Massive size of property can make maneuvering the grounds difficult
A bit far from Puerto Vallarta
Rooms are uninspiring and lack extra amenities
The Spanish hotel company Riu offers three classes of all-inclusive (there’s one of each in Nuevo Vallarta), and the 445-room Palace Pacifico is the top dog. This is mostly evident in the common areas, which elegantly blend pre-war European opulence with luxury oceanfront resort (the lobby alone exudes more of a palace-like formality than a sandy-feet and beach-shorts sort of vibe). The grounds are immaculate as well, sprawling with lush, towering palms and perfectly manicured garden walkways dotted with high-end lounge seating -- and the expansive pool, with swim-up bar, and in-pool lounges and bistro tables, isn't too shabby either. The rooms, though, are a different story. Decor, while nice, is nothing special -- even dated in some places -- and in-room amenities are no different than those at the more budget-friendly sister Riu properties nearby. Although the dining options are plentiful (always a plus at an all-inclusive), overall this property has no better bang for the buck than its "lower-end" sisters, Riu Jalisco and Riu Vallarta.
Who knew pre-revolutionary France would find a stylistic niche on the beach in Nuevo Vallarta? The lobby is about as grand as it gets in Mexico, featuring dramatic-height ceilings lined with chandeliers, marble pillars, and a jaw-dropping stained-glass ceiling centerpiece that makes the whole place feel more like a historic palace cathedral than a modern-day beach resort. The grounds are equally dramatic in their own way, though much more at home in their peaceful Nuevo Vallarta setting -- white stucco architecture lined with white iron railings towers dramatically above perfectly manicured gardens lining tiled walkways. Comfortable outdoor furnishings dot the property, offering guests seemingly endless places to sit, relax, and take in the opulent scenery.
Located in Nuevo Vallarta's Riviera Nayarit neighborhood, close to Playa Bucerias
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 twenty-minute drive.
No-frills decor with jetted tubs and view-oriented balconies
Riu guest rooms are either Junior Suites or Jacuzzi Junior Suites. All have view balconies, although many of the views include parts of neighboring hotels, as well as the pool and gardens and/or the ocean (ocean views can be reserved). The bedroom areas -- beds are either king or double double -- lie two steps up from a small living room area with a convertible sofa and an adjacent balcony. In all the rooms, the decor hints at the neo-classicism evident in the public spaces, though for the most part is fairly drab and uninspired for a "luxury" property.