Just returned from our second visit - March 16 - 23, with 2 small kids 7 and 9 years old. This being our second time, we were worried that we wouldn't enjoy it as much as the first time, but it was equally as enjoyable as the first....nice to know that there is consistency between visits and this is a solid resort.
Being our second time, I guess they honoured our request for an oceanview one bedroom suite - lovely!!! However, in order to accomodate this, they put us in building 61 which is in the Riviera section (suite was identical to the one we had at the White Sand the year earlier). I was a bit worried being farther away from the Colonial pool (where we spend our majority of time with the kids), but it was no trouble and we discovered that taking the beach route saved a lot of time and was a lovely walk too !!!
Suite was identical to the year before despite the fact that it was in the Riviera section. Wonderful to wake up to a view of the ocean and to sit with a morning coffee before we started our day. Kids slept on the pullout which has a foam mattress and they were very comfortabvle. I just ordered an extra set of linens so they wouldn't tug, pull and fight over the blankets. Kids had very comfortabvle sleeps.
BED: Last year I had a real problem with my bed and back - the bed was so hard that it kept seizing up on me. This year I came prepared with a bottle of Robaxacet and I even brought an electric heating pad - didn't need either and never had any problems...not sure if the mattress was different?
WASHROOM: No problems with hot water or lack of towels including face cloths.
MAID SERVICE: Wonderful - never any problems and never lacked anything. Everyday the room was cleaned perfectly. We would leave the room by 9:00AM and return at 4:00PM and it was always done.
INTERNET: We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to get wifi in the rooms, for a fee. $13 US per day or $75 per week!!! Wonderful as my husband needed to stay in touch with work and wasn't looking forward to lugging the laptop to and from the lobby. HOWEVER, the connection is spotty and we found ourselves spending a lot of time of the phone with tech support getting their help to get us back up, and or getting paid for time replaced on our account for everytime the connection went down. SOOOO keep that in mind and it may or may not be worth it. Still not sure if the problem was related to our building or to the entire resort as a whole.
POOLS: We spent the majority of our time at the Colonial pool as it was more active. Never had any problems getting chairs at anytme, UNTIL Sunday March 20 and onwards....i guess the hotel got much busier and it was a bit of a struggle, but after 2:00 there would always be plenty of chairs to pick from. The White Sand pool ALWAYS had plenty of empty chairs and it is also quieter if that is what you prefer. I really wish they would add drink service around the pools.....even 3 ladies, and they would all make a killing on tips, I am sure. We had our bubba kegs so it wasn't a big deal, but it sure would have been nice having drink service anyways. WATER WAS WARMER this year it seemed as compared to last year....still a definately chill as you enter, but nowhere as cold as last year in my opinion.
BEACH: Gorgeous sand, crystal clear water, tons of chairs - but not enough shade unfortunately. They definately need to plant more palms or add more palapas. BIG DIFERENCE is the rocks this year....tons of rocks as compared to last year...but mostly just as you walk in....later it is much smoother, but you still have to be careful. Definately bring water shoes. I managed to get away with flip flops but it cramped my toes just trying to keep them on my feet...LOL. No fault of the hotels - just mother nature doing her thing. Kids loved making sand castles. Thought this year the beach was more windier than last year though.
RESTAURANTS: Buffet was amazing as always, and I can honestly say it is one of the best buffets that we have experienced in an AI....dinner especially. I have been to AI buffets (in Punta Cana in particular) where the buffet meats are unedible. Always something to find. MUST TRY THE CREPE STATION at dinner...don't remember this last year and we loved it....made to order desert crepes were out of this world and my family couldn't get enough....try the banana with chocolate..YUM!!!!!
The a la cartes were a bit different this year in the sence of trying to get into one !!!! Last year, we could show up at 7:00 and still get a table....NOT this year!!! On our first night, we showed up to the Italian at 7:00 and got a 2 hours wait!!!! They also take your room key with your reservation to prevent double or tripple bookings!!! From that day forward we would show up at 6:00PM or just after, wtih a hord or other folks, who obviously realized the same thing. A bit of a pain as it adds stress trying to get all 4 of us showered, dressed and out in time, but I still prefer this system over having to stand in line everyday for a reservation - so GP, please don't change this.
Strange experience one night in the Italian - came with 2 families...our family showed up first and requested a table for 8 and was told we could be seated right away....until they realized the other 4 were not in line with us....sorry too bad....we had to stand back and let other folks get their tables until the other 4 showed up. Then they had to seat us at different tables - the tables were side by side, but they would NOT push them together...strange. So the kids had to sit seperately and it was a bit of a pain getting up constantly to help them cut their food, etc. Don't know why it would have been so difficult to just push them together for the meal and them pull them apart???? Then to top if all off, after one glass of wine each, at 7:45PM we were told the STEAK restaurant was OUT of red wine!!!! And they didn't know when they would get more.....no bother, as we were getting ready to leave, but if I had just sat down to a lovely steak dinner with no red wine, I wouldn't have been too thrilled.....LOL
KIDS CLUB: FANTASTIC as always!!!! My 7 year old daughter couldn not get enough!!!! We basically found ourselves working around her and the club's schedule including the evening shows....she just loved it!!! My 9 year old, however, this year, wasn't as impressed......there didn't seem to be many boys in the club and definatley none of his age, so he wouldn't go in. In general the club this year was mostly girls 8 or younger, and only a couple over the age of 8. I felt completely safe leaving my daughter in the club and she adored the wonderful ladies and the exciting and fun activities.
SUGGESTION FOR THE KIDS CLUB: They state that they have a club for 9 - 12 year olds, but I just don't or didn't see it. There were a ton of kids in that age range at the resort and not sure why they weren't going to the club. Wondering if the resort should find a seperate location for this age group - maybe kids of this age are turned off by the juvenile feel of the kids club? Maybe the activities aren't appropriate for this age range? Not sure. But it would have been wonderful if there was an area where kids of this age could congregate and there would be a supervisor who could organize things like ping pong tournements, volleyball games, bag toss, pool games, beach games, mini-put, etc. My son would wander around looking for kids his age and ask if he could join in and play with them....which since he is rather shy, was kind of painful for him. There is great potential here to attract families with kids in the 9 - 12 age group with fantastic activities. The stuff is there, it just needs to be organized.
Both kids loved the movie night on the beach and the nighttime treasure hunt!!!! Look out for it - Sunday or Monday nights, I forget...they go out with flashlights, etc.....
In summary, our second visit to the Grand Palladium was WONDERFUL!!! Happy kids make for happy parents and a happy family vacation, and that is exactly what we had. Just wish we could have stayed longer !!!
This is a good solid family resort. We would definately return and would definately recommend it to others.
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