My family of five recently returned from six nights at the all-inclusive Now Amber Resort in Puerto Vallarta. To catch up on the beginning of my trip report, see Planning a Vacation to an All-Inclusive, Las Caletas, Now Amber Resort Review Part 1 and Have I Turned Into a Beach Snob? Here is part 2 of my Now Amber review:
Pools at Now Amber
The Now Amber resort has four main pools.
From this photo, the two kids’ pools are on the left, the main activity room is in the lower center, and the infinity pool with swim-up bar is closest to the ocean. There is also a Jacuzzi hot tub near the infinity pool. The long pool on the right side of the photo is a private swim-out pool for rooms on the first floor.
We spent most of our time at the deeper kids’ pool, which was 4 – 4 ½ feet deep. It was in the shade in the morning, so the water felt cooler than the other pools.
It had a small water slide for ages 12 and under, but since nobody was enforcing the rules we saw many adults and adult/kid pairs go down. Although it wasn’t a long, elaborate water slide, it was fast and fun!
The other kids’ pool was only 1-2 feet deep, and perfect for smaller kids. It had some water features on the side.
The main activity pool was also about 4 – 4 ½ feet deep. A resort employee taught a water aerobics class here every day at noon, and there were other scheduled activities there as well. On Saturday, there was a foam party in the afternoon. Our kids had a blast at this!
A giant chess board, basketball hoop and ping pong table are located near the main pool.
The infinity pool was long and narrow, right next to the ocean. This was the deepest pool, around 4 ½ feet to 5 feet deep with water spilling over the edge. Although this was the hottest pool (it felt like a hot tub at times!), it was my favorite. I loved staring out at the ocean.
My kids loved the swim-up bar! The bartender was very nice to kids and made them non-alcoholic drinks every day. We were spoiled!
The first floor rooms have private swim-out pools. These looked awesome and were not that much more expensive than regular rooms. However, the trade-off is that these rooms don’t have the amazing ocean and sunset views.
The only weird/disappointing thing about the pools was that they closed down early. The swim-up bar closed at 6 p.m. every night, and the pools were closed around 7:30 p.m. or so. I’m not sure if it’s because that’s when it gets dark and the pools aren’t open after dark, or if it’s because there were special events happening around the pools at night (a few wedding receptions, corporate parties, etc.). The people who had the swim-out pool rooms on the first floor were the only ones who could swim after dark.
I enjoyed sitting at the pool after dark to soak in the night sky.
Each night, the next day’s activity schedule and chocolates appeared on our beds (just like on a cruise!). The Sundial publication included the hours for each restaurant, the kids’ club activity schedule, the evening show details and the hourly recreation activities.
Although we didn’t partake in many of the organized activities, my husband and oldest son did try out archery one day.
Other activities included rifle shooting, a putting green, tennis, beach volleyball, paddleboard tour, treasure hunt, etc.
The only bummer for us about the activities, especially compared to a cruise, is that all of them were outdoors. This only affected us one day when my son woke up and his face was all red and puffy. We thought he had a bad sunburn, so we wanted to keep him out of the sun. We took advantage of the shade at the kids’ pool for a few hours in the morning, but after that there was nowhere to go except our room to stay in the shade. The resort has inside conference space, and it would have been nice to have an indoor activity option during the heat of the afternoon.
The Now Amber had a great kids’ club for ages 3-12. We could see the schedule on the Sundial by the hour:
The club had indoor and outdoor space. We couldn’t see the indoor space unless we came for the parents’ tour at 9:30 a.m., so we only saw the outdoor space from a vantage point by the drop-off desk.
The outdoor area had a playground, a splash pad, a small trampoline, a rock climbing wall and a soccer field.
One afternoon, the club had a piñata party (and even my 12-year-old decided to go just for the candy).
One night, my daughter got her nails painted, and the kids had an outdoor marshmallow roast.
During lunch and dinner, the kids would all go as a group to the buffet restaurant with the counselors. There was fresh fruit available to the kids for snacks if they got hungry.
Once a day, the kids would head out as a group to the kids’ pool for water slide time. I met a parent who put her son in the club for almost the entire day. She just left a bag with a change of clothes for after the pool time, and he was set. Hey, I get it! No judgment from me!
Our younger kids spent a few hours in the club each day, usually from around 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. We picked them up before the evening show.
The biggest adjustment for my son to this kids’ club compared to the clubs on Disney Cruise Line is that the activities were more structured. The kids couldn’t just wander outside to the playground whenever they wanted, they could only go during the playground hour. The group had to all be doing the same activity. It just took him a while to get used to that, since he was more accustomed to having the choice of free play or an organized activity on the cruise.
Overall, our kids were happy at the Explorer’s Club, and we enjoyed the break!
Teen Core Zone
One of the reasons I picked the Now Amber Resort was because it has a teen club. Even though it’s for ages 13 and up, I hoped my son could try it out since he was 12 ½.
My son went to the Core Zone four times during our stay. Each time, he was the only one in there. He was bummed that he had no one to hang out with in there.
My husband and I took a tour of the Core Zone one evening. It’s actually a great space with cool activities.
It even had a small snack section with hot dogs, nachos and drinks.
We were disappointed for my son because he ended up spending time alone while my younger two were in the kids’ club and we were at dinner together. It was such a difference from our last big vacation in January, where he met a ton of kids his age in the tween club on the Disney Fantasy. I think if we would have gone during Spring Break or the summer, there would have been teens in there.
In the evenings, the resort had live music in the lobby area. After dinner, my husband and I sat in the lobby to enjoy the view and music.
Each night, there was a different show in the outdoor theater. It started at 9:30 p.m. and lasted until about 10:20 p.m.
The first night, we saw a fire show. The performers twirled and tossed all sorts of things on fire. It was fascinating! I don’t have any still photos, but you can see some of the show in my video.
The second night, we watched a comedian. It was the worst show of the week. It was so bad that people were walking out. One man walked past me and said, “I just can’t take this anymore!” The comedian was silent and communicated through a whistle. The thing I didn’t like about his show was that he was objectifying women, and I felt like it was a bad example for my kids.
My daughter couldn’t stay awake for any of the shows, and she ended up like this every night:
Since our kids wake up early no matter how late they go to bed, we decided to skip the show on our third night and have the kids go to bed early. We missed a Beatles cover band show with dancers.
We enjoyed a Prehispanic Show with Aztec dancers. It was lively and colorful!
One night, there was a cirque-type show at the pool. Since we could see the pool from our balconies, we opted to have the kids watch it from our room in pjs so that we could get them to bed earlier.
On our last night, we watched a Circus Rock show. It was awesome! A rock band played songs from Guns and Roses, Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd and other bands while performers juggled, swung from a trapeze and did other stunts. I loved the music!
I hope this Now Amber review gives you a good idea of the ins and outs of our first all-inclusive experience. We give the resort a thumbs up in all areas except the beach. It wasn’t perfect, but we still had a great time.
Stay tuned for the last installment of this Puerto Vallarta trip report for details on our other excursions and my final thoughts on the trip as a whole.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.