My good friend at work is a Palace Premier member and he highly recommends the ASP. He joined Palace Resorts here and has been probably 10 times since his first visit and he goes nowhere else. Based on his prior experience and the huge 50% off sale, we decided to plan a trip.
Three couples, including hubby and I, arrived on May 31 and departed on June 7. We elected not to take the shuttle that was included, but opted for a private transfer from Canada Tours. (See my separate raving review for them). We arrived at the resort around 12:30pm and were immediately greeted and taken to a roped-off area for 'concierge level' guests. We were given drinks, signed our reservation paperwork and headed to the lobby bar, as our rooms wouldn't be ready until about 4pm.
One couple was in the Clarinet building and had a GREAT view. Two of us were in the French Horn building and had the sliver of a view. The grounds were neat, the lizards were HUGE and it rained almost the entire week, sans one afternoon! Oddly enough, I didn’t see any of the poolside games moved indoors and they have a humongous lobby. I was expecting the games, trivia, etc. to find a dry home inside and didn’t see that.
Our room was as expected and we were on the end, so we had no hammock, which was fine with us. The air conditioning in our room, and in the common areas, never got really cold. The mini bar had sodas, beer and water. Housekeeping was great and so was the mini-bar attendant. Our turn-down service, when we were actually out of the room to have them do it, included a small Hershey’s mini candy bar – not sure what that’s about. On Wednesday, two days prior to our leaving, the ceiling on our patio crumbled due to the rain. They offered to move us, but once it was cleaned up by the staff, it really wasn’t a big deal, so we passed on packing our stuff two days early.
Because of the torrential rains, a lot of the normal things became abnormal. They had to close El Greco several days and the breakfast and lunch buffets were moved inside to Momonohana, which was fine. The breakfast buffet was good and we never tired of the selection. Fresh fruit, made to order eggs, omelets, waffles, pancakes and Mexican specialties. Their version of a bagel was a light, almost dinner roll/toast-like consistency and really was delish when toasted and dipped in eggs.
The lunch buffet offered made to order burgers, fajitas, chorizo, pork and steak, along with pre-made entrees. Their aurora salad dressing (similar to 1000 island) was amazing and I ate salad at every lunch and dinner the entire trip. Other than that, nothing else was noteworthy. On our first day at the resort, we lunched at the buffet and one in our party ordered Jagermeister. We jokingly asked for the whole bottle and the waiter got approval from the manager and POOF it was ours! Great service!
We also visited the Martini Bar on our first night and were served by Eduardo. He was fun, spirited and kept making cool drinks that he lit on fire. What a great way to begin our day in paradise! Strong drinks, good selection of liquors and great service.
We dined once at the ‘steakhouse’ on the Cove side, which was called Mundaca. We were all in the mood for a sit-down, full service steak dinner type meal and ended up with a Brazilian steakhouse instead. The meat quality was mediocre at best; the salad bar selection was slim and the service saved the day. Good waiters, plenty of drink refills and timely plate clearing. We didn’t go back, as it wasn’t that great.
We scheduled our ‘concierge dinner’ at La Huerta, on the last full day of our trip. The menu included nothing that appealed to four of our group, so they ordered off the regular menu. My husband and I had some of the special menu and some of the regular, with no item being noteworthy.
Room service was quick (under 30 minutes in most cases) and accurate, with the food arriving as ordered and at the proper temperatures. At the concierge level, you have additional choices until 10:30pm, so that was nice if we missed dinner but I honestly don’t recall us using it much, if at all. Sushi from room service had a great presentation – the wasabi was shaped like a leaf, with great detail.
The lobby bar offered a continental breakfast in the mornings and a light snack around happy hour. They served very good chicken wings, chicken fingers and potato chips. If you ordered a regular mixed drink, it was very light on the liquor.
We spent one day at the swim-up bar in the pool and the drink service there was fast and friendly. They had a few poolside games, such as music trivia, which were rather enjoyable. They also had water polo, water volleyball and other games, which I was happy to watch.
The food poolside was nachos, burgers and the like. Pretty good for fast food.
As part of our deal, we got $1500 in resort credit, which came with an 11% fee when used. If you used it all, you paid $165.00USD out of your own money. The ASP allows ALL of the resort credit to be used at the spa, and that’s exactly what we did. Between hubby and I, we had body salt scrubs, deep tissue massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. The spa has a good vibe and is serene, clean and service oriented. Very enjoyable way to spend six rainy days. Another nice part about this spa is that you leave your gratuity at the front desk, in a sealed envelope.
It was my husband’s 30th birthday on Thursday and they arranged for a chilled bottle of champagne and a birthday cake to be in our room when we returned from dinner. The cake was almost like a chocolate spice cake – moist and delicious and a great surprise for hubby.
Our contact person (aka time share setter upper) was Jessica, who was professional, friendly and helpful. She sat all six of us down to review our use of the resort credits, to review the property map and answer any questions we might have.
A main difference between here and the Sun Palace is that at the ASP, you do not have a designated concierge, but call ‘0’ and they will assist you. At the SP, there is a concierge available, in person, every day for most of the day and evening. I prefer dealing with the concierge face to face at the SP.
My hubby and I are also Palace Premier members, so we were the only couple in our group to attend the time share presentation. We were there for about three hours and declined to purchase anything with Legendary Resorts, aka Hard Rock. We did pick up a certificate for one week at the HR Punta Cana, as we know we will visit that resort and it was less expensive than using a Palace week.
During our trip, it literally rained every day except one. Two couples in our group had opted for the excursion to the beach club down the way; however, on the scheduled day, it was pouring rain. This club offered ATV, horseback and jet-ski riding, all of which would be unsafe in the rain. When they inquired about a refund, the person at the tour desk advised it was non-refundable. The situation escalated to a manager, who finally refunded the resort credits. Just FYI it can’t hurt to ask – I would have expected no refund!
Overall, I regard the entire property as very average. I found nothing super outstanding in the service, food, drink, or physical surroundings aspect. We have visited the Sun Palace four times since 2009 and much prefer that resort from a service, atmosphere and enjoyment perspective. Perhaps once the Hard Rock finishes the renovations (which look amazingly beautiful and modern) this resort will find its own personality and character.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.