Okay, let's call a spade a spade. When you've stumbled onto an all inclusive package with a direct flight from JFK for five nights, and you're paying $700 you better trust your instincts.....or at the very least adjust your expectations. I had made the aforementioned expectation adjustment, and yet I was still shocked. Call it wide eyed optimism, call it naivete, call it whatever you want, but a dollar is a dollar, and one thing is for sure, if you are an American, your dollar is worth less here. What I mean by that, is that this resort hates Americans. Before I get ahead of myself and fall into a downward, ranting spiral of race relations let me back up and start from the beginning:
Check In: When we arrived at the hotel, we were of course early, and of course they would not let us check in early. They told us to just leave our bags and come back in like 4 hours. I looked at the front desk people like they were crazy, they didn't tell us that someone would put them in a back room, or someone would be watching them, or even give us a ticket to hold to match up to when we came back to claim the bags. They literally just had us leave our suitcases in the middle of the lobby floor for anyone to steal. I knew immediately that this was not going to be like my usual trips. For some background, I have been to DR 3 times..Jamaica, Playa, Costa Rica, and Aruba, so I know what to expect usually. I also had read all of the reviews on here to prep myself, so I truly did understand that the hotel was 3.5 stars, and that it was owned by Italians, and might be more on the European, less luxurious side. That being said, you can still be nice to your customers, that doesn't cost extra. I tried to explain that I wasn't comfortable leaving my bag, but they just ignored us and went about their day. Yes, there are people there who wear those buttons proclaiming "I speak English" but it didn't matter, they were all rude to us, English speaking and non-English speaking. Oh, and I speak a little Spanish, as well as my travelling partner, so we weren't totally ill-equipped.
Rooms: Finally, after the four hour moratorium on room check-in had elapsed, we went back to check in, and hopefully find our luggage. They were there, and we were feeling a little bit better....until we got to our room. There are no elevators here to get to your rooms, so you have to lug your bags up and down the stairs, which is a little awkward, and highly annoying. Okay, so we get into the room. We had a room that was as far away from the beach as you could get. In fact, we were right at the front parking lot of the resort....lovely. The room, the room, oh the room. The ceiling in our room happened to be like 27 feet tall but the ceiling in the bathroom was so short that when I put a towel on my head my arms hit the ceiling. The bathroom was super old and run down, and the toilet seat had a slight spring to the seat, where you weren't sure if at any given moment it might fly off the hinges. The rooms are sparse, and I am being generous when I say that. For example, there is no clock in the room...anywhere. This isn't Las Vegas, we are paying for all inclusive, you can give us a damn alarm clock. There is only one trash can, and it's in the bathroom, very inconvenient for two girls. The beds are ridiculous. One night as we were laying down I turned to my friend and said, 'hey, did you know that these beds are on SLABS of concrete?' Alas, the beds are actually just on slabs of concrete built into the floor. You only get like one and a half pillows, and if you think you're getting a blanket, even a thin one, think again. They supply one sheet on the bed, and I'm pretty sure it was a 5 count thread. We had to call down (twice) to get blankets, and when they FINALLY arrived they were covered in strange stains that were highly suspicious. They only allot two towels to the room, so we called for more towels, and received them promptly 17 hours later. And finally, to top it all off in the room was the television remote. Now, when I'm on vacation, at night when I'm sleepy from all the sun, swimming, etc...I like to relax and watch my TV. However, even this, the resort doesn't make easy for you. The TV remote is TETHERED to the wall. No, you didn't read that wrong, it is truly tethered to the wall, and tethered by the wrong end, so when you try to turn it the right way to point and click, you have to twist it, and hold it steady in place, and if for a moment you let your guard down, and forget that, oh yeah, I'm holding a tethered remote control, it will snap out of your hand and fly back against the wall. This was the first time I felt like I had an idea of what jail might be like.....everything nailed down from TV remote, to bed box springs.
Beach/Pool: The beach is actually really gorgeous and the grounds are huge so you can walk forever, and there is so much beach space to spread out. The pools are super crowded and small, and do not have swim up bars. In fact, not only do they not have swim up bars, but I got in trouble for bringing a plastic cup in the pool, and was chastised about not being able to drink in the pool. Oh, right, I forgot that this was jail, and not an all inclusive resort....silly me.
Food: Food was terrible, there is no way else to put it. They would only let us book 2 restaurants, and two of them were closed, so that left us with three choices. We only ended up going to one, and it was bad. The food was small, and dry. The buffet was not great either. Let me just say this one thing, and I'll move on, because I griped about it for days. WHERE IS THE BACON??? When we go on vacations, we want to eat the things we don't normally eat everyday, we want to be gluttonous, and over-indulgent. It was kind of like that TV show, 'Where in the world is Carmen San Diego', but replace that with bacon. Well, it is hidden next to the omelette station, but you have to specifically ask the omelette guy for some of it, and its super fatty, and actually, I'm pretty sure it wasn't bacon, but some other cut of pork. The food was just not good, I ate french fries everyday and pickles. That sustained me until I got home. The staff who waits on you in the buffet are completely inattentive, and if you ask for a really, really complicate order (insert sarcasm here) such as seltzer water with ice, beware what you will get back. And drink it slowly, because they may never come back to refill. On the last night we were there the waiter got that order right, and he also refilled our glasses when he saw we were like halfway through. I was so overcome with appreciation, I could have wept right there. I gave him all the money I had on me at the time which was only like 10 bucks, but he was shocked that I tipped him like that. He was the only staff member who was attentive or nice. That was the night that I wanted to just grab some food at the buffet and take it back to the room because I was not feeling well at all. We called the front desk to see if we would be able to do this (remember, this is an all inclusive and I have already paid for the food, and the front desk said no. We asked several more times and told him I wasn't feeling well, and he said, and I quote: "Only in an extreme emergency can we allow you to do that".) Oh right, this is jail, I keep forgetting that.
Miscellaneous: Beware, they charge you 2 dollars a day for the safe....yup 2 bucks. So of course, ours broke on day two or three, and we had to call to get it fixed. One thing to note that everyone should know is that Dominican time is way different than American time. 10 minutes Dominican is 30-45 American. Don't say I didn't warn you. So three phone calls, and three '10 minutes' later, it was an hour and half we were waiting for security. They could not fix the safe. The guy had this little gadget that he kept trying to stick in the safe, and it wasn't working, and after over an hour, I believe it was closer to two hours my friend finally looked at the machine, and the error message was in English, and the guy couldn't read English. So my friend had to figure out what was wrong with the calibration, and help fix the safe. Seriously? At this point, I hope I have sufficiently scared anyone else from ever staying here, because everything I have stated is true. So when we went to check out, they tried to charge us the 2 dollars for that day of the safe. My friends dug in, and geared up for the argument. They said we still had to pay, we refused, they insisted, we continued to refuse, and it was like watching High Noon, or an old western. I know it's only 2 bucks, but it was the principal of the matter. They finally had to get a supervisors approval, and begrudgingly agreed to take off the two dollars.
So in summary, wait, does this review really need a summary? Nope. Go elsewhere, anywhere, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Siberia, North Korea, anywhere but here. I guess at the end of the day these are first world problems, but I stick by my story, and you were all warned. The rest is up to you.