Endless buffets and bottomless margaritas are the typical images that come to mind with all-inclusive properties; the food can range from delicious and varied to mediocre and limited. We headed to Riviera Nayarit in Mexico to check out the hotels with all-inclusive packages; after filling our plates, sleeping in suites, and making use of the watersports available, we can now say which are the best of the best. So if you’re looking for a hotel where you can stay put and eat each meal on the property (without getting bored!), check out our top picks for best all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Nayarit.
This luxurious, 267-room all-inclusive resort in Nuevo Vallarta is a sophisticated and serene option in the greater Puerto Vallarta area. Every room here is a suite, offering extra living space, a balcony, ocean views, and luxurious touches such as Nespresso machines. The impressive features include an infinity pool with three levels overlooking the beach, a decadent spa with 20 treatment rooms, and four upscale (and pricey) restaurants. There's little wrong with it, except for the fee for Wi-Fi.
A half-hour drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta and a half mile from the beach, the Marival Residences & World Spa is not the place to go if you're in the mood for a beach-lounging, party-hopping Mexican getaway. It is, however, the place to go for laid-back luxury, residential-style suites, modern amenities, and an impressive array of all-inclusive features. Comprised of 169 suites, penthouses, or private villas, ranging from one to four bedrooms (and all featuring spacious terraces with garden, pool, or ocean views), Marival Residences is an excellent option for families and couples alike seeking a little sun-soaked spoiling.
One of the most striking elements of the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta (formerly the Palace Resort Vallarta) is its soaring lobby, with two huge installations made with LP covers and instruments. However, the rest of the resort is no less attractive, with two free-form pools, a spa featuring ocean views, and several restaurants offering a range of cuisines. The hopping bars, nightly entertainment and contemporary rooms with high-tech amenities, funky rock-inspired decor, and double-jetted tubs attract young couples and groups, while the lively pools (including a shallow one for kids), varied dining options, and pretty beach draw families. There’s free Wi-Fi, purified water on tap, and a wide array of amenities, but rooms are a tad smaller than those found in other resorts in the area.
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.
The rooms here are attractive -- cool, with hip furniture, freestanding deep bathtubs, and Jacuzzis on private decks. But you have to specify you want an ocean view, or you may be looking at the mountains (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). There's a long list of amenities and multiple restaurant options, typical of a Dreams all-inclusive, but guests complain that you can't drink at the pool.