Old Reviews – Villa Varadero

  Villa Varadero   Laura ~ Quesnel, BC

February 2009

Arrival: Jan 24 – Jan 31
We were greeted but were put off to the side while front counter staff helped the people behind us as I felt they were helped before us as they spoke Spanish.Front counter staff spoke good english and helped us with our baggage, but the elevator did not go up to our floor (old section)

For a Superior Oceanview Room it was very small (old section) with 2 double beds as we requested a King Bed. The next day my husband complainede and they moved us to a larger room in the new section.NO BALCONIES, no Pool Bar, No decor in rooms and only a few channels on the TV. Beds are hard as the floor, towels old and frayed, no clock or radio in room. Not all inclusive, pay for drinks in fridge in rooms and internet.

Restaurants and Bars:
1 restaurant – 1 bar, not really a restaurant, breakfast buffet sytle in a large noisy room, same breakfast every day and sausages on buffet were weiners, lunch was a water soaked beef burger and salad bar. Bartender did not know how to make drinks, so we stuck to simple mixed drinks and beer. Never had dinner at this hotel, we were warned by locals that we may get sick eating at this hotel.

Beach is beautiful, pools filled FULL of kids everyday….why arent they in school, we wanted a small hotel for peace & quiet, not at this place.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Went on the African Queen Canal Tour, very good and got to see local wildlife up close, actually got 2 feet away from a crocodile.

Other Comments: Lots of young people staying up late partying and drinking, we had to phone down on 2 occasions at 1am to have the parties stopped. Music started under our window at 8am in the morning, my husband phoned down to the desk to have them turn it down. We considered moving to another hotel. So if you want a noisy hotel full of partyers this is the place for you.

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Villa Varadero Ivona, Bob and Family ~ Canada

January 2006

Country: Mexico
Area: Vallarta Nayarit
Hotel: Villa Varadero
Rating: 2.5 – 3*
Meal Plan: A/I
Wholesaler: Sunwing
Airline: Skyservice
Date of Visit: December 14, 2005

We were looking to spend a family Christmas down south this year. We wanted a hotel that was reasonably priced (considering the high mark-ups this time of year) and not too busy. We also wanted an area that would have good weather with no rain, nice beaches and enough off-hotel activities for the two week duration. We zeroed in on the Nuevo Vallarta area (Vallarta Nayarit) as a good choice. All travelling family members have been to this area previously, so we knew what to expect.

The Area:
Puerto Vallarta (PV) in the Jalisco state is a bustling city on the bay of Banderas on Mexico’s pacific coast. Nuevo Vallarta (now referred to as Vallarta Nayarit) is a resort, marina and condo development area north of the city of PV in the state of Nayarit. For the sake of keeping the tourists sane, the time zones of the tourist areas have been synchronized to Jalisco time; this is an important factoid since there is an hour difference between Jalisco and Nayarit. Nuevo Vallarta is a much quieter, laid back area than PV. It also has better beaches.

The Resort and Clientele: We chose Villa Varadero mostly due to its small size (~56 rooms) its beach location, and rustic Mexican charm. It is the smallest, and oldest hotel in the Nuevo area. Most of the neighbouring buildings are condos. It is approximately a 5 minute walk to the Nuevo marina, where for approximately one dollar, one can catch a water taxi to the other side. On the other side of the marina sits the Paradise Village complex. A shopping mall is located there, as are many moored boats and yachts. This is the spot where one would go to catch a boat for any seafaring excursions such as whale watching or deep sea fishing. A water taxi that will take you to downtown PV is also available there. Villa Varadero caters mostly to Mexican families, and to me is part of its charm. It is not an Americanized cookie cutter hotel. During our first week there, we were the only English speaking patrons. By our second week, few other Canadians and Americans showed up, but Spanish speaking clientele was the majority.

The hotel is also available on an EP basis. While this makes the hotel even that much more affordable, the problem is that there are very few restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, so unless you spend much time off-property, you would quite likely end up eating breakfast and lunch at the hotel anyways. I’ve been told that the meals and drinks when purchased a la carte are quite expensive. However, the hotel’s suites are huge! (I had a peek) and have cooking facilities, so perhaps that would be the way to go on an EP.

The Room:
We were given adjoining rooms on the top floor (6th floor). We didn’t book the oceanview rooms, so our rooms faced the front of the hotel and the street. The rooms are very spacious, with two double beds, a huge closet, eating nook with table and chairs, microwave oven, fridge and coffeemaker. As part of the A/I plan, coffee and water were replenished daily. The bathroom has a shower only, and the sink is separate. The hotel provided lots of soaps, shampoos and body lotions over the duration of our stay. Only the oceanview rooms have balconies. I rather missed not having a balcony, since I am used to having my first cup of coffee on the balcony or veranda. The room smelled a bit musty for the first few days, but once the windows were opened, and some scented candles burned, the smell cleared right up. During this time of year, the A/C was completely un-necessary, and since there were no mosquitoes, we simply kept the windows opened all the time. The maid kept our room spotless every day.

Beach(es) and Water:
The hotel has a great beachside location. Since the hotel is small, everything is close and at hand. The sand in this part of Nuevo is dark (not as dark as Hawaii or Costa Rica though), soft and very fine. There were no rocks, weeds, or other impediments to walking and/or swimming at that beach. The ocean was a touch on the cold side, but that is to be expected during December. It was still a heck of a lot warmer than the pool. The waves were terrific for boogie boarding, and this was an activity that I enjoyed for hours every day. I brought my own boogie board, but the hotel seemed to have plenty of them to go around, and they were extremely laid back about returning them.

The hotel has one main pool, and one small pool for kids. I don’t know about the kids’ pool, but the main pool, while very attractive was very cold! Very few adults ventured in. I’m sure one of the reasons for the cold water is that the pool is in the shade for the majority of the day.

Food/Drinks: The hotel has one (buffet style) restaurant, Drake’s. The food is definitely not the standard Americanized style that one sees all too often at Mexican All-Inclusives. Rather, the food is very much of a homey Mexican style. Expect quesadillas, sopes, nachos, pozole, and various chicken, beef, pork and fish dishes. Sometimes you could get hamburgers and hotdogs, which the kids seemed to gravitate to, as well as grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. Their soups were different every day and very tasty. It was interesting to see pancakes served at supper every night.

We chose not to partake in their turkey and beef Wellington Christmas meal, which they were charging 280 pesos per person. Instead, we went to PV and had a scrumptious seafood meal at one of the charming restaurants in the Rio Cuale area. We had a table right on the river, and it was truly a Christmas Eve to remember.

Drinks at the hotel are made using local liquor. I had to tell them to use ‘poco licor’ because the first few times the drinks were so strong I couldn’t drink them. But when I asked, they toned it down a bit for me and then I was able to actually enjoy them. I stuck with margaritas, but my mom and daughter tried the other concoctions such as chi chi’s and mai tai’s and these were supposedly not bad. Beer served was bottled Corona or Pacifico. The wine was Chilean from boxes, and it was just awful! We stuck with beer and soda water at meal times. No one from our travelling party got ill during the entire two weeks. The restaurant and bar, like the rest of the hotel were kept scrupulously clean at all times.

The Staff:  A nice by product of small hotels is that you actually get to know the staff, and the Villa Varadero was no exception. The staff were very friendly and patient with our broken Spanish. It does help immensely if you have some basic knowledge of the Spanish language, since this is not an American hotel. We managed fine, but we witnessed other English speaking clients struggling to make themselves understood. A Spanish course, or at the very least a phrase book and dictionary can go a long way towards making one’s vacation in a Spanish speaking country much more enjoyable and less frustrating. I was quite impressed at how quickly the hotel responded to reported problems. For example, my parents’ door lock mechanism was not working properly when we checked in. Immediately a repairman showed up and the matter was attended to right there and then. Extra pillows or towels were brought up within minutes of asking. I don’t think I have ever experienced such efficiency in any North American hotels, never mind Latin America!

Things to Do: Since the Villa Varadero is a small hotel with limited amenities, they don’t have a full animation team. Their ‘animacion chico’, Martin was a sweetie who took care of the kids’ activities, bike tours and beach volleyball and soccer games. Bikes were available from 9am to 5pm at no extra charge. Kayaks and boogie boards were available all day long, no prior reservations required. They are signed out at the front desk (as are the beach towels), and they didn’t seem to care how long you kept them. I took a single kayak out a couple of times and it was very relaxing being able to paddle out as far as you wanted (once you got past the breakers!). Don’t expect much by way of night life at this hotel, nor in the Nuevo area in general. But, the hotel is located approximately 20 minutes (by bus) from PV and all that it offers. The local ATM buses run approximately every 10 minutes, and the bus stop is located right in front of the hotel. As I stated above, the Nuevo marina is a 5 minute walk.

December to March is whale season, so there are lots of tour companies offering all sorts of whale watching tours of various durations. The NH Krystal resort downtown still holds weekly fiestas and I am happy to report that it is still worthwhile to see. The food is absolutely amazing, and the margaritas aren’t too shabby either!

There is very little shopping in Nuevo Vallarta. The mall at Paradise Village has a grocery store and various clothing and handicraft boutiques. It is far better to venture out to either Bucerias, Mescales or into downtown PV. Of course, shopping in PV can be quite overwhelming. There are many shopping areas; old town, along the malecon, Rio Cuale area, the hotel zone, etc. I found the prices really varied depending on when we went and where. For example a silver bracelet of comparable quality and silver content would cost anywhere from 280 pesos to 700 pesos depending on the store! I found the area just behind the malecon the best in terms of selection and prices. The flea market prices seemed very high and the stall owners weren’t terribly interested in bartering. Rio Cuale was even worse. For staples such as coffee, tequila, vanilla and CD’s, go to a supermarket such as Mega Pelican. Try to avoid shopping when there are cruise ships in town, although this may be difficult as PV seems to be very popular with cruise lines these days. This will only get worse as the new cruise ship terminal, currently under construction, is finished.

December falls in the dry season, and we had sunny blue skies with low humidity every day for our entire two weeks’ stay. Every day followed the same pattern: crisp mornings followed by warm (never uncomfortably hot) mid-day temperatures, finished by cool evenings. I would definitely recommend warm clothes for the evenings.

Other than the odd cockroach scurrying around the flower beds, I did not see any insects other than butterflies. We didn’t see any mosquitoes nor feel any sand fleas or other such ‘no see-ums’.

In Conclusion:
If you are an independent minded traveller looking for an affordable, laid back, Mexican-flavoured hotel that sits on a lovely beach and is extremely clean and efficiently run, then the Villa Varadero is definitely worth checking out.

If you still have questions, email me at: Ivona_Lancaster@hotmail.com

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