I just returned from my second trip to Punta Cana. This was my first time staying at Melia Caribe Tropical, as I previously stayed at the Majestic Elegance (which is slightly higher rated and slightly more expensive). All things considered I would certainly say Melia is a great value when comparing to the higher price of Majestic.
There were four of us with two rooms. We arrived a little later in the day around 6pm. Upon arriving we were greeted in the lobby and offered a cocktail. The woman at the front desk (who's name I do not remember) was not overly friendly. She did not offer us Royal Service, however we inquired if it was available. Initially they quoted us $50 per person per day ($700 total for the 7 nights per room). We got them down to $35 per person per day ($490 total). After taking payment, we were escorted to the Royal Service lounge. As we waiting for them to finish and give us our wristbands, we were given mimosas. Eduardo Rodriguez was assigned as our butler and took us to our rooms, assisted us with the safe, and gave us phone numbers we would need. The suite (4606) was massive with a full kitchen and separate bedroom. This would've been worth the $490 upgrade alone.
Sadly after he left us that night, we didn't hear or see from him for days. On Monday night my friend called to have her jacuzzi setup. After returning from the pool, we found Alex Rijos setting up her room. From that point forward, Alex provided us with incredible 5 star service. Anything we needed from him we got. He was extremely attentive, took notes for things he needed reminders for, and was extremely punctual. He setup a horse drawn carriage to pick us up one night for dinner. Anytime we ran into him during the day he was genuinely excited to see us. Of the four in our group, I was the only one that is fluent in Spanish, but Alex always went out of his comfort zone of his first language and would speak English to us when we were talking about things that we all needed to know about. His English was very impressive and was able to switch from speaking Spanish with me to speaking English to the group with ease. Upon checkout, I requested to speak with the manager (I'm sure they thought I was about to complain). I made it a point to tell the Royal Service manager how amazing Alex was and the service he provided us. I know that in this industry comments like that can go very far and it was important to note what an asset Alex is to the resort. I had leftover pesos when I was leaving and gave them to him and told him to go out this weekend and have a drink on me. He was so genuinely grateful for the gratuities we gave him for his services.
During out seven night stay, we dined at Gabi twice, El Guarapo Dominican restaurant twice, and once at La Hacienda Mexican, Ma Maison French, and the American Grill. Having had home cooked Dominican food before I was hoping for the best at El Guarapo. I was overall pleased. I had the mofongo one night and the fish the second. The mofongo was a bit dry. Our waiter the first night brought us over a plate of tostones and cerdo horned (off the menu) after I was telling him what I usually get a Dominican restaurants. Both times at Gabi I got the lobster (which is not available to non-Royal Service guest and must pay a $39 up charge). La Hacienda and American Grill were both average, La Hacienda being slightly better. The night we went to Ma Maison was a massive disappointed. We had 8:15 reservations and were not seating until 8:30. The service was incredibly slow and waited nearly one hour for our entrees to come out. Between us, we had the steak, the chicken, and the duck. I ordered the duck and it was hard and dry. It was like to stones. Duck is usually very moist and falls apart. The steak was tough and smothered in a very salty sauce. Within minutes we got up and left. The manager came running out after us and was asking me what was wrong. I told him the food was awful and service was slow (being 9:30 now). He begged us to come back in and took notes down and said that he is in charge of the restaurant and will ensure the chef knows this. Horrible food and service, but I must say he did try to rectify the situation so I can give him that.
We usually would do the Royal Service beach in the day and then go to lunch around 1 and finish the day by the Gabi pool. Waiter service on the beach was a bit slow. The problem may have been that there was only one waiter. I heard other groups complaining too. But the service was friendly. At the Gabi pool, I had the pleasure of meeting Emmanuel Reyes who was excellent. He always had us 4 chairs waiting for us with towels on them. Dulce Garcia was always very attentive and made great drinks that were never weak, always the right amount of alcohol. She was so friendly and we had many laughs. Ramón Solano always helped me one day when Emmanuel wasn't by the pool when we showed up. He also was very attentive and Ramón and Emmanuel were constantly circling the pool helping guests. My last day Ramón told me that him and Emmanuel are very close friends outside of work, which is all the more impressive that they didn't let their friendship interfere with their work.
The Gabi area at night was very relaxing with ambient music softly playing in the background. The Bali bed in the sand were very reminiscent of some of the expensive Miami clubs in South Beach. The Royal Service also provided evening maid service and turn down service. Jenifer Terrero Batista came by a few nights and was excellent.
If for nothing but the service, I would return to Melia. I think their areas that could be improved on are their food offerings and quality. I've traveled to many AI resorts. The food was exactly what I was expecting but I feel that food is the area all AI's can improve on. The Royal Service at the right price is a great experience. I would be excited to return in the next few years to check out the new Level area which from what the Royal Service manager told us is similar to the Royal area but will be adults only. My only reservation about trying the Level would be making sure Alex would be there. I cannot say enough about him!
Thank you Melia for another memorable trip to the Punta Cana and reminding me why I fell in love with Punta Cana and the Dominican people a few years ago.