We spent six nights at Dream Palm Beach and… despite spending valuable ‘vacation time’ contacting United Airlines to locate our luggage… we thoroughly enjoyed the resort. This is our seventh stay at an All-Inclusive resort and the second at a Dreams property, so we have some experience when comparing and reviewing. I always read Trip Advisor reviews and seriously take them into consideration when making the final decision, in addition to my wonderful travel consultant’s suggestions.
To preface my review, I need to note that I made reservations for an ocean view unit and Preferred Club status eight months in advance. (not so much for booking at the resort as for booking with the airlines to use reward points) Just prior to our trip, I read and noted what guests had said about rooms and their locations. Supplied with that savvy info, upon check-in I asked if we could have a room on the second or third floor (to avoid bug problems noted on the first floor, plus a better view) and to be away from the stairwell (which is pretty noisy…as the foot traffic and voices echo during quiet times). It immediately appeared to be a ‘plus’ that we got to check in at the Preferred Club check-in desk, instead of the main desk in the lobby. Behind the Preferred Club check-in desk is a full-service bar and snacks or appetizers (depending on the time of day), exclusively for Preferred Club members. This room was quiet and pleasant -- complete with a large flat screen TV, daily newspapers (from all over the world), and free Internet use at their computer station (3 computers). Staff members were kind and efficient.
Unfortunately, as pleasant and courteous as Jessie was…she could not find us a Preferred Club, ocean view unit on the second or third floor. She assigned us to a room in Building #5, which was on the first floor. Upon checking into our room, we immediately noticed a strong smell that we think was some sort of insect repellant. (the kind of strong smell that could give you a headache if you spent too much time in your room!) It seemed to be coming through the A/C. We opened the curtains to the sliding glass window (one of the first things we always do!) to discover that our unit was directly facing the swim up bar at the main pool. There was a ‘sideways’ view of the beach and ocean, which in our opinion was more of a ‘partial ocean view’ than a full ocean view like the front-facing units had. We called back just to ‘double check’ and see if something else ‘possibly’ became available that would be more to our expectations. (yes, we paid more for an ocean VIEW unit) Unfortunately no there wasn’t…but a unit was opening up the next day on the first floor in building #4. (Buildings #4 and #5 are the closest to the beach/ocean). It was in a little quieter area and had a more ‘direct’ ocean view. Being that we had NO LUGGAGE to unpack or repack, changing rooms on day #2 was NOT a problem!
ROOM: The next afternoon our ocean view room was ready. The pros to this room were (a) there was no strong insect repellant smell, (b) it had a more direct ocean view (although on the low-sitting first floor, with a grassy area, sidewalk, curb and beach between us… the view wasn’t that wonderful compared to a view from the second of third floor) and (c) it was a quieter area. The cons were that this room had no jacuzzi tub, which meant a much smaller bathroom. The Jacuzzi tub rooms (like the first one we were assigned) have double sinks and ample space to put your things. The standard bathroom has limited space. But this location had much less foot traffic and no noise from the pool or popular swim-up bar. (which had bar service both in the water and on the deck, directly in front of our unit) We were happy to make the move to a better view. We quickly learned that there’s not much need to make a request to be ‘away from the stairwell’. The open-air stairs are in the center of the building and the foot traffic and voices echo throughout. You’ll definitely know when the late-night partiers come back to their room or the families with early rising children head off to the beach!
That being said (sorry for the long story), the rooms were very clean, nicely decorated and the beds and linens were quite comfortable. There was a variety of amenities, which we appreciated (especially before we got our luggage). This is the first resort we’ve stayed at where they provided you with sun protection lotion! Great idea! (and great smelling, too!)
FOOD: Unless you are going to go a super-expensive, 5-star, luxury A-I resort, you need to understand that gourmet food is not their priority. They have to accommodate hundreds of people every night from all over the world who have a variety of tastes and preferences. So, yes, the food is a bit bland. The Italian restaurant might not be authentic Italian and the Mexican restaurant might not be authentic Mexican, but try not to make this the focus of your stay! If this will make or break your vacation, I wouldn’t recommend that you stay at an A-I resort. The service we received at all of the restaurants was extremely kind and courteous. Good to know: We learned from some other guests that if you booked your trip through Apple Tours you can make dinner reservations. Interestingly (or confusingly) enough, we made these dinner reservations at the Preferred Club desk, not with our Apple Rep. All of the a la carte restaurants had their shining points and not-so-shining points, but overall every meal was pleasant. Some of the highlights included: seafood cocktails at the Seaside Grill (at lunch, possibly dinner, too), fresh ceviche (in a coconut half shell, no less!) at El Patio Mexican restaurant, the breaded Camembert cheese appetizer and Chateaubriand entrée at Bordeau (the French restaurant), and the entire teppanyaki meal at Himitsu. The made-to-order omelettes at the World Café for breakfast and the made-to-order fajitas for lunch were delicious. Even the pizza available from the room service menu was tasty! (we specifically ordered pizza with a glass of wine to celebrate and unpack when our suitcases finally arrived!)
BEACH: The water is that gorgeous turquoise blue that you grow to love when in the Caribbean, but yes, there was a minor issue with the sea grass. It wasn’t a deal breaker for us -- because we spent more time lounging and looking at the water than actually spending time IN it. (no reports of decent snorkeling here, so we didn’t even try) Interestingly, if you walk down the beach to the left, the water is much clearer and void of sea grass in front of the neighboring resort. I was told that Bavaro Beach has less of a sea grass problem. Our beach area was very quiet and somewhat deserted in many spots. You could easily walk to where you wouldn’t see more than a few other couples walking along the beach or swimming in the ocean. It sounds like Bavaro Beach is more densely packed with many big resorts -- so each location has its pluses and minuses. As for beach chairs, we didn’t struggle to find two open chairs, but perhaps if we had wanted two under the shade of a palapa those chairs would have been more in demand. The waiters came around often to keep you content with the drink of your choice. There was a snack bar on the beach that served BBQed burgers, hot dogs and French fries all afternoon. One day three chefs cooked big pans of paella on the beach.
POOL/GROUNDS: The pools and grounds were spotless. There were workers constantly cleaning, trimming, raking and doing general yard work to keep the resort looking beautiful. There are two main pools and they never appeared to be crowded, as they are large with plenty of room and lounge chairs for everyone. The main pool closest to the lobby had a few games of water volleyball going on. Again, after a little scouting around, we were able to find two available lounge chairs, but often the chairs or sun beds in the shade were taken first-thing in the morning. The swim-up bar was a fun place to meet other guests and Pablo was ‘king’ of making delicious Banana Mamas with a smile. There is a third, smaller pool for Preferred Guests. It was a little quieter. There was also a large hot Jacuzzi there, which we enjoyed on several late afternoons when it was cooling off as evening approached. (I mention ‘hot’ only because often times at A-I resorts they are not!)
ACTIVITIES: There was always something going on and Gasolina and his crew would encourage guests to participate. There was a group (including my husband) who met up daily to play beach volleyball. There was water aerobics in the shallow part of the ocean, followed with exercises on the beach. There was a ping-pong table, two bocce ball courts, a few games of water polo, rum tasting, a cocktail making contest, and other competitions on the beach. One afternoon there even an awesome acrobatic performance on the stage, near the pool. You had your choice of participating or relaxing at the pool or beach. Gasolina, Julio and the gang had boundless energy and kept people smiling. They really brought the resort to life by being so friendly and interacting with the guests.
SERVICE: It has been said time and time again that the staff at Dreams Palm Beach Resort and the service they provide is what makes this place so wonderful. They are all so kind and go out of their way to make your stay a memorable experience. Special thanks to Yenquel and Jessie who felt like good friends by the end of our stay. Anytime we’d pass by Julio he would put a smile on our face. All of the bartenders worked hard and successfully aimed to please. Everyone went out of their way to make our stay a thoroughly enjoyable one. The only place where we didn’t find this exceptional service was at the concierge desk in the main lobby. It was like these girls were from a totally different ‘family’. They definitely needed some lessons on guest relations and how to be pleasant and courteous.
EXCURSIONS: We only went on one excursion, which was the Marinarium. A comfortable, air-conditioned van picks you up and takes you to the pier. (although from Dreams you could walk there just as quickly!) This excursion was a catamaran trip to snorkel and then swim in a fenced in area with harmless sharks and stingrays. After the snorkeling part we climbed back on board, and the crew offered us sandwiches and drinks as we sailed to Bavaro Bay. This was a sandy-bottomed, calm, shallow bay where guests were encouraged to get in the crystal blue water (chest deep) while we were served rum drinks or beer. Gorgeous location! Great staff! The trip was recommended by the Apple Rep (and all of the tour reps at the resort) and well worth the $82 per person.
Dreams Palm Beach was a wonderful and affordable resort. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a ‘dreamy’ Caribbean vacation!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facing the Caribbean Sea, white sand beach and lush gardens, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana boasts 500 spacious rooms and ample suites surrounded by swaying palm trees and views of endless blue waters stretching to the horizon - the perfect setting in paradise. Take advantage of all the unlimited luxury activities Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana has to offer. Swim, sail, snorkel or windsurf in the turquoise Caribbean, enjoy fine a-la-carte dining, sip favorite cocktails at one of our bars. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
- Occidental Punta Cana
- Occidental Allegro Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Occidental
- Sunscape Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Dreams Palm Beach
- Punta Cana Allegro