I booked the trip via LivingSocial and Apple Vacations for a quick November getaway. This was my first stay in the DR, and after reading some of the other reviews, I did not know what to expect. The grounds on the property were beautiful, and guests can tell how much time is spent by the staff in ensuring that everything is clean and immaculate. The floors are being consistently mopped, the beaches are raked clean of debris and fallen leaves, groundskeepers chipping off old paint and putting on a fresh coat, etc.
Check-in: The only downside to my trip was that I was due to have a guaranteed upgrade to the villas section of the resort per the package that I bought, yet it was not honored when I checked into the hotel. Whereas it was the fault of the travel agent for any miscommunication, it did take a lot of convincing and many phone calls before the staff allowed my friends and i to "upgrade" to an ocean view room. While it was still not what I paid for, I don't think it should've warranted 2 hours from the time of check-in to present a solution.
Rooms: Rooms are exactly how they are represented in the photos. Open concept and extremely spacious, and the A/C system did a great job in decreasing the amount of humidity in the rooms, however, it never went below 65 degrees F. We did notice that the air may shut off automatically if it detects the balcony doors being opened though. The only downside is that I was really looking forward to the rain shower, but the one that was in my room (Room 2021) was clogged. There's a normal shower though, which worked just as well!
Room Service: The room service is extremely limited. Unless you're clamming for a sandwich at 3am, I would not encourage you to get room service. You'll get more variety and better quality in the buffet areas of the resort.
Pool: The pool was great, and the staff working were extremely accommodating. They were a lot of recreational activities for guests to partake in including- dance lessons, water aerobics, bingo, archery, etc. The hotel got a bit more crowded towards the weekend, and the staff started playing drinking games with the guests. Not really my cup of tea, and I was happy to move to a chair on the beach where it was quieter.
Beach: This property definitely occupies one of the nicest areas of the beach. The staff is really attentive to the cleanliness of beach, and the vendors don't really bother the guests. A simple, "no gracias" and a smile was enough to have them leave you alone. With the hotel being booked at 70% capacity, there were always more than enough chairs and tables for guests to relax in. Side note: the waiters don't really come to the beach, so I would recommend being a tumbler or a water bottle with a koozie to keep your drink cold.
Food: The food overall was ok, but then again, I didn't have high expectations going to an all-inclusive resort. There was a supervisor/chef that was always roaming the restaurants and buffets to ensure the quality of food was met, but my only gripe was that the cold bar (with fruit, seafood, ceviche, cheeses, etc.) was not up to the quality that any food service establishment should have. Instead of having packed ice underneath the bowls and platters, there was a thin sheet of ice, which did not cool the food. In addition, there was a lamp on each station, which made the food hotter than it was supposed to be. I probably sound really nit-picky, but I come from years of experience doing hospitality marketing, this was not sanitary. However, I will say, that all the other hot stations were great. Very accommodating with the palettes of their guests. I would say the food skewed European/American, and there was a lack of Latin food. Montecristo Buffet was better than the a la carte restaurants, and there was such variety. I loved going there for breakfast. I had the opportunity to eat at Krystal and Geisha. Geisha was pretty mediocre, but then again, I didn't travel to the Caribbean to eat Japanese food. Krystal was interesting. I think they were trying to go the molecular gastronomy route, and I applaud the chef for their attempts. The beef carpaccio, beet shooter, fish, and lamb were pretty tasty. The service was terrible. My friends and I ended up serving ourselves (luckily there was a bucket of drinks at each table).
Renova Spa: The spa was a delight. My friend and I booked the 80 minute relaxation massage, and boy was it relaxing! Prices were normal- $135 for 80 minutes and the team was really attentive. It was nice to go away to a candle lit room, plop in some Enya and relax.
Water: All the water is filtered, so ice and water in the restaurants are good to drink! They do provide a caution sign in the bathrooms for guests who are brushing their teeth.
Tips: Staff don't expect a tip from you, but do reward them for their good service if you are receiving it. I did notice not a lot of people were tipping, and the staff were very appreciative when you do. I would say, you got even better service from the ones you gave a few dollars to! Also, leave a tip in your room every morning for the cleaning staff. Not all the cleaning staff are assigned to the same room.
Overall, the resort met my expectations, and the staff (they will always greet you with a smile) really made the stay extremely enjoyable. Free wifi was a huge plus!
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