Sierra Nuevo Vallarta – Mexico Hotels – Debbie's Caribbean Travel & Resort Reviews



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Sierra Nuevo Vallarta – Reviews Posted – 4

December 2002

We recently returned from a stay at Hotel Sierra. I was a little hesitant to book a hotel in Nuevo Vallarta (away from the center of the city) but I am now very glad I did. Nuevo Vallarta is like heaven on earth. None of the traffic or noise associated with the hotels in town. Beautiful palm lined streets with exotic birds chirping in the trees. In the evening everyone would stroll. It was wonderful. A good sized mall (Paradise Village) is within walking distance. Don’t look for bargains there, but still a good shopping adventure. Several restaurants (even McDonald’s and Domino’s) when we got tired of hotel food. When we wanted to go into town, we simply hopped on a bus and were there within 30 minutes. I do not expect Nuevo Vallarta to remain in it’s pristine state for too long, however. They are building everywhere. But for now….it is perfect.

Still some damage from the hurricane is seen. The Malecon received the worst of it and is still under construction. Does not hamper the ability to shop but access to the famous sculptures and the beach was closed.

As for Hotel Sierra. I will preface my remarks by saying we thought it was wonderful. The hotel is rather nondescript from the street side. But the lobby is all marble and high glass ceiling. Open and airy. Very beautiful. If you are looking for a luxury suite, you won’t find it here. No Egyptian cotton sheets, no chocolates on your pillow. Just very nicely decorated, clean rooms. Air conditioning worked well, but we usually just opened the balcony doors to access the sea breeze. The view from the balcony was fantastic. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The beautiful ocean, the pools, wonderful landscaping, music wafting from below. Exquisite. This is not a place for singles looking for action. Although there were people of all ages, the activities were very much PG rated. No Club Med kind of stuff.

So many activities. Too numerous to mention. Suffice to say I did not see my teenagers until meal and bedtime. Well organized, and the activities director (Jonathan) took great pains to assure everyone was having a great time. Hotel staff was warm and friendly. Some speak English better than others, but that was part of the charm and I completely enjoyed trying to use my Spanish.

Much has been written about the food. There was always plenty to choose from. We never went hungry. But it did get a bit tedious by the end of our stay. You have to be prepared to eat out a few times. Some of the entrees were questionable for the American palate, but as I say there were always other choices. Breakfast was a repast…. 5 or 6 types of fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, pastries, smoothies, eggs, potatoes, several Mexican dishes. Yum yum. We normally did lunch at the Fiesta snack bar which has been mentioned in the previous reviews. The guacamole was great…huge trays of it. I wanted to smuggle some home in my suitcase. Hotdogs and hamburgers for the kids. All the pina coladas and chee-chee’s you could ask for. 1 word of caution: There is no legal drinking age in Mexico and I saw several kids well under the age of 18 being served alcohol, so discuss with your kids in advance.

We did a 9 hour Jeep trip into the jungle. Just our family and a guide. It was absolutely our best day in Puerto Vallarta. We saw things you won’t see on your own. The real Mexico. Stopped at 2 small villages, had lunch somewhere out in the boonies. Met a man who owns championship fighting cocks. Our guide knew every tree and creature. We saw iguanas, crocodiles, birds, and butterflies the size our your hand. We collected amber from trees. Nothing like it. Highly recommend you check it out. But then….sitting by the hotel pool reading a good book is a great alternative! We loved the Hotel Sierra and are making plans to go again. As with anything, the experience is what you make it. If you can’t live without a coffee maker in your room, take one with you.

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Sierra Nuevo Vallarta Firewire Arizona
July 2002

Just returned from The Hotel Sierra in Nuevo Vallarta, and though I wouldn’t normally write a review, in this case I felt compelled to do so.

Please allow me to first editorialize a little (I’ll keep it brief); We are a young couple in Arizona and have traveled to various destinations in Mexico for years (I even speak a little Spanish). Puerto Vallarta was the next place on our list, and decided upon Nuevo Vallarta, (appr 10mi North) , because of a really inexpensive "all inclusive" package offered through Apple Vacations in July. We were looking for fun, relaxation, romantic sunsets, shopping, (drinking), etc., and had an otherwise excellent time, however, there were certain things we would like to of known beforehand.

If you want exact descriptions of the hotel, surroundings, etc., than please read the excellent reviews posted in this section. I , however, have written a positive v.s. negative comparison of Hotel Sierra Nuevo Vallarta and a synopsis of the entire area below. I hope this helps.

Positive: Rooms are great, clean, nice patio view, amazing AC, ceiling fan, mini bar, and TV.

Negative:

SEVERAL other guests we spoke with had broken AC units which was a nightmare for them in July. If you want an actual "patio", you better ask…most rooms have only a 2′ balcony. NO COFFEE MAKERS IN THE ROOM (this is very important to you coffee drinkers since you either have to get up before 9:30am to get a cup in the lobby or stand in line at the breakfast buffet to get seated). I walked (ugghh) down the street every morning to a plaza with a deli for coffee.

Positive: Adults only beach is pretty cool with a bar about 50′ away. Beaches are fairly clean, with alot of activities.

Negative:

Beach bar closes at 7:00pm (sunset’s around 9:30pm in July), and it’s about a 200 yard walk around the "pool maze" to get a drink. No bottles allowed on their beach, and drinks are served in tiny plastic cups. Mexican beer only (Corona and Pacifico)…any mixed drink you want. Too much activity for such a small beach front, including; timeshare vendors, trinket vendors, loud whistles from parasailing vendors, etc.. The beach gets very relaxing and quiet around 7:pm…just when the bar closes.

Positive: The lobby bar is open until 1:00am with a great view, comfotable seating, and generally some kind of entertainment.

Negative:

Really no negatives.

Positive: Sorry, no positives about the food, read the negatives below!

Negative:

Okay, first off, I’ve been traveling in Mexico my whole life and have always enjoyed the food (I’m not too picky about my Mexican food and I have an iron stomach). My girlfriend on the other hand, is a bit squemish, but not too picky. With that in mind, I’ll just say the food at the hotel is…well, a little "sketchy". You have to "make reservations" to get anything served to you, or stand in line at the buffet (watch out for the flies). There seems to always be theme to the buffet. We walked in on chinese night, took one whiff , one look, and ran!!! If you miss "feeding time" you’re screwed. We survived on peanuts from the bar and food in Puerto Vallarta.

Positive: The excursions we went on were great (highly recommend the Marigalante pirate ship cruise…very cool).

Negative:

Trying to book an excursion takes an act of congress, ie tracking down your travel rep at very precise (though posted) times, (reps are usually only there twice a day for an hour).

Positive: Puerta Vallarta , though touristy, is alot of fun. The bars are great, the flea market’s great, and this is where most of your activities will occur.

Negative:

I believe this is the MOST important negative. Cab rides to Purto Vallarta are around 13 bucks…with tips, around 30 bucks round trip. Consider the bus…it’s only a dollar (if you can deal with a Mexican bus…we didn’t).

Positive: Some people and staff were very friendly.

Negative:

Like I said, I’ve been going to Mexico my whole life and always been impressed with the friendliness of the locals. In Nuevo Vallarta (not Puerto Vallarta) I found the staff to be rather smug. Not as much to us as we witnessed them being to other Americans and Mexicans. This could be due to the fact that we were there in the Mexican vacation season (almost no Americans in the summer…American tourist season starts around November), but, my humble opinion is because there is no tipping of the staff allowed, they just don’t seem to really care.

I could go on, but I believe these were the little details that made this vacation not what it could’ve been. Next time, we’ll book a hotel in Puerto Vallarta, do our own excursions, and be more in control of what we do, and when we eat. All in all, Puerto Vallarta was great, but next time, I won’t be staying in an all-enclusive "Club Med" wannabe 10mi North from where all the fun is…even if it costs me a couple of extra bucks, and after checking my wallet it wouldn’t of.

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Sierra – Nuevo Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta) Hilary New York State
June 2001

My fiance and I went to Puerto Vallarta in March 2000. We stayed at the Sierra Nuevo Vallarta. We went through Apple Vacations. We flew direct from Philadelphia and the flights there and back were pleasantly uneventful. Although this hotel is in what is called Nuevo Vallarta and is a 10 minute cab ridefrom Puerta Vallarta itself, we loved it.

We had a room on the third floor with a balcony overlooking the pool and the beach. We took some great sunset pictures from our balcony. The room was nice sized and we had a king size bed. The bathroom was the best part of the room with dark marble tile in a deep tub.
We had a ceiling fan that kept us cool, no need for air conditioning. There was a free mini bar which was stocked daily with bottled water and local beer.

The food was "ok" . The main restaurant where breakfast and dinner are served daily buffet style had some great fresh fruit, but sometimes the meals themselves were pretty bland. Our least favorite theme night was the asian night. Our favorite theme was the Mexican night, where we were seated at large round tables around the pool with other guests and there were a ton of choices at the buffet. A mariachi band played the whole time.

The beachside snack hut was great… just don’t eat the hamburgers (not sure what they are made of) The guacamole is great I ate it every chance I could get, as well as the fries. (I did pack on a few pounds before we left)

The restaurants that required reservations were nice, it was nice to be waited on after all the buffet style dinners. I reccommend the caesar salad and avocado appetizer at Mar Intimo.

The beach was really clean, they had a separate adult section, which was nice for us since we were a couple traveling without children.

The water itself is not crystal blue, and was quite chilly in March ( you have to remember it is the Pacific, not the caribbean). We went in the pool if we wanted to get cooled off.

There are a lot of activities you can participate in at the pool, or not (which we didn’t). The hotel itself has excursions you can go on, like a bar crawl, or jungle tours.

Since we were with Apple vacations we had a representative right at the hotel to book excursions with. We went on two different excursions. We did an all day off road excursion in Mercedes Benz jeeps. We traveled through a local town, visited a tortilla factory, and then headed to the jungle. We were let off the trucks (there were about 6 trucks per tour, with 8 people in each truck) and took a short walk through the jungle. We had an absolutely fabulous tour guide who taught us so much about Mexico and a little spanish so we could tell our driver to speed it up!

We headed out of the jungle through small villages where we saw a man building his own home with adobe bricks that he made himself! We then gave a bottle of soda to the most adorable mexican girl I have ever seen.

We then went to the beach where we were served a buffet style lunch while our tour guides played bartenders; they were hilarious. (this was all included in the price by the way) We were supposed to be able to swim at the beach to get cleaned off from the jungle, but the waves were too dangerous so we were just allowed to wade.

We were then taken back and dropped off at our hotel, not before we were all given a shot of tequila and had to sing a mexican drinking song before we could drink it! We had the best time.

With the same tour company (whose name escapes me, but you could find out at the hotel info desk) we took a sunset cruise out to an island where we had the most romantic dinner ever. Each couple, or family were seated at tables scattered on the beach and rocks above the water. My fiance and I were given a table overlooking the water (it was dark at this time) away from everyone. We then had a buffet style dinner, and were served drinks by a waiter. After the meal we walked to an amphitheater where we were delighted to watch a traditional mexican show. I would highly recommend both of these excursions to everyone, they were the best part of the trip.

We also saw a bullfight, which happens every Wednesday in Puerto Vallarta. If you are a true animal lover, you may want to skip this, as they do actually kill the bull. It was a real experience though.

The all-inclusive nature of the hotel is great, but there is so much to do outside the hotel, I reccommend you do leave the hotel at least once or twice. We would definitely go back!

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Sierra – Nuevo Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta) Kathy Montreal
Just returned last night from the Sierra Nuevo Vallarta just outside of Puerto Vallarta. We flew down on an Air Transat Airbus out of Mirabel, Montreal.

Upon arrival the resort tends to look quite plain from the road, a large expanse of stucco, few windows facing the road, and a lot of construction going on all around you. Nuevo Vallarta is being built up in leaps and bounds. But once off the bus you enter the resort, which is all inclusive, and realize that it truly is a 5 star. Check in was wonderful as only two other couples got off the bus with us. However, thru out the vacation we never noticed a line up that I have witnessed at other resorts.

All the rooms are the same, except for the few time share units, and a couple of specialty rooms (Presidential suite for example). The rooms are tastefully decorated, clean, well lit, and a good size. The bathroom area is also a nice size, the wash basin and dressing area being separate from the toilet/ bath area. They might have made the balconies larger however, being a jut out from the sliding glass doors, you really can’t actually put a chair out there to sit, but the doors do open wide so you almost feel like you are out on it. On the ground floor the rooms have a terrace with two chairs and a small table.

The lobby/bar/common area in the hotel is very nice. Opens up to the terrace in stages… wonderful place to have a drink before or after dinner.

The pool/gardens at this resort are beautiful! This area is huge, with walkways winding in and around the pools, of which there are three (one being shallow for children). Each pool is free shaped, and water is warm. The animation staff host various water sports in one of the pools thru the day. Plenty of lounge chairs to go around, altho you will find ppl out early in the morning placing their towels on the coveted ones, like any other resort.

The beach is wide, with a shallow dip to the water, you can go out quite far before going over your head. The beach is very clean, the sand soft, and you can walk for miles if you head North. To the South is The Allegro right next door, then The Paradise Village which has a marina entrance. You can walk along the dock area to a small gazebo where you can get some terrific photos of the resorts.

There is a buffet restaurant which serves all three main meals… and while the quality is good, vegetables and fruits wonderfully fresh, they might try more variety. Flavours were good however and we enjoyed our meals. There is also a snack bar open from noon or so till 5pm. and served hamburgers and hotdogs among other things… try the guacamole… terrific!

You can reserve to dine at the two a la carte restaurants which are well worth it and are a welcome respite from the buffet. I recommend Crepe Suzette at the Mar Intimo… At both restaurants it appeared to be the usual to leave a tip for your server… altho this is an all inclusive resort… we did find this to be a common practice. Considering most of the workers at the resort earned between $5 – $8 USD daily… they certainly welcomed any extras. However… there is no obligation to tip.

You have the option to book side trips thru your travel rep. However, they also have a kiosk in the lobby and outside where you can also book excursions. We took Jungle Jim’s City/Jungle trip to Puerto Vallarta and to El Eden restaurant in the Jungle. Not expensive, about $30 USD and we enjoyed it. You do tend to cruise by attractions you might have wanted to stop at (Marina district, Liz Taylor’s home, etc) but it does give you a broad view and then you can choose to take a taxi to tour on your own places of interest. We also took the Vallarta Adventure Tour to Mariatus Islands to whale watch and snorkel. However it was cold that morning and the water temp. wasn’t exactly inviting… We did manage to see a few whales. I would have preferred to get off the boat while the snorkelers were swimming around, however you anchor rather than land… if you suffer from motion sickness you might look into a tour that doesn’t sit anchored for any length of time.

We also went horseback riding and I highly recommend it! It is part of your package. Poncho is your riding host and his horses are well cared for and look great. You are led thru the village where he lives then head towards the river where you might catch sight of the crocs… before heading back. Again… you have the option of leaving him a buck or two… amazing how far a dollar can go in this country!

In the lobby of the Sierra you will find a Time Share desk… they do not push you to go and take a look at the resort they are advertising. However, as much as I am a hard sell… when it was cloudy one morning we figured we had never been farther north and we were curious to see the area, they not only offered us a round trip taxi ride along the coast to get there (20 minutes north of Nuevo Vallarta) but also free meal once there, PLUS we were given a voucher for $110. USD off any excursion that they offered at the Sierra tour desk. All this for 90 minutes (plus an hour travel time).. we felt was worth it. We listened politely to the time share information, and when the clock struck 90 minutes we politely declined… went back to our hotel, cashed in our voucher, and the next day took the whale watching tour for $10 USD. instead of $120 USD. Just be aware that when you DO say no to the person showing you… they tend to get a bit cranky!

All in all, a very pleasant holiday at a lovely resort that I would say is comparable to the Club Marival down the beach, where we stayed 3 years ago… in fact might be a touch nicer!
kgingras@sympatico.ca
Kathy – February – 2001

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Last updated: May 21, 2003

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