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Reviewed 26 April 2012

I found this hotel to be smaller than the barcelo's that we have visited before on the Mayan Riviera.
The beach area is not very big and there is not a lot of lounges on the beach. Most people stayed around the pool. The problem with staying around the pool is not enough loungers at the pools and what there is are taken up before 6 am. I never thought that on a relaxing holiday that I would have to get to the pool at the crack of dawn just to get a lounger with an umbrella poolside.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank cbsenorita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2012

My sister and I visited Puerto Vallarta in March of 2012. We are in our mid-twenties and wanted to stay somewhere tropical that also had a bit of history to it.

We chose Barcelo for several reasons. First, we had watched "Night of the Iguana" the movie, which took place just a ways off from where the resort lies. You can still see the ruins from the movie set from the hotel. You can walk to this landmark, although there isn't too much to see now as its mostly blocked off by fences warning no trespassing. Still cool though!

Another reason we chose the resort was the scenery. You get the beautiful ocean view on one side, and the lovely rain forest on the other! It was gorgeous. No matter which way you looked you were in paradise!

Last we booked the trip on travelocity and the price was reasonable.

The positives: We found the staff very friendly. We felt like celebrities upon check-in as we were greeted with a glass of champagne.

The zoo is a short walk and an interesting sight to see. Many of the excursions offered transportation from the hotel which made things safe and easy.

The scenery. I don't think you could find a more beautiful location.

The pool bar. We loved being able to relax and enjoy the sun, then swim up to the bar for a drink.

Negatives: Although we found most of the staff very pleasant, the front desk could be a bit aloof and unhelpful.

The food was adequate but nothing special. We found the buffet to be cold most of the time. We went to the Italian restaurant once and thought the food was okay. The burgers at the snack bar are much different than the American burgers we have in the states!

It is a bit of a distance to town. We knew that a head of time, but its something to think about.

As far as Puerto Vallarta itself, we did a variety of excursions. Rhythms of the Night was by far the coolest. The boat ride was so much fun. David and his crew did a phenomenal job! Once at Las Caletas you have a delicious candle lit dinner. Last they put on a show in the theater. It was such a great time!

We also visited Las Caletas during the day. We had been looking for a good tanning experience but the waves were quite big and the beach pretty small most of the time. Unlimited drinks helped though! We swam, enjoyed the scenery, and drank lots of margaritas!

We went on the free city tour. Most of it was aimed at trying to get us to buy from the businesses they partner with, but we did get to go in the forest and visit a very cool tequila business. They offered a very expensive dinner, but my sister and I decided to stick with the chips and salsa, which were great!

We also explored downtown ourselves. We felt very safe the entire time. The tourist police are there if you have any questions or need help with a taxi. The locals are all extremely helpful as well! One thing to remember when getting a taxi. You pay per car, not person. We had a few times that they tried to charge us per person and we would just say no thank you and find the next taxi available. They are everywhere!

Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful city and I would love to go there again. The same with Barcelo!

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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1  Thank GinaMarrrie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2012

My wife and I just returned from a wonderful week at the Barcelo Hotel Resort after winning the trip on the radio. Overall, I think the experience was very good, though there were a few low points (though I wouldn't call them disappointing per se).

The Good:

The room was huge and beautiful. I actually felt badly that we weren't using the space we had so I sat in the 'living room' for a bit to read just so it didn't go to waste. The bed was very comfy, the fridge was neatly stocked with complimentary snacks and drinks.

The Pools:
Beautiful pools. Others have discussed broken tiles and litter around the pool, but there was no evidence of this that I saw. It was always spotless, with attendants constantly picking up cups, cans and litter. I even saw one poor fellow who had clearly overindulged get sick and the attendant was immediately on the job, making sure no evidence of the unfortunate (and probably not too infrequent) event remained.

The hot tubs were wonderful, not scalding to the point where you can't sit for an extended period of time.

The Grounds:
Impecable. The grass and shrubberies were neat and trim, the flowers were blooming and beautiful. Oddly, we only saw one iguana, though not far away at the dolphin excursion they were plentiful. Perhaps they were seen as pests and kept away?

The View:
We were on the sixth floor end unit overlooking the pool and the ocean. Beautiful view every morning and every evening.

The Sunset:
Sitting on the relaxation deck, overlooking the beach, at sunset was breathtaking every night.

The Staff:
Awesome! Friendly, knowledgable, accommodating.

The Mediocre:

Kids Activities:
We have an 8 year old who, luckily, stayed home. There was a Kid's Club with some crafts but it would never have kept my son occupied all week. Of course there's swimming, and there were some kids there, but if they were anything like mine, I wonder how they stayed occupied for a full week.

The Buffet Food:
Not as bad as some people seem to think, in my opinion, but not really great. The breakfast buffet was very good (especially the french toast) but the rest of the buffets were just OK. Not bad, as I said, but not great. A large selection was to be had but not top quality. I didn't think the coffee was too bad.

The Restaurants:
The food was pretty good. I had the rib eye first and it was very flavourful, not too fatty. But that was the highlight of the restaurant meals. Everything else was meh. They could do with a gourmet chef or two to make the reserved dining a highlight.

The Entertainment:
In a word... fun. The Vegas Show was entertaining, but mostly because they were clearly uncomfortable working their way through it. It was a little cheesy but that was part of the entertainment factor to me. If this were really Vegas, the show would be well off the strip.

The Latin shows were very good though, and very enjoyable. One evening was an outdoor Mexican Fiesta with games for the kids, some local food and a live show. Very fun.

The Zoo:
About a mile away, the Puerto Villarta Zoo was a nice walk through the local village. A very different scene than we're used to here in Ontario, that's for sure. But the people we encountered were all very pleasant with lots of hellos and holas. The Zoo was fun, though not what one would call 'upscale'. Very rustic. But the animals largely looked well fed and well taken care of. You could feed them and for 50 USD you could play with baby tigers and monkeys. I did this and I felt it was worth it. How often do you get to play with baby tigers? And now I can also tell people that a monkey licked my head. I don't know another living soul who can make that claim. I put this in Mediocre, but it was a very good experience.

The Pool Bar:
I loved the swim-up bar, but it closed at 6 pm, which I thought was a little too early.

The Bad:
I only have one item on my bad list: The beach vendors. I know they have to make a living and we did buy some things while on the beach, but they can be very aggressive. That in and of itself is expected, but when you are sitting on the beachside patio having breakfast on the resort and they are approaching you from the beach during your meal, it gets a little annoying.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable vacation. There's not nightlife to speak of, which is fine with me, and it was largely quiet by around 10 pm (aside from the rooster in the nearby villa, but that was kind of quaint). There are plenty of off-site recreation activities to choose from, and reasonably priced, but if you want to just sit by the pool and relax, this is the place to do it. If we were to do it again, it'd be with another couple, and I would not bring my son, simply because there's little to keep him occupied. But I would recommend it to anyone who just wants to get away and relax.

Room Tip: Be careful how much you drink. It's mostly free-pour measurements and a few drinks can have a powerful effect, especially when coupled with a very strong sun.
  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Ken T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2012

The hotel is OK, rooms are big.

The beach is useless, no good, big wawes at even low-low tide and very small at high tide.

I wonder where the "Trip advisor " find all this wonderful rewieuws.

Are they paid for false adwertising ?

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled solo
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3  Thank sim k
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2012

A friend and I spent five days there this past April. We were surprised to discover the majority of the vacationers were Mexican families apparently on holiday for Easter. Everyone was wonderfully pleasant, staff and vacationer alike. Takeaways: 1. The food is decent, breakfast buffet w/ 12 fresh juices and wide assortment of food is great - but the dinner buffet leaves something to be desired. Make sure you eat at one of the restaurants for dinner and you'll be fine. The poolside taco bar was the highlight for me food-wise...carnitas and/or marlin tacos can't be beat! 2. Can't ask for a better location scenery-wise. Gorgeous private beach (albeit small), mountains looming on either side, gazillions of bouganvillea decorating the buildings and pool landscaping. 3. Rooms very clean and nice, we did not upgrade and did not miss the option of room service. 4. No night life to speak of. Also not a great place to meet singles. You have to trek into town (45 min) for a nocturnal adventure. 5. Situated next to the local's beach. We ventured over and purchased the most amazingly carved mango topped w/ sea salt, a chili paste and lime juice for 25 pesos. (~$2 bucks). 6. The zoo is located a mile away and very walkable. For $50 you can play w/ baby tigers and monkeys - we found this to be the highlight for us, although I'm sure some will balk at the idea or the price. 7. We caved to sitting in on an early morning timeshare presentation up the road in exchange for swimming w/ the dolphins at an aquarium/water park in Nuevo Vallarta. VERY worth it. Took some negotiating though. Note: if someone tells you it costs 200 dollars be wary, it only costs between 35 and 50 USD once you get there, but a cab will be ~30 bucks each way (its past the airport @ an hour away).
Did not care for the beds, very firm. Would recommend for families or friends looking to relax.

Room Tip: All balconies face the pool.
  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with friends
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1  Thank kissthefr0g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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