Compared to the many massive hotels at the north end of Nuevo Vallarta, the Samba Vallarta’s 183-room, four-story Spanish colonial-style building feels pleasantly small-scale -- and the pools and beach tend to be less crowded than elsewhere. The clean rooms have basic, contemporary beach decor (light woods, turquoise bed skirts and runners), and the general ambience of the property is family-friendly and relaxed. For those who want to go the all-inclusive route but don’t want a megaresort experience, this affordable mid-range property is a fine choice.
A family-oriented, small-scale all-inclusive at the north end of Nuevo Vallarta
When the 183-room Samba Vallarta was constructed, the north end of Nuevo Vallarta was still fairly remote. Since then, a number of big-scale resorts have sprung up nearby, and the Samba Vallarta feels refreshingly small-scale compared to its megaresort neighbors. The grounds and gardens are well-kept, and the pool, with its linked sections for adults, kids, and toddlers, is perfectly scaled for the number of guests. The kids’ playground by the beach is simple and functional, and the beach itself has palapas for shade and usually isn't crowded.
The ambience tends to be quieter and more relaxed than at the larger properties nearby, but there is a tradeoff -- dining options aren't extensive. There's an adequate buffet (but no better than adequate), and two a la carte restaurants -- though they're not always both open. The resort also offers a weekly outdoor grill night and a popular poolside snack bar. Entertainment also falls a little short -- the shows here aren't that impressive.
In Nuevo Vallarta, on a beautiful beach along northern Bahia Banderas, but a long way from Puerto Vallarta
The hotel is located on the beach at the northern end of Nuevo Vallarta, about a 40-minute drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta. The removed location means that the ocean waters are more pristine, there is little traffic, and there are fewer venders on the beach. Though Puerto Vallarta's attractions and restaurants aren't convenient, Bucerias, a five-minute drive to the north, has some good restaurants and shopping.
Basic rooms with contemporary beach decor; some have balconies
The rooms are outfitted in basic, contemporary beach decor: light wood furniture, marble tile floors, turquoise bed skirts and runners. The walls have a dated machine stucco texture, and the marble-tile bathrooms do have water-stained showerheads and could use fresh grout in places, but there are few other indicators of the rooms' true age. Most rooms have balconies, and feature views of the pool, gardens, or the bay -- though lower-level ocean view rooms are partially blocked by plantings.
Marble-tile bathrooms with shower/tub combos or walk-in showers
Balconies in most rooms (though not all Superior Rooms)
Suites have kitchenettes with mini-fridges, microwaves, and dishes for four; one-and-a-half bathrooms; a dining table for four; two balconies; two flat-screen TVs, and two bedrooms (one with a king-size bed, one with two doubles).
An adequate buffet, and two a la carte restuarants -- one Mexican, one Italian
La Hacienda is a buffet restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with themed dining in the evenings. The restaurant faces the hotel theater, where there are shows nightly. La Terrazza is a patio extension of La Hacienda.
Mexicana, located under a vaulted red tile roof, is an open-air restaurant by the beach and pool serving snacks during the day and a la carte Mexican food in the evenings; in high season it becomes a disco late nights.
Venezia, an enclosed, air-conditioned space, serves a la carte Italian food for dinner only. In a typical all-inclusive package guest are permitted to dine here twice in a week.
The two a la carte restaurants are typically not open every night, so guests usually only have one a la carte option for dinner. A la carte restaurants require reservations.