Booking a vacation 8 months in advance, you have an excited expectation of something fun with the family. Our vacation was booked through a shareholder, and that is important and will discuss later. We visited from July 12-19, 2012. We confirmed several times and the shareholder was always very responsive to my brother, who shared all information and answers with me. Entering DR, I was aware of the $10/person charge. From that point on, it was a myriad of unanswered questions, redirections and explanations of what we did not get, as opposed to what we did receive. We booked a 3 bedroom, 4 bath villa for the week. Our driver at the airport insisted on waiting for 30 minutes for a second group that never showed from the flight. After setting out, we arrived in about 35 minutes at Lifestyle Crown Villas. It was beautiful as described by many reviewers. We also pre-booked a golf cart for moving around the resort grounds. We checked in and immediately the unfriendly customer service began. " You cannot go to these beaches or these restaurants, and your concierge will explain all details. Here are your bracelets and these cannot be lost or we will charge you $100." We had been given Blue bracelets, although the ads indicated that you get everything an owner/partner receives without limitations. This is much different from customer service responses- we had to contact the shareholder to straighten this out. We were told that the shareholder could inform them of the change, however, there was nothing they could do. Our group of 6 was directed to the Sportsbar, where we would wait for Jorge. We waited 45 minutes and Jorge arrived to take us to the Villa. It was Villa #58 and was very nice, if it was ready. Since noone rented the previous week, everything was shut down, and so the villa was very warm, the pool had leaves and debris floating and the fridge was off. Also, contrary to the add, there was no A/C in the main living area. All minor annoyances, but nothing outrageous. Besides, we were on vacation. Jorge wanted our drink orders-we were enttled to 6 bottles of alcohol and where do we want to go to dinner. Mind you we just arrived and noone has explained this to us. So we asked if we could get our bearings and then let him know tomorrow. He explained it was 6 bottles total- including juice. That seemed weird, Moving on, we settled in and found the pool wonderful, and we spent most of our time there. Our golf cart seemed like it was on its last leg. It leaked oil, and only would fit 4, so this meant multiple trips for any lunch or dinner visits. Also, we were able to have breakfast in the Villa, however, not a chef- the maid would cook. She would show up with 12 eggs, and everything from the buffet wrapped in plastic. It was all cold. We asked for breakfast at 8:00 and it was 9:45 when we ate. The maid waited for the food to arrive. Replenishing drinks was an issue. We would ask for water, soda and juice; it would arrive 6-8 hours later. All the staff was polite, as they would smile and nod. English was sparse, which we understood, however any resolution of questions or issues- never happened without raising a bigger issue. even then, most things were never addressed. We were even told that there was no manager as the manager was on vacation. We went to the Buffet na dbooked the restaurants. The food was gross. I saw people handling food with their hands and placing it back, birds landing next to the food and picking at it, chaos with people cutting in front of each other, no glasses for drinks were available, people were not waiting for food to be placed in the buffet line, instead, accosting the employees bringing the food from the kitchen, and in one case causing the employee to drop the tray. Kids were not monitored and running everywhere. The food in most cases was inedible. Stick with the pasta made in front of you or theomelet station. Everything else is off and tastes awful. The desserts are attacked by the birds. There is no air conditioning, all are open air; so pack extra clothes, you will sweat while you eat. The staff tries, but the people were incredibly selfish and it was a free-for -all. I explained to the manager, Annette, but there were no changes. The restaurants require reservations. So we planned dinner at Bellini, Rodizi-Brazilian, Blue Lagoon. The VIP Gourmet- we tried, but reservations were taken. It is interesting that you need to make these on Sunday at 12, for the week. There are limited seats and not one restaurant was ever at capacity. There are dress codes, so bring pants. We ate at Bellini 3 times, it was the safest. Everyone seemed to like this the most. The Blue Lagoon was a joke. The fish was served raw, we sent it back. The filet was Sirloin less than 1/4" thick and probably 5 oz. The brazilian restaurant had the best service, although the ribs were very fatty and the meat chewy. One time through the 6 meats and they are looking for you to leave. Okay... The beach was great, just go early and reserve one of the beds. Avoid the beach vendors. Other issues- A/C was broken in one room, which required a minor fix. The excursions were limited, and a little pricey- our favorite was the ATV's and Dunne Buggy's. The snorkeling was okay- but there is a 75 minute ride, not 30 minutes, to get to the boat-Ouch! The staff was helpful and while we booked for 3.5 hours- it was 6 hours. Bring drinks and towels. The biggest headache was the Sales Pitch. we specifically indicated no presentation, and a man named Jean lied and said no- "we are going for a tour." He dropped us at VIP building and again we said no presentation. He indicated that we would get a welcome package- hat, towel, beach bag; Instead we got a small bottle of run and yes, "the sales presentation." We had a tour of all the areas we do not get as we had a blue bracelet and not a gold bracelet. we could update to gold immediately if we purchased a membership of between 30K-80K. We again said, "No." Other gold band members told us, "Don't do it!" we asked a simple question- what would the investment get us that we didn't get today- 2 more beaches and access to 4 restaurants?" You still need to purchase the meal plan at $75/person; and the week's rental which maybe different for everyone based on when the shareholder purchased their shares. The fee is up to the shareholder. Once we convinced james, the salesman, that we were not purchasing; he raced us back to the lobby and told us to wait for the shuttle with other guests to get back to our Villa. VIP services was no help. They either nodded and smiled or directed us to the Shareholder. The WIFI access was non-existent. Don't even bother. Lastly, AMEX users- we had to pay for our meal plans upon arrival. Use VISA and Not AMEX. There will be an exchange fee because the resort "has direction from accounting" to charge in Pesos and not USD. For VISA, they will charge in USD. The charge was $48 for me, not alot, but I was given no reason why? (I know why, AMEX charges a larger handling fee than VISA). All in all, it was vacation, but I will not be back. Their motto, "Tell only your best friends," ironically was removed from the outside wall while we were there. Oh yes, the trip came with its own rememberence- upset stomachs for 3-5 days. I have heard this from countless guests. Over $6000 and many annoyances, nothing disastrous, just annoying. Be forewarned- not a member or traveling with a member, you are treated less than a member.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A classical Mediterranean style Villa, with red tile roof, archways and stone columns with a magnificent tropical garden. The Villa offers a private swimming pool, a superb location, shaded terrace, veranda, kitchen, and a full private bath leading directly off each bedroom. Also included is a maid and a golf-cart. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lifestyle Crown Villas Hotel Puerto Plata