The service was excellent, but there's room for improvement and for error at this lovely resort.
First, what works:
1. The service -- It's my number one concern when I book an all-inclusive resort. I hope to never have a dry drink and to never feel like I'm putting anyone out. Now Amber's staff exceeded my expectations. We tipped and we had exceptional service. I suspect our service was a notch above those who didn't tip, but everyone received great service.
2. The lobby -- it's stunning. The open air lobby sits atop the third floor and opens up to an extraordinary view of the bay. It backs up to Moments Bar. Our favorite evening activity was watching storms roll in, which is common in August in the evenings, or watching the sun go down. The bar was only steps away from the view, a server was almost always on hand as well, and many nights, there was live music, too.
3. The ala carte restaurants -- the food was very good for resort food. It tasted fresh and largely homemade. That's rare at a resort. On a few occasions, the menu description did not match the food. For example, at one restaurant I ordered a vegetable tower that was supposed to include beets and goat cheese. I'm pretty sure neither was on the plate. But what I did receive was delicious, and this never occurred on a main dish -- just an appetizer once and a dessert. Not too big of a deal.
4. Kayak tour of the bay -- it was free and truly enjoyable. We didn't really tour, just paddled way out into the bay and swam for about an hour while our host described what was on land around the bay. We highly recommend it!
1. The pools. Next to service, pools are our favorite thing at a resort. The pools at Amber are lovely, but they aren't very big. We enjoy a lazy river and some spots of privacy in the pool -- not for anything freaky, but just to have a quiet conversation or float. Speaking of floating, there were no floats available. I did see a few pool noodles, but no floats.Survivable, but there's room for improvement in that detail. The resort was only about a third full. At capacity, the pools and chairs would be overwhelmed.
2. The breakfast and lunch options. Only the buffet is open at breakfast, which is OK. However, the food never changes. I would appreciate it if there were a few different options every morning, just to break up the monotony. At lunch, the buffet was open and OK, but the other Barefoot Grill and Castaway Restaurants were nothing to write home about. But, I don't really go to a resort for the food, so it's doable.
3. The beach. It's just OK. Too many salesman hassle you the moment you step onto the sand. I'm not sure that's something the resort can fix, but....
4. Speaking of sales, we got the hard sell for a vacation club membership. Not cool. For our 2.5 hours of a sales presentation, we received $300 in spa credits. The spa is lovely, but horribly overpriced. I had an 80 minute massage that ended up costing $200 (in credits) and then didn't have enough leftover for additional treatments. Steps outside of the resort is a shop that offers a very good massage for about $25. Save your time and stop there instead. By the way, the vacation club they pressed us to join cost $17,000. I do NOT make that kind of purchase without careful consideration, and I think it's a little abhorrent for the resort to ask that of its guests.
5. The shows -- They were just OK. Nightlife on the resort is pretty tame, but it's a family resort so that's not too surprising.
Overall, we had a lovely stay and would recommend it to friends. The air conditioner was cold. The bed was cozy and the room was very well appointed. The resort has some very nice touches and great service. If pools or the beach are your main interest in a resort vacation, you might consider looking elsewhere (ahem. Cancun). That said, I imagine Now Amber and its sister resort Secrets Vallarta are two of the nicest resorts in Puerta Vallerta.
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