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Reviewed 27 July 2011

It was our first time at the Barcelo resorts. We picked this resort because of family suggestions and raving reviews of the La Jolla de Mismaloya – the previous name of the hotel.

Check in.
Upon arrival we didn’t get the champagne treatment but the check in was seamless. The room was ready and we were all situated within 30 minutes of our arrival.

The Room.
We were pleasantly surprised by the rooms.
#1 We did not expect it to be a junior suite. That was a huge bonus point for the hotel, even though we did not utilize the “living room” area at all.
#2 We LOVED the closet space – my boyfriend and I each got our OWN closets! Not that it’s a big deal but it gives a little more breathing room. The Bathroom was great. The bedroom was huge! The maid service was awesome.
#3 It was a nice touch with the fruit platter with champagne & tequila bottle for two waiting for us. A few bucks here and there for our maid ensured our champagne bottle to renew itself every night (3 nights in a row!).
#4 Two (2) flat screen TVs! With a DVD player (B.Y.O. Entertainment) Didn’t really have a chance to utilize them but it was nice! Bonus points for that.
#5 A HUGE, HUGE ,HUGE (!!!!) bonus point for a free Wi. Fi. in the rooms. It’s extremely important for us to have the internet access since my boyfriend cannot leave work at work even on vacation.
The mini-fridge was OK, always stocked with “bare necessities” – Tekate, Juice & Water.

We had our stay upgraded to the “Club Premium” so it came with a free Puerto Vallarta tour, discounts at the spa, and in the shops at the hotel and the use of the business center plus free room service – of which we used none so I cannot attest to these services. But it was an option for those who might enjoy the extra perks.

The Food.
El Patio – the buffet, the restaurant itself was great, shaded and breezy overlooking the ocean. The breakfasts were decent, nothing out of ordinary. The egg station chefs were great, a good variety of food, great juice bar (love fresh juice). Kid food station was OK too. The lunch buffets were nothing special at all. The Los Arcos for lunch was a better choice: handmade tacos (shell and all), burgers, guacamoles. The dinner was great. The buffet was decent, we usually scope out the buffet first then move on to the ala carte restaurants. One night they had a roasted duck at the buffet – that was awesome! Buffet food was pretty good, great variety. Ala carte restaurants were great. The Don Quijote was good, the waiter, Rene, is very good. Capri – Italian, was great, and the Los Arcos Grill was outstanding! The waiter, David Rodriguez, at the Los Arcos is wonderful! The drinks at the bars were great, a little slow to show up by the beach though.

The Hotel & Location.
The hotel is wonderful! The location is great! Not in the midst of tourist traffic, perfect jungle location on the beach. Well kept grounds and facilities. The pools were cleaned every day and the landscaping was beautiful. The way the buildings are positioned you have an ocean view from every room unless you were right at the tree line.

The Beach.
The beach was nice, the only thing is that you have to get used to the sand – it’s a little rocky, not the silvery sands. Walking south down the beach you could reach the ruins of the Night of the Iguana movie location, which is in dilapidated condition but is still neat to see. Right next door to the hotel there is a local restaurant and a bar, locals hang out there with their boats and massage parlors on the beach waiting for tourist.
Also, if you are lucky, you may be able to do some whale watching right on the beach of the hotel. The whales come very close into the lagoons and love to “interact” with the boats.

There is a dive shop on premises, they have kayaks and jet skis. We didn’t use them but it’s an option.

The shop at the hotel did not take USD ($) so if you did not have pesos you had to charge everything to the room, not very convenient.

Things to do near by:

If you want to visit a quaint little town Yelapa (or any other little village on the shore) you will have to rent a boat or get a water taxi. We used Rafael (hast 2 boats named Kena I & Kena II) he took us on a private tour of Yelapa with the detour through the Los Arcos (neat place for snorkeling). Whales were all over the place, so we got to watch the whales play from 20 feet away. Rafael showed us private beaches of local “gringos”, and little fishing villages along the shore, then he took us to Yelapa and walked us up the hills through the streets of the village to the water fall on top of the hill. Great tourist trap, they have a bar, restaurant, little craft shops. One shop is an actual place where they make the rosewood figures that the locals sell on the beaches. It’s kind of neat, if you want an authentic Mexican souvenir. The waterfall was pretty, even though it was a dry season so it was not as full. Local kids were playing “sink the boat” and you can go for a refreshing, ice cold swim if you dare. Over all it’s a very nice little authentic village, (with cats, dogs, chickens and donkeys on the cobble stone streets)not spoiled by too much tourist traffic. The beach in Yelapa offered restaurants and bars for your enjoyment. So if you want to visit nearby fishing villages find Rafael. He speaks great English and will give you a good insight into the local life. (look for the boats with names Kena I & Kena II)

Also thanks to the HUGE (hand written) sign right at the hotel’s door ZOOLOGICO de VALLARTA and to the concierge at the hotel, Esteban, who suggested to us to visit the place. The Zoo is located ½ mile from the front door of the hotel. Easy walk through Mismaloya, on cobblestone streets, past Tequila “factories/shops” past the chickens and dogs sleeping or playing in the dust, up the hill and past the rancho (you can rent horses there) up in the jungle (where the movie The Predator was shot) is a little Zoo. For $10 (US) you can get in. For an extra $10 you can spend 5 minutes playing (!!!!) with a baby tiger. For $50 you get 15 minutes with ALL baby tigers (there were 5 at the time) and baby jaguars (2 at the time). Also you get a bag of treats for the animals along the path – Lammas, zebras, hippo, monkeys, birds, giraffe, pigs, goats…. You name it. They all get a special treat – a carrot or corn or bread. You can pet a giraffe, a hippo, baby monkeys, etc. The Zoo is a must if you want to feel like an excited 5 year old again – priceless! www.zoologicodevallarta.com

The bus stop was right at the hotel’s door and the bus picked up every 20 minutes or so, 30 minute bus ride (70 US cents) would take you to Puerto Vallarta. We were treated to a serenade by some local musician, who serenaded the passengers to the sounds of folk music coming from the boombox. He sang with such expression and feeling that he was the only person to turn a boombox into a music instrument. Puerto Vallarta is beautiful. We walked from the last bus stop all the way to the end of the boardwalk. If you are into all the standard tourist traps (Senor Frogs & such) there are myriads of them along the main strip by the ocean. If you want to see a little more of the local life go 2 blocks into town. Wonderful cobblestone streets - everyone is driving VW Beetles, pretty churches, little bars, restaurants, shops. The boardwalk offers local artists creating their art: painting, sculpture and a lot of sand sculpting. A walk by the river offers a ton of flea market type stuff, souvenirs and pricey restaurants overlooking the river, nice walk, but we did not go to any of the restaurants. We did find a little boutique cigar shop/factory www.vallartacigarfactory.com the cigar roller, Juan, was awesome, he was very enticing, and if it was not for him we might have passed the place by. He got us in, showed us how to roll cigars and then the owner showed us around and explained us the whole cigar making process. Of course we got a few cigars. If you take the local bus make sure to come back to the bus stop before 10:30 pm, the busses don’t run later than that but there are plenty of cabs right by the bus stop. AVOID Tino’s Seafood restaurant at all costs – gross! The tamales and boiled corn from the food cards are THE BEST!

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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19  Thank Anastasia08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2011

My husband and I have stayed at this resort twice. Hands down, the best rooms ever. Very spacious bedroom, bathrooms, and living room. Room has two plasma TVs, one in the bedroom and the other in the living room. Shower has plenty of room, and every room has a balcony.

Pools are spacious and they have a handful of activities. We went Kayaking for free. Across the street from the resort is the jungle where they filmed Predator. I love the outdoors and I love to hike….and that was one glorious hikes with mini water creeks. When you reach the top there is a waterfall with a natural pool area, and zip lines.

Food is okay. Not outstanding, but edible. Don't waste your time in the restaurants, the buffet food is better. Resort is far from town, which makes it great. You have your own private beach area and resort that is surrounded by green hills. Again, the rooms are beautiful. Wish they had these rooms in Cancun resorts (they are twice the size of a cancun resort room). One bad thing...There isn't much to do at night.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Alex1nine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 July 2011

Travelled with my family and two kids July 9 to 23. Don't get me wrong, we did have a good time but I expected more from a hotel rated so high.

I will start of my review by providing my pros and cons for this hotel.

Pros - nice seeting of the hotel (although far from the city and remote enough that you could not walk outside the resort)
Rooms were specious and beautiful. Food was OK, not spectacular.
Service was generally good with some exceptions.
Kids club had some nice activities for kids.

Cons - Flies and bugs made a hell of our vacation. Mosquito spray did not help (no mosquitos) and we were bitten like crazy. Buffet restaurant and beach restaurant out in the open which makes a great feast for flies.
Even though I put a request for two double beds two months ahead of our vacation our family of 4 was given a room with king size bed and had to wait till next day to get another room with two double beds.
Night shows were good but other than that there is nothing else to do in the evening.
We had 4 power outages during our stay (each several hours long).
80% of the guests are Mexicans (don't get me wrong, I love Mexican people but this was too much) that are very loud and obnixous (eating food in the pool -even though it is fobidden to take the food out of restaurants and spilling their half empty drinks into the pool).
Kitchen staff contstantly handling the food with same utensils (grilling fish, chicken, beef,... with same utensils and putting condiments on your food with same utensils ( god forbid you can't eat onions, you will get the taste and flavour of the onions on all veggies you actually chose to have with your meet or eggs in the morning).
I noticed a pattern with waiters - if you don't tip them regularly they tend to leave dirty dishes on your table for the longest time (which I ended up clearing very often in order to get a second dish or desert).
Back to flies - they are all over the buffet and your table and my little girl even accidentaly ate one with her strawberry crape - managed to spit it out in time.
Access to the beach was pretty bad and slippery (had to go trough outside beach restaurant to get to the beach).
Dive shop had one kayak for rent and that is about all they had for any water activities.
No kids disco at night.
Lacking some beach umbrellas by the pools. You have to get up at set up your towels by 8:00 a.m. to get a spot in shade.
Experienced four times several minutes lineups to get to the breakfast.

I highly recommend bringing a bug spray (not mosquito) even though you can't spray youself night and day - bugs will still find you.

We stayed in tower one and it was not very noisy even though it is above the main restaurant and cantina. Go for higher floors and rooms closer to number 20. For example room 1515 is in tower 1, fifth floor, room 15 (rooms closer to #20 have nicer view). There is total of 9 floors in each of two towers.

Room has a nice safety deposit box that you set up with your own code (no extra charge). Bathroom have shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. You also get a small sawing kit, shoe horn, body lotion and mouth wash) - I wish I knew this beforehand.

Rooms are huge and have two plasma screen TV's and lots of sitting area. Two closets and tons of storage space as well.

Mini fridge is regularly replenished with water, bear, coke and some snacks (nuts and chips) - no extra charge.

It is very rainy at this time of the year. Out of 14 days only two days it did not rain at all but that did not bother us much as it usually rains in the evening when you are getting ready for dinner or are at the show. Whole resort is covered so you will never get wet unless you venture outside the premisses.

Had to use doctor's services for my kids. There is a doctor at the resort (USD$75 for consultation) and we got medication delivered to hotel as well - so that was good, no hassle process).

Happy to answer any questions while my memory is fresh.

  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled with family
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6  Thank majorka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 July 2011

Barcelo offered us everything we needed for our honeymoon. The only time we felt the need to leave was for an excursion to zip line. Barcelo is the complete package with gorgeous pools, a breathtaking beach, and delicious restaurants all in one.

Room Tip: Woth getting a ocean view and upgrading to premium
  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank angel3131
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 July 2011

Being it was two female guest,we loved the family suite. They gave us an 8th floor room which made the scenery just beautiful. The service we got was the best we ever had. All of your staff made us always feel special and they were friendly and wonderful people.

I recomend that you add something to your literature regarding gradtuities( tips) We were not sure,being it was an all inclusive that tips were applicable. Your grounds were kept imaculate. We loved everything about your resort of Barcelo and are already recomended it to friends.

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled with family
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Thank buddy1234_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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