Just returned from this amazing resort on the beach in Punta Cana with our family of five. Our children are aged 10 months, 7 and 17 years old and we ALL had a great time here (with the huge age gaps, its hard to please everyone). I was somewhat hesitant after reading some of the reviews on here. But after experencing all that the resort had to offer and coming face-to-face with some of the negative experiences of others, I can say we had a great time and would go back.
One of the most unique airports I have been to. You would think you had arrived on Gilligan's Island. The thached roof and wooden walled exteriors tell you that you are not in the snowy climate anymore. Inside, the airport is clean and modern, even offering free wi-fi. Some reviewers have complained about pushy baggage handlers (grabbers) and buskers. I found the buskers not really that pushy. Yes, they kick their straw hat at you as you walk by but smile and and your smile is returned without leaving a tip. The baggage handlers can be aggressive, but not physically so. They did grab some bags off the carousel and place them on the floor beside it (if you can't find your bag, check there) to wait and offer their services. However, they did take no for an answer. We found them quite useful. For $5, we were ushered through the small but busy airport to our tour operator's desk and on to our waiting bus. The parking lot was insanely busy and there were buses everywhere. It probably would have taken us 15-20 minutes just to find it. It was money well spend. Afterall, we spend $2 just for a cart at Pearson Airport!!
Very well maintained resort. Overall the grounds were immaculate. The lobby, restrooms and common areas were very clean. The lobby is one of the best designed and functional ones I've been too. It was a perfect mix of stunning architecture, plants and function. It was well laid out with comfortable seating areas, desks for tour operators and the bar sitting right smack in the middle of it all. It was here that everyone would gather after dinner to check emails. There is free wi-fi here (and in the casino) but grab a drink from the bar (or a coffee from Mikes) first, your going to be awhile.....the service is slow.
Our room was quite large. It had 2 queen beds (some of the most comfortable ones I have ever slept in) and a pull out couch. We brought our own playpen for the baby (they do provide cribs) and there was more that ample space for it. There was a flat screen TV, a mini fridge (stocked with pop and bottled water daily, but not beer), an iron and ironing board, a coffee maker and some dated furnishings. This was a slight disappointment but we weren't there to be in the room anyway so who cares how old the furnishings are. They all were servicable and maintained. We have travelled often and stayed in places where we wouldn't take our shoes off (The Lodge at Darien Lake comes immediately to mind). Here we felt comfortable enought to allow our 10 month old to crawl around the room. We had some concerns after reading some reviews about bed bugs and roaches. However, we found our room quite clean and well kept. We did find one roach in our bathroom, but they are common everywhere down there and you'd be hard pressed to find a place that doesn't have them. There definately wasn't an infestation and it didn't really raise any alarms with us. We were also slightly disappointed that our beer wasn't replenished, but your never more that 50 feet from a bar. Wanna drink? Go out and enjoy the sun. Wanna stay in your room and drink, save yourself a couple grand and stay home!!!
Yes, the buffets got repetative with their side dishes over the course of the week. The entrees changed daily. The food was well cooked and very well presented. I found it quite flavourful having experienced the food at other resorts in the Dominican Republic (this was my fifth trip). We also went to three of the a la cartes (the steak house, the Italian restaurant and the american diner). We found the food there to be of high quality. The steaks were cooked as requested and tasted awesome. The speed of service wasn't the best, but what's your rush? Your on vacation!! The service was very good....just slow. Mike's coffee shop would rival the best run Tim Horton's or Starbucks for quality of product and speed of service. Definately go to it!!
There are two huge pools. Most of the action took place between them. However, if you wanted peace and quiet, then stay at the end of the pool closest to the buffets. You don't get alot of the music or crowds. Everyone seemed to gather at the pool closest to the beach and it was loud rowdy there. The pools were both very clean. Yes, some tiles were missing here and there, but overall the pools were very well maintained and very safe. Drinks were served in plastic cupsso there was no glass in the pool area.
Spent 5 of our 7 days there. On one day, there was quite a bit of seaweed. Other than that, the beach rocked!! Soft, white sand. Clear blue water. What more is there to a vacation? Oh yeah, the beach bar! Great service here. Never waited long for a drink (or three). Bottled water is available at this (and all) bars. Again, the beach was like the pools with a rowdier side and a quiet side. We spent each day beside the massage hut. It offered additional shading for the baby and helped sheild us from the loud music from the other side. Best of both worlds!
I was very disappointed to read about some reviewers complaining about the resort allowing locals in on the weekends. Your a guest in their country, get over it!! It's not like they open the gates and allow everyone to rush in! Say Ola and make a new friend!! Dominicans are some of the friendliest people I have ever met! The only people that I found annoying are the damn Quebecois who apparently thought the entire resort was their personal ashtray. The would smoke anywhere and everywhere leaving butts behind. I mean in the pool, on the edge of the pool, on the tables by the pool, on the beach, on the top of the urnials.....have some respect! There are ashtrays...use them!
Time Share and Privledge
Yes there is time share here. And they are some of the easiest going presentations ever. They really are only an hour (they usually say they are an hour....3 hours later your arguing with some idiot about the cost of tea in China and wondering how the hell you got into this mess). They understand the words No Thanks. Remember, you don't have to go! Tell them you've already been and they leave you alone (they wait outside the buffets at breakfast and bug you to get your "welcome gift")
As far as staying privledge. Unless you want to fork out alot more money to stay closer to the beach and have access to really nice cabanas, don't waste your money. There is very few units that actually have a beach view. The rest are just close to the beach. They have access to premium liquor (absolute vodka for example). They also have breakfast at the buffet closest to the beach which is transformed in the morning to a sit down restaurant for these guests only. Is it worth the cost? That is up to you. I would say no.
The only complaint I really have was that Privlege guests and those going to and from time share presentations are driven in golf carts. These golf carts are driven on the same walkways all guest use to get to and from the pools and beach and restaurants. It's a minor annoyance (especially if you have seen the way Dominicans drive!!). I would think that with all the space on this resort, they could direct the traffic around the back of the units allowing pedestrians to use the walkways with fearing getting run down!
-Go to Mikes!
-Bring Sunscreen. There is a shop on the resort, but it's expensive (as you would expect).
-It's well worth it to tip a baggage handler (grabber as some call them) and use his services (especially on arrival) at the airport.
-Be prepared to be greeted by the heat as soon as you step off the plane. Most of the airport is not air conditioned so if you are travelling from a cold climate, you may want pack lighter clothes in your carry on and get changed on the airplane before you arrive.
-If you have to access the internet, go to the lobby early in the morning when no one is there or expect slow service
-Remember your in the Dominican. It's run on Dominican time!
-Say Ola to everyone! The smiles and greetings you get will add to your vacation!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.