"Great location, good service and food, best for kids."
My boyfriend and I visited Villa Del Palmar (VDP) during the week of New Year’s Eve and it was less than desirable to begin with. We arrived on 12/29/2012 that was our first mistake. We were properly prepared for the chaos at the airport, (a much nicer airport than Cabo San Lucas!) and we knew to avoid the men in white shirts (timeshare reps). We walked so fast through the timeshare area that we missed our pre arranged transportation with Olympus tours. When we got outside to where the taxis were, a very nice gentleman was able to find our transportation rep for us. Unfortunately the Olympus tours rep tried to set us up for a timeshare presentation in the disguise of needing to meet with the guy, on day 2 of your trip in order to get your return ticket for your ride to the airport. We did try to meet the Olympus tours rep in the lobby of VDP on day 2 at 1pm, but after waiting 15 minutes, we didn’t see the orange shirt, so we went back to the pool. It turns out the ride from the airport is 80 pesos ($7 US dollars), and like 15 minutes. So I don’t think it was necessary to arrange prior transportation like it is in Cabo San Lucas, where the airport is something like $50 US dollars each way. I don’t think they tell you this anywhere on the travel sites. So if given the option, I say you just take a taxi, they’re everywhere and very easy!
So we get to the hotel, we’re greeted by some nice staff who are trying to expedite the check in by taking your luggage and putting it in one place, and they promise you they will watch it for you. Our luggage was fine, but I kept my eye on it anyway. Also, on Saturday mornings only, they have a guy manning a beer stand in the lobby for the folks who have not checked in yet, and a cold beer for $2 US dollars sounds awesome! Unfortunately we came during one of the highest peak times of the year, so it took us over an hour to get through the check in line. I think there were 3 people at the desk. Again, we were weary of timeshare presentations, so as soon as we got our room keys, we declined any “welcome orientations.” It turns out it might have given us some information about when restaurants were open and what was included in our all inclusive meals, drinks, and shows.
About the all inclusive package: The food was either very good or very bad. The El Patron “Mexican food” restaurant was hit or miss. We thought the enchiladas with mole sauce was very good, and the shrimp fajitas. I also enjoyed the “shrimp and fish tacos” which were like mini chimichangas, deep fried and served with fresh guacamole. Everything else was too salty, too cheesy, soggy or just plain bad. And we are not picky eaters. The other restaurant (there’s really only 2 even though they say there is 3), the Cuciana Italiana was almost never open for lunch or dinner, but I think they combined it with the Market restaurant which was on the other side of the same restaurant, closer to the beach. They served breakfast buffet every day, which is part of the all inclusive, a huge buffet of fresh sliced melons, pineapple, papaya, and various breakfast items, eggs, sausage, ham, and some Mexican dishes, they also had fresh coffee and fruit juices. We were rarely at the hotel for lunch time, so can’t really comment on that. For dinner, the Market served a dinner buffet some nights, and they had an AMAZING dessert buffet. Like serious 5 star desserts, just beautiful and delicious. I loved the flan and the tiramisu. And there must be a great bread baker on staff as well, they always had fresh rolls and really good table bread. The last night we were there, we had a fantastic seafood meal (for some reason it wasn’t a buffet night). This might have been the only day we actually spent more than $50 each to properly take advantage of the all inclusive $50 per person per day. Be aware of the times the restaurants are open, see your check in card holder, a lot of good info on that insert. The whole food experience was very guess and check. Many of the other hotel guests were not on all inclusive, and they were usually repeat guests. That was a red flag that it is not worth the price. If only we had known the food at the Market restaurant was stellar, but only on Friday nights? We are still unsure, it is not posted anywhere we could find.
The drinks were pretty good, Eduardo at the bar was great. We were told by other guests that service is always very slow at the pool, so it’s best to just go get your own drinks at the bar. I generally drink whiskey and coke, however, sometimes when you’re laying out, there’s nothing quite like a pina colada! And we made sure to get a bottle of water with every meal, so we always had plenty of water on hand. The water in the rooms, and in the resort are said to be filtered, so the ice and water on tap should be good to drink. What is NOT included in all inclusive is the deli (good sandwiches!) which is located on the street side of the huge resort, and the market store, where you can buy anything you forgot for twice the price of the Sorianos which is another block South. Or if you prefer Walmart, there’s one about 2 blocks north of the hotel. I think next time we will skip the all inclusive package and just go to the Sorianos and pick up food and drinks. You can just bring a 12 pack of beer to the hot tub or pool, and they will not say anything. Also, it’s more fun to go downtown and eat street tacos or really authentic Mexican food!
More about the hotel. Due to the high volume of guests during the first part of our stay, the service was very slow, and it seemed like the food was worst. Once the New Year’s crowd left, the service got MUCH better, the staff was actually smiling, and we didn’t feel ignored. The rooms appeared to be clean... but my 2nd and 3rd night I woke up with multiple bug bites. We were never really in bug infested areas, so there was nowhere else that I could have picked it up. So I’m going to have to assume there were bed bugs. On the 3rd night, I felt the biting, so I woke up and pulled the sheets back and found a little black bug. Ew! So the next day we asked to speak to the manager, Claudia. She was barely apologetic, but she did switch our room rather quickly. We had originally signed up for a pool facing King sized bed, but we had a parking lot facing 2 double beds room – so we were switched to the correct room. The rest of the stay was rather uneventful, once we figured out where to eat, and I obsessively checked the bed for bugs every night, and made my boyfriend shower before climbing into bed from the beach. We also met a lot of fun people in the hot tub, great place to meet people if you’re just 2 people traveling on your own!
Anyway, sorry for the novel, but I wished we had known a lot of these things prior to our trip, but now you know! We would only stay at this hotel again unless we had kids and it was not peak season. For now, being late 20’s travelers with no kids, we might seek another hotel close by. And next time, go without the all inclusive package.
TravelingCouple04 from Sunnyvale, CA