To spare you reading dozens (or even hundreds) of reviews, we decided to share our unbiased review of the Crown Paradise Golden (CPG). To be completely candid, we had a fantastic two-week vacation and would go back in a heart beat. In fact, numerous people we met return year after year with no desire to ever go anywhere else. One delightful woman even stated that this was her 22nd year! Now if that isn't saying something positive about this resort, I don't know what else would be more impressive.
The Crown Paradise Golden was one of the best all-inclusive resorts we ever experienced! Perfect location, great amenities, and friendly staff that go out of their way to make your vacation amazing. The value was unbeatable!
This is an older resort located right in Puerto Vallarta with a beautiful beach front. Extensive upgrades have been done to the rooms and property. An entirely new tower has been constructed with a roof-top infinity pool. Everything is close together, unlike some of the new larger sprawling resorts. This is an adult only facility, yet you have full access to the family focused sister resort next door.
Just as in real estate, location is important. Have you ever been to a resort where you felt stranded in the middle of nowhere? Not so at the CPG. It’s located right in Puerto Vallarta. After your plane lands, it is only a 15-minute drive to the resort. You can’t miss seeing the marina just before arriving. We enjoyed watching cruise ships sail away many afternoons.
Typically, people go to an all-inclusive to relax and lay in the sun. After a few days, it can actually get boring. Although they provide pool and beach activities, even this can grow old. The good news is there is lots to see and do when you are ready to explore outside of the resort.
Puerto Vallarta retains a unique mix of local Mexican culture with a highly developed tourist focus. There is no excuse to feel stuck in the resort. A short stroll takes you to a flea market which is next to the sister resort (Crown Paradise Club). We spoke with Manuel G. (Stand 68 Maritime Market) about their fine silver and jewelry.
Less than a five-minute walk encompasses lots of small shops and a large grocery / general type store (Soriyano’s). Most convenient if you run out of sunscreen (as we did) or forget something. Another 5 to 10-minute walk on the main road and you’ll be at a mall and Walmart with an even greater selection.
The front desk and staff are informative about leaving the resort and exploring the town. There always seemed to be a taxi nearby and the rates were reasonable for most anywhere you want to go. We understood it was 130 pesos fare to the airport and about the same to downtown or the Malecon (shopping boulevard). Taking a more adventurous approach to seeing Puerto Vallarta, we rode their local buses. Only ten pesos for a bone jarring ride over their stone filled roadways. Lots of locals use the buses, yet we felt perfectly safe and found everyone to be friendly.
If you are more interested in excursions, there are a vast multitude of options. These can be booked through the resort, local shops nearby, or even through beach vendors (not recommended). Francisco Munoz (Sol Vacaciones) was a treasure trove of helpful information on things to do. There truly is something for everyone ranging from cultural adventures (city tours and sights), sea activities (snorkeling, scuba, sailing), and adventure (all-terrain & ATV).
Also recommended is Puerto Vallarta’s famous Rhythms of the Night evening show and dinner. Most excursions leave and return from the marina which is, fortunately, close by.
The weather was ideal for us during our December stay. Every day hovered around 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 C) with the evenings cooling off to 77 F (25 C). Not a hint of rain with gentle refreshing ocean breezes.
This has not always been the case on other vacations we’ve taken. The weather on the Cancun side is much less predictable and we met numerous people from the eastern seaboard that prefer Puerto Vallarta.
The stereotypical all-inclusive vacation might consist of 10:00 am tequila shots with endless grazing of uninspiring buffets. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of food, beverages, and service. You may have heard stories how alcohol is watered down and cheap brands are used. Not so here, they served premium brands of alcohol (at no extra charge). The only thing we didn’t like was that they, occasionally, ran out of certain liquors and beer by the end of the day.
Puerto Vallarta is renown for great inexpensive restaurants. For a change of pace, you might consider eating out one evening. Depending upon where you go, a really good supper starts at about 200 pesos.
We were pleased with the breakfast buffet, especially with the fantastic omelets and crispy strips of bacon. One of the bonuses of staying at the CPG is full access to their sister resort. The buffet at Crown Paradise Club (CPC) was, at least, twice as big with much more selection. For lunch and the occasional dinner, we much preferred the larger buffet. Keep in mind, this is the family resort and there will be lots of kids (and they are not your children or grandchildren).
The snack bar served burgers, deep fried hot-dogs (actually pretty good), fries, and nachos. Basic fare, yet a nice option when you weren’t in the mood for the buffet. It seemed a little ridiculous that they were only open from 11 am to 6 pm. Travelers fly from across the country arriving at all hours. If you are hungry during the night, your only option is room service with a 70-peso surcharge.
Overall, we were very impressed with their a la carte dining. The reservation system was slightly clumsy. We found it best to go to our chosen restaurant between 3 pm and 5 pm the day before to make our reservation. We liked that there were no limits on how many times you could go and that there were no extra costs. Be aware of the dress code and don’t show up wearing sandals like I did. That resulted in a dash to the room to change shoes.
Our favorite was the Mexican restaurant and the incredible steak they served on a sizzling cast-iron frying pan. Previous experiences have taught me that Mexican beef is inevitably tough and tasteless. Not so here, it was tender and absolutely delicious.
All the restaurants were good as they really strive to provide a great dining experience. On the CPG side, the restaurants included Salvador’s, the Mediterranean, and the Mexican. The CPC side included the Italian (very good), the Japanese, and the French.
To be candid, why would anyone go to a resort without a nice beach? We certainly weren’t disappointed by the beautiful sand and crashing surf. Who doesn’t want to, at least, dip a toe into the ocean or partake in some of the abundance of water activities?
If stretching out and relaxing is more your thing there are day beds, lounge chairs, and even hammocks. Although the resort stipulates these cannot be reserved and left unattended, this is not enforced. In fact, to get their favorite spot many people are up at the crack of dawn leaving a towel and a personal belonging to reserve it.
Our favorite spot was the Breeze Bar where we could sit in the shade and observe all the beach activities. Funny that never seemed to get bored. We were always meeting so many interesting people. Often, we stayed to watch the awesome sunsets. One of the irritants was the beach vendors. Although they were not pushy or rude, we probably were approached at least 30 times a day. They are supposed to remain behind the rope on the public portion of the beach, yet they continually circulated among the guests. Occasionally, security would warn the most persistent ones.
One of the unexpected highlights of our vacation was observing a sea turtle laying her eggs. Apparently, this is somewhat rare in December and drew quite a crowd. As a protected species, wildlife quickly arrived with the end result being the eggs were relocated to a turtle sanctuary. Even more interesting was when wildlife released newly hatched baby turtles later that evening.
While the main pool is large and never seemed crowded, we greatly preferred the rooftop infinity pool. Besides the spectacular view, the sun and ocean breeze made it a popular place. Located atop the new building, it is accessed by their main elevator.
We were fortunate to have an deluxe ocean view room on the 8th floor. Overall, quite impressed with the room especially the view from our balcony. Except for the one thing that completely took us by surprise.
The second evening, we were sitting on our balcony as the sun set. We began to hear what sounded like a chittering sound above us. Suddenly, the air all around us was alive with dark swooping creatures. Oh my god! Thousands of bats launched themselves into the night. For perhaps a minute, the evacuation was in full force as they flew out from under the roof tiles. They were completely harmless, didn't come near us and we soon looked forward to it as a nightly ritual.
The room itself was clean and spacious with an extremely comfortable king-size bed. Possibly, only in Mexico would one find a marble tile bathtub. Be careful as it can be slippery! The mini fridge is filled daily with beer, soft drinks, and water which was convenient.
Obviously, our Crown Paradise Golden review is glowing and we look forward to returning. It surprised us how many people return year after year which, in itself, is the highest form of praise. Some of the reasons include the commitment of the staff to making your stay enjoyable, the unique blend of a Mexican town as well as a tourism focus, and ultimately a price point that is hard to beat. If you get a chance to stay at the resort, we’d love to hear your comments.
And if an all-inclusive if not your ideal vacation, check out our article on our 14 day full transit cruise through the Panama Canal.