Fully equipped gym, and a spa with ocean-view treatment rooms
Meeting spaces for a variety of events
Small business center with three computers
Commercial area with five stores selling beachware and artisanal products
Fairly small beach for the size of the resort
Fee for Wi-Fi
Room service only available for an additional fee
Beach vendors can be a nuisance
Pool can get overrun with kids
Some minor wear and tear throughout
Sand fleas can be an issue (bring bug spray)
Few or no beach chairs on the sand itself
The upscale, 316-room Barcelo Puerto Vallarta is one of the best family-friendly all-inclusive resorts in the region, and towers above the beautiful Mismaloya Beach. It features several blue-tiled pools with beautiful bay views and groomed jungle grounds, as well as a jam-packed activities schedule -- aerobics, water sports, ping-pong tournaments, beach volleyball, archery, and basketball are all on the menu (though the animation team might be less present during the off season). Other kid-friendly features include the kids' club for ages 5 to 12, games room, and nightly theater shows. Couples might not appreciate that the pool and swim-up bar can be surrounded by screaming tots, however. The beach is generally more peaceful, though vendors can be a nuisance. Spacious rooms all have balconies with at least partial ocean views, and the property is a bit secluded, which is a positive for many. Those looking for something in the Hotel Zone might consider the Sunset Plaza Beach Resort and Spa.
A family-friendly all-inclusive resort set on the edge of Mismaloya Beach
With its secluded beachside location surrounded by steep, jungle-covered hillsides, this all-inclusive resort feels a world away from Old Town Puerto Vallarta's bustling boardwalk. Massive buildings sprawl across the immaculate grounds, with numerous signs pointing guests in the direction of top-notch amenities, including great pools, a myriad of shops and restaurants, a spacious fitness center with ample equipment, and an elegant spa.
The resort's clean, colorful kids' club, abundance of kid-friendly activities, and proximity to Puerto Vallarta's zoo make this resort a popular pick for families. Couples might be drawn by the pretty, secluded location, but should expect to encounter plenty of children, especially around the pool. In addition, live music is emphasized here, and guests can expect Mexican, Tropical, and Latin themes throughout the week, plus a mariachi band that plays every Friday evening; La Cantina can get quite loud.
The resort has a traditional decor style with Mexican hacienda influences, though there is some minor wear and tear visible, such as peeling paint due to the humidity.
At kilometer 11.5 heading south on the winding, often potholed highway to Barra de Navidad and Manzanillo, the Barcelo Puerto Vallarta seems far removed from Old Town, which is about a 20-minute drive away (and downtown is about 10 minutes more).
The resort stands on Mismaloya Beach, which was the original “location” for the film version of Tennessee Williams’ play, “Night of the Iguana,” starring Ava Gardner and Richard Burton. Half a century after the movie was made, there is still remnants to be found of the film’s sets, which you can see from many of the hotel suites. With its somewhat remote location, the resort is not an ideal spot if you’re the spontaneous sort who wants to pop out for a drink somewhere in downtown Puerto Vallarta on the spur of the moment. But it is very close to the zoo, the ruins of the movie set, gorgeous jungle-draped hills, and the snorkeling area around Los Arcos. Also, lovely Mismaloya Bay is right out front.
Spacious suites with varied artworks and balconies with ocean views
The 316 suites at the Barcelo are all exceptionally spacious, and all feature a separate living room area with a sofa bed. The entry-level Deluxe Suite starts at a generous 732 square feet, and comes with a king-size or two double beds. Other categories include the Family Suite, Master Suite, Grand Master Suite (with a whopping 1,463 square feet), Premium Grand Master Suite (2,239 square feet), and the Presidential Suite (3,714 square feet). Dark wood accents, contemporary art and furniture, and marble tile floors are standard throughout. Every room also has a balcony looking out over the gardens, pools, and the bay itself, though not some of the ocean views are only partial. The top floors are reserved for guests who upgrade to the Premium Club category, and have the best ocean views; views from lower floors can be obstructed by trees.
Sliding wood-framed doors lead to the bathrooms, which have ample closet space, ironing boards and irons, and marble countertops. Rain showers have marble tile and glass panels, and Lavarino Cosso bath products from Italy are provided. The Master Suite adds a hydro-massage bathtub, and The Family Suite comes with two bathrooms, one for each bedroom. The Grand Master Suite adds another half-bath and eating area, plus large oceanfront terrace.
All of the rooms come with flat-screen TVs, coffee machines, safes, and minibars stocked daily with snacks and drinks. Room service (available 24/7) costs an additional fee, as does Wi-Fi, unless you upgrade to one of the Premium Club rooms. Building 1 is closer to La Cantina, and Building 2 is typically quieter.
Four pools, including one with a swim-up bar, and a pretty but narrow stretch of beach
The interior gardens and pools make up the heart of the Barcelo resort, and it’s here where guests can participate in the variety of activities, which range from water polo to volleyball to yoga classes. There are four pools: one with a whirlpool in the center, one with a swim-up bar, one for sports (there's a volleyball net), and a splash pool for small children. The beach is lovely and runs the width of the resort, and fronts calm, shallow waters. But it's a narrow stretch -- so narrow that the loungers are typically not on the sand itself, but rather an oceanfront sundeck. There are sometimes some loungers on the sand, depending on the tide and season. Vendors can occasionally be a nuisance.
The spa offers indoor treatments, as well as massages on a balcony overlooking the bay. The gym, while fully equipped with cardio and weight equipment, lacks any sort of view. The kids’ club is for children ages 5 to 12 and has a daily schedule of activities. In summer months, the hotel operates a program called Iguana Jones (a play on Indiana Jones), which allows kids earn play money that can be used to pay for items in the five stores on-site.
The tennis court behind the lobby is free to use during the daytime hours, but the hotel does charge a fee night use to the cost required to run the lights. While the resort does offer a business center for its guests, it’s really just a few computers in the main lobby area that are available for use. There is also event space in the convention center, including six salons that can hold between 38 and 600 people. The hotel also has concierge service, and there’s a booking agency in the lobby where guests can book tours and adventure activities.
The resort’s Premium Club offers a variety of perks such as free in-room Wi-Fi, a discount on spa services, a free tour of the city, and free 24-hour room service. On top of that, kids get a free Kinder surprise toy; other extras include a bottle of Champagne upon arrival and access to a special club lounge.
Parking is available for those who bring their own vehicles.
All-inclusive dining at a buffet restaurant and four a la cartes
La Fuente, which opened in 2015, is the main buffet restaurant, serving all three meals. It has bay views and a small kids' area. There's also an oceanfront snack bar open for lunch. There are four a la carte options: Los Arcos (seafood and steak), Don Quijote (Spanish), Capri (Italian), and Kyoto (a sushi bar). It's a good idea to make reservations upon arrival to ensure a spot, or even before arrival.
There are two pars: the pool bar, and La Cantina, where live music is performed. There are no 24-hour options apart from room service.
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