Old Reviews – NH Krystal Vallarta

   NH Krystal Vallarta – Puerto Vallarta   Joan

October 2008

We had to decide between NH Krystal or Holiday Inn – both at an all- inclusive price that we considered a great deal. After input from posters on PV forums who were familiar with the two hotels, we chose NH Krystal. In all fairness, we didn’t check out the Holiday Inn while there, but I feel the Krystal was perfect for us. High-rise hotels are not our preferred choice, and that was a factor in chosing the Krystal . This hotel isn’t "deluxe" and needs a bit of "fixing up" here and there, flaws are evident, but has a lot of character and charm, far more important to us than "luxuries". The grounds are beautiful and the pools were wonderful – also big factors in our decision-making. And a real bargain for the price we paid, imo!

We were in Building 2 at the front (street-side) of the resort, but we had no problem with noise – only occasional "washing machine" sounds from what we believed was the laundry between us and the street. Although there was construction ongoing daily and there was noise from it at both pools, we never found it bothersome – which surprised me as I’m quite noise-conscious. Maybe looking up at palm trees and blue sky while floating in the pools helped detract from the noise!

Our room was on the third floor overlooking the lap pool, with a wide balcony , a sitting area, a large lighted walk-in closet with a full length mirror and a room safe (included in the package) , a dressing room area with vanity and large mirror between the bathroom and sleeping area, and a wonderful walk-in shower in the bathroom we both wanted to take home! The bathroom also had a large vanity area and mirror making it great for two women to dress etc. at the same time without fighting over mirror space! Water pressure was great, and we always had hot water – a bit slow first thing in the morning at times, but it got there eventually. Shampoo and lotion and bar soaps were provided. Face clothes are not, typically Latin American, so if you need one, bring it with you.

We could sit on the balcony and watch birds bathing in in the treetops during evening rain showers. There was a bar fridge we didn’t use (fee charged) ; bottled water, although not cold, was provided daily. The beds were 3/4 size, a bit hard, but still comfortable, and bed linens seemed of higher quality – nice and soft/smooth. A/C seemed to be unadjustable, moving the control had no effect, but was set at a perfect level to suit us. Lighting was very good throughout our room.

Not a priority for us, but English TV channels/programs were somewhat limited from what we saw when we used it during rainy evenings. We’d sooner watch the birds or weather or read a book anyway!

It was about a five minute walk from our room to the Velas restaurant where we ate most of our meals on the AI plan. The beach/pool restaurant was open for a few hours in the afternoon where we had a few drinks at the swim-up bar, we never did eat there.

We were aware that Bogart’s restaurant had closed, but found that the Kamakura was also closed due to renos, and replacing it, sushi was served at the Crab Shack (beach) restaurant. late afternoon/evening, which we didn’t try. Because it was off-season and there were few guests eating at the hotel, we didn’t have the option of buffet meals at lunch or dinner as we’d expected, only buffet was at breakfast. The breakfast buffet was good, potatoes in some form, ham, scrambled eggs, fruits and juices, pastires and breads, french toast, omelette bar where you could also order waffles/pancakes/toast(we also discovered we could order bacon/sausages here).

Other meals had to be ordered a la carte, which we found a bit limited in selection when eating there for a week. The food was good, but there were five entree options, about 5 lunch options, plus four desserts. We also had the option of a "gourmet" dinner we tried once during our stay. The gourmet menu had three or four entree choices, the only one not on the regular menu was beef tournedos, othewise it was almost identical to the regular menu. The food was good, but french fries were served with everything, and we would have liked a few more side dish selections since we didn’t have the buffet option. This said, we could have dined out more often, but we preferred the convenience of eating right at the hotel , not strictly because we were AI. Please keep in mind that we were travelling off -season and were aware there could be differences in what was printed in the brochure. If you’re going during high season your AI package could be totally different as far as food service.

The hotel does offer coupons for dining-out options at the Peninsula Mall just a few steps away or at the Outback across the street, or Senior Frog’s downtown, but they are for specific nights at specific restaurants so no restuarant becomes over-run at any time. We did dine at the Outback – very nice meal and the coupon was valued at $90 pesos toward the cost.

We sampled a few of the slushy cocktails offered at both bars – all very good and mixed in a blender, not from a dispenser like many AI resorts . Not top-shelf liquor on the AI plan, but in a slushy drink, not a problem for us. Drinks at the pool were served in good-sized styrofoam glasses, regular glasses in the dining room.

We had to sign for each meal/drink order – not a problem and I can’t understand why people would complain about this as some have. The only thing is to remember that in Latin America its considered impolite to bring the bill immediately, and you may have to ask for it when you’re ready to leave.

The pools were wonderful – not a lot of shade at the main pool, but the lap pool near our room is amidst palms and shade trees and afternoons we could always find a shady spot there. The main pool is divided into areas and there are two swim-up bars. There is a kiddy pool as well, and a playground area across the road from the pool. There was music at the main pool daily, but we stayed on the far side overlooking the beach and never found it annoying in selection or volume. We received towel tickets on arrival and could change towels whenever we wished, just had to return the ticket or the towel at check-out. .

Walking the beach was enjoyable, picking up abalone shells washed ashore. We didn’t lounge on the beach as it was SO hot and humid while we were there we prefered being in the pool. Salespersons approached the edge of the pool with their wares, but none were overbearing and generally another "no gracias" sent them along the beach.

There was no evening entertainment per se – a couple of karoke nights which we didn’t attend, which we knew before our departure. We did the aquasize program once and found it a very good, fun workout, and there was a pool volleyball game after.

We loved the architecture of the hotel – liked that its currently only three storeys, which will , imo, unfortunately change with the construction of the high-rises that’s ongoing, The variation in the appearance of the buildings throughout the property, the aqueducts and columns, fountains (although few were actually running at the time of our visit), cobblestone walkways, the variation of trees and other foliage everywhere.

From our experience most of the staff speak very good English, but I had fun trying my bit of Spanish with them and they seemed to enjoy it as well. Staff were pleasant and accommodating everywhere.

The bus stopped right outside the lobby for trips to El Centro $5.5 pesos (55 cents) and the Malecon, and we walked to Sorianna’s and Walmart (maybe 6 of our city blocks) for a comparison to shopping at home – we always enjoy comparing groceries, etc. for selection and price when we travel. We took a taxi back from El Centro at the cost of $50 pesos ($5.00) .

Yes, there are time share sales people EVERYWHERE – at the hotel, on the street, clerks in the shops, but we never found them terribly aggressive or bothersome and usually a "no gracias" was all that was required, I’m sure every second person in Puerto Vallarta sells timeshares!

We had been warned about being bombarded as you leave the airport arrival area, and yes, that did happen. We easily avoided the ones offering transportation to our hotel since our transfers were included in our package, but when one of them asked what tour company we were with and then pretending to be a rep from that company we did hesitate – our mistake in offering the name . He even flashed a tag around his neck when I asked for identification that he was with that company. After just a minute or so it was clear what he really was and we continued on to our actual rep and our transportation. We did overhear another person relating his experience of missing his transfer due to being "caught" in a timeshare person’s spiel, so be forewarned – don’t stop for anyone until you’re outside the final doors at the airport! and ask for clear identification of your tour company.

We had rain the last four evenings we were there, starting around 6 – 7 p.m. We knew we were going the end of the rainy season and took umbrellas, which we used a couple of nights to go to dinner. We could have used room service or called for a cart to pick us up, but it was pleasant walking in the warm rain. We did get the edge of Norbert and the precurser to Odile while we were there, providing one or two spectacular downpours and incredible angry seas, all of which we enjoyed watching. It was incredibly hot and humid – usually between 30 – 35 C. and humidity very high. Fine by the pool, but wicked when downtown unless you caught a breeze on the Malecon! We knew this and when going downtown made sure we wore clothing that didn’t show the extent of our perspiring! 🙂 I’m sure the pool sizzled when we hit it on our return!

Although I’ve travelled to many areas of the Caribbean and the Mayan Riviera, this was my first trip to Puerto Vallarta. We enjoyed the setting of the city between the mountains and the sea, walking the Malecon, the streets of El Centro, the flea market , browsing the many shops, stopping for a drink and people-watching at one of the many retaurants downtown. I would cetainly return, however I may be tempted to try a different hotel ONLY for the experience of a new lodging. I have to say that it would be a hard choice to find a hotel I’d be as happy with after staying at the Krystal – I loved this property!

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NH Krystal Vallarta – Puerto Vallarta Melanie ~ Ottawa

February 2006

The NH Krystal resort is an overall great resort a definite 4.5 . Upon arriving to the resort our first impression was that the main entrance was a bit old and unimpressive. The main foyer was lovely with a wonderful water fountain. Check-in was fast and courteous and the concierge was friendly and had a lot of great tips about the city. We however were annoyed when we were ask to participate in a time share presentation. Originally, the concierge did not tell us up front what it was but we eventually got the picture when we met with our host. Apparently this is a common theme among resorts to offer the time share plan. For our time we received two free 75 min full body massages that were amazing! Well worth the 90 mins to sit and say no.

Our room was a lovely ground floor villa with two other hotel rooms within the section. Our villa came with our own small pool. We never used the pool but nice to look at. The room had 2 double beds. We asked to move to a room with a queen or king bed but that was extra $$. Rooms at the resort do not have bar fridges for your room pleasure. A few other couples we met were overall satisfied with their rooms either within their hotel style towers or villas.

The food at the resort was quite good. The buffet is small but you can order from the menu throughout the day. They have great guacamole! For all-inclusive guest (like us) we paid for nothing except if you wanted to order seafood from the menu that was extra $$. For those going out site seeing in the town, the hotel will make you a boxed lunch for no extra cost. You will see that all guest must sign-off on every drink or food you order. This is their way of controlling what is being ordered etc. Not a real hassle at all. As part of the all-inclusive you got reservations at the Japanese restaurant Kamakura which was really good, Bogart’s which is like a Casablanca style restaurant was alright, and the hotel’s fiesta event which was entraining and nice food.

The ocean was rough when we were there and the pool was clean and large. 2 swim-up bars – how convenient. Lots of vendors on the beach. Sometimes it was quieter to sit by the pool where vendors were not permitted.

The staff at the Krystal were very friendly and nice. The property was clean and well maintained.

ACTIVITIES: Water aerobics, beach and pool volleyball, tennis and racquet courts, karaoke

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