Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Puerto Vallarta: The Bad and The Buggy

Funny how, the more of a distant memory your vacation becomes, the less you can think of to complain about! Sort of like a twist on that adage, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder!"

Actually, there really were only a "few" things that I'd put under "the bad"; unfortunately, they WERE pretty bad (at least they seemed so at the time). But, for those of you who may ever go to Villa del Palmar in Puerto Vallarta (or, just to Puerto Vallarta), I owe it to you to let ya know!

The Rooms
Although they were not dirty by any stretch of the imagination, the rooms were not the best (and I can say "rooms" since we ended up in two of them!) I don't know; the best way to put it is they were "tired" looking; dated, "frayed around their edges". The furniture was banged up, light fixtures didn't work or work well, the lighting in the bathroom was simply awful (in one room, the vanity lights on the mirror didn't work), the mirrors in the bathrooms were chipped and scratched, and, if you looked up at the ceiling in the bathroom, you'd see a bunch of loose ceiling tiles and a lot of mold. So, the overall condition was just sorta "blah".

Also, we didn't really care for the layout of the room. Our unit in Cabo is great; you walk in, there is a large kitchen, dining room and living room which leads out to the lanai. There is also a full bath off the kitchen. To the right of the dining room is the door to the master bedroom which is huge; has its own lanai and another full bathroom (including a Jacuzzi tab and double vanity sinks). This one bedroom units at Villa del Palmar leave a lot to be desired. First off, they are small. The kitchen is more of a galley kitchen, there is only one bathroom (single vanity) and the master bedroom (which does not have the bathroom in it) is located near the front door, which means it gets all the noise from the hallways and it obviously does not have its own lanai.

Finally, although we understand the maids are not responsible for washing dishes and cleaning out the kitchen sink or coffee pot or anything like that (it IS a timeshare, after all), you'd think they'd at least leave dish soap and paper towels in the room!

A Few of the Other Guests
In our first room, we had to deal with loud, noisy kids (late teens/early twenties) who were staying a room or so away. They'd come home late at night/early in the morning yelling and screaming and pounding on doors and slamming doors, talking loudly out in the hallway, etc. Thankfully, they checked out the 3rd morning we were there (I was primed to call security on them AND we ended up moving to the other room, anyway, due to the chain-smoking dudes next door.

, this is not a rant against smokers, but, honestly, I don't think these dudes ever stopped smoking. Plus, they were definitely smoking IN their room, which was a big no-no. We walked out of our room one morning while their door was open...UGH. And, then, every morning, afternoon and evening, we were treated to their constant cigarette smoke wafting over from their lanai to ours. Finally, we had enough and requested to be moved to another room which ended up being far, far away from them. I suppose, in a way, we have them to thank for being switched to what turned out to be a better room in the long run.

At our 2nd room, our neighbors were much more tolerable. The worst thing we had to put up with from them was their children running around excitedly and slamming doors. But, the parents were friendly; the night before we left, they leaned over the wall from their lanai to ours with beer in hand and said "Salute!"

Constant Timeshare, Restaurant and Activity Come-Ons
From pretty much the moment we arrived, we were hit with a barrage of what I refer to as "Timeshare Vampires" or "Timeshare Ghouls" pestering us to take them up on a variety of "free" offers just for sitting through a timeshare presentation. And, the folks at our own resort were no different, even though we already own! It's the same in Cabo, so, I can't really lay it all as a "bad" for our vacation to Puerto Vallarta, but, I will say that it did seem worse to me in Puerto Vallarta.

For starters, we got caught by two different Timeshare Vampires on our way out of the airport. Both of them were standing under a sign that had several resorts on it, including ours. So, although we know to steer clear in Cabo and sail on past, we got a bit confused by the signs and thought we were supposed to speak to them about our transportation. Well, of course not, silly people! On both occasions, they out and out lied to us, telling us our transportation to the resort would not leave for 50 minutes. Then, on to the spiel. I was fairly rude to the first guy and he, in turn, got a bit belligerent with me. I didn't even listen to the second guy, not really; finally, Mr. B told him I had to find a bathroom so we left (and kept the map he gave us which actually turned out to be a good one of the area). Of course, the moment we escaped, we found our transportation waiting for us.

At the resort, we got the high pressure pitch to attend a "Member Meeting". We got suckered into this in Cabo last year so knew exactly what it REALLY was; a presentation in hopes that you will either upgrade your unit size or your season. We said no about ten times before she let it go.

And, throughout our stay in general, wherever we went, there were either Timeshare Ghouls or other people constantly yakking at you as you walked by them. The mall, Wal-Mart, the Malecon, outside our resort, etc. About the only place we didn't run into someone trying to sell us something was in the taxi cabs or on the bus!

Both of Us Getting Sick
This is probably an obvious "bad" but I thought about putting it under "buggy"! Ok, yeah, Mr. B started to feel under the weather Saturday morning. The type of under the weather the requires one to stay close to a bathroom. Then, it "hit" me Sunday morning; at first I thought it was "too much tequila" but, no; it lingered. And lingered. And lingered. Although we eventually felt better, it never quite went away (and, frankly, poor Mr. B felt bad enough to go to the doctor this past Monday to get some antibiotics). Me, I'm "hanging tough" (for now).

Anyway, we've thought a lot about what it could have been that made us both ill. And, perhaps it wasn't even the same thing/happened at the same time. We've narrowed it down to either something we both ate at La Dolce Vita (and Italian restaurant we hit on the Malecon Friday afternoon); this because Mr. B got ill Friday night/early Saturday. Or, perhaps it was the ice melting in our drinks. We'll we will likely never know (unless it doesn't go away and we have to have tests done or something).

Suffice it to say, it certainly put a damper on the middle of our vacation, and, as a result, we really didn't get out to see and do as much as we would have otherwise. Thank God the pool area was so nice, but, after we both got sick, we played it safe and only ordered beer or made drinks in our room with ice made from purified water.

The Dampness
It was very humid it Puerto Vallarta. I mean, HUMID. I've already mentioned Mr. B almost melting on the bus, that was due primarily to the humidity. Combined with the constantly running A/Cs (and the condensation from them), this meant EVERYTHING on or around us always felt damp and limp. It took bathing suits forever to dry, even hanging on a clothes line in the bathroom. The books we were reading, the journal I was writing in, the tour guides, maps, etc. all had clingy damp limp pages. After a while, I just felt slimy!

Prime Rib Night at the Resort
We never would have done this had we been feeling better, but, we both thought perhaps some good old fashioned protein was what the doctor would order. Plus, neither one of us wanted to venture too far away from the resort Sunday night.

First off, it was pretty expensive for prime rib, potato, and spinach ($28; for another $10, we could have received salad OR soup, coffee OR tea (yeah, who drinks coffee or tea at dinner at a freaking RESORT?) and dessert. We didn't want all of that, so we stuck to the $28. Per person, I might add).

So, I ordered my meat medium rare (I usually order my steaks rare but I didn't want to take a chance of getting even sicker). Well, I should have ordered it rare and maybe it would have come back medium. What I got was pretty much medium well. Barely any pink. It had decent enough flavor at first, but, after about 1/3 of it (and it started to cool off), it tasted dry and dusty. Mr. B said his was "better". The spinach was ok except they'd cooked it with a ton of diced bacon which made me leery. Get this; I ordered mashed potatoes and they were INSTANT! Yeah, I remember that taste from my starving student college days! Mr. B got a baked potato, which was a small Yukon gold. He said it tasted pretty good, but, it was tiny!

On top of this, it took FOREVER to get the food. Wasn't this prime rib night? Shouldn't they have been more prepared? It wasn't as if the restaurant was overly crowded, either. And, hell, they made instant mashed potatoes; that takes, like, 3 minutes! They brought us a complimentary dessert because we'd had to wait so long, but, it was some frozen Sarah Lee tart thing; the best thing about that was the ice cream served along with it.

Finally, one of the other guests had a small baby with her that started shrieking and screaming at the top of its lungs. After about 20 minutes of this, she finally got up and took him out.

So, yeah, definitely a "bad" experience for which we got to fork out $56 (plus money for drinks that were not that great, either).

The Bugs
Ok, this SHOULD go under "the buggy" but, since it's the only entry I have for that now (having assigned getting sick and the Timeshare Vampires "bugging" us to "the bad"), I'll put it here and wrap this up in two posts!

Yeah, bugs. Everywhere. Mostly flies, which are my all-time least favorite bug (even over bees and spiders). Well, these were nasty flies that I'm pretty sure were also biting us (them or perhaps a smaller cousin). The flies were the worst during meal times; it seemed we just couldn't escape them. One particular gross out moment I recall was seeing one fly crawl down inside my orange juice glass and "taste" the juice. Suffice it to say, I let him have it!

Well, this seems like a lot of "bad" but, spread out over 7 days, it really isn't. Plus, I DID focus only on "the good" in my last post!

Bottom line; would we ever go back to Puerto Vallarta? Yeah, there is a chance that we might BUT, we would definitely stay at their other resort, which is supposedly newer, more upscale and has a better beach. The only drawback is that it is further away from "town", but, hey, with transportation being so cheap (and our tendency to send a lot of time at the resort, anyway), that might not be all bad.

Our next "big" vacation is to a Lawrence Welk resort in Escondido, California (near San Diego) at the end of October. I'm already starting the planning process!

Mrs. B


Mr. B said...

And don't forget about the bathroom plumbing issues in the first room. What a pain!!!

But, as bad as I felt I would still go back - to the other Villa del Palmar resort.

Mrs. B said...

Well, imagine that! I didn't remember all of "the bad". Yeah, that was a icky situation, but, they did send up maintenance/house cleaning quickly.

I guess I forgot to include it here because I put it in my huge Trip Advisor review!

* a . n . a . l . e . e * said...

by the way, how are your bellies doing?

Mrs. B said...

MUCH better, thanks for asking!