I want to preface my review with the fact that the resort was 90% Russian (mostly from Brighton Beach, NY, Brooklyn, or Chicago) with average age of 40 (with pre-8 year old kids) and another large group of average age 70. We stayed for 8 days and toward the end, more and more Europeans arrived (German, French, Swiss) with less Russians. Perhaps we just arrived at the wrong place at the wrong time. I will not go into stereotypes about Russians (I am of Russian decent) but with so many from the same geographic area, many stereotypes were confirmed many times over.
Hotel Grounds: Was 1.5 hours from Santo Domingo airport. Was a tad long of a drive (we arranged a transport van) but it allowed us to see the country side of DR without being jaded by the luxury of a resort. The hotel itself boasts a very nice public entrance building with lush, beautiful grounds. There are ducks, swans, and flamingos in the central fountain which are a delight to see and feed after meals in the general dining hall nearby. The place has 3 swimming pools with the biggest having a swim up bar and a Jacuzzi in the middle. The Jacuzzi was working but was never warmer than the rest of the pool which made it pointless. A smaller circular pool was nearby but rarely used or differentiated from the others. There is a rectangular pool for volleyball, water polo, and basketball which unfortunately was never used when activities were organized.
Accommodations: Buildings are numbered 1-4 on the right side of the property (when facing the ocean, with building 4 being closest to the water) and 5-7 on the left (7 being closest to water). We tipped the front desk concierge a little and got building 3 which was close enough to the beach but far enough away from the entertainment buildings. If you plan to attend the nightly entertainment, building 1 shouldn't be a problem but if you plan to go to sleep early, then make sure to request one further away. 3 floors per building. Rooms were large with plenty of room for storage. Our patio faced nothing but some walkways in the back of the building but it allowed us some sense of privacy.
Beach: AMAZING! Water was super clear and clean, with almost no waves. Very few beaches match the calmness. White sand with endless unobstructed views of the sea. People claim, and I can confirm, that people reserve beach chairs which inconvenience everyone. We simply walked up the beach (we never came to the beach before 10-11am) and found a pair of lounge chairs with 'obvious' signs of being reserved (1 sandal on each chair, towel spread over 2 lounge chairs, 1 cap on a chair without any sandals or towels nearby) and simply moved the aforementioned items and occupied the chairs. Some people came back and complained but I simply shrugged my shoulders and pointed to the sign that is posted on every umbrella which forbids reserving chairs...problem solved. The beach had 2 volleyball courts, a sand soccer court, and a bocci ball court.
Food: It wasn't bad. Suffice to say, you will not go hungry no matter what your appetite preferences are but at the same time, you will not be bragging about your options to friends back home or other guests. In the general dining halls, food was essentially the same for all 8 days that we were there. A few items replaced others but overall there was not much excitement to look forward to in terms of food. They have 4 specialty restaurants (Japanese, Mexican, French, and Steak house). You are allowed 3 if you stay for 1 week, 4 if you stay for longer. Not sure what their policy is on how many you can go if you stay there a month or so (as some Europeans do). We never went to Mexican and instead opted to go to Japanese twice after going the first time. The specialty restaurants are great and cannot be complained about at all. Drink service was excellent everywhere. Anything you want, they had or got you. Service in general was great everywhere in the resort. The only conscience issue we had was knowing who, when, and how much to tip. I know it was optional but still made for some transient feelings of guilt.
Entertainment: It seemed like events around the pool and beach were organized from 10:30am-noon, and from 3:30-5pm. Staff and activities were barren in between those hours. Activities included aerobics, dance lessons, water polo, volleyball, archery, rifle shooting (BB gun), poker, and some occasional quirky game on the beach. Scuba diving in the pool was setup twice a day and was a nice intro lesson for anyone interested in trying it out in the ocean. Every night around 8pm, they had bingo and kids events in the main entertainment building. By 9pm it was singing and dancing and by 9:45pm the nightly shows began. Some were funny, some were entertaining, and some were boring. Nothing special but nothing bad either. There was a disco in the back which was supposed to open at 11pm. We managed to go once as a few other times there was no one there (not even DJ) by 11:30pm and in general not many young clubbers.
Miscellaneous: Internet costs $3 for 2 hours at the cheapest. Catamaran rentals, snorkel equipment, and kayak rental was all free.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Directly on a fantastically beautiful, fine sandy beach. Around 5 km from the finish village of Bayahibe. Top 5-star luxury. Tropical gardens. Varied gastronomy. Water sports galore. Spa & Health Centre. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus Hotel Bayahibe
- Iberostar Hotel Bayahibe
- Iberostar Hotel Hacienda Dominicus
- Iberostar La Romana
- Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus Dominican Republic/Bayahibe