Guests do not have to wear wristbands or make reservations at restaurants
Preferred Club Level includes private concierge and lounge area
On-site wedding concierge, and dedicated wedding planner
One building lacks ocean views
Open concept bathrooms lack privacy
30-minute cab ride from Puerto Vallarta (a pro for some)
Across Mexico and the Caribbean Dreams has established itself as one of the best all-inclusive brands in the business, and Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta doesn’t disappoint. Everything guests have come to expect from Dreams — beautiful rooms, excellent food, top-notch pools, and family-friendly activities — can be found at the brand’s Nuevo Vallarta outpost. The upscale beachfront property is ideal for families and couples alike. Kids spend their days at the popular Explorer’s Club, while couples take advantage of the beautiful spa and oceanfront adult pool. The hotel’s six restaurants (no reservations required) serve excellent all-inclusive cuisine. Plus, guests can enjoy top-shelf liquor at five different bars across the property, including the stunning rooftop lounge and sushi bar. Just note that the Nuevo Vallarta location might not appeal to everyone; Dreams’ sister property, Now Amber Puerto Vallarta, is a solid pick for those who’d like to be within walking distance of downtown Puerto Vallarta.
A top-notch all-inclusive resort that caters to families and couples
Dreams Villamagna has a different look than most other Dreams properties. The hotel is housed in tall white buildings that look more like an urban apartment complex than a beachfront resort. The property is also fairly compact, and lacks the sprawling, expansive grounds found at most other Dreams resorts. But the stunning open-air lobby makes a bold first impression. Its sleek decor — turquoise sofas, mosaic wall art, and an eye-catching spiral staircase — doesn’t feel overtly tropical or Mexican, which can be refreshing in a town filled with lots of thatched roofing and terra cotta. The front desk area is situated in a quiet alcove, where deep navy wall art depicts abstract whale patterns — a hint at the hotel’s seaside location (where guests can spot humpbacks offshore from December through March).
Preferred Club Members (Dreams’ version of a club level) are whisked away upon check-in and brought to the Preferred Club Level’s private lounge. Here they can meet their personal concierge while sipping Champagne and munching on light snacks. Throughout their stay, Preferred Club Members have access to the lounge, which serves continental breakfast and hors d’oeuvres throughout the day. They also receive upgraded room amenities and access to a private beach area.
The atmosphere at Dreams is significantly quieter than some of its neighbors. The hotel does a nice job of keeping things separate, so that families and couples can exist peacefully in their own spaces. The adult-only pool is out of earshot from the activities pool, and the spa is nowhere near the kids' club. Somehow, Dreams manages to be exciting enough for kids and families, but quiet enough for couples.
Beachfront in Nuevo Vallarta, about 20 minutes from the airport
Dreams Villamagna is a beachfront property in Nuevo Vallarta, a popular resort town about 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta (20 minutes north of the airport). Nuevo Vallarta was developed in the '80s as a resort community, and hasn’t stopped growing since. The beach is lined with mega-resort after mega-resort, and large shopping complexes house restaurants, supermarkets, and American fast food outlets like Starbucks and Subway. Nuevo Vallarta doesn’t have the same authentic Mexican feel as Puerto Vallarta, and is known more for family-friendliness than nightlife. Travelers who want to spend significant time in Puerto Vallarta should consider renting a car, otherwise, taxi expenses can add up.
A beautiful blend of traditional and modern decor, and outdoor balconies with jetted tubs
Rooms at Dreams Villamagna are decorated with a contemporary traditional style. Dark wood furniture is offset by cream-colored walls and shiny tile floors, and beds are dressed in crisp white linens. Bright accent colors come through in the form of throw pillows and canvas artwork. Top-notch amenities include flat-screen TVs, iHomes, Nespresso machines, free fully stocked minibars, terrycloth robes and slippers, and a canvas beach tote to use around the hotel. All rooms at Dreams are suites — entry-level rooms are a whopping 655 square feet. Each room has a bedroom area and an adjacent living space with a sectional sofa.
Sleek bathrooms feature glass-enclosed showers, deep soaking tubs, marble countertops, and double vessel sinks, but they’re completely exposed to the rest of the room, save for a sliding curtain that offers little privacy. Dreams supplies guests with every toiletry imaginable, including large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and lotion along with additional items like razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. All rooms have private outdoor balconies with jetted soaking tubs. Many have gorgeous ocean and pool views, but one of the hotel’s buildings does not have any ocean views at all.
Preferred Club Junior Suites are a bit nicer than the hotel’s standard Junior Suites. Decor is a bit more polished, and upgraded amenities include a premium minibar (with small bottles of top-shelf liquor), Gilchrist and Soames toiletries, and a pillow menu. Preferred Club guests also have access to a private concierge and a private lounge, where continental breakfast and hors d’oeuvres are served daily.
Three pools -- one for families, one for adults, and one for activities
Dreams Villamagna has three enormous pools, with plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas, and shady pergolas. Each pool has a freeform shape with incredible mosaic tile designs in contrasting shades of blue. The tiny tiles glisten in the sunlight, which gives the pools a gorgeous shimmery quality. Each of the hotel’s three pools has a different purpose. There’s one for activities, one for families, and one for adults only. The activities pool is where all of the daytime fun happens. The hotel’s activities team leads guests in fun games, like volleyball, water polo, pool aerobics, and ping pong, and the atmosphere around the pool is always upbeat and lively. The family pool has a more relaxed atmosphere, but is still subject to the, er, jubilant sounds of children on vacation. The adult pool is undoubtedly the most beautiful of the three. Its infinity edge and direct ocean views make it feel superior to the others, and its quiet atmosphere is perfect for couples.
The beach in front of Dreams isn’t overly large, but has all of the necessary accoutrements — lounge chairs, palapa-style umbrellas, a volleyball court, boogie boards, and Jet Skis (though motorized water sports incur extra fees). The sand is a deep golden color, and the waves are exciting enough for boogie boarding, but still calm enough for swimmers. Guests can take kayaks into the water or join beach soccer and volleyball tournaments. Preferred Club members have access to a private beach area adjacent to the Sugar Reef bar.
Food quality and diversity is excellent for an all-inclusive.
Many all-inclusives advertise an abundance of restaurants. But in reality, there might be one large room divided into several smaller “restaurants,” or one dining establishment that serves different cuisines on different nights. Fortunately, this is not the case at Dreams Villamagna, where each of its six restaurants has a distinct look, and feels like a standalone establishment. A la carte restaurant options include Mexican, Mediterranean, Tuscan Italian (for adults only), and steak and seafood. Plus, there’s a rooftop sushi lounge that offers incredible sunset views. Along with the a la carte options, there’s also World Cafe, a massive buffet restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
No matter where guests dine, they can expect quality ingredients and a diverse array of options. Reservations are not accepted at any of the hotel’s restaurants, so guests can dine where they want, when they want, without the hassle of making reservations (at some resorts, guests must line up early for a reservation and may not get a chance to eat at the restaurant of their choice). Along with its six restaurants, Dreams has five bars across the property. Guests can expect top-shelf liquor, along with domestic and foreign beers. Dreams also has its own coffee shop, where guests can order specialty coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and iced coffee. It also serves small sandwiches, pastries, and fruit.
The thought of all-inclusive themed buffet dinners sometimes makes us cringe. They’re typically crowded, with bad food, cheesy entertainment, and at times, are culturally insensitive (think waiters dressed in sarapes and sombreros). But the Mexican Fiesta at Dreams Villamagna is a can’t-miss event, and many guests consider it the highlight of their vacation. Dreams makes their fiesta authentic, with real Mexican food (no hard shell tacos here), colorful decorations, and entertainment led by local mariachi musicians. There are carnival games for kids, and local artisans sell their wares in the style of a traditional Mexican market. The Mexican buffet is set up around the activities pool, and includes authentic eats like tamales, frijoles charros, esquites, ceviche, and whole fried fish. There’s also a taco stand where staff members hand press every corn tortilla. For dessert, there are camote, cocadas, freshly fried churros, and large vats of atole for drinking.
Beautiful spa and a modern, though small, fitness center
The Spa at Dreams feels like a blissful retreat. Its open-air relaxation room shimmers in the sunlight, thanks to mosaic tile walls and water features. Guests can take advantage of the hydrotherapy pool, two jetted whirlpools, a steam room, and a sauna. The spa’s treatment rooms surround the relaxation area. Treatments include couples massages, reflexology rituals, facials, and body wraps. Spa treatments are not included in the hotel’s all-inclusive rates.
The fitness center is adjacent to the spa. It’s somewhat small for the size of the resort, but features modern Precor cardio equipment, weight machines, and free weights.
A kids' club, and loads of family-friendly activities throughout the day
Kids will never be bored at Dreams, thanks to round-the-clock activities and an awesome kids' club. Parents can drop their children at the Explorer’s Club (located next to the activities pool), where kids can play video games, take part in arts and crafts, and participate in story time. The Explorer’s Club also has a regular schedule of outdoor activities like sand castle building or scavenger hunts.
An excellent all-inclusive option, without the annoyance of wristbands
Dreams calls its all-inclusive experience “unlimited luxury,” and nearly everything at the hotel is included in its nightly rates. Some all-inclusive hotels try to nickel and dime guests with extra charges for premier dining venues, top-shelf liquor, or premium activities. Other properties have an excessive number of exclusive areas for guests of certain upper-tier room categories. But this isn’t the case at Dreams, where all guests have access to every restaurant, pool, and activity venue. (Preferred Club members do get their own beach area and lounge, but these distinctions feel unobtrusive to the rest of the guests.) Best of all, all taxes and gratuities are included in the hotel’s nightly rates, and guests don’t have to wear pesky wristbands.
Even though Dreams is a family-friendly property, the hotel sees a lot of wedding celebrants and honeymooners. The on-site wedding concierge can arrange everything for a destination wedding, from photographers and table settings to romantic sunset dinners for the wedding couple. Dreams has a large ballroom that can accommodate banquet-style weddings for up to 260 people, but many smaller groups choose to have their ceremony and reception somewhere along the beach. The hotel has a private outdoor terrace and a secluded beach area reserved for group events, so couples won’t have to worry about nosy onlookers.
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