My boyfriend and I spent 7 wonderful days at this resort! We were extremely sad to go =[ All the pictures on their website are representative of what the resort looks like! It's so gorgeous!
The resort is approximately 30 minutes away by taxi from the airport. When we arrived, we checked in at the lobby and a lovely server brought us some refreshing smoothies while we waited for everything to process. The lobby is an open floor plan with beautiful greenery everywhere. We were pleasantly surprised when we were upgraded to the Reserve, as we originally booked a luxury junior suite. We then took a golf cart to our room which turned out to be a one bedroom suite.
The room itself consists of a living room with a small kitchen area (no stove, just a sink and some cabinets). There was a mini fridge which is restocked daily with water, orange juice, soda and beer. The AC in the room is not very strong at all. Our bedroom had a super comfortable king sized bed. Off to the side through a sliding door is a jacuzzi. The sliding door had a bunch of stains on it (guess someone had too much fun) and the jacuzzi didn't work. There is a safe and closets in this area which contained 2 bathrobes and slippers. Past the jacuzzi tub is the bathroom which has double sinks, a toilet behind a closed door (which by the way is glass...) and a standing shower. All was pretty clean. The room door leading to the hallway doesn't close very well and slams every time it shuts. All the doors in our section of the resort slammed and it was very noisy. Wifi in our building was weak and could only be accessed when standing near the balcony (building 37). Our room was cleaned everyday, sometimes twice a day.
There are 13 restaurants on site and you will need to make reservations for almost all of the a la carte restaurants. Gabi Beach, Gabi Club and Naos are buffets that are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Naos seemed to be closed after breakfast during our stay. The Hydro Grill is a la carte also but open during the day. All other restaurants are only open for dinner.
Gabi Beach & Gabi Club - both have great ambience and wonderful service staff. The food is pretty good, especially the grill which prepares omelettes (get fresh cooked eggs as the pre-made scrambled stuff is gross) in the morning, and fresh cooked steak, pork, seafood and chicken for lunch and dinner. The steak and pork were amazing! Really juicy and of a higher quality than any buffet that I've ever been to. I went back for seconds and thirds at every meal! The non-fish seafood is kind of lacking which is surprising because we are on an island... (but fish was good!) For breakfast is also some amazing hot chocolate. Most desserts are small and even bite sized so you could try everything if you wanted to. There is also ice cream and fresh fruit. Special thanks to Anthony Cid who was our server at Gabi Club. He was extremely friendly and his service was speedy and courteous. He remembered our drink orders and suggested some new drinks for us too!
Wine costs money but cocktails and hard liquor does not. We had tons of pina coladas =] They also have non alcoholic pina coladas and fruit smoothies as well as soda and non-carbonated drinks. They are pretty heavy on the alcohol and drinks were delish. My favorite was an espresso martini but it tasted more like a boozy milk shake.
Here's our restaurant rundown:
Naos - we only visited once for breakfast as it was closed other times we went. Standard breakfast fare.
Hydro Grill - Salads and burgers mostly. French fries here and actually all over the resort taste bad, do not order fries.
Vento - It says mediterranean cuisines but seemed more italian to me. Many pasta and risotto dishes. We had a shrimp tempura appetizer, the garlic fish entree and a risotto. Delicious and flavorful!
Mole - Mexican cuisine. We were served some chips and salsa before ordering. The oaxaca chicken was some of the best chicken I've ever had in a restaurant. Super tender with a great sauce. Also had flan for dessert which was not bad.
Passion - Costs extra per person but well worth it. The service provided by our waiter (I think his name was Juan but I can't remember) was impeccable and what you would expect from any 5 star restaurant. Can't remember everything but we had an octopus appetizer and a scallop appetizer both of which were unbelievable. The pork entree I had was some kind of sweet pulled pork which was amazing!
Fuego - Latin american fusion. This and Passion were probably the best 2 restaurants. We had a shrimp ceviche and mufungo. I only remember having a fried chicken nugget type of entree which was way better than your run of the mill chicken nuggets.
Aqua - Italian food. I really enjoyed this place as well. I had a leg of lamb which was fall of the bone good.
Bana - This place is alright. If you've been to Benihana, it's the same. You get a small portion of fried rice and a selection of meat cooked on the grill (beef, chicken, salmon, etc). The show was good but that's about it. We were hungry after and had to go to the buffet.
We did not go to La Palapa (also costs extra if you are not royal service) or the Grill.
The beach at the resort was gorgeous. It was super clean and the sand is soft and squishy. I think they clean it every morning. There are plenty of cushy beach chairs with straw umbrellas over them. It is super relaxing. For reserve members you get towels at the beach and you can have as many as you want. I think non-Reserve guests get a towel card and have to return their towels to avoid being charged. Thank you so much to Ramon Ramirez for bringing us our drinks! We wanted a fresh coconut but they ran out the first day we were there. Ramon was nice enough to let us know the next time they had coconuts and made sure to save them for us! The beach has a water sports area where you can rent some stuff for free (not sure what). They also have activities that cost money such as parasailing, boat and snorkel combos and scuba certification classes. We spent our afternoons in the cabanas by the pool at the reserve. We never had an issue with finding chairs/cabanas at the pool or the beach. The beach has a separate area for the reserve. There were people that placed their towels on the chairs and never came back but at the pool the staff will occasionally come and remove those towels. Rolled up towels in the cabanas at the reserve mean that it's empty and free to use.
There were also some fun activities everyday and Fabio V Romero made them even more fun! He is a great dance instructor and very funny! We took Bachata and Merengue lessons. We also took a painting class and a candle making class to bring home some souvenirs. I especially loved aqua gym (basically aerobics in the pool) with Noel. He is super enthusiastic! There is a gym we never used but theres spin classes, abs classes, pilates, etc. They also have tennis courts and an activities area with archery, table tennis and a climbing wall.
I went to the spa for a massage and a pedicure. I had an amazing massage green tea from Ana Maria. Great pressure and very relaxing. The green tea oils smelled refreshing and were really good on the skin. Juana also gave me my pedicure and she was very friendly. The pedicures are given in these cabanas outside so it can get a little hot. You also have the option of a massage outdoors on the beach. That was a unique experience!
Every night they have shows like the Lion King, Dominican culture show, modern dance and many more. I wish the resort would put a bit of money into decorating the theatre because it looks a little shabby. It's just a stage with some temporary chairs. The shows themselves last about 1-1.5 hours and were fun to watch! Get there early for front row seats (about 15 minutes is sufficient).
The resort is pretty big but still walkable. They have trams that take you around the resort and they come every 10 minutes and pre-determined stops. Usually you can have them stop wherever you want if you call out though. The reserve area is far from the main resort. The main resort is where most of the restaurants and the beach is. It's about a 10 minute walk from the resort. The lobby area has a place to book excursions which should be done a day or 2 in advance. They have the same activities/companies as you will find on the activities section of tripadvisor.
MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Bring $1 bills for tipping. For us, we were a couple staying 7 night and we needed about $130 which included tipping on our excursions. Bring some more to be safe because you will not find change on the resort.
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