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“WOW!!! Favorite Vacay so far.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Palace at Playa Grande

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The Palace at Playa Grande
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Calle Rio San Juan | Playa Grande, Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 2 hotels in Rio San Juan
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“WOW!!! Favorite Vacay so far.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 13, 2012

The Lobster!!
Where do I start? On entering the property, - it was as if we drove into another world. The DR is very lush and there's greenery everywhere, but inside the palace gates was ... spectacular. I say look at the pics and they are truthful, however, it’s one of those things you really need to be there to appreciate it. Gorgeous - immaculate - and certainly palace-like.

Staff:
It began with Juan Carlos who will probably check you in. Pleasant, and extremely accommodating! Honestly, it only gets better from there. Besides, after asking about where to find a certain religious place, we learnt information about Juan Carlos that caused my husband and I to immediately form a special bond with him. Hermano .
There were 8 of us at the palace for the first 3 days and so there was one person who would wait on us for food and drinks in the morning and by about 2:00-2:30 there is another person for the might. Our first night was with Javier! Javier!! We really loved how he catered to our every need. You never had to ask for anything, he was always there, offering and even thinks ahead and might just bring you a random snack during the day. Seriously superb service Javier! You made it special for us!
The next morning we were greeted by Fellipe. Great guy and if you would like to see a bit of the island, he'll most likely be the one to offer you the opportunity before you even get a chance to ask. We took him up on two offers and DID NOT REGRET THEM. WOW!!! He took us to a "lagoon" about 25 minutes north of the palace. It consisted of 3 main features: ** a seriously deep hole where you're more than welcome to jump in from a short zipline-like ride, ** a water/hole/cave-thing? I really don’t know how to describe it, but it was beautiful. You welcome to swim in there too, but it's very rock, so be careful, ** and a literal cave. by the time we decided to go into the cave, it was dark. They had lights in there, but for some reason, the lights and the concrete/cement finish floor somewhat detracted from the nature of it. But it was my first time in a cave and I was happy I experienced it. Our next trip with Felipe was pretty much a whole day trip to 27 waterfalls. It takes a while to get there but it was very worth the ride. By the last two days of our stay we were only there with a newly arrived couple. So, it was the 4 of us and Felipe who went on our joy ride. We decided to do only 12 of the waterfalls on Felipe's recommendation, and I'm glad we did. Let's just say, both us girls were probably exasperating with our fear of going down these waterfalls, but the guides handled it well and we all made it out alive. It's an experience I recommend everyone partake of. - It's unforgettably exhilarating! Even though I still have my fear of deep water, by the end I was brave enough to where I'd definitely go again and do the 12 waterfalls, and then I'd love to do all 27 of them at some point. But I don’t want to spoil it for you, so ... moving on. Oh, btw, Fellipe LOVES to play pool, and won’t hesitate to play with you if you’d like. He’s a cool guy.
The last night we met "Charlie" - we (me and Juan Carlos) gave him that nick name since I was having a -hard time pronouncing and remembering his real name - Rosalie??? Anywho - He was a superb host. Funny, good natured and on top of his game. At the time - he had only been working there for 4 months and was recommended by Javier. "Charlie" - great guy.
I only got to know the name of one of the housekeeping staff – Ramona. She doesn’t seem to speak much English, but is always pleasant and we always say “hola” with a smile when we pass each other. She’ll try to tell me in the evenings too that our clothes has been laundered and is ready.
I got a chance to meet the chef and smother him with compliments on the food. .. His name starts with an “A” – it eludes me at this point.
Wilson is pleasant, fun and will take you to Playa Grande (beach) or into town if you need to – as part of the Palace provision.
There is a guy that comes by just about daily and offers tours, he might seems s bit pushy, but if you want to think about or you don’t want to commit just yet, it’s not hard for him to get the point. We just told him we’ll think about it.

Fitness Center:
Umm – what fitness center? A few old machines are housed in the musty smelling basement. I wouldn’t even have known about it had another guest not mentioned that he wandered down there and that’s where it was. If you’re a fitness buff I recommend you run up and down all the available stairs multiple times or find some other creative way to get your workout in. But you’re also more than welcome to make use of the under-equipped workout facility. The basement consisted of a treadmill (unplugged and I didn’t plug it in to see if it worked) a bicycle (I sat on it for literally 10 seconds just o see if it was operable – it is) a weight machine (I could be interested in using it). But I’d just rather not – it really is like the dungeon of the palace down there. I didn’t care, figured I’d get my workout in when I get back home.


Food:
They serve literally 3 meals a day. Occasionally I would've preferred a snack somewhere in there, but it didn't bother me too much. Besides, I'll never forget one afternoon me and hubby were just chilling, playing pool, when Javier brought us s plate of plantain chips, salsa and chicken fingers. It was very welcome. All meals are at least 3 course meals. All meals were delicious. Might I advise you get your eggs properly cooked? There was one morning I wasn't able to finish my breakfast since I got immediately sick after about 3 bites of the egg. The eggs were cooked scrambled, but definitely slightly runny. I had eggs about 2 other mornings before too and I was fine, but I guess my body decided to get rid of whatever that - immediately. After so carbonated water& lime juice, and just a few hours after my episode, I started feeling a bit more confident about eating again and I was fine from there on. Glad I didn't stay sick.
OH! How can I forget - Surf and turf night happened twice while we were there for 5 nights and boy was I happy. It meant LOBSTER! and it tasted so yummy. Mmmmmm. On our last night, it was surf and turf night, and it was only 4 of us there as guests. I was going on and on about how I loved the lobster and Charlie said, "Well, if you'd like more, that's ok, we have more" then because I was full I joked back saying that I'd like it for breakfast.
OMG - low and behold, the next morning we decided to have breakfast in our room, and by that time it was Fellipe who was with us. I asked about the lobster if that was actually possible for breakfast and BAM!! A whole freaking lobster came to us. WOW!

Beach – Playa Grande:
Oh – the beach – be ware that at Playa Grande, you will have many vendors (typical, right?) and if you decide to buy lunch there, the meal is isn’t that great, but keep an idea of what the total bill should be. We got two meals that were to be 200 pesos (according to the menu), and we used tow beach lounge chairs. We brought drinks from the palace, so we didn’t need to buy any. At the end of our meal, they guy (Franzy? Frantz?) was trying to tell us that our bill was $22US. UMMM NOOOO! I kindly reminded him of the price of our meals on the menu and he said the chairs cost $3 each. So he apologized and gave us the correct grand total of $14US. Pay attention people; oh and never forget to negotiate when buying from vendors.
The beach at the Palace was not in season at the time we were there. Juan Carlos said that out of the whole year, this is probably the only month where the beach isn’t really there – the water comes up high to the shore and there isn’t really any sand space to enjoy. It didn’t dampen our spirit.

Rooms:
Viewing the pics online about the rooms are pretty accurate, however, the smaller rooms were a tad smaller in person that I expected. Pretty. But small for a “Palace”- I think. The bathroom was nicely appointed with a shower that could comfortably fit two people. We were on the 3rd floor and our small balcony overviewed the top of the trees from the forest next to us. I honestly didn’t have a problem with the room, but hubby wasn’t impressed (he’s hardly ever impressed so I don’t dwell too much on it). Thankfully, since there was about a day when were the only couple there and had the place to ourselves, we had a chance to enjoy a bigger room, and WOW! That was palatial. The bathroom alone was the size of our previous room. The bed had a canopy – real princess style canopy. And when housekeeping came to do ‘turn-down’ service, they opened it around the bed – soo stinking romantic! Appropriate since we were celebrating our 2nd anniversary. I tried to enjoy the jetted tub on the balcony, but by the time it was full, the hot water became cold :( I didn’t even bother asking how to remedy that since I felt we got more than we expected. Overall, when you taste any of the 2 rooms flanking the spa, you won’t want to go back to the smaller room. Even hubby approved of this one. THANK YOU JUAN CARLOS!

I’ve rambled on enough – read the reviews – they’re all true. I’ve never been so sad coming home from a vacation and can’t wait to go back. My favorite vacation so far! (Hubby seems to have loved it very much too)

Room Tip: Ehhh - choose what your pocket allows. You'll still feel like you're king & queen of thi...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (41)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Memphis, Tennessee
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2012

My husband and I went to the Palace for our honeymoon at the end of October, and I really can't say enough good things about it. It is a hidden gem and you should definitely go before everyone else discovers it!

We arrived at the DR airport and we were greeted by our driver who came with a cooler of water, soft drinks and a few Presidentes. He was extremely nice. The drive was a little rough (all driving in the DR is rough as there are no enforced driving laws), and it took about an hour to get to the resort. We pulled through the gates and were in awe of the palace (and it really is a palace). We were greeted by the fabulous Javier and we looked around the grounds of the resort and shown to our room. The room was immaculate. We stayed on the ground floor in a garden suite and I really recommend it. We didn't have to climb stairs to get to our room, it was easily accessible from the common area, and it was the perfect size. It also had doors right out to the pool so we felt like that area was ours. I've seen past reviews where they recommend upgrading to the bigger rooms, but we were very well satisfied with our room. We opted for the smaller room so we could stay longer and we were more than happy with that choice. The one downside is that the bathrooms in the Garden Suites don't have doors, they have curtains, so that might be something to take into consideration if you're not compleely comfortable with your vacation partner.

When we got there, there was only one other couple staying there so we felt really special. I really can't say enough about how beautiful the resort is. The photos don't do it a bit of justice. The beach is wonderful and the ocean is clear and clean.

We went when Hurricane Sandy was going through the area and we still had a wonderful time. It forced us to relax and enjoy ourselves. There are enough covered areas outside so you aren't forced to stay inside. We got enough dry time to still do excursions though. We went with Campo Tours and Felix out into the towns. The first excursion was a bus tour/glass boat ride/beach stop/zip line water splash. I would really recommend it. It was so much fun and the water was incredible. You just don't see water that blue and clear in the states. Like most places in the carribean, the downside to going out on the town is being hassled by the locals. Their main income is from tourists so they really hound you into buying their stuff, but know that everything can be negotiated.

Each member of the staff was so generous and they waited on us hand and foot. We tipped each person who we talked to on a daily basis about 2 days into the trip and that really made a great difference too. We also gave extra at the end of the trip to those who went above and beyond. Also, because there are so few rooms in the palace, it all feels so personal. By our third day, four more couples had gotten there and we met and talked with them all. Then it got to the point where we knew who was coming and going and if new vacationers would be there with us. It was an unbelievable experience.

We had a wonderful time and couldn't have asked for a better honeymoon. We will be going back!

Room Tip: All rooms are wonderful! Cliff side suites are only accessible from the outside and walking up and d...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2012

We also stayed here in November like the couple who wrote the previous review. This is a simply amazing place and I can't stop thinking about it. The staff, the setting are simply exceptional. We had our 2-year old with us and she 'owned' the place the entire time. You feel like family and in your own palace (that you share with a few good friends). Totally agree with all the other great reviews about the staff, the beaches, the rooms, etc. We stayed in the deluxe room for 7 nights and were upgraded to an oceanfront room the last night. I loved both rooms, but it was a treat to have breakfast on your own balcony on the last day. However, I would book the same deluxe room for our next stay, since it was just as spacious and a better price. Dreaming about returning soon...

Room Tip: any room is exceptional
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northern California
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 3, 2012

We stayed here in November and ever since our return I have been trying to summarize the amazing week we spent there. Before I booked, I read all the TA reviews. They were all so accurate and helpful. Make sure to listen to reviews about booking the excursions. We stuck with Felipe, one of the staff members at the Palace. He gave us such an amazing experience, between taking us horseback riding with a friend of his in the mountains (gave you an exellent look at small villages and houses you might not normally get to see with a larger group), driving us to the monkey jungle and zip lining (funds go to fund a free medical and dental clinic for the poor, totally legit and great operation), to taking us to all the local beaches and swimming lagoon. Felipe even took us one day for lunch at his sister's house- an experience I would have never received and it gave us such an intimate and personal look into the lives of the the Domincans. Plus, the food she cooked was exceptional.

The Palace itself is flawless. The grounds are so unique and well cared for. You are not staying at a resort, you are staying at an estate essentially. At times, it felt like our own private estate, as it only has 13 rooms- and there were never more than 6 other couples there with us. The staff waits on you hand and foot. Between the amazing drinks (I highly reccommend the Dirty Banana) and the phenomenal meals---you will feel like royalty.

If you are very active however, this is not the place for you. We enjoy laying on the beach or by the pool, maybe taking a couple of excursions--- so this was perfect for us. While we were there the tide was too high at the private beach, but they take you happily to any of the neighboring beaches. Playa Grande was where we spent most our days----a postcard setting really- long stretch of sand and bright blue water, plenty of space, vendors to sell many things including phenomenal food. I highly advise you try the lobster- I was worried at first given we were in a foreign country, but no worry necessary. I had the lobster 3 days in a row, accompanied with fries, plantains, salad and rice with lime. I am not sure I have ever eaten a better meal. They also bring you beers, pina coladas served in a pineapple or a coco loco served in a coconut. It's pretty much heaven, and all at reasonable prices. We found that the servers knew the guests coming from the Palace. Once we hired one server, he was ours for the week and none of the others bothered us. The vendors can be annoying but you just say no, and they move along. The surf here is so warm and good enough for body surfing and maybe boogie boarding but not too rough that you can't swim and enjoy.
We stayed in a Ocean View room (without the jacuzzi). It was gigantic. I would be curious to see what the cliff rooms were like, as they had a prime location, essentially built into the cliff itself.
It goes without saying that the staff at the Palace are just of this world. Felipe,especially won our hearts, and by the end I felt like he was family. Make friends with the staff, especially him, and by all means- if he invites you out to the local disco...GO! You will rarely have a more cultural experience. I am missing the Palace so much just writing this. I would go back in a heartbeat.

If you like a lot of excitement and nightlife, you could potentially book a few nights here, and then maybe a couple at one of the places closer to Cabarete. The Palace is a must though- it provides luxury, relaxation and above all else- an intimate look at Dominican culture.

Room Tip: If you get a bigger room- close the bathroom door whenever you have the A/C on- it helps keep the ro...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
King George, Virginia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2012

My wife and I just returned from a 4-day trip to the Palace at Playa Grande and we could not have been happier. It felt more like a quaint bed and breakfast with everything included. Our room was as big as our house and our bathroom was big enough to host a party in it.

The staff of Juan Carlo, Ramona, Phillipe and especially Javaier were the best. There were so many others who made our stay enjoyable and pleaseant but I can't name them all. Before our trip we worked with Mark Lahood and he was just outstandnig and everything he told us was jujst as he stated.

The grounds, the view, the sounds of the ocean and of course the food and service were outstanding.

You will not go wrong staying for staying here.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
los angeles
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2012

Went to a destination wedding here. Wow, it is so beautiful and expansive. 4 Story main house with 3 or 3 stories down the hill. I think it has 13 guest suites. Pool, jacuzzis, park like atmosphere.The staff are AMAZING. Every detail taken care of. It is secluded so once you are there you are there.

Room Tip: Downstairs rooms are handicap accessible. Albeit there are wheel chair ramps they are steep and I wo...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2012

I knew we found the right place before we even got there when they worked with me to make sure the Groupon I purchased would work with the dates for our honeymoon. Before you leave the airport get some pesos because you WILL need cash and not everywhere will take US dollars easily. My husband was in heaven when our taxi driver handed us beers for the drive to the palace. Every picture you see does NOT do this place justice. It is absolutely the most amazing, unique building/property I have ever seen. We were nervous because we don't travel much outside of the US, but the staff bends over backwards to make you feel welcome. They were determined to teach my husband some Spanish and they started with teaching him how to ask for another beer :) They do everything they can to help you relax and not worry about a thing. Drinks by the pool, setting up romantic dinners by a bonfire (poor Javier ran back and forth the whole night to our remote location and was HAPPY to do it!!), playing pool with you, or suggesting fun things to do.

Felipe works in the morning and he will gladly move heaven and earth to show you a good time. Thanks for the invite from a few of the other guests (talk to the other guests! They'll be a wealth of information and a lot of fun at night as Javier serves you wine and his famous drinks) we went to the Monkey Jungle with Felipe. Zip-lining and playing with squirrel monkeys all for a good cause! Felipe will also set you up on a horseback ride through the hills (and you'll visit his family) and a local town. These horses are pets and well loved and cared for (I own horses so this was VERY important to me!). We did the couples massage and loved it! The location on a balcony was beautiful, the ladies very professional and did an amazing job.

The beach is beautiful, but beware the waves! I actually was a bit nervous of them and chose to enjoy them from my lounge chair in the sand. If you want calmer waves the nearby beaches are better for getting into the water. We stayed in the cliffside suite right above the beach and it was amazing!!! The nights cooled down enough that we could have the windows open, but the waves hitting the rocks were loud enough to hear clearly with the windows closed.

Water pressure was strong, a/c kept it cold, and hot water never ran out. They give you a hamper to toss your dirty clothes and every evening when they turn down your bed your clothes return smelling better than they do at home!! Lights flicker, but never went out and we kind of liked the ambiance ;) We drank them out of beer and alcohol a few times, but they rushed to refill as quickly as possible! Food was amazing and I loved the opportunity to choose what I wanted to eat. I always tried to pick something I wouldn't eat at home and was NEVER disappointed. There is always a guard on duty; so, even at the end of our stay when it was only us and one small family we still felt safe.

We sorta tipped as we went along and again at the end. I truly believe the staff would work just as hard for your happiness for free, but they definitely deserve any tip you are comfortable giving! Don't be afraid to talk to Cynthia, Felipe, Juan Carlos, Charlie or Javier! It's fun, but also they can help make sure you have the exact kind of experience you want. GO, GO, GO!!!

Room Tip: We stayed in the cliffside suites and the privacy and uniqueness of these self-contained suites make...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Palace at Playa Grande

Address: Calle Rio San Juan | Playa Grande, Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Maria Trinidad Sanchez Province > Rio San Juan
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 hotels in Rio San Juan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — The Palace at Playa Grande 4*
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Also Known As:
The Palace At Playa Grande Hotel Rio San Juan

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