We stayed for the first week in July at the Mayan Palace-Puerto Vallarta. It was a very pleasant experience in most ways, but if you are looking for "authentic Mexico", this ain't it.
We enjoyed our later 3-day stay at the Casa Iguana, one-half hour south in Mismaloya, much more.
The hotel itself is beautiful. We came on an "extra vacation week" via RCI. The weather was almost impossibly hot and humid, which was not surprising, and we handled that by staying in or on the water much of the time. The grounds are immaculate and extensive, with the occasional iguana wandering around. Our unit was on the second floor of the tower closest to the beach. We had a view of the ocean, though part of it was through palm fronds. We were not able to get a 2-bedroom condo which would have been much better for our family of five. The master bedroom is huge, with a king-sized bed and has a sliding door that opens onto a small nonfunctional balcony. The living area also has the same sized balcony which is too small to do anything except stand on. Bathroom was large with a lot of marble. There was an extra alcove with sink and mirror off the main bathroom.
The kitchen was miniscule and basically not usable. The microwave is up above one counter in an alcove and was not plugged in. My husband had to lift the thing down and place it on an opposite counter where the outlet was. The two-burner stove took over and hour to soft-boil eggs. We gave up on it. Our almost-grown kids used the pull-out beds (2) plus one couch in the living room. You had to move the two couches across the floor in order to get the trundle beds out from underneath. The couch-beds were hard and extrememely uncomfortable, according to the kids. I like a firm mattress, but the king-sized bed was like a rock! The two TV's got several satellite stations, including international CNN.
The biggest problem we had with the unit was the air conditioner. When we arrived it was probably close to 100 degrees with high humidity. The rooms were stifling. We turned on the A/C and within a few minutes water began dripping through the hall ceiling. The drip turned into a steady stream. We called maangement three times, each time being told they "would be right up". We had turned down the A/C and things were heating up again, so we picked up everything off the floor and went down to the beach for an hour or so. When we returned, maintenance men had just arrived and there was a river running around the corner through part of the living room and into the bedroom. They took off some of the ceiling tiles, worked on the A/C "valves" for awhile and then left saying that this problem occured several times a week in different units. We had to keep the A/C low for the duration of our stay--we had several more drips and two more rivers that required calling maintenance again. The ceiling tiles were stained and there was a definite smell of mildew when we arrived. We were happy to have maid service every day. They did a good job for us, sometimes even washing the dishes. We tipped them $2-3 US per day.
As far as the overall resort--lovely, but overpriced. Internet cafe prices were $7.50 for one half hour (they were $3/hour at our Mismaloya hotel). The restaurant was adequate and the hamburgers by the pool are a fairly good buy ($8 for a huge one with lots of fries). Another lunch at the restaurant cost my two kids $26 US for a sandwich and fajitas. Breakfast was OK but cost US prices. Drinks were a rip-off. We had daquiries and margaritas at the pool during happy hour (2 for 1). You basically get two sno-cones with very little liquor for $10.
We ate several times at the Marina across the street, when we were too hot to take a bus into town for dinner. They have fair to good, but not special restaurants (Mexican, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, pizza, etc.) Our best two meals were eating "street meat" (make sure it's steaming hot, with plenty of lime juice and no fruit) from the food stands on the Malecon. You can eat well for under $6 apiece and enjoy the sunset and people-watching. The second meal we'll remember was a lunch of fish that we caught ourselves--we were taken by our guide to a little outdoor restaurant behind the Marina (kind of "wrong-side-of-the-tracks" feel) where it was cooked and served with wonderful salsa, tortillas and of course, cervezas.
The beach in front of the MP is smallish, but reasonably clean with all-sand, and a little surf. There is not enough wave action to body surf. On the same beach boat rides, parasailing and jet-skis (noisy, and awfully close to the swimmers) are available, as are people who constantly walk up offering their wares. Two weddings took place while we were there on the next point over (belonging to the next-door hotel). We hired a guide off the beach to take us to Los Arcos to snorkle and another day to fish. Those trips were lots of fun and cost about $140 and $160 (with a little bargaining) for the five of us. All equipment was provided and our guide was funny, informative, and took us to wonderful little places to eat (usually around $6-7 apiece including beer.) Look for Fernando, and his boat, "Coco Loco"! Much cheaper than the big fishing boats and touristy snorkling trips that charge by the person.
All in all, the Mayan Palace is a fine place to stay if you feel more comfortable in a US-style resort. I'm sure many of the guests lie around the pool or on the beach all day and are perfectly happy. When you ask the concierge anything about excursions, they will guide you into the hotel "travel agency" where side trips are arranged. We did arrange a sunset sail ($160), which we felt was worth it, but some of the other side trips are less expensive if you arrange them yourself (hire a guide, or take a bus down to the Malecon and arrange a trip from there.) Incidentally, the concierge and a hotel staff member sent us on a wild goose-chase (to the wrong marina) that involved us hiring two taxis and almost missing the sail trip! We spent a couple of days riding to little towns and beaches up north on buses that had seen better days. We were often the only Americans around-- it was fun and exciting to see these places and to try to talk to local folks. For our last three nights in Mexico we stayed down south ($20 taxi ride) off Mismaloya Beach in a little family hotel, the Casa Iguana. It was much cheaper, had two bedrooms and A/C that worked well, a beautiful pool and restaurant and no timeshare sharks! It was rustic at its best.
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- Also Known As:
- Mayan Palace Puerto Vallarta Hotel Puerto Vallarta
- Wyndham Puerto Vallarta
- Puerto Vallarta Mayan Palace
- Mayan Puerto Vallarta