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My now-husband Tyler and I recently went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for our honeymoon and stayed at the all-inclusive resort Buenaventura Grand Hotel and Great Moments. If you’re looking at resorts in Puerto Vallarta, I’ll share my honest review of this hotel and our experience there.
What We Loved About It
The Buenaventura Grand is located in downtown Puerto Vallarta just before the city’s iconic Malecon boardwalk. This means you’re in the heart of town, and lots of great restaurants, shopping, bars, entertainment, and more are within walking distance – including Old Town Puerto Vallarta (also known as the Romantic Zone). You also have easy access to buses that can take you south and north of the city for daytime excursions. Of course, staying in the city isn’t for everyone, but if this sounds like something you’d enjoy, the Buenaventura’s location is unmatched.
The service here, particularly from the waitstaff in the restaurants, was incredible. Every time I go to Mexico, the kindness of the Mexican people is always one of the best parts. Every time we had a meal, the servers went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and cared for.
One of my favorite things about travel is the food, especially considering the food in other countries is way more fresh. With Puerto Vallarta, not only do you get access to authentic Mexican dishes, but you also can indulge in delicious seafood that would otherwise cost a fortune back home. The Buenaventura Grand’s food selection was impressive, but the access to fresh seafood really stood out for me. The food here was unbelievable, from ceviche, mussels, and seafood pasta at lunch to an entire night dedicated to seafood dishes. Other specific foods at the hotel we loved were the tortillas, soups, French toast, and fresh fruit (the papaya especially!). Honestly, though, there are so many great choices, including the two specialty restaurants, that you’ll never go hungry. And if you need a break from hotel food, just walk out the door, and you’ll find dozens of local restaurants in the city to check out.
The Honeymoon Suite
When traveling on a particularly special trip like a honeymoon, it’s nice to feel special. So we booked the honeymoon suite for this trip and were really happy with our room. The Buenaventura’s honeymoon suite included an ocean view room, private balcony, in-room jacuzzi, king-size bed, unlimited toiletries, and a complimentary mini-bar with daily refills on soda, water, and beer. Best of all, you could hear the ocean at night while you sleep – not a bad way to relax after a busy day. The only downside was that there was likely a second honeymoon suite across the hallway that had a better view that I had seen in pictures online. Also, the hotel advertises their honeymoon suite as including a canopy bed, but that isn’t accurate (it’s a standard King-size bed).
What Could Be Improved
Better Welcome at the Hotel
When we arrived in Puerto Vallarta, we took a bus from the airport to our hotel, but we weren’t entirely sure where to get off. As it turned out, we saw a couple of Buenaventura employees on our bus (they were wearing their work uniforms with the logo, which was how we knew). They were on their way to work and were more than happy to help us get there, even taking my luggage as we got off the bus and bringing it to the resort.
After a smooth check-in, though, we were immediately greeted by one of the timeshare salespeople. Somewhere along the lines, these hotels figured out that the word “timeshare” scares off people, but I knew that’s what the conversation was about. Here’s the thing: rather than trying to sell us a sales pitch, we would have preferred to be given a tour of the hotel grounds. No one explained to us where things were, particularly the specialty restaurants, and we felt kind of lost those first few days.
Daily activities at the Buenaventura are much like any resort, but the nightly entertainment left much to desired. The only night they had an actual “show” was the Mexican-themed night. Other than that, it was just music in the hotel lobby or sometimes karaoke. The nice thing about being downtown is that you can just go out on the town after dinner, but one thing I’ve always loved about all-inclusive resorts is the nightly entertainment. That being said, I think the resort’s location probably makes it difficult to stage nightly shows since they don’t have the space for a permanent stage area.
More Pool Access
OK. So this isn’t necessarily the resort’s fault, but it is something to keep in mind. Toward the end of our trip, the majority of guests at the resort switched from families with lots of kids to big groups of older adults who’d reserve a bunch of pool chairs for themselves as early as 8 in the morning. That means if you’re not the type to ‘reserve’ your chair at the crack of dawn, you may be out of luck if you want to lounge by the open pool areas. However, there were more available chairs on the beach, so when the pool areas were full, we’d just head down to the beach.
The Rockiness of the Beach
While the beach was lovely, if you plan to actually go in the water, you’ll probably want some water shoes as the ground there was very rocky. Again, this isn’t a fault of the resort itself, but if swimming in the ocean is a high priority, this could be a drawback.
More Dairy-Free Options
My husband is vegan, and while the hotel had some things he could eat, the options were very limited. So, if you have food restrictions like that, you should look at Puerto Vallarta hotels that are explicitly marketed to provide more vegan or dairy-free options.
Would I recommend the Buenaventura Grand Hotel and Great Moments for a honeymoon?
We had a great time regardless, but I would suggest looking into more romantic Puerto Vallarta hotels or even ones catered specifically for couples. The vibe at the Buenaventura was more fitting for families and groups of older adults. We were one of just a few couples here.
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About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and comedian who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Sleep Advisor, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com