“It is what it is. 7 Star pricing, 5 star construction, 3 star service, 2 star maintenance, 1 star food”
We knew what we were in for, we took our entire family and stayed in a 2 bedroom oceanfront suite at the Reef.
The original construction quality when new was decent caliber. In line with an elite hotel. We had good control of HVAC and fittings and fixtures were nice.
But, no one is paying attention to upkeep. The patio door frames were falling out of the door to the patio. Light switch plates fell off the fixture. Door stops were worn and about to pull out from the floor. Shower doors scraped along the floor. The toilet in the master bedroom ran the entire stay even after calling and requesting maintenance repair it twice. Bedside lamp switches were depressed inside the fixture and couldn't be turned on or off without unplugging them. Still nice for now(the reef is only 4 or so years old), but 2 years or 3 years from now? Who knows?
Housekeeping once daily at these prices? Absurd.
The water had a terrible sulfuric smell making the showers unpleasant, but I guess is the consequence of a desalination pant requiring huge volumes of water.
The food was served promptly but bordering on vile. There was no decent lunch anywhere with the best option the bland buffet at the mosaic. The food in the poolside huts is a variant of fast food takeout. There were notable exceptions, the "branded" restaurants Mesa Grill and Dune were pretty comparable to their NYC counterparts. Mesa Grill was quite good, and Dune was a Caribbean downgrade variant of the JoJo empire. (Some Jean Georges restaurants are stunning and some are so-so Dune was fine) Carmine's was identical to it's mediocre NY twin and Virgil's was palatable. The Atlantis restaurants like Chopstick's were vile. But what can you expect feeding mass quantities of child laden families demanding quick turnaround and chicken nuggets on every menu?
There is a huge staff on grounds, 8000 or so. In general staff was very pleasant and friendly. However, not sophisticated, it felt like there was no leadership present. On occasion, there were gruff clock punching staff members.
Water Park and Safety:
The slides and river are fun, I don't have anything to add on that front. From a safety and cleanliness standpoint, I don't think anything like this could be built and run in the United States. While they were strict on the height requirements, children from all over were allowed into the massive pools and we saw at least two rescues of children completely unable to swim. Parents fault, not the resort's.
None of us got badly injured, but I can only guess that the way it is constructed there is a high risk of injuries in the water park and probably not great medical care around.
After several days of swimming in the park, 4 of our 5 kids came down with a severe cluster of serious rashes or bug bites on their skin. Back at home the doctors have suggested it was some kind of parasite in the water. The kids spent a lot of time in the hot tubs which did not have the same chlorinated smell I'm used in more properly managed facilities. I'm going to guess that was the source. I don't want to think it about it much more, but a poorly maintained hot tub holding 10 to 20 kids for 8 to 10 hours a day?
Expense: If you;re not in the one percent, this place will ruin you with the charges and pricing. It's understandable, the facility has to spend a mint to run that park, but expect to spend 2x what you would spend in the US on food and extras on a daily basis.
I realize this review is getting little alarming, but all in all, it was a fun experience for the kids and we may consider returning, perhaps with two bottles each of benadryl, skin cream, neosporin and a gallon a day of bleach for the hot tubs.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.