My family (group of 8, ranging in age from 12 to 70) travelled to the Ocean Blue & Sand for Christmas, 2012. We arrived in the early afternoon on December 22, and from the moment we arrived until we left, we found the staff to be nothing short of friendly, always smiling, and ready to help. Check-in went quickly and smoothly.
We found the staff to be warm, accomodating, and helpful. Julio and Johnatan were our wait staff in the buffet each morning, always ready with fresh cafe con leche, big smiles, and a warm dose of humour and playfulness. Our group had 4 rooms, and although we did tip our maid at the start of the week, we found that she tended to just do the basics, in terms of making up our room each day; it was a bit of a gamble as to which towels/cloths she would replace - sometimes, we'd get 2 towels, sometimes a bath mat, sometimes facecloths. My parents, however, found that their maid often left some flowers in their towels, or did some sort of towel origami for them. Bartending staff kept up well, and even during peak times, the wait was fairly short for a drink. If I had to make one complaint about the staff, it would be about the daily (sometimes several times) badgering by the vacation club promotions personnel, who were constantly trying to get us to come to their sales pitch, which they swore up and down wasn't a sales pitch (yeah, right.) You don't like to, but sometimes, you end up just having to tell them to leave you alone. You will usually find them waiting outside the main buffet, knowing that everyone will have to pass by them to eat at some point.
Athough they were clean and modern, there wasn't anything about our rooms that would stand out. Travertine tile in the bathroom, and a jacuzzi tub, flatscreen TV with a good selection of (mostly Spanish) channels, adequate room for our clothes, and a good sized balcony, but then, we weren't going on vacation to spend time in our room - it was all about the sun and sand! Our room had 2 queen beds, which we found to be comfortable. Usually when travelling, we don't tend to sleep well, but we slept pretty well here. Our air conditioning worked, but others in our group said that theirs did not, despite logging a repair request with guest services. Additionally, the phones didn't seem to work properly, as we weren't able to call the other people in our party. We were in Villa 7, which is just about dead-centre of the resort. We had no noise problems from either the showtime theater, or from the pool/beach animacion activities.
Grounds / Facilities:
The grounds are kept very well. Always clean, with the lawns and gardens maintained beautifully. There was a tasteful amount of Christmas decor, and even included a life-sized Nativity scene, complete with live animals. The pools were spotless, and immense, including a wade-in area, built-in lounge chairs and jacuzzi areas, as well as a swim-up bar. We found poolside shade to be a bit hard to come by, and the natural lie of the land seemed to block much of the breeze that is a constant on the beach from coming into the pool area, even though they are directly beside each other.
The sand on the beach is powder-soft. Although this was my first visit to Puna Cana, my parents, who have been several times, mentioned that the beach is noticeably lessened, and sure enough, the locals verified that this was largely due to hurricane Sandy. There's a beachfront market directly beside the Ocean Blue property, and it has had to have a wall of sand bags installed at the front, as the storm damage started to wash out some of the huts. There are pelapas on the beach for shade, but they're not huge, and if you're lucky enough to find an available beach chair under one, you'll find yourself shifting your chair several times in order to stay in the shade. Although the beach is protected by breakers, we did find the water a bit rough for the first few days, but it calmed down significantly by the halfway point of our trip. We didn't generally find beach vendors to be a problem, other than those trying to sell excursions, as there were security guards present to discourage vendors. Another bonus for scuba divers is the wreck of the Astron, a large freighter that sank just off the shore of Punta Cana in the 80s. The dive shop onsite does several dives on the wreck each week the wreck is visible from shore, and is a 5 minute boat ride from the dive shop, in about 40 feet of water (be prepared to dive in some rolling currents!)
Food and drink:
We found the selection of food, and the quality of it to be very good. Both the main and beach buffets had an ample selection of things to eat, and the resort was set up so that, no matter what time of day or night, food was always available somewhere. One thing to always make sure of is that meat is cooked enough. Don't be afraid to ask for your meat to be cooked 'well done' to ensure thorough cooking. Our family thoroughly enjoyed the a la carte restaurants as well. In the Dominican Republic, Christmas Eve is the main celebration, and as such, all of the restaurants were featuring Christmas dinner with your selection of turkey or beef, and it was delicious. As with many sunny destinations, red wine is served chilled by default, so you may want to request an unchilled bottle if that's your preference. The only restaurant we didn't try was 'Route 66,' which is an American-style diner restaurant; we didn't come all the way to the D.R. to have the same food we get at home! Another absolute treat was Mike's Coffee and Tea, which is a specialty coffee shop situated amongst the a la carte restaurants. Delicious coffees, espressos, lattes, cappucinos, iced and dessert coffees, as well as Dominican hot chocolate, and a selection of teas, with a variety of pastries available to enjoy with your beverage of choice.
Overall, we had a fantastic week, with things to do onsite and off for everyone in our group. We were asked whether or not we'd come back, and for us, that's a difficult question to answer - in all our years of travelling, we've never gone to the same resort twice. With so many to choose from, why would we repeat? However, if we were so inclined, this resort definitely would make the short list for a return visit. We had realistic expectations of a 4+ star resort in the Dominican Republic, and they were all met.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.