I stayed at the EPC from November 11-20, 2012. This was my first time in the Dominican, but certainly not my first time at an all-inclusive resort. I chose EPC because it claimed to be a 5 star resort, received mostly excellent reviews, and as a solo travel was good value having to pay the single supplement. Sadly I think the relatively low cost may have brought along the rowdy, ill mannered tourists too.
I had read about the long, windy, bumpy road to the resort so I took a Gravol. It was indeed as others had said. It was mostly one lane roads with lots of pot holes which my driver was very good about dodging. I opted for a private car knowing that EPC was the last stop and would take an hour. So glad I did. While some of the scenery was nice, the abject poverty I witnessed was disturbing. I made sure to tip generously throughout my stay after seeing how many people lived, not knowing whether the staff or their families came from such humble abodes. As an FYI I learned that the staff live in dorms just outside the resort. They work 11 days on, 14 hour days, sleep in bunk beds, the rooms are not air conditioned, and they can't open the windows because the mosquitos are horrendous by their dorms.
I was greeted with a cold towel and glass of champagne and whisked away to the Excellence club for my check-in which was very smooth. The bellman gave me a tour along the way pointing out the restaurants and amenities as we walked. When I arrived at my room I was thrilled to see it was decorated with balloons and a towel shaped like a tiered cake on my bed for my birthday. I stayed in building 10, room 10109 and had a nice view of the ocean. The room was well appointed and clean. I had no bug problem as others had reported in their reviews. The bed was rather firm and the pillows small but I can sleep on anything. I'm glad I travelled alone as it had a shower that could be fully viewed in the bedroom. The toilet was in there too which obviously wouldn't give you any privacy. The make-up mirror was way too high up. It was attached at about 6 ft from the floor. It was completely useless! The lighting was terrible. I was also bothered by the lack of electrical outlets. There only appeared to be two available outlets which was by the sink. The AC worked fine in my room...too well in fact and often had to turn it down or off. It was so humid there though that no amount of AC could dry your wet bathing suits. Everything always felt slightly damp, though I didn't smell any mildew as others complained of in reviews.
I had 5 large bottles of alcohol as well as a stocked fridge. I only drink coke so I had them take out the diet coke and replace it with more regular coke. I was also able to switch out one of the bottles of alcohol for a large bottle of Bailey's. It would have been nice if they stocked better munchies. There were no potato chips which was a disappointment for me as I have a salt tooth.
I was very disappointed with the food. I'm by no means a foodie and very much a steak and potatoes kind of girl but I found most of the food rather bland. The first night I went to the Lobster House. Most all-inclusives you'd have to pay extra for lobster so I was very excited. I had the clam chowder and lobster thermidore. It wasn't the New England clam chowder I was expecting. It was a dark grey pureed fishy tasting concoction with a single clam in its shell. I didn't care for it but I guess it was there take on it. The lobster must have been a different species than I was used to and their version of thermidore was different but not unpleasant. I gave the Lobster house one more go and had the a la diabla and I found it bland and almost inedible. The Lobster house for breakfast on the other hand I found to be quite good. The Breakfast buffet at Toscana was also pretty good but their sausages were not good.
Next night I tried the Grill and I thought this was the worst meal. The Caesar salad was more like lettuce in a soupy mess of dressing. I ordered the beef tenderloin and shrimp, and side of mushrooms. Looking at the cows I saw as I drove in I should have known better. It was not seasoned at all, had no flavour, and was more of a tough sirloin. The "sautéed mushrooms" were heated canned mushrooms... yes canned! I had great difficulty eating this meal.
The best meal I had was at the Asian restaurant Spice. I was with a large group of Canadians I had just met so the staff just brought us out every appetizer on the menu to share. I thought it was awesome. The pot stickers and spring rolls were amazing! Could have given more ginger though for the sushi. I had the Thai Green curry which was actually red but tasted great and was sufficiently spicy. I ended up going back to this restaurant 2 more times.
The Mediterranean restaurant, Barcelona, was also quite good. Again I was with the same large group of Canadians so they brought us out a variety of tapas. I most enjoyed the garlic shrimp. Everyone seemed to enjoy their main courses, but I again made the mistake of ordering steak with goat cheese. It was two very thin cuts of sirloin with goat cheese between them. If it wasn't for the goat cheese the meal would have had no flavour. It seems to be that those who have fish most enjoy their meals.
We then went to Toscana, the Italian restaurant. Unfortunately the AC was broken, there was no air movement to speak of, and we were all dying from the heat. A couple of us had to go outside just to catch a breeze. It made for a very uncomfortable dinner and we really just wanted eat and get the hell out of there. I had the minestrone to start which was quite good, but again I just don't learn and ordered beef in a port glaze. It was like breaded steak and was very flat, overdone and looked like a well done hamburger patty. The glaze was ok though. The pastas looked good and apart from the heat people seemed to enjoy it.
The last restaurant I tried with my new friends was Chez Izabella. I had the French Onion soup which was rather watery and bland but still edible. I again ordered beef, the chateau briand, and this time the cut was rather tender though a little bland. A couple people order the escargot, one enjoyed it, the other couldn't eat theirs. I think all in all most enjoyed their food there.
The one thing I really did enjoy was at 12:30 every day, they would bring pizzas around the pool. The pizzas were pretty good and the beauty was you didn't have to leave your pool chair....cuz if you did someone would steal your floatie from you. Also, every other day the cooks would bring around samples of hors d'oevres many of which were really good! I give the pool side service 5 stars as this is a little extra you don't get at any other resort. I also tried the beach restaurant a couple times and found the burgers to be really good. Their daily specials were also very good like the kabobs. My only complaint is no vinegar for the fries. They really need to cater to tourists other than Americans. Most Brits and some Canadians prefer vinegar on their fries (the smell of Ketchup makes me ill).
The beach and pool areas were well kept. A tractor removed the seaweed from the shore daily, and the pool and deck areas were cleaned every morning. There are 3 pool areas: an activity area nearest the lobby, a centre pool that hosts the swim up bar, and on the far end an even quieter area. Both quiet areas have a dozen in pool loungers. The guests were late risers so unless there was an exact spot you had to have you could probably stroll down to the pool before 10 and still have your pick of ideal spots. The pool floats are tossed in around 9 or 9:30 so if you're there around that time you should have no problem getting a float. Even by 10 there are still floats waiting to be grabbed just floating in the pool. This is why I was confused by all the floatie thefts.
Apparently these particular floats are prone to breaking if left in the sun so the staff require that the floats remain in the pool at all time. This isn't a problem if you have a lounger in the pool. The particular tourists that were there when I was there were rude, loud, obnoxious thieves. I chose an adult only resort and a spot in the quieter end to avoid the rowdies. I don't like places with kids because I despise the screaming, yelling and canon-balling into the pool. Well at this resort, it was like being there at spring break and the young adults behaved like children. But the worst part were the floatie thieves. I couldn't go to pee without someone stealing my float. I'm up earlier and at the pool ALL DAY and to turn my back for a moment and be stolen from me was beyond infuriating. I was tempted to simply pee in the pool. More about who those people were later.
Because it was so soon after Sandy the water was really grey and dreary looking, but it did get bluer as the days passed. The waves were rough so I never ventured more than waist high. The sand is not white or golden but more the brown colour in a sand box. Perhaps it was because the resort is positioned on the Atlantic side.
The service was excellent. There was the odd lapse in seeing a waiter or forgetting a drink order but I really can't complain. Being a solo traveler I found they went out of their way to be attentive. One waiter at the Lobster House gave me a honeymooners' table decorated with rose petals and glass stones. Frequently room service would magically appear with complimentary treats and on my birthday a cake was waiting for me in my room. I felt very welcomed by the staff. Just as a side note, always put the chain on your door. One day I didn't have the do not disturb sign on and only dead-bolted the door. The mini bar guy did not hear me when I said one moment and was able to open my door and unlock the dead-bolt.
Every night there was a different themed show. Some were brilliant, like the Michael Jackson show, others were simply good but entertaining. Before and after the shows they would often have a band playing music until 11 pm. If you still weren't ready to go to sleep there was a casino open until 2 a.m. as well as a disco. The casino is not air conditioned and kind of smoky and dirty. I stuck my head into the disco at around 11 p.m. and it only had about about 10 patrons in it so I didn't stick around but I'm sure as the night wore on it probably got a lot busier.
Just let me preface by saying I have always found Americans to be very friendly and kind and have many American friends, but there seemed to be an exceptional amount of loud, rude, and obnoxious Americans. Maybe it's because Americans made up 80% of the guests and therefore the odds of the jerks being American would be proportionally as high. I found them to be pushy, condescending to staff, didn't tip, rarely said thank you, and really really loud! The people who tried to steal my float when my back was turned were ALL American. The ones who asked to borrow my float and return it were ALL Canadian. Most of the guests were well under 40 and at least half only in their twenties. Maybe the youth factor played into this, but it wasn't the young couples that were the problem but the large groups. One evening as I was in my room, there was a group of young adults running up and down the hall, hooting and hollering, and appeared to be having a party in their room (10111). After an hour of this carrying on I had to call the concierge as it was driving me crazy. Also as people were returning to their rooms in the evening they would be very loud as they passed through the various buildings. If you are in a large group, do try to remember that many guests are there for rest and relaxation, not for a party on the Jersey Shore.
If it wasn't for the 8 Canadians and 2 Brits that I met, the other tourists would have completely ruined my holiday. Thankfully my new friends provided welcomed, polite company and kindness to my otherwise lonely stay. Having said that, I probably would never return to this resort because of the class of people that over-run this resort. Perhaps it was the time of year being so close to Thanksgiving (though I always travel to Cancun this time of year), or maybe it was because the price of the stay was so low it invited a class of people that had poor manners and travelling etiquette, I don't know. If I return to Punta Cana I think I would try the Iberostar Grand Bavaro. It may be quite a bit more expensive but maybe I would have a more quiet restful stay.
Block 10 is attached to the Excellence Club and provides easy access. If you asked for ocean view t...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.