Not all rooms were renovated, and older rooms show signs of age
Additional nightly charges for Wi-Fi
Many guests complain of pushy timeshare spiels upon check-in
A la carte restaurants require reservations, which can be hard to obtain
Smoking is allowed in some indoor areas, which may bother some guests
The three-and-a-half-pearl Marival Resort & Suites Nuevo Vallarta All-Inclusive is packed with family-friendly amenities. Sprawled across 900 feet of pristine beachfront, Marival is ideal for families in search of a fun vacation atmosphere. Features include four pools, a small water park for kids, two separate clubs for kids and teens, a mini-golf course, four tennis courts, and an open-air theater with nightly productions. There are six restaurants for buffet and a la carte dining, which most find better than the average all-inclusive. However, downsides consist of an inconvenient reservation process, daily fee for Wi-Fi, and an annoying timeshare pitch upon check-in. The 495 rooms and suites vary in terms of decor and amenities, and those not renovated in 2015-16 are showing age. It’s worth checking rates at the nearby Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta -- an equally amenity-packed resort with nicer rooms.
Fun, beachfront all-inclusive that's great for groups and families
Marival Resort & Suites might not be the newest or most luxurious all-inclusive resort in Nuevo Vallarta, but it’s hard to argue with the hotel’s fun factor. The enthusiastic activities team designs a daily schedule full of lively events; From early in the morning until late at night, guests can join pool aerobics, play in beach volleyball tournaments, sign up for kayak races, paint pottery, attend theatre productions, and dance the night away at the weekly beach party or Mexican fiesta. Boredom isn’t an option here, so guests should expect a boisterous atmosphere full of loud music and the joyous shrieks of vacationing children. While there is a quiet adult-only pool, travelers looking for total serenity won’t find it here. The hotel’s sister property, Marival Residences & World Spa, is a better option for travelers who prefer a mellow atmosphere (though it’s much pricier).
The contemporary entryway makes a bold first impression, while the resort’s white buildings are nicely accented by bright-orange porticos, and a manicured lawn with a semi-circular fountain makes the driveway feel prestigious. Inside, the massive lobby offers stunning views of the beach and the pool below. People are constantly milling about, and the lobby almost always feels crowded. Upon check-in, guests are typically (and unknowingly) escorted to a timeshare sales meeting, a sneaky process that many guests complain about.
On the beach in Nuevo Vallarta, about 20 minutes by car from the airport
Marival Resort & Suites is a beachfront property in Nuevo Vallarta, a popular resort town about 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta (20 minutes north of the airport) by car. Nuevo Vallarta was developed in the '80s as a resort community, and it 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, the hotel offers day-trip excursions into town.
Some rooms have contemporary flair, but older units have seen better days.
Rooms at Marival are a mixed bag due to some being renovated in 2015-16, but not all. The hotel’s renovated rooms feature bright, modern decor with colorful accent walls and artistic decorative touches, while older rooms are drab and dull with worn furnishings and yawn-worthy decor. If you can snag a renovated room, expect contemporary finishes with bold colors: Sleek dark-wood furniture is a nice contrast to the stark walls and floors, and burnt-orange accent colors add a bit of excitement. Artistic touches like large framed paintings and textured bedside lamps prevent these rooms from feeling generic, but cheap alarm clocks, coffeemakers, and flat-screen TVs seem like a bit of a downgrade. Bathrooms have stylish touches like frosted glass shower doors and quartz counters, however, they don’t have doors to separate them from the bedroom space, which may cause privacy issues for some travelers. Outside, private balconies overlook the property, and offer beautiful views and excellent people-watching opportunities.
On the flip side, the non-renovated rooms are dull and boring. They have worn, dated furniture and bathrooms that are in desperate need of an upgrade. Unfortunately, there’s no way of guaranteeing whether rooms are renovated or un-renovated at the time of booking. It’s also important to point out that some rooms smell like stale cigarette smoke. Even though smoking is not allowed in rooms, guests can smoke in some areas around the hotel, including some indoor spots. The cigarette smell has a tendency of wafting into rooms, which some travelers may find unpleasant.
Marival has a few different room types. Resort rooms are the hotel’s standard units that feature one king-size bed or two queen-size beds, one bathroom, and an outdoor patio or balcony. Additionally, there are one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites that have multiple bathrooms and larger balconies. The suites are ideal for families, since they offer more room and separate bedroom and living spaces.
There’s always something fun going on at the beach. Kids boogie board in the water’s gentle surf, teenagers participate in volleyball tournaments, and adults rent Hobie Cats and take part in kayak races. Kayaks and boogie boards are free to borrow, but Hobie Cats and paddleboards incur additional fees. The beach is lined with palapa-style umbrellas and lounge chairs that are almost always claimed with beach towels by sunrise. The beach also has a private beach club with nicer cushioned lounge chairs and an exclusive bar, but it’s reserved for timeshare members and guests of its luxury sister property, Marival Residences & World Spa.
Marival Resort & Suites is best known for its amenities and activities. This is the kind of place where people come to play and be entertained throughout their stay. In addition to the beach, four pools offer water-based fun -- each with a distinct feel. The freeform activities pool, the largest of the four, is the hub of the property. It has its own whirlpool, a swim-up bar, basketball nets, and an in-water stage where activities like pool aerobics, water polo matches, and dance parties take place. The atmosphere is always upbeat, so guests who’d prefer to relax in peace should check out the adult-only pool, which is located on the opposite side of the property. Though no part of the Marival property is completely tranquil, the adult pool is the most relaxing spot. However, it doesn’t have many umbrellas, and nearly all of its lounge chairs are located in direct sunlight.
The family pool is located directly in front of the beach, and offers a swim-up bar and whirlpool, plus a shallow kiddy pool. It’s quieter than the activities pool since it lacks music and in-water activities, but still has a lively atmosphere thanks to the abundance of children who always surround it. Marival also has a tiny water park and splash pool with mini waterslides, a palm-tree fountain, and a climbable pirate ship. Also worth noting, Marival has a special all-inclusive package called Family Emotion. Despite its weird name (likely the result of a bad translation), the Family Emotion concierge can provide families with amenities like strollers, beach toys, bath accessories, and sunscreen.
If pools and beaches aren’t your cup of tea, there are a mini-golf course, outdoor pottery painting, lawn games, and free bikes that guests can take around Nuevo Vallarta, as well as four well-kept tennis courts with a pro shop and lights for nighttime play. The on-site theater hosts nightly productions, like a marriage game show and renditions of popular plays. Kids and teens have their own clubs, and little ones can go on treasure hunts, make beaded bracelets, and participate in child-friendly cooking classes. Teens can play video and arcade games in their own dedicated space, where staff members are always present. Several times per week, the activities staff hosts nighttime parties, like a Mexican fiesta or a beach rave.
A modern fitness center is available, but it's not open 24/7. The spa has several treatment rooms and its own beauty salon. Although the hotel is geared toward families over couples, there are several wedding and honeymoon packages at different price points. Generally, the hotel can accommodate weddings and receptions for up to 70 people.
Six distinct restaurants and multiple bars, with better-than-average all-inclusive food
Many all-inclusive properties advertise that they have several different restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines, but in reality, they have one or two restaurants with rotating menus. But this is not the case at Marival, where its six distinct restaurants feel like stand-alone establishments. Shockingly, Marival only has one buffet restaurant, Casa Bella, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Casa Bella is a beautiful space with indoor and outdoor components and a wide variety of food options, including gluten-free and vegetarian stations. We found the buffet food at Casa Bella fresh and surprisingly tasty. Its offerings change daily, so meals don't feel repetitive.
The a la carte restaurants serve a variety of cuisines ranging from Italian to Brazilian. Many guests complain about the annoying dinner reservations process required for these, as it can be time-consuming and frustrating. Note that many travelers book their tables well in advance. Guests who wait until they arrive will find little availability at popular times. Marival’s a la carte restaurants include:
La Pergola: upscale international cuisine, open for breakfast and dinner
There are several bars scattered around the Marival property, including two lobby bars, a martini bar near the restaurants, and several outdoor bars in and around the pools. Alcohol is included in the hotel’s all-inclusive rates, except for full bottles of wine at the Italian restaurant.
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