Getting to Puerto Vallarta:
The airport has direct flights to many destinations in the United States but sometimes those flights get in around the same time and can lead to some major crowding at the airport. We were told that during holiday times such as Christmas and Thanksgiving the worst day to fly in is Saturday. We experienced this firsthand on one of our trips and the crowds at the airport were huge and there wasn’t a lot of organization by the airport staff so it led to people cutting in front of others in line and being generally unpleasant. It’s not how you want to start your trip that’s for sure.
Getting the resort is a breeze because you can arrange for complimentary transportation from the airport.
Check in :
The lobby isn’t as grand as some other resorts and the first time we went I was kind of surprised as to how small it was. However, size does not equal quality as we quickly found. Instead of waiting in line in the lobby to check in, we were sent over to a cute wine bar where they served us drinks as we waiting to get all of our paperwork in order. They then bring a staff person over to where your group is seated and process everything with you.
The rooms themselves are spacious and fairly modern. We were excited to find that the fridge has drinks ready for you (beers, water, juice, etc.). Both time we went we stayed in a two bedroom residence (1700 sq/ft) and it was more than enough space for us. I really love that the rooms all have a view of the main pool and if you are high enough there is an ocean view as well.
The pool chairs! One word: heaven. They have huge cushions on them and we really just wanted to hang out on them for the entirety of our vacation. I was happy to discover that there are no towel cards or reserving chairs at this resort. The towels are on the pool chairs and are replenished regularly. There are more than enough pool chairs for all of the guests so you don’t have to get up at 6am to run out and reserve a chair. Our kids loved swimming in the pool and always waited for the daily ice cream cart by the pool to go by so that they could get an ice cream cone. There is also a cart that goes by with sunscreen, magazines, etc. that comes around the pool a few times a day
Our favorite restaurant for a sunset view and tapas was the Insu Sky Bar… go here the first night for sure! We didn’t discover this restaurant until a few days into our first trip. The food is great and the view is out of this world. Other dining options onsite are:
MozzaMare & Omaggio for any meal. They often have theme nights and a wide variety of food options including for those with dietary restrictions.
Lemmon Grass is great for dining while lounging at the pool. You can eat at the restaurant itself or have food delivered to your pool chair.
Brunello Lobby Wine Bar is a nice place to get a drink or light snack.
You can also go to any of the restaurants at the sister resort: Marival Resort which is just a short golf cart ride away and right on the beach. The Italian restaurant on the resort side is really good.
Room Service is included in the resort and you can even pre order your breakfast the night before to be delivered at a designated time in the morning.
Traveling with Kids?
There are shallow pools and water fountains to cool off in a safe environment for kids that may not be strong swimmers. A playground on site was a fun way for the kids to burn some energy if they were tired of swimming.
There was a Frozen movie princess experience at the spa during one of our stays and we decided to treat our daughter. It was approximately $70 and included a manicure, pedicure, facial, snacks, a smoothie, a princess crown, and the Frozen soundtrack was playing in the background. Our daughter definitely felt like a princess for the day.
The Kids Club on site was interesting because they had a lot of fun activities in the kids club and outside by the water fountains such as cookie decorating and face painting but sometimes the workers were not at the kids club during the designated open times so that was frustrating.
Additionally, you can take a quick golf cart ride over to the Marival Resort which has water slides for the kids that you can go to and then escape back to the residences for a little more peace and quiet. If you want to stay at the Marival Resort for an extended period of time, there is a roped off section on the sand for Residences guests w/really nice lounge chairs.
You can also splurge for the Family Emotion Package for an additional fee. The package includes:
A welcome basket as well as snacks and toys for the kids
Concierge service to book activities
Custom picnic experience
Upgraded toiletries for kids and adults
Nanny available for a night out
Family photo shoot and images
We did the Family Emotion Package on our first stay and it was fun but in retrospect, it wasn’t really worth the extra money to us.
The Beach Club:
This part of the resort opened late 2017 and it allows for beach access directly from the Marival Residences. It is a little bit of a walk (or cart ride) from the hotel. There are luxury beachside cabanas, a pool, and on site dining.
Some Extra Perks at the Marival Residences:
Some tours are included in your stay (we didn’t do these)
Golf is included but there is a small fee (maybe for the club or cart rentals)
Because it is a smaller resort the staff tends to learn your names and preferences over the course of your stay.
The hotel will prepare your catch for dinner if you bring it back. We had an amazing meal of fresh mahi mahi/dorado that was caught by the fellas that morning when they went out deepsea fishing.
There is live music and sometimes karaoke in the evenings on the property. They don’t offer the traditional forms of entertainment that you might see at other resorts in Mexico such as water aerobics or loud games but all of those things are available at the sister resort.
Overall, we love the Marival Residences and highly recommend it as a vacation destination.