Two years ago we had heard of Caliente Caribe in the Dominican Republic and its prior existence as Eden Bay. We had heard that it had become a bit run down; but last year heard it had been bought by the Caliente, Tampa investors, and was on the way back up. We went there last year and were pleasantly surprised. The staff was very good and service and attitude were excellent. Last year when we arrived, the front desk person was Karina and she was particularly attentive meeting our needs as we had special requests regarding our unit location. The entertainment staff was a lot of fun and Angela and Lucy made the evenings enjoyable for all guests. If you didn’t know how to dance, to Latin music, you did by the end of the evening - with Lucy and Angela’s help. Lucy and Angela regrettably were gone this year. Last year it seemed Caliente was fixing and upgrading a lot of things, apparent in just in the one week we were there. They had a new manager, Joey and I assumed the improvements were his doing. We were looking forward to returning this year and finding it significantly better.
Because we took a liking to our casita location, we requested one in the same location. But when we arrived, we were assigned one, in a completely different location. Interestingly, when sitting on the beach, we mentioned it to other guests and found that several other people had the same experience. Some were even lifetime Caliente Tampa members (so we didn’t feel quite so bad that our requests were ignored). We found a lot of people had requests that seemed, I have to say, ignored. We spoke to the front desk manager, Maggie, who denied knowing about our requests and even told us it wasn’t her responsibility. We later learned she is definitely the person in charge of room assignments. We found she was really not at all competent in the job. Although she doesn’t seem to have the language skills, the personality or the presence to command this kind of position, her lack of interest in the well being of the guests is the most disturbing deficit. Interestingly, there were several young men at the desk who were highly competent, intelligent and went out of their way to meet our needs, Jaime, Franklin and Juan. Jaime, in fact was passionate in his interest in insuring the happiness of the guests. Maggie, as it turned out, during our stay, was rarely seen, (not something you would expect from a manager). But, it was probably better for guests that she was rarely there, as she wasn’t helpful when asking anything of her anyway. Her office was always empty. Usually when she was seen, she was there only for a meal and didn’t interact with the guests unless approached. Once when I needed her, and asked other staff when she worked, nobody seemed to know; but they did offer to call her if I wanted her. Not to belabor the issue, but we also felt she didn’t dress appropriately. She should wear professional attire, like a resort management person would be expected to wear. This also was the case with Joey, the general manager. He was always wearing shorts, tee shirts, flip-flops and caps on backwards. Neither certainly didn’t garner much respect from the guests, and as it became apparent, from their staff. Conversely nearly everyone else was dressed appropriately. Wait staff were always spiffy, as were housekeeping and grounds people nicely uniformed. I forgot, Alex and Marley, the entertainment guys also could use a better physical presentation, Marley has dreads and wears tattered jeans and Alex street clothes. Nothing that would identify him as a member of the Caliente staff.
Last year the food was good, not great, but acceptable. This year when we arrived it was perhaps a 4 on a 10 point scale – ten being the best. Often food is either under cooked, over cooked or cold. Hot food was put on cold dishes, etc. Canned sauces and over ripened or under ripened fruits. Also, as salads are often served they need to get a variety of lettuces. Breakfast never came out properly prepared. Cold scrambled eggs, tasteless omelets, well mucus-like soft boiled eggs, cold syrup on fruit crepes, oatmeal the consistency of loose baby food. Breakfast is usually a hard meal to screw up. Lunch had a new menu each day, which was fairly limited in choices. We’d recommend they have a special menu each day, but also keep a basic menu. Also curiously, none of the food is very spicy or reflecting of the Hispanic or Caribbean cuisine heritage. Dinner menus also have limited choices. There just didn’t seem to be any quality control. We discovered there is a new chef, and the quality of the food and variety did seem to improve as the days progressed. Let’s hope it continues.
Most of the wait staff is the same as last year. It was nice to see most of the same people still there. I could mention some, but that would be a disservice to others. Absolutely every one of them was excellent and they worked in teams to satisfy the needs of the guests. We can’t say anything at all critical about them. They all spoke enough English to understand most of the guest’s requests. And they also have a system where the headwaiter or head waitress (who speaks better English) takes the orders to insure they get it right. During the meals, various staff was always at one’s elbow with coffee, juice, wine or whatever -depending on the meal. No one lacked for attention. Ah, speaking or the staff, it should also be noted that we would recommend modest tipping at the end of your stay. Five-ten dollars per waiter given to them personally - to be sure they get it. Although the resort is “All-inclusive” they work, it appears, 10+ hour shifts and six days a week and Dominican pay is embarrassingly little. We tried to give to absolutely everyone who served us during our stay.
As far as the accommodations, ours was in fairly good condition, a few minor repairs were overlooked, and they could be decorated a better. Nonetheless they were fine. Most important to us, it was very clean. I stress that, as I think cleanliness is paramount for most guests. I compliment the housekeeping staff. Also, I had occasion to peek into the kitchen after dinner one night. All food was put away and the place looked so clean it appeared the kitchen wasn’t even in use. Bravo!
The hotel is basically on two levels: Upper level has reception, main dining room, disco, exercise/gym, cool swimming pool with swim up bar and entertainment lounge, and separate hot tub. There are two buildings each three floors with rooms or studio rooms. There are two tennis courts on the upper level. The lower level has individual casitas which, I believe are mostly two rooms – bedroom and living room. This level also has a beach bar, beach, heated pool, heated volleyball pool and another hot tub. There is also shuffleboard and beach volleyball. And of course, the beach. The beach is somewhat small, but nice sand and plenty big enough for sunning and swimming. Bring beach shoes however, as once you get beyond the edge, the bottom has a lot of broken coral.
There are areas of the resort that needed maintenance attention. For example, the steps between the upper and lower levels need to be power washed as they get mildew and slippery from the humid weather. The visible side of the building housing the kitchen needs washing or painting. And the roofs of the casitas and the pool bar need a new coat of paint. The grounds are kept in good condition and are extensive. Big enough for a cardiovascular power walk without leaving the resort.
The bathrooms at the beach bar are ready for renovation. But I will say, housekeeping cleans them often. The lounge chairs at the beach, at the pool and at the rooms all need a thorough cleaning with some strong bleach and a power washer or scrub brush.
Entertainment, although amateurish, as is the case in many resorts, is enjoyable, engaging, and is different every evening. And, the performance generally lasts for a couple of hours; definitely a plus. Some performances are better than others, and they have a magician that is really, really good. The disco music gets boring, with way too much heavy base - boom, boom, boom. Guests often requested softer music, albeit rock, but their requests were rarely honored. The disc jockey needs to be sensitive to the music preferences of the guests. If the guests are sitting around and not dancing, it generally means they don’t like the music. Staff needs to remember that the majority of the guests are upwards from 40-50 years old. The disco facility itself is very good but the staff needs to be vigilant that the air conditioners are all working at their fullest.
Generally there are enough towels, but they do run out and sometimes there is a half hour wait. It’s an odd system. On the upper level you must ask for towels at the reception desk. Down below at the beach you just take them. At neither location are towels assigned to you. Notwithstanding, you can have as many as you want. Ample towels are important as one needs them often to sit on when unclothed.
The gift shop has some nice local things and the manager Alduino is terrific. No pressure to buy and if he doesn’t have something, he will get it. He even had some earrings made for one guest. However, the shop needs to be straightened up and most of all needs better lighting. The existing light bulbs they use appear to be about 60 watt and most are burned out. It’s a challenge to see what you are buying.
There is wireless internet throughout the resort, but, although my computer said the connection was good - to very good, - the loading and response time was very, very slow. I’m sure it’s something that can be worked out with a skilled technician. There is a computer in the main building available for guests, but even though it appears to be hardwired with an Ethernet cable, it too, was very slow. It’s very old and needs to be replaced. Although we were told there is no cell service and we could rent phones or use a calling card, we got reasonably good Verizon cell service.
Getting to Caliente is easy. Puerto Plata (POP) is about 1 hr. 20 minutes from the resort. But, once you arrive, you are met by a private taxi, provided by Caliente. This is a terrific benefit the resort provides. Sit back and enjoy the scenery. It’s a interesting and beautiful ride as you go through a half dozen villages. Although the round trip taxi is free, provided by Caliente, a $5 tip for the driver is appropriate.
As a repeat guest I’ve overlooked some things I now take for granted. It is a clothing optional resort. Wear or don’t wear what you want - anything goes. One will always feel comfortable with other guests. Caliente is a naturist resort and we never either saw nor suspected any inappropriate sexual activity. Although a Catholic country the staff is very accepting. They treat you like you are fully dressed. Never an uncomfortable look. Ninety-nine percent of the guests come with partners. The occasional single (usually male) is an oddity. In our experience they are less welcomed and some do make some guests uncomfortable with inappropriate watching. For our part, we think they should go to singles resorts.
Last, and an important reason to go to Caliente Caribe is the location. It was previously called Eden Bay and it’s just that. It’s a Garden of Eden. A beautiful, lush cove on the water. Very private, and with no textile resorts or non-naturists around. Not the all too typical island resort where one can’t tell if he’s in Aruba or Mexico. It’s a truly exotic setting. And if you are lucky you see a spectacular show of whales breaching, spouting and playing just off the beach. We recommend you give Caliente Caribe a try. It’s not perfect, but it is a wonderful way to holiday in a natural and au natural setting.
(After writing this review I heard from a guest that Maggie has been replaced by a very competent person as the Assistant General Manager)
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- Also Known As:
- Caliente Caribe Hotel Cabrera
- Caliente Caribe Resort And Spa
- Caliente Caribe Resort & Spa Dominican Republic/Cabrera