Arrival: January 2009: My husband and I stayed at the Oasis Hamaca for one week in January 2009. I meant to write a report as soon as I got home but other things came along. Still I want to write so here it is:
Based on the bad reports I saw on the web page before going (my husband booked the trip on a last minute thing) I was not expecting anything nice. In fact I expected things so bad I took toilet paper, bottled water, mosquito repellent, mice traps, tapes for leaking plumbing, soaps, towels and canned food!. Let me tell you right now, I would be happy to go again and probably will. So this review is for those who want to hear some good things about Oasis Hamaca (in addition to things that were, well not so good).
Arrival: My husband and I arrived on different aircraft from different Canada cities. I travelled to the resort by bus from Punta Cana while my husband landed in the Santo Domingo airport only 20 minutes away from the resort. I was tired after the 5 hour trip by bus and arrived at 4p.m. My husband arrived well past 11 p.m.. My trip by bus was great! Got to see the country side and we stopped at little road-side shops for food, drinks and washroom breaks. Of the people on the bus with me, my stop was last. Therefore I also got to see all the other resorts where passengers were getting off at. I was impressed with most of them and thought "Oh golly my place is going to be awful in comparison!" I struck conversations with some of the people on the bus and we agreed we would share our experiences on our way back. The drivers were very nice. On arrival to the Oasis Hamaca I got a room right away. I found the front desk busy but it was fine, the staff friendly. The place was clean and there were wonderful fresh flowers in the main entrance.
The staff had given me "two keys" and said they would notify my husband that I have his key. They would also phone me to let me know he had arrived. Imagine my surprise when my husband arrived and opened the door with a "third key" and I was never notified that he had arrived! Which means if there ever was another kind of mix-up a stranger could get a key to my room without checking with me that it was ok? Not good.
I was disappointed that our room was in the older section of the resort, over looking the garden with the pool on the opposite side. I could tell there were better rooms in the newer part by the beach. But, having travelled to so many poor countries in the past this was not a hotel that ranked as the worst I’ve seen. We decided not to pay the extra money for an up-grade. Our window was not closing well so the place was full of mosquitoes. We were prepared for them so the next night was all well. The staff managed to fix the window the second day of our stay. Our disappointment with the room included three things: no key to the safety box–there is a chronic shortage of keys. We waited 3 days to get one. Although I signed an agreement form about how many free drinks I could have from the in-room fridge there was no in-room fridge on my arrival. Finally got one but I had to wait in the room for it and it took 3 hours. The TV was broken so I waited for it to be replaced as well. I waited the same 3 hours for both TV and fridge. I missed supper because of the waiting. The cleaning staff were very nice and each day the beds were made up and fresh flowers placed on my pillow. Nice touch!
Restaurants and Bars: "The food was tremendous and bountiful. The vegetables and fruits were fantastic, not to mention the freshly baked breads and desserts. The Bars were GREAT! The Bartenders were all attentive and innovative with drinks. "
I agree 100% with those statements written by someone else on a previous report. Only to add that the food in the Italian restaurant was sumptuous! The Dominican food was very good too. We did not like the Mexican restaurant’s food but loved the ambiance! We did not need to go any outside restaurants nor did we go to the Fish restaurant on the beach. This was no so much to save money, as that restaurant is not part of the all inclusive, as to the fact that I didn’t want to eat fish. We enjoyed the piano player in the evenings in the bar/lobby off the two restaurants, the Dominican and the Italian. Wonderful views towards the beach!
The Beach, Pools and the Grounds were extremely clean and beautiful. We enjoyed our walks in the evening and it was a pleasure to stroll in the gardens to the restaurants for lunch and dinner. The Olympic size pool on the beach was hardly ever used so we were so happy to frolic and swim without any interruption from kids. The best advice I took from previous reviewers was to take my own towels. I’m glad I did. There was a towel shortage at the beach and people were hanging on to theirs with special care but was it a chronic problem and all the time? No. The weekends were a problem possibly because some patrons were there only for the weekend. There was construction next door and this was very close to the pool but that did not bother us at all. The pool in the garden was beautiful and we enjoyed reading books by the side and swimming up to the bar for drinks. The place is clean!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We took two tours. One to the capital–city tour which I highly recommend for anyone who has a sense of history and loves to explore other cultures. The facts about Columbus are not correct but we have found that each country likes to embellish their facts to make tourists think they are in very important spots. For example we visited the sight of Columbus’s burial. Well, anyone who cares to read history knows that nobody knows where Columbus was buried. Spain claims to have him, Italy claims to have him, etc. He for sure is not buried in the towering mausoleum in the Dominican! However, it is a place to which many countries contributed to mark the historical significance of the European landing. Worth a visit. We however were not given a tour of the inside of this massive building, a pity. We visited a museum in the capital but only saw the first floor of it. I for one was very disappointed this was a great opportunity to see what the Dominican’s saved and what they treasure. On the tour we were taken to a local restaurant and saw a dance performed by local dancers, at one point a women dancing on the top of a wine bottle. Unbelievable! Something to see. The food was standard "tour" fare, spaghetti and meat balls and salad. Nobody got sick. The second tour was into the countryside. We signed up because we have been to Coffee Farms in Costa Rica and wanted to compare. This was a disappointment because the "Coffee Plantation" we were taken to on this Dominican tour consisted of one coffee bush. Our tour of a sugar cane farm consisted of being driven to the sugar cane field, a fellow chopped off a piece of cane and asked us to taste it. The highlights of the tour were: a trip to the most beautiful waterfall where everyone could go for a dip. Also we visited a school and children in grade 5. Very insightful. I wish I had had the presence of mind to have taken some school supplies with me, they would have been appreciated. If you plan on going take some candy. Kids are by the rad side and beg for treats. We were taken to a German restaurant in the bush at the end of our tour. The place was great. The owner considers himself a Picasso painter and his art work in the jungle creates a really great place for a restaurant. The whole place is built using beer bottles, chrisom blue in colour. When the light shines it gives off nice flows of light among the banana tree leaves. The tour participants were taught how to roll a cigar. Interesting procedure even if one is a non-smoker. Washroom was surprisingly clean but don’t eat the food! At least don’t eat the salads. I did not eat the salad and was fine, my husband had stomach problems for the next two days. I recommend the tour, money well spent. I also wish to add that both of our tour guides told us that Oasis Hamaca IS the BEST resort near Santo Domingo.
We also walked in the Boca Chica. Lovely place. We had no problems with anyone trying to sell us drugs or anything else. As in all foreign places we don’t stray into off-roads from the main arteries. That is only common sense.
Other Comments: Apart from bringing the towels and mosquito repellent I would also recommend that before going people should invest in immunization fit for the travel. This has nothing to do with the resort but the economy and geography of the country. On my way back from the holiday I met up with most of my former bus companions. It turns out that 3 young man left their resort because of food illness. And one couple were ASKED to move because their resort was having water problems. (The one they were up-graded to turned out bad too.) I also met a wedding party from Ottawa Canada that also travelled with me on the plane and they all got sick at their resort in Punta Cana. So, in comparison, I think I had a great trip, loved it and will recommend to our children to go there. Possibly we will return too. Most likely, if we go, we will up-grade the room. I would say those that are complaining a lot about this resort are either very rich or new to travel and expect "4 star" hotels in other countries to mean the same thing as what 4 star hotels mean in the US,Canada or some Western European countries. It may also just come down to luck. Many of our friends love Costa Rica but we will never travel there again because our experience was too disappointing.
Two additional comments: the wine choices in the restaurants at Oasis Hamaca was magnificent and cheap! We tipped all servers even though this was not required. They need to go home and live some not just watch us having a good time!