Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Rates at Fiesta Americana are extremely fair -- though the resort does nickel-and-dime guests by charging extra fees for the fitness center, in-room coffee, and Wi-Fi. A big plus here is that every room has at least a partial ocean view (full-view rooms cost a bit more) -- so you really can't book a bad room. A good selection of restaurants, a decent pool with swim-up bar, and a big stretch of private beach are all positives.
Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center Rating: 4.0 Pearls
With 475 guest rooms distributed across 15 stories on a beachfront near downtown, the Sheraton Buganvilias is a big, busy operation -- yet it's invitingly tranquil in places as well. There is ample lounge seating dotting the lush grounds, and a nice spa offers a relaxing reprieve. With an attractive free-form pool, multiple restaurants, expansive meeting space, and easy access to the charms of Vallarta, this is a great spot for those who like the action close at hand, but also feel the need to escape the hustle. Just don't expect to escape the hustle with a serene beachfront -- the beach here is rocky, public, and teeming with vendors. Rates, at least, are very fair for what you get.
Villa Del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This is a typical upper-middle-range beach resort with multiple pools, a few dining options, tennis courts, a spa and fitness center. And even though some of the rooms are outdated, and guests say the food could be better, the location -- right by a bus stop that takes you downtown in minutes and close to the airport -- is prime. All rooms have kitchenettes or full kitchens, which help guests save money on food, and great freebies such as one-hour use of waters ports gear and free parking certainly add to the value.
Hacienda Hotel & Spa Rating: 2.5 Pearls
By most megaresort standards this all-inclusive is small, with just 155 rooms, and is short on amenities and facilities. But it's a comfy, budget-friendly place near downtown Puerto Vallarta and two blocks from the beach. The resort feels authentic, with terracotta tiling, and Mexican-style decor surrounded by lush landscaping and palm trees. For the price it's an excellent option -- the rooms are clean and comfortable, the on-site dining options are plentiful, and the hotel-run beach club offers free non-motorized water sports for guests.
Hotel Portonovo Plaza Rating: 3.0 Pearls
This 45-room budget-friendly boutique hotel comes sharply dressed with some attitude and style. There's a decent rooftop restaurant with outdoor seating and city views, a nice-size rooftop pool looking out toward the ocean, and a basic fitness center. Rooms are small and their views could certainly be more inspiring -- but it's what lies outside the hotel doors that counts. The beach, the Malecon, and the area's most popular dining, nightlife, and shopping are all within a short walk.