Review Detail

4.0 1 0.5
Wonderful Family Resort
Overall rating
Hotel Condition
Service & Staff
Room Comfort/ Cleanliness
We stayed at the Marival Resort & Suites June 17 – 24 and had a wonderful time. We are a family of 6 with kids ages 15, 12, 9, and 3. We were there celebrating my parents 50th wedding anniversary. We traveled with my parents as well as my brother, who is in a wheelchair.

Getting to the resort: We opted for a private transfer for all 9 of us booked through Amstar. It was great. Upon exiting the airport, they were right there waiting for us holding a sign with our name on it and quickly ushered us to our ride. We were at the resort in 15 minutes.

Check In: Check in was a breeze! We arrived around 4:00 PM. I had read so many horror stories about the timeshare people that kind of put me off to the resort. However, I emailed the general manager prior to our trip, and requested that we not be approached by any time share representatives. We were all given our bracelets at check in and were never once approached by any sales staff. If you are concerned about the timeshare people, just email and ask them to put on your reservation that you do not want to be approached, and you won’t be. We never once felt like we were treated any differently for not attending their presentation. We made our way to our room and the bellboys quickly followed with our luggage.

The Room: We stayed in Building 10, room 111 in the club section. It was a 2 bedroom, 3 bathroom suite and was absolutely perfect for our needs. Each of the two bedrooms had a king sized bed and attached bathroom. There was a double sofa sleeper in the living room. We did request a rollaway bed ahead of time so two kids didn’t have to share the sofa sleeper. While it wasn’t the fanciest room, it was clean and everything worked as expected. The A/C worked fantastic and we had no issues keeping the room cool. While it wasn’t an oceanfront room, we had a great view of the ocean from each of the balconies if looking to the right. The 2 bedroom suites are on the second floor, as well as the master bedroom being up yet another set of stairs, so you do have to deal with steps. It really wasn’t that big of a deal for us. Would it have been convenient to have a ground floor room or an elevator? Yes, certainly. Was it an issue that would keep us from booking that room again? No.

The Resort: The only all inclusive resort that we had to compare this to was Sandals Grande Antigua, which my wife and I went to in January to celebrate our 20th anniversary. At first we were a little disappointed in some of the upkeep and cleanliness of the resort, but when we thought about what we were comparing it to, and realized that at 1/3 the cost of Sandals, it really was quite good.

The Beach: The beach was FANTASTIC! The sand was wonderful, it very gradually sloped in to the ocean. No big drop offs. The ocean had to have been 80+ degrees. It was the perfect temperature. The first morning we were there, I went out to the beach to reserve chairs for us under palapas. I soon realized that this was not necessary. There were PLENTY of palapas with chairs available all day long. It was a complete non-issue finding shade on the beach. The vendors were plentiful, but never a nuisance. If you just shook your head no or said no thank you, they left you alone and didn’t pester you at all. The kids LOVED the free boogie boards that we could check out and spent hours on them.

The Pools: We spent most of our non-beach time at the activities pool and the kids pool (with the water slides). Our 3 year old (almost 4) spent HOURS on the water slides. Our other children loved the activities pool, especially being able to swim up to the bar and order countless kiddie drinks. They also enjoyed the bingo and water aerobics activities. The water was clean, clear, and warm. It WAS difficult however finding a chair under an umbrella. We found that those were almost all reserved with towels or personal items every morning. We are more beach people anyways, so we stuck to the palapas on the beach near the steps up to the activities pool and just went back and forth. Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, at the activities pool they bring out the big inflatable bubble ball for the kids to be inside. The first 8 kids in line near the bar a little before 4:00 will get tokens to do it. The kids loved it!

The Food: I have read reviews beforehand by people who loved the food, and people who absolutely hated the food. So we didn’t really know what to expect. We had some fantastic meals, and some not so fantastic meals, so I’d say our dining experiences were right in the middle. Totally acceptable and nobody ever went hungry or didn’t find something they liked. We alternated our breakfasts between La Pergola and the Casa Bella buffet. We actually liked them both pretty equally. Much of the same food available in both places. I will say that my children were enamored with the Choco Zucaritas cereal. We don’t have chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmellows here in the states! For our lunches, we ate at both Piazzetta dei Forni as well as La Bamba. It was just more convenient since we were in our swim wear and wet. We preferred Piazzetta de Forni the most. The wood oven pizza there wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was decent. The burgers were much better than I expected they would be and the kids especially enjoyed the French fries and chips and guacamole, as well as the gelato stand. Since we were there a week, we were allowed to make 3 reservations at the a-la-carte restaurants. We chose Las Palomas, Amalfi, and La Pergola. We enjoyed all three, however, as you’ve probably read in other reviews, Amalfi was absolutely without a doubt the best. I had made our dinner reservations via email a week before and made a special mention that it was my parent’s 50th anniversary. We had chosen Amalfi for the exact date of their anniversary and we were treated like royalty! We were given the option of ordering off the menu, or a special 5 course meal that had been put together. Since we had many varying tastes we decided to order off the menu. Everything was absolutely fantastic. They even brought out a special dessert plate for my parents in honor of their anniversary, with candles and everything. I was very impressed. Our other dinners were at Casa Bella and while the food wasn’t nearly as good, everybody found something to eat and nobody went hungry. One of our favorite nights was the fiesta on Tuesday night. The food was fantastic and the children ate multiple fresh churros. They were amazing!

The Bars: One question I seem to see often is about the kinds of beer. On tap at the swim up bars, there is Modelo Especial and Modelo Negra. At the restaurants they told me it was Corona they had on tap. I was also able to get bottles of Victoria at Las Palomas. We put a dollar tip in our room fridge and without even asking for it, they stocked it with cans of Corona and Pacifico. The mixed drinks did seem a little light on alcohol. If you like your drinks stronger, just ask for more booze in it.

Tipping: That was one question that I had prior to coming that I found so many varying answers for in the other reviews I didn’t know what to expect. For our maid, we left $3 per day on the kitchenette table with a note thanking her. Typically left $1 in the fridge every day for the person who stocks it. At the Casa Bella, we usually left $2-$3 for the person who was getting us beverages and taking plates away. At the a-la-carts we typically left $7 - $10. At the bars, if we were getting just one drink, or if the kids were ordering by themselves, we didn’t always tip. It didn’t affect service much but if you did have $1 in your hand, it seemed you got helped a little faster. If I was getting multiple drinks for my whole family, then I would always tip $1-$2. We also tipped the bellboys a couple dollars. I don’t know how acceptable our amounts were, but nobody seemed upset or offended and we didn’t feel like we received any less service based on our tip amounts.

Shows: We attended only a couple shows, the Las Vegas show as well as the Frozen (Winterland) show. They were fun and we enjoyed them. ½ hour before each show, they have a mini event for the kids which our youngest two really enjoyed participating in.

Kids Club: Our three youngest REALLY enjoyed spending 1-2 hours each day participating in the kids club activities. Reuben, Estephania, and Adriana were FANTASTIC with our kids! Do not hesitate to leave your children in their care for a few hours each day.

Other Tips: Just a few other tips/tricks that we learned about that I wish had been in some of the other reviews. 1) The concierge will print your boarding passes for you. Free. 2) The bungee trampoline costs 50 pesos if your purchase a ticket at the front desk, or $4 if you want to pay cash directly to the activities person running it. All 4 kids did it and LOVED it. 3) Wheelchair accessibility was really not an issue for my brother. Every place with stairs had ramps as well for wheelchairs. Some them a little steep, but nothing unmanageable. It would have been nice if they had some beach wheelchairs and a ramp to the beach. It was a little difficult getting my brother on to the beach but we managed. 4) There is a small laundry room by the gym. You can get tokens for 40 pesos for the washer and dryer. You will need your own laundry soap. They worked well. 5) Paparazzi photographers were fantastic. We hired them for family pictures as a gift to my parents for their anniversary. They did a very nice job and we were very pleased with the pictures. 6) The free wifi in the Club Lobby isn't very good, but will get the job done for checking emails etc.

Family Size

Family Size
Family of 6
Age of Children
14, 12, 9, 3
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