AIRPORT: This is a very fast paced, confusing airport. You need to have a plan before arriving or you will get caught up in the hub bub. We booked our trip with Funjet Vacations and decided not to use their HUGE buses for the transfer. If you do this, you have to stop at other resorts to let people off, sometimes this can take an extra hour or two. I booked with Dominican Air Transfer.. $92 for transfer to hotel and return for 4 people on a private transfer. I would highly recommend this company! We stopped along the way to have a cold one and he was more than happy to accomodate us. These people are great. If you decide to go with them they will tell you that you need to meet them in the lobby of the hotel the following day for more instructions, this is simply a way for them to get you to book excursions with them. We did not meet with them becasue we have been there and done that. Also, we purchased our "tourist card" prior to arriving..there is really no need to do this because the line was fast and all you have to do is hand them $ 10 cash.
ROOMS:: Upon arriving Maximo greeted us with a smile and cold rags. We asked for an upgrade to a swim up room but there were no rooms available at the time and he said he would do what he could. At first, we were a little disappointed but after we got our room ( building 53 ) we loved the location and being on the third floor. We decided against the swim up. You definitely have more privacy in the non swim up rooms and sometimes there are people all hours of the night in the pool. Quiet, but the patios are not divided. Our room overlooked the pool and the room itself was gorgeous. David was our butler and he was a gem, we did not demand much and he was quite shocked, I think some people expect way too much!! He loved us as we loved him!!!! The room temps are set to 73 degrees, you can not change the temperature, but the ceiling fan was a big plus. Also, the room key keeps the electricity on, so at all times we kept one key in place to keep the a/c running all day. If you are modest, I can see where the bathrooms would be an issue, there is not much privacy there. We did order pillows off the pillow menu and the feather pillows are heaven!!! We did not order the smelly stuff, we brought our own poo poo spray. The bar is a plus and they will keep stocked with whatever you like and the snacks are peanuts and soda crackers. The soda crackers came in handy with the upset bellies. Wi-fi is hit or miss in the rooms, sometimes you could go on the patio and get it. Best bet is to go to the lobby. Also, DO NOT use the water in the rooms. This is non filtered water.. that means do not rinse your tootbrush.. ALWAYS use bottled water. We learned the hard way and after speaking to return guests we learned this. We went back to the room and soaked our toothbrushes in vodka.
HOTEL: Beautiful hotel and grounds.. immaculate..picture perfect!! It is a huge resort but you can get around on golf carts or the complex train. Golf carts are the better. We walked a majority of the time but we also stayed at our resort. Beach towels are best to get in the morning before 11am, they go fast. Hansel at the towel hut is a doll, always smiling, positive attitude, he was a pleasure to see every morning. The employees work their butts off and if you smile and treat them with respect, you will be amazed!!! They work an average of 11-21 days STRAIGHT and then get to go home to their families for 3 days...
BEACH/POOLS: The beach is amazing, early in the morning, the water is beautiful with little or no seaweed. Yes, people do save chairs and huts but that is just part of it. The pools are clean and refreshing. We spent a majority of time on the beach. We also took our own rafts and left them behind for the next to use. It was much appreciated. It is a very quiet beach so if you are looking for action you will need to go to the other areas of the complex. The excursion people will ask you about what they have to offer but you just have to tell them " not interested". Their is a security guard at the end of the property and he does his best to keep the Haitians off the beach.
FOOD/DRINKS: First of all, this is an all inclusive resort.. you can always find something you like and you have to be careful on the food, it's just smart thinking. We always had breakfast at The Royal Gourmet..great food and service, the earlier the better. For lunch we usually went to the La Bohio ( located next door ), it's a buffet and they have many choices. My husband found a guy on the beach that made Paella daily ( close to the massage tables), some days good, some days not so good. They do serve pizzas and sandwiches at the bar. We made the mistake of not making reservations the first day when we arrived, the only times left were 10pm. We ate at the Japanese restaurant.. excellent, the shrimp was the best. It is very warm in there when you are at the hibachi. Being a 10pm seating, we felt like we were rushed through dinner. We went next door to the other resort and ate at the buffet.. WOW!!! Felt like we were in a different country...kids, families, total craziness..way too many people and the service lacked, but you have to understand they were trying to take care of hundreds of people. We decided we wouldn't do that again. The remainder of the nights, we ate at The Royal and La Chanterelle. Both places quiet, service was excellent, red wine was smooth, food was hit or miss. Lobster was not good, mushy and needless to say 2 of our party got sick but we still went back and we could sit outside at night at both restaurants. The best advice I can give about the food is use common sense. We did take a Pepcid AC every morning and that helped tremedously through the day.
The drinks were good.. always ask for the Anejo Rum in your drinks, huge difference in the white and Anejo. Take your own insulated cups!!!! It will definitely keep them cold.
EXCURSIONS: We booked our excursions through the hotel( in the lobby). Have your Butler give you a name ( it helps). We did the Sanoa Island trip...this is a loooonnggg day!!!! I am glad we did it because we got to see the town of Higuey and other towns on the way. It opens your eyes to what we have... if you do this trip.. plan on a 2 hour bus ride, 45 minute speedboat ride..then you get to the island and stay 2-3 hours ( this island and water is jaw dropping!!!!) then you take a catamaran back for 2 -21/2 hours ( depending on the wind) then a 2 hour bus ride back to the resort. It is a trip of a lifetime but a long and tiring trip but you also get to see sooo much. We did the speedboat/snorkling excursion. This one was only 4 hours but was great too! They pick you up at the resort in a covered truck then take you to the 2 seater speedboats.. you get to play around in these and then they take you to a reef to snorkle for an hour - stunning!!! Had a great time on both. Remember on each trip they will try and sell you a video and/or picture. You have to decide on this. Videos are $35-$45 and pictures $12-$15.
SHOPPING: There is not much shopping... seems like everything is mass produced. There is shopping on the resort, but remember, they are resort prices. You can walk to the right of the beach and there are shacks with stuff in them. The majority of the people are Haitians, they can be very aggresive, you just have to tell them " no thank you" but a little goes far. We asked our Butler if there were any places in town and he did say there were shops outside of the resort but they would only take you to the entrance and drop you off and you have to walk. We did it and had a ball. You have to walk about 1/2 mile and there are many shops. Once again you will be haggled but they definitely have better prices on souvenirs, liquor and other items. Take a calculator - it helps!! They can get you so confused with all the back and forth of prices!! Do stop inside the little village to have a beer!! Coldest in town!!!! We were so excited to have a cold beer!!!
EXTRA TIPS: If you think you will need any type of medicine, take it!!! It is very expensive to go to the dr or hospital. We talked to a guy that had to go to the hospital!! Big bucks and of course, you pay cash!! We packed a little bag with pepcid, pepto, advil, benadryl, benadryl cream, neosporin, band aids, pain pills, nausea pills, powdered gatorade.. all came in handy. DON"T forget hand sanitizer, we always carried around the little bottles of hand sanitizer ( we gave alot away, but we could have made a fortune!!)
Hope this helps! You will love Punta Cana!!!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.