My wife and I stayed at the Palace (also called the "Balaji Palace" locally) from in April, 2011. We stayed in a Royal Ocean Front Suite, without a Jacuzzi. As soon as you walk in, the first thing that strikes you is that room is gorgeous. Beautiful decorations and lattice work, luxurious silk curtains, and well made furniture. The room was very large, had a nice seating area inside, as well as VERY comfortable seating on the balcony outside. My wife and I spent more than a few hours on our balcony, enjoying the weather, the view, and the sound of the ocean. The bed was king sized and decently comfortable. We had nightly turn-down service and the room was cleaned about twice per day (once during the morning, and again along with turn-down). There is plenty of lighting in the room, the bed was equipped with a mosquito net, and there were plenty of outlets for anything you might need to plug in. The bathroom was very large and had a big closet area with plenty of hangers, space for shoes, clothes, luggage, etc. The shower was about what you would expect from a villa in the DR - lower water pressure than what you might be accustomed to in 5 star places in the US, but no issues with hot water, etc that you might expect in some parts of the Caribbean. There was no construction being done, nothing was closed or off-limits, and the beach was full accessible (and was great!).
The next thing I have to talk about is the service. My wife and I have stayed in some great hotels (Four Seasons NYC, Ritz Carlton Beijing, InterContinental Bangkok, etc, not) and the service here blows all of them out of the water. If there is something that you want, ask for it and you will get it. Want something different for dinner than what is on the menu? No problem. More alcohol in your drinks? No problem. A special request for a special occasion? No problem. Whatever you want, the staff is more than willing to bend over backwards to make it happen for you. All you have to do is ASK. On top of that, all of the staff is extremely friendly and professional. We really felt that they had the attitude of when we were happy, they were happy. Juan Carlos, the GM, was always willing to help, and Carlos, Tony, and Phillippe, our waiters/butlers for the week, were on top of everything, from making sure we always had a drink when we wanted it to making sure we were able to get to the beaches, golf courses, etc whenever we wished to go.
For the duration of our stay, we opted for the all inclusive food and drink package. The food, we thought, was hit or miss. Some nights it was exceptional, other nights it was good, but not great. Some of my favorites over the course of the week were the Argentinean style steak, Grouper Fillet, and the Grilled Lobster. They also had a pretty good Shrimp Vindaloo and the pork dishes were all very good. Breakfast was standard each day and you had your choice of eggs (any style), bacon, sausage, fruit, toast, cereal, pancakes, etc. You can get any or all of these. The liquors that were included in the package were a mix of global and local brands. Dewars whiskey, Absolute Vodka, Dominican Rum, Dominican Gin. If you are picky about the kinds of liquor you like and don't want to upgrade to the top shelf selection (Jack, Patron, Tanqueray, etc), you can bring your own bottle from the Duty Free and they'll be happy to make your drinks from that (another couple did this while we were there). If you find that your drink needs more alcohol, just ask (as I stated before) and I guarantee that it will be strong enough for you the next go round.
Activities: On the Palace Grounds, there is a pool with plenty of chairs, a TV, DVD player with movies, a ping pong table, a pool table, a small selection of board games, wifi, and of course, the beach. Some of these things are great to pass the time after dinner with other guests/ your significant other. A lot of the nights we had a few drinks with other couples staying there, sometimes playing a board game or two, sometimes getting in a game of ping pong or pool. It is really a place to relax, so if you are looking for an exciting night life, this is not the place for you. Outside of the palace there are some great things to explore during the day. If you are a golfer, do not miss a round at Playa Grande Golf Course - amazing views, well maintained, not too hard, but challenging enough to be fun. If you want some adventure, definitely sign up for a tour on horseback with drhorses.com/ Rancho Paradiso. Abe and Chris used to live in the US and really understand what you want to see when you are a tourist. They are really nice, engaging, and really make sure you have a great time. If you are looking to try out a different beach, check out Playa Grande. The beach is right next to the palace, has plenty of space (we saw about 20 people over the entire 1.5 mile length of beach), and has beautiful views. If you go, please do not miss the fried chicken at Wilson's stall right off of the beach (you'll see it as you come up to the beach). Wilson's stall is marked with a #4 and says Restaurant Maria on it. Ask for the friend chicken/ chicken strips. You will not be disappointed, guaranteed!
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- Also Known As:
- The Palace At Playa Grande Hotel Rio San Juan