Overall experience was fantastic. I am a woman in my mid forties (but feel 30) and travelled alone, just so you can see my perspective. Spent two weeks for very little money. Tried to highlight what I thought others would like to know. Put sections in caps so yo ucan find what you're looking for (I hope).
TRAVEL IN: Flew in on Skyservice from Calgary. Good flight. Signature vacations rep was right there at the airport to help you and get you to the right air conditioned bus. Watch to ensure your luggage gets on the same bus as you when going to and returning from the hotel. They take you directly to the hotel. Approx 20 minute drive. Check in was good, but there were no resort maps. That would have been helpful, they were in the process of updating the maps. Porter takes you and your bags to room, and away you go.
The resort was very CLEAN, my housekeeper (Maria) was a wonderful lady. She made me a clay dominican doll. It may be nothing but made me feel special. I gave her a thank you card when I left and she was so appreciative she cried. Although they never knock.
I started in a normal room overlooking the soccer pitch first (225). It had no balcony, and you could hear eveything from the amplifier that was being said by the animation staff over the microphone. This starts at 10:30 in the morning and basically goes until late afternoon. There is then a break for supper but then the night shows start at 8:30 until 11:00 or so. Needless to say, no napping or early nights. The TV was pure static, and that was my main entertainment at night. I spent two night there and then requested another room.They weren't so forthcoming in the beginning but I persisted and they showed me a villa room (2523). WAY better, separate bedroom, living area with futon and chair, and a kitchen and a balcony, but no noise. The trip was much improved after my move. If you want a REMOTE FOR TV you have to request it and put a $20 deposit down. They also need to know the brand of TV so they can give you the correct remote. Apparently the staff were stealing them so they don't leave them in the room. I hid mine every time I went out for fear that someone would steal it, but I had no problems with anything going missing. You can rent SAFETY DEPOSIT BOXES for $20 also. This is not a safety deposit box in the hotel but a safe in your room and you are responsible for the key. There were no washclothes to be found. You could request a coffee maker or kettle but good luck. I got a hold of a kettle when I was in room 225 but the cord end did not match the plug in. When I moved rooms, I didn't take the kettle with me, although when I got to the new room, it had the proper plug in. C'est la vie. There is an ice maching but does not work. There are also laundry facilities.
The staff were very enthusiastic (except one lady at the front desk). They were very good at getting everyone involved in games and activities. The FOOD was also good, lots of choices. Always have hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak or chops at the kid's corner. Great orange juice. I am from Alberta so the beef wasn't like home, but pretty good. Did not attend the a la carte Brazilian restaurant because I heard it was all meat dishes. Did attend the Italian a la carte, and it was excellent. Had four cheese penne to die for if you like pasta. The beach bar has great chicken and burgers. The Pizzeria is open from 12-5 and had pretty good pizza.
The BEACH was a five minute walk from the hotel or you could take the trolley, which runs non stop from beach to hotel from 8:00 to 5:30. One day the trolley broke down and they sent a taxi to pick us up. The beach is for all of Playa Dorada guests. There is 14 hotels in the complex and they share the very long beach. You have a section for your hotel but you may use any part of the beach. The beach is not the Caribbean Sea with the white sand. It is the ocean and rocky. It was quite windy the whole time I was there and it felt a little like being sandblasted sometimes. Not much by the way of snorkeling at the beach. Too much silt. Good thing the pool was great. Also topless sunbathers, beware. All kinds of vendors on the beach hawking goods nad hair braiding. All kind of activities rentals on the beach: banana boat, jet ski, kayak, etc.
There are three POOLS to choose from. The adult pool is by the restaurant and the 24 hr bar. It overlooks the golf course. Nice and peaceful with topless sunbathers. No kids allowed. The kid's pool was only 2 feet deep with supervised activites taking place. Almost empty most of the time because the parents want to go to the other pool where they can get a drink. Spent one full day floating in the kid's pool alone. Very peaceful. Then the main pool where all the activities happen. The swim up bar is there also. Never had a problem getting a drink. Lots of chairs everywhere.
ACTIVITIES: They have bikes that you can borrow, but it is not open on Sundays. There is a mini-golf course that has seen better days but still usable. There are ping pong tables, a pool table, volleyball, badminton, and soccer. The animation staff will play a game of ping pong with you if you ask. They play games all day which are enjoyable to watch. They play bingo, darts, frisbee, balloon games, races, merengue lessons, etc. There is also night time excursions to the casino, a beach party, a night club. They have an internet station where you can rent a computer for $5/half hr.
There is a PLAZA in the middle of the Playa Dorada Complex (about 10 or 15 minute walk form hotel). It has shops, cinema, restaurants, drug store, night club, etc. It is cheaper than the hotel shop. I bought a can of Pringles form the hotel shop for $6. There is also a bank and ATM at the Plaza.
MONEY: There is an exchange bank at the hotel but does require a passport or ID to change money. Nowhere else in the world accepts Dominican Pesos (RD) so make sure you change in your money before leaving the country. They also do not accept Canadian coin. I tried using a toonie and they thought it was like Monopoly money. When I was there it was 33 RD to $1Cnd, or 30 RD to $1 US.
SIGNATURE VACATIONS was fantastic at the resort. Louisa was the main lady with help from Elvis. They had a welcome seminar the morning after I arrived and gave all kinds of helpful info. Also booked tours with them. I was ill a couple days and they let me re-schedule everything. Just fantastic.
EXCURSIONS I took were: Outback Safari, rough going (like 4x4), and long day; Northern Highlights, shopping to Sosua/Puerto Plata and visit to Sosua beach, Amber Museum and cigar factory; Freestyle Catamaran (great snorkeling for what there is of it but also longday; and Ocean World, which was great except check for earlier transport if going.
CHECK OUT: Check out is at 1:00. My flight was at 7:00 PM. They let you use the facilities until your flight. You still check out at 1:00 and they have a luggage room where you cna store your luggage until the glight. This room is not locked and anyone can enter. Signature rep was there to ensure everyone was on the bus. Be careful of luggage weights. I paid $10/kg overweight and was 9 kilos over. I definitely did not bring back 20 lbs of souveniers. The humidity must add a few pounds to luggage.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.