Imanta: Paradise Lost. The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.
Imanta Resort is the most architecturally stunning and wondrous natural setting in Mexico. It’s like a Mayan temple has risen from the forest to meet the ocean. The rolling pipeline surf provides a relaxing white noise as the sea comes ashore.
Three Times the Charm: I’ve been to Imanta three times now. The first experience was great. We stayed at the biggest villa, Casona Jaguar (even with its plumbing problems and no pool heat). The second time we stayed at the lowest priced suite, hoping to upgrade to Casona Templos (we didn’t because of the high price. The resort was under reconstruction, food was poor, and without any water on the second day, we left one day early to go to the Four Season’s. We skipped a year, and then booked for this most recent vacation. We were so excited to finally stay at the most desired suite on the resort, Casona Templos. When we drove up, the first warning sign appeared, “Welcome Senor, we have a big surprise for you !” That immediately made me feel ill. I was finally able to afford the price of admission to Templos, now things were going to change. I paid over $11,300 via Expedia in advance specifically for Templos. Expedia quotes $4,250 per night, but then add all the taxes and service fees which bring the total two night price to just over $11,300. Prepaid. No refunds. On top of that, expect to pay another $1,000+ per day for food, beverages, spa, etc.
The Good: The staff (with one exception of Sr. Ruiz) is amazing. The food is great. The setting is beautiful. The ocean is alluring. The Spa team (led by Cynthia) is probably the best in Mexico.
The Bad: The first time we visited Imanta in 2016, we paid for a standard jungle suite and did a paid upgrade to Casona Jaguar. Pro Tip: book the lowest category for the first day, then move into upgraded suite-villa the next day since you’ll arrive late from travel, and can’t enjoy the full day. For this visit (paid around $6,000 per day), the pool heat never worked, and faucets leaked, and there were plumbing problems. The second time we visited in 2017 Imanta I booked via Expedia, we tried to upgrade from a low category suite, but couldn’t afford it. On the second day of a three day stay, we had no running water in our suite, and so the third day we just left early (and lost our prepaid amount) to go to the Four Season’s Punta Mita (where everything was perfect). On the second stay, the resort was under reconstruction, and the food was fair to poor. We decided to give Imanta one more chance, and save up money to afford the highly desired Casona Templos. I contacted Imanta by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with no reply, so I booked full price and paid in full in advance, through Expedia.
The Ugly: As we arrived to the resort, we were shown, to not our confirmed reservation Casona Templos, which we paid a total over $11,000 for two nights, but rather to Casona Jaguar (the bigger non-functioning villa). We had already stayed in Jaguar, and had no interest in staying there. I asked to speak to the manager, and they sent Sr. Rodrigo Ruiz, director of sales. He was happy to inform me that they would not honor our reservation, but forced us to upgrade to the much bigger Jaguar. Unfortunately, they never asked.
Don’t Expect Advanced Stay Coordination: Even worse, we were never contacted by the resort prior to our stay (all high-end resorts will establish contact with the clients to determine transportation needs, desires, etc.). So Sr. Ruiz just decided he would up-sell a lower paying customer into our reservation of the prepaid Templos (the most desired suite on the property).
Sr. Ruiz actually argued with me telling me I did not have any options, but to accept his decision for me to stay in the bigger Jaguar. This is the first time I’ve ever had a bad experience for a check-in for a high priced suite. I tried to explain to him that I only wanted to stay in Templos, as that is what I paid in full, and in advance. He said that it was too bad, and my only option was to accept his decision. I had the option to stay in one of the rooms of Templos for that night, or to stay at Jaguar and move the next day.
Keep in mind that I already prepaid in full for Templos. Without much option, we stayed in Jaguar that night, and then had to repack, and move to Templos the next day. It was a complete waste of time, and wasted night. The next morning I spent an hour on the phone with Expedia, to no benefit. Relaxed ? Not quite. Good experience ? No, not really.
Next Day Checkin to Original Templos Delayed by Cleaning: Keep in mind that they had to now clean and prepare Templos the next day, since it was occupied the night before, by the upgraded (from a lower cost suite) customer. I contacted Expedia, who contacted the resort, and got no action. They said because I was upgraded without my permission to a bigger suite, I was not eligible for any compensation or a refund. Expedia offered me a $25 coupon, on my lost $5,500 night. To make matters worse, the plumbing in Jaguar is bad, and the toilet in the second level master suite didn’t work. Not a very good surprise for $11,000. By the time Templos was completely ready, it was later in the afternoon on the second, and our final day. Very disappointing. So when someone says they have a big surprise for you, usually it’s bad news.
Lesson Learned: Don’t trust your reservation at Imanta, since they will upsell a lower paying customer, and give them priority to your prepaid reservation. The bottom line is not your happiness, but their profits. Maybe if they start treating prepaid customers with respect, they’ll get more bookings and don’t have to be so desperate for extra income from upgrade opportunities, from the higher paying booked customers. A simple email, or phone call from them to me beforehand, could have easily avoided this situation. Don’t get me wrong, I love this resort, and the rest of the staff are great. Just one person who makes the experience awful.
Pro Tip – How to play their game: Book the lowest category and price suite, then hope for a upgrade offer. If not, enjoy the suite and head to the Four Season’s, where you are respected and your reservation is honored.
Lessons for Imanta Managers: Go to Four Season’s and learn how they treat their customers, who are loyal returning customers, year after year. I’ve never had any issues at the Four Season’s in Punta Mita. They treat you well, have a nice property, and will do anything to make their customers happy. They contact you in advance, so there are no surprises. They don’t think for you, and have enough respect to ask first before changing reservations. I booked another two nights at the Four Season’s in advance, since our past bad experience at Imanta was still fresh in my mind. Always have a alternative plan, in case things don’t work out.
Since they don’t have good contact info or communications on their website, here is working emails (be sure to contact them and establish communication prior your arrival since they probably won’t):
General information (don’t expect a reply): email@example.com
Guest Services (very prompt): firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Sales (try to avoid): Rodrigo Ruiz email@example.com
TEL: +52(329)298-4200 TEL: +52(329)298-4242
1 Book lowest category and lowest cost suite. Then upgrade when there, or just enjoy your huge price savings (all the suites are nice and roomy). You spend most of your time on the beach anyhow.
2 If you are unhappy with your service or stay, just go over to Four Season’s. Imanta will not try to make things right – so vote with your feet. I have access to rates that are around 80 percent reduced from list price (rack rate). Please email me for details (3 bedroom villa – owner managed). Email Greg at: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 If you do want elegant villa, you have two choices: Casona Jaguar (huge with big pool but removed from beach and commons area – and it does have a big nanny/kids wing) or the most desired Casona Templos (pics shown below) which is right on the beach, and closest to dining, workout room, etc. Templos has three structures, basically two master bedrooms separated by a huge beautiful pool, and a separate kitchen dining area. Templos has a separate nanny quarters below the master suite.
4 If you do decide to book Jaguar or Templos in advance, get it in writing from Sr. Ruiz that your reservation will not be changed, or upgraded, unless approved by you in advance. The trick they use is to upsell lower paying customers into Templos, and then boot you to the less desired Jaguar. It gets them a few extra thousand dollars while removing you for the most desired location on the property.
5 Write Reviews: Resort managers and owners don’t seem to get it. This is your opportunity to let other customers know in advance what to expect.