Melia Vacation Club Puerto Vallarta
By David | Trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
“Not that bad, not that great”
We stayed at this location the first two weeks of December. We are a family of four with a 4 year old and a 6 year old and travel every year for the past ten years around this time. Overall we had a good time, but our experience was marred by numerous unpleasant experiences that gave a negative feel to the whole trip. Normally when we travel to an all inclusive, they have gotten our large chunk of money and then work to make us feel like kings and queens hoping we will return. But at the Melia, getting us there is just the first step at separating us from our money. Many services cost additional money and they seem to be trying to save money everywhere. Check in was quick and hassle free. However the first person who then greeted us was a time share person. All of the people at the 'concierge' desk are time share people. That was the first play for more of our money and it took 5 minutes after arriving. Fortunately we were advised by our friendly westjet rep and were able to steer clear. The hotel was only about a third full for our stay .. on several instances in the past other resorts have upgraded us to a room with bunk beds .. not bigger .. just bunk beds for the kids. But not here despite them being available. Unfortunately, to make reservations for the a la carte restaurants, you need to go to the time share desk every morning. Making these reservations was a challenge almost every single time. They are grumpy, don't smile and flat out say no often. We are all booked up for tomorrow night at 9.30am when the desk opens at 9.00am .. oh, we opened the reservation yesterday for no particular reason. We went to the restaurant anyway that night and it was empty and they seated us without reservation. Between 1 and 3 restaurants were open, and normally they were mostly empty, yet getting a reservation is like pulling teeth. This would be where the cost savings seem to come into play. If you just go and tip a bit, they will seat you every time. You may be thinking, we are buffet people anyways .. not at the Melia. The buffet is the second worst we have ever seen. We are not very fancy eaters. Literally 12 hot trays of food plus some salad, bread and deserts. The food quality is mediocre, the buffet decor is sad. Compared to say a Riu that would have 40 hot trays, it is pathetic. At breakfast the bacon was hidden under the counter at the egg station and felt like it was cooked in a deep fat fryer . hard as bacon bits and dry. We ate a la carte every night because there was little other choice. The food at the a la carte restaurants was very good, though often only about 5 choices of meal so it can get repetitive. Service at the a la cartes is very good especially Adrian. Do you like to have some drinks in the evening? Do you like to see the show? Can't say yes to both for the Melia. The only bar open after 6pm is the lobby bar. It is far from the show. We thought they would open the very nearby pool bar for the show but found it dark. With the kids show and adult show .. you are there for a while .. one drink is insufficient for most. Your kid wants some water or juice.. get walking. We suggested to the lobby staff the next morning that they should open the pool bar or bring out a simple cart .. they looked at us like we were crazy. But they were typically unhelpful with anything you asked of them. We ended up stealing hard plastic signs from the time share desk to use as trays to bring out some drinks. Oh and there is no bathroom at the show and it is quite a walk to the nearest one .. especially if it is pouring rain which happens on occasion. Have never had either of these problems ever before and you would be amazed at how annoying it is every night. We were told by the westjet guy that it is the entertainment staffs job to separate you from the food and drink to save money. Wow. That said, the shows were pretty entertaining. All of them were local shows put on by the local entertainment staff which is unusual, but they did a good job of it relying on creativity. Both us and the kids liked them. One night we saw a great example about how the Melia feels about its guests vs itself. The whole front row was reserved at the show. Sitting in the second row and on were many families with little kids. We thought maybe some families or the kids show kids were going to sit there or maybe they were needed for the show. Then right before it started, a bunch of big mexican men were ushered in wearing Melia dress shirts and sat down a wall in front of the families. Management was here to see the show and they were more important than the guests .. very typical feeling here. For those of you traveling with kids, the kids club was pretty entertaining for ours, however please make special note .. IT IS NOT SECURE. The first morning there, we left our kids inside with the ladies for a test .. came back a few minutes later and they were playing outside on the equipment. We poked our heads into the room and asked if they knew they still had custody of our kids .. they were like .. who? It is not a giant resort, we found we could trust both the 4 year old and 6 year old to find us nearby at the pool when they got bored and checked every half hour on them, but that might not work for everyone. The activities were fun, they brought them to lunch if they wanted to go at the nearby pool buffet, organized balloon fights, played mini put (which was nice cause mini put costs about 16$ for a family on their crappy little course ..incredible) But if you want to do some activities like paint a t-shirt, 10$ more .. always extra fees here and there. The pool was nice, good water temp, large, shallow areas for the kids, deeper areas for adults. There were not a lot of activities around the pool. Really just a couple a day .. like paper airplane tossing, soccer kicks, bingo .. nothing too engaging. Really kinda quieter than our normal trips .. verging on boring. You want to try that inflatable ball you see in the pics .. more money, the trampoline, more money .. you get the idea. The beach is ok but small, the waves often strong enough that kids need constant help. It is not really sandcastle sand. You can borrow a sea kayak, but they gave us a hard time telling us kids had to be 7 though that was not written anywhere. It is a big plastic boat and our kids had their own life jackets .. why? When we finally got one they had no problem. Just another little hassle. The climbing wall was a lot of fun, especially for our 6 year old whom they let try it despite needing to be 7 years old. Very safe, had harnesses for kids and .. get this .. no extra charge. Some of you may go on holidays to get away from things .. but we like to be able to keep in touch with home, friends and family. The lobby wifi was down more than it was up .. and I don't mean for hours .. one time it was down for 3 days straight. If you ask at the front counter, they are working on it. They will provide no additional details and are generally as unhelpful as they can be .. though they smile nicely at you. The lobby bar was a nice place to sit at night. Dj music most night, a live band sometimes on the weekend. Music goes down at 1130 at the latest and it get pretty sedate .. bring a speaker. Again, the bathroom manages to be hundreds of meters from the lobby bar .. weird layout. We would recommend the atv tour with Wild treks .. up a mountain with nice views. Good enbough ATVs Ziplining with them was good as well, but the lines are old and have too much slack making them slow .. the kids could not go alone because there weight was insufficient to get them across, never had that problem. The lines are long though and beautiful views. We were by ourselves for that which was nice. We had a decent time, the resort if far from brand new but not falling apart. We would have rated it higher if they hadn't found a way to annoy us almost every day rather than working hard to make our stay great. With the facilities they have, they could do a much better job but it really seems like they just don't want to.
The strong points The weak points
Share your story!
Had a great trip with the help of Just Travel Deals ?
Email it in (and any photo) to: email@example.com