HOTEL REVIEW: All-Inclusive Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort
My husband and I got married in the Dominican Republic in July and wanted to do an all-inclusive stay for our honeymoon, which we took a few months after the wedding. We stayed in the resort around Veteran’s Day. Here’s our thoughts on the place. Though, I will put on right here from the get go that this was not the best experience and we were incredibly disappointed with our stay.
The location of the hotel is great. It’s a quick 10-minute Uber ride from Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR). The hotel is right on the beach and has access to chairs and bar service run by the hotel right on the beach. Not a bad area at all. It also is a close 10-minute Uber ride to The Malecon, the main downtown area of Puerto Vallarta that includes all of the restaurants, bars, gift shops, and beaches.
Our room wasn’t ready for us quite yet when you got there to check in, which we expected since we were there a couple of hours before check in opened. We grabbed a drink in the lobby bar while we waited about 3o minutes for our room to be ready.
There was a separate check in for Hilton Honors members, so we were brought over to an individual desk where the staff member went over the hotel property and gave us the details on the restaurants.
The view from our room (King Deluxe Ocean View) was really great. Honestly, that was really the only great thing about the room. We were offered an upgrade to a suite that would have had a partial view, but the only difference was the suite was a little larger. We decided we’d rather the full ocean view than a little bit bigger of a room.
We had plate of cakes waiting in the room with a note from our manager when we checked into the room. The cakes themselves were delicious.
The room itself was big enough, but it was also pretty standard and wasn’t anything special. It was not very decorated and didn’t seem to give any kind of classic or fancy vibe. Also, the leather surrounding the television was severely cracked and looked very old.
There was a minibar in the room, but that was mostly useless. When we arrived, the fridge had a few beers in it, soda, and some bottled water. The minibar doesn’t include hard liquor, which was a huge disappointment. The hotel’s philosophy is that you can go down to the bar in the hotel for that, though I think it would be nice to have some liquor in the room in case you don’t want to have to go down to the bar at 11pm or something.
The worse part about the minibar was the refilling. The minibar is refilled only if you are in the room. The person who refills the minibar came to our room at around 3pm every day. This is rather inconvenient, given that at 3pm I’d much rather be sitting by the pool relaxing than worrying about being in my room to get a few beers to stock the minibar.
The day I was there to restock the fridge, I was essentially limited on how much I could get. I asked for a few waters and then two of one kind of beer and as I asked for a two more beers of a different brand, the attendant walked away and seemed to suggest I received the max of what I could for the minibar. Having two beers in the minibar when there’s two of us in the room at an all-inclusive seems a little stingy and just downright not what I would expect.
Also, our maid would not come around until 4:30-5:00pm. This was largely inconvenient because that was about the time we wanted to rest before getting ready to go eat dinner. The maid was always accommodating, and I think, once again, this is an issue of staffing rather than having anything to do with the staff members themselves.
Stay with me here, but there is a lot to talk about in regards to the food.
Breakfast and Lunch
First of all, the breakfast was standard for what you would expect at a resort like this. It was buffet style at the Sea Fire Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. The breakfast included an omelet station. We also visited this restaurant from a dinner when we had a late dinner reservation and were largely not impressed with the dinner food. It was mediocre and most of the choices were not dinner food, but just different kinds of salads and lunch meats. But that is understandable, given there are dinner restaurants where I’m sure many people go over doing the buffet style.
There is also La Bonita Cafe and Deli. Despite the fact that this is listed on their website as being open, it was not open during our stay. One staff member said it closes during the slow season. Just be prepared that it’s one less place to grab a bite to eat during the day.
Now on to dinner. Keep in mind that there are four dinner restaurants. There is Italian, Brazilian, French, and Mexican. You are required to make a reservation for dinner for a 6:00pm, 7:30pm, and 9:00pm serving. You can only make the reservations same day, so be prepared to make sure you can call at 9:00am sharp in order to secure the time you want. It’s important to note that children are only allowed at the 6:00pm seating.
This is where a big criticism comes in from our part. When we arrived on Wednesday, we received a schedule of the days the restaurants were open. There are select restaurants open each day (choice of 2 of the 4). When we arrived, we saw Mexican was scheduled twice so we were saving that for Monday. However, when we went to book it for Monday, we were told that the schedule changes each week and Mexican was not happening again until after we left. So we never got the chance to try the Mexican and they never let us know until we called what the new schedule was.
Overall criticism of the dinner restaurants in general: the service was terribly slow at all of them regardless of the day or time we went. There was usually only one waiter for the entire restaurant and then two or three people who would take drink orders, get refills, and clear tables. All told, it was the norm to sit for 15-30 minutes before anybody even came to the table after sitting down. I blame the hotel for this and not the staff. It seemed to be a severe lack of staffing, rather than poor service on the part of the waiters.
Here’s a breakdown of the dinner restaurants:
Brazilian – Foto
This is billed as a Brazilian steakhouse. Heads up, you’ll be disappointed if you’ve been to any other Brazilian steakhouse. We were seated promptly at our scheduled time. We were told we could go get sides from a buffet they had inside and the meat would start being served in 15 minutes. An hour later, the first meat actually came around. We sat there for an hour eating rice and salad because the meat never came. They brought two kinds of sausages and one beef within 30 minutes (it was about a meat every 10 minutes). When no more meats seemed to be coming, we left. It was a disappointing experience and you will leave having to fill yourself up on rice and salad rather than meat.
Italian – Il Formaggio
This same venue, which is houses on the La Hacienda part of the property, also has a buffet breakfast and serves lunch. At dinner, it becomes the Italian restaurant. Once again, service was terribly slow. We were seated for 30 minutes and had to get up and go over to a member of staff to get them to take our drink and food order. The food was pretty good. It wasn’t to die for, but it definitely was tasty. The wine was terrible (it’s the same at every restaurant).
Mexican – La Catrina
We never got the chance to eat here because they changed the dinner restaurant schedule with no warning and it wasn’t open again until we left.
French – Le Delice
We ate at this restaurant twice. Service was slow, again. The first time we ate there, we chose to pay a surcharge and get the lobster dinner. I think it was an extra $30 USD for the lobster dinner. The lobster was delicious, as was the escargot that I had as an appetizer. The wine was terrible and barely drinkable (it’s very rare I can ever dread drinking a glass of wine — but I did here). Even worse, we got our own refill of the wine because we sat there for 30 minutes with nobody coming to the table. Instead of waiting for them to come to order a drink, my husband grabbed the bottle of champagne sitting on one of the stations and we served ourselves. The waitress came over after and said she completely understood why we did that.
The only criticism of the lobster dinner was that it took 1.5 hours to actually get the food. Those of who got the lobster, which was ordered in advance of sitting, were the last ones served.
Overall, I think the French restaurant may have been the best food quality of the three restaurants we were able to eat at.
We didn’t spend much time at the beach. It’s beautiful for sure, but the seating is very close together, there’s no umbrellas or anything to provide shade, and there’s a ton of people on the beach trying to sell you things. Sitting there for 30 minutes, we probably had close to 10 people come up trying to sell us things. Not the most relaxing environment to enjoy yourself on the beach.
There are three pool areas, two of which are adults only. There is a part of the resort that is adults only (La Hacienda). It’s right across the street from the main lobby of the Hilton, and that’s where we spent most of our time in the afternoon. It gets very busy, so be sure to get there earlier if you want to get a good seat. There is food and bar service there at the pool. This pool is only open during the day. It’s pretty beautiful and depending on the bartender, the drinks can be really good.
There is another pool in the center of the main Hilton. It’s open to families, so we actually didn’t spend any time there at all.
The O West rooftop pool is where we spent most of our mornings. It’s gorgeous and is for adults only. It has bar service, though they don’t really come around to you except one day when we had a really good server making the rounds and making sure our drinks were full.
They also offer sushi in the afternoon, which was pretty good. This area is open until 10pm.
One criticism with this place was when we were there one night, a family came up with a group of kids. The staff did not ask the kids to leave, and they actually starting serving them shots of tequila (they were young teenagers and definitely not of legal age). They got very rowdy and it was a bit annoying since the area is otherwise very quiet and for adults only.
The last thing I’ll mention here are the towels. You’ll get a towel card upon check-in. However, a few times when we would go to get towels at 10am, they were completely out. One day, they told us we had to walk to the Eden part of the resort in order to get them. In other time they told us there would be no towels and that we should check back in 30 minutes. This is a pretty ridiculous thing to happen every day at a beach resort. If I’m looking to spend time by the pool, I don’t want to have to go scavenging for towels in order to do so. It was unacceptable.
We decided to get a massage at the spa. I have to say, the spa is very pretty and the massage was absolutely wonderful. When you walk into the spa, it’s liking walking into what the rest of the property should look like at a Hilton resort. The people who did our massages were very kind.
The price was also pretty decent. We paid about $60 USD each for an hour-long, full-body massage. That’s a pretty decent price in my view, and it was well worth it.
They had a jacuzzi in the room where we got our massage with towels around it, but they never said we could use it. Given that there was no jacuzzi on the property, I was hoping after the massage they would offer the use of the jacuzzi. They never did, so I don’t know if the jacuzzi is for a separate spa treatment they offer or whether they just didn’t offer for us to use it.
My husband and I love Hiltons, typically. That being said, we would be very unlikely to ever go back to this one. The service was terrible, and when we tried to speak to a manager about things like the towels, minibar, and slow service, the manager never reached out. We called and stopped at the front desk and were told the manager would be in touch. She never called us.
If you’re use to luxury and good service at resorts, this will not be the place for you. This was only my second all-inclusive (the first was our hotel where we had our wedding. My husband has been at a few before. This was by far the worst of the ones we experienced. We would not recommend this property until they figure out some of these glaring problems.