Adults Only All Inclusive Resort Review: Valentin Imperial Maya, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Valentin Imperial Maya
We just returned from five nights at the Valentin in a deluxe junior suite.

Transfer: our trip started out on a positive note with the excellent transfers from Expedia. Driver Juan was prompt, polite, and drove a spotlessly clean van. I will stick with Expedia for all future transfers. Transfer back to the resort was equally smooth and efficient.

Beautiful but very large resort. You will definitely get in your 10,000 steps per day here. Well maintained, spotlessly clean.

Best pool I’ve ever been to at an all inclusive resort, but the water was not very cool on our trip due to the high temperatures; music was very loud near the center swim up bar, but there are quieter spots near either end of this very large pool. Two swim up bars, lazy river type of layout with three fountains.

Appeared to be plenty of pool chairs until about 11 am, but if you want a shady spot, you will need to play the towel game and go reserve your spot before 9 am. I observed one prime shady spot with towels that was unoccupied all day until about 3:30 pm, then a young couple arrived. I overheard them say they had spent the day at the beach. Another irritating thing at the pool was the rude thoughtless guests who felt they had to reserve their pool float by taking it back to their chair or sliding it under their chair. The pool floats should remain in the water for anyone’s use. Please don’t be one of those people.

Playa Del Carmen: our taxi into Playa was $27 one way, $28 on the way back. The hotel offers transportation for $18 per person round trip, but you must come and go at the two preset time periods (10:30 am to 2:30 pm or 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm).

Show: we made it to only one show, the Michael Jackson impersonator. Was very entertaining.

Pros:

Beach: beautiful sandy beach. A little rocky near the center, which is where the Privilege cabanas are, but when you get to the beach, turn left and walk past the Privilege cabanas, where you will find more chairs and cabanas for the “regular” guests as well as a better area for wading. When we went, the red flags were out, the water was rough, we could barely stand up. We spent only a couple hours at the beach before returning to the pool.

No need to worry about pool towel cards, wristbands, or restaurant reservations (except for the Japanese hibachi grill, see below comments)

Room, very happy with our deluxe junior suite on the third floor of building 4 (4314). We could walk directly out the back of our building to the pool, and were close to the restaurants. We never did use the balcony or the jacuzzi tub. The ocean front buildings (9 thru 14) are the farthest from the lobby and restaurant area, you would need grab a shuttle/golf cart. The swim up room buildings (6,7,8) looked very nice and had their own bar and snacks area. If you are so inclined, the free television lineup includes two porn channels.

Availability of canned beer such as Bud Light, Coors Light, Tecate Light, Dos Equis

All the food was excellent. We tried the steak and seafood restaurant, the Japanese restaurant, and the Italian restaurant. Just a minor point but I appreciated the crispy bacon at the breakfast buffet instead of the under cooked, greasy breakfast meats we’ve usually found. When you go to breakfast, try to get seated in the air conditioned room off to the right.

Coconut shrimp at the seafood restaurant

One of the best couples massages we’ve ever had

Restaurant server and captain-in-training Diego was great and made our visit much more pleasant. My first beer at the seafood restaurant was a little on the room temperature side, and when I mentioned it, he placed three Bud Lights on ice especially for me

Poolside lunch, offerings varied from day to day between soft tacos and cheeseburgers, but it would have been nice to have some sort of side dish like fries or chips.

Cons:

Teppanyaki style dining at the Ginger Japanese restaurant; good luck trying to get a reservation, very inefficient system. You must go in person to one of the six concierges located at various buildings around the resort beginning at 9 am. You cannot make advance reservations unless you have the “Privilege” package. When you arrive at 9am, there will already be a line for the concierge. He/she then must call in via phone to the main reservation place, so all 6 concierges around the resort are all calling the same number at one time. Only one employee someplace is actually logging all the reservations. All spots for that day will be gone in a few minutes. Unless you are first in line, forget it. One guy I spoke to in line said it was his fifth day in a row trying to make a reservation, so on this day he had several friends strategically placed in different concierge spots around the resort. The day I was in line (third in line), no one at my location (building 7 concierge) got a reservation because our concierge never was able to get through on the reservation number.

The room AC seemed to be working, but never got the room really cool like we like it. The ceiling fan was necessary to keep the room at a reasonable temperature.

Mini bar: same as with the room AC, it never got the drinks cold. If you like your beer cold, you will need to put some on ice in the ice bucket. An ice machine is available in each building.

Service in the Italian restaurant was very slow, took about 30 minutes to get our appetizer

While we would not hesitate to go back to the Valentin, we enjoy going somewhere different on each vacation. We’d like to try Secrets Silversands, El Dorado, or the Royal next time.

Gary and Estelle

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What’s the #1 hotel in Mexico? Read reviews & find hotel deals on TripAdvisor!

More Awards for AMResorts (Dreams, Secrets, Now, Zoetry, Sunscape)

AMResorts

AMResorts Continues Award-Winning Tradition with More Industry Recognition for its Luxury Brands–58 awards won year to-date in 16 categories

AMResorts (Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, and Secrets, Dreams, Now and Sunscape Resorts & Spas) continues to receive the travel industry’s most important distinctions by demonstrating high levels of performance and exceptional guest services.  In 2012, AMResorts’ five brands have received 58 awards in 16 categories, with the most recent awards including the prestigious Travel + Leisure 2012 World’s Best Awards and the Expedia Insiders’ Select 2012. Other award highlights include four Conde Nast Traveler: 2012 Gold List designations and seven 2012 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. Below is a list of the most recent accolades received by the resort collection this year:

  • Travel + Leisure 2012 World’s Best Awards 
    • Secrets Marquis Los Cabos, Top Resorts in Mexico
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Top Resorts in Mexico
    • Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, Top Resorts in the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas
  • Expedia Insiders’ Select 2012
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun
    • Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay
    • Secrets St. James Montego Bay
    • Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa
  • TravelAge West 2012 Wave Awards
    • Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, Best New Property or Major Renovation Caribbean
  • Distinctive “H” Award 2012
    • Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa, Food Hygiene
  • TripAdvisor 2012 Certificate of Excellence
    • Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya, Zoëtry Casa Del Mar Los Cabos, Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana, Secrets Marquis Los Cabos, Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, Secrets St. James Montego Bay, Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa, Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort& Spa, Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta, Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa, Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa, Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa, Now Jade Riviera Cancun, Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun, Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa   
  • 2012 MDC Magazine: The Meeting Planners Magazine
    • Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya, Top 20 Small Luxury Hotels in Mexico for Meetings for 2012
  • Conde Nast Traveler: 2012 Reader’s Choice: Top Spas
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Top 20 Spas in Mexico & Central America (#6)
    • Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, Top 20 Spas in Mexico & Central America (#16)
  • 2012 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Top 25 All Inclusive Resorts in the World (#14) and Top 25 All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico (#5)
    • Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Top 25 Trendiest Hotels in Mexico (#8) and Top 25 Best Relaxation/Spa Hotels in Mexico (#14)
    • Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, Top 25 All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico (#17)
    • Zoëtry Casa Del Mar Los Cabos, Top 25 Best Relaxation/Spa Hotels in Mexico (#20)
    • Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, Top 25 Hotels for Families in the Caribbean
  • Conde Nast Traveler: 2012 Gold List
    • Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun
    • Secrets Marquis Los Cabos
    • Secrets Capri Rivera Cancun
  • Travelocity Excellence Award Winners 2011
    • Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Secrets St. James Montego Bay, Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, Adults Only All-Inclusive
    • Dreams Cancun Resort & Spa, Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa, Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa, Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa, Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa, All-Inclusive

Related: New Secrets Puerto Los Cabos (Adults Only, All-Inclusive) Opening November 2013
Related: New Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta and Now Amber Puerto Vallarta
Related: Secrets Resorts — There’s an app for that!
Related: New Secrets Adults Only All Inclusive Resort in Cancun
Related: Secrets Resorts & Spas Celebrates Opening of Adults Only Secrets Huatulco
Related: Secrets Marquis Los Cabos to Open November 2011

Funjet Vacations Announces New Value Flights from Dallas for 2013

Funjet Vacations

Funjet Vacations has just announced their Value Flight service from Dallas/Ft. Worth via Sun Country Airlines.

They will offer new non-stop service for 2013 for the following destinations:

  • Cancun/Riviera Maya
  • Cozumel
  • Jamaica
  • Punta Cana

Funjet Vacations offers Charter & Value Flight service to top destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean from other select departure cities as well (Chicago, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, San Antonio, St. Louis).  These flights provide many great benefits such as convenient non-stop service, low $50 deposit policy, and auto price protection with their industry-leading All-In-One Travel Protection.  Plus, you will enjoy special airline inclusions like free checked baggage and in-flight bar service.

Contact Island Time Travel for more information or click the Funjet logo above.

Related: Funjet Anywhere Under the Sun – Everything is On Sale!
Related: Save Money with a Mystery Vacation
Also See: Vacation Express announces summer non-stop “Champagne Flights” to Jamaica, Cancun, and Punta Cana

Apple Vacations Announces New Non-Stop Vacation Flights from Detroit to Jamaica

Good news!  Apple Vacations has announced some new non-stop vacation flights for next Spring from Detroit to Jamaica on AirTran Airways.  They will also continue their non-stop charters to Cancun and Punta Cana.  See below chart for exact dates and days of week.  Contact Island Time Travel for more information.
Apple Vacations new Jamaica Flights from Detroit
Related: Apple Vacations Launches Flights to Jamaica from Lansing, Mich.
Related: All-Inclusive Couples Resorts Awarded Apple Vacations’ Coveted Golden Apple Awards for Exceptional Consumer Ratings
Related: Is an all inclusive resort right for your vacation?

Funjet Anywhere Under the Sun – Everything is On Sale!

Everything, and they mean EVERYTHING is ON SALE!  Get ready to Funjet around the world, because everything is on sale! Whatever you’re looking for – sun and sand, history and culture, shopping and nightlife, nature and exploration, or something else completely – your perfect vacation is waiting. Funjet Aruba, Zihuatanejo, and anyplace in between, because it’s all on sale!

Booking Window: 5/4/12 – 5/24/12
Travel Window: 5/4/12 – 12/15/12

HURRY! Book by 5/24 with promo code ALLONSALE2 for your chance to SAVE up to $100!

Funjet Vacations Sale

Secrets Resorts — There’s an app for that!

Secrets St. James and Secrets Wild Orchid

AMResorts (Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, and Secrets, Dreams, Now, and Sunscape Resorts & Spas) announced today the launch of its new, interactive Unlimited-Connectivity® app. Now available for the company’s most recently opened properties, Secrets Vallarta Bay and Now Amber Puerto Vallarta, the innovative app will be rolled out to all AMResorts brands and resorts by the end of 2012. The free digital application developed by AMResorts and Telmex, a world leader in communications, is accessible for mobile download to iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry phones.

The app allows guests to stay connected and communicate with family and friends back home using the app-to-app calls feature to call local and international (U.S. and Canada) phones and send messages over the hotel’s Wi-Fi network without incurring any international cell phone roaming charges. Guests also can create user profiles using their email, Facebook or Twitter accounts to contact staff directly, tailor personal deal preferences, book spa appointments, reserve excursions and be just a click away from information about dining, amenities, resort activities, local attractions and much more. Users can register the app with their room number, allowing them to instantly view their folio and request hotel services.

The easy-to use, cost-saving app registers as a room extension so guests can send and receive calls throughout the property as if they were in their room.

AMResorts also is introducing a new AMResorts Collection iPad app, an interactive information resource and travel planning tool. A Secrets Brand Collection will be available for download on iTunes. Apps for the company’s other four brands will be accessible by the end of 2012. The iPad app will allow users to input their travel needs and interests and access specific resort recommendations based on their preferences. It is designed to help couples, families and adults plan and book their future vacations with AMResorts, as well as enable agents and planners to quickly identify the property that best fits their client or group function.

2011 in Review

AMResorts enjoyed an exciting 2011 with the celebration of its 10th anniversary milestone, a new brand introduction, entry into new destinations, five resort openings and the continued growth of its diverse portfolio. The company closed the year with 26 resorts and almost 10,000 rooms in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

In November 2011, AMResorts re-launched the Sunscape Resorts & Spas brand with the opening of Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa – its first resort in this popular Mexico destination. Ixtapa is the seventh Mexico destination to have an AMResorts property, demonstrating its success and confidence in this market.

Also last November, AMResorts celebrated the official opening of the adults-only Secrets Marquis Los Cabos. The opening marked the brand’s entry into the popular vacation destination of Los Cabos, Mexico.

The December 2011 debut of the adults-only, 399-suite Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa became Secrets’ first foray into the growing vacation destination of Huatulco in Mexico’s Pacific region and is AMResorts’ second resort in the area, following Dreams Huatulco.

AMResorts continued growth in the Dominican Republic with the debut of two new Punta Cana properties in May 2011: Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana and Now Larimar Punta Cana. These properties are joining the company’s four additional resorts in the destination: Dreams Punta Cana, Dreams Palm Beach, Dreams La Romana, and Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana. The 2013 debut of the Gems at Cap Cana complex, a $400 million development and the company’s largest project to-date, will continue AMResorts’ expansion in the Caribbean.

Looking Forward

AMResorts has two developments underway in Puerto Vallarta, Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta and Now Amber Puerto Vallarta, set to open in April 2012. The $175 million USD project introduces the first Secrets and Now Resorts & Spas properties to the popular destination and is responsible for creating 902 direct jobs. The 602-room, two-resort complex represents Puerto Vallarta’s first new construction hotels in almost a decade.

Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta will offer adults an extra measure of romance and sensuality in a beautiful beachfront setting. Guests will be welcomed by 271 elegantly-appointed rooms and suites with 24-hour concierge and room services; multiple gourmet, a la carte restaurants and lounges serving premium beverages; endless day and evening activities; and full-service spa and fitness facilities.
With 331 oversized guest rooms and suites with ocean views and private terraces, Now Amber Puerto Vallarta will cater to couples, friends and families. The resort offers amenities such as wireless internet access, flat screen TVs with surround sound systems, daily refreshed mini bars, 24-hour room and concierge services, multiple gourmet dining offerings and full-service spa and fitness facilities. The resort will foster a sense of understated luxury and comfort, and has received the Amber gemstone symbol as a reflection of the inviting rich sands along Banderas Bay.

The opening of the newly built, 495-room Secrets The Vine Cancun is scheduled for August 2012 in Cancun’s popular Zona Hotelera. The newly built Secrets The Vine is located on the golden Yucatan Peninsula coastline. The resort features 495 luxurious guest rooms, all with ocean views, private balconies, Italian porcelain floors, and teak wood furnishings. Its lobby celebrates fine wine in both its design and menu offerings with a designated wine tasting area for guests, the Enoteca (wine cellar). Featuring a Mexican handcrafted wood table with seating for up to 30 guests, a unique wine wall housing as many as 3000 varieties of wine, and sommelier-lead tastings of some of the world’s finest wine collections, the Enoteca promises guests a rich and relaxing wine tasting experience.

By 2013, AMResorts is anticipating a portfolio of 35 resorts, more than 13,500 rooms and entry into new destinations including Costa Rica.

Source/credit: AMResorts

Related: The New Secrets Marquis Los Cabos adults only resort
Related: Secrets St. James Montego Bay Trip Report
Related: Two Secrets Resorts in Jamaica Earn Coveted AAA Four Diamond Award
Related: Secrets Resorts & Spas
Related: Secrets St. James and Wild Orchid Montego Bay
Related: New Secrets Adults Only All Inclusive Resort in Cancun
Related: Secrets Resorts & Spas Celebrates Opening of Adults Only Secrets Huatulco
Also see: Sandals Launches Interactive iPad App

Save Money with a Mystery Vacation

Secrets St. James and Wild Orchid Montego Bay Jamaica

If you can be a little flexible regarding your resort and room type, mystery hotel deals are a great way to save money on your vacation to the Caribbean or Mexico.  With such a program, you save money, but you allow the resort chain or vacation package provider to select which exact resort you will be staying at.

I have done this type of program three times in the past and was very satisfied with the results.  While it’s no longer offered by Club Med, many years ago we used the Club Med “Wild Card” program.  We knew we would be spending a week, with charter airfare included from either Chicago or New York City, at one of the Club Meds in Mexico or the Caribbean.  The first time we did this program, we got assigned to the Club Med Cancun, which at the time was adults only.  We liked the program so much we did it again the following year and this time got sent to the Club Med in Huatulco (now Las Brisas).

My third time using such a program was the SuperClubs Resorts “Super Surprise” program.   We knew we would be staying at one of their resorts in Jamaica.  We were sent to Hedonism III (now the Royal Decameron Fun Caribbean) and had a great time.

This post will be a “work in progress” while I continue my research into which resort chains and tour operators offer such packages.

Apple Vacations

Apple Vacations offers their “Square Deal Program” which guarantees you a room at an all-inclusive resort in a pre-specified category based on Apple’s rating system, e.g. “6 Apple”, “5 Apple,” etc.

Couples Resorts

Couples Resorts offers the Secret Rendezvous program for their four couples-only resorts in Jamaica.  With this program, the resort you’ll be staying at remains a ‘secret’ until 7 days prior to your arrival.  3 night minimum  stay is required.  Savings off published rates is from 41% off to 51% off depending on the time of year.

MLT Vacations

MLT offers two types of Mystery Deals, offering incredible savings:

  • The first option provides customers with the brand name of the hotel in their select destination, but not the exact hotel
  • The second option provides customers with the rating of the hotel in their select destination, but not the hotel name, or the specific location in the destination

Funjet Vacations

Funjet Fun For Less

Funjet Vacations offers a mystery hotel program they call their Fun For Less program.  You’ll stay at one of Funjet’s best hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean, but won’t find out where you’re staying until 7-10 days prior to departure.

  • Huge Savings!  Get the best deal by booking a mystery hotel — you are guaranteed a hotel with a star rating that’s equal to or greater than the advertised rating
  • Multiple-room bookings on the same reservation are GUARANTEED to be placed at the same hotel for bookings made 10+ days prior to departure.
  • Incredible product lineup in Mexico and Caribbean destinations
  • The actual hotel name is provided 7-10 days before departure
  • For some of the deals, Funjet will tell you the resort chain
  • Note that no special room requests are allowed and rooms with disability access cannot be guaranteed.  Rooms will be in the lowest category.