We have been to Iberostar in Punta Cana for the last 6 years straight...always visiting in October with our next "7th" trip planned for this October. I've been reading reviews for years and we have been shocked when we see comments about bad service, food or the beach and have always thought we wouldn't bother posting a review since they seem so "inaccurate" sometimes! BUT, it's time we spoke!
We cannot say enough about this establishment. We traveled to Iberostar Punta Cana in 2006 with 10 family members for my dream “beach wedding” which was held in front of Iberostar-PC. We chose the hotel per a recommendation from a co-worker. The wedding was amazing and all of our guests raved about how wonderful it was! It far exceeded our expectations, especially for the amount we paid. Since then, we have been back each year for “adult only” trips and family trips with our 4 children (ages 11, 12, 13 and 17) and our parents who are in their 60’s. We have stayed a minimum of 7 days and up to 14 days on past trips and have stayed at Iberostar-Punta Cana and Iberostar-Bavaro and each trip has been AMAZING! As many other posts have said, the beach, culture and people are what make this hotel so amazing and are what keep us coming back year after year. Here are some key points I have to share:
Resort: Punta Cana and Dominican share the same grounds and Bavaro is located next to Dominicana. Renovations are done each year in the Sept/October timeframe (this is there slower time and is hurricane season), so they are constantly updating. Last year we stayed at a Punta Cana and they were doing some major renovations at Dominicana. The staff was very accommodating during the renovations. This year they are doing renovations at Punta Cana. In past years during renovations, we have been upgraded to Bavaro. This shows that the hotel is doing everything they can to keep the hotel up-to-date AND keep their guests happy. So for those who comment about construction…it is to be expected if you want to keep things updated!
As for Bavaro, it has its own Lobby and several more restaurants. Both are beautiful. The additional plus to Bavaro is the pool bar, a beach bar and the additional restaurants you have to choose from. Only comment on the pool bar is that it would be nice if they kept the kids out of the portion of the pool closest to the bar (many adults don’t like kids splashing while they are trying to drink at the bar).
Rooms: Rooms are sufficient. For the little time you spend in your room they are more than enough. Spacious room, refrigerator, hair dryer, nice shower…what more do you need? Bavaro rooms are slightly larger than PC/Dominicana and are in a complex of 8 rooms versus the hotel style of PC/Dominicana. You are greeted with fresh fruit, beautiful towel decorations and fresh picked flowers. You can request restocking of certain drinks for your refrigerator. Keep in mind that some staff may not speak your language, so if you don’t get what you want, try to make a more clear note….”dos agua” – two water or put an empty bottle with a note on it for “maas” (more). Rooms also have a safe, get the code or key from the front desk at check-in. We have had problems locking our safe in the past but they have been helpful in getting it open (just be patient…there are lots of guests). We also had an instance where we left our safe open when we left for the day. The maid locked it and made note to the front desk to inform us that we left it opened. I can’t imagine many other places that would have done that (in fact I have known other places that would have cleaned the safe out!).
People: We cannot say enough about the people of the Dominican! And the hotel staff are some of the finest. We were lucky enough to meet several of the PC/Dominicana management staff and cannot say enough about them and their employees. Kawana, Francisco, David, Hector and Yoselina truly care about their guests and consider them “family”. For those who have commented about the unfriendly staff, maybe it’s that they didn’t understand your language or maybe it’s your perception? We have seen the staff bend over backwards for some unruly guests and they have done it with a smile on their faces. We have always received a warm greeting and a warm smile from the many workers who are doing all they can to make your stay enjoyable. Last year the staff hosted a beach party that allowed guest to interact with staff. They taught guests how to make the beautiful towel decorations you find in your rooms and taught people about culture and dance of the Dominican.
And now for the “Star Friends”….WOW! I don’t know where to begin. Alex and Pantera “ran the show” at PC/Dominicana. They along with their staff are some of the hardest working, talented and amazing people we have met. We just wonder when they sleep?! Since we have done the “family vacation” and “adult only” we have been able to do everything, and do nothing! With our kids we did every activity and had a ball. Not only did our kids really bond with the start friends, we did too!! And on our adult vacations we just relaxed. They ask you to participate in activities but if you aren’t interested you just tell them you just want to relax and they won’t ask you again. If they think you might have an interest they will encourage you, to make your vacation as fulfilled as they can! Joel was an amazing star friend who took time to help us with Spanish lessons and answer our many questions about the Dominican. He exchanged “friendship bracelets” with our daughter (we even saw he was still wearing it a week after our children flew back home and we were still there)! That’s when we realized he wasn’t just “trying” to be nice by exchanging bracelets with her, he really cared. He showed up early the day the children departed to say good bye, and even called our daughter for us (and let us talk to her) to ensure they made it back safely! He is truly a unique, kind, and caring person that we would be honored to call a friend. Sexy Man (Amelio) is an extremely talented dancer and our kids loved him. Santo is another person that spent a lot of time talking with us and our children. In the U.S. people don’t normally care about others unless there is something “in it for them”. That’s not the case in the Dominican. People really do seem to care about other people.
Food: We’ve been reading reviews on food for years and they are from one end of the scale to the other. First off take the advice of my doctor….if your body isn’t used to you eating/drinking a certain way, it and will protest. So, take it easy and remember: fruity drinks are a natural laxative; ENSURE you don’t drink water from the sink, brush your teeth with it or get it in your mouth when you shower (the water they serve in the restaurants is safe to drink); be cautious with the amount of fresh fruits/vegetables you eat. We didn’t consider these things our first year and paid for it! Travelers diarrhea is very common, but can be avoided if you plan for it. More info can be found: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/chapter-2/travelers-diarrhea.aspx
To summarize from this site: for prevention of Travelers Diarrhea use bismuth subsalicylate (BSS), which is the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol. Studies from Mexico show (taken daily two chewable tablets four times per day) reduces the incidence of TD from 40% to 14%. BSS commonly causes blackening of the tongue and stool and may cause nausea, constipation, and rarely tinnitus. In addition to all of us taking Pepto per their instructions we always bring along a prescription for Cipro in case someone does get sick. So Pepto is preventative, Cirpro antibiotic is once you have it. Better to be safe than sorry. The hotel also has a doctor’s office if you should get sick on your vacation.
As for the food they offer, it really depends what you are on vacation for…if you want to eat gourmet food every day of the week maybe a cruise ship is for you. The food here is very good, but it’s all about your expectations. The buffet's at both are great, you just need to eat what you like, not complain when you eat something you don't. The gourmet restaurants are wonderful, again, you need to select those that offer the food you enjoy. Our favorites include Bavaro’s: LaCoupla (amazing steaks and lobster salad), Mediteranian & Jambolia; and Punta Cana/Dominicana’s: LaSibila ("romantic dinner night" with amazing lobster), LaPogoda (Oriental with amazing appetizers. The Star Rock Café is more of an American fare and is also good (again, depends what you’re looking for). As others have said, book your “reservation restaurants” when you arrive to ensure you get to the ones you want, when you want too. If you would like to go to an extra restaurant, just ask. If there is availability, they normally let you attend more than you are allotted for your stay.
Beach: Nothing less than amazing. White sand that feels like powder sugar and a beautiful clear blue ocean. That said, if the ocean is stirred up (we have been there before and after a tropical storm), the ocean can stir up coral that washes onto the beach and is floating in the water. The beach cleaning crew does an amazing job raking morning and night to keep the beach clean, but there are times when it’s impossible to keep up. BUT this is not a constant issue, it’s due to the ocean at the time you are there, so if you’ve seen this, come back again, it’s NOT always like that. The same is said for the waves. We’ve always come at the same time (in Mid-Late October) and the waves have ranged from a couple fee to HUGE waves that washed away parts of the shoreline. Also, we have been on both sides of the island (we went on a dive trip to the other side of the Dominican); and Bavaro Beach is BY FAR the most beautiful beach we have ever seen. (In fact we read somewhere it was one of the top 5 beaches in the world!) The other side of the island is very rocky.
Water Sports: If you like to snorkel there is some amazing coral and fish right in the swimming area of the hotel. So, you don’t need to pay for a snorkel excursion unless you really want too. One of our favorite spots to snorkel is in front of Bavaro close to lifegaurd station, east of dive boat. We’ve seen all kinds of underwater life there and love to take our kids there. We have also taken advantage of the Catamaran (you are allowed 1 hour per day per room). If you are new to catamaraning you may want to purchase the insurance…we’ve seen a few flip over. It’s a great way to see the entire shoreline and is easy once you get the hang of it. My husband and I have each taken 2 of our kids out and they LOVED it. It is now a ritual we do every day while we are there. They also offer sea kayaks, wind-surfboards, snorkeling equipment. These items are free for guests to use. If you are a diver you will love Dressel Divers located on the beach between Bavaro and Dominicana. We normally bring our dive mask and snorkel and rent the rest (too much weight in the suitcase to bring the rest). It is something like $18 USD for wetsuit, fins, BCD, regulator, etc. The staff is amazing (from the photographer, Eveliene; to the Dive Master Roman and all the staff). We were certified there a few years ago (and would recommend it to others) and have gone on multiple dive trips since. If you are a diver, but haven’t dove in a while they will give you a dive review to ensure you are comfortable. As for dive sites, there are several just off the beach including a ship wreck and several reef’s that are great for seeing fish and other sea creatures. I recommend you book any excursion directly from Dressel Divers and if you book in advance of your vacation you get a discount. In addition to local excursions they offer trips such as Saona Island.
Miscellaneous Tips: Bring a mini Spanish dictionary for reference. Due to the humidity rooms can smell musty, bring room freshener if that smell bothers you. A underwater camera is great for taking pictures while you are on the catamaran or near the water (not just under it). Bring cash for the visitor fee that will be due when you land in Punta Cana (it was $10 pp in the past) and tip money. Bring plenty of suntan lotion & sun glasses. We have brought bug spray in the past but haven’t needed it in October. The temperature is always warm, so light clothing for during the day and a light sweater for the evenings. The grounds are very slippery so don’t bring high heals ladies! Stick with flats or go bare foot until you get to the main lobby and then put your shoes on. Cannot tell you how many people we have seen fall when we’ve been there. They have done some things to try to help, but with the humidity, the concrete is always wet so BE CAREFUL! If you have longer hair you may want to consider getting braids. It keeps you cooler and keeps hair out of your face in the wind and water. Just don’t forget to put sunscreen on your head between your braids! Tips are not expected but if you choose to give them, they are appreciative. There is an on-site “day care”, when our kids were younger they loved it.
Sorry for the long review, but for those of you who chose to read it all, I hope it’s helpful! And maybe we will see you in October!
It is more quiet on the 2nd floor and you can avoid some critters from crawling under the door if yo...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
September 17, 2012
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On the behalf of Mrs. Helena Santos, Hotel Manager, we would like to thank you for your loyalty towards Iberostar Punta Cana and Dominicana hotels for your vacation and for taking time to write a review in Tripadvisor about your several stays among us.
We would like to express how satisfied we are to read that your motivating words about the beauty of our premises and the care we give, the wide variety of our gastronomy in our five specialty restaurants, nightly themed buffet and snacks, and the excellent service provided by our team (especially from those whom you named in the review: Francisco, David, Hector, Yoseline, Alex, Pantera, Emilio and Joel). As you are used to, In Iberostar Hotels and Resorts our basic principles are to provide the best service, to offer a delightful gastronomic experience and to be settled in the beach beaches around the world.
We are already looking forward to see you in our facilities, please feel free to contact us again before, so we can assist you.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.