The quick summary is that my boyfriend and I had a fantastic vacation at Lifestyles Tropical Resort. I read HUNDREDS of reviews before going, so this will be a combination of my own observations along with some responses to things you may have read elsewhere.
WHO SHOULD GO: Honestly, I feel like this is a place designed for adults. There are areas for kids, but this place truly caters to adults. As I don’t have children, this was great! There were whole pools that were “Adults Only” and the lifeguards did a great job enforcing this.
HOTEL ROOM: Our room was great. I had read that buildings 5 and 6 are newer, so I requested those and got building 5. Everything in our room worked perfectly. In fact, our AC would make us cold! I read before leaving that some had trouble getting items they needed (water refills, towels, etc.) Every morning, I laid $3 on a pillow with a note (in Spanish) asking the woman who cleaned our room for what we needed, and we got everything we asked for, always. Every room has its own balcony. There’s a safe attached inside the closet that you can rent for $3 a day. We placed all our valuables inside the safe while away from the room and never had any problem.
So, the television has many channels, some of them come in better than others and a lot are in Spanish (this shouldn’t be surprising). If you are going on vacation for the television, maybe you should just stay home?
I had read before leaving of people complaining about their toilet clogging. Next to the toilet is a little sign that says to put the paper in the trash can, not the toilet. This may seem gross to people from other places, but we followed the instructions, and never had a problem with our toilet.
We never had problems with having hot water or with losing electricity. The electricity was out when we checked in for about 30 minutes and that was all. There are local people in the DR who only get to use electricity after 5pm, so it seems almost sinful the way I’ve seen certain people complain in reviews.
BEACH: The cabanas owned by the resort are about one story above the ocean. The actual beach is public, but it was never very crowded while we were there. We thought the beach was very nice. It was clean and the waves were nice – not too crazy, but not unmoving. The Lifestyle cabanas are very nice (the size of a double bed and comfortable). The beach is open from 8am to 6pm. Every morning, my boyfriend and I would go wait at the gate (arriving between 7:30 and 7:45am) to grab a good cabana. Bring something with you (flip flops, t-shirt, book, whatever) that you can leave on the bed. This will save your spot all day. You can come and go!
At the VIP beach, you can get sushi. You can get other food from a menu as well, but that can take a long time to receive. Drinks are ever flowing. Pina coladas are AMAZING!
POOLS: There are a couple pools by Lifestyles (and then more by the Confresi). My boyfriend and I most enjoyed the one with the swim-up bar (adults only). You could also look down from that pool into another that has a volleyball net and a basketball hoop. There is another very quiet pool by buildings 5 and 6.
SERVICE AND TIPPING: The staff here is lovely. They are always popping up to ask if you want drinks. They smile and say “hola.” You should tip people and say “gracias.” Before you leave for your trip, go to the bank and get a stack of dollar bills. You don’t really need to exchange your money when you arrive. We did with some and then were just having to find ways to use it, everyone would rather have US money. (The following monetary suggestions are in US currency. The Dominican peso is about 40 to the US dollar.) The average salary in the DR is a fraction of what it is in the US, give a $1 to those who help you. We typically tipped those who brought us things on the beach $1-2. We would tip bartenders $1-2. As I said earlier, I tipped my maid $3 a day. After getting an omelet made by the same guy a few days, I gave him $1. We tipped at the a la carte restaurants as well.
Also, the staff works round the clock it seems to keep a place that could fall into a trashy dump (with so many people drinking and eating all the time) in clean condition. Seriously, great job with this.
FOOD: Depending on how long you are staying, you will be given a certain number of reservations at the a la carte restaurants. (We were there 5 nights, and we got 2 automatic reservations). For the days you already have a reservation, you can go to guest services between 9 and 10am and request something different. If you don’t have a reservation, you can show up between 3 and 5pm and ask if there have been any cancelations. If you don’t have a reservation, you eat at one of the buffets. We only had to do this one night. Note that all of the a la carte restaurants are closed on Sunday as there is the big welcome party with lots of food for everyone.
The food here is fine. Would I brag about it, no. Was it edible, most definitely. My first tip, go to the Pearl (buffet at the Confresi) for breakfast. It is larger and much less hectic than the Casablanca (buffet at Lifestyles). The food is also better at the Pearl (for example, they make the pancakes to order rather than just making a pile). It only takes about 5 minutes to walk there.
We ate at 4 a la carte restaurants: Blue Lagoon (seafood), Trapiche (Mexican), Bellini (Italian), and Moomtaz (Indian). At the Blue Lagoon, I had some salmon that was quite good. Bellini had fresher vegetables than we had seen before. Moomtaz was probably the most authentic if you like Indian food. We avoided Indochine because we heard it was bad.
At the beach, you can get crab, fish tempera, and veggie maki rolls. They are pretty good and you don’t have to leave the beach!
SALESMEN/TIMESHARE: Alright, so this was an area I was concerned with but shouldn’t have been. This is a resort that sells timeshares, and there are specific people that are there to sell them to you. When you arrive, they will call them the “concierge.” The person will tell you that they will meet you at breakfast and take you on your “welcome tour” and give you your gift. If you have any interest in a timeshare or want the gift (bottle of rum) then, by all means, go on the tour. The tour is meant to try and sell you a timeshare. From all the feedback I got from others while I was there, the tour didn’t take up too much of people’s time and they didn’t have a lot of trouble saying no. I never saw the timeshare guys trolling the beach or bothering people as they were trying to enjoy relaxing.
However, my boyfriend and I wanted to avoid the tour altogether. Therefore, we ate breakfast at the Pearl (which as I said has better food anyway). Since we escaped that first morning, we likely got moved down on the list as new people came in. Other mornings we would be walking around and a timeshare person would ask “did you guys get here yesterday?” and we would say “no.” That would be that. They assume that if you have been there longer than a day that you’ve already taken the welcome tour.
Some people I read were angry that there are places you don’t have access to if you don’t have a timeshare. This did not bother us at all. We paid for a certain amount of access. We had beaches and pools; plenty to eat and drink. If you want access to more beaches and other things, then pay more. That’s really all I have to say about that.
EXCURSIONS: This is one area that I cannot be of much help. Many excursions are many hours, and we did not want to devote whole days to things. So, we only went on one excursion – horseback riding through the countryside. It was just a couple hours (bought from John Wayne in the Lifestyles lobby). I had never ridden a horse before, but I was able to do it. (It does hurt your butt though!) The highlight was getting to see the beautiful Dominican Republic landscape. Just gorgeous.
We also took advantage of the spa (Metamorphosis) at Lifestyles. We got a one hour couples massage. So nice.
SAFETY: I felt completely safe at the resort. There is a lot of security. We only ventured outside of the resort for the one excursion, and were always with a guide. I felt safe then as well, but I’ve read that you should be careful if you plan on going around by yourself.
HEALTH: Before you go, you should make an appointment with your doctor or travel nurse (a month ahead would be best). You will need to make sure you are caught up on Hep A and Typhoid. They should also give you pills for malaria and traveler’s diarrhea. All are important. Bring bug spray with you and spray every day. Whenever I didn’t spray, I would get bites.
Wear sunscreen. The sun can be brutal and will burn you. I saw so many people with burns, one guy with giant blisters on his calves. Ouch! Buy sunscreen and bug spray before you come unless you want to pay $30USD for a bottle.
Also, DO NOT PUT THE WATER IN YOUR MOUTH. Do not open your mouth while showering, do not brush your teeth with the water. Don’t do it.
CONCLUSION: If you are a laid back person who wants sun, beach, pool, food and drinks whenever you want, then don’t think anymore about it. Go to Lifestyle Tropical, follow these tips and you’ll have a great time. Ugh, I miss I already.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set within the sprawling Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort, The Tropical offers a classic hotel vacation experience set within quaint, two- and threestory, Mediterranean-style buildings. The mood is laid-back and distinctively Caribbean. Guest enjoy all resort facilities and amenities (excluding the V.I.P areas) including swimming pools, a choice of excellent restaurants, exercise rooms, tennis courts, windsurfing and so much more. The Lifestyle Tropical is Ideal for couples seeking a private island hide-away with all the advantages of a world-class resort. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Lifestyle Tropical Beach Hotel Puerto Plata
- Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort And Spa
- Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort Spa
- Hacienda Tropical
- Hotel Lifestyle Tropical Beach