Visited the Gran Ventana from February 7-14, 2013. Tour company was Nolitours out of Toronto, with CanJet doing the flight.
FLIGHT - The head flight attendant told us as we came on board that CanJet puts the most number of seats possible on the plane. It sure was crowded and I was not surprised. My seatmates paid for upgraded service (not sure how much) and all they seemed to get out of it was an extra drink, a pillow and a blanket. Definitely not more leg room.
ROOM - The majority of rooms are 2 doubles, so if you want a king you will need to talk to the front desk once you get there. The kings appear to be the ones with the waterfront views, so you can pre-book and pay a premium for a beachfront room or get friendly with the front desk staff. If you want quiet, best to ask for a room in the Saona building, which is away from the disco at the Barcelo next door as well as the nightly stage show. The Catalina building is closer to the stage and the Beata building is somewhat disconnected from the rest of the resort and was not a popular choice for many of the guests.
ENTERTAINMENT - Do not expect an energetic show or anything particularly entertaining (it is lame!) - most nights the staff just get up on stage and try to get the crowd to dance or sing. The best night was a Micheal Jackson tribute and it was only about an hour in length, and was followed by the staff up on stage talking. If you want a casino or disco, you will have to leave the resort. The Barcelo next door has a disco and there is a Casino within walking distance.
POOL and BEACH - The beach is lovely, well maintained with lots of loungers and palapas. If you arrive after 1400h you may even be able to get a palapa as the crowd tends to migrate back to the pool later in the day as the wind starts to pick up a bit. There is a reef just offshore that keeps the waves small and the undertow quite light. The reef is interesting to snorkel although there is not a lot of coral to see. There are two pools - the main pool is in the centre of the resort, with a swim up bar, lots of loungers and lots of activity. For something quieter, try the Beata building as it has a quiet pool, perfect for reading.
BARS - The beach has a nice bar which is open until 1700h daily. The main pool has a swim up bar and another bar with comfortable furniture and a nice view of the stage area. It is open until about 1200h and is a great place to sit in the evening. The Beata building also has a bar open until 1200h - and has a very entertaining bartender named Jackie. There is also a bar in the lobby that is open each evening.
FOOD - There is a buffet restaurant, a snack bar by the beach (which doubles as an a la carte in the evening) and two other a la carte restaurants. As far as a la carte restaurants go, they are not that impressive and we found the buffet more interesting. The three a la carte restaurants serve italian (Beata building), caribbean (above the buffet) and grilled food (on the beach). We are not buffet people as we prefer a la carte service, but found that the buffet food was quite good each night, especially the roast pig that was at the carvery station.
Breakfast did not present a lot of choices but the green banana mash was always a hit, as was the smoothie station. Lunch at the beach bar was predictable but always tasty, either hamburgers, chili, fried fish or chicken wings. The rather big downside was the quality of the wine - at most other resorts the wine has been passable, but this resort seemed to make its own wine, and the quality was far worse than anything I have made at home. I did not expect great quality wines, but would have preferred something that was drinkable! Try the sangria instead, which has more rum in it than wine.
ROOM - Once we got friendly with the front desk staff, we managed to find a room with a king and an EXCELLENT view of the ocean (although there were a lot of trees). The balcony was large enough to sit out and relax on, the washroom was quite large and the room had lots of space. Downside was the closet, that had more shelves than hanging space and a nasty place on which to stub your toe (closure for the door).
GROUNDS - Well-maintained grounds were groomed each morning by numerous staff who did everything from rake the beach to pick up litter and leaves. The resort is quite compact and it is easy to walk from the front to the beach in less than 5 minutes. Even though compact, it did not feel cramped. If you wanted to walk the beach, it was easy to walk to the resorts on either side via the beach or to the shopping mall which was a 2 minute walk away. The mall was a bit sad, with a few empty storefronts, but it was a destination if you are looking for something to do. There is also a tennis court with a very engaging tennis pro!
Would I go back - YES - it is a nice resort, fairly good value for the money and a lovely beach although to be honest, I have not yet gone back to any resort twice.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Playa Dorada, a gated oceanfront community on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, is home to Gran Ventana Beach Resort, one of the country’s friendliest, most welcoming hotels. Located directly on the beach, our Puerto Plata beach resort boasts three pools, a kids club and an airy, cool and fresh lobby. We also offer a superb, all-inclusive value for families, couples and group vacations. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Ventana Beach Hotel
- Gran Ventana Dominican Republic
- Gran Ventana Puerto Plata
- Gran Ventana Beach Resort Puerto Plata
- Hotel Gran Ventana Beach
- Grand Ventana Beach Resort
- Gran Ventana Hotel Dominican Republic