We spent a month here from the middle of February to the middle of March. This is now our 4th time at this hotel. As you will have read in other reviews, there was a minor upheaval with the animation team. But not to worry. The new team has learned from what was left of the original team and is doing well. They worked very hard together to bring things back and we were very happy with their efforts. As always, the service here is excellent. As we and others have stated before, it takes no time to feel like family with the staff. Unfortunately, the down side, is that it makes leaving very difficult because we have become close. Always there are tears on the last day for those who leave. Yes, I am a man and even though I try to be stoic etcetera, the odd trickle still escapes.
What can you expect?
Well, here is what you can expect from the hotel:
Hotel - Fairly small with an intimate atmosphere that encourages friendships with others from different countries.
Service - They will do everything in their power to help you. We have many stories of how the staff went beyond their "duties" to make guests happy. They soon know your name and treat you as family.
Cleanliness - Everything is always clean. The pools and restaurant are tested by independent inspectors on a regular basis. The sidewalks are always being pressure washed. I'm not sure where the stories of bugs and vermin overrunning the restaurant come from. I have never seen that in 4 years. Yes you will find some insects outside on the grounds. However, remember YOU ARE OUTSIDE! Short of putting up insect netting over the entire hotel and spraying with toxic chemicals daily, you will just have to get used to the natural world. Yes you can survive outside of the sterile city environment.
Property - Quiet, beautiful grounds - like walking through gardens. Always feel safe and secure and peaceful.
Beach - You can walk kilometers in either direction with few people. Wonderful little bar at "la bocca" the mouth of a river. Always welcoming. On weekends it is alive with the locals and music turned up high as is the dominican way. Some complain about the cleanliness of the sand on the beach but most of what you see is what comes in with the waves. They try to clean up as much as possible. If they aren't quick enough to pick up the cigarette butts and plastic cups - who really is at fault?
Entertainment - As always, the animation team is second to none in their efforts to keep everyone happy and amused. The shows were a little bit rougher than we were used to at first (see intro above) but we really didn't care. When you become close with the team, you overlook the little mistakes and cheer them on. Keep in mind that if you want a "Las Vegas style Revue" you can pay for that in Peurto Plata. As stated in the intro, The team made Herculean efforts - even working through their break times to practice. We saw that effort pay off in the Fire and Water show the last week we were there. Bravo team!
Restaurant - There are 3 restaurants. The Thai which only seats about 12. The Windows which overlooks the pool. The main buffet restaurant. The food is excellent at all 3. You won't find expensive seafood or other 5 star food here. However, what is there is very good. The desserts as always leave a person wishing they had more self control. Much of the fare is cooked the Dominican way - but then again - where is this Hotel? There is always enough variety.
We would liked to have seen some sort of fruit or lighter fare put out for snack time. They had hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches alternating. I usually wanted what was there but tried to restrain myself because I wanted my clothes to still fit by the end of our stay. My wife is a diabetic and could have used something like a little cheese and crackers or a piece of fruit between meals. We know that the staff would have been only too happy to get something for us but we didn't want to trouble them for something special.
Rooms - OK here we go. We are happy with the rooms we get. We only spend the night in it anyway. However we know which rooms to ask for. This is the way it breaks down: There is one beautiful room which is actually a suite where the president of the company stays when he comes. There are a number of other rooms around the two pools. the second floor rooms are generally larger and have more natural light. The ground floor rooms tend to be often smaller and darker. The rooms surrounding the reception area are very small and not very attractive or quiet.
As stated above, we have no problem with the cleanliness. However, because the owner is not putting enough money back into the hotel, there are tending to be some maintenance issues now. The rooms could use some paint, carpentry repairs, new bathroom fixtures and furniture. This, for the most part, has not reached the crisis stage yet but it is deteriorating every year.
How happy you will be depends on which room you get and your frame of mind about what to expect. Keep in mind what you are paying for and how much you actually use the room. Remember that you can "think yourself" happy or upset. By the way, the staff will always move you to another room as available.
Concerns. - We are worried that the president of the company, Celuisma Hotels in Spain, is not too interested in maintaining this hotel. We know the sister hotel in Playa Dorada has received extensive renovations in the last few years. However, cutbacks to the operating budget here have become quite noticeable this year. The manager and staff are doing the very best they can, but they need more money to operate and rejuvenate this hotel. We certainly hope that they get it because we really want to go back as do many other regular guests.
Summary - If you can look past it's small imperfections and enjoy the scenery and the wonderful staff that become your Dominican family, you can enjoy an amazing vacation. Our sincere wish and hope is that people will enjoy the same kind of getaway that we do here and I will be able to update you with even better reviews next year.
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