Fun Royale/Tropicale, Puerto Plata, DR, Feb 2011.
Background: As everyone knows, I've been a strong supporter of this hotel for many years. But that wasn't really for the hotel, but for the staff. The hotel has always been plain and ordinary, but the staff were exceptional and more like family. However, it had to happen eventually. This trip turned out to be the vacation from hell and I lay most of the blame on Westjet Vacations, despite the warm fuzzy feelings they promote in their advertising. When things go well, they seem fine, but when things go bad, they just don't seem to have a clue. I'm totally dissatisfied with the way they handled things, right from the beginning when I booked to the abysmal compensation they offered following my complaints. Whatever I'm feeling is worlds away from warm and fuzzy. They may be 'owners' but .......
For starters, about a week after I booked, they dropped the property from their listings. Note that I paid in full at the time of booking and they had my money for at least 6 to 7 months prior to the trip. Did they tell me about this? NO. Big red flag. I had to find out for myself. When I queried them, they just said "everything will be fine". Then I discovered quite by accident that I wouldn't get the room I'd been confirmed because the hotel section was being converted to condos. Did they tell me about this? Again, NO. Call that one a disappointment. Then, a mere 36 hours before our departure for the airport, I discovered that the hotel would be closing in the middle of our stay and we'd be moved to another property. I didn't learn about this from Westjet, but by another totally different source. When I queried them about this, they knew nothing about it and again stated "everything will be fine" and that there was nothing they could do about it. Yeah, right! They offered no alternatives or the option to cancel. It was pretty much 'so sorry, too bad'. I guess that was better then the people that found out when they arrived at the airport. And that happened too.
Despite the fact that my wife's mother had passed away two weeks prior to the trip, we felt that a nice relaxing vacation break would be good therapy and a chance to ramp down after the two weeks stress following the death and funeral. Such was not the case and this was the first vacation I've ever returned from that I was glad to get home. It was just horrible. The
atmosphere and attitude was as far away from vacation-like as you can get.
When we arrived at the hotel, we discovered that about 60% of the staff (our family) had already been terminated and the remaining 40% were pretty well unaware that they were out of a job at the end of the week. But the word was spreading fast. So much for taking care of the customers .......
To make a long story short
1) There was no Westjet representative or departure information at the hotel. To his credit, the rep did try to get in to see us, but not at the date/time specified on our welcome papers. We showed up at the appointed time, but he didn't. He did try to set a different time, but couldn't get a message to us. See item 3.
2) We got a substandard room. There was very little storage, the hanging closet was a bad joke, the toilet didn't work right, the ac was anemic (we needed it because there was no ventilation), the phone didn't work (ever), there was hot water only three days out of 7, there were a few critters, the list goes on and on .....
3) As mentioned, the phone in that room didn't work the entire week we were there. This despite the fact that I reported it daily. I shudder to think what would have happened if there had been an emergency.
4) We had hot water only three nights out of seven. The other nights it wasn't even tepid. I had to fix the toilet myself.
5) The advertised 24 hour all-inclusive wasn't.
6) The swim-up pool bar was closed and all the equipment had been removed.
7) The beach club chicken BBQ was shut down. That was a MAJOR issue with me because it's always been so good. I looked forward to that chicken .....
8) The pool was dirty. To be fair, it was pretty clean when we arrived, but its condition deteriorated as the week went on. The beach was pretty clean, but that was just an accident since no one was ever cleaning it.
9) The grounds were not well maintained since most of the gardening staff had already been terminated.
10) We were constantly lied to about the timing and necessity to change hotels at the end of the week. It was frustrating. At a minimum, the story changed daily. Even on the last day, the schedule for moving changed three times, and none of those happened. We finally got someone's attention and they moved us then. We got out one hour before 'the big guy' made the closing announcement to the staff and the resulting 48 hour sit in. We lived out of a suitcase for that week. Things were that uncertain.
11) There was one employee left at the beach club and she was the manager. Since cleaning tables was not in her job description, there was considerable 'stuff' on the floors and tables, including bat guano. We had to clean tables ourselves to clear a spot to eat.
12) A la carte specialty dining was severely limited, both in quantity and selection, not to mention quality. The buffet was tolerable, but limited selection. Some strange stuff showed up since they were likely cleaning out the supplies.
13) The place is no-longer super clean. Despite this we didn't get sick. Maybe we were just lucky.
14) All the hotel blocks (A, B, C & D) are shut down and gutted. They are converting them to over-priced condos. Progress seems to be stalled.
15) We talked daily with the staff about their job loss and their family commitments. It was just heartbreaking. Our normal tips increased by a factor of ten. A normal $2 tip became a $20 tip. Man, I feel so sorry for these people that have been like family and served me for so many years.
I didn't get anywhere near what I bought and paid for. I realize that the tour company has no control over what the hotel does, but they should at least stand behind what they are selling. I feel completely cheated. Of course, I asked for a full refund and was offered a minimal, and I repeat minimal, future credit towards my next trip with them. That's not likely to cost them
much. Based on their performance, it's unlikely that I'll ever travel with them again. Even if they had given me options and I elected to proceed, at least that would have been MY choice. Then I'd be partially responsible. But they offered none. My only choice was to refuse to board the plane and lose everything.
As for the hotel, I firmly believe that this property will never re-open. Even if it does, I won't be returning. As I said, we went for the staff, not just for the hotel. None of them will ever return, so it would never be the same. Fun Royale/Tropicale is history. I'll have fond memories of the good times we had there and hopefully in time I'll forget about this one last trip.
This leads me to part two of the trip. They transferred us to Puerto Plata Village, another property in the Playa Dorada complex. It wasn't what we booked or wanted, but despite this the second week went well. I'm posting that review as well.
- Also Known As:
- Fun Royale Beach Hotel Puerto Plata
- Fun Royale Beach Hotel
- Fun Royale
- Fun Royale Dominican Republic
- Fun Royale Beach
- Hotel Fun Royale Beach
- Royale Beach Hotel
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