Let me begin by saying its been some time since we've been in Puerto Vallarta but we have spent time at other high-end all-inclusives in Mexico (eg. Dreams in Cabo). That said, I have traveled the world extensively for over 40 years and so draw from an in depth background of hotel experiences beit in North America, Asia, South America or Europe. Given this background here is our take on the Golden Crown Paradise hotel in Puerto Vallarta.
With very few exceptions we found the staff to be very pleasant and helpful. Virtually all our requests were addressed quickly and with politeness. The staff at the information desk were particularly helpful as were the staff at the restaurants and poolside bars. Of particular note was Alejandro at the information desk and Pauly, the manager of the Paradise restaurant. The waitresses at the poolside bar also deserve special note. Please remember to tip staff ($1) when provided service in the restaurants, pool side or in the bars as they work long hard hours and put up with a lot of BS from tourists.....
In general the food was okay, not great by any measure. For breakfast we found the La Palapa buffet in the Crown Paradise Hotel next door to be far more diverse and overall of better quality than what was offered at the Golden Crown Paradise hotel; and its available to patrons of the GCP. Suggest getting there before 8:00 as its less crowded. For lunch, the poolside bar/grill was ok; the burgers and tacos were passable as were the nachos. Likewise, the hotel restaurant near the lobby on the ground floor was ok but not great. Suggest the grilled fish as the best option there. Breezes bar, on the beach was ok for the Cerviche and the sandwiches are passable, but just barely. For dinner, you can't go wrong with the Paradise restaurant. Pauly and the waiters there are excellent and the food is reasonably good....although not exceptional. Definitely try the "Sexy coffee" as its a treat to watch it prepared and it tastes good too!
The room service menu is pretty good, especially the grilled fish and pasta linguine carbonara so if you want to avoid the crowd or just eat a quiet meal, suggest you consider ordering food in and eating while sitting on the ocean-view balcony....
In general the pool is nice although a bit too warm. The adjacent jacuzzi is nice too, expecially at night. That said, there are many smokers around the pool during the day, so beware as you'll likely have to put up with lots of second-hand smoke no matter where you position yourself poolside.
If you want a shaded Palapa or another specific spot near the pool you should get down there and put a towel on the chairs before 7 to reserve it.
As for poolside entertainment, there are a number of water games you can join in (water volleyball, exercise, basketball, etc.) which are fun and made more so by the event staff at poolside who are very nice and enthusiastic.
It's small but passable. There's one treadmill, one eliptical machine, a stairmaster and two recumbent bikes plus a Universal gym and a small selection of free weights. Enough to keep you in shape on your vacation so NO EXCUSES!! We never found the gym to be overly busy at any time of the day although its nice to workout early in the day and get it over with!
Note: The beach is quite slanted and the sand is soft so running or speed walking is a bit of a chore which makes the gym a nice option for cardio.
We had an oceanfront room on the 5th floor and it was ok, but not great. The hotel building is somewhat tired and in need of repair here and there but overall not too bad; however, definitely not a 5 or even a 4 star hotel by ANY standards (Dreams, Riu, Barcelo Carmina, 4 Seasons, Grand Principe Telum, etc.....) Our room on the 5th floor (2507) had a nice breeze blowing through it most of the time and it was high enough up to minimize the noise from the beach in the evening. That said, there was still a presence of smoke from adjacent floors AND EVEN when you turned on the air conditioner (!!) so... BEWARE of the second hand smoke!!!
As for the beds, we found them to be sufficiently firm and nice.
The surf can be quite loud at night with the balcony door open for the breeze so bring ear plugs if you want a quiet nite's sleep.
The room cleaning staff are wonderful and work very hard so make sure you tip them daily ($1). We left a bottle of wine at the end of our stay just to say thanks!
If you need internet access be prepared to bring a computer (wifi costs $20 per day!), pay $5.00 for 1/2 hour at the Crown Paradise, OR go to the marina area where you can find an Internet cafe for $1/hour. Avoid buying stuff in the hotels as its too expensive. There are two major shopping centers nearby (Soriana's 1 block) (Walmart 3 blocks) where you can get pretty much whatever you need and there are staff that speak English if you need translation.
Getting to the old part of Puerto Vallarta is easy either by bus (7.6 pesos p/p) or by cab ($5). For the bus, just go to the bus top in front of Soriana's and take the bus marked "CENTRO, Walmart, Sam's Club..." that will take you directly into town to where you can walk the Malecon (baordwalk). DO NOT take the bus marked "Tunnel" as its a much longer ride. On the way back, go to Peru street and catch any bus with the same info on the window (CENTRO, Walmart) and get off at Soriana's.
As for restaurants downtown, we enjoyed Tino's at the start of the Malecon which a VERY Mexican restaurant upstairs about one clock before the boardwalk begins. Tino's special seafood plate was very good as were the guitarists who play there (ask them to play "Estoy Perdido" which is a beautiful classical Mexican fols song for 50-60 pesos)....great song!).
Another 2 great restaurants at the far end of the Malecon in Old Puerto Vallarta are the Blue Shrimp (owned by the Golden Crown Palace Hotel so you can eat for free) or La Palapa where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor used to love to eat (and so did we.... have the fish tacos, they're GREAT!). Both restaurants are right on the beach and provide a great view while eating some very good food with excellent service.
Avoid the Golden Shores time share presentation at all cost unless you are really interested in buying vacation time. We found the sales people to be overly aggressive and frankly rude when we said we weren't interested. That said, we did talk to several couples who bought 150 nights for $4-5,000 at the GCP only and really enjoyed themselves. So investigate if you must but BEWARE!!!!
Smoke, Smoke and MORE Smoke!!!!!
We have to say of anything that bugged us ALOT while staying at the GCP hotel it was the SMOKE. We're avid fitness people and workout everyday, so perhaps we're a bit more sensitive than others but we found the smoke to be OFFENSIVE be it by the pool, in the bars or even in our room with the balcony doors open or the air conditioner on!!!! We handled it by moving around the pool to find spots where the smoke was less bothersome, or by eating out away from the hotel. Frankly we were surprised at just how many guests smoked at the hotel. Where we're from, smokers are in the vast minority but at the GCP smokers were in the MAJORITY so beware is you are a non smoker!!!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Golden Crown Paradise All Inclusive Resort where our unmatched personalized and friendly service are a cut above the rest with a great location just 10 minutes from downtown and 15 minutes from the International Airport. As an adults-only all-inclusive resort, our focus is on pampering, tranquility, and rejuvenation. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Golden Crown Paradise Resort Puerto Vallarta Hotel Puerto Vallarta
- Golden Crown Paradise Puerto Vallarta
- Crown Paradise Puerto Vallarta
- Crown Paradise Resort