Group We were a group of 7 friends and we stayed there for one week.
Check-in (and check-out) went very well. The very nice check-in people spoke French (that surprised me!), English and of course Spanish.
Very nice and clean. Very big complex. Very nice curb appeal.
Previous reviews were unrealistic. This is a hotel in a very humid third-world country. Some complaints were ridiculous about quality of rooms, etc. If you want Marriot quality like in the States or Canada, go and stay there. The rooms were clean, simple and had no bugs, no problems with locking the patio or front doors (as was reported in earlier reviews). No mini-fridge as reported in the publicity, however, just ask for one and they’ll deliver it. We had some mildew in the bathroom over the tub and around the fan (yuck!). Bring your shampoo and personal hygiene items. The shampoo was terrible and no conditioner was available. I have an unruly lion’s mane, so I need the good stuff!
Restaurants and Bars
One buffet restaurant and three à-la-carte restaurants (Italian, Mexican and Dominican). We ate quite well at all three à-la-carte restaurants. I L-O-V-E-D the Mexican. What I liked very much at this hotel was that you did not have to wait in line in the morning to reserve in advance your seats in the à-la-carte restaurants. First arrived first served. Also, in the evening, even though there was a dress code at the à-la-carte restaurants, it was not really enforced, except if you wear gym clothes, then you’ll get turned away. There are plenty of bars for everyone around the grounds. For the price of the hotel , I was impressed that the drinks were not watered down and, with tips, almost no juice at all! (lol)
This is where the glitch was for me. The food was okay but not great. There was not enough variety, same four condiments/salads at lunch and dinner at the buffet restaurant every day, very limited choice in hot foods, very repetitious, I am not a meat stew eater with thick greasy sauce (there were a lot of stews) [this is why it is not a 4* for me]. However, at the grill of the main buffet restaurant (where they cook the eggs in the morning), there was great fish (if you like fish) and sometimes okay meat (way way too cooked for me; even if you asked rare or medium-rare, they still didn’t get it right). The pasta bar was great: two to three choices of sauces for the pasta. I’m a picky eater, but I did not go hungry. I did manage to find something to eat. Warning: Everything is very salty. Taste before adding salt!
The food was the main complaint in my group and seemed to be the general consensus with those with whom we spoke. I don’t drink wine, however, my companions told me that the house wine was "disgusting" (quote-unquote).
By the way, the WATER on the hotel site is ABSOLUTELY SAFE; not the one in the rooms though, as is very well explained in the bathrooms… they do provide you with 1 to 2 bottles each day in the rooms. The vegetables, salads, etc. are washed with filtered water. I usually get a little sick on any trip and I did not get sick here… Over the past few years, the management of these types of hotels put a lot of effort into making their premises safe for the tourists. I cannot complain about that. Beach/Pools/Grounds Beautiful grounds, well maintained, no bugs. Nice beach, it is kept clean of algea in front of the hotel, however, it gets messy when leaving the general area of the hotel until the next hotel. Long beaches to walk on. Beautiful picture spots. The water is not cristal clear like in Cuba or not as turquoise but it was okay. The pools are fine, one for activities and two for relaxing. I did not use the pool(s), I was there for the beach, the ocean and the palm trees.
Like I said, not even a bug in the room. Very few on the beach. I am painfully allergic to the sandfly’s bite, however, there were none there. I saw a few critters here and there in the evening, they don’t bother you if you don’t bother them.
Activities on and off the Resort
Plenty of organized activities on the grounds… We played volleyball and baseball. There were aerobics classes both in and outside the water at different times in the day, yoga, etc. There were also various group games organized on the beach.
My friends took the Catamaran and snorkeling tour to Samala (I think) Island and said it was not worth the price they paid but said it was okay. I took the dune-buggy tour which takes you into the local sugarcane plantations and small villages for several hours. Sadly, in my opinion, it is not a real dune-buggy and more like a go-kart with big wheels. It was a fun and VERY BUMPY ride, even with the odd vehicle. Bring swimming goggles to cover your eyes, as the sunglasses they provide you DO NOT protect adequately from the dust emanating from the dune-buggy in from of you!
Some were good, some were bad… it’s a matter of personal taste. Disco: We went there in the hopes to dance the Merengue, Salsa, Bachata… but there was only the pop/dance/hip hop music that the teens seem to enjoy so much… nothing for us 40-year-olds! The DJ was kind enough, upon request, to give us a few latin songs, but it did not last very long.
There is a small street separating the hotel grounds in two and there are plenty of gift shops. The prices are great. I was impressed with the quality of the jewelry and the T-shirts. Worth it. Note: You WILL be harassed by vendors on the beach. If you’re not interested, just say no thank you and they go away. However, they sell nice things, and if you’re interested, do bargain. It’s fun.
Service was terrible, even with tipping. There is one speed and it is "very slow". I understand we’re on vacation but there’s a limit. I am not complaining about attitude, they work hard, however, the clearing away of tables at the buffet was inadequate and slow… there were bizarre mix-ups at the Italian restaurant… whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner, we would run out of certain items and their reaction time was inadequate or sometimes nonexistent (in my opinion).
I did not notice if here is one, I don’t think so; I did not see activities with kids.
I do recommend this hotel if you’re not a picky eater. I do not recommend it for a two-week stay because of the food. It is a nice and clean hotel, very well-kept grounds, clean rooms, clean beach.