We stayed here in November and ever since our return I have been trying to summarize the amazing week we spent there. Before I booked, I read all the TA reviews. They were all so accurate and helpful. Make sure to listen to reviews about booking the excursions. We stuck with Felipe, one of the staff members at the Palace. He gave us such an amazing experience, between taking us horseback riding with a friend of his in the mountains (gave you an exellent look at small villages and houses you might not normally get to see with a larger group), driving us to the monkey jungle and zip lining (funds go to fund a free medical and dental clinic for the poor, totally legit and great operation), to taking us to all the local beaches and swimming lagoon. Felipe even took us one day for lunch at his sister's house- an experience I would have never received and it gave us such an intimate and personal look into the lives of the the Domincans. Plus, the food she cooked was exceptional.
The Palace itself is flawless. The grounds are so unique and well cared for. You are not staying at a resort, you are staying at an estate essentially. At times, it felt like our own private estate, as it only has 13 rooms- and there were never more than 6 other couples there with us. The staff waits on you hand and foot. Between the amazing drinks (I highly reccommend the Dirty Banana) and the phenomenal meals---you will feel like royalty.
If you are very active however, this is not the place for you. We enjoy laying on the beach or by the pool, maybe taking a couple of excursions--- so this was perfect for us. While we were there the tide was too high at the private beach, but they take you happily to any of the neighboring beaches. Playa Grande was where we spent most our days----a postcard setting really- long stretch of sand and bright blue water, plenty of space, vendors to sell many things including phenomenal food. I highly advise you try the lobster- I was worried at first given we were in a foreign country, but no worry necessary. I had the lobster 3 days in a row, accompanied with fries, plantains, salad and rice with lime. I am not sure I have ever eaten a better meal. They also bring you beers, pina coladas served in a pineapple or a coco loco served in a coconut. It's pretty much heaven, and all at reasonable prices. We found that the servers knew the guests coming from the Palace. Once we hired one server, he was ours for the week and none of the others bothered us. The vendors can be annoying but you just say no, and they move along. The surf here is so warm and good enough for body surfing and maybe boogie boarding but not too rough that you can't swim and enjoy.
We stayed in a Ocean View room (without the jacuzzi). It was gigantic. I would be curious to see what the cliff rooms were like, as they had a prime location, essentially built into the cliff itself.
It goes without saying that the staff at the Palace are just of this world. Felipe,especially won our hearts, and by the end I felt like he was family. Make friends with the staff, especially him, and by all means- if he invites you out to the local disco...GO! You will rarely have a more cultural experience. I am missing the Palace so much just writing this. I would go back in a heartbeat.
If you like a lot of excitement and nightlife, you could potentially book a few nights here, and then maybe a couple at one of the places closer to Cabarete. The Palace is a must though- it provides luxury, relaxation and above all else- an intimate look at Dominican culture.
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- Also Known As:
- The Palace At Playa Grande Hotel Rio San Juan