We have recently returned from a wonderful week at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana. In 2010 we stayed at Zoetry de la Paraiso Bonita in Cancun and thoroughly enjoyed our vacation there, so we were very excited to try the Zoetry in Punta Cana.
Based on our needs and wants for a quiet couples getaway, we are big fans of small, boutique resorts and having been to a few it is hard to not compare one to the other. It is especially hard to not compare resorts within the same company. So on this trip we often found ourselves saying “at the Zoetry in Cancun…”. We travel to the Caribbean a few times a year and our November trip is our splurge, where we are willing to spend the extra money to stay at high end resorts that tend to offer and deliver better amenities, delicious food, and top notch service… we do not consider this a budget vacation.
To follow are my thoughts and personal opinions based on my 7-night stay at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana. The resort was at full capacity during our stay so I am certain each & every guest had their own experience which could be very different from mine. Everyone has a different set of needs & wants and what is a negative issue to one guest may not even be noticeable to another. My review is an honest summary of MY experience.
We landed in PUJ around 5:30pm; getting through immigration and customs was quick. After a near 1 hour drive from the airport, in torrential rain, our private transfer pulled up to the resort which was in complete darkness as they had lost power. While checking in the generator kicked on and we were able to go to our room. We were not at all put off by the weather or the flickering power, for us it added to the ambiance. Now had we been there and without power for hours, I am sure that ambiance feeling could have worn off quickly :-) But it by no means affected our first impressions of the resort.
We had a 2nd story junior suite that overlooked the serpentine pool. We loved the room! Especially the balcony which had 2 overstuffed cushioned arm chairs and a table w/ 2 chairs. Our view was nothing exciting, but the grounds are so pretty and it was so peaceful that it was nice to sit and be outside, knowing back home it was 35 degrees!!! The bed was to our liking and the his & her closets were the best! Midweek we did have an issue with no hot water one afternoon/evening which was not a big deal, but the next morning when we were still w/o hot water we called the front desk and by the time we returned to the room at the end of the day it was fixed. We did get wifi in our room and on the balcony; our friends a few doors down did not. Nor did they have any issues with their hot water.
Except for our arrival night, we had turn down service nightly and our room was always done when we returned after a day at the beach. This was not true for our friends; the first full day they returned to their room which had not been cleaned. When they left for dinner they called to say they were going out and the room had not been cleaned all day and they would like it done before they returned at 9pm. When they returned after 9:30pm, the room still had not been done and they felt it was too late to deal with at the time. In the morning they called for clean towels and then went and had a chat with a manager. No housekeeping problems for them after that, but at this caliber of a resort their room should never have gone 36 hours without anyone servicing it. Especially since Zoetry advertises that your room will be serviced 3 times a day (which even for me is excessive!), but it is what they advertise and if they can’t make it to the room at least once especially after multiple calls they are definitely falling short.
The free laundry is the best; what a treat to go home with almost all clean clothes. We also made one free call to the States, which is another nice feature of Zoetry. There is no check in or check out time at Zoetry which on our departure day worked in our favor as we had an evening flight and were not being picked up until 3:30p. We stayed at the beach til 1pm, grabbed lunch, and then returned to our room to shower and throw the last few things in the suitcase. That was much more pleasant than checking out at noon or paying for late checkout; wish more resorts did this!
Being on the 2nd floor we had a thatch roof, and during the early days of the week there was some heavy rain and we did have some leaks… the worse was above the bedside table and luckily the drip was loud enough that we woke up in the middle of the night and removed/dried off our phones & kindle and their IPOD docking station and put a trash bucket to catch the water. Not a big deal because nothing was ruined. Note: on our checkout day they had just begun repairing the roof of “our” building” so I am sure that suite will be leak free for the near future.
As other reviewers have noted there is quite a bit of much needed repairs going on, specifically with thatch roofs and stairs/upper walkways. None of which had a negative impact on our vacation. Yes we heard some hammering and power tools, but nothing that bothered us. If anything, it was certainly better than the loud, thumping music and screams from drunk adults that we had to endure at Secrets Capri! Now, had we wanted to go back to our room midday to hang on our balcony or take a nap, it may have bothered us.
There are plans to add another 40 or so rooms at the resort; before Zoetry begins construction I hope that they repair and maintain all the issues they have now and get those areas in tip top condition before expanding.
Being the tail end of hurricane season, Mother Nature was definitely up to something when we arrived and during the first few days of the trip. Not only was there a lot of rain & wind (mostly at night), but the seas were very, very rough which meant a lot of debris on the beach. Not just seaweed, but tree trunks! The staff made major efforts to clean it up, but with the swing of the tide sometimes it was not worth their effort. But they worked hard and did their best, and with the red flag out there was no going in the water til later in the week and by then the beach was cleared and the water was clearing up. There was NOTHING Zoetry or any of the resorts in the area could have done to provide their guests with crystal clear, calm water and a seaweed free beach during those days. Most of the rain & wind happened at night and the staff did what they could to make the grounds comfortable & safe. Once the red flag was taken down, we spent a lot of time in the sea and it was awesome!
We prefer the beach and this was a great one! Plenty of chairs and lots of palapas for shade. We often wandered down after breakfast, around 9:30-9:45a and had many front row palapas to pick from. At the end of the week we did notice that some early morning seat saving was happening around the pool.
Not all, but many of the chaise cushions and beach bed mattresses and coverings need to be replaced.
For the majority of our stay the red flag was out and we were not allowed to swim in the sea, so we took many dips in the pool. Others have mentioned the pool(s) need of repair, specifically at the bottom around the bridge that connects to Indigo. I was walking along and my foot hit something; I felt around and lifted up a big chunk (size of a bread plate!) of the pool bottom. I replaced it and reported it, but there were a few other areas like that. The pool sparkled and the attendants did a fantastic job keeping it clean, but that had nothing to do with the chipping & broken cement/gunite. Again, we had lots of heavy winds and rain so in the morning it was not unusual to see palm fronds and other leafy stuff floating in the pools, but as fast as they could, they cleaned it out. That said, the pool is clean and refreshing but it does need to be emptied and resurfaced. Again, something I hope they do before they start adding more rooms.
We did not take advantage of the free massages, but there was one rainy afternoon that we spent at the indoor spa pool and enjoyed the other spa amenities. Our friend used the fitness center daily and said the equipment was sufficient. We did not participate in any activities, day or night. Weather permitting we spent the entire day on the beach reading, resting, walking, talking and a late night dinner was our evening entertainment. We also met & talked to a lot of nice people. If anyone reading this is looking for loud music, drinking games, and a wild night life this is not the place you want to stay!
We really, really liked the food at Zoetry! We love seafood and there were many fish options on the menus: grouper, snapper, lobster, salmon, shrimp just to name a few. We ate at Olena’s on our arrival night and it was a good first impression! Our favorite dinner was the Author Dinner, it required reservations and was a set menu and the food was delicious. We also had room service 1 night for dinner, and it arrived within 20 minutes and was steaming hot! I had the steak which was better than the one I had at Amaya. We felt that for dinner entrée options, between the 2 available restaurants and room service we felt we had plenty to pick from for our 7-night stay. Breakfast & lunch menu did not vary, but again we were only there for 7-days and were completely satisfied and came home fatter & happier! However, after reading raving reviews we were so excited for the Friday night beach BBQ and when we found out on Thursday night that is was being postponed til Saturday, the day of our departure, we were so disappointed. For those of us who arrived after the last BBQ and were leaving before the next one, I wish they had rebooked it for Thursday evening. I know they cannot accommodate everyone’s schedule, but we were disappointed that it was not offered during our stay.
The staff is very, very friendly and helpful. I do not think I encountered one cranky person. There were a few that stood out as being particularly good at their job, but I do not like to name them individually as I would feel horrible leaving someone out. Almost always, the staff members who interact directly with the guests get the most kudos, but I have to say the groundskeepers and beach rakers are very hardworking men and do a tremendous amount of work to make Zoetry such a beautiful property.
Staff personality’s aside, we did feel that the level of service they provided was not up to what we would consider Zoetry standards. Food service, always with a smile & happy attitude, was inconsistent. It was our conclusion that perhaps some more training is needed. The staff seems willing and eager to please, but they seem to be lacking either training or leadership. At meals often things did not happen in proper order. “Proper order” some of you may be saying… well I feel at resort of this caliber the service should be consistent with a fine dining experience. The inconsistency was across the board for all restaurants, at all meals, but most specifically at dinner is when we found it the most disappointing. Often we were seated and before the water glasses filled, or a drink order taken, or a dinner roll offered we were being asked for our dinner order. We would politely say we wanted to order drinks first and from there who knew what would happen next. Sometimes bread was offered, other times we waited and would have to ask. Often we had to ask for water refills. Sometimes drinks came before the meal, sometimes it came with the meal. And more than once, not all 4 entrees were served at the same time. By no means did this ruin our meals, it was just disappointing and fell well below our expectations for Zoetry. In my mind this an easy fix; a little more retraining for all the restaurant servers would go a long way in providing the Zoetry guest with a proper dining experience. Some guests may be annoyed that something on the menu was not available or there was not any variety/change in the menu, neither of these bothered us BUT the inconsistent level of service did.
For comparison, I have stayed at Punta Cana Princess a number of times and in my opinion it is a ranking or few below Zoetry, however their dinner service at the a la carte restaurants was consistently better than Zoetry which leads me to believe that there is no reason why the service at Zoetry cannot be improved to the standards that one would expect from fine dining at a top ranked resort.
One other staffing issue we had was with the staff that “works” at the towel hut. Again, this comment is not about friendliness or attitude, but to point out something that did not meet and actually fell below our expectations of Zoetry. I am perfectly able & capable of setting up my own chair beachside, but at this caliber of a resort I would expect that if 2-4 staff members watch me enter the beach area and ask for towels, that at least one of them would offer to assist me. We were dragging cushions to chairs, moving chairs to palapas, the whole while 2-4 staff members were watching from the towel hut. Not one effort to help. This did not happen just one day, this happened to us EVERY day while we were there. I am NOT a diva, and as I said I am able to do it myself, but truly Zoetry should be providing some beach assistance. How difficult would it be for 1 of those staff members to greet with a “good morning, where would you like to sit today? Let me help you”. When asked for help they gladly did, but I don’t think guests at Zoetry should have to ask. Especially since there were more than 1 staff members doing nothing, it’s not like they were busy helping someone else. Perhaps some guests did not have to ask and were given assistance, but that just confirms the inconsistency in service as we watched many guests do just what we did. Again it’s my opinion that some training in this area is much needed. Or don’t have that many staff members hovering around the towel hut doing nothing as it makes them look lazy and is if they are not doing their job. Which I hope isn’t the case because if it is, the supervisors have bigger issues!
The men & women serving drinks/food around the pool and at the beach were fantastic! I think they have the hardest job on the property. Especially the ones working the beach… day after day walking through the sand fully clothed cannot be easy, add the hot sun and the humidity, a tray full of drinks, and a beach full of thirsty guests while maintaining a smile and happy attitude… these people are the true definition of “hard workers”. They are awesome!
Overall our vacation at Zoetry Agua was excellent and I definitely would recommend it. I wish I could say it was “better than expected”, but because of a few little things I can only say that overall it was what we expected with some areas above our expectations and some areas below our expectations. We are reasonable enough to know that there probably is not one resort that is going to be perfect and meet all of our expectations, but we will keep trying new places and roll with the good and the bad.
During the week we often found ourselves comparing the two Zoetrys and this what we summarized, based on our needs/wants/experience: We felt that Zoetry Cancun was top notch for all around service and exceeded our expectations; the dining service was consistent and the pool/beach attendants were very attentive. In fairness I would have to say the food at both Zoetry Cancun & Punta Cana rate equally… being different cultures, there is definitely a difference in the cuisine and we appreciate both. View aside, we liked the rooms at Zoetry Punta Cana much more than Zoetry Cancun. We LOVED the pool area at Zoetry Cancun, but LOVED the beach at Zoetry Punta Cana.
Although a long trip from the East Coast, we are considering Zoetry Casa del Mar in Cabo for next November.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.