Our travel agent had informed us of the Dominican building requirements for number of floors, proximity to the water and natural flora species that must be in place, so we were expecting to have a partially obscured ocean view, but it was still blissful and allowed the sounds of the ocean to enter our room when the windows were opened. The rooms were nicely appointed and consistent with my expectations from prior international travel experiences. The building layouts do make sense from the standpoint of minimizing walking distances and maximizing the number of rooms that technically have an ocean view; however, at the cost of privacy. Our initial room, 7305, had a decent view of the ocean, but an even better view of other guest rooms as well as some minor disrepair (broken thermostat dials, shower pan sealant, broken electrical outlet). We requested a different room, which the staff was very helpful with (Thank you, Magalis), and after moving to room 6304 we had a well appointed room with a slightly more obscured ocean view, but no other guest rooms in sight (for this trip we valued our privacy higher than breathtaking views - although in the past we have been able to experience both, albeit at a greater cost).
Our trip was for a romantic vow renewal. While there were a number of ways to inject romance, including a lovely ceremony, large jacuzzi on suite balcony, a private beach front dinner (additional expense), and the general ambiance of a Caribbean getaway, the overall feel of the resort was more geared toward fun and family experiences. The resort grounds were lush and well maintained lending to a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. While this was a family resort children were never intrusive, owed greatly to a smart layout and a bevy of activities designed for them. There are rules of dress and conduct posted; however, they were marginally (if it all) enforced. There were a handful of topless sunbathers, who where generally discreet; however, it is a family resort and is expressly forbidden. There was also a couple groups of wedding revelers that had extremely loud (and very inebriated) conversations, including some distasteful language. It was short lived, but still detracted from the romance, and would have been a much bigger issue had we brought our five children. As far as children go, they were generally unnoticed and never intrusive, owed largely to the assortment of staff-led activities and play areas designed exclusively for them.
The food can be broken down into three categories: selection, quality, and experience. The selection was on par, if not a little better, than my expectations of an all-inclusive resort. The themed restaurants had decent menus with a good variety and the buffet changed some of their choices daily, while some of the staples remained. The quality did vary somewhat, the Bordeaux restaurant (adults only) wins hands down for best overall dining - the food was delicious with top-notch presentation, the wait staff was timely and cordial, and the atmosphere was serene and romantic, lending itself to a fabulous and intimate dining experience. Himitsu (the Pan-Asian) restaurant has teppanyaki style experience that falls far short in all categories even more so when compared to a similar themed restaurant like Kanki. Granted, it is a single themed restaurant in a Dominican resort; however, the "show" was lacking, the food was bland, and there wasn't really a choice in what was prepared - the saving grace was lively conversation had with other guests seated at the same grill. The bakery does deserve a special mention, the breads were simply amazing and our wedding cake tasted and looked fabulous (although my wife did come across a few pieces of eggshell). The wait staff created a bit of a mixed experience, always helpful and polite, but not always timely - overall we had positive experiences with only 3 or 4 out of thirty experiences where a drink order would take 10-15 minutes to return, or be forgotten completely. Neither my wife nor I drink alcohol - which seemed to take most of the staff by surprise - so we usually had orange juice, water, or soda, not complex drink orders that would require a wait at a busy bar. We definitely preferred the american-styled first-come, first-served as opposed the reservation system of most all-inclusive resorts. While we were there, we never experienced waits of more than a few minutes to be seated (after asking I was told the resort was a little over 80% capacity) so it wasn't just that we were there during a slow period.
The staff was always very friendly and courteous, there were a handful of occasions where the obviously-part-of-the-staff-training "it's a pleasure" response felt a bit rehearsed and insincere, but their actions were always helpful. The entertainment team far exceeded any expectations either of us had. There were always lively activities to be found ranging from yoga on the beach, sports, quite impressive shows, to wacky competitions with guests. The entertainment team was always smiling and funny - we were going to try and smuggle Wilbert out in our suitcase! After comparing the rates with online excursion providers with operators found on-site at the hotel we were surprised to find the on-site providers to have better prices and have the advantage of have a live representative in case any issues arise. We went on two off-property excursions and had a wonderful time at both; however, do be prepared to haggle quite a bit if you visit any location with a tourist store. We had one fellow try to sell as a photo album for 80USD - the same style was available in the hotel shop for 20USD - he begrudgingly accepted 800DRP, which is a little over 20USD. It was an interesting experience, but definitely do not be afraid to go VERY low knowing you will need to come up a bit to close the deal - or just avoid it altogether and just buy from the hotel shops.
The Preferred Club perks were well worth the marginal extra expense, between the free internet (otherwise as high as 4USD/min), the better quality hors devours, the larger towels without requiring checking in/out, the free movie check in/out, business center (great for printing out travel documents), the dedicated concierge, and the dedicated bar which always had plenty of cold water and soda (and also stocks better quality liquors). There was never really a problem with getting a lounger or even a bed on the beach area, but the preferred club area ensured access to either of the above (including padded loungers) and was in a quieter section of the beach - away from the ocean trampoline.
Overall, we had a great experience at Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa, many wonderful memories were made and we are very happy with our choice. Knowing what we do now, we may have opted to do our romantic vow renewal trip at a resort that specifically caters to couples, but we have also discussed how much fun it would be to invite our siblings (all over 25) to go back to Dreams as a group. This really is a large compliment as we tend to explore the world and not revisit the same location more than once.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Secluded in a lush tropical paradise, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa features one of the largest free-form swimming pools in the Dominican Republic, stretching from the lobby all the way down to the pristine beach. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dreams Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
- Sunscape Beach Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Sunscape Beach
- Dreams Resort Punta Cana
- Dreams Punta Cana Resort
- Dreams Dominican Republic