This was the first trip for our group to the Riu Vallarta. We go to have fun and regardless of any little quirks we always do. Flights With the bankruptcy of Skyservice last year, Sunquest is using Thomas Cook Canada for its airline partner this year. Jazz airlines are operating the planes on behalf of Thomas Cook. I have to say that we had high hopes for the new airline and were nothing but disappointed by the service provided. No sense going into details as you don’t have a choice of what airline to use.
8009, 8010, 8011
Arrival: After the 25 minute bus ride to the resort we arrived at the resort. We were given the registration forms on the bus and just had to hand them in to get our key upon arrival. The keys to the safe are included with your package and were given out at the same time.
Rooms: There were 2 double beds in our room and the others in the group had King size beds as they had requested. We had no problems with the water pressure or hot water supply. Our housekeeping person was excellent. I had read about a lot of theft recently. We had absolutely no issue. I left tips on my pillow which they knew were for them. That said we didn’t leave electronics out – they were safely put away in the safe to be cautious.
Restaurants and Bars: Food Delicious! I’m a fan of Mexican flavoured food to start with so I was in heaven. Fresh Salsa and Guacamole at every meal – awesome! The biggest disappointment for me was the lunches only as the location of the lunch buffet is basically on the beach and the wind howls through there so your hot food tends to be cold by the time you get back to your seat. That is the only complaint I have about the food. Supper was always a different theme each night at the buffet so that was good. We managed to get reservations for the Steak House, Asian, and Fine Dining while we were there. To book the a-la cartes, you need to line up in the lobby between 8:00 and 10:00 either the day of or day prior to when you want to go. The Asian restaurant was the groups favourite of the three. Snacks – There was never a time when we couldn’t find something to eat. Between the seemingly never ending buffets and the Sports Bar food was served 24 hours a day. NOTE: Supper at the Buffet: Men can wear shorts but must have a shirt with sleeves to be admitted. We saw people turned away for having tank tops on. For the a-la cartes men must wear pants. Bars There are several bars to visit. There is the Pool bar, the Beach bar, Lobby Bar (at night), Theatre Bar, and the Swim Up bar. Each bar we went to made good drinks. By default they serve the cheap brands, but they have the name brands too – you just need to ask for it.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach was as clean as you can expect. You need to watch where you walk as smokers seemed to be just putting their butts out in the sand where ever they chose. Perhaps some ashtrays would help with this habit. We did see staff cleaning the beach at night though. We spent only 1 day at the beach as the water was a bit rough and it wasn’t clear enough for any of us to comfortably go in to it. Pools We made use of the adult pool all but the 1 day. The pool is very large and as other reviews have mentioned, the towel game is in full force. One couple told us they came down at 3:30 in the morning to book the chairs. The hotel really needs to crack down on this aspect. If you don’t have your chair reserved by 7AM it’s almost impossible to do so at the Adult pool. There seemed to be open chairs at the family pool later in the morning. The Adult pool also has the bar tenders coming around taking drink orders. Jesse was by far the most entertaining bar tender at the resort. He’s funny and would toss himself into the pool on occasion to make up for some gaff on his part. He sure made the pool entertaining as the real entertainment staff seemed to spend much of the day at the family pool. The Family pool has waterslides for the kids and is basically the same layout as the adult pool but a bit smaller and doesn’t have the swim up bar. We did see some kids in the Adult area with their parents who managed to stay under the radar of the Entertainment team. If the Entertainment guys see the kids, they ask them to head over to the family pool. Actually, the family pool tended to have loungers available even when the Adult pool was fully “booked”.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Entertainment We made it to several shows. Having been to other Riu resorts they were about the same, if not exactly the same. Nothing too special, but it’s something to pass the time. They also had nightly live singers too. The first week they were up on top of the stage, and the second week they had them set up in the court yard and guests were inclined to dance. Activities The Animation team had activities going on throughout the day on the resort. I didn’t partake in any but I did see them hold water volleyball, aqua-fitness and water polo plus a few “Crazy Games” (i.e. Belly Flop contest) to name a few. We taxied it into Puerto Vallarta twice and once to Bucerias. I enjoyed Puerto Vallarta more so as there was more to look around at and enjoy. Both are safe destinations for tourists. As we were a group that needed a larger vehicle to get there and back, it was $43 USD each way for Puerto Vallarta (a normal taxi was about $22 USD). A few in the group did the whale watching trip, booked via Sunquest, and had a blast. Saw lots of whales and said the service was great while on the catamaran.
Other Comments: We noticed an increased security presence after the first week. I think they were preparing for any spring breakers that may decide to be rowdy. Frankly I didn’t notice any influx of student age guests. We did notice on weekend the hotel would sell rooms to the locals and unlike other reviewers I found them to be as polite and respectful as the rest of the guests. Summary Given the many negative reviews on some sites for this hotel recently I was a bit concerned but we encountered no problems that others apparently had. This was my first trip to a 5 star resort and while not a 5 star by North American standards, it’s pretty close. The service was great, the staff was friendly, and any problems we reported were addressed immediately. If it weren’t as expensive of a trip as it was, we’d happily return this resort next winter. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.