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ISO All-Inclusive Resort on Pacific Coast of Mexico for (Older) Family Trip

ISO All-Inclusive Resort on Pacific Coast of Mexico for (Older) Family Trip

Old Jan 15th, 2014, 11:39 AM
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ISO All-Inclusive Resort on Pacific Coast of Mexico for (Older) Family Trip

I'm ring-leading the planning for a week-long family trip we're looking to take in March or April 2014.

Our party is likely to include me and my boyfriend (late 30s), my sister (mid-30s), my cousin and her husband (early 30s) and their 2-year old, my aunt (60) and my parents (70).

I'm thinking an all-inclusive resort on the Pacific coast of Mexico will be the easiest thing for us logistically. We will be coming from Washington, DC, Denver, CO, and Seattle, WA respectively.

Everyone in the group enjoys lounging on the beach or at the pool, swimming/snorkeling, sightseeing, and eating good food. (My parents are still very mobile, so accessibility is not an issue.)

I'm not sure of the specific budget yet, but given the diversity of the group, I don't think we can afford anything TOO fancy. Guidance on how much we should look to spend for a quality place that is clean, either modern or "dripping with Mexican charm", and has good food, would be welcomed.

I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions from this forum for good resorts to consider and any other tips or recommendations as we kick the planning into high gear. Thank you!!
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Old Jan 15th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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I love Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast.

The problem with All-Inclusives though is that unless you do a really high-end one, they aren't really known for food quality.

It's hard to recommend without a budget, but AIs that are close to downtown in PV are: Villa Premiere, Buenaventura, Hotel Playa Los Arcos. There are many more out in the Hotel Zone, the Marina, and to the north in the resort district called "Nuevo Vallarta" (but then you are about 30-40 mins. from town.
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Old Jan 15th, 2014, 03:48 PM
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First decide if you want to go to Cabo or PV. Neither are great destinations for all inclusive hotels and neither have swimmable beaches or snorkeling like what you will find on the Caribbean side of Mexico; Riviera Maya.

We have done AI at the Playa Los Arcos in PV and I would not recommend to someone that is not familiar with AI's and has high standards. It was not one of the best we've been to. However, the location was prime. If you are willing to be away from it all in PV, look at the AI resorts in the Nuevo Vallarta area. The AI's there are more like what you will find in Riviera Maya of Mexico.

Also, March/April is high season, so expect higher prices on airfare and accomendations and family resorts full of kids. We usually go about the 3rd week of May. Lower crowds and less expensive.

In Cabo we stayed at the Marina Fiesta. No beach access, but a 10 minute walk to Medano Beach, which is supposed to be the only swimmable beach in that area, but no way were we willing to get into that water. Yuck! The hotel has a contract with several restaurants on the Marina for the AI option. We found the food better than what we have had in The Riviera Maya area. We ate out at some of the local bars and restaurants also. We would go back to Cabo for the food. Nothing else was that great of an appeal for a return trip and neither was PV.

Even with your location closer the Pacific side of Mexico, make the effort and to go the Caribbean side. Much better AI resorts and more things to see and do off property. Swimmable beaches with white sand and clear water. Really great snorkeling.
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Old Jan 15th, 2014, 04:10 PM
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I never understand when KVR insists there is more to do "off property" along Mayan Riviera. I could go on for days about all the things to do and see around the Bay of Banderas (PV) or the Baja (Cabo).

BUT I do most definitely 100% agree there are many more all-inclusive resorts to choose from and "nicer" white sand beaches with clear turquoise water on that side.
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 06:14 AM
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Thanks so much suze and KVR for the preliminary input.

For budget, let's start w/ ballpark of $2000 for the week.

Have either of you been to Huatulco? A travel agent once recommended that area to me and apparently there are a couple of relatively reasonable AIs there....

Definitely want beach access and nice ocean water and beaches for swimming. Would forego good food for that (though would want the food to be at least palatable and no food poisoning!!). Less concerned about stuff to do off-property (unless you think we'd be going stir crazy?), since we'll have already paid for meals on the resort.
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 09:19 AM
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Suze, that is because you have not been to the Caribbean side of Mexico to understand what I am talking about. Once you finally go there and see, we will pick up this conversation.

"Definitely want beach access and nice ocean water and beaches for swimming." Then avoid PV and Cabo and the Pacific side of Mexico. You won't find it there.

Look at the AI resorts in the Playa del Carmen/ Riviera Maya area of Mexico on the Caribbean side. Check out the Iberostars, Zoetry and the Barceló's.

We've been to 15+ AI resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. I personally cannot spend my vacation plopped at an AI resort the entire time "just because I already paid for food and drinks". We go off property and eat/drink at local establishments and do tours and activities. Yes, I would go stir crazy. Plus, it's just a shame to travel all that way and not actually see/experience the destination by hanging an your AI resort the entire time. If you want to do that then go to the Dominican Republic. No need to leave the resorts there.
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 10:52 AM
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My company took us to Dreams in PV a few years ago. I don't recall having any complaints about the food at all and certainly no illnesses from food or water. I am certainly no expert on ocean swimming, but there were a lot of people in the ocean there and they did appear to be swimming. My only complaint was the hot tubs were not hot
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 04:18 PM
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Dreams PV is currently under an ownership change.
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 05:25 PM
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AI not my thing (last one in 1974) but if that is your wish checkout Ixtapa.
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Old Jan 19th, 2014, 08:16 AM
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Far more activities off property in the PV area than the Mayan Rivera.
Also far more restaurants, of higher quality in Puerto Vallarta.
If all you want is white sand and super clear water, then the Caribbean is for you, but if you want a bit of culture, great activities and fantastic restaurants, then PV rules.
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Old Jan 19th, 2014, 08:17 AM
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The change at Dreams doesn't happen until May.
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Old Jan 20th, 2014, 10:01 AM
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Sorry, I don't agree, but to each their own. I found way more things to see in do in the Rivera Maya area than PV or Cabo. Hence the 10+ trips to the Rivera Maya area with another trip already booked for May compared to 1 trip each to PV and Cabo. OP, just check the net for tours and excursions for each area and make up your own mind what will fit for you.

I do agree the food is better tasting on the Pacific side of Mexico than the Caribbean side. We live in Texas on the border of New Mexico and Mexico, so when it comes to Mexican food, we are quite the snobs. We found better tasting food and more dining options in Cabo than PV. But, still more things to see and do on the Caribbean side, which is why we keep going back there. I'll go with better options for off property excursions and tours over food. Again, to each their own.
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Old Jan 24th, 2014, 01:41 PM
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This is all really helpful. I'm rethinking Riviera Maya. Anyone have recommendations on AI resorts that are in the $2000/week range (or is that too low a budget?)?
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Old Jan 25th, 2014, 12:00 PM
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I agree with PV for culture and excellent restaurants; Cancun for better AI resorts, white sand beaches and turquoise water.

As far as AI resorts, I've stayed at was the Beach Palace in Cancun and highly recommend it. My family and I all loved the beach, there was a big enough variety of high quality food to please all 12 of us, and if you stay at a Palace resort, you have access to all of their properties. I have also done the AI at the Villa Del Palmar in Cabo and DO NOT recommend the AI. The resort is great~right on the swimmable beach, within walking distance to town, but their "all-inclusive" should be renamed "partially inclusive."

Is your $2,000 budget per person? per couple? and does that include airfare?
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Old Feb 24th, 2014, 09:47 AM
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Me again! Ok, we're back to staying on Pacific side and per advice have focused on options in PV and Cabo. Our target travel time is the first week of April.

Below are the resorts to which we've narrowed the search... I'm looking at Trip Advisor too, but since this is clearly the forum of expert travelers, just curious if anyone has positive or negative experiences with any of the resorts below to share?

Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos

Secrets Puerto Los Cabos

Barceló Puerto Vallarta

Royal Suites Punta de Mita

Occidental Grand Nuevo Vallarta

Iberostar Playa Mita

Thanks!!
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Old Feb 24th, 2014, 09:53 AM
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(Sidenote: nothing on your list is actually in Puerto Vallarta)

People love Pueblo Bonito in Cabo. It's well above my price range but gets consistently fantastic reviews.

Barceló PV is out of town to the south, and historically has had issues with people getting sick there. You might want to read up on that.

The last three on your list aren't in PV rather to the north along the coastline (between 30-60 mins north). Sorry don't know the particular resorts.

I love Fodor's but actually Trip Advisor has many more people with more specific experience posting on their destination forums than here.
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Old Feb 24th, 2014, 11:08 AM
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Pueblo Bonito has great resorts. At this late date, it may be difficult to get a great deal. We have never done AI in Cabo as we don't feel it is worth it. Plenty of good places to eat and drink nearby.
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Old Feb 24th, 2014, 11:11 AM
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My BIL and SIL have done the AI in Cabo at the Intercontinental( now Holiday Inn) in San Jose del Cabo. They love it and keep going back each year. Better price point and may fit your budget better.
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Old Feb 25th, 2014, 08:56 AM
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Thanks everyone! All this input is really helpful.

Suze, yikes, I just read a few years back on Trip Advisor and the comments about Barceló with half the hotel getting sick and bedbugs are quite alarming (though don't see much cropping up in postings after early 2013 aside from issues with "no-see-ums"). Thanks for the heads up... we'll definitely take this into consideration! And yes, should have said Cabo and PV "area."
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