The Spanish hotel company Riu offers three classes of all-inclusive (there’s one of each in Nuevo Vallarta), and the 700-room Jalisco is the economy option -- but you wouldn't guess that upon entry. The entry and lobby are grand, and the grounds are immaculate, with two sprawling pools, beautiful garden areas, and a large, pristine beach. The rooms, however, are small, lackluster, and short on amenities. There are plenty of restaurants, which is a bonus on any all-inclusive plan, plus a handful of fun bars (including a swim-up pool bar), and even a nightclub. The property is far removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown Puerto Vallarta, but it remains an excellent option for a beautiful all-inclusive beach getaway.
The exterior style and outdoor offerings are the real draw here
The grand, split-stairway entrance to the Riu Jalisco sets the tone for what follows -- towering white stucco buildings surround the property, the centerpiece being a sprawling outdoor plaza complete with statuesque gazebo hovering above a large fountain pool in the center. The grounds are immaculately landscaped and teeming with towering palms, babbling fountains, and seemingly limitless lounge seating. Ornate architectural elements like fanciful tile work, wrought-iron railings and garden benches, and random cobalt-blue accents exude a true Mexican-resort experience. The lobby fulfills that as well, but in a slightly cheesier way -- bright colors and lush palms are a nice touch, but the furniture appears dated in places, and the faux-flower arrangements cheapen the feel of the space.
The greatest draw, though, are the two sprawling pools (plus kiddy pool), and the large pristine beach, which dramatically exposes itself after a short, peaceful stroll through a "forest" of palm trees.
Seemingly a world away from the bustling party destination of Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta is a sleepier resort locale with no real downtown -- just big resorts and upscale homes surrounded by a leafy enclave, pristine beach, or manicured golf courses. This is the area to head if you're on the hunt for a relaxing beach getaway with some golfing or spa treatments thrown in. To experience the culture, dining, nightlife, and shopping of Puerto Vallarta, you'll need to catch a cab for a 22-minute drive.
The luscious, luxurious grounds are by no means an indicator of what you'll find once you enter your room. Not spacious or particularly enticing, the guest rooms and suites here serve offer no more than a reasonably comfortable place to sleep. Compared with other all-inclusive hotels in this area, this one is short on amenities -- except for the great views from the small private decks, the liquor dispenser, and the restocked-on-request minibar. There is no in-room Internet, and the TVs are tube versions, with flat-screens in the master suites only. The [/puerto-vallarta/hotels/riu-jalisco-all-inclusive/photos/master-suite--v1220376-51/ |[furniture]] is functional, but the beds can be a bit too firm for some. And overall the decor feels far more drab than you'd expect based on the initial impression of this property.