Puerto Vallarta Forum (PV Bulletin Board) • Our Marival review (may 8th -15th)
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Our Marival review (may 8th -15th)

Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 9:24 pm
by chapito
This is a long and detailed review of our stay at the Marival Nuevo Vallarta between May 8th-15th. My wife and I are in our early 30’s and from the bay area, CA.

I definitely did my homework on the Marival before we left, I read the TripAdvisor reviews, PV message boards, etc. My wife and I are not the all-inclusive type, but we’re expecting our first child in October and wanted a relaxing, no-hassle vacation.

After you check in to the Marival, you’ll be met by an “activities coordinator” who will explain the restaurants, nightly entertainment, and then try to get you to sit through a 90 minute condo presentation. We politely said no and they didn’t push it.

ROOM: Though it didn’t affect our overall view of the Marival or vacation, we came back to our room on our first night after dinner to find half the room and hallway flooded and 4 or 5 maintenance crew members pushing out the water with squeegies (sp?). Apparently a pipe on the toilet burst while we were out . The next morning we noticed the replacement pipe was leaking, so we went to the front desk and they fixed it immediately. They also offered a different room, but we liked our beach view room.

The rooms were standard—no frills. The bed is hard, like other reviewers have mentioned. After a few nights my back got used to it. The in room coffee maker comes with one bag of coffee—other bags can be purchased in the Marival shop. That was kind of tacky. But, that being said, you can go out in the morning to get a “pour yourself” cup of coffee at either restaurants. So that was fine by me.

FOOD: On to the important stuff…for the most part we were pleasantly surprised by the food. Not to sound like a food snob, but we’re spoiled by some of the best restaurants in northern California, so we weren’t expecting all that much—especially after reading mixed reviews from other travelers. For dinner, our favorite restaurants was Las Palomas (Mexican) followed by Bella Vista (Italian). If you only eat at high-end Italian eateries, then you will probably be a little disappointed with Bella Vista. The food is good, but not stellar.

La Bamba (steakhouse) was decent as well and the outside setting was cool. But La Pergola (Mediterranean) was horrible, maybe we ordered the wrong things, but neither of us liked it at all.

All restaurants serve instant mashed potatoes! I stupidly found that out the hard way 3 nights in a row. The first night I just thought it was the seasoning, the second night I realized it was instant, and the 3rd night I forgot to not order potatoes. Dessert wasn’t especially good in any of the restaurants.

Service was good in all restaurants—my wife is Latin and speaks fluent Spanish, so she usually chatted with our servers more so than other tables did. But from what I could see, the servers were all pleasant and attentive to other tables as well. We didn’t attempt the buffet for dinner…the lunch buffet gave us no reason to be curious about the dinner buffet. Breakfast buffet was good (see below) though.

If you want wine with dinner, you should pay extra money for the bottled wine off the wine list. I tried the “house red” and it was the worst glass of wine I’ve ever tasted. I wouldn’t consider myself a wine snob, but yeah, I like a good bottle of wine. Though they pour the house wine from bottles, they obviously re-use the same bottles and pour some sort of boxed/jug wine into the bottles and bring them back out. Two give-a-ways: Red wine sometimes pours from bottles labeled “vino blanco” and the labels on the bottle are starting to peel. But this was a very minor issue because I like beer and whiskey too.  Plus my wife is pregnant so she wasn’t drinking. If we go again, we’ll either bring our own wine or purchase wine from the restaurant (prices range from $20 to over $200 per bottle)

For breakfast you have two options—sit down and order at La Pergola (pretty good) or the buffet. We did the sit down breakfast for the first few mornings and then decided to try the buffet—which was surprisingly awesome—if you like Mexican style breakfasts, that is. Excellent build your own omelets, with refried beans, tortillas, and spicy green and red sauces are all great. The few standard American items in the buffet that I tried, weren’t very good—hashbrowns, mass produced scrambled eggs, sausages, etc. The pancakes and French toast were ok, but the maple syrup wasn’t very good.

Lunch by the pool each day certainly wasn’t the culinary highlight of the trip, but after such a big breakfast we didn’t need a big lunch. The buffet and the two buffet-ish snack bars weren’t all that good. La Pergola sit down restaurant was open for lunch as well—but after having a horrible dinner there, we weren’t too keen on trying it for lunch. But on our last day we did, and the lunch service was great. It’s a shame they don’t use that menu for dinner.

BARS: There was never a line at any of the bars and the bartenders were all fairly pleasant (contrary to some reviews I’ve read on TripAdvisor). We brought large thermo-mugs with us to keep our sodas cold by the pool, which I’d recommend if you plan on spending the bulk of the day by the pool or the beach.

The beers are cold and tasty (Sol is the lager, and I believe the dark beer was called Indigo). They have a large selection of liquor, including Absolute and Johnny Walker Red Label at all the bars. At the M&M bar upstairs you can also get Grey Goose vodka and Bombay gin.

One complaint about the bar is there is no drink menu. The M&M bar is supposed to specialize in martinis and unique cocktails. I had to ask the bartender to list them off for me—and they do have quite a few drinks in their

OTHER STUFF: As far as tipping goes, even though tips are included in your vacation package, I would suggest bringing a bunch of ones for tipping bartenders and wait staff. Some of the dinner waiters were excellent and attentive, so we’d usually leave a few dollars.

There were plenty of chairs at the pool and the beach.
We took a day trip into PV and another day trip into Bucerias. Bucerias was way more our style—low key, laid back, and nobody trying to sell us timeshares or tequila tours. We had a nice lunch at Miguel Angel’s in Bucerias.

Overall, the Marival was good. We’d probably stay there again—it was good value. It’s both kid friendly and adult friendly.

Posted: Mon May 19, 2008 8:53 am
by ellen
A very nice review, chapito. Thanks for taking the time.

Marival review

Posted: Tue May 20, 2008 5:40 pm
by kagnew64
Good read-informative and enjoyable


Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 9:03 pm
by nana4ou
Thanks for the review. We are going to be staying at the Marival the week of June 16th.....7 in our family and this was really informative. We are staying in a 3 bed suite, so hopefully it will be nice. Can't wait to get there!!!

Posted: Thu May 29, 2008 4:21 am
by chapito
Enjoy Nana4ou!

Posted: Thu May 29, 2008 2:45 pm
by nana4ou
Thanks Chapito.....we went to Cancun last year and just wanted to go to a different location this year. We stayed in a 2 story penthouse in Cancun with a beautiful view and all windows, beautiful furnishings and 4 master bedrooms and 5 baths....it was wonderful except the air didn't work the whole time we were there (7 hot days and nights), so you couldn't open the drapes to actually SEE the view, or find anywhere to get cool. Hopefully the Marival will have decent air cond. so we can get out of the heat at some point. Your message was very informative! I appreciate that very much.

Kagnew64.....we're Sooner fans too.....39 years and counting!