As a Dominican living in Australia for the past 12 years, it is hard for me to review these hotels from the point of view of a western traveller, or perhaps even an American traveller. Since the beautiful weather and gorgeous beaches are for me a simple cost of entry. What to me makes a All-inclusive resort truly memorable is the Food, the Alcohol, the Entertainment and the Customer service.
But let me start off with the basics.
THE HOTEL GROUNDS.
The Reserve at Paradisus Palma real sits on a huge gated property where it shares the complex with two others hotels, the main Paradisus Palma Real and the Melia Tropical. There are large gardens and ponds that separate the three and there is a concious effort to keep each clientele to their own hotels.
Perhaps the one thing that took me by surprise was just how far away the actual hotel is from the beach. Mind you, this is something that for some people may not be an issue as it would be to others. But the fact that you had to be carted out to the beach and back became annoying really quickly. Waiting times can range from 10mins to 20 mins for a golf cart to come and take you to either the beach or the lobby.
Having been to the main hotel back in 2003 when it first opened i have to say i was a little disappointed. Back in 2003 - artists from the like of Jennifer Lopez and Marc anthony would choose the Paradissus Palma Real as their holiday destination due to its truly upper market level of service and quality. Back then we were being served Moet&Chandon, Johnny Walker Blue Label, Grey Goose Vodka and Bayleys. These days if you haven't upgraded to their Royal service you'll be sure to get their house spirits (which are just awful)
After a candid conversation with one of the employees she mentioned that there was new management and that their new policies were very different and that they were now "Cutting Corners" so save money. Unfortunately this became apparent when during my complete stay the water features and lamps in the building #50 were switched off. Same goes to the main water feature in the lobby.
After making a great effort to go and stay at these kind of hotels, the last thing you want is a feeling that they are somehow not providing you with the very best.
But its not all bad, the rooms are completely superior in the Reserve than over at the Palma Real. We stayed in a Suite with its very own kitchenette, 6 chair dining table, lounge room, outdoor area with jacuzzi and the incredibly design bathrooms. Simply amazing, tasteful and well-thoughtout.
This to me is one of the most important elements of a memorable stay. The staff here truly bends over backwards for you and your families. The superb customer service exhibited by Elizabeth our family concierge was second to none. Always smiling, and always willing to make reservations for us even at restaurants where it seemed to be completely book. This charming young lady helped me and my wife feel like we were royalty.
Memory betrays me because i can't remember all their names. But the bar staff, waiters and servers at the Gabi beach have got to be some of the most friendliest most warm, hardest working people in the hotel. by the Second day, they all knew what drinks my wife wanted, how i liked my coffee, dessert suggestions everything. these guys are truly amazing.
Stay away from the Holiday Schemes "Tours" of Holiday Clubs!
The hotel is very clever in the sense that once a couple checks in a "staff member" takes you to your room and makes sure that you get all settled. He'll make sure that your bags are delivered to your room, explain the many facilities that your room has to offer, timetables of the restaurants etc, and overall explanation of everything. THEN HE'LL SAY THIS "Tomorrow we've set up a special tour of the hotel to inform you of the many different activities on offer - is lunchtime ok? it will take about 15 min." This is a trap, Do not fall for it. They will keep you there for at least 3 hours trying to sell you Holiday Club deals. They'll even offer you free massages and Spas, but if you're like me and you want peace and quiet - a sales conference room is not my idea of a holiday.
This was a bit of a let down. Back in 2003 when i came for the first time to the Palma Real, we had Fresh Lobster cooked right in front of us almost every day. Fresh seafood, Great Chunky NY Sirloins, and a great variey of different food. This time the variety was not there, nor was the premium cuts of meat. We had some over cooked prawns a couple of days but that was it. Even the Snack Bar - famous for fresh ongoing 24hr woodfire pizza was long gone.
We visited the restaurants - the asian was the better one of the bunch. I don't think that the "french" one is worth the $50 a head price tag - but thats just me.
Is practically non-existent. Like i mentioned before. Being Dominican is a bit of a detriment when coming to these "premium" All-Inclusive resorts. Apparently "premium" is also synonym with boring. There are no activities crew in the hotel (compared to any one of the barcelo hotels, or the riu palace hotels) Guest are often seen meandering at the bar due to the lack of activities available.
If you want a few days to re-kindle that passion, or to live it up like a King in the Caribbean. this is not the place for you. Perhaps, look for the Palma Real's Royal Service. But if you're a family with more than one kid looking for a place to relax and actually have people looking after your kids for you - this is the place for you.
In my case, i had a 5 month old baby which my mother agreed to look after. Making this the first time my wife and I had some "alone" time since the baby arrived. unfortunately i was looking for a bit more of indulgence out of this holiday - given our regular stressed filled lives, and i did not get that. Perhaps it was my fault for not doing my research but what can i say you live and learn.
So good hotel, foood not too bad, Bad cheap alcohol, beach not easily accessible, increidble rooms (you'll have to pay for them), Great Staff.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Explore The Reserve, our new boutique resort within a resort, designed for those whose stay in a luxury suite is as important as sun, sea and sand. Including three pools and a la carte restaurants, YHI Spa and gym, Swim up Suites with direct access to the pool Family Concierge Suites. Take benefit of your stay at The Reserve and use its facilities and services as well as the ones in Paradisus Palma Real Resort. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Reserve At Paradisus Palma Real Hotel Punta Cana