Aug. 7 - 14, 2013
This was our first trip to the Palladium resort in Punt Cana and unfortunately will probably be our last. We ended up going for our wedding Anniversary and were expecting the " royal " treatment. Since that is what we paid the big bucks for right, but other than a few glimmers of 5 star service we were extremely disappointed. In response to most of our issues, management simply said that we came at the wrong time. As you can imagine this just added to the disappointment. To be fair, the resort obviously has the potential to be a five star resort, but with the construction going on, the lazy staff, the poor upkeep, and worst of all, the lame excuses. We paid almost as much as a Sandals resort to be treated as well as we would at the motel down the street that charges $59.99. Now for the breakdown..... If you're still reading. Sorry if this turns out long, but there is a lot that I feel people should know before booking.
In all honesty the service we received was for the most part 2 star, but we did have some really amazing staff that bumped it up to a 3. I strongly recommend that if you are going and expecting to be treated like you would at a Sandals or something to lower your expectations. For one.... You are in Punta Cana where staff is still a little more laid back than other travel destinations. Two....Unless you are waiving around big, and I mean big tips you are not going to get the "royal" treatment that you paid for. The worst part of all was the excuse that management gave for this. The staff are tired because normally they take vacations this time of year, but because the resort was so busy still the staff couldn't get as much of a break as normal..... Really????? Than hire and fire. Tired or not. Slow season or not. People pay for a service and expect it year round. I'm going to break service down into some sub-categories for ease of explanation.
Royal Suites Lobby
For the most part this was good service with the exception of a few. When we arrived, we were not greeted until we were sitting at the check in desk. Ok not a big deal, but kind of strange that we didn't even get a smile or a welcome by the staff standing at the door. The young man that check us in was great. He was actually more than accommodating for our entire stay. He was the only one that actually got things done when we asked. The rest either picked up a phone and left it at that when nobody answered or didn't even try. There was an older fellow as well that offered good service, but was a little more difficult to approach due to the unhappy look on his face all the time. But to give an example of the tipping mindset. There was one girl who was always sour. When explaining something she would pick up the phone to call someone and shhhh you. Or would simply just not put in any effort at all. After many visits to the front desk/ check in and making her work we felt that we should give her a tip. Something that the front desk usually doesn't get. After we gave her $5 her whole attitude changed and was willing to bend over backwards for us. This theme tends to stay with almost every area of service. With the exception of a few, like the young man I mentioned at check in. The service that the lobby bar was more than great. The girls working were always on top of things and although not all smiles, they were always pleasant.
Private golf carts
These are a very convenient thing to have on the Palladium resort. The four sections combined make for a lot of walking. And with only one ATM on the resort being in the Bavaro section on the other side of the resort they are almost needed. If we didn't use them it would be about a 45 minute walk or more from our lobby to the Bavaro lobby and sports bar. On the resort in total they have one train, a double cart ( half the size of the train ) a few spa carts, a few non specific, and a couple for Royal suites only. Unless you feel like waiting for a half hour or more ( with the exception of leaving the royal suites lobby, which is fairly quick ) than try not to rely on these. There are far from enough carts running for the amount of guests on the resort. The drivers are usually accommodating and will stop for you if you waive them down, once they know you will tip them that is. There was one driver though that was phenomenal. His name was Thomas. If you go he is the older fellow with all the pins in his hat. He is always pleasant and just seems to love his job.
For each building you have a private butler service and this review is only based on our personal service at building 53. For the most part our butlers were great. But there were some major issues that occurred. Our fist issue happened our second day in. We booked a romantic dinner the night we arrived on the gazebo for our anniversary which was the following night. ( We took the gazebo because the beach, although beautiful, would include a lot of sand in our food due to the wind). The next day ( day of the dinner) we came back to our room to a piece of paper saying that they had a wedding and we couldn't do our dinner. After 5 hours of chasing people around and nobody giving us any information of what else could be done, we finally got a hold of management. I should note that none of the staff seemed to care about our situation and just simply said he's not around without any attempt of fixing the problem. On the up side. Once management was tracked down, they more than made up for the issue and we had a fabulous dinner at one of the restaurants. Sadly though this wasn't the only issue. We also had a major issue with one of our butlers that we asked to fill up our hot tub while we were out since they take about an hour to fill. After explaining to fill it with hot water and asking for candles for the aromatherapy we gave him a fairly good tip and went on our way. My wife came back through the night to change, to find our door wide open, with the water running ( which was warm at best), an exposed candle burning, and no butler to be found. After about five minutes our butler returned with nothing but excuses. Sure we have a safe, but we cant put our clothes in a safe and on the weekend there are lots of locals who come to the resorts for the purpose of finding things to sell. If you get my drift. They tell us to lock our doors, but staff are allowed to leave them open??? These are major issues that in my opinion should never have happened. With these major issues and the fact that the butlers are hiding in their office that isn't marked more often than sitting at their desk out front I have to admit that I would almost rather cut the cost of the trip and not have them.
Don't waste your time with room service. That simple. They say it's about a 20 - 30 minute wait when in all reality it is anywhere from 1-2 hours. And if you have dietary restrictions like our friends did, it can take up to 3. Another thing that we are paying for in the cost of the resort that was useless. I will hit the quality of it in the food and beverage section.
Another place where service is lacking for the most part. Bohio and Chantrelle were immaculate service with Sumptori not far behind. The rest of the places we went simply fell flat. Especially Marenostrum and the Royal buffet. The buffets were horrible too, but at least you can have a meal without servers there. unless you want alcohol or coffee that is. A lot of the staff only speak Spanish and really don't seem to care who is seated first. They do take care of the people they know first though. So if you make friends with one of the servers or are a person of notable status ( palladium addict, travel agent, repeat customer, high tipper, or a critic of some sort) than they will be all over you. If not than just hope you get someone who is in a good mood. Or understands that tips are earned. There were glimpses of 5 star resort service though. The three places I mentioned at first are them. Especially the head server at Bohio and the personal server they gave us for our anniversary dinner at Chantrelle. His name was Pedro. Once again. No English. But he was so awesome it didn't matter.
The rooms as a whole were nice with the possibility of being amazing. We started in a Jr. Suite Deluxe Swim-up and ended in a Romance Suite Swim-up. Both had beautiful setups but in need of some real maintenance. Once thing to remember is if you are wet, walk with extreme caution. The floors are deadly when wet. Another thing. The beds and pillows are rock hard. Luckily though they do have a pillow menu that allows for on pillow each, free of charge. This definitely helped. Also, the swim up patios were getting in really bad shape and in need of some board replacements around the edge.
The Jr Suite Deluxe was great for your " standard" room. It had more than you could ask for. The major downfalls with the room though were. #1 No real separation between the bathroom and the rest of the room. Fine for a shower, but with nothing but a glass door for the toilet, it's far from romantic. Especially if your stomach isn't used to the food. #2 The shower. There is not seal around the door so if you try to use it like a real shower it floods your room. You need to take it in one hand and turn sideways so the water doesn't go near the door. Not a major issues, but if you're used to showering with the use of both hands than it's a little inconvenient.
The Romance suite was almost twice the size of the Jr Suite Deluxe and simply had a lot nicer feel. The bathroom was its own room with a door which was nice, the patio was double the size of any others, and the hot tub was massive. There were downfalls though that simply come down to maintenance. #1 the jets in the hot tub hardly worked with the exception of two of them. And the darn thing leaked water from the faucet all the time. #2 the hydro massage shower cabin was the pits. Don't get your hopes up if you are getting a room with one of these. The steam cabin setting hardly worked and the jet settings would only work one set of jets at a time. It was actually harder to shower in this than the Jr Deluxe shower. Minus the flooding. 3# If you want to use the funky purple mood lighting on top of the bed than don't expect to use anything else. In order to turn on the light you lose power to the rest of the room except the tv. This includes the bathroom lights and the ceiling fan. It was cool and all to see, but far from practical.
Our friend who had a deluxe suite swim up wasn't pleased as well. They had a waterfall coming through their ceiling because the maintenance staff hit a water line upstairs while working. Our ceiling wasn't far from leaking either. The ceilings above the hot tubs are all in pretty rough shape from what I have seen. Also someone traveling with my friend who had a Jr Deluxe Suite Swim-up like us has a major incident with the huge 6 or 8 ft mirror in bathroom part of the room. Just after finishing up washing their hands the whole mirror cam crashing down. Sure a rare occurrence, but this could have easily been prevented by using mirror screws and clips like all the other rooms. For some reason the Jr Suite Deluxe mirrors are only cemented on the wall. I should mention that the staff didn't really do anything to comp them except offer them a different room. If that happened anywhere else they would be treated like gold the rest of the stay. But here customer service rules don't seem to apply for some reason. Maybe because they have all kinds of return customers and don't need any more. I don't know. All in all though. If you go to RST take a swim up or don't go. The convenience of a swim up was one of the only things that made the trip enjoyable. The pools for swim ups are usually a lot more relaxing that the main pools. Usually anyways. Sometimes you get some party people, but nothing like the main pools.
Overall the resort is clean, but that's due to the great work of the grounds keepers. They do an amazing job at making the resort look beautiful. The pool cleaners are a little too relaxed. There was always a cup or two floating around the swim up pools. Yes its due to the guests being dirty, but staff should still be on top of it.
The bali beds and beach chairs around the pool area are in horrible shape. The bali beds were either torn or stained and the cushions for the wood beach chairs were badly stained as well. Stick with the canvas ones if you go.
Our maids were great. They did an amazing job cleaning the room and leaving flowers. So long as we tipped enough. $2 gets you a clean room. $5 gets you a towel sculpture, extra towels, and flowers all over. Once again though. No speak English. It was very difficult to communicate. Plus they, like the butlers, leave your room open and unattended.
Also if nobody mentioned it. There are cockroaches. We only seen one our whole stay, but I know others have had big problems.
Another major problem to throw in here are the Swim Up pools. The tiles at the bottom are coming off and cutting peoples feet. Every day we were seeing tiles sitting outside of the pool. We ourselves had a stack of 4 or 5. Management is aware of it, and give the same old relaxed answer. We know we need to fix it, but we just need to find the time.
Currently they are renovating the Bavaro side and at least half of the place is walled off with black mesh. Not very attractive. And even though its on the other side of the resort, you can still feel the affect that it is having on the staff and other travelers. Hopefully the pool will be next.
Other than the swim up, this is what made our stay acceptable. The location is great. With the exception of the beach developing a bit of a cliff ( due to the natural progression of wind and beaches ) it was amazing. Yes they could comb the beach and make it flatter, but we still loved it and would recommend that stretch of beach to anyone. Because the beach is in the Atlantic and not the Caribbean, the water isn't as clear, but great none the less. The resort is also right beside a local beach market that you can get loads of local items for a decent price. The downfall. As soon as you cross the resort line you are hounded to buy. If you want to walk the beach without being bothered, wear a swimsuit only. If they think you have money, they will hound you. Not so much of an issue, but rather a heads up. We knew the market was there before going, but nobody informed us they were that bad. Also if you are looking for cheaper items, the resort allows people to come on sometimes and set up tables to sell. A great thing to have if you want to buy but don't want to leave the resort. Most aren't too bad either for hounding you, but I did have an encounter with one who grabbed me after I said no. A rarity I'm sure, but something I did not pay money to have to deal with. Managements reaction to this was simply " Oh, we Dominicans are just touchy grabby like that ". Sorry for the bunny trail, but I'm sure some would like to know that you may still be hassled while on the resort. But to be back on track. the location is a definite 5 star. The grounds are beautiful, the beach is amazing, and you are fairly close to everything, but far enough away to feel like you are in your own little world.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Food was a big thing for me and to be honest, I am probably a lot harder to please in this section than most, do to my history of being a chef. To start, we are talking the Dominican and not Mexico, so food quality is far from comparable. It is extremely hard to find good milk, coffee, tea, meat, and other staple foods that we are used to. With that being said. The coffee and milk were horrible. It didn't matter which restaurant. It stayed the same.
A La Carte
We didn't do many, but from our experience and the experience of friends we can give some ideas. The biggest issue is that the descriptions depict a dish that is different than what you get.
Chantrelle- Great service and good food overall. Don't get the crepe suzette. It's almost all alcohol. Get the Chateaubriand. Best thing on the menu. Lamb was decent but far from a good quality cut of meat. Lots of bone and grizzle. Duck was good but over cooked. Onion soup was great. Boullibaise was fair. Cheese cake is different than what I'm used to, but very good. Ceviche was to die for. ( not sure if it was regular menu or specially made for our anniversary)
Bohio- Good food and good service. The cesar salad was alright, but far from a real cesar. Lobster bisque was great, but very strong ( would only recommend if you love seafood ). Striploin steak was alright. Definatly not AAA but it was ok. The only downfall is that they butcher it on site and you may get a tiny piece of bone that you can't see, like we both did. Cheesecake was great.
Royal Gourmet- Food was iffy and service was bad. Breakfast items are nothing to get excited over. We went twice and it was the same. And if you order from the menu the food is usually cold when you get it. The hollandaise is nothing but melted butter pretty well. Don't try it. Lunch was alright. My wife got a burger. Which if you are from Canada it was under cooked, but still pretty good. I got a fish burger. Great flavor, but severely under cooked.
Marenostrum- Horrible service and horrible food. The only thing that we enjoyed was the ceviche that was on the buffet. The steak was tough as nails and so was the lamb. Something to note. The lamb is seared little pieces in sauce, not a big piece. Staff knew nothing about the menu. Cheesecake was good. If you didn't figure it out, the cheesecake is all the same ;)
Sumptori- Decent food and great service. We went for the tamiyaki show and it was well worth it. The only reason I say the food was only decent is because our chef was new and burnt the rice on the bottom of the pile to the point of being rock hard. If it wasn't for that it would have been great. The sushi app was great and looked beautiful. ( We did get sick after and thinking possibly the sushi, but its hard to know for sure. Either way it was worth it ) The show was a little lack luster, but once again, he was new. So with that in mind, the chef did great. For dessert we had deep fried ice cream. Although the batter was a little soggy the flavor was good. I would probably go again.
The Steak House- We had to cancel our reservation do to not feeling so well, but from what we were told it was a huge mistake. Our friends said it was delicious. One friend had the 5th ave steak and he said that if was cooked great and the cut was a real treat. Unfortunately that's all I got.
NOTE: Although most site say that Royal Suites guests don't need reservations this isn't 100% true. The Royal guests do not need reservations for the Royal suites restaurants. So the Royal Gourmet and the Chantrelle. You do need them for every other a la carte on site.
Buffet- We mostly went to Las Torres buffet across from the palace lobby when it came to buffet meals. Breakfast was always good. Minus the horrible service we got from the wait staff. Lunch and dinner meals weren't too bad, but some items I wouldn't recommend. You will know them when you see them. Or smell them. We also went to the Bohique once. And the service and food were far worse than Las Torres.
Room Service- DON'T DO IT. That simple. The food was nasty. The wait was pathetic. And the food came on plate covered in plastic wrap. Which means. Ice cold.
Beverages- They have a great selection, but your in room fridge has a limit to the amount per day. Not good if you enjoy rum and coke or any other mixed drink. Outside of those limits they did have a decent set up. Two major problems. #1 if you want top shelf liquor you need to go to Hemmingways in the Bavaro side. Which right now is horrible to get two because there is no lighting on the paths at night due to construction. #2 unless you specify, most drinks have so much alcohol that you feel like you're in a frat house party. Far from enjoyable. Other minor problems. Mint in mojito's is half black. Orange juice is almost like Kool Aid. Milk is like water. Something I really enjoyed though. Outside from each lobby having a bar. The Bavaro and Palace lobby had juice machines that you could fill up a glass at anytime you want. Great when you are waiting for a ride somewhere.
I do need to give a thumbs up to the food and beverage manager Armando. He heard of our issues our second last day and was mortified. He was extremely apologetic over the issue and he showed real concern. It didn't mater if we were being " picky " or not. He showed real concern and class. The best thing was unlike the resort management, he didn't try to give excuses. He was upfront and honest about how things were. Something we really appreciated after all the issues we had with the rest of the staff. Armando was by far the most professional person there.
So with all of this I have to say that our stay was far from 5 stars. Sure it may be better when they are in peak season. And it may be better when there is no construction. But when the price of the stay is the same as all the other 5 star resorts who don't have these problems, I expect to have 5 star service. What really disappointed us was managements approach at dealing with this. ( Hotel management not food and beverage) His argument was simply " well we have many return clients who love it here so it cant be that bad ", " well the staff are tired ", or my favorite " well you came at the wrong time ".
So. If you want a five star resort with five star service. I would recommend going to the Palladium in Mexico or a different choose a different chain. Or you can follow managements advice and simply come at a different time. Would the resort be nicer at a different time?? It probably would be. But would managements poor mentality of how to deal with issues be the same. Most likely. Octavio, the one we spoke with didn't seem to want to be bothered with our issues. I mean really. What would a chef and a travel agent know about how a resort should work. He did great fixing the anniversary issue, but from there things just went downhill. We had a half hour meeting with him and we also and we also had a half hour meeting with Armando the F&B manager. Needless to say. Armando was a lot more receptive. Octavio seemed very bothered by our conversation, but more so bother by what we were saying about his hotel than the fact that all this stuff happened. There was no sincere apology or attempt at making things better. All we got was a " come back again when the resort is 100% and you will see how nice it is ". Too bad we had to pay so much to find out how bad it is right now. Armando on the other had as I mentioned previously was great. Not just did he make up for the bad service by offering us an amazing last meal, he was sincerely apologetic, took our issues seriously, and went out of his way to see us off the following day and make sure dinner was good. He didn't comp anything, or give the typical bottle of champagne that this resort seems to think fixes everything. He simply did what he could to accommodate us and make us feel like valued guests. Will I go back? I highly doubt it. Would I recommend to anyone to go? Not my first thought, but all these good review cant be false either. I think we did go at the wrong time. And if management were a little better at handling our issues than I would recommend it to others and probably go back myself. But the unprofessional approach that we received was enough to turn us away. If you go. lower your standards. That way if it's good like I was told it was, you will be blown away. If its bad like our stay was, at least you wont feel like you wasted your money.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Royal Suites Turquesa is an exclusive VIP area of 372 luxurious rooms located within the Grand Palladium Resort in Punta Cana. Featuring private facilities and personalised service, the area includes an exclusive restaurant, concierge service and free Internet in the private lobby, air conditioned bar serving premium International beverages, exclusive pool with built-in Jacuzzis and bar service to the sun beds by the pool and at the beach, and much more. For adults only. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Royal Suites Turquesa By Palladium Hotel Punta Cana
- Royal Hotel Punta Cana