February 9-12, 2013
Secrets Vallarta Bay & Now Amber Resort
It had been several years since I last visited Puerto Vallarta. While I know things have changed I also found that much of what I remembered was the same. Situated on a bay, with the mountains a perfect backdrop, makes this a unique resort destination. The quaint streets of the downtown area are fun to roam. The Malecon is a pedestrian street between the ocean and the downtown with different sculptures every so many feet. In the shops along the Malecon you can find lots of Mexican handicrafts that you won’t see on the Caribbean side of Mexico. Hand tooled leather goods, scarves, pottery and jewelry are handcrafted in Guadalajara, which is just a few hours away.
My home for 3 nights was the new Secrets Vallarta Bay (adult only) and its sister resort The Now Amber (family friendly). Each are separate resorts but share their speciality dining restaurants. The resorts are located in the “Hotel Zone” and are an easy 20 minute stroll into downtown. The transfer time from the airport is 10-20 minutes, depending on traffic.
The room layouts are similar but the color and decor is different. Both resorts are owned by AMResorts. What sets them apart from most all inclusive resorts is the services and amenities they offer. They do not use wristbands, do not require you to make reservations for dinner and, one of my favorites: you can use as many pool towels at a time as you want. Most resorts allow you to use one pool towel and you have to turn in your towel card at the end of your stay or pay $25. These nice touches along with 24 hour room service makes for a real vacation.
A few other nice touches about these two resorts are the dining options. Breakfast is served buffet style with a choice of indoor or outdoor seating. With the sun rising in the east and coming over the mountain, this area is shaded in the morning allowing for a nice breakfast outside. The buffet options were plentiful with fresh juices, cheese station, waffle station, omelet station, cereal, fruits, meats….. Lunch options include the buffet, outdoor restaurant by the beach with wait service or the poolside grill. Dinner options included the buffet and several speciality restaurants. I found the food and service to be top notch.
The rooms are all Jr Suites with comfortable beds and plenty of space to spread out. Each room has a Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom, walk-in rain shower and double vanities. Garden view rooms are located on floors 1-3 with most having a partial ocean view. Swim-out rooms are an option at both resorts, along with a Preferred Club section. Preferred Club rooms are slightly larger with an upgraded mini-bar, special lounge with a concierge desk, bar, snacks and computers. All rooms come with free Wi-Fi (although slow) and free calls to the states. They also have an App that allows you to make spa reservations, contact each other via cell phone and many other features while a guest of the resort.
Both resorts offer many activities each day and night including yoga on the beach, kayak tour, beach volleyball, scuba diving clinic, water aerobics, ping pong, kitchen tour, dance lessons and many more. Both resorts have 3 pools. Secrets offers two quiet pools and one with a swim-up bar. The music is low key. The Now Amber has a baby pool, sports pool and main pool with a swim-up bar. The music at the main pool is more lively. Guests of Secrets have full exchange privileges of the Now Amber but Now Amber guests can only use the speciality dining restaurants at Secrets.
My time here was short so I did not take an excursion but there is much to do and see. To name a few: ATV adventure, swim with dolphins, zip-lining, whale watching, rock climbing, horseback riding, golf, and visiting quaint colonial cities.
While the beaches on the Pacific coast are not sparkling white and the water is not that amazing shade of turquoise like the Caribbean side, it has its own special beauty and you cannot beat the sunsets. To view my pictures of the resorts and downtown Puerto Vallarta click on the link to our Facebook page.