My husband and I traveled to this resort February 23-March 2, 2013. We are in our 30's and this is our 8th all inclusive resort experience.
We booked this resort several months in advance. We decided to go with the ocean view room for the better location on the resort, as well as for the online check-in services. We liked the idea of being able to choose our room location prior to arrival. We were told we could check in 48 hours in advance to our arrival date. When we attempted to do this online we received an error message. The next day I sent an email to the resort asking about the check in issue and never heard back. That following evening I was able to log in, however a suite was pre-assigned to us. The location on the resort was very nice- however the room selected for us had two double beds, no hammock and the patio was not covered. I emailed Chief Concierge Licia Marchetti and never heard back again. We decided to wait until we got to the resort to sort this out. This was very disappointing as again, the online check in was one of the selling points for this resort. They need to either get these issues fixed or just remove that service all together.
When we arrived at the hotel the staff was great. They took us to the private check-in area and everyone was very nice. However they did not have any other rooms available for us. So they offered to push our two double beds together for our stay. This ended up being okay- however we really did miss the hammock and the covered patio since it did rain a little during our stay.
When we checked in they asked us our pillow preference, what time we would like our room cleaned and turn down service. We found that they never followed our preferred times but we did get our room cleaned every day and it was always done very well. The mini bar and fridge was great- they stock you with plenty of liquor, sodas, water and beer. You also get some snacks- chips, peanuts, etc.
The resort grounds are very nice- you do miss some of the tropical feel of other AIs in the area-but the service and other amenities make up for that small point. It is very easy to get around. The pool area was very nice- however the towel game was in full effect. By 7:30am most of the prime spots around the pool would be taken by towels, etc and most of the people did not show up until late morning or even early afternoon. We even saw some "reserved" chairs never get claimed. This was very frustrating- however I am not sure how they fix it. The entertainment around the pool was great- the entertainment staff does a great job. The drink service was awesome- the best we have had at an AI resort. They do have a butler around the pool that offers you reading material, sunscreen, fruit, etc. The music was varied- they played a little of everything. It was difficult to find shade around the pool.
The beach area was nice. They had plenty of chairs and covered palapas to hang out under.The traffic on the beach was not bad at all- especially for this being a public beach. We didn't care for the walk towards the Gran Porto Real- the beach was eroded and there wasn't much of a shore to walk on. However the other way was beautiful and great people watching :) The service on the beach was great as well. We never waited for a drink.
The drinks on the resort were great- they had whatever you needed and several call brands of liquor. They also had several beer options which was a refreshing change. The lobby bar had the best selection of top shelf in our opinion.
We thought the food was excellent. It was nice to have sit down options for breakfast and lunch. Most of the AIs we have been to in the past limited you to buffets and snack bars for these two meals. We typically went to Spice for breakfast and it was very good. I recommend Pelicanos for lunch- it is right on the beach. As for dinners- Asiana and Maria Marie were our favorites. The food was really good at both places. We also ate at Il Pescatore (at the Gran Porto Real), the Mediterranean and Pelicanos for dinner. All were good, however Asiana and Maria Marie were better. The only restaurant we did not try was the Tapas- the menu just didn't appeal to us. However it was always packed at lunch, so it must be good as well :)
The gym and spa were awesome. I highly recommend checking out the free services the spa offers- steam room, sauna, jacuzzis, plunge pools. This area is great and we utilized it a lot. I also got a massage while I was there and it was very good. You can also walk north on the beach and get a $25 massage- same with walking up to 5th Avenue. Just depends on what you are looking for and how much you want to spend.
A couple of observations I think are important to call out- this resort caters to wedding parties and corporate groups. And these larger groups seemed to take over the resort. Some of the groups were great and some of them were loud, obnoxious and seemed to think they owned the place. I think it is important to know what to expect and this was definitely an issue. These large groups would take over the pool bars, the jacuzzi area at the pool, the lobby bar, entire sections of restaurants, etc. There were a few incidents of extremely intoxicated guests yelling, screaming, standing on tables, etc and we never once saw the resort staff address this. We heard several people complaining about this, however it would happen again. I realize this is everyone's vacation, and we always expect some guests to get out of line and maybe have a few too many- but this did happen a lot. It by no means ruined our vacation, but if you are coming here expecting a quiet, relaxing atmosphere you may want to take that into consideration :) Also, there were no designated smoking areas at this resort that we noticed. Therefore people were smoking everywhere- around the pool, at the beach, in the lobby, in the hallways. Again, we travel a lot so do know people are going to smoke. But this was hard to avoid or escape. So if this type of thing bothers you, it may be an issue at this resort.
Overall, other than a few minor issues, we had a lovely vacation. We held this property to a very high standard based on the recommendations we have gotten from friends and the reviews we have read on this forum, etc. Therefore we were expecting 5 stars all around. While the food and service definitely lived up to this reputation, there were a few issues that kept me from giving it 5 stars. If you are looking for a fun, adults only vacation with a more lively crowd- good drinks and food- this is the spot for you. And the location is great- you are close to 5th avenue and plenty of shopping and nightlife. However, if you are looking for true 5 star luxury, quiet and total relaxation- I would recommend you look elsewhere :)
I recommend emailing the concierge in advance with your room preferences- as the online check in ser...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.