by Diana Lambdin Meyer
If you have a budding musician in your family or anyone with a fascination for the great rock musicians of the world, the Hard Rock Vallarta will be a vacation destination to enhance their love of all things related to the rock culture. A standard of the Hard Rock brand, the hotel is saturated with authentic costumes, instruments and other accoutrements of the superstar music world.
Built in 2012, the Hard Rock Vallarta has more than 300 yards of sand beach, the longest beachfront of any hotel on the Bay of Banderas. Of the 348 rooms, more than 250 are oceanfront. With six restaurants, three pools and the entire Pacific Ocean just steps away, the Hard Rock is one of the more popular all-inclusive resorts on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
The Kid’s Club offers a number of engaging, educational and downright fun activities for kids ages 4 to 12. Plans are underway for expanding the kids program, so ask for details to see if it will be open when your family visits.
The same is true for the Rock Spa — an expansion is planned for 2016. The spa is currently a lovely destination with two outdoor cabanas for treatments, plus a killer view.
Lyrics from our favorite songs and quotes from our most popular musicians fill in spaces on the wall that’s not already adorned with drums, guitars, costumes and awards. A daily tour of the memorabilia is a highlight for everyone from the Woodstock era to anyone who likes the latest chart-topping trends. Remember the lollipop dress that Katie Perry wore when she jumped into the big birthday cake at the MTV Video Music Awards? Yep, it’s here, icing and cake long since removed.
Like all Hard Rock Hotels, it’s now possible to check out a Fender guitar and take it to your room for private jam sessions.
Our Editor Loves
- All-inclusive rates
- 300 yards of beach front
- Chocolate clowns at check-in
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The mini-bars, often off limits for kids because of the cost, are an all-inclusive treat in all Hard Rock rooms. In addition to soft drinks and beer, the mini-bars are stocked with orange and grape juice for the kids. Mom and dad will love the in-room liquor dispenser offering a perfect shot of rum, tequila, vodka or whiskey, according to your tastes.
A limited number of connecting rooms are available, so if this is important for your family's enjoyment and peace of mind, book early. Cribs are available upon request, and Wi-Fi is complimentary.
These all have double beds and the headboards are usually an image of some famous concert or musician. All rooms have either a private balcony or a Juliette balcony, or a terrace if you're on the ground floor. There's plenty of extra space for a crib, but the only tub for bathing little ones is the massive two-person Jacuzzi. Otherwise, big screen TVs, spacious bathrooms and other services should cover your needs. Check it out -- the in-room safe is also a charging station for your electronics.
Deluxe Family Rooms
There are 18 of these rooms that come with two bedrooms and two baths. An X-Box 360, beach toys and children's shampoo are among the extra amenities that make this a good choice for your family.
Rock Royalty Level (Third Floor)
The third floor is an adults-only floor with the exception of the Rock Star Suite, an over-the-top, two-bedroom suite that includes its own movie theater, surround-sound and multiple balconies.
The cost was a little pricy but it was definitely worth it. The service was amazing from the lobby to the restaurants. We went to Ipanema for dinner and Apolonio, and Ulisses our servers along with everyone else made our stay and dinner great. They were all super attentive and courteous. I would recommend this place to anyone.
We stayed at HR Vallarta from Oct 27th - Nov 3rd. Very limited selection of food at the Market, and the food is really dry. The Market is basically the only place that you can go for lunch unless you just want snack, then you can go to the Mexican restaurant.
There were more members arriving from Friday, November 1st onwards, so there were more area reserved for members only
Whatever you can imagine doing on a beach vacation, it is probably offered at the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta. Each day, the staff coordinates beach volleyball or soccer games, a pick-up game of basketball, bingo or a Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament. Check the television monitors in the lobby, elevators and the hotel channel in your room for details.
There's always something happening in the Hard Rock amphitheatre. Five nights a week, it's a cultural program, circus or music event. Other evenings offer family game nights or something seasonal.
Bicycles are available for rent for children ages 10 and older and their parents. Each morning at 10 a.m., a staff-led bike tour heads to the Little Zoo Paradise Village Golf Course. It's not a huge zoo, but there is a Bengal tiger on the grounds, among other birds and wildlife. Be sure you pack tennis shoes or closed toed shoes for the bike ride.
Guests at the Hard Rock Vallarta receive discounted rates on two nearby golf courses -- the Vista Vallarta club designed by Jack Nicholas, and the Flamingo Club designed by Percy Clifford.
The Sun Bar, located just off the lobby, has a massive family living area with big couches and oversized chairs. Family movie nights and karaoke take place here on a regular basis.
You children ages 4 to 12 are going to have a great time. If they love playing soccer at home, they'll love beach soccer, one of the many activities coordinated for the kids. Water polo -- that's another.
The toughest decision you'll make during this trip could be which pool to splash in or whether to relax at the beach instead. A 1.5 foot deep kids' pool with zero-depth entry and waterslides is a perfect play place for the little ones. The larger two pools include chaise lounges in the water, a swim-up bar and a meandering format under abundant palm trees. The two outdoor hot tubs complete the relaxing water options at the Hard Rock.
Wow, just about everything is offered here -- boogie boarding, paddleboats, kayaking, you name it. A dive tank helps first-time scuba divers get comfortable before heading into the deep waters around the Marietta Islands and Los Arcos National Park. Snorkeling is also possible, but the water is not as clear here as in some parts of the world, so don't expect a knock-out experience.
Dolphin swims and whale watching (in the winter months) will surely be a highlight of your vacation.
Motorized water sports are not offered by the Hard Rock, but you can charter a deep-sea fishing excursion or sunset sail around the bay.
Air hockey, billiards, video and arcade games, Wii, and all sorts of board games allow teenagers some space of their own and an opportunity to meet other teens vacationing at the Hard Rock.
Six diverse restaurants on site should cover just about anything your family wants at any time of the day. For an overview, visit the touch screen, interactive menu board in the lobby to get an idea of what is offered and where the restaurants are located. All restaurants offer a selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes, along with soy milk and other special foods. All restaurants also carry the exact same children's menu, including hamburgers, fish and chicken sandwiches, margarita pizza, pasta or ham and cheese sandwiches. No reservations needed.
Tip: Plan an evening restaurant hop. Have a snack in one, entrÃ©e in another and finish with dessert in yet a third.
Located conveniently in the center of the resort, just off the Main Lobby, the Market is the go-to, all-encompassing eatery of the six restaurants at the Hard Rock. The buffet offers a variety of international cuisines for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The evening buffet features a different theme and cuisine each evening, from Asian to Mediterranean to popular Mexican. The Market closes briefly between each meal time to re-set for a fresh offering, but otherwise, it is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Are your kids wanting something light for lunch - maybe a taco or quesadilla? Frida is the place for you. You're in Mexico, of course, so good tacos, burritos and churros for dessert or an afternoon snack are a must. For dinner, order a la carte. The salmon limone is spectacular, as are the fish tacos. Don't worry about getting dressed up. Shorts and T-shirts are just fine.
During the high season, this Italian-themed restaurant opens with a breakfast buffet, serving a comprehensive selection of fruits, pancakes, waffles and egg dishes, such as those found at The Market. Lunch is also a casual , all-encompassing buffet. But for dinner, this is where you can enjoy Italian cuisine, specializing in seafood and pasta. Dinner is served a la carte.
You may be in Mexico, but step through the doors of Zen and you'll find yourself in Asia. Specializing in Japanese cuisine, this is where you can feed your craving for sushi, as well as teppanyaki, sashimi, and other Japanese specialties. It's open for dinner only, starting at 5 p.m. You'll want to dress up just a bit in resort casual wear.
This dinner-only restaurant features cuisine from Brazil, which is always a delightful tableside experience. Your wait staff visits several times throughout your meal, offering you just another slice of grilled pork, beef or chicken -- sliced right at the table. Brazilian cuisine is always heavy on meats, but also root vegetables, such as carrots, turnips and potatoes. But remember, if the kids are with you, the Hard Rock's kids menu is available at all restaurants. Dress is resort casual.
Open for lunch until 10:30 at night, this is for families who crave freshly baked pizza from a wood-fired oven.
If your kids wake up in the middle of the night craving cookies or Cheerios, or you're craving a steak and lobster -- no worries. The menus at all of Hard Rock Vallarta's six restaurants are available 24 hours a day via room service.
Planning & Tips
Here's something to plan into your budget. With every night of stay after three nights, you and your family will begin to accrue "resort credits" that can be used for spa services or outings coordinated through the hotel.
The resort encourages parents to escort children 12 and under around the property to ensure everyone's safety.
International Phone Calls
If you don't have an international calling option on your cell phone, you may call anywhere in the U.S. or Canada without additional charge from your room.
Sorry, the family pet is not able to join you on this vacation at the Hard Rock Vallarta.
A 24-hour pharmacy is located just across the street from the Hard Rock and a doctor, also on call 24 hours, is just 5 minutes away.
Each Hard Rock Hotel has its own music concierge that programs the perfect tunes for the beach/pools, for the restaurants, and for the public spaces. Upon check-in, you'll be given an access code that allows you to download all of the music played at the Hard Rock Vallarta during your stay.
The Rock Fitness Center is fully air-conditioned and overlooks the energetic pool area. Choose from free weights and LifeFitness cardio machines.
You'll want to schedule in advance for a massage in one of two outdoor treatment cabanas, which come with an ocean breeze and the warmth of the sun. Otherwise, the nine indoor treatment rooms provide all of the services you would expect from a high-end spa. Treatments are available for kids, including hair braiding and manicures, but double-check the price before you make promises for the kids. Some consider these treatments a little pricey. For example, a child's manicure/pedicure package costs $90.
Let the hotel staff know about any special celebrations during your stay and, in addition to any cakes or edible treats, the birthday person will get their name on the touch screen monitor in the lobby and event monitors in the elevator.
The coolest souvenirs ever are available at the Rock Shop. Hard Rock Vallarta drum sticks are a must for the percussionist in your family. For little ones, the Rox Stars stuffed animal collection is just the cutest thing. Clothing, glassware and other trinkets should make everyone else happy with their souvenir shopping.
A mini-market nearby offers things you might have forgotten - sunglasses, sunscreen and other sundries. You'll find some pool toys, magazines, books and other typical market items here.
Check in is at 3 p.m. daily and check-out is at noon. However, if you have a later departing flight from Puerto Vallarta, you may continue to hang around the resort and enjoy the all-inclusive benefits of the Hard Rock until 6 p.m. Upon check-in, dad is offered a beer, mom gets a rose and children receive a Shirley Temple. Kids also receive a chocolate clown. And here's an extra treat -- at check-out, everyone receives a locally-beaded necklace, a reflection of the culture of Riviera Nayarit.
The Art of Smart Timing
Wouldn't bringing your family to the Riviera Nayarit for the winter holidays be a fabulous gift? As expected, this is the busiest season in sunny Mexico and the most expensive for families. All of the winter months, through spring break, are equally expensive. For a bargain, plan to travel in late August or September, if your children's education schedule allows. Be aware this is hurricane season, however.
The Hard Rock Vallarta is a quick 20 minutes north of the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR). Within 10 minutes of leaving the airport, the roadway turns into a broad, palm tree-lined boulevard with friendly signs welcoming your family to the Riviera Nayarit.
Taxis or private automobiles are the best way to explore Riviera Nayarit away from the Hard Rock Hotel property. Walking is easy for several miles along the wide, tree-lined Paseo de Los Cocoteros. The public bus also stops nearby.
For Mom and Dad
How romantic and relaxing would it be to have a candlelight dinner on the beach? The red carpet and roses treatment includes steak and lobster.