After pouring over these boards and fretting about my choice in hotels, I have to stay I was over the moon about my trip. Maybe expecting the worst helps your outlook. Anyway, used TRanscabo airport transfers that I had booked a few days earlier for $68 one way only. Took an hour to get to hotel b/c we dropped others off first. Check-in was somewhat confusing. There is a concierge and various trip/timeshare sales promoters in the lobby, so it's hard to know where to go. Our reservation wasn't on the list, so I proceeded to front desk where I showed my confirmation. I had emailed a request for upper level with view and asked again at check in. I was told there were no luxury suites available with that and since it was only 1pm, rooms weren't ready, but she would continue to look. We got our bracelets and had lunch at Prestos on the marina. Probably my least favorite. (pasta & pizza) Once we got back they had given us room 119, which was bottom floor, right by pool and older room. Nothing I requested. They showed me a non-luxury suite on the 3rd floor that was renovated and we took it. I guess "luxury" is considered to have the full kitchen and pull out couch, but the newer room was definitely better and it was equipped with micro and mini fridge. Shower much nicer as well. And a beautiful view. I blame this more on Travelocity though, b/c my booking didn't up. Otherwise, I may have gotten my room request to start with. Whatever. Check-in day is always stressful and nerves are shot. From then on, it was wonderful. Who can't be happy with clear blue skies, palm trees, and unlimited tequila?
All-Inclusive: REally though, the all-inclusive was better than expected. I was preparing myself for bad food and limited choices, but the bartender and waiters were there to accomodate. Sangrias, Mimosas, Pina Coladas, My Thais, Ticket to Fly, Bahama Mamas,rum & coke, margaritas,...hotel breakfast buffet was adequate. Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, some Mexican dishes, french toast, pancakes, cereal, fruit, yogurt, juice, coffee, and of course, salsa. We would hit Jack's on some days. Great french toast and shrimp omelettes.
We loved the Tequila Museum for our daily fix at 3pm of chips, salsa, and guacomole. We had dinner there the last night as well. TAco salad was huge and someone in our group got shrimp & chorizo fondita that came out in a giant sizzling pig crock. And more sangrias. We had lunch at Imomo one day for California rolls and noodle dishes. Not bad. We also ate at Jacks for dinner where the rib-eye was good and they had surprisingly good cheese sticks. The brownie/ice cream combo wasn't so much. Very dry and bland. Desserts don't seem to be their thing, though the hotel dinner buffett had a decent coconut flan cake one night.
Baja Lobster was a little disappointing in the choices. We knew the lobster would be $40 extra, but on top of that, the waiter told us all-inclusive had it's own menu and proceeded to point out an item from each category that we could choose. A specific salad, a choice of 2 entrees, and a dessert. But the food was excellent that we did get. Also, the ticket signing was no big deal to us, just like signing for a credit card receipt and often, they would let it go at the bar. The service could be considered a bit slow, but I think it's more they don't rush you out. INstead, you have to tell them you're ready for the ticket and they promptly get it to you. I loved the open air and outdoor seating, unlike the Midwest where every building is frozen in air-conditioning. AI is definitely worth it for someone like me who wouldn't be buying fruity cocktails or spluring on mid-day snacks if I hadn't already paid for it. Plus, if you plan on buying lots of drinks, you're money ahead.
Room: Tile floor, decent beds, small built in couch. Flat screen TV and newer furniture. A glass table and chairs near balcony. A newer, small kitchenette area and full length mirror that my daughter used as her getting ready area. With all-inclusive, there's no need for a full kitchen. The fridge was stocked daily with Cokes, beer, and waters and it's free for all inclusive. Bathroom has decent sized closet, then separate shower/toilet area. Big, all tile shower and rainhead faucet with glass door. Water stayed hot too. It was a little noisy. 3rd floor had to be better than first, but you could still hear alot. People running, yelling, etc...no loud music though. And it was Spring Break.
The Marina: Beautiful and fun to stroll around. Yes, lots of vendors, even children coming up to you with a basket of small toys, but just say no thank you and keep moving. It's part of the culture. No high pressure. I actually bought a silver bracelet for $10 and gave a child a dollar. Didn't anger me at all. The mall is nice. There is Johnny Rockets, Ruths Chris, Harley shop, Lacoste, Nike and some others. If you're looking to watch American sports, the Mango Cantina has big screens and covered the NCAA games. Lots of cool outdoor restaurants/bars.
Downtown: A few blocks walk and you're there. The teens like the clubs that sit in a row. Squid Roe, The TAvern, Baja something. There are drink specials and the staff does everything possible to get people in there. Squid Roe is the dance place though, with 2 floors and hip hop hits. Lots of Pit Bull, being Cuban. Many pharmacies throughout and I got a tube of .01 Retin A (the strongest) and a bottle of Amoxicillin for $49. The prices were all similar to other pharmacies and this guy wasn't going to come down. Instead he split the 2 pack of Amoxicillin so I could afford it. We also watched some games at Desperados and had sopapillas. Although a little seedy from the marina to the main town strip, it isn't far and there are so many people, you don't really feel uneasy. A few blocks down from the main action and it's kind of dirty and sketchy.
Pesos: We didn't use them much. I did exchange $20 for 4 50 pesos, so I could tip the maid every day, but other than that, it didn't seem to matter. Don't think I would have came out ahead for as little extra money as we spent. We just tipped $1 for every drink or two and left ones or fives for the meals. Didn't want to come back with a bunch of pesos I couldn't use.
The Beach: We walked behind the hotel, up the sidwalk and down an alley to get to the beach. As soon as you hit the sand, you're accosted by vendors. It's worse here than anywhere. They're selling boat tours, jet ski rental, parasailing, jewelry, hats, dishes, etc...You can hardly go 5 yards down the beach. I wouldn't have wanted to stay on the beach all week. There is a string of bars/restaurants with lots of partiers. Being spring break, it was to be expected. They had a push up contest and a booty shak'n contest when we were there. They also had $1.50 hot dog with fixings bar. Staff are quick to pull you into a table, put a lanyard over your head, slap a bracelet on you and serve you a drink just to get you in there.
Lands End (the arc) We did the glass bottom boat tour for $8/each and it was awesome. The arch is alot closer to the beach than I realized, just a short jaunt over there, but the sights are amazing and the guides tell you all the inside facts and superstitions. They dropped us off at Lover's Beach and picked up another group, then came back for us, giving us time to take pictures. People were snorkeling from a nearby cruise ship and a few were climbing on the rock formations projecting from the sea. Our guy gave us bread so we could feed the amazing colorful fish that are there. We also saw napping sea lions lounging on the rocks. A must-do excursion.
Pool: Get up early to reserve chairs, like 8am. I would get a towel and then eat breakfast. You snooze you loose, what can you do? People who get up early to get a prime chair deserve it. Now holding it all day while you're in your room is another thing, but by afternoon, many chairs were available anyway, as the early risers move on to something else by then.For spring break, it was still a mixed crowd. Some frat guys taking shots at bar and middle aged couples lying in lounge chairs. Not really that crowded.And it's pretty dark and quiet in the evening. Pool was nice and clean and refreshing. I could spend every afternoon with my book, sangria, blue skies and the palms overhead.
Checkout: We had no room charge discrepancies. Just watch for others in your party charing tips on the slip. Stick to cash tips only and there shouldn't be a problem. And you'll quickly learn what drinks are included. A group of college kids in front of us had all kinds of problems, but I think that came from having individuals trying to split the bill, not remembering who charged what, and no one wanting to pay. We booked transfer back for $18 each from the concierge and all went fine there.
There weren't any other hotels near us so I would definitely stay there again. You can't beat the location. We could go to the beach, walk the marina, or head downtown. And the view is fantastic.So much to do and see from this place.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC