Great ocean, valley, or golf course views from rooms
Far from downtown Puerto Vallarta
No all-inclusive option available, and restaurants are pricey
Bothersome time-share sales pitches and ongoing construction
Fee for Wi-Fi
The Mayan culture has a rich, colorful heritage steeped in history and tradition -- but when it comes to the resort company bearing the Mayan tag, there's a whole other association: massive resorts, luxurious suites, sprawling pools, and high-end modern amenities. This is perhaps why the Mayan Palace brand is so well-reputed in the Mexico travel scene. With six properties throughout Mexico, Mayan Palace's Nuevo Vallarta Resort is the most "budget-friendly" of the bunch -- and yet it retains all the luxe amenities the brand is so known for: a beautiful and massive pool, a luxurious spa, a modern fitness center, two outdoor tennis courts, access to an acclaimed golf course, and chicly modern rooms. There's no all-inclusive option, though, and the restaurants are a bit pricey. Plus, the hotel doubles as a time-share property so sales pitches can be bothersome -- as is the ongoing construction in the area. But for the price, this is one amenities-packed resort.
Great beach and golf course on-site, but time-share sales and construction noise are unfortunate distractions
In a gated enclave on the south end of Nuevo Vallarta lies the world of the Maya -- Mayan time-share hotels, that is. There are several Mayan properties already open, others under construction, and others being planned or torn down. The end results lie a few years off, but meanwhile there are a number of 10-story buildings on site -- some built, some half-built- - that lie between a golf course, a river, and the sea. The sight and sound of construction is ubiquitous. As is the sight and sound of time-shares being sold.
On the other hand, beautiful landscapes surrounding artificial lagoons, tennis courts, a lovely golf course, and a quiet pretty beach on Bahia Banderas add up to a pleasant scene. The highlights? The Mayan Palace pool is enormous -- a long, winding, sinuous creature that seemingly goes on forever from the upper property down toward the beach. The Cafe del Lago offers a vast and satisfying breakfast buffet. Just bear in mind that this is not an all-inclusive resort, the restaurants are pricey, and there is a fee for almost everything.
Nuevo Vallarta offers beautiful beaches and first-class golf courses, but is a fair distance from Puerto Vallarta
Going north out of Puerto Vallarta’s airport, in 12 minutes or less you cross the Ameca River via the Punta Ameca bridge, which links the states of Jalisco (south) and Nayarit (north). In the southwest corner of Nayarit, on the beach, is Nuevo Vallarta. The Mayan properties occupy the southwest corner of Nuevo Vallarta, stretching north and east from where the river meets the sea. It’s a short distance from the first Nuevo Vallarta turn-off to the Mayan main gate, which controls access to all the Mayan properties, including this one.
Once inside the gate, another 2-3 minutes gets you to the motor lobby of whichever hotel you’re staying at. Your driver had better know because the signage is fairly discreet. They’re all surrounding a golf course and just off the beach, with acres of lush landscaping -- but the scene is somewhat reminiscent of an office park because the many hotels are about the same 10-story height and standard mass-produced architecture. (Everything here belongs to Grupo Mayan.)
Comfortable, residential-style rooms and suites with small balconies overlooking the pool and ocean, or golf course and mountains
The 10-story Mayan Palace room offerings include Master Room, Suite, and Master Suite. In this and all the Mayan properties, the Master Room and the Suite can be joined together to form the larger Master Suite. Because these rooms are all being marketed primarily to the time-share market, they are designed in a pleasant, inoffensive residential style, with enough appealing amenities to make them attractive for longer stays. Half the rooms face the ocean, the others face the golf course and/or Banderas Valley and the Sierra Madre Mountains.
The dining choices are many, but the prices are high
Guests at the Mayan Palace are free to dine at any of the restaurants located on other, high-end Mayan properties in the enclave. These restaurants include Blue Fish (seafood), Tramonta (Italian), Epazote (Mexican), and Gong (Asian). However, none of this is all-inclusive and the restaurants are not cheap. Room service is available, but also on the pricey side of the scale.
Cafe del Lago: Serves breakfast and dinner in a casual setting, focusing on international cuisine and local ingredients
Rouge Wine Bar: An international dinner menu accompanied by an extensive wine list (closed Mondays)
Havana Moon: Beachside serving breakfast, lunch, or dinner focusing on Asian/Caribbean-fusion cuisine