Royal Decameron Costa Flamingos All Inclusive Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Decor in most rooms is somewhat dated, and the only Internet available is at the lobby computers for a fee, but this all-inclusive is packed with solid amenities both for kids and for adults. The great beachfront location is a huge plus, as are the five pools, the outdoor tennis courts with free lessons, the spa, and the multiple dining options -- and all this for a smaller price tag than most other beach resorts in the area.
Villa Bella Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Villa Bella is a charming B&B offering seven quaint, spacious rooms with balconies, stunning unobstructed ocean and mountain views, and rustic decor. It is not directly on the beach, but the great list of freebies (Wi-Fi in common areas, evening drinks, and airport pick-up service), gorgeous views, pleasant pool, and (in some rooms) kitchens, add value.
Starbay Suites Resort Rating: 3.0 Pearls
This is a solid value pick for groups and families that don't mind trading high-tech amenities and local flavor for well-equipped one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with full kitchens and great views. The quiet beach, attractive pool complex with a kids' section, and free underground parking should make this an excellent budget-friendly pick.
Hotel Cielo Rojo Rating: 3.0 Pearls
This charming boutique in small San Pancho is full of character, with a mix of Mexican folk art, old movie posters, photographs and contemporary paintings throughout. Rooms are basic and lack modern amenities, but are clean and have a lot of local flavor. There's little in the way of amenities, but the property features an eclectic art collection, an organic and local restaurant, and a wonderful location three blocks from a wide, clean beach, which make it a great value pick for those who don't mind not being right on the sand.
Villa Varadero Rating: 2.5 Pearls
Villa Varadero is a mid-range resort popular with families. It features 98 no-frills rooms with all the basics -- including air-conditioning, coffeemakers, empty mini-fridges, and free Wi-Fi -- as well as large windows, most of them overlooking the ocean. The pools are nice and the beach is sandy and relaxing, but there are few other amenities on site. For those looking for an affordable, clean hotel on the sand, this is a good value choice, but note that technology could use an update, and food is only average.
Hotel Las Palomas Nuevo Vallarta Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Las Palomas is a no-frills hotel located off a major road and across from renowned Flamingos Golf Club. Rooms are bright and airy but a little basic, with only free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and a tube TV in the way of amenities. There's a small restaurant serving breakfast and a light dinner menu, and a pleasant pool with loungers and a large palapa for shade. For the price, it's a solid pick for travelers on a budget who don't mind driving to the beach and nearby attractions.