The 495-room Marival mega-resort takes the “all” in all-inclusive seriously. Just about every imaginable recreational activity is available here -- along with the usual pools, kayaks and endless beverages, this hotel has bicycles, a climbing tower, mini-golf, a basketball court, catamarans, beach volleyball, cooking and Spanish lessons, and more. There are multiple dining options, rooms ranging from standard guest rooms up to three-bedroom suites, and more than 900 feet of Nuevo Vallarta beachfront that stretches for miles in both directions. Some rooms in the older buildings of the property, though, are in definite need of an update. And the property itself feels less luxurious (though is more affordable) than its sister property, Marival Residences, just a half mile away.
A resort with two distinct halves -- the Club and the Grand -- and an impressive array of amenities
The Marival Resort & Suites comes in two parts: the Club and the Grand. Same hotel, different histories. The original hotel, built a few decades back, consists of the original Club lobby building, with its various facilities, and a collection of low rise -- three and four story -- freestanding buildings that house the original hotel guest rooms and suites. This area has a cozier quality, and feels less like a mega-resort than the other half -- but it lacks elevators, so be prepared to stair climb to higher rooms.
The Grand section is of more recent vintage, dating from 1998, and features a more spacious, contemporary lobby, flanked by a pair of five- and six-story guest room towers.
However, no matter which wing you're in, all the pools, restaurants, sports facilities, spa, and other amenities and activities are available to all guests -- except for the VIP Beach Club, which is reserved for guests of the nearby (and more luxurious) Marival Residences.
Pristine beachfront location toward the more quiet, northern end of Nuevo Vallarta
Marival Resort & Suites is located directly on the beach toward the northern end of Nuevo Vallarta. For city shopping and nightlife, though, it's a bit further of a trek -- about a half hour drive to downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's most picturesque beach destinations, with historic white-washed buildings, and cerulean seas set against a rugged mountain skyline. The massive Banderas Bay alone offers over 25 miles of seashore. With all this ocean comes a variety of water sports, like scuba diving with manta rays off Islas Marietas, boating around Los Arcos' reefs, and parasailing off of the popular Playa Los Muertos.
Other popular daytime activities include shopping -- not just the annoying beach vendor kind -- at Puerto Vallarta's maze-ish markets. One of the best, Rio Cuale Flea Market, has multiple vendors selling wood carvings, handmade jewelry, and glass and beadwork (among many other items). But be prepared to haggle down those prices!
Puerto Vallarta stays awake when the sun dips below the horizon. Steamy salsa clubs light up the streets, and rowdy local bars supply a steady stream of cervesa for the thirsty traveler. Downtown Puerto Vallarta is the most happening and diverse area, and has a few gay clubs (Puerto Vallarta is arguably Mexico's most gay-friendly destination).
The rooms at this 495-room mega-resort are no-frills comfortable, with primarily pale finishes, and only small bursts of color or artistic touches (like the diminutive sea-themed artwork in some rooms). Rooms -- a collection of one- to three-bedroom suites -- are distributed among the low-rise villas of the Club building, the main building, and the two newer towers.