Expansive, clifftop all-inclusive resort with family-friendly and adult-only sections
Multiple room types ranging from one-room studios to duplexes with full kitchens
Rooms feature exquisite Mexican-inspired decor and modern amenities
In-room flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, free minibars, and outdoor spaces
Four pools: two family-friendly and two for adults only
Private beach club with fun atmosphere and oceanfront bar and restaurant
Six restaurants, with Italian, Japanese, and Brazilian options
Four bars serve snacks and drinks throughout the day
Gorgeous spa with indoor/outdoor treatment rooms
Small fitness center, outdoor sports courts, and a marked hiking circuit
Kids' club with daily schedule of activities and a kid-friendly splash pool
Free Wi-Fi and free shuttles to the beach club
Not located on the beach; 10-minute drive to private beach club
Food quality varies between restaurants
Expansive, hilly property means lots of walking or waiting for hotel shuttles
The best restaurants are for adults only (a pro for some)
Not all restaurants are open daily
An hour drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta (a pro for some)
The Grand Sirenis Matlali Hills Resort & Spa is a luxury all-inclusive with broad appeal. Built into the hillside of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, the Grand Sirenis feels like a private, exclusive property, far from the crowds of Puerto Vallarta. It has family-friendly and adult-only sections, and does a good job of keeping the two areas separate. However, families will be disappointed to find that the best restaurants are reserved for adults only. Contemporary rooms with subtle Mexican-inspired accents range from one-room studios to multi-bedroom duplexes with full kitchens and private plunge pools. Features are extensive at this expansive, hilly property -- four pools, six restaurants, and a gorgeous spa -- but reaching the beach requires a 10-minute shuttle ride. Travelers looking for a similarly luxe beachfront property might prefer Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta — All Inclusive, but it's pricier.
A secluded hilltop property that appeals to families and couples
After a 45-minute drive from the airport, travelers arrive in the tiny town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a charming, authentically Mexican suburb that typically serves as a pass-through between Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita. Off the highway, a steep hill leads to the Grand Sirenis, where the entrance is marked by a modern gate and a small reception space. At check-in, guests are offered bottled water and cold towels, and staff members point out areas of interest on a property map. Guests then board on of the hotel’s many shuttle buses, which bring them farther up the steep hill to the heart of the property. From an accessibility standpoint, the hillside location can be a pain -- guests who choose to walk everywhere will have to contend with steep, winding hills and a sprawling layout. But, the hilltop setting gives the Grand Sirenis a secluded, private feel and offers astounding views of the Sierra Madre mountains and the ocean in the distance.
Because of its expansive layout, the Grand Sirenis property can feel a bit disjointed, though this can be a positive aspect for some travelers. The heart of the property is centered around two massive infinity pools, and most of the hotel’s restaurants and bars are within close proximity. Family-friendly rooms, the spa, and the fitness center are just beyond the pools, but the adult-only section of the property is a 10-minute uphill walk from this central area. The adult-only section feels like an entirely separate hotel, with its own lobby, concierge, pool, and bar. This separation is ideal for adult travelers who are looking for a peaceful atmosphere. However, the rest of the property’s amenities are at least a 10-minute hilly walk away.
The family-friendly and adult-only sections of the Grand Sirenis make the hotel a popular choice for all kinds of travelers, from families with young children to honeymooners. During our visit, we encountered travelers from all over the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. Hotel staff members say the winter months attract international visitors, while summertime is more popular with domestic travelers.
In the tiny town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, north of Puerto Vallarta
The Grand Sirenis is located in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a tiny fishing village about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta. La Cruz de Huanacaxtle primarily serves as a pass-through between Puerto Vallarta and points farther north, like Punta de Mita, Sayulita, and Rincon de Guayabitos. The area isn’t over-developed like some neighboring towns, so it maintains an authentically Mexican feel. The village is centered around a tiny church, and there are lots of local eateries along the seaside. Besides a modern marina that was built in 2008, there isn’t much to see in the area. Downtown Puerto Vallarta is about an hour’s drive from the hotel, while the airport can be reached in 35 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic.
For those of you wondering how to pronounce “Huanacaxtle,” we’ll provide some helpful tips. Huanacaxtle is the Nahuatl word for Guanacaste, the gorgeous elephant ear tree most widely known as the national tree of Costa Rica (many travelers will be familiar with Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province). The Guanacaste tree is particularly prevalent in this part of Nayarit, and Guanacaste wood is widely used for local carpentry. The word Huanacaxtle sounds a lot like Guanacaste, with a slight “ley” sound at the end -- “wah-nah-cast-ley.” If the pronunciation still scares you, referring to the town as La Cruz, is usually sufficient.
Modern decor and amenities with gorgeous local accents
There are many room types at the Grand Sirenis, so we’ll start with the most important differentiations: adult-only and family-friendly. The adult-only rooms are located at the very top of the hillside property, and because of this seclusion, it feels like a separate entity. These rooms are also the newest, so guests can expect modern design elements throughout. Gorgeous hand-scraped laminate contrasts nicely with poured concrete floors and marble accents, giving rooms a warm, industrial-chic vibe. Handsome rattan furniture and framed geometric prints add a subtle tropical aesthetic, while colorfully painted ceramic peacock accessories pay homage to the location. Top-notch amenities include flat-screen TVs, free minibars with soda and water, terrycloth robes, coffeemakers, and electronic safes. Bathrooms feature romantic two-person showers, and some add large soaking tubs. Bathrooms are completely open to the bedroom space, which may cause privacy issues for some travelers. All have large outdoor balconies with mountain views.
Family-friendly rooms run the gamut from one-room studios to multi-bedroom villas. The entry-level category, the Tropical View Junior Suite, can accommodate four people, with either two queen beds or one king bed and one pull-out sofa. However, four people in this room category might feel a bit tight. For larger families, we highly recommend upgrading to a Master Suite or a Villa, which have two, three, or four bedrooms. Decor throughout the family-friendly rooms is bright and airy, with elegant Mexican-inspired touches. These rooms have a completely different look and feel from their adult-only counterparts, but thankfully aren’t any less high-end. They have an all-white palette that’s brought to life with bold, colorful accents, like turquoise printed pillows or framed purple peasant blouses. Master Suites and Villas are equipped with full gourmet kitchens (think granite counters and stainless-steel appliances), separate living spaces, and large outdoor balconies or patios. Some even have private plunge pools.
A slew of all-inclusive features, plus free parking and Wi-Fi
The Grand Sirenis is an all-inclusive resort with lots of great features. It’s the type of place where many travelers come for a week and never leave. The hotel offers free shuttles into town and to its private beach club, so a rental car isn’t necessary unless guests are interested in actively exploring nearby towns like Sayulita and Puerto Vallarta. Parking is free for those who do rent a car, and Wi-Fi is also included in the nightly room rate. The Wi-Fi is fast and works well in the rooms and in several common spaces across the property.
Four beautiful pools -- two for families and two for adults-only
There are four pools at the Grand Sirenis, including two for families and two for adults-only. The two activity pools are located in the center of the property, and act as the hotel’s gathering hub. The gorgeous two-tiered space features a blue mosaic-tile infinity pool that spills over to the lower level, where lounge chairs are lined up in shallow water. The second pool is surrounded by cushioned loungers and white umbrellas. The entire area offers sweeping views of the mountains and Banderas Bay in the distance. Throughout the day, guests splash around in the pools and take part in activities such as water aerobics, pool volleyball, and table tennis, all while upbeat music plays in the background. Guests can grab margaritas at the bar, or have servers bring endless rounds of chips and guac to their lounge chairs. Though the activities pools are family-friendly, they’re not overrun with kids. Plenty of couples still choose to hang around the activities pools for the killer views and the happening atmosphere.
The Grand Sirenis has two adult pools. The relaxation pool has a spa-like atmosphere and looks more like a natural swimming hole than a manmade pool. A zero-entry incline and warm water gently entice sunbathers into the water, which sports a natural earthy hue thanks to its stone-colored floor. Faux boulders and leafy trees surround the freeform pool, adding to its organic atmosphere. Guests can activate hydrotherapy jets in different spots across the water. Fittingly, the relaxation pool’s bar serves healthy treats like smoothies, fresh fruit, and cold pressed juices.
The second adult pool is located at the top of the hill, in the adult-only section of the property. Surrounded by low-lying palms and lush greenery, the stunning half-moon-shaped infinity pool looks as though it was built in the middle of a tropical jungle. Tiny green tiles give the pool a shimmery emerald hue, which evokes a spa-like atmosphere in the surrounding area. Towel-lined lounge chairs sit beneath chocolate-colored umbrellas, while cushioned loungers are tucked beneath shaded cabanas. A narrow pathway leads to three hidden hot tubs with peeping ocean views. Above the pool, there’s an open-air bar that serves snacks, drinks, and light meals throughout the day.
A private beach club, 10-minute shuttle ride from the hotel
Although the Grand Sirenis isn’t located directly on the beach, it has its own private beach club less than 10 minutes by car from the property. Known as Eva Mandarina, the beach club has a fun, funky aesthetic with a happening atmosphere. A grassy lawn topped with spray-painted bikes, surfboards, and the shell of an old VW Bug, marks Eva Mandarina’s entrance. The outlandish vibe continues around the thatched-roof bar, where everything from rubber ducks to tricycles is plastered to the speckled orange walls. The bar serves tropical cocktails and light, refreshing bites like Vallarta ceviche and shrimp "aguachile". The beach itself is stunning, with white sand and incredible mountain vistas in the distance. Guests can relax on the bright-orange lounge chairs, or take part in activities like beach volleyball.
Mediocre all-inclusive dining, and the best restaurants are reserved for adults
One of the most important aspects of an all-inclusive resort is its food, and the food at Grand Sirenis is solidly mediocre. It’s not the best all-inclusive fare we’ve ever sampled, nor is it the worst. However, we noticed that the food at the adult-only restaurants is markedly better than at the family-friendly options.
Raixes is the hotel’s all-day buffet restaurant and is open to all guests. Raixes is located above the main activities' pools, and offers sweeping views of the property. Each day, the buffet offerings usually have a theme, like Mexican, Japanese, or Italian. Alternatively, adults can head to Huanacaxtle, the adult-only buffet and the hotel’s most upscale restaurant. Huanacaxtle is a stunning open-air venue that overlooks the property’s leafy Guanacaste trees. The trees’ branches seem to extend into the restaurant, which creates an incredible indoor/outdoor aesthetic. At night, Huanacaxtle transforms into an a la carte Italian restaurant called Trattoria. The Italian Trattoria is by far the best restaurant on the property, but unfortunately (or fortunately), it’s only open to adults.
Additional a la carte restaurants include Ikebana, La Gira Rodizio, and El Rancho. Ikebana is an adult-only Japanese teppanyaki restaurant that’s open for dinner. Seats are arranged around flat-top grills, where chefs theatrically prepare dinner for guests. La Gira Rodizio is a Brazilian-style steakhouse and El Rancho is an American-style steakhouse. The two restaurants occupy the same space across from Raixes buffet and switch menus daily. Unfortunately for families, these two meat-heavy options are the only a la carte restaurants that allow kids. Reservations are required for all of the a la carte restaurants, and should be made a few days in advance.
Gorgeous indoor/outdoor spa with locally inspired treatment options
Makawe Spa is the hotel’s on-site wellness center. While treatments are not included in the all-inclusive rates, the gorgeous indoor/outdoor spa is considered worth a visit by many. At the spa, treatments are inspired by ancient Huichol healing practices that utilize natural elements and honor the medicinal powers of earthly goods. Treatment rooms are housed in six separate palapa-style buildings that surround a central hydrotherapy pool.
A tiny fitness center, outdoor sports courts, and a marked hiking trail
Active guests can take advantage of the hotel’s fitness center, which is located near the main activities' pools. The gym is pretty tiny, but it’s equipped with modern cardio and weight machines, and a set of free weights. Across from the gym, there’s an outdoor basketball court that also doubles as a small soccer field. One of Grand Sirenis’ most unique features is its marked hiking trail that makes a circular loop through the property’s hillside. Guests can pick up the trail at a few points across the property and follow its clearly marked paths for three kilometers (1.86 miles).
On-site kids' club with a daily schedule of activities
The on-site kids' club is for children ages 4 through 12. It's is adjacent to the activities' pools and has a daily schedule of fun events for little ones. The kids' club has a ball pit, lots of board games, a PlayStation 4 console, and even its own outdoor splash pool. Unfortunately, it's only open until mid-afternoon, so parents in need of a date night will have to hire a babysitter, which can be arranged with the hotel concierge.
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