Let me preface this review with a little background as to why we took this vacation. First, "we" is myself (25 years old, female) and my 20 year old female cousin. We had both had quiet a difficult year in our respective lives and the Sunday before our trip I graduated law school - so this was a much needed vacation as well as a celebratory one.
Now that you have that tidbit of information, you can understand that we are two young girls in need of a respite and not particular to our surroundings. That being said, we have both been to various parts of the DR several times before so we are seasoned DR travelers. Keep all this in mind when you are reading the review, it might help you gage how you yourself might react to certain situations.
So let me start at the beginning with the airport.
We booked through BookIt.com and flew JetBlue from NY to Santo Domingo (SDQ). This airport is about 1.5hr from the hotel - not terrible but could be better. The reason why it is important to note that we booked through BookIt is the following: When going with bigger companies like Apple Vacations for example, generally (from my experience) there is a big bus full of other passengers that greets you at the airport and takes you back to the airport, so if your flight back to your home is say at 3pm, you will still need to leave the hotel at like 8am and then just sit and sweat at the airport. This was so in Punta Cana anyway a few years ago. Regardless, when booking through BookIt.com they give you the option of choosing ground transportation (now I have traveled both with and without ground transportation - PLEASE DO YOURSELF A FAVOR and buy this option! It will be cheaper for this option then taking a cab. At least if you are flying into Santo Domingo - so when you buy through bookit.com and you select ground transport- you will end up with a company called VIP. VIP is essentially a little mini van thing that carries either 2-4 people at a time. This is great because then your pickup time from the hotel to the airport is more customized to your departure and your not wasting a whole day that you could have spent at the beach sitting at the airport. I did not know this, I assumed it was the big bus, so I booked an earlier flight lost a few beach hours.
Going back to SDQ, so we arrive and we got through customs (note to newbies: you will need to buy a $10 entrance visa into DR regardless of your country passport).
You go through all the customs hoopla and your finally outside. Look for the VIP shirt guy and they should have your last names (or at least the person who booked the package). The guy(s) will want to help you with your luggage - tip them a 1-2$, not a big deal for you, nice bonus for them.
The drive as I said is about 1.5 hrs. When you arrive at Dreams - you are greeted with a lovely "Welcome Home" and a glass of champagne. Who doesn't love that.
The first thing we noticed is that the lobby - although beautiful is small and simple as compared to say a Riu Palace Bavaro (which opened in December 2011 and is brand spankin new and ultra modern)
Nevertheless, very clean, very nice lobby. See where you get placed for your room. I had read a bunch of reviews that suggested all different housing units - most people said house 3 - I disagree. Building 3 is sort of a nexus for the property, it is rich across from the pool with the swim up bar, it is also right in front of the buffet, so it is SUPER convenient. However, I would not like that much foot traffic outside my door, so I would suggest our building which was 2. GREAT GREAT GREAT. It was a couple of steps away from everything, including the pools and the buffet but far enough to be a little "out of the way".
The entire landscape of this place is very zen garden like, with covered walkways and a beautiful flamingo area. The VIP sections and the places where they had the seaside grill (best one there, more on this later, italian and french ala carte's), this area was more modern, with manhattan lounge style furniture. Its funky in a good way.
There are two pools, one with the Jacuzzi and one with the swim up bar. I would have preferred these two be combined into one pool but se la vie.
The beach was ok. Thats all really to say on it. There were plenty of short little trees you can hide under if you did not get up in time to get one of those giant straw umbrella things. The palm trees provide amble shade as well so really - not a huge problem. The sea itself, well people come to La Romana because of the calm water - NO WAVES AT ALL. There is also a cool trampoline in the middle of the water which you swim up to and then you have to climb on to. It is meant for kids, but all the time we were there mostly adults an teens enjoyed it - one of those go ahead and be a kid again moments. There is another floating structure, that is ONLY for children because it is very fragile looking - we didn't try that one but the kids loved climbing it.
There was a TON of seaweed! Like literally no way to walk into the water without stepping on a mass of seaweed. The water itself was mostly clear and a beautiful blue, can't complain. The water aerobics was in the sea, which is different from most other hotels (usually in the pool) so although we engaged in the exercise it was kind of painful to do the jumps as it was rocky and you never knew if you'd hit one or not.
Quick note about the shoreline - there is none, you walk about 5 minutes from one end of the beach to the other. If that.
Another quick note about walking too far on the actual coastline: In Punta Cana for example, there are neighboring properties one after the other, here, we inadvertently walked into a few souvenir shops that we thought were on the property of another resort but in fact - they were a local village already. So next door to the Dreams Resort is a local village with local people hanging out on the beaches, etc. Nothing against the locals!!! But it was something new to us, usually there is a bit more delineation between the resorts and the surrounding villages. No signs, nothing. We met some people on our trip (we actually met quiet a number of very interesting people) but in particular these people told us that they were warned not to go past certain property markers at night - makes you think a little bit.
There are some REALLY BEAUTIFUL places for pictures on the beach and in the pools, just really great views and ideal for posing for pics.
A couple of notes here: the lobby bar was awful. Sorry Dreams - but the lobby bar managed to screw up a simple melon martini (melon liquor, vodka, vermouth) = awful drink.
If you have never tried MamaJuana drink, this is not the place to start. I am not sure why, but it tasted TOTALLY different in Punta Cana. On top of this, the mamajuana in the lobby bar was totally bad - and mind you I had this every day like medicine - I found that the one at the swim up bar was much better - not great! but better.
YOU MUST TRY THE BEER - amazing. Only beat out in flavor by a lightly caramel tasting blend I had in New Haven CT once (check out my review for the food tour of New Haven).
All that being said- MANUEL at the swim up bar can hook you up with the best drinks. Big thanks to Milvio and Cesar as well, but Manuel has got all the right proportions in all the right drinks. Yummy Cosmos and Mimosas :):):)
A word about the liquor - I guess they reserve the "normal" brands (i.e. non local brands) for the VIP guests, we were offered only local brand anything. Maybe thats why the drinks weren't so awesome overall?
Now please note, I am the LAST person to be a picky eater. Ask anyone who knows me, or read my other reviews. However, here I had to reallllllyyyy pick and choose what was edible. The products were fresh, no comments about that. But the taste and variety - really not impressive for the most part. On day 3 we found the seaside grill for lunch - here EVERYTHING was DELICIOUS. Otherwise, can't really say anything was strikingly awesome. Breakfast was ok, lunch at the buffet was ok (certain items were great but not to the point of standing out in my mind), dinner - was good for the most part - nothing memorable.
About dinner.... here there is one thing that makes this hotel AMAZING - no reservations for the ala carte restaurants. This is GREAT!!!! if you have ever been to another resort and they said you can only try 3 of the 7 because your only staying a week- big bummer. Here, not so. Enjoy at will. So compliments to Dreams on that!
The one downside is that there is a wait. Everywhere except Bordeaux (French rest.) there was about 0-15 min wait. At the Bordeaux - 1.5 hr wait and then another hr for the food which was good when it arrived but different from what we ordered. More on that later.
We tried the...
Mexican : I didn't like anything at all, my cousin did and she's a pretty picky eater (go figure)
Italian: Not horrible but not great. The octopus carpaccio was good, the rest of it - eh. Pasta that came with shrimp was pretty bad.
Oceana (seafood): first time we went I have the surf and turf which I really enjoyed! my cousin had the red snapper which she enjoyed. The second time, the "surf" was shrimp not lobster, steak was ok. This place was a favorite for dinner though.
Bordeaux (French): So as I mentioned above - LONG LONG wait. Snails were pretty great. The rose essence soup - so so. We both ordered the chicken stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts. Chicken came with a pretty good wine sauce but the walnuts were raw and the blue cheese was "very big problem, no blue cheese tonight" ... um ok thanks for letting us know 15 minutes after we got the chicken and asked for the blue cheese separately. Thumbs down for that one.
You can always find something at the buffet. But we preferred the SeasSide Grill. Its towards the VIP areas, next to the Italian rest.
Great steak! Try the Chicken Flutes - YUMMM! Don't bother with the Pizza.
If you want Pizza - the bar by the pool with the Jacuzzi has AMAZING pizza - and I don't even like pizza. Really good.
There is a burger/hot dog guy that grills around lunch time - hot dogs here are in general kind of crappy tasting. I think we order once for room service and were just really hungry that night. (more on room service later).
The burgers we didn't try because the meat looked a little too "magic meat". Plenty of people ate the burgers, but we just didn't want to risk it.
There was a BBQ at the Jungle Rest. for lunch on day- Great bbq right on the beach, really enjoyed it.
There is a guy cutting fresh fruit on the beach everyday except Sunday - nice midday snack.
Also, if you want Mango - you have to ask for it everywhere it is usually not out as part of their regular assortment anywhere (buffet, beach, etc.), which was not good for my cousin who loves mango.
Overall, the assortment of food was not grand but again I must be spoiled by the insane variety and deliciousness of RIU resorts in Punta Cana. Def. smaller scale at Dreams.
The room service - pretty much the same food as the buffet. In the evening hours, it takes a little while (like 20 min or so) to get tea so order with this in mind.
Important note for newbies: MEN BRING LONG PANTS!!! The ala carts require pants for dinner and we met some people that did not know this so they ended up having to choose between the Seaside Grill for dinner and the buffet. They will not let you in in shorts- Sorry guys!
GREAT GREAT GREAT! Cannot complain at all. Very hard working! Very friendly! Very smiley! Very Accommodating. Super great experience with the service which even a Riu cannot compare to.
Only comment: The offers for excursions were a little pushy and wayyy too often (2x a day every day), but this is expected in DR.
Now I never go to get a massage in DR but my cousin does all the time. She says it was a great spa experience. Overall, I loved the landscape of the spa- really nice, really peaceful and relaxing. The massage itself also good. Nice clean everything. Great little paradise looking garden that had hidden treasures in it like the jacuzzi (hot one as opposed to the pool which was moderately warm on a good day) and there was a regular pool, lounge chairs...just nice.
I will comment on their child policy- there is none. I love kids, I am the oldest of all my cousins and siblings - BUT - a jacuzzi in a spa where adults are trying to relax is no place for a 3-4 year old girl that is kicking and screaming because she does not want to get into the water. It just kills the whole experience! (Sauna was nice too).
Shows at the pool - we saw the circus show which was GREAT!!!! Really mind boggling.
Show at the theater- Besides the celebrity impersonations show - can't really saw we enjoyed anything else. We like the kitchy little shows, but really not that good. Props to the hard working performers though, it wasn't your talent it was the presentation overall.
Usually, there is much more audience involvement in the shows... kind of missing that here.
Very nice, spacious, great closet, nice little balcony. A bit dated but great shape. Very very very clean.
Great place to relax and forget about the world. Not a bad value for the money, but I would rather not sort through my food and pick one drink and stick to it when I am on vacation.
Conclusion: Good getaway, but would probably would NOT come back here.
Please feel free to ask any questions, I am more than happy to help.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.