Kayaks and paddelboards covered in AI plan (time limit applies)
Daytime activities and evening shows
Waiter service at the pool and beach
Central location within walking distance of a food court and grocery store
Wear and tear throughout the property
Fee for Wi-Fi, and can be slow
Time-share salespeople can be pushy
Smallish beach; vendors can be a nuisance
All-inclusive guests still have to sign for food and drink orders
Only some rooms have ocean views; others overlook the road
Rooms can get exterior noise
The mid-range Villa Del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa is the more affordable, and less upscale, sister to Villa Del Palmar Flamingos Beach Resort & Spa -- though this property has the more central location, right in the Hotel Zone and close to downtown. It caters to families with its 395 spacious rooms (including one- and two-bedroom options with kitchens), small waterslide, kid-friendly activities at the pool and beach, and cheesy evening shows. There are three pools -- one for activities, one for kids, and one for quiet -- as well as a simple day spa (opt for the beachside massages) and a spacious fitness center. There are four restaurants, though the all-inclusive option may not be worth it as the a la carte prices are reasonable. Rooms have modern, colorful decor as a result of a 2014 makeover, but while some do overlook the beach, others overlook the parking lot and highway. Despite the updates, the resort still feels older throughout.
Older, compact all-inclusive property catering to families
This mid-range resort in the heart of the Hotel Zone definitely has some things going for it, including impressive views for those who book an oceanfront room, and plenty of activities to keep the family busy. The flip side is that not all of the rooms face the ocean, with some looking out over the expanse of the parking lot and main highway, and there’s visible wear and tear throughout the property, despite extensive renovations in 2014 to some of the rooms and public areas.
A large, updated cobblestone driveway fronts the orange building. Inside the expansive hacienda-style lobby, there are hints of once-luxurious features, such as a large fountain in the middle of the atrium (room hallways overlook this space), and white, rose, and green marble flooring. Hand-painted countryside scenes decorate the walls, and there are chandeliers and sculptures. However, the fountain is rarely turned on, the chairs and tables in the seating area are rickety and uncomfortable, and the overall vibe is, “Hey, you’re here; go explore the resort," as opposed to “Welcome, how can we make your stay special?”
Expect to see plenty of vibrant colors throughout. The muted oranges of the main entrance give way to even more colorful accents in the rooms, which have brilliant pinks, blues, and yellows. And while there is plenty of natural stone throughout, it’s often old, faded, with missing grout, and there is older ceramic tile blended in. The newer areas are easy to spot, but the bones of the resort date back to its opening in 1985, and it shows.
Just beyond the lobby are the gardens and grounds of the resort itself, and the various restaurants, pools, and beach. There is a surprising amount of seating available; nearly every square foot of the space around the pools and on the beach is taken up by loungers and umbrellas. So while guests may not usually have to play the "towel game" here (seat saving with towels is not allowed), they may feel a bit crowded. There’s not a lot of space left for the actual beach, which ends up being a narrow stretch where kids can play in the relatively shallow and calm waters, but the loungers are never more than a few feet away. The activity pool can be pretty loud during the day, with loudspeakers broadcasting the activities, but the resort draws more families and retirees than young partiers.
Directly on the beach in the northern
part of the Hotel Zone
There’s not a lot of traffic noise at the Villa del Palmar, as the main street is about a five-minute walk from the resort entrance. Highway 200 is the main drag on Mexico’s west coast, lined with beaches, hotels, restaurants, bikini shops, fast food, and banks. It is close enough that guests can hitch a ride via taxi or bus (there's a bus stop right by the hotel) to the downtown sprawl and reach it in about about 10 minutes. There's also a food court across the street, and a shopping plaza with a big supermarket is within a 10-minute walk. The airport is around a 10- to 15-minute drive north. This also puts guests close to some of the city’s tourist markets, such as Rio Cuale Flea Market.
All 395 rooms come with kitchenettes and balconies. However, the views on the parking lot side of the resort are the least inspiring that the resort has to offer. And while the rooms were renovated in 2014, the modern decor feels like a veneer; the ceramic tile floors and kitchen appliances are still old. The colorful palette, with turquoises, pinks, and yellows, is cheerful but may not be to everyone's taste. The colors aren't subtle accents, they are everywhere, brightly painted cabinet to the pink TV mounts. There are some additional Mexican notes, such as four-inch clay tiling on the countertops and backsplashes in the kitchens.
There are three categories: Deluxe Studios, One-Bedroom Suites, and Two-Bedroom Suites. The Deluxe Studio is 550 square feet, the One-Bedroom Suite 650, and the Two-Bedroom Suite 900; the first two categories sleep four people, and the last sleeps six. There are six ADA compatible rooms.
Amenities include flat-screen TVs, microwaves, and fridges (smaller in the Deluxe Studios); One -and Two-Bedroom Suites have larger kitchens with small stovetops, coffeemakers, toasters, blenders, and dishes. Note that Wi-Fi is only available for a fee.
Bathrooms have travertine tiling in the shower/tub combos and walls, though the ceramic tiling of the rooms (and dirty grout) shows up on the floors. There’s a glass half-wall in the shower to keep water out of the bathroom.
Three pools, lots of activities, and a smallish beach
At the heart of the resort are the three pools, which offer an impressive amount of seating, with loungers stacked nearly on top of each other. There’s not a lot of free space, however. The daily activities lists are mostly related to beach or water sports (with bingo sometimes thrown in the mix). Guests can also play ping-pong or shuffleboard.
The beach is relatively narrow, given how far out the resort puts the loungers to maximize their available seating, but it’s soft sand and the waters are relatively shallow and safe for children to swim in. Kayaks and paddleboards are included for free (a time limit applies). Waiter service is offered at the beach and pool, a surprising bonus for this category.
The gym is fairly large, and has a variety of modern equipment, but its views are less than stellar; you’ll be looking out over the property interior and one of the neighboring hotel’s pools. The Day Breeze Spa has a variety of treatments available, but basic decor; the beachside massage palapas are more atmospheric.
A hospitality room with showers and lockers is available, a nice touch for those waiting for a room before check-in or waiting for a flight after check-out.
The Villa Del Palmar has an optional all-inclusive plan, but as restaurant and drink prices are reasonable, guests would have to eat and drink quite a bit to get their money's worth. Also, because not everyone is all-inclusive, AI guests still have to sign a bill at the end of the meal, which is a bit of a hassle. Those who opt for the European plan can also choose to cook in their in-room kitchens or head across the street to the food court for some quick bites. (Note when paying at the restaurants that the tip is already included; a number of guests have reported being confused and tipping twice by mistake.)
The Market is an open-air terrace restaurant focusing on seafood, and serves all three meals. El Patron is an indoor-outdoor Mexican restaurant with bright pink decor accents, serving lunch and dinner. La Trattoria, the Italian restaurant, is open for dinner only. La Cevicheria is open in the afternoons and is the beachside snack bar. Palmita Market is a deli and cafe open in the morning hours, and Jalisco Sports Bar is open every afternoon and evening. Most guests praise the quality of the food. It's worth noting that none of the restaurants have AC, which can be uncomfortable when the weather is hot, though the sports bar does. Dress codes may apply, especially at dinner.
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