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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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- Also Known As:
- The Palace At Playa Grande Hotel Rio San Juan