I'll start with the good points and finish with not necessarily the bad points - just things that they should work on or suggestions to make the experience even better.
Some background information first. My (now) husband and I went there to get married with our two young boys (aged 4 and 5) PLUS his entire family (adults and kids) and my family in June 2012. So, we were a pretty large group (a total of 19 people). We were there a total of 10 days. It's important to note that we are all fluent Spanish-speakers, which may effect the overall experience one may have at the resort (although I did see that the staff at the front desk and guest services were all multilingual).
Overall, you can see by the rating we gave that we were ridiculously happy with our vacation at the Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace. And when I say "we" I mean EVERYONE (the grandparents, parents, kids, EVERYONE!) Also, keep in mind that my review includes the sister-resort, Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach, where we could use all of their installations, including restaurants, at no extra cost. I highly recommend staying the Palace mainly for that reason - the fact that you can have the best of both resorts at no additional cost. As I understand it, if you stay at the Beach resort, you can only use the Palace installations if you pay a daily fee (I think it's $10 but I'm not sure).
- The beach is AMAZING! Very clean - nicely kept (staff constantly maintaining the beach and keeping it clean) There's coral right off of the beach so you can get some good snorkeling in as well. There are palm trees EVERYWHERE so you don't have to be worried about getting up early to reserve a spot under some shade (especially important if you're a family of young kids and don't want to deal with painful sunburns). There are plenty of lounge chairs too...
- The resort grounds are SPECTACULAR! The gardens are just beautifully kept with native plants and flowers - there's a pond with huge turtles and fish swimming around as well as flamingos and even a huge iguana that you can pet!
- The staff are AMAZING! I really hope the staff at the resort are getting paid what they deserve, because they were just so great...Attentive, positive...always happy...always smiling...Especially Raul at the main lobby bar (he really turned the day around for me when I was stressing about the threat of rain on my wedding day) and Eileen and Barbara at guest services who helped make my wedding day just PERFECT and Yeraldine at guest services was especially helpful with our restaurant reservations and other activities. Also, Lorenzo at the omelet station in the buffet...your smile was a great start to my day! And Daniel, our waiter for our romantic seaside dinner reservation at Atlantis, was by far one of the best waiters I have had at any dining establishment! I have to also say that the front desk staff were great when we checked in...They even put the entire family together in the building that has a spectacular ocean-view, even though it was just my husband and I who paid for an ocean-view room...all of the other rooms were originally standard garden views but because they had availability and wanted to keep us all together, they gave them all ocean-view rooms without us even asking for it!
- The resort is ideal for young families (but also great for couples as there's plenty to do at night - complete with a great nightclub). We used their babysitting services a couple of times and were very satisfied with the quality of the service (although the fee was a bit steep - $15 per hour because we have two kids - otherwise, it's $10 per hour for one child)
- The food at the buffets were great as far as buffet food goes...I mean, really people, they're trying to feed thousands of people daily at the buffets - don't go there expecting gourmet food - it's not going to happen. But the food was great! There was something for everyone! There were healthy options for those trying to watch their weight (including a great selection of salads)...the fish was fresh and yummy....I have to say, towards the end, I preferred the buffets to the a la carte restaurants
- A reservation at Atlantis restaurant is a MUST! It's an additional $20 per person fee (or $35 if you want the lobster) and it's totally worth it (ESPECIALLY the lobster!)
- There's something for everyone! And there was always something going on...but the place is so huge that if you just want some peace and quiet, you can find that too.
- The rooms were perfectly acceptable...Beds were comfortable, air conditioning worked, large bathroom with good water pressure, a good size balcony with ocean view (our view was spectacular! We stayed in the building that starts with 58), mini fridge to keep your beverages cold and an in-room safe, which I highly recommend using for an additional fee (I think it was $2 per day but worth it for peace of mind). Although I have stayed in better rooms in terms of the decor, how long do you really stay in your room while at the Caribbean? The most important thing for us was a good size balcony with an ocean-view and a comfortable bed and an air conditioner that worked - and we got all of that!
- Entertainment staff were...well...entertaining! There's a nightly show, which my kids especially loved and plenty of activities during the day and night.
- There's a kid's club which is especially useful if you want a break from your kids (but we only used it once) - but the one time we did use it, the kids enjoyed being there.
- The wedding was the ideal wedding for me...LOVED IT LOVED IT LOVED IT! I highly recommend getting married there...they bend over backwards making sure everything is to your liking (again, thanks to Eileen and Barbara!)
- Bartenders were great - drinks were great (I think they are told not to be too liberal with the alcohol but all you have to do is ask them to put more rum in or whatever and they'll do it with a smile!)
- The pools were fantastic at both resorts...The pool at the Beaches resort was especially good for toddlers! There were pools that had a lot going on (like music and activities) and other pools that were for those wanting peace and quiet. Just awesome.
- Snack bars were fantastic! Yummy hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, pizzas and even salads! Very useful for when you are hungry and the buffet restaurants haven't opened yet.
- I was pleasantly surprised at how accessible the place is for those with a handicap. My uncle has artificial legs and he says this was the first place he has ever gone to (and he travels a lot) where even the beach is accessible via stable and sturdy paths almost all the way down to the ocean! This resort in particular has made a tremendous effort in being accessible to all with ramps everywhere and they even have special water wheelchairs available to take people to the ocean for a swim! And regular wheelchairs were also available for those times that my uncle wanted to take a rest from walking from one place to another. The only thing I should say, though, is that during the time we were there, the elevator that took you to the main lobby was out of order about half the time that we needed to use it, but I'm thinking that was an isolated occurrence during our stay there and not typical (considering the effort they have put it in to make this place handicap-accessible!)
- Overall, we are all very happy with the resort and wouldn't hesitate to go back again (with or without the kids!)
- The main suggestion I have (if anyone at the Dominicus Palace is reading this) is to seriously reconsider the pool closing times. I mean, really, a 6pm closing time for the pools is JUST INSANE! I mean, there's still PLENTY of daylight and they're closing the pools at 6pm! I know it has something to do with the fact that the lifeguards stop working at that time, but come on! You guys need to either hire more lifeguards or pay over-time or SOMETHING because the last thing you want to hear when you're on vacation and your kids are having a blast swimming is that the pool is closed at 6pm!!! Especially considering how hot it is...At least extend it until sunset (but I would highly recommend allowing SOME night-time swimming as well if you really want to score some customer satisfaction points!)
- I think it would be a good idea to have a team dedicated to groups staying at the resort to make the overall experience even better when a family is vacationing together...I found that although Yeraldine tried hard to accommodate for our reservations at the a la carte restaurants, for example, it was hard to get reservations in for such a large group (in fact, we only got one reservation in for all of us at the same time at the a la cartes) ...Also, whenever we did get together at the buffet restaurants, the waiters were quite resistant to us putting the tables together so we could all sit together...We ended up doing it anyways, but I had to discuss it with them each and every time and insist on it and ask to speak with the supervisor and only then did they say it was okay to put the tables together...I think this is where my Spanish-speaking was especially useful because anyone else would have just had to accept it and sit apart from their friends and family (I don't understand the problem with putting tables together since the tables were rectangular shaped and it was just a question of moving the tables together and then separating them when we were done). I think if they had a team that catered to larger groups and trained the staff to be especially attentive to large groups, there could be a lot of things that could be done to make a family reunion, for instance, all that much better!
- Although we only went to the Viva Cafe restaurant and La Roca restaurant, I have to say that the quality of the food at those restaurants could use some improvement - it's not to say that the food was bad but it was NOTHING like the food we got at the Atlantis restaurant (where's there's an additional fee per person to eat there). I would say that the food at the a la cartes were on par with the food at the buffet restaurants, which we enjoyed, but there's still the expectation that the food at the a la cartes will surpass that of the food at the buffet restaurants.
- The house wine DESPERATELY needs improvement! I may be a bit of a wine snob, though, coming from one of the best producing wine countries (Chile) but my goodness, was I ever glad I brought some of my own wine from home because the house wine was awful! The restaurants, however, do offer a wine menu where you can order a bottle and charge it to your room - the prices for these bottles of wine were reasonable and they had a good selection of Chilean wines :-)
- I think something has to be done about the pricing strategy for additional services at the resorts (like the souvenir shops, photography and videography services, etc.)...I understand that resort prices will always be higher than what you would find outside the resort, but I think the service providers and shops there took it to another level. It was a bit offensive, actually (I found that I needed to buy some sandals at the souvenir shop and was horrified at the prices - and forget about essentials like tampons, over the counter medicine, condoms - PEOPLE, make sure you bring all of the stuff from home unless you want to pay over $20 for a small box of tampons! - OR even worse, charging $10 per photo at the Photo Shop! That to me was ridiculous because even $5 per photo would be a bit much but at least understandable! I mean, please, $10 for a digital photo on a CD Rom, what could possibly be the reasoning behind that?! Plus, the photography store there has exclusivity so I couldn't even hire my own photographer from in town to shoot my wedding! It was either settle for no photographer or pay a ridiculously high price for digital photos they give to you on a CD or print and forget about it if you want both print and a CD!...I really think the resort should have more of a say in the prices that are being charged by this particular provider because it is frankly a rip-off and it may effect the impression a guest has of the resort even though it's another company offering the products and services.)
- I think it would be a good idea for the resort to consider having a teen club - like a mini disco for them...Don't get me wrong, the teenager that traveled with us had a blast, but he didn't really make any friends there because there was no place where kids his age gathered together for fun activities and such...It's definitely something I would implement if I were in charge :-)
- If possible, I would consider moving the gym to a more open space that has windows either looking out into the beautiful lush gardens, or better yet, the ocean! I think more people would use the gym facilities if it weren't in a windowless room. Plus, the gym REALLY needs a couple of elliptical trainers :-) I used it once and then opted for the dancing and aerobics classes offered throughout the day by the main pool to get some exercise in...
- If I were in charge, I would have a "make change" station at the front desk, where guests can get change for larger bills so that it's easier to tip the staff. This is more for employee morale and retention purposes - I think most guests would tip their chambermaids, wait staff, etc. if they had smaller bills, but it was almost impossible to get change to tip bartenders, etc and show our appreciation for their great service!
- Definitely in this day in age in-room accessibility to wi-fi is a MUST!.Although wi-fi connection was fast and reliable at the main pools and main lobbies, I would pay an additional daily fee for the convenience of internet access in my room.
So, that's about it. I really loved this place and highly recommend it to anyone, young and old, looking for a fun and relaxing vacation!
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- Also Known As:
- Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace Hotel Bayahibe
- Wyndham Hotel Bayahibe
- Wyndham La Romana
- Wyndham Resort All Inclusive Bayahibe
- Viva Dominicus Palace
- Bayahibe Wyndham
- Wyndham Dominicus Palace
- Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace Dominican Republic/Bayahibe