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Reviewed May 22, 2011

My husband and I stayed at the Ambar from 1st to 15th May 2011, and reading some of the previous reviews we cannot believe that the reviewers were staying at the same place (and some, at the same time)! We had an incredible time, and could not fault a thing at the hotel or the resort in general.

The Ambar is one of four hotels in the resort. If you stay at the Bavaro or the Punta Cana, you are restricted in what facilities you can use, for example, you can only use the bar in your own hotel. Because the Ambar is much smaller, its guests can use all facilities on site. There is a large shared pool, but the Ambar has its own, which is a fair size and has its own bar.

We turned up at the pool at around 11 each day, and had no trouble finding a pair of loungers. These weren't always the ones directly on the poolside, but we were quite happy to walk the extra 3 metres where necessary!

The Ambar also has its own section of the beach, where there are always plenty of loungers available. The beach itself is beautiful, overlooking the shipwreck on the reef. There is a beach bar, and two easily-accessible buffets ideal for lunch. The beach is constantly being cleaned and combed, and the various plants and palm trees are well cared for.

My husband and I are English, with only very basic foreign language skills - none of which were in Spanish when we booked our holiday. We like to make the effort, and used an iPhone app to learn some very basic Spanish - which wasn't even enough to qualify as 'tourist Spanish' - but we had no problem communicating. At least 99% of the staff at the resort speak reasonable English, and where we were unable to say what we wanted to in Spanish, the staff were able and happy to help us in English.

We encountered dozens of different members of staff, and every single one was friendly and welcoming. People clearly enjoy working at the Ambar, and make a clear effort to ensure that you enjoy your stay. They also take a clear interest in people, and remember you as an individual rather than as just a familiar face - we ate in the snack bar for lunch one day, and then Don Pablo in the evening; the waiter remembered not only serving us at lunch time, but our exact drink order. The snack bars serve hundred of people in the course of a day, so remembering two people out of those is not an easy task!

In terms of other guests, there are obviously going to be a lot of Spanish-speakers; the DR is a Spanish-speaking country, and its a short-haul flight from most of South America. The majority of guests are American or Canadian, closely followed by Spanish-speakers, which together make up at least 90% of the guests. Brits make up no more than 5%, and the remainder is mostly from other European countries. Again, most people speak English even if its not their first language, and everyone we met was incredibly friendly and genuinely interested in you.

Food-wise, there is a really good selection available. Each hotel has its own buffet restaurant which serves three meals a day - each evening has a different national theme (French, Spanish, Japanese, etc). Again, as an Ambar guest, you can use any of the buffet restaurants if you want to, although they're pretty much the same across the board. Aside from the buffets, you can book into any of the a la carte restaurants, which range from gourmet French food through to a buffet barbecue, and include Spanish, Mexican, Italian and Japanese. We were there in low season, so a few restaurants were closed, but we tried Don Pablo, Bella Italia, Steakhouse, El Olivo and the BBQ. We went back to all but one a number of times because the food was so good; Bella Italia didn't impress, but that was more down to personal preference and their menu is fairly limited so didn't suit us.

The only down side to the holiday for us was the general level of service available to us. You may read in other reviews about the Butler and Concierge services, turn-down services, pillow menus, and so on. When we enquired about why we didn't get these, we were told that they come as standard for American customers and most South American, because their bookings are made through SolTours, which is the hotel's sister company. For UK customers, it depends upon the booking made by your travel company - Thomson go for the bargain basement no frills deal, so don't expect any special treatment!

We have never travelled with Thomson before, but after this holiday we will never do it again. From the moment we were dropped at the hotel to the time we left, we were essentially on our own. The rep is a nice enough guy, but fairly useless and generally pretty hard to find. He doesn't work for Thomson, but some other Dominican travel company, which has half a dozen reps on site, each covering a number of different tour operators, and there is a clear preference given to certain customers because of that. If you need help with anything, you're effectively left to fend for yourself in finding a solution.

As this holiday was our honeymoon, Thomson promised us a number of extras to make the trip special; none of them materialised. We repeatedly spoke to our rep, and were told he'd get back to us. He never did. We contacted Thomson's "24-7" online service, and got a response a week later saying "ask the hotel". The hotel knew nothing about it.

Thomson has a good reputation in the UK, but in the case of the DR it appears that they ship you out and then leave you to it. There is no assistance, very little information available, and even less care. We actually had more help from a rep from one of the US companies (who had no reason to help us as we're not their customer) than we did from our own.

The only bad thing from this holiday was our tour company. We highly recommend the Ambar, and are happy to answer any questions you may have - but our number one recommendation if you're looking to travel there is DO NOT GO THROUGH THOMSON!

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank C_argent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 22, 2011

We spent a week here in May and it couldn't have been better. We emailed ahead of time asking for a room close to the beach and pool and get exactly that. We didn't request any dinner reservation but had 3 when we arrive and our butler Florence made reservations based on our request after we arrived. The Don Pablo was the best...fantastic filet!

Florence was great!! We really didn't want for much, but if there was anything we needed, she got it for us right away.

If you want a "relaxing" time, I highly suggest the Ambar. We journeyed to the other hotels on the property and there is a BIG difference. We were not looking for a "partying time" but a "relaxing time". If you want to party, it is available. The Ambar is the best of both worlds...quiet and relaxing, but a livelier atmosphere is just a short walk away if you want it.

Don't believe the negative reviews...this place is great!!

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank tekey66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 20, 2011

I have zero complaints and nothing but praise. It was beautiful, peaceful, and great value. Yes, you need some basic Spanish, words like please, thank you, excuse me. It is a spanish speaking country after all. Most guests at the resort seemed to be from Spain or South America, not English speakers. The food was really good, even for buffets. We enjoyed dinners at Don Pablo, Bella Italia, BBQ, and Maiko. They were all good, and we especially liked Don Pablo, actually going 3 times. We used the spa, having massages, liked the shops, and even did yoga on the beach. It was great fun. The only thing I'd do differently is bringing more sunscreen...we ran out with two days left and it was over $20 a bottle in the hotel shops.

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank angeltil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 19, 2011

The sevice was great from the time we walked in till the time we left. Guest service took care of check in and escorted us to our room.The same type of service followed throughout the whole resort.
The room was kept very clean,even after we carried sand in from beach every day.
We stayed at the Amar ,very quiet ,very very friendly.The beach is probably one of the
best. The water was very clear. It's hard to comment of food due to personal tastes,but
I thought the buffet was good ane the ala cartes were also very good.

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank bham56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 19, 2011

we stayed at the ambar, and the beach and pool were the highlights, the food was mediocre, at best. the location is beautiful, and the grounds are very well maintained. expected to have an easier time with english, but realize that i'm on their turf, but still thought that being that it's such a destination spot for english speaking countries that i thought that some folks would be a little easier to communicate with.

but, do not think about getting married there, it's a beautiful spot to do it, but again with the language issues there were far too many little issues that i wouldn't even bother to go into here, but it the experience would keep me from ever going back to this place, even if they paid me to go. it's the type of deal that if it had just been 1 or 2 of the "little" things that you wouldn't have thought much of it, but 10-12 of those "little" things are totally unacceptable, and i'm also still working on trying to get a refund of $180 for a "romantic dinner on the beach" that we had to cancel due to weather, told me they had it refunded, but in fact, tried to charge me a 2nd time for it.

if you are looking for a decent place to get away on the beach then it's fine, but if you are thinking of doing your destination wedding here, then keep looking.

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank mobrockman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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