After a long but uneventful flight from Calgary with Air Transat, arrived at Punta Cana Airport, where immigration and baggage retrieval was efficient and took about a half hour. It’s nice to have the $15 landing card handed out aboard the flight. Air Transat was chosen ‘Best Vacation Airline’ by Skytrax and it showed: Aircraft was modern with good in-flight entertainment and courteous staff.
A quick taxi ride to the hotel ($30) allowed us to arrive in plenty of time for a late dinner, this being much preferable to the scheduled bus transfer.
The reception for the Reserve is separate from the one at the main Paradisus Palma Real, so be sure this is where you are dropped off.
We stayed at the Reserve before (January 2010) so we were quite familiar with the rooms and features of the resort. The current $1500 credit given to guests staying one week or more, allowed us to apply a $400 credit towards a room upgrade, so we elected to upgrade to a swim-up suite.
From check-in by Sara to check-out by Lara the two weeks we spent at the Reserve were as close to perfect as our holidays have ever been. We have travelled extensively and have stayed at beach resorts in Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Aruba, Maldives, Thailand, Cuba and other Dominican resorts, but this has been by far our best experience! After check-in, we proceeded to the Gabi Restaurant while our room was being prepared (due to the upgrade) and the luggage was taken to the room.
The suites are all very modern, clean and spacious and consist of a bedroom with 1 king or 2 queen beds, and a living room with pull-out couch, dining table and small kitchen. All of them have either a garden or balcony. 4 buildings are on each side of the Gabi restaurant and reception area in a half moon shape, around the pool, garden, grill, kids zone and spa.. Each building contains 24 rooms (as far as I could tell)
The garden is amazing, with secluded spots and the pool meandering throughout. The grill serves lunch and the whole resort is very child friendly.
The main building also contains the Aqua and Miso restaurants as well as a bar and entertainment area and a lounge with refreshments and Internet workstations. The rooms also have Wifi, but beware: Internet speed is slow.
The beach area is somewhat remote from the reserve, about a 10-20 minute walk, depending on location of your room. However, they have an excellent shuttle service for those who would prefer to get there faster. On the beach is the Gabi Beach Restaurant and bar which serves an excellent lunch and dinner.
Breakfast in the Gabi Restaurant offered many options buffet style, but be early if you like smoked salmon, as this is quickly snapped up by the guests. Eggs prepared on demand and a host of fruits are just some of the many options, many aimed at the younger crowd.
We chose to have all of our lunches at the Gabi Beach, as we tend to spend most of the day on the beach, but other options are available, both at the Reserve as well as at the main Palma Real building, where Reserve guests have full privileges.
Talking about restaurants: There are many restaurants with a variety of themes and we tried most of them: At the Reserve, Aqua serves modern fusion cuisine, Miso Japanese Teppanyaki (great show, especially for the young), the Hydro grill serves lunch as well as a buffet at the Gabi Restaurant, and elegant lunches and dinners at the Gabi Beach.
At the Palma Real, we tried the following:
Bana Bistro serves Asian fusion
Vento – Mediterranean cuisine
Market Grill – Grilled Meat and Seafood
Passion – High end French cuisine (extra charge)
The passion restaurant is heaed by a Spanish chef, who was garnered 6 Michelin stars and the food here is amazing, we tried the tasting menu, about 10 very small courses accompanied by 5 wines. Truly delicious and impeccable service.
The beach is spacious and there are enough chairs and palapas for all guests. Towels are freely available at the beach, so no need to drag them with you all the way from the room. There is ample opportunity to arrange for sailing or canoeing on the beach or tours and other motorized activities.
As mentioned earlier, this was our second visit, after about 3 ½ years. We loved our first visit, which was with 7 others, including a 3 year old. We were extremely pleased then, and this really influenced our decision for a return visit. What has changed? The Reserve is even better than before!
The main changes were to the entertainment and the level of service. Almost every night, there is now live music in one or two facilities: The Avenida Bar in the Palma Real and the Gabi bar in the Reserve.
The second change, and the more important one, has been the effort and training of the staff. Without exception everyone we met was friendly and genuinely interested in making sure that we had the best experience possible. This not only included administrative and restaurant staff, but also cleaning staff, gardeners, drivers etc. And although we speak a rudimentary Spanish, their knowledge of English has improved tremendously.
It is truly impossible to mention all the friendly people we met and sometimes had extensive conversations with, but here are some that didn’t escape my good but short memory:
Gabi Restaurant: Deuri, Angela Mercedes and Pedro Paulino
Gabi Beach Restaurant: Daniel, Wilson, Santo, Juan de Afa, Lilliana and Genivel Mauricio
Passion and Concierge: Laura Castillo
Sushi Bar: Jonathan Costa Bama
Avanida Bar: Sorbia
Front Desk: Sara and Lara
Of course, what also helped was that management arranged that most of the rain came during the night!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Explore The Reserve, our new boutique resort within a resort, designed for those whose stay in a luxury suite is as important as sun, sea and sand. Including three pools and a la carte restaurants, YHI Spa and gym, Swim up Suites with direct access to the pool Family Concierge Suites. Take benefit of your stay at The Reserve and use its facilities and services as well as the ones in Paradisus Palma Real Resort. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Reserve At Paradisus Palma Real Hotel Punta Cana