My daughter and her husband (age range 25-30) visited this resort from the dates of Oct. 14-21, 2017. This is a review of their stay at the Valentin.
This was our first time staying at the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya Resort. The entrance had a tall barbed wire fence and guard towers every 20 feet or so apart, all of which made us feel safe and secure. There was a beautiful water feature at the entrance of the resort preceded by a very long driveway which wound its way to the resort entrance from the main road through beautifully landscaped grounds. My husband and I were greeted with cool towels and a chilled glass of sparkling wine. The staff took our bags at the resort entrance and directed us to the lobby area for our official check-in. On our way to the lobby we encountered another couple and asked them if it was their first time at the Valentin; they laughed and said it was their third stay and that they loved the resort. The staff at check-in were very friendly, professional, and accommodating, and outlined where dining and entertainment areas were located on a resort map.
We stayed in Building One (Dona Isabel) on the ground floor; Building One is located close to the lobby area. Our room was a Silver Jr. Suite–it was beautiful, clean, and had festive music playing on the flat screen TV when we stepped into our suite. There was a mini-bar near the suite entrance as well as large closets and a digital safe. Around the corner was a sofa and a king size bed. Despite having large pieces of furniture, the room didn’t feel cluttered, but instead felt spacious and welcoming. The Jacuzzi tub was near the king bed and was surrounded by a sheer curtain for those who want some privacy while bathing. There were double doors that led to the bathroom which were located on the left upon entering the room. The bathroom itself was spacious, elegant, and clean. We had a large balcony with two chairs and a small table that overlooked a mangrove forest–we think we saw a monkey in the trees as well as coatis on the grounds during our stay. Our room was always kept clean–it seemed like housekeeping came in several times each day collecting dirty towels, making the bed, and making sure the room was spotless.
It took us several days to know our way around this large resort, but the grounds were equipped with many signs and maps to make it easier to get to our destination. Our favorite resort areas were the main pool and the beach. The main pool had a fun, party vibe with popular American music, and everyone was ready to have some cold drinks and a good time. It was easy to make friends and socialize with others in this pool. There were plenty of activities offered throughout the day ranging from volleyball to water polo. Or, if you wanted a more relaxing time at the pool you could hang out at the swim-up bar, lay on one of the many floating mats, or lay out in the sun on loungers or poolside Bali beds (the Bali beds can be reserved through a Club Privilege upgrade). The swim-up bar had strong, well poured drinks and quick service. Our only complaint about the pool was an injury my husband received while playing water polo–he sliced his toe on a tile at the bottom of the pool.
There is a restaurant right next to the main pool that serves a buffet style breakfast and lunch. The staff are quick to seat you, pull out the lady’s chair, and place a napkin on one’s lap. For breakfast there is an array of such items as bread rolls, yogurt, fresh fruit, omelet station, hash browns, bacon, spicy or regular sausages, crepes, cereal, and hard boiled or scrambled eggs. For lunch there is pizza, pasta, egg rolls, bite size chimichangas, mini cheese quesadillas, hamburgers, hot dogs, and occasional fresh seafood such as mussels or clams. Everything was delicious–the only complaint I would have is that the hash browns were inconsistently cooked. On the other hand, the tortillas for the quesadillas were freshly made and tasted absolutely delicious!
Our other favorite area, the beach, had beautiful white sand that wasn’t too hot when you walked on it while the water was warm, crystal clear, and had some colorful and friendly fish that swam right next to us. There is a large netted and roped off area for swimmers that is rock free and lets one swim at ease. The water doesn’t get too deep until quite a ways out, while the waves were great for body surfing. Your can bring your drinks in the water with you which was pretty cool!
The beach bar was OK–the setting was beautiful with swings for seats and plenty of separate tables and chairs which were shaded. I had mixed experiences with the bartenders, some were fantastic in that they would add an extra swirl of top-shelf rum in our piña coladas after they were made. Other staff seemed to be overwhelmed or stressed. Most of the time there would be up to five guests waiting at the bar with their drinks in hand with guests having to repeat their orders which slowed down the whole process. Overall, however, the bartenders at the beach bar were awesome given its busy location.
As far as restaurants go, there were a variety to choose from, and my husband and I tried most of them with the exception of The Corner which is an additional charge. Overall they were all good with some being more glamorous looking than others. My personal favorites were the French (L’Alsace) and steak restaurants (Tierra part of the Mar Y Tierra). The French restaurant was very classy and elegantly decorated with a beautiful staircase that led to upstairs dining. My husband and I were lucky and got seated upstairs overlooking the entire restaurant! From the appetizers to the main course, everything was delicious! We had some kind of seafood soup and French onion soup as an appetizer which were so good we didn’t want them to end! For the main course I had duck, and my husband’s main course was also as delicious. At the steak restaurant I ordered a filet mignon and it was very juicy and tender along with it being the perfect portion size for me (7 ozs. or so). If you order a larger steak, beware–it is typically larger than 10 ozs, so go to dinner hungry if you want to order a larger size. My husband’s favorite dining venue was the Indonesian restaurant (Taman Sari) where the portions were good sized, drinks were well poured, and the food wasn’t too spicy. The Japanese restaurant (Ginger) was another favorite of ours. We went twice, once for sushi and once for the Teppanyaki show table. If you’re going for sushi, they only provide four rolls per plate per order, so order several plates or go there for a light meal. (Don’t forget to order the spicy tuna roll–it was great!). The Teppanyaki show table needs an advance reservation which can be made at a variety of buildings throughout the resort or in the lobby. My husband and I got lucky, though, and got seats without a reservation due to openings at the show table. Bring your appetite since there is a lot of food! Sushi rolls to start, miso soup, grilled vegetables, fried rice, and you can choose two different meats/seafood choices (salmon, tuna, shrimp, or sirloin, while lobster is an extra cost). Dessert is also offered with a green tea ice cream topped with a beautifully decorated piece of white chocolate, cheesecake, and another option–can’t remember what that last one was.
Lastly, bars. First of all, the drinks tended to be watered down at outside bars during the evening hours. If you want a specialty or well poured drink go to the piano or sports bars. The piano bar was very classy and had some unique drink presentations–our friend ordered a martini and the martini glass came in a small fishbowl filled with ice to keep the drink cold–very cool! I’d recommend the “Red Paradise” for a sweet fruity cocktail at this bar. The bar next to the live music and performances was not very good, however. The drinks were poured in a skimpy fashion (one shot of alcohol for two drinks), and in general were very weak even with different bartenders. This was disappointing since it was the closest bar to our room location. Instead, we discovered a bar right outside the lobby by the in-ground fountains. The scenery was beautiful, it was more quiet, and the drinks were well poured; there was even complimentary insect repellent to keep the mosquitos at bay (be sure to bring your own full strength insect repellent despite the resort’s offerings). This bar came to be our “go to” spot for drinks before dinner.
Overall I’d recommend this resort and have already done so to some of my child care parents. We had a great time and cannot wait to go back with our friends next time!