Let me open by saying that you have to regard Dreams P.C. as two resorts in one. There’s the regular and the Club Preferred. I strongly suspect that most of the negative reviews that one sees here in tripadvisor are not Club Preferred guests. Compared to other Dreams, the price difference is not that great and I strongly suggest considering the upgrade. I also strongly recommend that all future reviewers state which one they chose otherwise the reviews really won’t make sense. Altogether, I give Dreams P.C. four stars but if you stay in Club Preferred, four and a half. If you stay at either level, you still have choices of being in a suite with a balcony Jacuzzi or a regular room. The Club regular rooms are just a little larger. But you also get your own check-in/out area, your own concierge to address any problems promptly, a private lounge and bar with canapés (which we always used to our advantage between the afternoon pool/beach and getting ready for dinner).
We are repeat guests at another Dreams: Dreams Puerto Vallarta (more about that later!) where we have now been to annually for the last five years. Our love of that resort helped us to choose this Dreams over others in Punta Cana or La Romana.
Phenomenal pool. Amazing mature grounds and gardens. Lovely beach. This is not a “shake and bake” resort where guests are plonked on to a sun-washed pool deck or beach encouraging them to age their skin or develop skin cancer; there is lots of shade and filtered sun through overhanging palms available for those seeking it.
Room A/C is the best; works perfectly and quietly but no draft. Bed very comfortable and a variety of pillows; excellent sleeps.
Extra beach area with lounge beds for Preferred Club guests is a wonderful touch.
When we were there (Dec 11 through 18), the housecount was only about 69% so there were always lots of lounges available at the beach or pool and we never had to wait for a table at an 8:00 p.m. dinner. That will change dramatically to 100% occupancy at Christmas and other times, something I would personally find uncomfortable.
Food and service. Generally, it’s good, sometimes very good but only rarely terrific. This is where Dreams P.C. loses a star. (Not nearly as good as Dreams Puerto Vallarta.) We almost always went to the buffet for breakfast which is good but not as good as the breakfast buffet at Dreams P.V. For example, there are no plates of fish and we really like the smoked salmon we get in P.V. Also, for example, there are never any mushrooms so you can’t order a mushroom omelette. The buffet area really needs to crank up its A/C; always warm and humid. As for the à-la-carte restaurants, the weakest is Oceana and the strongest is Portofino. We didn’t try the Asian one.
Oceana is weak because it’s supposed to be a fish restaurant but the menu of fish dishes is rather scanty and they don’t have a feel for cooking fish so it’s usually overcooked. The main fish you’ll find in any of the restaurants is grouper but never salmon, tilapia, trout nor tuna. Sometimes, mahi-mahi.
Wait-staff: If you get a good waiter who gives you personal attention, try to hold on to him or her. The main problem, especially in the buffet, is that you get waited on by everyone and anyone (occasionally no one) and they don’t always communicate with each other. You might order tea in a teapot (the magic words are “en tetera”) and you could wait for it for ten minutes and have to remind them a few times or you may get it in a teapot as well as in a cup. And asking for milk in a little pitcher gets you nothing but confused looks. They only once offered to bring us orange juice when we first sat down. (We weren’t craving the juices anyway; both the orange and pineapple juices tasted a little watered-down.) I’m not blaming the staff. It’s just a matter of their being better structured and organized by upper management. This is not the time for a lecture from management but, rather, a look in the mirror by management. It’s further hard to blame the staff because so many guests never tip and until some of them get to know that you’ll reward good service, they are probably discouraged.
Another con: Dreams is fairly far from the airport and the town so taxis can be quite expensive. Plan your excursions carefully.
And THE Major Con, which I believe is fairly common throughout the D.R.: The stairways have no handrails. I'm talking about all the stairwells including the ones you have to use all the time if your room is on the second or third floor. It’s probably not in the “code” to require handrails but, for someone like myself who has dodgy knees and not the footing of a 20-year-old, they’re almost a must. Furthermore, all the stairwells have tile floors and are open to the elements making them slippery and dangerous when it rains. They don’t seem to be big on handrails here. One set of exit steps from the pool (close to bridge beside the cascade) obviously had had a handrail in the past but now only patched cement. Foreign country or not, code or not, the whole handrail issue is unsafe and needs to get some money thrown at it before there’s an accident and a law suit.
If you’re looking for the gym, there are no signs. You must enter through the doors to the Spa and go upstairs. These stairs too could use a handrail especially since there is a long stretch without a landing; a misstep would result in quite a tumble. The gym itself is quite complete with a wide variety of equipment in excellent condition but, my good intentions notwithstanding, I didn’t actually use it. When I dropped in, it was staffed by a very impressive Übermensch whose name I didn’t catch but, next to him, Mr. Clean looks like a girl!
Another minor con: there are remarkably few washrooms at the beach or the pool considering the amount of real estate. The beach w/c is at the bar and the pool w/c is at the sports centre (look for the ping-pong table or signs about SCUBA.) Thoughts of a Parisian pissoire… well let’s just say it wouldn’t surprise me if many guests let loose while using one of the many semi-enclosed open-air shower stalls, or in the ocean, or — no-no-no not in the pool!
Wi-fi. Included in the Preferred Club upgrade but chargeable for standard guests. Before you go shelling out a lot of bucks, you might want to do some thorough tests. I found the service to be spotty except in the main buffet — otherwise the signal strength fading in and out.
Both good and bad: This is a large resort. On the plus side is the impressive scale of the grounds, pool and beach. And on the minus side, it loses that personal touch. Staff come into contact with so many guests that most of them won’t remember you from one day to the next.
Other comments: Well you ARE in a foreign country and you mustn’t expect things to be like they are “at home”. Yes, the glass half-walls on the bathtubs are a little peculiar but it IS a hand-held shower in the European manner. If you’re careful, you won’t splash too much; the easiest way to deal with that is to put a folded-in-half beach towel on the floor beside the tub. There are occasional insects in the room but mostly we saw only something that might have flown in or minute ants. They do fumigate the rooms routinely and the chambermaids spray regularly if they see any problem. Yes, we did hear a tale of a large tarantula in one of the ground-floor hallways but, after all the guests came out of their rooms to see it and the yelling and screaming was over, the staff scooped it up in a dustpan and took it to the wooded area at the edge of the grounds.
Back to food, we usually have a late breakfast and, later, for a light lunch, grab a hot dog at the Barefoot Grill at the beach or the barbeque beside the bar next to the sports centre at the pool. A perfectly serviceable little repast! And supplemented in the late afternoon with canapés at the Preferred Club lounge.
It’s dinner when we have high standards and at the risk of being entirely too detailed, here’s a run-down on our dinners for the week.
Wednesday we’d just arrived and weren’t going to be too choosy so we went to the closest restaurant. The restaurant complex near the beach and beside the Club Preferred lounge, houses three à-la-carte restaurants: the Seaside Grill, Oceana and, upstairs, the French restaurant, Bordeaux. So we went to Seaside; we both had the 8-oz. tenderloin which was a really good cut of meat cooked on an open grill; it could have used a hint of seasoning; I had the béarnaise sauce which was quite good. Veggies were simple but a small serving. We had to ask for bread which was cold; and again for butter. For dessert, the waiter told us he had key lime pie which was not on the menu and which I really like, so I ordered it. When dessert arrived, it was a small slice of New York-style cheesecake which was dry and tasteless. The waiter claimed he didn’t hear me properly but I decided not to pursue it. But that cheesecake followed me around like a bad penny on three separate dinners; I’d order something or other and get the cheesecake substituted.
Personally, I just like some fresh fruit, perhaps with a simple light cake for dessert, (as long as I don’t have to prepare it myself!) but no menu ever offered anything like that. All the desserts in all the restaurants seem to be a sort of afterthought of the catering manager and all of them were second-rate. But you can always fall back on the little fruit tarts they have in the Club Preferred Lounge.
Thursday, night 2: Oceana: We both had the Deconstructed Salmon & Scallop Wellington. Disappointing.
Night 3: Back to Seaside Grill. Again no bread. Staff moody and busy. Caesar salad (or was it arugula?) but no offer of fresh pepper. Seated in corner. Ed's corn soup “inoffensive”. I had the tenderloin again which really needed seasoning during cooking. The red-wine sauce gets only a 2 out of 10. Ed had chicken with bacon. Chicken was good but the details weren’t. The rice was room temperature and the veggies only so-so. The strudel for dessert was generic; the brownie was dry and not worth the calories. During the meal a local V.I.P. party of ten arrived and the captain relaxed a little after that.
Night 4: Portofino. I had an odd hankering for a Negroni cocktail which the staff had difficulty concocting but when it arrived, it was good. Nice, authentic presentation of bread with oil and vinegar. I had a Caesar salad which was better than the ones in Seaside Grill. I’d ordered the gamberetti with more shrimp and less risotto. To die for!! The best thing I ate all week. Flavours beautifully balanced; I couldn’t do better myself. Ed’s tenderloin was first rate. Dessert: my casseta was basically fancy ice cream; Ed’s tiramisu gets a 6 out of 10.
Night 5: Bordeaux: The lighting was so dim, I had to use the assistive light on my phone to read the menu. The menu was in French but our waiter’s native tongue was Spanish with fairly good English. I didn’t know what language to use to order the food. :-/ Appetizers: the quiche was okay but I’ve had better from my supermarket; Ed’s saumon tasted like it came from a can. Main: my Stroganoff gets a 7½ out of 10. One of many recipes for this in the world but I prefer mine with sour cream and lavish with nutmeg. The porc jarret gets a 7 out of 10. Dessert: My chocolate dessert was oddly like the chocolate brownie they serve in the attached Seaside Grill only heated and dressed up. Gee, I wonder. Bordeaux does not live up to its hype. Service very good, though.
Night 6: Back at Oceana. Service from Pablo was excellent. I had the blackened mahi-mahi. If you’re on a lo-carb diet, this is a dish for you. Hardly any accompaniment. I would have given the fish an 8 but it was very overcooked so only a 6. Ed had beef tenderloin again (well, at least it’s dependable and tasty!); an 8. Dessert: so-so. But a pleasant evening and Ed thought it was his best meal, all things considered.
Night 7: Back at Portofino. Service is consistently very good. I had the same as night 4. High marks for consistency in cooking too. Plus I had a small lasagna serving; very good; no President’s Choice frozen thing this! Hearty and yummy. Ed had calabrese salad without cheese: guess what: just tomatoes but as good as our own home-grown! The grouper was supposed to be served on spinach but it was something else — the standard veggie mix? It would have been an 8 but it didn’t match the menu and the fish was a bit salty so it loses a point.
Finally, the wine throughout the week: If you want to pay extra, there’s a fairly good wine cellar run by sommelier Hamlet but we never had any reason to get fancy. The vinos blancos y tintos a la casa were perfectly adequate; both were from Spain.
All-in-all, despite my laying a few complaints on the line, it was a very enjoyable week. The weather at this time of year defies accurate forecasts with some days having, at different hours, clear skies, clouds and even light or heavy showers. It’s not a bad idea to pack an umbrella. But there was sun at least 75% of the daytime. The moon and the stars at the beach were awesome.
I would go back to Dreams P.C. and I would recommend it to many others depending on their whims. Partly because I think it’s good value; it cost less than a week in Dreams Puerto Vallarta. I simply don’t understand the negative reviews; others on my flight whom I met were not in the Preferred Club but were still perfectly happy. I’m sorry that some reviewers here on tripadvisor had a poor experience at Dreams but I suspect they are the type to have many bad experiences in life.
I took the opportunity to personally meet Hector who has replied to many of these reviews so, if he hasn’t fallen asleep reading this one, “¡Hola, Hector!” He is a very pleasant young man who has a gift for saying the right thing.
Finally, a shout-out “Thank you” to the staff who made Dreams P.C. a special place for us. I’ll name only a few since I’m not good with names but they made us feel “looked after” which is what everyone wants on a vacation. Carolina in the Preferred Club lounge: I phoned two days before we arrived to make sure all the details about our room preferences were known. After being transferred five times, I finally spoke with Carolina who got everything arranged perfectly. She met us personally upon our arrival. Adrian in the Preferred Club lounge bar — sort of the strong, quiet, infinitely polite type — a pro. The cheerful ladies who ferry drinks with a smile at the pool. The hostesses at the buffet. The waiters who take the time to give personal attention in most of the à-la-cartes. The chicos who stocked the mini-bar in the room. And finally, Paula from housekeeping who made sure our room was always spotless and shipshape and who is a mistress of towel sculptures!
Off topic #1: We booked through Sunwing. The flight was done well with adequate food, a little free wine or champers, good seating and some creature comforts. The planes were 737-800’s. Smooth and not noisy. It lacked the nicety of individual viewing screens but the films weren’t very interesting anyway. It was all the stuff around the flights that was really bad. We couldn’t do an electronic check-in until 4 hours before the flight; not the kind of extra last-minute detail I need when I’m getting up and dressed for the limo to the airport! At Toronto airport the flight was a civilized 10-am-ish but the line-ups at the check-in counter (despite having checked in electronically at home) and at airport security were about 30-40 minutes each leaving us very little time for breakfast in the V.I.P. lounge (a very worthwhile option, IMHO). We were told at check-in that we HAD to be at the gate at 9 a.m. which is absurd especially since we didn’t get through the line-ups until 9:15.
When we arrived in P.C., after going through multiple queues for tax fees, immigration, this and that, there was considerable confusion finding the proper shuttle to take us to our hotel — schlepping around a huge, hot parking lot with our luggage. Then, en route, the guide in the bus told us (verbally and in writing) that we would have our briefing by the local rep at 3:15 the following day… whi-i-i-i-ch, it turns out, was the rep’s day off. So several of us showed up the next day and completely wasted our time, waiting for an hour with nobody even to ask. Lack of co-ordination and communication, I’d say.
But then, returning home from P.C., Sunwing, in its (lack of) wisdom, had flights to both Toronto and Montreal leaving at similar times, splitting the slim check-in staff in half and making the wait in line over 90 minutes. Open-air airport in P.C.: warm and humid. And then a fair hike across the tarmac to get to the plane stairs (which DID have a handrail!) And the check-in staff in both airports seem to have a hard time knowing that Rick (on the ticket) and Richard (on my passport) are perfectly valid aliases. Good thing I don’t go by Dick! Poor show, Sunwing. At least you’re better than Air Tr@|\|s@t — but who isn’t.
Off topic #2: Canada Customs and Immigration coming home was a breeze! So efficient now with electronics doing a lot of the work. Good work, guys!! Of course, then we all had to wait 30 minutes for the luggage to get to the carousel.
Off topic #3: Dreams Puerto Vallarta. I heard the very disappointing news while in P.C. that Dreams Puerto Vallarta may have only one more year to go as we know it. Come February or March, this will be our sixth annual visit to Dreams P.V. I can’t quite get the straight goods on this whether it has been bought out by Hyatt or just under their management but, for now, it seems to be status quo until April, 2014. After that, who knows? If AM resorts has disposed of this property then shame on them. It will influence any future decision I may have to stay at any AM-resort in the future. If Dreams P.V. loses certain key staff (José, Lenny, David and others) it will become a shot in the dark after this season.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Secluded in a lush tropical paradise, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa features one of the largest free-form swimming pools in the Dominican Republic, stretching from the lobby all the way down to the pristine beach. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dreams Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
- Sunscape Beach Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Sunscape Beach
- Dreams Resort Punta Cana
- Dreams Punta Cana Resort
- Dreams Dominican Republic