evenings they set up the buffet out in the courtyard so you eat outside, the tables are all tables for 8 which forces you to sit with other people and mingle. I love this idea. On our first night we met some great people and ended up hanging out with them for the rest of the week. We were the real noisy ones on the beach.

The food at the resort was good. I’m not a huge fan of resort buffets and the Gala one isn’t very large. We only ate at it twice. There are three al-a-cartes and you can eat at them as often as you like. They were all good and I couldn’t really say a favorite. By our last night we were just wanting something somewhat ordinary and the Med. Restaurant had a steak that we all ordered, very good. Coconut Ice-cream in the main buffet is not to be missed

ROYAL CLUB:

Since our new “friends” weren’t in the royal club we didn’t sit in that area anymore, and they went down every morning to reserve lounges and a palapa on the beach. My contribution was making the dinner reservations each night. They had lots of fun poking fun at our gold wristbands the rest of the week.

As for the Royal Club, we did have a fabulous view from our room, but I’m not really sure the perks are worth the extra $250 per person we paid. They either need to lower the price difference or add more perks. I think we would just book a standard room the next time.

OFF RESORT:
We went into La Crucettia by taxi one morning and to Santa Cruz one late afternoon. Both were nice to see and nice to get off the resort, however, I liked La Crucetia (sp?) better. Shopping wise, I think the prices were actually better from the beach vendors than in town. We walked through the beautiful church and the town square, did some shopping, wandered some back streets and had a drink before returning to the resort. Speaking of beach vendors, there are a lot of them….every few minutes, however, they aren’t pushy and saying no gracious really isn’t a very big deal. We bought coffee, jewellery and clothes on the beach. One thing I did buy in town that wasn’t available on the beach was the local black pottery. It is very beautiful and not expensive. Wrapped up carefully and taken in our carry on it made it’s way back to Canada in one piece.

When in Santa Cruz, sitting on the porch having a drink, we met Valentino (white Frisbee guy) and arranged a boat tour for the 4 couples. He himself was busy so sent us out with Manny, a native Texan who has relocated to Huatulco. We met him at the marina and he took us out. We went to a place to snorkel, saw the coastline and stopped at a deserted beach on the way back….absolutely beautiful and a highlight of our trip. The cost was $50 USD per couple, which is far better than the tour company tours and we could dictate where to go and how long to stay…it was far more personal and we spent the day on the water with the good friends we had met.

One other couple and us also took a taxi to another beach (La Bocenna??) for a mud bath.. This was awesome. It was $4 for the taxi each way and the taxi that took us pre-arranged a time to come back and get us. We then paid $5 each for the mudbath. There was a bar there overlooking the water so the guys had a cold Corona while waiting their turn. This was a very unique experience…much like a massage, very cool. Although we were still getting mud off after a shower, a wash in the ocean and another shower.

OTHER POINTS:
We are beach people so spent most of our days on the beach. The animation team was only at the pool so if you want the activity etc that is the place to be. We did sometimes stop there near the end of the afternoon for an hour or so.

The weather is HOT. You actually have to move into the shade quite often. Because of this I didn’t get the tan I would have thought I would have, but I also played it smart and didn’t burn either. By mid afternoon the sand was too hot to walk on in bare feet. Compared to the snow we came home to, I would take the hot sand anyday.

There is an outdoor theatre and apparently a show every night, however, we have found on previous trips that they really aren’t our thing so we didn’t even go to one. There is a lobby bar and on a few nights they had live music. This is one area they could improve upon and have live music and Mexican music more often.

HUATULCO:
This is a beautiful area. The ocean and mountains, rocks on parts of the waters edge. It is absolutely stunning and so many deserted beaches. The towns are safe and small. I hope this area can stay this way and not get so built up as PDC has. There are not many resorts here so the options are smaller. We would return in a minute. At the Gala the general age seemed to be between 35 and 55. A few families and a few younger couples but not many. I think my kids would have been bored unless we traveled with other families. The resort was very friendly and it was easy to mingle and meet people. There didn’t seem to be any Europeans there. Mostly Canadians and Americans with Canadians outweighing the Americans I think.

FLIGHT HOME:
With the Royal Club we could have a late check out. Since the Signature bus was leaving the resort at 1:15, 4 hours before the flight, we decided to stay at the resort until 3 and take a taxi to the airport. Very wise decision. There was still a line up at the airport when we got there. The airport is only 20 minutes or so away and a taxi ride was $13. We pre-booked our seats for the return trip through the Signature rep there for $10 each so arriving late at the airport wasn’t a problem. Watch your luggage weight. We were slightly over and they didn’t charge us, however, we had nothing more in our suitcases coming home other than a 1 kg bag of coffee and our luggage was about 6 kg heavier than it was in Toronto….others got charged an overweight fee. I think their scales perhaps are not calibrated correctly. There is no way we were 6 kg heavier. Things weren’t packed as neatly, but that doesn’t make them weigh more!!!

We took off on time and arrived in Toronto ahead of our scheduled landing…again one of the first ones off plane and through customs…last ones to get luggage. Never fails.

All in all an awesome trip, we met some great people, had a great time and would definitely recommend this resort and Huatulco. Very much hope to return. The guarantee of good weather is a real positive for me. .

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Gala Resort – Huatulco Vale ~ Canada

April 2006

On April 3rd my husband and I flew to the Gala Resort and we retuned on April 10th.

We are a couple in our early 60’s and we did enjoy the pampering at the hotel. The staff was wonderful, couldn’t do enough for us.

We were very impressed by the habit of the hotel staff of taking our room number each time we left the resort and again when we returned. The staff always knew when we were away from the hotel. It was for our safety.

The entertainment crew a the hotel were wonderful. They made us and everyone else, as we could see, feel welcome and at home.

Food was quite good. The themes at the buffet were changed every evening and we enjoyed this so much that we could have forgone making reservations in the a la carte restaurants and not felt deprived.

We did visit the Italian restaurant one night and loved the meal and service.

On another evening we went to the Mediterranean restaurant and were not so pleased. The restaurant did not open for more than a half hour after our reservation was supposed to have started. The salads were sparse and not very tasty and the main course was not at all good. Four of us ate at our table and we all agreed that the choice of this restaurant had been a mistake.

The beach was beautiful. We did not have a problem finding a cabana even in the middle of the day. It was not crowded during the time of our visit.

The peddlers on the beach were polite and not a problem at all. They were colourful and interesting to watch as they negotiated their wares on the steep beach.

The temperatures were unfortunately very, very, hot while we were there. I don’t believe it ever fell below 36F during our stay. That was a little to warm for us.

On the Friday of our stay, my husband and I were privileged to meet Valentino. I had read about Valentino in the reviews on this site and had told my husband to look out for him and his white Frisbee.

Sure enough he came along as we sat on the beach. He is a charming, sincere man and he made our stay in Mexico a real success. For $120, he offered to take us out in his 25 foot boat to see the bays the following day. He was also willing to take us deep sea fishing as part of the trip.

On Saturday morning, Valentino met us in front of the resort and we waded out to his boat. No one else accompanied us that day. We saw a sea turtle, a manta ray (Valentino ran out on the deck just to get a picture of it for me). We also saw our first albatross!

Sea birds were circling the sea near us and Valentino headed for them, explaining that those birds meant that fish were nearby. During the course of the trip we caught 4 bonitos!

Valentino was wonderful. I can’t say enough about him. He was helpful, knowledgeable and concerned to make our adventure with him as pleasant as possible.

He expressed the thought that he especially enjoys taking children out on his boat. He was great during the time that we fished and he said that little pleases him as much as having children as part of the party on his little vessel. He loves to see their faces when they catch the abundant fish.

Valentino did point out the fact that he is not always available though. The time that we were there is not part of the busiest time at the hotel. Many days especially from November to the end of March, he is fully booked and unable to take anyone else out on the water.

He gave me his e-mail address and told me, when I told him of my intentions of writing a review of our stay at the Gala. It is Valentino_fisherman@hotmail.com. He can also be found at www.tomzap.com.

We did visit the two nearby towns during our stay but were not impressed with either. The prices were exorbitant and there was little of interest for us to buy.

The silver is beautiful but pricey and often pieces that are not silver were slipped into the display boxes. Be careful if you plan to buy silver.

On several occasions vendors set up displays on the resort. Their prices were double those of the vendors in the towns.

On the whole, our vacation was a good one. Most of our experiences were of a good nature. Prices of souvenirs disappointed us. The weather was too hot for our liking but we cannot fault the resort or the workers there for any of that.

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Gala Resort – Huatulco USA

May 2005

My family and I just returned from our stay at the Gala through Apple Vacations. We have been to Riviera Maya, Punta Cana and Jamaica and we all agreed that it was the best vacation we have taken so far!

Our flights were on time (from Chicago, layover in Mexico City) and we were picked up from the Huatulco airport by an air conditioned bus. The ride to the hotel was short… less than 20 minutes. When we checked in, there was no line and our luggage was brought right to our rooms.

Our group of 8 people ranged in age from 14 to 73 and we all had a great time. The resort was small enough for my Grandmother to feel safe walking by herself to her room at night yet big enough for us all to find something to do.

The beach is beautiful! Although the week we were there were all either red or yellow flag days, we were still able to swim. The sand is coarse but doesn’t hurt to walk on.

We left the resort a few times. We went on an Apple Vacations excursion on ATVs through the jungle. Our guide, Dennis was great and all of us had a blast. We also went on a boat ride that we booked on the beach with a guy named Rudy and had fun on that as well. Cab rides into town are inexpensive but in all honesty, there wasn’t much to be seen.

If you are a picky eater, you might have trouble at the buffet. We have some picky eaters in our family (myself not included) and by the end of the trip they were getting sick of hamburgers. The buffet had a theme every night and even I have to admit that the Italian night was not that great. But since I am not a picky eater, I was always satisfied. My aunt and brother are both chefs and had no issues with the hygene practices of the buffet. There were gackles (not crows) that would fly into the buffet but that really can’t be helped and the staff does their best to shoo them away.

The specialty restaurants were much better than the buffet, with the Mexican one being better than the Italian (who goes to Mexico for Italian food anyways?). The service in the specialty restaurants is wonderful… again, since we had picky eaters in our party, there were lots of requests and they were always able to accommodate us.

The rooms were comfortable. Very clean. Some people have complained about the beds here but honestly I thought they were just fine. Water pressure was strong and the maids did a great job.

As an example of how accommodating the front desk was… 4 of us had been given rooms on the first floor and four of us had been given rooms on the second floor. We had asked for it that way ahead of time because we were worried about my Grandmother being able to handle the stairs. Once we checked in and explored, we realized there are elevators and so we asked for all of us to be on the second floor together. No problem. Once there were empty rooms, they switched us and we had four rooms, in a row.

The bar tenders are WONDERFUL people. We were there off season and it was not busy at all. Because of that, we were able to sit and chat with the staff and actually get some perspective about what it is really like outside of the resort. Beto, Edgar and Jorge at the bar are super friendly and will make any drink any way you like it! We were also fans of Oli, Sally and Gigi who were part of the entertainment staff. They are there to make sure you have a good time and they do their job well.

Stick to the adults only section of pool area if you want to escape from the kids at the main pools.

This place is busier on the weekends! People come from inland Mexico for the weekend so it starts getting busy on Thursdays. We had a better time in the middle of the week when the resort was less crowded.

In conclusion, I plan on returning to this resort as soon as I can!

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Gala Resort – Huatulco Vickie ~ Canada

February 2005

My husband, myself and two other couples from Vancouver visited the Gala. I have traveled extensively throughout Mexico, staying at All inclusives and many non inclusives.

The hotel itself is situated about a 25 min drive from the airport, and 5 minutes from either La Crucecita or Santa Cruz. The hotel is on a beautiful bay called Tangolunda and there are six hotels that share this beach.

The hotel is very well maintained and staff work around the clock to keep it tip top. It sometimes felt that there were more staff than guests.

All 3 couples booked under one reservation and all requested a king bed, in a quiet area, with no adjoining rooms. This information was on our documents from Signature; however the hotel never received any of this information. One couple was given an adjoining room, they switched right away to a very nice room. One couple was given just what they wanted, and then there was us. We received a room on the fifth floor facing the show stage, and all we could hear was the blower fans from the Barcelo next door, the room also had two double beds. We quickly went down to the desk and asked for a different room. We were told we would have to wait two days as they were booked solid. We changed rooms two days later to a Gala Royal Room (for which guest usually pay more for, we didn’t) that was on the 4th floor, right about the lobby bar. Which is open from 5 pm, to 12 am and put it this way, that night was karaoke night and we could of participated – from our room. It also was an adjoining room, we could hear the people snore next door. We stayed there one night, and changed again. We couldn’t get a king bed, but we settled on two doubles on the first floor right near the tennis courts facing the archery. It was quiet, and very little foot traffic during the day. Our group was spread out throughout the hotel, but it was an easy walk to each others rooms.

Rooms: Rooms are very clean, sheets are changed daily, and the cover blanket is changed and washed after new guest (trust me this isn’t always true at other hotels). There were only 4 drawers (minimal for 2 people for 2 weeks), ample closet space and lots of storage in the closet. There is a desk and a table in all the rooms. The bathrooms had ample room to lay out all your toiletries and then some. We always had ample towels and soap, etc. The rooms all have a small fridge that is loaded with 3 cokes, 2 sprites, 1 mineral water, 3 bottled waters and 3 Coronas. If you catch the guy who fills the fridge, he will be happy to give you more or switch things, say all you want is coke, it will be done. There is a nice terrace on each room with 2 chairs and a table. Some rooms have very large terraces. Our friends had those large patios, and we always gathered on them. The Gala Royal Rooms are exactly the same except they also have more toilitires (mouthwash, lotion etc.), ironing board and iron, 2 housecoats (both were in bad shape), chocolates at night and more of a selection of drinks in your bar fridge. They also have access to a separate pool and area on the beach. Save your money, it isn’t worth it.

The Resort: The hotel is just the right size, not too big and not too small. You can easily walk everywhere. There is a gym, internet room, tennis courts, archery, craft area, kids club, theatre for evening shows, disco (totally enclosed), 2 a la carte restaurants inside (Italian and Mexican), and one a la carte outside (Mediterranean), a store (expensive), five pools (one for Gala Royal only), massage hut, many bars and the main restaurant. There is a large beach area with palapas for shade with beach chairs and loungers.

Restaurants and Food: Well put it this way, we didn’t starve! Food here is similar in style to other resorts we visited but better. There was always a large selection of dishes and food was always hot. For dinner there was a salad bar (would of liked this area expanded), around six or seven hot dishes (usually one or two items prepared by a chef at a different station), and a dessert section (with around 8 different desserts). There was also a kids section that served hot dogs, chicken fingers, pancakes, etc. For breakfast you had the option of eating in the main restaurant or by the beach, both were great but I preferred the main restaurant as it had more selection. Lunch was the same, two areas to choose from. Again large selection and we especially enjoyed all the fresh fruit. Remember ice cream is served at 2 pm in the main restaurant. There was also room service. We only ordered tea one night, and it arrived within 10 min. The a la carte restaurants were all great and everyone went away full.

Bars: They are very willing to try and make anything you ask for. Often drinks were a little to strong, but I learned to let the ice melt and it was much better. Remember too many Pina Coladas and you will be suffering with the trots the next day. We especially loved the wait staff around the pools and beach, it was a real treat not having to leave the sun to get a beverage. The lobby bar was usually packed every night, it gets very noisy, and hard to carry on a conversation with people at your table. I would of loved to have seen a quiet bar where you could go after dinner to talk.

We visited the area extensively. A taxi to La Crucecita or Santa Cruz is only 25 pesos, but hold on. We visited both areas extensively. I highly recommend that you visit La Crucecita at night it is a totally different place, and much cooler. Shops are usually open late and the restaurants are a great place to have a drink or meal and people watch. I highly recommend the Terra Cotta Restaurant located just to the right of the main square in a beautiful white Spanish looking building the holds the Mision de los Arcos hotel. The restaurant is very nice, good selection of food, the staff are eager to please, and their ice cream is to die for. We dinned about 4 times in town and not one meal was bad. Spanish helps a bit, but it is always interesting to see what you get if your aren’t sure of the translation.

There is some shopping, but most retailers didn’t really bargain too much. If we felt the price was fair, we paid, if we didn’t, we bargained and if we got the price we wanted great, if not we walked. I recommend a visit to the textile store where you can see them weaving blankets and table clothes and more. The store has a wide variety of products to choose from.

We didn’t take any organized tours through the resort or through Signature. We did however take a bay tour through Valentino (carries a white Frisbee on the beach). He had come highly recommended and he didn’t disappoint. The bay tour is a must for each visitor, you really get to see the beauty of this area. We wanted to visit Puerto Escondido and looked into a car and driver through Signature. They quoted us $2600 pesos, we quickly checked with the bell hop stand/taxi stand right at the hotel. They called someone and we were given a price of $1600 pesos for a driver and a vehicle that could accommodate all six of us. We were gone from 9 – 6, the hotel provided us with a cooler and ice and we brought are own drinks. Fernando, our driver knew all the places to take us and we weren’t disappointed. Be warned the drive to Puerto Escondido is about 2.5 hours. We also hired Fernando again the following week to take us to Pochutla and Puerto Angel. This time the price was a little lower as it was closer, again we were gone from 9 – 5. Be warned the road is very windey and if you’re a prone to car sickness come prepared. We wanted to visit Pochutla on the Monday as this is the day of the local market and we can’t say enough about how great it was. We then went to Playa La Ventanilla and visited the lagoon, for $40 pesos you are taken on a boat through a lagoon. The wildlife is outstanding… not to mention quite a few crocodiles. We then traveled to Mazunte and the then onto Playa Zipolite, the nude beach, Puerto Angel was our next stop where we had lunch and a swim.

My husband golfed three times and loved the course. The cost is as follows: green fee $725, golf cart $340, caddy $200, equipment $225, pull cart $115. The hotel offers a 20% discount. Remember your bug spray and camera, lots of different birds and flowers. Even though most people recommend golfing first thing, it is busier at that time. I recommend golfing later around 10 am as this is when a breeze usually kicked up and much quieter. Even if you don’t golf you can walk near the course and down through the RV park to the beach and see many different species of birds. We say a group of about 50 parrots, and another couple saw a monkey.

Negatives about the Gala: Not many – if you are there for two weeks the food gets repetitive. Get up early to reserve your spot around the pool or beach, this is a big problem. The hotel doesn’t have a spa, would of loved a manicure/pedicure this is something the hotel could really benefit with and make some extra money. Would of liked more events at night, not much to do after dinner and the show except wait for the disco to open at 11:30. The a la carte restaurants state that they are for adults only in the hotel flyer you receive upon check in; however there were lots of kids there.

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Gala Resort – Huatulco Vlad — Canada

April 2004

Our family spent a restful week in March at the Gala Resort in Huatulco. I consider myself somewhat able to offer an opinion, having stayed at a number of locations and inclusives in the Caribbean during the past dozen years; this is our 4th time in Mexico and second time at this resort; plus, I have travelled in N.A., Asia and Europe. I am not a snob by any stretch, but I do have a problem with some "reviewers" who have never ventured outside their homestead or Mac Donald’s, yet write (and unfortunately, sometimes act) like they are god’s gift to tourism, as soon as they cross the border.

In summary: this is an excellent 4 1/2-5 star resort, very well managed and maintained, a very good value for the money, you will be treated extremely well and you will have a very good time. I will skip the details already covered by others; here are my own highlights:

Travel there and back: Flight is by Transat, tight seats, very average in-flight food, and you pay for all drinks except coffee and water. The return fight is a bit shorter, with no refueling stop in Cancun. The smallish Huatulco airport is nice, the customs processing fast, followed by 25 minutes of pleasant ride to the hotel on a well air conditioned bus. Hotel registration is quick, with no hickups. No late night hot food on arrival, but English style sandwiches will await you in your room (and a fully stocked fridge).

Resort service: Superb, eager to please, attentive, fast. As good or better than first class hotels in Canada plus, here they treat you with a smile. No more needs to be said.

Accomodation: Good sized, nicely furnished standard room, not exceptionally large, good quality beds. The premium Royal Gala Club rooms with their premium services are not worth the fairly significant extra $$$. The Club rooms do get a better, more sweeping view of the ocean, but the rooms are the same size, have the same equipment as standard rooms. And do you really need a bathrobe or a separate swiming pool? By the way, that worn out "ugly Canadian" stunt of "I paid for a Club room, I demand to be upgraded", does not work here, you get what you really paid for. A standard room, which is what we had, is just fine. Many standards, like ours, do have an ocean view. And how much time do you really spend on your balcony admiring the view, anyway? By the way, they will happily move you to another available standard room, if the one you got is not to your liking.

Food and drinks: Excellent and large buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, considering that it is a buffet, after all. Includes several made-to-order stations. And the coffee is outstanding, I do think that Mexican coffee is one of the world’s best. There are two different buffet locations for breakfast and lunch – the main restaurant and the one by the pool, overlooking the ocean. The main restaurant offers greater food selection but the pool location has an amazing ocean view. Both buffets offer a fish every day, which is out of this world, I could live happily just on that. Twice in the evening we went to the Italian restaurant and once to the Mediterranean one. The Italian one is very good indeed, and the Med is fine and very romantic, overlooking the ocean. Of course, as an all inclusive there are drinks galore if that is your thing, with very good selection and quality. I do recommend the Negra Modelo dark beer, better or equal to the best Canadian micro brews.

Clientele: A more interesting mixture than the usual southern resort crowd, this one consisted of Canadians (majority), mostly from Ontario and Quebec, Mexicans, fewer from Venezuela and several other South American countries, some British, some Americans. A good blend of families and couples, not really a singles place. Also, a couple of secluded upscale business meetings (sales execs from Mexico City).

Beach: Beautiful, long, great sand, with a safe ocean front, perfect for swimming. This hotel plus Barcello next door, have the best location, right on the beach. And in less then 5 minutes walk to the left you come to a safe reef area with many fish and crabs, perfect for all ages to explore.

Sports: A lot to choose from, the daily aerobic aqua fitness in the pool was great, a real workout, not the usual "resort recreational", the fitness room is also rather well equipped. Two out of three tennis courts are top notch, and we played nearly every day, our teenage children also enjoyed the basketball court, daily archery and sailing. Of course, there is plenty to choose from in water sports.

Pools: This hotels has more pools than most; one is very large and with the obligatory swim-up bar, and several other pools that are smaller or shallower.

Childrens club: Often a neglected area at resorts, well not here! Definitely one of the best in terms of space, location and equipment that I have ever seen, and with some serious attention and care from designated staff.

Entertainment: Most of the nightly shows were very good, (different each night) and better than some other, pricier resorts. A couple of shows "needed work".

Summary: All in all a great vacation, a resort that we highly recommend.

Any question or comments, please do not hesitate: vuher@rogers.com

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Gala Resort – Huatulco Jackie & Rick – Ontario, Canada

March 2004

My husband, myself and another couple just returned from the Gala Resort in Huatulco (pronounced wah-tool-ko) today after a 1 week vacation. If Signature Vacations rates this resort a 5 star then the Riu Tequila in the Mayan Riviera is a 7 or 8 star!!! The main problem was the lack of variety of food. The quality was fine – we didn’t get sick but there was very little to choose from compared to the Riu Tequila that we went to last March. A few other notes:-

1) If you want to go snorkeling then we would highly recommend contacting Jesus Vasquez of White Shark Boat Tours before you go. We arranged an outing of sightseeing and snorkeling on-line before we even left and met Jesus on the beach the day we arrived to confirm everything. He is very fluent in English and very knowledgeable about the area.

2) The rooms were fine except the mini bar had a lock on it so it seemed very inconvenient every time you went to get a water or beer.

3) The beach area was quite nice but as in any other spot – you had to get down early with your beach towels to reserve a hut (7:00 a.m. is when we went down)

4) Snorkeling was fine right there at the beach but the current changed on Wednesday night so Thursday there was a lot of jellyfish in the water and after you get stung by the little creatures a dozen times – it starts to make you a bit unwilling to get in the water. The jellyfish lasted the rest of the week but the worst day was Thursday. It did not keep us out of the water totally but made us more hesitant.

5) The 2 hours extra in flight time compared to flying to the Gulf side did not seem worth it to us.

6) We did check out the Barcelo Resort next door and it was really nice looking so for about $300.00 less per person you might want to check this resort out instead of the Gala.

In closing – we felt that we got more value for our money on the Mayan Riviera.

P.S. If you do want to get in touch with Jesus you can email him at sharkv74@yahoo.com

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Gala Resort – Huatulco Paula — Canada

January 2004

We just returned from a delightful vacation at the Gala Resort in Huatulco. The resort was built in 1990, so it is modern and also very clean. There are three a la carte restaurants and reservations were not difficult to obtain. The weather was great, sunny and in the mid to high eighties, other than one day when it clouded over. We will definitely return to this resort. Great value for the money.

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