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“Vacation in Paradise”

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Grand Paradise Samana
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Las Galeras
Reviewed February 9, 2014 via mobile

We went there as a couple. We wanted to relax and recover from a very stressfull time in the job.
We expected not that good service in a 3 star ranked hotel. But the rooms went clean and the food was good especially for such a low price we paid.
The animation Team was great. They have several sports during the mornung and afternoon but never bother you if you decide not to take part in anything. The shows in the evening were great. Special thanks goes to Mikiki Johnson from the animation team, who made a very good Job to make our time the funniest vacation we have. The Dinner became very nice when he joined us. He speeks various languages and has alway a smile at his face.
We will come back to the lovely sunny place with the nice beach and the amazing people around.

Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
2  Thank MnlMng
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 9, 2014

We stayed Jan 31-Feb 7/2014

CHECK IN/BUS RIDE IN - The bus ride is about an hour and a half but goes by fast with the great views and hotel registration done. Also, the Air Canada rep was there with info for us. At the hotel we were greeted by lovely dancers who cheered us on and offered drinks. It was a nice welcome. The front desk was a bit unorganized, a lot of staff but only one who does most things.

ROOM - We were in building 6 with a pool view. Very central to the buffet and beach. The room was clean. We had 2 double beds that were a bit hard but the pillows were ok. TV worked great, 3 English channels (including WB). Bathroom was clean, nice shower, good pressure, unless you showered before supper. No face clothes tho. Our shower head broke the second day but within hours it was fixed. A/C was good. We always left good tips but the maid service often came very late in the day (4-5pm) so a couple times we found ourselves wandering around waiting for them, which was ok, we met great people that way.

POOL/BEACH - We didn't swim in the pool, but the area was clean. A bit small and not enough lounge chairs tho. Same with the beach for the chairs.. Always towels covering chairs with no people on them, some would only come for an hour or so.. I found this annoying when trying to find a place to sit. Because of this I would come pretty early to set up. But I met great people this way. I think the staff should be responsible in avoiding this. No umbrellas on the beach, but lots of trees, nice grassy area too. The sand is beautiful and white, soft on the feet. The water is pretty clear and warm. Lots of activities on the beach, including water aerobics before lunch, yoga, archery, ping pong, volley ball... lots of activities but they're not annoying with it. They also have good water sports. We did the kayak which was a lot of fun. The boats are in great shape.

FOOD (HEALTH RISK) - The food was good, however, my husband got sick the third or fourth day - We'd heard of several people getting a stomach bug and my husband got it.. it wasn't too bad that it stopped him from doing anything, but about 15 minutes after he would eat he was in a lot of pain and had to go to the washroom.. he avoided eating by the end of our trip. The last day (Feb 7th) they were making people sanitizes their hands before going in the buffet area. Not sure how much that will help. If I would have known I don't think we would have gone there.

STAFF - The staff was very friendly, most made eye contact and had nice smiles, said hello. Most speak French or English. The only staff that I found snotty were the girls in the market next to the buffet, but otherwise, they were great.

EXCURSIONS - We did the El Limon Falls (65$ each I believe) which includes a horseback ride, two hundred steps and a lunch. We left at 8 am and got back at 2 pm. The horseback ride was pretty scary. Each person had a handler volunteer, so they recommend tipping. My handler, Sergio, was great. I was pretty scared a lot of the time so he would talk to me, ask questions, show me fruit trees like pineapple and melon, make me smell leaves like anise and mint.. so that was good for me, but I was still scared. Because I couldn't, he took my camera and took pictures for and of us! The path is often very narrow with cliffs on one or both sides. The path is muddy, rocky and very winding. Just trust the horse and the handler. They've done it a hundred times. Then there's a 200 step walk down to the falls, which wasn't as bad as I anticipated. My legs were sore the next couple days but it was worth it. The falls are amazing! So nice to swim in the natural pool. My handler took great pictures of us. It gets very deep very fast, so if you're not a good swimmer stay by the rocks. The lunch was great! Nice change from the buffet at the resort. If you go, I recommend asking for Sergio! He went above his duty for me! Our Canadian rep said to wear closed toe shoes but it doesn't matter because they give you boots to wear, just bring socks.

We also did the Zip Line. (105$ each I think.) We left at 8 and got back at 2 pm. Highly recommended! It was amazing! I've been to several other zip lines and this one was one of my favorites! I felt very safe and secure! So fun! Our guide, David, was awesome too! At the end they brought us to a small waterfall with a natural pool that you can swim in. We also had a little info session where we tried coconuts, cocoa beans... you can purchase items there but go to Las Galeras, 10 minute walk from the resort, so much cheaper! We bought vanilla for 5$ before we found out they had some in town for 25cents!! If you go don't forget your bathing suit and maybe water shoes, it's pretty rocky where the falls are.

Snorkeling on the Beach - There is a little hut that offers snorkeling at 11am and 3pm. Highly recommended! It's only 15$ for an hour and so worth it! It's just off shore, a short minute boat ride out. There are so many beautiful fish that surround you. It's amazing! My husband isn't a great swimmer but you can touch, there's a lot of rocks. If you're not sure the guide, Kao, will tell you where to go so you can stand. There are wet suits but we didn't need them. They have water shoes, but bring your own if you have them.

We would go again if there was no health risk. We had read the reviews of it after we had booked. Other than that it was pretty great! I love DR, the people are great, so laid back. Driving is crazy but that's part of the fun! Amazing views! Often rains mini showers (1 - 10 minutes) so there are a lot of nice rainbows! I purchased an umbrella at the market for 15$ and it was worth it on the beach for those little showers. Bring your own if you can to save money.
For the money it's a great place to go to enjoy the sun and beach, which is why we go!

Room Tip: Building six is very central to everything, 2 minute walk to the beach, 2 minute walk the other way...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank Manon L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2014

During our stay in January 2014, the Hotel constantly made promises that they then did not keep. Unfortunately, repeated daily for our entire stay. It was as if they told us things just to make us go away, with no intention of actually delivering. For example:
- “yes, a windsurfer will be brought in tomorrow”. Absolute zero availability for our entire stay, though.
- “yes, we can give your family a second room key”, and then later “yes, we’ll re-code the key that doesn’t work”. They never bothered to inform us that this always automatically cancels the first key. Easier for them to just repeatedly pretend.
- “replacement shampoo will be brought to your room”. In the end we gave up, and instead bought our own, because the original single small tube on the first day was not sufficient for 3 people for a week and a half.
- “yes, your excursion operator will be allowed to drive through security”. NOT. They only allow their own excursions through the gate. Talk about petty. Luckily, the operators could instead drive in most of the way on the adjoining dirt beach road.

Other short-comings:
- the Hotel advertises that each guest could use a hobiecat for one hour per day. Unfortunately, they only had one (1) cat available for the entire resort, and it was only available for 5 hours each day … when not broken. There were probably 500 guests – so you do the math. Even if you take a ‘per room’ stance, and even if you factor in that only a portion of the people will want to sail, this is woefully inadequate. An aside: my wife poignantly joked that the resort’s decrepit hobiecat is the exact same unit that she used in the South of France back in the 1960’s.
- IF they had had the advertised windsurfer, then it would have faced the same short-fall.
- if you love cigarette smoke, then this is the resort for you! People smoke everywhere. On the beach, in the theatre, on the pathways in front of you, by the pool, at the bar, in the lounges, and on the balcony below your room. The only area in the entire resort that is designated as non-smoking is a small alcove in the dining hall – but don’t worry, because smokers light up there too with disregard and impunity, and won’t butt-out even when asked to.
- the food was essentially the same every day. All they did was change the flavour ever-so-slightly.
- hot water was anything but hot. I know this is the tropics, but still … Also, water tended to come out as a trickle. Good thing that the shower head hose was too short to actually reach its holder, because I needed to stoop to get enough hydraulic head to get any water.
- the best place to see tropical fish is completely roped off, and only available for short periods if you pay a (notable) fee.
- the gastro-intenstinal problems noted by others also occurred while we were there. Extensively. I get the impression that the problem is perpetual. Bring meds with you.
- for too many of the evening show numbers they degraded the female performers by having them wear bottoms that were unnecessarily skimpy. This was mere crass titillation, not a local cultural norm. And I’m a guy saying this!
- they only had small ‘double’ beds. Sorry, but we expect better than that.
- the ‘spa’ is surrounded by stagnant, stinky ponds. Yuck.
- I witnessed dirty glasses being washed with tap water, and then immediately used again (but at least they seemed to use filtered water for the ice-cubes).
- I witnessed wine bottles being refilled from plastic jugs.

In the spirit of being objective, let me mention the good attributes of the resort:
- it is located in a beautiful region. Try to get a full-day horse ride to easterly Playas Fronton and Madama. We used an outfit that markets on the dirt beach road to town. He looked fly-by-night (and thus we only gave a small deposit). But he did deliver, and at a reasonable $60/person plus tips. Not a pedestrian ride, though; which is actually one of the reasons that we loved it.
- the resort's beach is sandy, and the bay is relatively shallow and pretty. Very safe.
- the Hotel is marketed as a family-friendly resort, and it is. There were a number of families with children under 12 years old, and they all seemed to be happy. Other guests were of a diverse range of ages.
- hotel staff do an excellent job of keeping the ground and beach maintained and clean of garbage and debris (leaves and seaweed). Although quite a number of beach lounge chairs had broken parts, we could usually find a replacement without too much difficulty;
- the entertainment staff work VERY hard to provide a variety of different activities throughout the day; beach volleyball and water aerobics were always well attended. Other daily offerings included archery, badminton, table tennis, croquet, bolles (petanque), and complimentary Spanish lessons. Likewise for the evening performers.
- most of the other hotel staff were friendly and welcoming.
- the nightly disco near the beach was good for young people, or for just hanging around and having an evening drink. But it does close at 2AM;
- if you are a competent swimmer, you can find your own ‘free’ fish by swimming out 300 m from the tip of the west point. Go straight out all the way to where the reef is blocking the crashing waves. You’ll need reef-boots; otherwise it is a very long swim from the main beach.
- the local community of Las Galeras is still largely untainted by tourism. It is within easy walking distance along the beach. Most of the shops are aimed at locals, and only Spanish is spoken. The few tourist shops are relatively non-aggressive, run by locals who speak a little English. But if you do make a purchase, expect to pay more than you would back home, even after you’ve bargained them down from their astronomically high starting price. But at least you are supporting the locals.

John O

Room Tip: Buildings 5 through 8 are newer and the rooms decent, albeit located a smallish, tolerable walk to t...
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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4  Thank John O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2014

We spent 12 days at the Grand Paradise. Upon arrival we found that instead of the Ocean View which we paid extra for, we were given a so called Villa. A villa would resemble your grandfathers cabin on the lake rather dark, poor lighting, a loft that has stairs / ladder, which we were scared to use. One double bed, and two kids beds up in no mans land, and the ocean view was of the kids playground When we returned to the front desk we were in line with many other folks with problems. It turns out this hotel frequently over books, after one day we got our ocean view but if we had not been persistent we like a few other folks would have had to stay in the so called villa. In the new room, the air conditioner took a couple of days to fix, the safe had to be repaired, along with the sink drain. Like others there is no water for a shower in the late afternoon. Trying to find a beach chair during the morning is impossible. I had diarrhea for a day and a half, and my wife had lesser symptoms. We spoke with several others who also had gastro issues during their stay.

The problems with this hotel relate directly to senior management. Over booking, hotel maintenance that's lacking, Staff who need training especially the front desk crew. Food and beverage dept. who need to add precautions so that guests do not become ill.
No we will not be back.

Room Tip: Don't accept a Villa!
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled with family
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4  Thank Caithcart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2014

This was our first time to this resort, we had been to the Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo in Oct. 2013 for 14 days. We absolutely love this area of the Dominican Republic, it is so beautiful. We decided to take another vacation in January 2014, and as this is getting into the high season, we decided to go the GP as the price was perfect. Here are the positive parts of our holiday.
The staff is wonderful, bar, restaurants, activities staff (especially Makiki). He made this a wonderful experience. There was always something to eat (my husband pretty well tries everything, whereas I am a little more cautious). The room was not exceptional but for the amount of time that we spend in our room, it was fine. Our first night there, we could not get our door open. The front desk sent someone up, and because I had left the patio door open a little this gentlemen actually got a ladder, climbed over our balcony and opened the door from the inside. They had to remove it and rehangd it after taking a piece of wood from it. He couldn't have been nicer, he wanted to get up a new room right away, but we had already unpacked and didn't feel like repacking.

The grounds are absolutely beautiful. Our building was next to the main buffet and behind the pools and pool bar.

You have to see the show that the staff put on in the pool, it was amazing, it is on Wednesday.

They have a very interesting mini golf area. We were signed up for the mini golf competition and had a great time. My husband and I actually played mini golf several times during our stay. We also played shuffleboard and they have a games room next to the beach bar, and I attempted to play foozball (not sure of the spelling). Next to this is the Disco and then another bar area, which we learned was the fresh fruit bar, every day in the afternoon they made frest fruit kabobs, they were great and very popular with everyone.

And now for the down side (which did not ruin my vacation, but could be improved upon) Trying to get wine in the buffets was sometimes difficult, it was hit and miss. Trying to get a chair by the pools and on the beach and grassy area was impossible some days (that is if you did not get up at 6:30 and save them with your towels) One day someone had about 12 chairs stacked on top of each other and put two towels on to save them all. Someone actually had brought a chain with a lock and locked their chairs to a palm tree. REALLY!! And of course, there were the usual people who butted in at every line in the buffets (and if you read this review, you will all know who you were) I did not realize that this hotel was built just for you!

But then of course, how do you handle this problems. But there are quick fixes for other problems i.e. pool bar served cappacino in the morning and they had to be made by the bartender, taking a while and those wanting a drink had quite a wait. Other resorts have the machines in other locations so you can make your own. That would be a great idea at this resort.

One of the major problems at this resort was the amount of people that got ill. If there was a party of four, not all of them got ill, maybe one or two. We were lucky, I had a dodgy stomach a couple of mornings, but that happens everywhere I go. It takes my systems a little while to get use to the oils they coook in etc.

But we totally had a good time and the price was perfect. We met some great people from Germany, They have been going to this resort for 9 years at the same time. They were lovely and I miss them.

We would go back to this resort especially if the price was the same. No vacation is perfect but this was pretty close.

John and Marian, Ridgetown

Room Tip: Our room was 4211, it was close to everything. We were on the second floor and we liked it.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Marian P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2014

We went too the GPS from January 31st too february 7th and we flew with Air Canada. The flight was uneventful and we arrived on time in Samana. The bus ride, 90 minutes which gave us a chance too see the countryside on the way too the resort. Joel , the AC rep did the orientation and we got "checked in" on the way too the resort on the bus, which was awesome! meant we got to go to our rooms direct from the bus and you could come back to the front desk later too get your towel cards and safe key.
The Rooms - we were quite pleased with our room, it was clean and spacious and we really liked the beds and the pillows. The beds are doubles which are a little small but we made do easily. We did go two days without a shower and as the resort was at capacity we knew it could take some time to get fixed. Day 3 they fixed it and then we were able too shower. best time too shower is in the morning as at dinner time there was very little pressure and very little hot water. Our AC worked really well!! the room was always cool enough! we had the oceanview room and we enjoyed sitting on our balcony listening too the ocean. Our maid was excellent and our room was always clean and we had some flowers added on some occasions! We tipped $3 daily.
The beach was beautiful!!! sometimes it was hard too find a beach chair but we always managed too get one. there were a few broken chairs on the beach that the resort should replace. The ocean was lovely and we swam in it often. the grounds staff worked hard at raking the seaweed on a daily basis and it was never an issue for us.
The food - we were always able too find something too eat. We had good luck at the italian ala carte and enjoyed our meal there as well. we did also buy a bottle of wine there, cost of $16 US, and it was a very nice red. We did not try the seascape as my hubby doesnt like seafood at all.
we did get an invitation to a beach bbq which we thoroughly enjoyed!! there was chicken and steak and lobster and it was delicious!!!!
We found majority of the staff to be very friendly and helpful. Nina was very helpful and friendly to us and always had a smile on her face! We did however feel that there is a need for more staff in the dining areas.
There was also some gastrointestinal virus going through the resort at warp speed when we were there. we met many people that were sick however we didn't feel that it was anything too do with the resort or the food and that it was more likely a virus that was being spread. And when you see some of the guests taking food items and then putting them back on the buffet or using their hands to take a pinch of salt for their eggs it makes you realize how easily a virus could spread and it did. We thankfully didn't get sick and the resort was working hard at trying to stop the spread of it by putting up signs requesting people wash their hands and also passing out hand sanitizer in the buffets.
The pools - we only used the adult quiet pool a couple of days as we are beach lovers but it was very nice and we really enjoyed it. the put snacks out in the afternoon and we LOVED the fresh fruit skewers that you could get at the beach bar and the adult pool bar, they were a really nice addition. It was a little difficult too find a lounge chair at either of the pools though as there werent very many available too start with.
We walked to town 3 times. And of course two of those times it was too have a burrito at the "End of the Road" ...they were the best burritos we have ever had!!!! so good! Diane from TDA dive adventures and End of the Road helped us to get a reservation at the El Cabito restaurant. we thoroughly enjoyed the view and the seafood that we had there. was quite the experience! thanks again Diane, we miss you!
We stopped at the beach bar on our way back from town for a beer and too use the wifi but it was down every time that we were there. We did not do any excursions this time as all we wanted to do was relax and unwind, which we accomplished!!! the only bad thing is that we had to come home before we were ready too.!
We met some great people on our vacation as well, miss them all!!
Overall we feel that for what we paid for this vacation we definitely did ok!!! Would we go back? yes for the right price we sure would!

Room Tip: Room 1255 is oceanview , close too the beach and very quiet!
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank needingsun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2014

My family and I stayed from Jan 27-Feb 2. My aunt had booked 3 rooms with an ocean view. When we arrived, however, we were told that my fiancé and I were put in the same room as my parents! When we told them that we paid for three rooms, they said "it's ok because we gave you a villa." And when we told them we weren't interested in villa and we wanted our own room, the staff were extremely unhelpful. They actually tried to blame us!! Telling us that WE must have done something wrong or booked incorrectly. It wasn't until after intense arguing they admitted that they overbooked. Mind you we booked this trip 3 months in advance. They offered to bus us to another hotel (which was over a half hour away) and bus us back to Grand Paradise daily so we could eat and go to the beach. After 3 hours they finally found another room for us. This "villa" we were given was anything but. It had a queen bed on the lower level, and two single beds in the loft area. Note this was where they wanted my fiancé and I to stay with my parents. I don't know about you, but nothing says privacy like bunking with mom and dad. Also, this "villa" had an air conditioning unit that would short out and cause all the electricity in the room to go out. I called 4 times over the course of 12 hours before someone FINALLY came to fix it. 12 hours with no electricity. Oh and did I mention the toilet didn't flush? We were not the only guests with problems. EVERY guest we talked to had their own horror story from no hot water to being charged over $50 for a phone call when they were told it would only cost $15. What bothered me the most was that the front desk staff and manager were COMPLETELY unhelpful or sympathetic to ours or anyone's situation. And they absolutely REFUSED to take ANY responsibility for anything. They blamed the guests, which is just disgusting. "You heard me wrong, I never said that" or "you never called to have something fixed. Maybe you dialed wrong" No sense of urgency from anyone on staff. Oh, you have no electricity in your room? That's ok, we'll send someone when we feel like it. Also, several guests (my uncle included) became extremely sick during their stay. The ONLY positive was the beach. The grounds and beach are absolutely beautiful. If your looking for a place to relax and de-stress, this is NOT the place to stay.

  • Stayed: January 2014
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5  Thank Pfurtado214
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Grand Paradise Samana

Address: Las Galeras, Dominican Republic (Formerly Casa Marina Bay)
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Samana Province > Las Galeras
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Las Galeras
Price Range: $101 - $700 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Grand Paradise Samana 3*
Number of rooms: 420
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Grand Paradise Samana Hotel Las Galeras
Casa Marina Bay
Grand Paradise Samana Las Galeras
Grand Paradise Samana Dominican Republic

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