All-in-all we (me, wife, boys 6 & 10) really enjoyed our trip to this resort. Having stayed at mega resorts, i.e. in Riviera Maya and Punta Cana, we were at first taken aback by the smaller size of the Suites. However, in hindsight, we believe it to be a positive in that you get to know the staff and fellow vacationers much better and that naturally added to the whole experience.
We arrived early afternoon and dealt with Andre (sp?) at the front desk. He was very cordial and professional and when we asked for a ‘good room with a nice view’, he said he would see what he could do. Since we arrived before our room was ready we headed to the buffet for lunch….more on the food later. After eating we went back to see Andre and he personally led us to our room to check on it. The cleaning crew was just finishing up so he led us back to the lobby for us to retrieve our luggage. The room (4315) had a nice view of the pool and the ocean in the distance; point being is that Andre did good and his level of service was excellent!
I’ll get the cons out of the way first – our biggest disappointment was primarily with the beach and ocean. I’m sure due in large part to the resorts location geographically speaking. We learned it’s a man-made beach and the sand is coarse with rocks mixed in, especially at the water’s edge. As for the ocean and its color, it reminded me more of the Atlantic on the Eastern seaboard. Guess I’ve been spoiled by other beaches throughout the Caribbean and Gulf Coast. My only other con was that the weather didn’t fully cooperate and the wind on the beach, whipping the sand all about, made spending time there almost unbearable half the trip….no controlling Mother Nature though!
We found the resort to be very well maintained, as others have posted, with crews constantly cleaning. Back to the room…Room was nice with plenty of room for the 4 of us. We used the sofa sleeper so with the 2 doubles, the 3 beds total allowed us to spread out. The cleaning crew did a good job daily and only on occasion did we have to call down to the front desk for more wash cloths or more waters for the mini-fridge; all of which were brought promptly. The evening turndown service and hauling away of towels from getting cleaned up in the evening was a nice touch too.
The pool area and grounds were great, all nicely laid out and ez to get around. While the crowds ebbed and flowed throughout the week, we never had any issues getting loungers at the pool or beach. Additionally I liked how they had the main pool with its cool negative edge and a separate one with a volleyball net and basketball hoop. The covered area with ping pong (table tennis) tables, a dart board, and foosball table was enjoyable and close to the pool so we could keep an eye on the boys when needed. Can’t leave out mentioning the lazy river which, was really, really lazy but that just meant the boys had to ‘work’ to get around it! No worries Mon!
Food – I will say that for an all-inclusive, the resort really excelled here. We found the food at the buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner had a nice daily variety. No point in nit-picking here, the quality was solid, there were plenty of options, and they did a decent job of flavoring the food all-in-all. As for the restaurants, we ate at the Japanese, Steak House, Mediterranean, and Gourmet. We really enjoyed the Mediterranean and Gourmet with their variety of fish and meat dishes, and some desserts you didn’t find in the buffet. Our biggest disappointment was at the Steak House! We read and heard so many good things but our experience was anything but. Of the 4 of us, 3 ordered the tenderloin and all 3 were tough and chewy. One family we hung out with had a similar experience while another family had an enjoyable one – go figure.
Lastly, the Star Friends and certain staff members are what made this trip worth every penny! The Star Friends (shout out to MoMo, VIP, Happy Feet, Sweetness, China, Cleo, and Twitter – who I since read didn’t get offered a position boo-hoo) were AWESOME! They were absolutely fantastic in keeping the adults and kids busy and entertained! These folks were just so much fun to hang and play around with. They did their organized events but weren’t pushy if you didn’t want to join in, and they also hung out and played pick-up games of sand soccer, ping pong, whatever….We hung out with MoMo, VIP and Sweetness the most and really got to know them, even at a personal level; and what an enjoyable experience it was. The nightly entertainment was pretty hokey and you can read about that in other posts but when you hang out with new found friends and the occasional evening when the Star Friends also hung out with all of us, every evening was a good time and entertaining! I can’t go without mentioning O’Neil & Shannee (great servers, really friendly!), Ishalee (sp? – pool bar by the ice cream stand; super nice and friendly), and Roderick (great pool bartender who learns your name the first time and makes an awesome drink – the Roderick Special!).
One final note – many thanks to Jennifer (firstname.lastname@example.org) with TripGuy (www.tripguy.com). Given the plethora of options out there Jennifer dutifully noted our vacation criteria and worked with us diligently to plan our vacation. She was always quick to respond and had great follow-thru! Thanks Jennifer, looking forward to planning our next vacation with you! YEA MON!