Debbie's Personal Resort Reviews – Caribbean Travel Reviews

The staff, grounds and beach save the hotel.
Hotel Barcelo Bavaro Palace
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Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Apr 1, 2010
At the start of my Dominican Republic trip, I decide to stay one night at the super sized Barcelo Palace Hotel. My cab driver Carlo charges 1000 Dominican Peso’s ($ 28 US) for the ride from Punta Cana airport to the Barcelo Palace Hotel. One hour after landing I enter the Barcelo Palace lobby. It is the Friday before Easter and the hotel is filled up to the brim. It has not been easy to get a one-night reservation for a single room ( I am a women travelling on my own) since hotels in Punta Cana avoid this kind of bookings.

My room, # 6029, does not feature a frontal ocean view but thankfully I can see the Ocean from my terrace on the ground floor. Very refreshing after plowing through a nasty winter. Still I cannot deny feeling slightly depressed this first night of my DR arrival. This might have something to do with my 10-hour flight or the fact that I am not a huge fan of all inclusive vacation resorts. Having said that, I always felt quite all right staying in Melia (Paradisus) resorts elsewhere. Maybe I feel this way because from the first moment onwards, the Barcelo Palace comes across like a resort where routine reigns. I suppose that to some extend this is normal, but I feel more processed rather than welcomed.

Check-in:
Despite it is the Easter weekend, there is only one gentleman in front of me at time of check in and after 30 minutes I am walking with a porter to my room # 29 in building six. It is not easy at all to get the porter to leave my room and although I have plenty of experience travelling in the Caribbean, I feel slightly uncomfortable with this pushy male in my room.
Room:
My room is big, has a tile floor en smells moldy. Like always I look underneath my bed, here I discover lots of piled up dust. The bathroom also looks like it has been cleaned in 30 seconds. The mattress cover and curtains don’t look fresh, towels are old, the soap dispenser is dirty and needs replacement, the poster on the wall is way to small for the size of its frame and the base of the large standing light is rusting as are the two iron chairs and table on the terrace. Time doesn’t take it easy on most of everything. The airco also has its routine as it kicks in every half hour with a noise that in combination with the disco nearby guarantees a sleepless night. The television channels come in fuzzy and the sound of TV is almost as awful as that of the airco. I always wonder:" Why do hotel rooms always have so little outlets available for the time you want to plug in your laptop ?" Well you get it, the room is a total disaster but to be fair I have to mention it is also sunny and the water pressure of the shower is ok. The bed is also nice and big and the safety chain on the door is a feature, which I, being a woman travelling “solo”, highly appreciate.

The minibar holds two beers, Coca Cola (light and regular!), a large bottle of water and some other types of soft drinks. There is an ice bucket available but this is of no use to me since the ice compartment ironically needs to be de-iced before it can become functional again.

Grounds:
The wide beach is nothing less than spectacular; white powder sand, palm trees and of course a marvelous blue sea. Lots of loungers too! The surrounding grounds are kept up perfectly by gardeners who are picking up leaves, pruning trees and harvest the coconuts just before they might fall on someone’s head. I see some little birds flying up and down with twigs, building their nests high up in the palm tree. Evidently spring also has arrived here.

The pathways towards the beach, restaurants, lobby and rooms gently wind through a landscape made up by lush vegetation and a vast number of palm trees. Nicely done!

Restaurants:
During the check-in process, I learned about the various restaurants of Barcelo Palace. One is closed which seems awkward during the busy Easter weekend. I can imagine that once you arrive for the first time in a large resort like this one, you feel kind of overwhelmed by all the (restaurants) choices, which are at your disposal; at least that happened to me. I decided therefore to hit the lobby bar first. The white wine is inelegantly poured out of an, also super sized, plastic bottle. After sitting down at one of the small tables, a friendly waitress offers me some bite size sandwiches decorated with combinations of cheese, tomato, ham, chorizo and some kind of caviar. Nicely and not so nicely dressed families pass me by on way to the restaurants which all are located nearby the pool. After my drink, I also decide to find out which restaurant can offer me a relaxed and quiet table to eat. The French restaurant Chez Palace is non-smoking en does not look cozy at all due to way to much white light. The menu displayed at the entrance looks attractive to me but “ambience” is more important to me. I move on to the buffet, which many families with children seem to prefer and where the noise level on a scale from 1-10 is about eleven. After crossing the small bridge over the swimming pool I find a nice, small restaurant with a large number of folks waiting outside for a table. Not exactly what I planned to do so I move on to the Dominican Restaurant around the corner, which hugs the beach and offers local specialties. I like this! The restaurant is not busy at all; this might have something to do with the fact that many visitors are unfamiliar with the dishes explained on the menu and their Caribbean ingredients. Local food is local, so I pick Yucca Soup, rice, beans in a special sauce, fried chicken pieces and fried banana. My desert consists of a popular traditional sweet made from condensed milk with a caramel topping, which is called “flan”. All in all I enjoy a great meal although I have my doubts if the red house wine has not been watered down;)

Breakfast in the buffet restaurant is just fine. Lots of choices, friendly staff, fast and good service and fresh squeezed juices made from fruits of my choice.

Activities:
Because I only stay here one night and I have to confront the inevitable jetlag, I skip the evening show and go to sleep right after dinner. In the lobby I did see an activities board with lots of options and two desks with representatives where you can book off-resort excursions as well as various information desks.
Pool:
Way to small! Especially when the hotel is packed!
Internet:
In these modern times I think that it is a rip-off when hotels charge you for Wi-Fi. This should be a standard service! Internet costs at the Barcelo Palace run from $5 US for 15 minutes using one of the 4 PC’s in the lobby to $ 60 US for Wi-Fi, which covers the whole complex, on your laptop.
Other comments:
I imagined the Barcelo Palace to be much more luxurious, offering services of a much higher level. In my opinion this is a commercial tourist factory, lacking a sense of romanticism, a place where they forget to enhance the experience of staying on a truly fantastic beach. Maybe a new management with a fresh approach could bring a much-needed change and couple a brilliant location with a superb resort experience.
Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/debbiescrr/sets/72157623644791755/
Coming Home
Hotel Atarazana
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Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Apr 1, 2010 | Business | Solo Traveller
After a 3-hour journey with Miguel, my driver, which originated from the uninspiring resort destination Punta Cana, I arrive at Hotel Atarazana, located in the outstanding Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo.
Hotel:
Hotel Atarazana feels like a breath of fresh air on a hot summer’s day when you prefer a hotel with a personal touch to a “business is obvious” all-inclusive resort.

Hotel Atarazana offers 6 beautiful adorned rooms, all with balcony although some are slightly larger than others. Berny, one of the two German owners of the property, an architect of origin, puts all his creative energy into the decoration of this beautiful boutique hotel in the historical heart of Santo Domingo while his business partner Susanna takes on the tasks of host and manager.

Service:
One of nice features of a boutique hotel is an often-outstanding service, which surpasses those of 5 star business hotels or all-inclusive resort chains. Hotel Atarazana offers her guests an unsurpassed experience making one feel comfortable and looked after. The hotel further provokes associations with a superb bed and breakfast fused with an Asian “Zen” environment…. tranquility and stability. Wi-Fi Internet is free of charge, the front door opens by entering a numerical code and a cozy spa offers a variety of treatments performed by happy and friendly personnel.

You won’t be surprised when I tell you I felt truly at home. I even became more aware of this fact when I caught myself walking bare feet down the stairs.

Grounds:
Due to its location it is hard to expand on “the grounds” of the hotel other than saying it has a nice and sunny patio with tall tropical flowers and plants and a waterfall, originating from a high wall, that pours into pond with tropical fish. A delicious breakfast is being served daily on this patio.
Room:
My (single) room is situated at the front and first floor of the building. Like all rooms the ceilings are high which allows the room to stay cooler. Of course there is an airconditioner available and in case you don’t like these machines you can opt for a ceiling fan instead. De bathrooms, with a shower, toilet, cupboard for your clothes and a safe are nicely stylized as well. On my bed I find a natural silk coverlet and two nicely filled pillows. At night I leave the doors of my balcony open because I prefer the fresh natural air to a cold airco. For added safety you can close and lock the iron- gate, which is mounted in front of the balcony doors. This prevents anything but air from entering your room.
Restaurant:
Hotel Aarazana offers bed and breakfast but the owners Susanna and Berny will be more than happy to serve up suggestions on where to go for lunch and dinner.
Other comments:
This boutique hotel offers style and personal attention. Therefore I call it my home from home in Santo Domingo!
Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/debbiescrr/sets/72157623661929155/
Hotel Moka, one of Cuba’s finest.
Hotel Moka
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Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Mar 1, 2010
It took us about one hour to drive from the heart of the city of Havana to hotel Moka located in and overlooking the community of las Terrazas. The hotel is literally built around a huge living tree which is just one of the outstanding features of this eco-friendly hotel.
Our room offers all the comfort you might expect from a 4 star hotel like good firm beds, a safety-deposit box, a mini fridge filled with (moderately priced) alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages and a hairdryer. What makes hotel Moka truly unique becomes clear the moment we open our balcony doors. Through the treetops we look upon the las Terrazas community and her surroundings. The blue sky, tree covered hills, lush vegetation, manmade lake and winding pathways that connect the white houses and apartments with red stone tile roofs, are all captured in one real life view featuring an exaggerated sense of perspective. This is about the same view that you will enjoy while taking a shower or bath since the entire bathroom wall is made of glass. Fantastic! It is like taking a shower in a tree house. We passed by the swimming pool and tennis court. Though we did not make use of these facilities, both looked fine. Our original plan was to find a guide who could accompany us on an afternoon walk tough no one was available. We decided to find our own path and climbed yet another hill following sporadic yellow arrows, which apart from suggesting a direction, did not offer us any clue to where we were heading. Our parents age 75 and 80 just followed while enjoying the trees, minding their steps and fending off the viciously biting flying insects. After hiking for about two hours we arrived at a sign with 4 yellow arrows pointing at all possible directions, prompting us to trace back our steps rather than taking further changes. After “sweating it” for a while, we were glad to see the village again. Next time I will probably avoid this “go with the flow” approach, having said that, my parents really liked the adventure. For dinner we decided going to Fonda de Mercedes, down the (long) stairs from the hotel into the community, where we enjoyed straightforward yet extra tasty Cuban food and a bottle of red wine. The small hotel bar was a big surprise too! We were entertained by a group of outstanding musicians while the genuine fun, appreciative and participative audience perfected an already fantastic atmosphere. The mojito’s and margaritas, prepared by the professional and friendly bartender, were not cheap but excellent. We all went to sleep happy! The next day a satisfying breakfast was served in the restaurant of the hotel. We met up with friends and visited the former house of Polo Montañez, one of Cuba’s most celebrated musicians whose music and sudden rise from poverty into stardom captivated the hearts and imagination of many Cubans. He died in a car accident back in 2002. The house now functions as a museum and Polo’s brother is curator. Before returning to the capital we enjoyed an elaborate lunch at the renowned vegetarian restaurant El Romero, a must for vegetarians and a culinary discovery for those of us who are not.

Our 30-hour stay in las Terrazas and hotel Moka was an all-round 5 star experience.

Top location for your stay in Bonaire
Hotel Eden Beach Resort
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Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Jan 1, 2010 | Business | With Spouse/Partner
Here we go ….
Your Arrival
We arrived by KLM flight at 4:30 am, check in was fast and easy, a very nice Spanish talking Dominican man at the open air reception helped us with our suitecases to the top floor (second) of the accommodations building. We booked the 1 bedroom apartment. Since it was still dark and we were tired because of the long flight we took a nap until 7:00 am … the sun came up 🙂
Rooms
The one bedroom apartments at Eden Beach Resort have been nicely refurbished. It has a seperated kitchen with cooker, fridge, coffeemaker, a small bar to have you meal if you want eating inside but who cares because outside it is 30C degrees. The bedroom, which was big enough, has a huge kingsize bed, new airconditioning, closet, satelite TV, telephone. The bathroom also from a good normal size has a big walk-in shower. Now the best … a spacious balcony with beach and ocean view with 2 sunbeds, 2 chairs and a table. Nothing to complain about. Daily the maid cleaned our room and even did our dishes, perfect

… oh … wireless internet for free … and FAST!

Restaurants and Bars
Well … this was at the moment we were here a bit of a problem, that will say, the restaurant was. First the bar: The (beach)bar was fine, hardworking funny girls who might need a manager to teach them some details on how to treat your guests but still, good girls. We thought some drinks were expensive, I find a smoothy coming from a package for 5 USD is too much, a hamburger for 10 USD is rediculous. But it did not keep us from drinking a capuchino in the morning nice cold beer and some white wine. Restaurant: This is the only negative point of Eden Beach, but what I have understand from the charming Venezoelan owner not for long, since they are in negotiating with one of the best restaurants on the island to lease the catering from the hotel. If this will be true then Eden Beach will be THE place to stay at Bonaire. For now … the manager from the catering just don’t get it, he offers one kind of breakfast, there is no a la carte, he just tells what he has which is not much. It’s a shame because the restaurant is an open two-story ranchon/palapa with a stunning seaview. Lets not talk about it any further because soon it will be better as promissed

All was solved soon enough because Bonaire has so many really outstanding restaurants like It Rains Fishes, Unbelievable, la Barca, Bambu, Sense, La Guernica … too much to handle 🙂

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool: Small and could be improved, first things first because Eden Beach Resort is still busy with reconstruction of the last apartments/hotelrooms. Beach: Bonaire does not have many beach options and Eden Beach has one of the best. Not too big but big enough and a lovely view on Klein Bonaire. For snorkle addicts, you can walk right off the beach into the sea and you are in the middle of the aquarium of a Chinees restaurant, unbelievable colored and so many fish. They have enough sunbeds which costs for non-hotel guests 5 USD per day but free when you stay at Eden Beach Resort.

Kralendijk, the center of Bonaire, has a few times per week visitors from cruiseships, some of these tourists who want to go to the beach are dropped of by taxi’s at Eden Beach, nothing to be worry about, it is just a little bussier and at 4:00 pm they are all gone again back to the ship.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Scuba Diving: The diving school Wannadive is at the same location as Eden Beach and have their facilities and a small dock in front of the beach, very relaxed for divers. It might be handy to rent a scooter or car when you visit Bonaire. When you do not dive and don’t have to carry a lot of stuff a scooter is enough since Bonaire is a small island.

Visit Sorobon beach, the donkey sanctuary, Slagbaai natural area, Klein Bonaire, snorkle, dive, dine … to much to mention in this review. I will write about all things to do, tours and excursions in Bonaire at other pages at Debbie’s website

Other Comments
Eden Beach Resort in the past had some bad reviews, I must say honestly, I was keeping my breath when we arrived at the hotel because of these reviews, and expected nothing … I was pleasently surprised and find Eden Beach a nice, good, three star hotel with honest, hard working, enthousiast personel, who just had some rough years and have made some wrong dicisions who they now regret. Soon people will fight for a night at The Eden Beach Resort … if I may believe the manager 😉

Four Debbie-Flowers from me, next time five ok? Because I love Bonaire and will be back

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=139553&id=143616623808
* We really liked this hotel
Hotel Majestic Colonial Punta Cana
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Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Dec 1, 2008
December 2006 and December 2008

I originally wrote this review in December 2006. We stayed at Majestic Colonial for 5 days in November 2008, as a result of which I have updated some of the information in this review.

Arrival
Our second week in Punta Cana was at Majestic Colonial, a $15.00 cab ride away from Palma Real.. Majestic Colonial is located immediately south of Grand Paradise Bavaro. (November 2008 – the new Majestic Elegance is right next door to Majestic Colonial). It is about 30 minutes from Punta Cana Airport, 90 minutes from La Romana Airport, and 3-1/2 hours from Santo Domingo Airport. As you enter the hotel the front desk is located to the left, guest services and the lobby bar and seating is located to the right. There is a staircase down to the ground level, also a glass panel elevator. Checkin was quick, we received our wristbands and an information package consisting of two room keys (don’t lose them or they’ll charge you $90.00), a map of the resort and information regarding the resort restaurants and facilities, and then the bellboy took us to our room. The rooms at Majestic are beautiful, large and nicely decorated. We were in a second floor Oceanfront Junior Suite, steps from the pool and beach. The room had a king-size bed, a Jacuzzi tub, walk-in shower with a glass door and separate toilet stall with glass door, 2 double sinks. We always had hot water. The living area had a sofabed, desk, and coffee table. The room is open concept, ie there is no division or privacy between the Jacuzzi tub and the rest of the room, which could be a problem for families staying in one room. It looks beautiful, but it would be nice if they could add a curtain or blinds that could be put down to afford some privacy when using the tub. Amenities in the bathroom included a basket with shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, sewing kit, shower cap, comb, shoeshine sponge, Kleenex. There is also a makeup mirror and hair dryer. In the closet you will find lots of shelves and space for your clothes. There are also 3-drawer nightstands to put things in. Don’t put your things in the cupboard closest to the door. This is a room service unit that can be accessed by staff from the outside to deliver room service orders or collect dishes and laundry. In the closet there is an electronic safe (included), big enough to hold a laptop. I have a 15.4” widescreen and it fit just fine, you just have to put it in vertically on an angle and prop it up at the back of the safe. Bathrobes and slippers, along with an iron and ironing board, are in the closet. Glasses and a bottle of champagne awaited us, and later they brought a small bottle of rum. All guests receive a bottle of champagne in their room on arrival, the bottle of rum or whisky is in the upgraded rooms and suites only. Two bath towels and two hand towels are provided (plus you get two extra towels if you are lucky enough to get swans). Facecloths were kind of hit and miss, some days we had them and other days we didn’t. I had brought one from home, though, so it didn’t really matter. We had 4 pillows in our room. Two were flat and lumpy, two were just flat. I do understand they have ordered new pillows. The room had a phone, and TV with North American, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and South American channels. (They get CNN). Air-conditioning worked well, and there was also a ceiling fan. The minibar was replenished daily, and contained 2 beer, 4 pop (they had Diet Pepsi), and 4 bottles of water, along with 2 chocolate bars. Bottled water is also readily available at all the bars.

There were plastic chairs and a table on the patio, mid-week these were replaced with brand new aluminum chairs. November 2008 – we had a ground-floor Junior Suite this time, I like the upper floors better.

Room Descriptions
All of the Junior Suites at Majestic are the same. size. Upgrades are related to location or whether they have an outdoor Jacuzzi or larger terrace. Following is a list of the various junior suites and suites available. Standard Junior Suite – 538 square feet Contains one King or two double beds, Colonial style furniture, Full bathroom with jacuzzi tub, walk-in shower, hair dryer, ironing board and iron, bathrobe and slippers, air conditioning, ceiling fan, satellite TV, direct phone line ($), Hi-speed internet connection ($), Room Service ($), free minibar restocked daily, free safety deposit box, separate door for room service, desk and sofa in living area, balcony or terrace with table and 2 chairs. pool or garden view. Maximum occupancy – 2 adults and 2 children or 3 adults. Majestic Junior Suite – 538 square feet Same as Standard Junior Suite on interior, with the following extras: Outdoor Jacuzzi located on terrace, private garden area with direct access to swimming pool, all located on ground floor, two lounge chairs in garden area. No children allowed in these rooms, adults only. Maximum occupancy 2 adults (The terrace for these rooms is private in that there is no path in front of you so nobody can walk by, but people sitting around the pool have a clear view of these rooms. Maybe when the gardens grow a little bit more it will be more private. It would be nice if a lattice of some kind was put up in front of the outdoor Jacuzzi to give privacy – I don’t think they’re used too often.) Colonial Junior Suite – 538 square feet Same as standard junior suite on interior, with the following extras: Outdoor Jacuzzi on private terrace, rooms located on 2nd and 3rd floors, pool or garden view. No children allowed in these rooms, only for adults. Maximum occupancy 2 adults. (Third floor Colonial Junior Suites are nice, they have vaulted ceilings) Majestic Suite – 1,076 square feet One bedroom suite with two separate areas, living room and bedroom, divided by sliding door. Living room area has a desk with internet connection and telephone, 29” TV, two sofas, and a balcony. Bedroom area is the same as a junior suite. Garden or pool view with large terrace. All suites are located on the 4th floor. Children allowed in these rooms – Maximum occupancy 2 adults and 2 children. Colonial Suite – 1,076 square feet Same as Majestic Suite but with an outdoor Jacuzzi on the terrace. Pool view. Children allowed in these rooms – Maximum occupancy 2 adults and 2 children. They also have a Presidential Suite which is over 1,600 square feet, and has a huge rooftop terrace – very impressive. You could have a party for 100 people up there. They have some specially-equipped rooms for disabled people, ie. wider doors, grab bars. Clock-radios are being added to all the rooms, both Junior Suites and Suites. Coffeemakers in the suites only are being replaced with Nespresso coffee makers, and DVD players and a stereo system are also going to be added to the Suites only.
Guest Services
Annemarie is guest services manager at Majestic Colonial (as of November 2008). It is at guest services that you make reservations for the Gourmet and Japanese Restaurants, and they can also make reservations for golf, and help you with any other questions or concerns you have. You can contact guest services at: pr@majesticcolonial.com

Changes to All-Inclusive Plan

Changes were being made to the all-inclusive plan, effective December 23, 2006, as follows (as far as I know this information is still correct in November 2008): All international premium liquors will be included for North American guests (while we were there only a few were included, the rest were available at an extra cost). There will still be an additional cost for beer other than Presidente and wine other than the house wine. Room service is available in the Standard Junior Suites at additional cost, but as of December 11 will be included in the upgraded Junior Suites and Suites.

Grounds/Pool

There are a lot of ponds and fountains throughout the resort. Christmas lights were everywhere, with a big decorated Christmas tree in the lobby. It is beautiful at night with everything lit up. The huge swimming pool runs through the length of the resort. It’s length provides several different areas to sit in, some more quiet than others. Found the pool water cold, but refreshing. It’s quite a shallow pool, less than 4 feet deep I think. There is also a small kids’ pool in the area of the main pool. We liked to sit at the end of the pool nearest the beach, it was quiet there. The area around the swim-up bar in the middle was where the Activities staff hung out, and then there were quieter areas up closer to the lobby. The hotel was 85 – 90 per cent full the week we were there, and it didn’t seem crowded. There were lots of chairs available, even after 9 a.m. in the morning. (November 2008 – the hotel was completely full and it still never seemed crowded, and we were always able to find a spot at the beach.)

Beach

The beach is beautiful, you see lots of people walking the beach every day. The Bahia Principe hotel is about a 10 minute walk down the beach, and the new Riu Palace is about 20 minutes away. Grand Paradise is right beside Majestic to the north. There are lots of palapas on the beach, no problem finding a place to sit.

Weather and Bugs

There was no problem at all with bugs or mosquitos the week we were there. The weather was generally good. It was quite windy the beginning of the week, but the winds calmed down toward the end of the week. It did rain at some point almost every day, but didn’t last long. Temperatures were in the mid-80’s during the day, dropped to the 70’s at night, it was very comfortable.

Restaurants
You can eat at the a la carte restaurants as much as you want (if you can get reservations) There is a limit of 4 bookings under one room number. The Japanese and Gourmet restaurants are the only ones you need reservations for, best to make them as soon as you arrive. While most people did dress up a little for the a la carte restaurants, the only restaurant that enforces a dress code for men is the Gourmet restaurant – long pants and a collared shirt required. No "muscle shirts" allowed at any of the restaurants at dinnertime.

Main Buffet Restaurant

The main buffet restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast, 12:30 p.m. to 3.00 p.m. for lunch, and 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dinner. It is enclosed and air-conditioned, up near the lobby. They had a fairly good selection of food. Fresh-made omelettes in the morning were my favourite. The crepes were also good. They did have some pre-made omelettes, fried eggs, pancakes, etc., but I found these were cold. Toast always took a long time, had to put it through the toaster several times. (November 2008 – enjoyed the food in the buffet, felt it had improved from the first time we were there. Their pre-made stuff in the mornings was still cold though). At lunch time they had pizza, salads, cold cuts, as well as different meats, fish and vegetables, fresh bread and rolls. The rice and red beans was my favourite. They also have a pasta bar. I like their French fries, but they’re really greasy. At dinner there was a choice of meat and fish, vegetables, salads, rolls, etc. as well as pasta. You could always find something you liked. There was fresh fruit and deserts, but not a large selection. We only had dinner here once, as we went to all of the a la carte restaurants. A hostess will seat you when you enter the buffet restaurant, and then someone will take your drink order. I usually like to drink white wine, but I did not like the white wine they served in this restaurant at all. I did not try the red wine. Some of the a la carte restaurants had a different white wine that I liked better.

La Hispaniola Beach Restaurant

Open from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for continental breakfast Open from 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. for lunch and snacks This is an open air restaurant at the beach/pool area. At night it becomes the Steakhouse and Seafood Restaurants. We had lunch here a couple of times. They serve hamburgs, hotdogs, salads, and usually a paella or something with fish in it., and also have a pasta bar. I had a hamburger here the first day and it was still pink in the middle, so that kind of turned me off. Had pasta another day, that was very good. (November 2008 – they had added a sandwich station, where you could get a sandwich made to order). Never tried the continental breakfast there, it opens too late, and it didn’t really seem to have “breakfast” foods, there were things like cheese and ham and dinner rolls. November 2008 – service very good, plates cleared right away, or in some cases before you finished eating, ie. Pat had a hamburger on his plate and picked it up to take a bite and his plate was taken away 🙂

Steakhouse – Rodeo Grill

Open 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (in half of the Hispaniola Beach Restaurant) This was my favourite restaurant, we ate here a couple of times and had the Chateaubriand, and it was very good. There is also a Caesar salad station where you can get fresh Caesar salad. We ate here again in November 2008 – was very good, but service was a little too fast in this restaurant.. Someone was there to take our order before we even had a chance to open the menu.

Seafood Restaurant – Tres Carabelas

Open 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (in other half of Hispaniola Beach Restaurant)

We don’t like fish, so didn’t eat here.

Le Gourmet Restaurant – requires reservations No shorts allowed. No kids under 12. Open 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. This restaurant is located up at the lower lobby. Had the Surf and Turf and Pat had a chicken dish, both were good. The other entrees on the menu were seafood.

Oriental “Matsuri” Restaurant

Open 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. This is actually two separate dining areas – one is the Teppanyaki tables – you have to make a reservation for this. This is show cooking where the food is cooked in front of you. It was good. At the end of the meal they give you a shot of “mamajuana” to try, the Dominican cure-all. Actually, I think they had a jug of it in all the restaurants. (November 2008 – we ate here again, didn’t enjoy it as much as the first time. No mamajuana served.) The other section of this restaurant is the Chinese portion, no reservations are needed to eat here. We had the chicken chow mein and Szechwan beef. Appetizer choices were egg rolls or won ton soup. It was pretty good. There is also a buffet sushi bar.

Caribbean Taino Restaurant

Open 7:00 p.m. to midnight for dinner This is also a “two-part” restaurant. They have a buffet of Dominican/Mexican food, as well as a menu you can order from. You can just have the buffet if you want, or just order from the menu, or have both. We had a 3-meat entrée with baked potato from the menu, and also sampled some stuff from the buffet. (November 2008 – we ate here again, it’s pretty much the same)

Bars

Piano Bar (upper level of lobby) – open 9 a.m. to midnight Lobby Bar (ground floor) – open 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sports Bar/Disco – open 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Theatre Bar – open 8 p.m. to midnight Plaza Bar – open 5 p.m. to midnight Pool Bar – open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Swimup Bar – open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Beach Bar – open 9 a.m. to midnight As of December 11/06 all international liquors are included for North Americans.

Beer – Presidente Beer is included in the all-inclusive. Other beers such as Coronna, Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller, or Heineken are $3.00U.S. a bottle.

They make good Caesars, they have Clamato juice! Their welcome drink, the “Majestic” is also really good. In the evening, outside the lobby, they set up a table with hors d’oeuvres and serve a special drink, I think it was something different every night.

Entertainment and Activities
There is a big board just outside the entrance to the lobby that tells what the activities and entertainment are for the week. During the day the activities staff has pool games and contests in the area of the swimup bar and on the beach.. On Caribbean Street near the front of the resort is a games area with a giant chessboard, foosball, two pool tables, and a pingpong table. They also have games and books to lend out.. Next to this area is a well-equipped gym (included). Tennis courts (day and night) are located at the front of the resort, and they are going to be adding a baseball diamond as well as walking trails through the mangroves At night, after dinner, people would congregate in the lobby areas, or wander through the shopping areas. There is a Harrison’s jewellery store off the lobby on the Reception level, they have beautiful stuff. There is also a clothing store (very expensive) (November 2008 – the clothing store is gone, and has been replaced by the internet lounge), and a cigar shop. On the “Caribbean Street” adjacent to the lobby is where you’ll find a Mini-Mart, souvenir shops, paintings, Internet Centre, the Sports Bar/Disco where you can watch sports games on big screen TV’s, and the casino and theatre. They were in the process of opening up a “café” where you could get late night snacks. We never went to the disco, but drinks are included. (November 2008 – internet lounge has moved to the lobby, they now have a place here called La Bodeguita del Majestic where you can get late night snacks such as burgers and wings. It is open from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) On Dominican night vendors had stalls set up around the lobby entrance. There is a beautiful theatre where they put on evening shows. The seating is very very comfortable – I fell asleep there one night. We actually only watched a couple shows for a short while. There was an Acrobatic show, a Michael Jackson show (I’ve only seen about 25 of them). Others that we missed – Ideal Couple, His and Hers, Magician show. A waitress will come around and take your drink orders in the theatre. What we enjoyed the most was the saxophone player that played in the outdoor plaza every evening. There are tables and chairs here, and bar service, and it was nice to just sit back and relax and listen to him play. There is a casino with table games and slot machines. Drinks are included. Pat played Blackjack one night and ended up about $50.00 ahead.

Kids Club

There is a Kids’ Club for ages 3 to 7, located near the front of the resort near the theatre. Next to that is a Teens Club for ages 8 to 14. They are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Kids’ Club looked interesting with its castle and swimming pool. Parents are encouraged to go there with their children

Golf

There are several golf courses in the area – Cocotal Golf Course, White Sands Golf Course, and Punta Blanca – contact Guest Services for information and pricing and to make reservations.

Majestic Spa

A nice full-service spa, with indoor treatment rooms, as well as massage beds at the beach. There is a water entrance that connects to the pool. In this area are outdoor spa tubs and showers that you can use for free. I didn’t discover until the last day that the spa tubs actually had hot water in them. In fact, the whole pool area around the spa entrance is much warmer than the rest of the pool. I did go in one day for a massage – 55 minutes for $80.00 U.S. Also had a nail polish change done for $10.00 U.S. (hands and feet).

(November 2008 – went for a massage which was very nice, also had a nail polish change done)

Hair Braiding and Tattoos
Next to Mariana Watersports at the beach is a place where you can get your hair braided, or temporary henna tattoos. I paid $7.00 U.S. for 5 braids. Also got a temporary tattoo on my ankle for $15.00 U.S. that’s supposed to last two weeks. She said to come back the day I was leaving and she would touch it up for free, but I never bothered.

T-Shirt Painting(New in November 2008)

Antonio has a place at the beach where he will handpaint a t-shirt for you. We had him make a few with our logo and name on the front and the website URL on the back – he did an awesome job. (If any of the forum members are interested in buying a “Debbie’s” shirt, just ask him about it – you could probably get your forum name added on the shirt as well.

Money Exchange

There is an ATM machine in the lobby as you enter where you can get pesos, or you can exchange money at the front desk. If you take U.S. cash, there is really no need to change it into pesos.

Watersports

Mariana Watersports is located at the beach. Included items are snorkel equipment, boogie boards, ocean kayaks, and a scuba clinic in the pool. Also included are catamarans and windsurfers, but these require a security deposit, ie. credit card, and must be reserved one day in advance. Here you can also book fishing trips, parasailing, boat trips, etc.

Tours

The tour operators have desks in the upper lobby area where you can book excursions – jeep tours, boat trips, 4-wheelers, day trip to Santo Domingo, trip to Altos de Chavon, boat trip to Catalina Island, horseback riding, etc

Internet Lounge

November 2008 – The Internet Centre is located off the lobby. About 8 computer terminals, lots of comfortable seating and tables and chairs. Internet cost is $5. for 30 minutes. If you bring your laptop, you can get internet in your room for $10.00 U.S. a day. (good idea to bring your own cable).

Weddings

There were lots of weddings at this resort while we were there, either on the beach or at the gazebo in the gardens near the lobby. Information on their new wedding package will be posted shortly on our Weddings Page along with contact information. Medical Services and Pharmacy Located near the theatre.

Late Checkout

If you have a late flight, you might be able to get late checkout. The cost is $40.00 (up to 6:00 p.m.). You will have to go to the front desk the day before you leave to see if a late checkout is available for your room. Note that you must take your room cards to the front desk and have them re-programmed before 12 noon on the day you are leaving, otherwise you will be locked out of your room at noon, even if you arranged for the late checkout. If you do have to vacate your room, they have showers adjacent to the reception area.

Summary

We really liked this hotel. Accommodations are beautiful, the grounds and pool are nice, the food was fine, and the staff and service were great. Management seems committed to continually make improvements to the resort. There are lots of things to do if you want to, or you can just “veg out” at the pool or beach. If you have any other questions about Majestic, you can e-mail me. Special thanks to Ricardo Espinosa and “Majestic Mike”, for all your assistance during our stay.

November 2008 – the hotel was as great as I had remembered!

* Go with an open mind and you will enjoy
Hotel Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Nov 1, 2008
November 2008
Majestic Elegance is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, in Arena Gorda (Bavaro Beach), next to Macao beach, 30 kms away from Punta Cana Airport, 1 hour from La Romana Airport and 3 ½ hours from Santo Domingo’s International Airport. Majestic Elegance Punta Cana opened its doors to guests on Friday, November 21, 2008, after having the date pushed back several times. Pat and I had originally been scheduled to stay there from November 16 to 23, but due to the delay in opening only got to spend 2 nights there. We spent the first part of our week at its sister hotel, Majestic Colonial, which is adjacent to Majestic Elegance, an excellent hotel, and I will be updating my review of Majestic Colonial from two years ago as well. As I start this, I have to emphasize that we were there on opening day and the day after. By the time you read this, many opening day issues will already have been resolved. I spoke to a number of people there who have promised to send their reviews when they return. Most agreed the hotel will be fabulous once everything is up and running and the staff gain a little more experience. Some arrivals who were unaware of the delay in opening were understandably upset, but management was doing everything they could to compensate for this, ie by making all the facilities at Majestic Colonial next door available to them. Some people chose to remain at Majestic Colonial where they had been for the first part of their stay. Make no mistake – Majestic Elegance will be one of the premier hotels in Punta Cana, it’s just going to take time for everything to run smoothly.

We packed up and arrived at Majestic Elegance on Friday afternoon around 2 p.m. They have a beautiful lobby very similar to Majestic Colonial, but the top level is smaller, and the lower level is more than twice as large From the upper lobby you have a beautiful view of the whole resort, right down to the ocean. The upper lobby will also have the Internet Center and some shops. As we were in the Elegance Club section, we were taken to the VIP lounge at the Elegance Club for checkin, where we joined other people waiting for their rooms. We were told our room wasn’t ready yet and it would be 3 p.m. before we could check in. The VIP lounge has comfortable seating, and drinks and snacks were available. Free internet access will be available there, it wasn’t yet set up. Unfortunately the air conditioning wasn’t working in the lounge and it was a little sticky, and it was pouring with rain outside. We were given a pamphlet outlining all of the hotel facilities. I’ve been told that in the future they will bring the guests to the VIP Lounge by golf cart, instead of having to walk.

A little after 3 p.m. the concierge took us to our room, a Junior Suite – the room was absolutely beautiful! We were in Room 4233, which was on the second floor, on the back side of the building away from the pool, but had a nice view of the ocean. The concierge showed us around and advised us that someone would be in shortly to program the TV. (They have brackets on the walls for the TV’s, but ours was just sitting on the table). Someone arrived promptly to program the TV and hook up the phone. We had also discovered our refrigerator wasn’t working, and it was promptly replaced, and stocked with beer, water and pop. This is replenished once a day. Internet access will be available in the rooms for a fee, but was not yet working. We had no hot water initially, and then the water was off totally for a while, but within a few hours we had both hot and cold water. We found that you had to let the water run for a while, particularly in the tub, for it to get hot. The room did not yet have all of the advertised amenities such as. 4 bottles of liquor, alarm clock radio, DVD player, pillow menu and aromatherapy for pillows, newspapers, etc. We did have an iron, and bathrobes. We had a coffeemaker but no coffee, creamer, sugar, etc. until the next day. We had a very comfortable 4-poster king-size bed, with nice pillows. Nice rugs on each side of the bed. Furnishings are very modern, from the square toilet (the one thing Pat did not like), a shower with 3 different settings, double sinks, and a beautiful 2-person Jacuzzi located in the corner of the room by a window. There is an electronic safe, lots of closet and drawer space, and a separate room service closet. (At first I thought the drawers were hard to close, then realized that you just push them gently and they close on their own.) Lights go out automatically when you leave the room and come on when you open the door. There are basically two types of rooms – a Junior Suite or a Suite, which is two rooms divided by a sliding door. Other categories are determined by location. I’ll outline these further in this report.

Grounds

In walking around the grounds, there were construction workers still finishing things in some areas, but having toured the resort the Tuesday before, it was amazing how much had been done in just a few days. 500 of the 600 rooms are complete, and it’s mostly inside work for the remaining 100 rooms, so shouldn’t cause disruption. The pools are all filled and operational. The main pool is 400 metres long, running the length of the property and include two integrated jacuzzis. Some of the bars were still being finished. The landscaping looks pretty good considering it is new. They put it in a month or so ago so it would grow a little bit. In a year or two it will be beautiful. Plaza Colon is an outdoor area with tables and chairs and a stage for live entertainment. They had a band playing here in the evening. The adjacent building will house some shops and Coco’s Nightclub, not finished yet. The building is a replica of the Alcazar de Colon in Santo Domingo. The theatre and bar on the opposite side of the resort is complete – we didn’t see any shows though.

Beach

The beach is of course gorgeous, and they have many palapas already constructed for shade, as well as many chairs available. There will be a separate area for Elegance Club guests, but this was not set up yet.

Dining
There will be 6 restaurants to choose from plus La Bodeguita del Majestic at Majestic Colonial for late-night snacks. Flavors is the buffet restaurant. Argentinian Steakhouse – not sure of the proper name for this one, in the brochure we received it’s called Asadito, but on the hotel website it is called West Meat Corp. – they had no signage up yet for any of the restaurants. – no reservations required Il Bottaccio – Italian Restaurant – no reservations required Restaurant 9 Doors – this is a Japanese restaurant and will have 9 teppanyaki tables and a suishi bar – wasn’t open yet. – reservations will be required Restaurant Limited Gourmand – gourmet restaurant – reservations will be required. – (children over 12 only) See & Sea Restaurant – located at the beach, will be open for continental breakfast and lunch, and in the evening is the seafood restaurant. La Bodeguita del Majestic – This is actually in the Majestic Colonial section, across from their theatre – open from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. for snacks. As there were not many rooms occupied, there were only limited dining facilities available while we were there. The main buffet restaurant, Flavors, will open when the occupancy is higher. We were told for the first night only two restaurants would be open – the Italian Restaurant, Il Bottaccio, and the beach restaurant, See & Sea, which is the seafood restaurant. We were also told that for breakfast the Italian restaurant would be open for a la carte dining, and only a continental breakfast was available at the See & Sea Restaurant from 10:30 a.m.. We later found out the Steakhouse Restaurant was also open for dinner that first night, and for breakfast the See & Sea Restaurant had a full breakfast available. We went to the Italian Restaurant for dinner, it’s a lovely big restaurant. We ordered and our meal was served in a timely manner. Staff is new, so service was a little tentative, but no complaints, they are really trying. We had Caesar salad and pumpkin soup, and I had veal scallopini and Pat had lasagna (called “over-baked” lasagna on the menu, I think maybe it should have said “oven-baked” : ) After dinner when we were walking around we talked to someone who said the steakhouse was also open and he had just had a fabulous steak. The next morning we went to the Italian restaurant for the a la carte breakfast, as we were not aware there was a full breakfast available at See & Sea Restaurant. The Italian restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch for Elegance Club members only. There were few people there. We ordered eggs, sausage and toast (they had no idea what toast was) and ended up bringing buns. It was kind of funny because they served breakfast as a 3-course meal – first they brought a plate with just scrambled eggs on it, a little later the sausage came, and then later on the buns. They’ll get the hang of it, I’m sure.

Our last night we went to the Argentinian Steakhouse for dinner. This was somewhat of a disaster. They did not have enough menus for everyone and orders were not being taken. The staff seemed confused. People were walking out, some having waited over an hour and had not even had their orders taken. We waited about half an hour for a menu, and then it was a while before our order was taken. It was another half an hour or so before any food arrived. We ordered a Caesar salad, soup and steak. The salad was fine, although it took us a minute to realize they had brought the dressing separately. We ordered onion soup, Pat’s arrived steaming hot and mine was lukewarm – it was really good though. It was a long wait until the steak arrived – I ordered Churrasco and Pat ordered the Chateaubriand. The food was fine, but it took over two hours to have dinner. We opted to skip desert and went to the bar for our coffee.

When we left the steak restaurant we noticed that the Gourmet restaurant was also open, but I didn’t get a chance to speak to anyone who had eaten there. Something I haven’t seen before – in all 3 of the restaurants we ate at, they all had an open or glassed off kitchen area so you can see the chefs at work. We ate Saturday lunch and Sunday breakfast at the See & Sea Restaurant at the beach. A very good selection and good service. Once their main buffet restaurant is open this restaurant will likely not serve a full breakfast, just a continental breakfast from 10:30 a.m.

Miscellaneous Info

The Kids Club, Casino, and Sports Bar are located on the “Caribbean Street” at Majestic Colonial., accessed by a walkway from Majestic Elegance.

Room Descriptions

Rooms are large, with lots of European marble, king-size four poster bed or two full-size beds, complete bathroom, Jacuzzi for 2, walk-in shower with 3 functions- rain, massage and soft, air-conditioning, ceiling fan, 32” TV, satellite TV, DVD, telephone, hi-speed internet connection available, mini-bar, safe, coffee machine, desk, iron and ironing board. Connecting and handicap rooms are available.

Room Types

Majestic Elegance – Pool or Garden view – 473 rooms *Jr. Suite: Large and comfortable hotel room with an Indoor Jacuzzi for two, pool or garden view, two full-size or king-side beds.- Max occupancy 4 people *Colonial Jr. Suite: Same as above, but has both an indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, on higher floors. Max occupancy 4 people *Majestic Jr. Suite (swim up room): Indoor Jacuzzi and is located on first floor with direct access to the Swimming pool and has a small private garden. Max occupancy 4 people *One bedroom Suites: one bedroom suite with an Indoor Jacuzzi, a sliding door connects to the living room area. Max occup. 4 people Elegance Club (Adults Only section with Majestic Supreme service) – 127 rooms The Elegance Club accommodations are in buildings at each side of the resort, closest to the beach. There is a separate pool for Elegance Club guests with bali beds, loungers, tables and chairs. and bar service. They were just finishing the rooftop bar area, so it was not open yet *Jr. Suite: Indoor Jacuzzi, pool, garden or Ocean view, Majestic Supreme Service and facilities. Max occup. 2 people. *Majestic Jr. Suite, Same as above, but located on first floor with direct access to the swimming pool and small garden. *Swim up Suite: One bedroom Suite located on first floor with direct access to the swimming pool and small garden, Indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi,. Max occup. 4 people. Room and living room divided by a sliding door.

*Ocean front suites: – Ocean view. One bedroom Suites, room and living room divided by a sliding door. Max. Occupancy 4 people

Majestic Elegance Club Inclusions:
*Two private swimming pools *Private beach area with “Bali style” beds *Private and personalized check in *Complimentary late check out (based on availability) *Two private ocean front roof top bars with hors d oeuvres and drinks *VIP lounge at the lobby with library, table games and free internet connection *Exclusive access to “Il Botaccio” Restaurant for breakfast and lunch a la carte *Room service included 24 hours *In room bar selection with up to 4 bottles of liquor per stay (ej. Vodka, Whisky, Rum, Baileys) *Bottle of champagne in room upon arrival *Access to 13 bars throughout the property (4 bars exclusive for adults) *Butler service during your stay *Express bell boy service *Surprise gift in room *In room beach towels *Pillow menu *Aromatherapy for pillows *Robes and slippers in room *Bath Kit *DVD’s selection *In room newspaper *Espresso machine in room ( suites only)

Bars

There are 8 bars plus 4 additional bars for Elegance Club guests only *Lobby bar *Disco bar *Plaza bar *Wet bar *Beach bar *Parrots bar *Lobby bar *Midnight bar

Spa

The spa and gym are not finished, but guests can use the facilities at Majestic Colonial. They have a wonderful spa there.

Weddings

See our weddings page for details FACILITIES AND SERVICES FOR ALL GUESTS STAYING AT THE MAJESTIC ELEGANCE PUNTA CANA *Refreshing towel upon arrival *Welcome cocktail upon arrival *24 hours All Inclusive *6 restaurants *9 bars located in different areas of the hotel. Open during different hours *Premium drinks in all bars *Room service included

*Daily stocking of mini bar

*Sports bar / Discotheque with drinks included *400 meter long swimming pool *Casino located at the Majestic Colonial Punta Cana (2 minute walk) ($) *Gym *Spa ($) *Golf nearby (300 meters away from hotel main Entrance) ($) *Theatre for shows and entertainment team with day and night activities *Supervised Kids Club for children (at the Majestic Colonial) 2 minute walk *Nintendo’s for children in kids club. (at the Majestic Colonial) 2 minute walk *Caribbean street with boutiques (jewelery, cigars, souvenirs, mini market, photo shop, pharmacy, clothes) ($) *High speed internet in all rooms ($) *Wireless internet in Lobby and Convention Center ($) *Convention Center for up to 600 people ($) *Business Centre with internet access ($) *Gazebo for weddings ($) *Wedding facilities: Catholic church and gazebo, beach and tropical gardens. ($) *Umbrellas, towels and lounge chairs at the beach and the swimming pool *Bath robes in room *Slippers in room *Medical center ( 24 hrs.) ($) *Laundry Services ($) *Live Music at the Plaza bar ( night) *Live piano at the” Limited Gourmand Restaurant”. Adults only *2 integrated jacuzzis within the main swimming pool *Guest Service (flight confirmation, car rental, excursions, and help with any special needs) *ATM machine. Major credit cards accepted *Tennis courts with lights *Audio System *Plasma TV *Iron and ironing board *Basketball area *Ping-pong, pool tables, darts, etc. *Soccer field *Water sports available *Elevators in each building *Handicap rooms available

Conclusion

Majestic Elegance is a new hotel – there will be growing pains. Go with an open mind and you will enjoy…it will improve on a daily basis! Staff are friendly and eager to serve you. You have only to look at the success of Majestic Colonial to see what it will be. With special thanks to Ricardo Espinosa, Annmarie at Majestic Colonial Guest Services, and Angel, our concierge at Majestic Elegance.

Photos: http://travel.webshots.com/album/568187091TAJCYH
* Service could use some improvement.
Hotel NH Real Arena
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Nov 1, 2008
November 9 to 16, 2008 We flew Air Transat Club Class to Punta Cana on November , 2008. Our first week was spent at NH Real Arena (formerly called EdenH Real Arena). Just a name change, no change in ownership or anything. This hotel is located in Bavaro, about 15 minutes from Punta Cana Airport, 50 miles from La Romana Airport, and 120 miles from Santo Domingo. The cab ride from Punta Cana Airport cost us $35.00 U.S. The hotel is located between Paradisus Palma Real and Los Corales, and is about a 20 – 30 minute walk along the beach from El Cortecito.

The resort is quite compact, and the layout makes it very easy to get around and find things. Its design reminds me of a combination of several resorts – Punta Cana Princess for the grounds, Ocean Blue for the courtyard area where the restaurants, bars, and lobby are, and Majestic Colonial for the rooms.

Check-In
Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is noon. Late checkout may be available depending on availability or they will provide a courtesy room where you can shower and change. We were booked into a Paradise Club Concierge room and checkin was at the Paradise Club Lounge in the lobby, opposite the front desk. Note that Transat Holidays calls the Paradise Club Concierge room Le Mirage Concierge room. I don’t know why they insist on using different names than the hotel uses, it just causes confusion in my opinion. We were provided with a welcome drink and checked in and given a pink wristband, a map of the resort, our key cards and towel cards, and a slip to fill out with time preferences for our restaurant reservations. Transat Mirage and Transat Concierge guests only are guaranteed 5 a la carte restaurant reservations . The Paradise Club lounge was also the checkin for guests that had the Mirage rooms, they were given a green wristband. The Paradise Club lounge has complimentary internet for Paradise Club guests, snacks, newspapers, a TV, coffee, drinks, and a fridge with beer, pop and bottled water. During high season Mirage room clients will be booked in at the Paradise Club lounge in the lobby, and the Paradise Club guests will be taken to the respective lounges in buildings 1 and 2 for checkin. These lounges were not in use while we were there, but will be fully staffed during high season.

We were then taken to our room with our luggage by golf cart, which was located in the Paradise Club section, on the 4th floor. Note there are elevators in all the buildings.

Rooms
The rooms are lovely – large and very bright and airy. We had a great view of the pool and beach, we were in room 1460. What was especially nice was the key cards for the door, you didn’t have to slide them, just touch them to the lock like a Paypass credit card. Apparently it will even read the card if it’s in a wallet. When you enter the room you have to place your room key in the slot by the door for the power to work. Our room had a king-size bed, 2 night tables, a desk, dresser, couch, chair, and coffee table. Note that the Paradise Club Concierge rooms do not have a tub in the room, it is out on the balcony, that was a little disappointing, but the shower is large and very nice. There are double sinks and separate toilet and shower stalls, divided from the rest of the room by a wall, so the bathroom area is more private than their regular rooms. The room also contained a 27-inch TV, telephone, coffee maker, clock radio with MP3 plugin – never did figure out how to stop the alarm from going off, it went off at 6 a.m. the first two mornings, we ended up just changed the time to a more reasonable hour. There is a minibar which is restocked daily with beer, soft drinks and water. Leave a note and tip with your preferences. Bathrobes and slippers were provided in the room as well as beach towels – we never needed to use the towel cards we had, we just exchanged the towels at the beach for clean ones when we needed them (towels are at the Watersports Centre). An iron and ironing board was provided. There is an ice bucket, and ice machines are located near the elevators. There is lots of closet space and shelves to put your stuff on and the electronic safe is included. It is large enough for most laptops, you might have to tilt it up a little to close the door. One problem we had with the room was the door banging – changes in humidity make the doors swell and shrink and it was quite breezy while we were there. We solved this by putting a small pad of paper in the door as we shut it for the night. The bathroom contained a hairdryer, makeup mirror, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, bath sponge, even a plastic brush and comb, sewing kit and makeup pads. Suggest you pack a couple of facecloths, as they are not necessarily left every day, or hide the ones they leave so they don’t take them. We started out with 2, but by the end of the week we didn’t get any. This is not unique to this hotel, happens in all the hotels we’ve stayed at. We always had good water pressure and hot water. The Jacuzzi tubs are big and take a LONG time to fill up. As we had a Paradise Club room, we only had a tub outside on the balcony, so I only used it once. We tipped the maid every day and maid service was excellent. I think this is the first hotel where we actually received turn-down service every night, and they literally did a cleanup of the whole room, ie. emptied garbage, washed dishes, left clean towels, etc. In all room categories they are available with a king-size bed or two full-size (double) beds. The rooms with double beds may have a table and chairs instead of a couch.

The regular Deluxe rooms and Mirage deluxe rooms (same as regular Deluxe rooms, just in a better location higher floors overlooking the pool and extra includes) have an open concept bathroom (no wall), but have a Jacuzzi tub in the room. They are a little smaller than the concierge rooms (495 square feet), but still a good size. These rooms have no Jacuzzi on the balcony, just inside the room.

The Le Mirage Inclusions are:
– preferred room location – Concierge service with direct phone line and private reception – Minimum 5 guaranteed reservations for a la carte dining (Transat Holidays only) – Separate checkin/checkout – 30 minutes/person/week Internet access in the business centre (must be used in one session) – Beach towels, bathrobes and slippers in room – VIP amenities – Turn-down service – Fruit basket upon arrival and distinct identification bracelet – One bottle of rum in room – 50% discount on a 20-minute massage – 15% discount on selected spa treatments

– Welcome gift in room

Air Transat inclusions for the Paradise Club rooms (Le Mirage Concierge) are the inclusions listed above, plus:
– Accommodations in more luxurious and spacious rooms (581 sq. ft.) with outside Jacuzzi and ocean or pool view, closest to the beach. – Private continental breakfast (This is at the Italian Restaurant) – VIP in-room lobster dinner (restrictions apply and this is for Transat Holidays guests only and is only available for a couple of months during high season (Dec. to Feb.) – Premium drinks – Private pool with butler service – A la carte pillow and bath products (we never saw any pillow menu, but the pillows were fine). There are about 20 larger oceanfront suites, but these are not sold through the tour operators, you would have to book these with the hotel. You can also purchase upgrades at the front desk after you arrive, subject to availability – the prices are posted. It’s probably cheaper to book the upgrade when you book your trip.

Some rooms with connecting doors are available.

Grounds, Beach and Pools
The grounds are beautiful, I love the layout of the resort and all the palm trees and fountains.. Pools run down the middle of the resort, and rooms are on each side in 4-storey buildings with elevators. There are covered walkways to protect from rain and sun. For a new resort not even open a year the landscaping is very nice. They still need some umbrellas around the pools, there isn’t much shade there and people tended to be on the beach instead. I understand they are working on that. They were experimenting with some shade cloths on the pergolas. There is a swimup bar in the pool right at the beach, the main pool, and a “relaxing” pool, as well as a kid’s pool. In addition there are two private pools for Paradise Club members at the front of each oceanfront section, complete with bar serving premium drinks. When you look at the pools you will see they are not the “pool blue” most pools are, the pools actually have brown and white tiles in them and looking at them from the room, the colour matches the colour of the ocean. The pools are open later than most resort pools, until 8:00 p.m. (bar service ends at 6 p.m.)

The beach here is spectacular, nice and wide, with lots of palapas. You can walk for miles in either direction, it’s easier walking in this section of beach, at resorts further north the sand tends to be deeper and harder to walk in.

Bars and Drinks
Lots of bars around. There’s the Alisios Bar off the lobby (large and enclosed), open from 10 a.m. to midnight – they also have live entertainment here, and Karaoke once a week. The Olas bar is at the beach restaurant, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Swimup bar – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – the bartenders are quite entertaining – one day they were delivering drinks to guests at the pool on a bicycle while balancing the drinks on their head. Tahntra Bar is next to the casino and opens at 9 p.m. This is a very nice open-air bar, they have lots of comfortable couches and even a splash pool. Sports Bar – open from 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. – there are several pool tables in here and a bowling alley. Bowling is $10.00 an hour plus $2.00 for shoes – available from 5 p.m. to midnight. Automatic scoring, so you don’t have to keep score. You have to wear socks. Also a popcorn machine in the bar. Theatre Bar – open from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. Paradise Club bars – there is a bar at each Paradise Club pool, open from 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. Presidente is the main beer served at the resort, sometimes they may have Heineken, Coronna or Miller’s. I could not get a drink menu at any of the bars. The bartenders will be happy to recommend a drink. I tried the “Carlos Special”, it was very good. Mostly I just drank white wine though.

Also loved the icecream machine at the main pool bar.

Restaurants
The Festival Buffet restaurant is open for Continental breakfast from 6:30 a.m. – 7:00 a.m., Breakfast from 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Lunch from 12:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., and Dinner from 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. There is a small open-air section in this restaurant. They had a good selection at breakfast and I enjoyed their freshly-made smoothies and Felix’s wonderful omelettes! We ate lunch here several times, was very good, with lots of coldcuts and things for sandwiches. We ate dinner here the first two nights. Loved the food the first night, but I did not feel they had as great a selection of items as other resorts I have been to, but I had no trouble finding something to eat. I was told during high season there would be more variety available – at the time we were there occupancy was less than 50 per cent. They always have pasta and pizza available. I was a little disappointed in the deserts available, not a great selection, again likely due to the low occupancy. Service in this restaurant was good most of the time. A La Carte Restaurants All of the restaurants are located in the same area, opposite the lobby, with a central courtyard in the middle. This is where some of the entertainment takes place and they have tables and chairs where you can relax with coffee or a drink before or after dinner. They have 5 a la carte restaurants, and reservations are required. If you are in a Paradise Club room, the concierge will have you fill out a form when you check in noting your preference for dining time, and will make the reservations for you. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. We didn’t get our reservations and found out they had not been made, but another concierge looked after it for us. Later on during the week we needed to change a reservation as friends were joining us for dinner, we assumed the concierge would look after this for us, but they just told us to go see the Reservations person at the Sports Bar. For other room categories you make your restaurant reservations at the Sports Bar. Dress for the a la carte restaurants is “Casual Elegance” – long pants and collared shirt for men, no flip-flops. Asian Restaurant Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. This was our first reservation, on Tuesday. When we were seated we realized that there were 3 Tepanyaki tables, but we were not asked if we wanted our reservation for a Tepanyaki table or to order off a menu. We would have chosen the Tepanyaki table. Actually while we were waiting for our food I made a comment to Pat that the food they were cooking at the Tepanyaki table smelled good, and one of the servers overheard me and brought over a small plate of it for us to sample! Our food was okay, but they didn’t bring me what I had ordered, and they ran out of white wine.. Cinque Terra Italian Restaurant Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

We ate here on Wednesday. We had friends from Santo Domingo joining us for dinner. Service was very slow. Pat and I ordered spaghetti and meatballs with red sauce and they brought spaghetti with a different kind of sauce and no meatballs. Our friends pointed this out to the waiter and he did bring the meatballs. The thing was, our main course did not arrive until an hour after we’d had our appetizers. But, we were talking with our friends, so it wasn’t a big deal for us. We had coffee but elected to skip desert.

This restaurant is also open for a la carte breakfast for Paradise Club guests. We went there one morning, I think we were the only ones there. It was fine and service was great, but we found it just as easy to go to the buffet. American Shore Grill Restaurant Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. We ate here Thursday night and again on Saturday night – this was my favourite restaurant. The first time I had a salad, pumpkin soup (aka butternut squash) and beef tenderloin. Cheesecake and apple pie was on the menu for desert, but we were just too full. The second time Pat had the 24-oz. hamburger (really – that’s what it says in the menu, actually it is just a regular hamburger), and I had the “World Famous Ribs” – I actually enjoyed them very much – better than what I’ve had at our local Ribfests. Service the second time we were there was slower than the first time, but they had a couple of large groups they were serving. Senses Romantic Restaurant This restaurant is Adults Only, and is open from 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. The décor is all in red and white – red chandeliers, white curtains and fabric on the ceilings, roses on the chairs – kind of cheesy. But the food was good and service was excellent. Olas Beach Restaurant

Located at the beach, this restaurant is open for lunch and snacks from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It’s the only open-air restaurant, all of the others are enclosed and air-conditioned. They serve hamburgs, hotdogs, chicken, pizza, salads, French fries, nachos and cheese, a good selection. We alternated between eating lunch here and up at the main buffet.

Room Service 24 hour Room service is included for all guests. The menu is quite limited, consisting of continental breakfast items from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and the entrees available from 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. included Chef’s Salad; Cheese, Olives & Mustard/Raspberry Vinaigrette; Beef Carpaccio of Manchego Cheese; Caprese Salad; Ceviche; Cheese platter; Club Sandwich with potato chips; or “Make your own sandwich – choice of cheese, ham, tuna, and salmon with choice of bread, and Deserts consisting of cheesecake or Tripical Fruit Selection The literature indicates an upgraded room service menu for Paradise Club guests, but I didn’t see any signs of this?

Candlelight Dinner for 2

You can make arrangements for a private dinner on the beach or other area of the resort – see guest services for details.

Lobster Dinners

The Italian and Grill restaurants offer a lobster dinner at an additional cost of $29.99 plus tax.

Daytime Activities and Sports

There is no shortage of activities here, if you want to be active. You can check the activities board near the Buffet restaurant for daily events. They have dance classes, aerobics, cocktail-making classes, weaving classes, beach games, Spanish lessons, all kinds of things. At the beach is a “coconut tree” for climbing (kind of like rock-climbing) – you get the harness from Animation. I never saw anybody doing it, but it looked interesting. They also have a bungee trampoline in this area, which is privately owned and costs $10.00 to use, again I never saw anyone using it. There is an ocean trampoline in the water for kids. The Animation hut is located next to the pool and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., where you can get board games, books, etc.

Tennis

They have 2 clay tennis courts at the front of the resort, open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Private lessons are available for $30.00 U.S. an hour, you make your reservations with Guest Services.

Watersports

See the Watersports desk at the beach operated by Sea Pro Divers for info on catamarans, party boat cruises, parasailing, glass bottom boat rides, sport fishing, diving, snorkeling, banana boats, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing, etc. They also have a free scuba clinic in the pool every day.

Nightly Entertainment

They have various entertainment venues in the area of the courtyard There is the Crystal Theatre where they put on song and dance type shows, some with audience participation. We’re really not into these shows, watched one for a few minutes. In the evening they have large screens up in the central courtyard and we enjoyed the music videos, ie. Frank Sinatra and Bee Gees concerts.. On Latin night they had an entertainer who put on a “fire” show. He was covered in wax and lit various parts of his body on fire. Since we get up early, we didn’t stay up for much of the evening entertainment.

Casino

There’s a small casino off the courtyard. There are 25 – 30 slot machines open from 4:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., and poker, roulette and blackjack tables open from 8:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.

Internet Access

If you are in the Paradise Club, you can use one of two computer terminals in the Paradise Club lounge off the front lobby for free.

There is also a business centre where you can purchase internet time. (Mirage room guests get 30 minutes free, to be used in one session). If you have your own laptop you can purchase wireless internet access in your room for $25.00 for 24 hours of time good for 6 days.

Hotel Stores/Shopping There is a large gift shop at the hotel, and space for another store, maybe a jewellery store. Shuttle service is also available to the nearby Palma Real Shopping Centre. We meant to go and check it out, but we never got there.

Golf

Golf is available at 8 local courses. See your concierge or Guest Services in the lobby to make arrangements for any of the local courses or others located throughout the country

Spa

There is a lovely full-service spa run by Renova Spa, open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.. I had a combination massage which was wonderful. They also have two massage palapas at the beach which are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Watch for their daily specials!

Fitness Centre

Next to the spa is the Fitness Centre. Sorry, didn’t go in

Medical Services

24 hour medical service is located next to the gym.

Kids Club

Nino’s Kids Club is located near the buffet restaurant and is for children ages 4 – 12. It’s open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. At night it is open from 8:15 p.m .until 9:30 p.m. when the kids put on their shows and parents are invited to watch. I was told that during high season they bring in kids entertainers to put on shows. The day I went in there weren’t any kids there, but I was impressed with the facilities they have. There is a full program of activities for the kids, they are divided into two groups – Cubs – ages 4 to 7, and Bears, ages 8 to 11.

Weddings

We didn’t see any weddings the week we were there. There are a number of packages available, starting from $649.00 U.S. For a description of the various packages, see our Weddings Page.

Currency

Take U.S. currency. You can pay for virtually everything in U.S. dollars, and even if you exchange your money, you will get the best rate with U.S. dollars. There is no ATM at the resort. Money can be exchanged for pesos at the front desk, or there is a bank at the Palma Real Shopping Centre.

Weather and Bugs

We had gorgeous weather during our week at this hotel, except for the last afternoon when we had some rain. It was hot during the day, but very comfortable in the evening, not humid at all. Didn’t notice any mosquitos, there were a few flies and bees around.

Meet and Greet for forum members

On Tuesday we went into El Cortecito to La Casa de Piedra with Hula and her husband and Mikefisher, and met some other forum members for a couple of drinks. These meet and greets are usually held on a weekly basis, a good way to put faces to names if you post on the forums.

Donations

If you want to bring school supplies or other donations (clothing, etc.) you can leave these items with Mike Bryant at the hotel. We had the privilege of going with Mike to a school in the barrio on his weekly trip to deliver school supplies and see firsthand the good that these donations do. The children are so excited to see him, and Magdalena is so grateful for the donations.

Summary

The staff at this hotel are great, they are always smiling and there is always an “hola” when you pass by. Service was good for the most part, but could use some improvement in the concierge area and restaurants. Quite a bit of English is spoken by the staff, the hotel provides English classes every day for its employees.. This is still a new hotel, not even a year old yet, and they are still working on making improvements in service and other areas. We really enjoyed this hotel, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and I’ll try to answer them for you.

With special thanks to Mike Bryant, Carmen Rosa de Torres, Priscila in Guest Services and Maria in Restaurant services.

Photos: http://travel.webshots.com/album/568959423JlYNlX
* We enjoyed our stay here very much.
Hotel Punta Cana Princess
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Oct 1, 2007
We spent the second week of our Punta Cana vacation at the Punta Cana Princess All Suites Resort & Spa. This hotel is located in Bavaro, 35 minutes from Punta Cana Airport. Punta Cana Princess is the Adults Only resort of three Princess resorts located here – the Tropical Princess and the Caribe Princess. They are sister hotels of the Bavaro Princess, located a couple of hotels to the south. As you face the beach, Paradisus Punta Cana is to the right and LTI Punta Cana (Cayena Club) is to the left. Punta Cana Princess All Suites Resort & Spa was built 4 years ago. It started out as a family resort but was changed to an Adults Only resort (18+) 2 years ago. Its sister hotels, Caribe Club Princess and Tropical Princess were originally Hodelpa hotels and bought by Princess Hotels 6 or 7 years ago. Bavaro Princess which is on the other side of Paradisus Punta Cana Resort, used to be a Melia hotel. Guests staying at Punta Cana Princess are free to use any of the facilities at Tropical Princess or Caribe Club Princess, they cannot use facilities at Bavaro Princess. (Bavaro Princess guests who have the Platinum upgrade can use facilities/restaurants at any of the Princess hotels.)

Punta Cana Princess itself is a very compact, self-contained resort, about a 5 minute walk from the lobby to the beach. Guests can also use facilities at the Caribe Club Princess and Tropical Princess, a short walk away, or they do have a shuttle that leaves from the lobby on a regular basis.

Check-In
Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is noon. Late checkout may be available depending on availability or they will provide a courtesy room where you can shower and change. Checkin was quick, you are given your wristbands according to the package you have – regular, Platinum (for Canadians it is called Regency Club), or VIP. You are provided with your electronic room keys, a map of the resort, as well as an information sheet and luggage tags. You find your luggage and the bellboy will put the tags on them with your room number and deliver them to your room. They weren’t busy with checkins when we arrived, so we got to ride with our luggage to the room.
Packages and their Inclusions
Basic All-Inclusive Package *All Inclusive 24 hours *Safety Deposit box (free of charge) *Mini bar in room (Water, Soft drinks, Beer) stocked daily *Butler service by the Pool & Beach (Drinks only) *1 Buffet and, 4 à la carte, (Italian, Tex-Mex Steakhouse, Seafood and Swiss) and 1 snack bar, with Additional use of 5 a la carte restaurants (Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Brazilian, Dominican) and 1 buffet restaurant located at Caribe Club Princess Tropical Princess Beach Resort & Spa *3 bars (national and international drinks included, premium brand drinks not included), Additional use of 7 bars located at the Tropical and Caribe Club sections. *Weekly Dinner Beach Party (weather permitting) *1 Swimming pool for adults. Use of pools in entire complex. *Gym, Sauna and Jacuzzi at the mini spa (located next to the beach restaurant) *Nightly Entertainment at lobby area & Shows at the Serenata Theatre located at the Caribe Club Princess *Discotéque Areito* (entrance free, national drinks included until midnight, after midnight drinks at a charge) *Free use of non-motorized Water Sports * Daily organized activities *Introductory scuba lesson in pool (1 lesson per person per stay) *Tennis, archery, bicycles, games room and mini golf *Church with religious services (located at Caribe Club Princess) *Free transportation to Tower Princess Casino (located at entrance to Bavaro Princess) and Caribe Club and Tropical Princess. *Use of all facilities and services at Caribe Club Princess and Tropical Princess.

Platinum/Regency Club Upgrade –

(this is the package that all Canadians with Transat Holidays have) In addition to the basic all-inclusive package: *Use of bathrobes and slippers in room *2 Beach towels in room *Use of sunbeds at pool and beach *Nightly turn down service *Restaurant reservations by phone from 9 a.m. until 12 noon *24 hour room service *Fruit basket on arrival *15% Discount for spa *1 bottle of rum (per room per week) *Free internet access (20 minutes at a time) *Premium brand drinks – (aged liquors or wines not included)

*3 cigars in room per room per stay

VIP Package (Guests with Platinum/Regency Club Package can upgrade to VIP Package for an additional $22 US per person per night, but it’s probably cheaper just to purchase the upgrade features that you want individually.) *Use of sunbeds at pool and beach. *Nightly turn-down service. *Restaurant reservations by phone from 9 a.m. until 12 noon *1 complimentary gourmet dinner either at “La Cava” (international) or “El Pescador” (fish and seafood) restaurants (per person, per week) – make your reservations at least 2 days in advance – only valid for stays of more than 4 nights, You must stop by guest services the day you are going to these restaurants with your VIP restaurant special coupon, and they will give you an invitation you need to get into the restaurant). *3 cigars (per room, per week) *1 bottle of rum (per room, per week) *Use of bathrobes during your stay *20 minute massage per person, per week. Make your reservations at the spa or mini-spa. *Premium brand drinks in all the bars of the hotel, including the ones at the Caribe and Tropical Princess resorts. Aged liquors or wines not included. *1 Open Water Dive (per room, per stay, certified divers only, proof of certification required). Weather permitting. Make reservations at Dive Center at the beach from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. *1 hour of motorized water sports (per person, per week). Make reservations at the Dive Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. *1 hour of internet service (per person, per stay) at computers located in lobby. Must be used all at one time. *24 hour room service (menu in room), allow 45 minutes for delivery of order. *Minibar included – filled daily – 2 – 1 litre bottles of water, 2 coke, 2 7-up or Sprite and 2 local beer. *Beach Towels located in your room – can be exchanged at Aquatic Center at beach. *Honeymoon Suites Inclusions (based on minimum 5 night stay) *Restaurant reservations by phone from 9 a.m. until 12 noon *24 Hour room service *Use of sunbeds at pool and beach *Fruit basket on arrival *1 twenty minute massage per person per week *1 twenty minute romantic massage per couple per week *1 bottle of Dominican Rum *1 Breakfast in room (per week) *Romantic dinner (one per stay) at one of the restaurants on property *Private Merengue and Spanish lessons *Private Check in and Check out
Room
We were given the honeymoon suite right at the beach, and it was awesome. We had two balconies, one looking straight out to the ocean, and one overlooking the resort and the beach and ocean. We were on the third floor (top floor), room 5217. The honeymoon suite is decorated all in tones of white. It had a king-size 4-poster bed with netting, nice wicker furniture, a sunken living area with TV, coffee table, and minibar, 2 phones, and an alarm clock. The minibar was restocked daily with water, pop, and beer. TV channels included Court TV, TBS, USA, CNN International, ABC, Cartoon network, nickelodeon, ESPN, several sports channels, CBS, BET TV, FX – science fiction channel, Showtime, Animal Planet, PBS, TNT, Family, Turner Classic Movies, weather channel, Disney channel, and an adult channel. There was also a lounge chair in the room that was so comfortable, actually I think it belonged out on the balcony but because of the rain they had brought it inside. You insert one of your keys in the slot to operate the electricity in the room. There was a huge walk-in closet containing the electronic safe (included, and was large enough for my laptop), ironing board and iron, umbrella, and lots of space to hang clothes as well as shelving, and lots of space to put your suitcases. The bathroom in the Honeymoon Suite was very large. The thing I liked about it was that it had a door on it, it was not open to the rest of the room and there was a window to let in natural light. It contained a beautiful large Jacuzzi tub surrounded by candles, a vanity with double sinks, and a separate shower and toilet stall. We always had good water pressure and lots of hot water. They provide amenities including shampoo, bath gel, shower cap, small bars of soap, hairdryer. We didn’t have any facecloths in the room, so I just used the ones we had brought. Recommend you always pack a couple of facecloths, I don’t think I’ve stayed anywhere in the Dominican Republic where we’ve been given a facecloth every day. I did ask guest services if they had facecloths at the resort and was told they do. There were 2 telephones in the room, electricity is 110 V so North Americans do not need an adapter. We tipped the maid every day and maid service was very good. Nightly turn-down service was provided. I took a number of pictures of the room when we arrived, but due to camera difficulties, it appears that all but one has disappeared into cyberspace, so you’ll have to take my word for it that the honeymoon suites are lovely. There are 7 honeymoon suites in the resort, some are two levels, with the Jacuzzi and a daybed on the second level.

The rest of the resort is 263 deluxe/superior suites, they are all the same. They are a good size, with a living area and balcony. No Jacuzzi tub, just a regular bathroom (private). If you look at my photos, I have a number of pictures of the deluxe suites.

Grounds, Beach and Pools
The grounds are really lovely. Everything is perfectly manicured and there are lots of “Taino statues” throughout the grounds. Everything is kept spotless. Rooms are located in several long 3-storey buildings vertical to the beach (you can walk all the way from one end to the other in an open covered hallway at the back of the building if the weather is rainy), and there are 2 villa-style buildings with garden views closer to the lobby. The pool has a walk-in beach-like entrance. Water was a little cool at the beginning of the week due to all the rain, but had warmed up considerably by the end of the week, the same with the ocean. There was a nice swimup bar, and the pool was kept very clean. The pool is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are guards at the beach who may ask to check your band before letting you into the resort. There was a fair amount of seaweed on the beach that they worked hard to keep cleaned up. This, of course, was more than usual because of the heavy rains. The beach is gorgeous, very wide, lots of palapas and lounge chairs. There are gorgeous sunbeds for guests with VIP, Honeymoon or Platinum/Regency Club packages only, security was quite diligent about checking to see if you were allowed in that section. The sunbeds were really comfortable, but a lot seemed to not have a top on them, which makes it very hot being in the direct sun. They had them both around the pool and at the beach. They do have a sign posted saying that you cannot reserve loungers or sunbeds with towels or other objects, and if they are left unattended for more than 30 minutes, they will be removed and other guests can use them. It wasn’t an issue when we were there, we never had a problem finding a spot. The hotel was at 90 per cent occupancy during the week, and by the time we left it was at 100 per cent occupancy. There were guests there from Germany and Spain, as well as North Americans. In June they have a lot of guests from Puerto Rico, but during the winter months, the majority of guests are Canadians and Americans. For Canadians traveling from Canada – I took a look at the Transat Holidays new brochure, and want to point out that the picture of the resort shown is very misleading.It is an old picture, and does not show the mini-spa at the beach, and the vegetation looks very sparse. I was advised the mini-spa has been there for 3 years, so the picture is older than that, probably taken shortly after the resort was built. I also noted that they make reference to the “Regency Clubhouse” in the brochure, which makes it sound like there is a separate “clubhouse” for Transat Holidays guests, but this is not the case.

I was told that all “Regency Club” guests would be in Buildings 4 or 5, which are the best location. If you purchase Oceanview you would be in Building 5, rooms in Building 4 would have poolview and some rooms also partial oceanview.

Bars and Drinks
There are several bars at Punta Cana Princess, the main Oasis Bar in the lobby, the pool bar Splash with swimup bar, the beach bar at Mare Nostrum, and another bar set up in the middle of the beach. There is also butler service at the bar and beach for drinks only. If you do not have the Platinum/Regency, VIP or Honeymoon upgrades, there is an extra charge for drinks with premium liquor. Be sure to request premium liquor, otherwise you will likely get the national brand. Budweiser or Heineken beer is available at all the bars at Punta Cana Princess (served in plastic glasses at the pool or beach, and they may not have both kinds at any given time) Lobby cocktails include Mai-Tai, Merengue, Coco Loco, Tropical Princess, Sex on the Beach, Bavaro Princess, Pina Colada, Caiprina, and Margaritas. They also make great Caesars.

I drink white wine and thought their house wine was pretty good.

Restaurants
Buffet Restaurant (Casabe) – no reservations This is the main buffet restaurant at Punta Cana Princess. It is open from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, and 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. for dinner (Monday nights is dinner at the beach, weather permitting, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) Due to the rain caused by Tropical Storm Noel, they did not have this the week we were there. Later in the week they did some painting and colour changes in the buffet restaurant, all new tablecloths and cushions in brown and orange. The restaurant is open-air, with smoking and non-smoking sections. We ate breakfast here every morning. I liked their coffee. Lots of selection for breakfast – omelettes and eggs cooked to order, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, toast, cereal, fruit, a good selection, including a diet station. We also had lunch here a few times. They have a sub station with sandwich stuff, salads, as well as hot entrees and soups, hamburgs, hotdogs, etc. We only ate dinner here twice, on our first and last night. The first night we had turkey, it was very good, it was Americano night. The last night was Mexican night, with burritos, fajitas, chili con carne, to name a few things. They always have a pasta station at the buffet restaurant.. Overall I thought the buffet food was pretty good, you certainly won’t go hungry. I noticed the quality control manager frequently checking temperatures of the food in the buffet and the Food and Beverage manager was always visible, both at the buffet and other a la carte restaurants.

Mare Nostrum

This open-air restaurant is located by the beach. It is open for breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., Continental Breakfast from 10 a.m. to noon, lunch buffet from noon to 4 p.m., teatime from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and snacks from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. (so basically 24 hours). It is also the Meditteranean/seafood a la carte restaurant in the evening. We never tried it for breakfast, but had lunch here most days. There were salad items, hotdogs, hamburgs, a sandwich grill if you wanted to make a toasted sandwich, pasta station, icecream and other deserts.

El Higuero Buffet Restaurant – no reservations – located at Caribe Club Princess

You also have the option of going to this buffet restaurant at Caribe Club Princess. We never tried it. I understand they serve different food there from the buffet at Punta Cana Princess, ie. if it is Mexican night at Casabe Buffet, it will be a different theme night at El Higuero, and the food is different for the theme nights.

A la carte Restaurants

There are 4 a la carte restaurants at Punta Cana Princess, and you also have the option of making reservations at any of the 5 a la carte restaurants at Caribe Club Princess or Tropical Princess (guests at those hotels cannot eat at Punta Cana Princess or use the facilities). There is a shuttle you can take, or it is a leisurely 10 minute walk from the lobby of Punta Cana Princess.

Reservations were required for all a la carte restaurants at the time we were there, and can be made at the Guest Services desk between 9 a.m. and noon. You can make reservations for up to 3 nights at a time. They have menus for all the restaurants at Guest Services so you can look at them ahead of time. I have been advised that starting in December they are going to a "no reservation" system for the a la carte restaurants in Punta Cana Princess, only the a la cartes at Caribe Club/Tropical Princess will require a reservation.

There is a dress code for the a la carte restaurants – Men are required to wear long pants, collared shirts and closed shoes. Shorts are fine for the buffet restaurants. There is no limit to the number of times you can eat at the a la carte restaurants as long as you can get a reservation.

Rio Grande Tex-Mex Restaurant – Punta Cana Princess

This restaurant is located close to the lobby and buffet restaurant. Ambience was nice, the tables were nice, we were able to sit side by side on bench seats. You are given a Margarita when you arrive and they give you a basket of corn chips and dipping sauces to start with. Service was good. I had the filet mignon with baked potato and vegetables, and a caesar salad to start, and cherry cheesecake for desert. I have to say it was the best meal I had on this trip to Punta Cana. We had coffee after the meal, they seem to know how to serve regular coffee in the evening at this hotel.. Other menu items included ribs, wings, and beef or chicken fajitas, etc.

Il Bacio Italian Restaurant – Punta Cana Princess

Located next to Rio Grande Tex-Mex Restaurant, near the lobby. Usual Italian fare, they had Bolognese Lasagna, Pizza, Fettucini Alfredo, etc. I had the Fettucini Alfredo, it was just okay. They had a trio of musicians going from table to table, who were entertaining and took requests, we gave them a tip, although noticed many did not tip them. My only complaint on this evening was that they had loud music playing in the Restaurant, it was hard to even talk to each other, although another couple we spoke to went a couple days later and said the music was so low you couldn’t even hear it 🙂

La Petite Fondue – Swiss Restaurant – Punta Cana Princess

I really liked this restaurant, mainly because it was something different from the usual a la carte restaurants. There is a fondue pot on each table and you are given two forks each. We had French onion soup as an appetizer and they brought a basket of rolls. You have a choice of the following fondues: Cheese fondue, a Bourgionne fondue of beef, chicken, and sausage (hotdogs), Chinoise fondue – beef slices dipped in boullion, or a Neptune fondue – fish slices and seafood dipped in boullion. All come with several dipping sauces and a plate of French fries. For desert we had a chocolate fondue made with Toblerone chocolate, served with marshmallows and fruit, it was excellent.

Mare Nostrum – Meditteranean/Seafood – Punta Cana Princess, at the beach

We did not eat here, as I am not a fan of seafood, although they do have beef filet on the menu. It’s right at the beach, so would have been nice for dinner. Some of the menu choices included Grouper filet in coconut sauce, Mare Nostrum seafood mixed grill, grilled lobster, Beef filet in green pepper sauce, Grilled salmon filet and Seafood Casserole

Sombrero Restaurant – Mexican – Caribe Club Princess

Located at Caribe Club Princess. Main course choices included beef filet, Texan fajitas, chicken fajitas, shrimp quesadillas, grilled ribeye, fish filet, taco combos, chicken chimechangas, pork filet. We did not eat here. Had a reservation for Saturday night, but saw that it was Mexican night at the Casabe buffet and decided to stay at Punta Cana Princess.

Mama Mia – Italian – Caribe Club Princess

This is a second Italian Restaurant, located at Caribe Club Princess. We did not eat here. Too many restaurants, not enough time..

Some of the menu items included Bolognese lasagna, Ravioli Napolitana, Pizza, Spaghetti, Linguine with marinara sauce, Tagliatelle with mushrooms, Fettucini Alfredo, Chicken breast, Beef filet and Shrimp.

Shanghay Chinese Restaurant – Caribe Club Princess We had dinner at this restaurant . The food was good and there was lots of it. I had the beef chow mein, but service was very slow here. They had a large group of people at one table and that may have been the reason for the slow service. Menu choices include sushi rolls, curry shrimp, crab and salmon, seafood fried shrimp, seafood casserole, lobster pieces in oyster sauce, Pekinese duck, Teriyaki pork, beef filet, goat casserole, beef or chicken chow mein, fried rice, as well as appetizers..

El Pilon – Dominican restaurant – Tropical Princess

Located at Tropical Princess, we did not eat here. Main courses included goat country style, Grouper filet, Chicken leg Creole style, Pork filet, Sautéed snail meat with fine vegetables, Sirloin in onion sauce, as well as other Dominican Specialties and deserts.

Rodizzio Brazilian Restaurant – Tropical Princess We didn’t eat here. Didn’t see the menu for this one, if it’s like other Brazilian restaurants we’ve been to, they serve all different kinds of meat.

There is also a Creperie located at Tropical Princess (near the beach) that looked interesting, but never did try it.

There are also two restaurants that you can pay to eat at

El Pescador Restaurant – $$$ – Specialty Fish and Seafood – Caribe Club Princess.

El Pescador Restaurant is available at extra cost – $25.00 U.S. per person plus taxes (total $32.00 U.S.). It is located at the beach at the Caribe Club Princess. If you have the VIP package, you can dine at either this restaurant or La Cava free of charge, once per week. The menu choices include a grilled fisherman platter, grilled lobster, grouper filet charcoal style, and grilled shrimp. We did not eat here.

La Cava Restaurant – $$$ – Wine Cellar and Gourmet Cuisine – Caribe Club Princess

La Cava Restaurant is available at extra cost – $25.00 U.S. per person plus taxes (total $32.00 U.S.). It is located at Caribe Club Princess. If you have the VIP package, you can dine at either this restaurant or El Pescador free of charge, once per week We chose La Cava to eat at. The food was very good. I had the Shrimp Surprise for an appetizer which was very good, Pat had the Asparagus soup. Entrees included a beef filet, Red Snapper, Palillotte bell pepper, Grouper filet in puffed pastry with saffron sauce, Pork and sweet and sour sauce, Top sirloin in sauce and mushrooms, Chicken mignon in curry sauce and mushrooms, a NY sirloin au maitre d’hotel butter, Duck with honey and thyme sauce, Entrecote served in 3 pepper sauce, Lamb loin au rosemary butter, and Grilled lobster. Pat and I both had the NY sirloin and it was excellent. They also have an extensive wine list if you want to purchase a bottle of wine. Service was good. My only complaint was it was very cold in this restaurant. Pat was fine, but I had a sleeveless dress on and I was freezing. One couple moved to a table outside. So bring a sweater just in case..

Room Service

Room service is included free for guests who have the Platinum/Regency Club, VIP or Honeymoon packages. If you do not have a Platinum or VIP package you still have the option of Room Service, but it will cost you a $20.00 U.S. service charge plus 26% taxes each time. Items available through room service include: soup, Caesar salad, garden salad, pizza, calzone, choice of pasta, eggs, sandwiches, grilled porkchops, chicken burgers with french fries and coleslaw, plus deserts. It states to allow 45 minutes for room service, we did not try it.

Daytime Activities and Sports

Punta Cana Princess has its own animacion team that lead activities on the beach and by the pool – dance lessons, aerobics, games, volleyball, etc. You are not pressured to join in. Sports activities available include tennis, archery, bicycles, table games and mini-golf. The Animacion office is located at the beach, where they have games and books (leave your books here when you’re finished with them, or leave them at the library in the lobby).

Nightly Entertainment

The Animacion team also has a small show or games in the lobby in the evening, and once a week they do a show at the stage on the beach in front of the Animacion booth. Otherwise you can go to the Serenata Theatre at Caribe Club Princess where they have a nightly show. We’re not big on these shows, and we only went once, it was a comedy show, and we didn’t stay for the whole show. A lot of people seemed to be enjoying it, though.

Disco

There is a disco at Caribe Club Princess, Areita Disco. We did not go. National drinks are included until midnight, after that you have to pay for drinks.

Casino There is a shuttle to the Tower Casino from the front lobby, which is located just outside the Bavaro Princess. It’s about a 10 minute ride via shuttle. The shuttle starts at 7 p.m. and goes to 5 a.m., every 20 minutes or so. Just look for the shuttle with the Tower Casino logo on it. We went once to take a look. It’s a lot larger than other resort casinos in Punta Cana, but it’s not Vegas. We played the slots for a while then left. Not many people at the tables. We were there fairly early in the evening around 9:30 p.m., I’m sure it gets busy later in the evening.

Internet Access

Wireless internet is available in the rooms here. It is run by an outside company (they manage the wireless internet in a number of hotels in Punta Cana) – you can sign up in the lobby by the computers (the ones across from the front desk, not the computers by Guest Services – the ones beside Guest Services are only for Platinum/Regency Club guests.) Wireless costs $10.00 U.S. per day. For $15.00 U.S. per day you can rent a laptop with wireless connection (note you will have to give them a credit card imprint as security for the laptop.) I bought the wireless for the week, unfortunately due to the location of our room (right at the beach), I couldn’t get a connection in the room, and only occasionally on the balcony. Ended up taking it down to the pool or lobby. They also have two computer stations set up in the lobby that cost $10.00 U.S. per hour. You can use this 20 or 30 minutes at a time until it’s used up. If you have the VIP package, you get a card entitling you to one hour of free internet, but it can only be used at one sitting, ie. if you only use it for 40 minutes, you’re done. If you have the Platimum/Regency Club package, you are allowed free internet access at one of the two computers set up beside Guest Services on the other side of the lobby. You are restricted to 20 minutes at a time unless no one is waiting.

Hotel Stores/Shopping

There is a souvenir shop/general store near the lobby, as well as a souvenir stand by the pool. There is a bikini shop at the beach and a Caribbean gift shop next door on the beach. Dominican vendors also come into the resort a couple of times a week and set up their stuff – be sure to bargain. You can get your luggage wrapped in plastic for $7 US per suitcase, this is located in the lobby.

Spa

There is a spa located close to the front lobby. (Take the first road to the left outside of the lobby). It is run by Metamorphosis Spas, and they have a full range of massages, body treatments, salon services, etc.). If you have the VIP package you get a 20-minute free massage – I opted to purchase an additional 25 minutes for $35.00 U.S. to make it a 45 minute massage. Braids are available for $1 each. Other prices are what you’d expect to pay at home.

There is also a Mini-Spa located right at the beach. There are two massage huts, as well as a sauna, gym and Jacuzzi. Also had a massage here, it was very nice.

Watersports Watersports is run by Pelicano Watersports and they are located right at the beach, in front of Building 5. Note that if you pay for watersports activities or excursions with a credit card, they charge you 9% more than if you pay by cash. Non-motorized watersports are included with the basic all-inclusive. There are charges for motorized watersports and instruction. They have a full range of things available – There is windsurfing, catamaran, wakeboard, banana boat, crazy tube, waterskiing, boat trip to the wreck Astron, boat trip along the coastline, snorkel trips (3 hrs. $39 US), bottom fishing, sunset boat tour, deep sea fishing, Speedcat (like a small catamaran with an engine that goes really fast). You can book parasailing here – $49 US for 10 minutes, or $89 US for tandem Excursions include the Tropical Storm Sunset Tour, which includes a lobster dinner at the Jellyfish Restaurant, catamaran excursions, excursions to Catalina Island and Saona Island. Dive packages, PADI open water dives and certification available. With the VIP package you get 1 hour of free motorized watersports. You can do different things that add up to one hour, such as banana boat, waveboard, waterskiing, or on Tuesdays and Thursdays you can take a free 1-hour sightseeing boat trip up and down the coast.

Medical Services – near the lobby, available 24 hours. (extra charge)

Weddings

Weddings at Punta Cana Princess usually take place at the gazebo at the beach, beside Mare Nostrum Restaurant. There is another gazebo near the Spa at the front of the property, which is also used for weddings, with a garden setting. For information on the wedding packages available at Punta Cana Princess, see our Weddings Page

Currency

Take U.S. currency, cash is best. You can pay for virtually everything in U.S. dollars, and even if you exchange your money for pesos at the front desk, you will get the best rate with U.S. dollars.

Tours

Tour reps have desks in the front lobby, and you can book any number of different tours through them. They have the usual jeep safaris, boat trips, trips to Santo Domingo, Manati Park, etc. New this year is a Zip Lines Tour (Canopy Tour), run by Bavaro Runners. Here you can also check your flight information for your flight home. Be sure to check the night before you leave to make sure there are no changes in your flight times.

Calling home to Canada

I made one phonecall home, from our room. There is a $2 US service charge for them to connect you with a Canadian operator. Just dial “0” for the hotel operator and ask for a Canadian operator. I have a Bell calling card, and just used it to make my call.

Weather and Bugs

We arrived here on Sunday, October 28. It was a rainy day because of Tropical Storm Noel, and the rain lasted through Monday. Tuesday was mostly overcast, but dry, and by Wednesday the sun was shining again and the rest of the week was fine, although Saturday and Sunday were really hot and humid. No problem with mosquitos. We had a few small bugs in our room (teeny tiny ones), I think they come in with the flowers they use to decorate the room. Not a big deal. Just don’t leave any food out.

Summary

We enjoyed our stay here very much. What I liked about this Adults Only resort is that it’s very compact, and offers everything you need for your vacation in one spot. While you do have the option of going to its sister resorts’ a la carte restaurants, there are 4 a la carte restaurants right at the Punta Cana Princess. It takes 5 minutes or less to walk from the lobby right through to the beach.

Staff at the resort are very friendly, and most speak at least some English, and many speak English very well. Management was always visible at the resort, and are genuinely interested in guests’ comments and ways to improve things. If you have any questions, you can contact us and I’ll try to answer them for you.

Special thanks to Jesus Tabliega, Eric Rodrigues, Raul Cedano, Diana Casoliba and guest services staff for all their assistance.

Photos: http://travel.webshots.com/album/561440667ePUjoc
Grand Palladium Resort is a great spot for families, singles, and couples.
Hotel The Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Oct 1, 2007
October 21 – 28, 2007
Airports and Flights
We flew Air Transat out of Toronto. We purchased the Club Transat upgrade, and it is well worth it. The upgrade gives you big seats, with a separate checkin at both airports. Your luggage is given priority, first off the plan and you are allowed twice the baggage allowance. With Club Transat you can have unlimited drinks, a menu with 4 dinner choices, free snacks, free headphones, etc. We actually had good flight times going down, leaving Toronto at 10:20 a.m. and arriving in Punta Cana at 2:30 p.m.

When we got to the terminal building there were, as usual, two girls and a photographer waiting to take pictures, which you can view and purchase when you leave. Went through customs, our luggage was first off and we were out of the airport in 15 minutes. There are porters waiting to take your baggage as you exit the airport, it is easiest to just let them take it and give them a few dollars. A $30.00 U.S. cab ride and we arrived at Grand Palladium Royal Suites. If you are planning to take a taxi to your hotel, be specific about the name of the hotel, the taxi driver confirmed with us a couple of times that it was Palladium Royal Suites we were going to – so many hotels in the area have similar names or different sections. It is about half an hour from Punta Cana Airport.

Location and overview of Grand Palladium Complex
The Grand Palladium complex is located centrally in Bavaro, with the village of El Cortecito to the right of it, and Occidental Flamenco Resort to the left of it. It has 1 kilometer of beachfront, and the resort is built on 320,000 square metres, so even if the resort is completely full it wouldn’t seem crowded. The resort was built in 1992 and was previously known as Fiesta Hotels, but in 2004 and 2005 underwent major renovations and was upgraded to their premium Palladium brand. It is comprised of 3 resorts – Grand Palladium Bavaro, Grand Palladium Punta Cana, and Grand Palladium Palace, which has the separate Adults Only (18 years and over) Royal Suites section, with its own lobby, pool and beach area. Each section has its own lobby and pool (there are two pools in the Punta Cana section). Guests staying in the Bavaro, Punta Cana, and Palace sections are free to use any of the facilities on the property, except for the Royal Suites section. Royal Suites guests can use any facilities on the property. Grand Palladium Bavaro is the largest section, with 636 rooms comprised of 349 Junior suites, 33 Romance Suites and 254 Superior rooms, in 62 2-storey bungalows of 8 rooms each and 5 two-storey villas of 28 rooms each. Grand Palladium Punta Cana is the middle section, with 451 rooms, comprised of 243 deluxe rooms and 12 junior suites in 3 buildings of 85 rooms each, and 14 loft suites (junior suites with two levels) and 182 deluxe rooms in 7 villas of 28 rooms. Grand Palladium Palace was built in 1996 and totally renovated in 2004. It consists of 504 rooms, comprised of 202 superior double rooms and 78 loft suites (24 of which are honeymoon suites), in 14 two-storey villas of 20 rooms, and 6 junior suites and 78 superior double rooms in 3 two-storey villas of 28 rooms. The Royal Suites was built in 2004 and consists of 124 junior suites, 15 honeymoon suites, and 1 Presidential suite, located in 3 three-storey buildings forming a horseshoe shape around the pool. All rooms have at least a partial view of the beach. I had the opportunity to see some of the different room types in the Palladium complex. All the rooms have been renovated in the last few years and look like new. They have some different types of rooms, ie. Loft suites in the Punta Cana or Palace sections have a second storey bedroom accessed by stairs with one king or two doubles, that is open to the entire room. On the ground floor there is a sitting area with a queen-size pullout couch, and full bathroom with jacuzzi tub. In the Bavaro section there are Junior suites that can accept a family of 5, and Junior Suites that have an adjoining deluxe room for larger families. In the Bavaro section only, pay-per-view movies, sports, and video games are available. The Bavaro section also has Romance Suites that are for adults only – they are closest to the beach and have a private outdoor shower under a thatched roof as well as a hammock for two (these rooms are gorgeous!)

All rooms are a good size. Junior suites are 47.28 m2/510 sq. ft., Loft suites are 50.96 m2/548 sq. ft., and Deluxe(Superior) rooms are 30.33 m2/326 sq. ft. Royal Junior Suites are 41.08 m2/442 sq. ft., and Royal Honeymoon Suites are 51.65 m2/556 sq. ft.

Getting around the Resort
Depending on which section you are in and where you want to go, it could be a very long walk. They have two trams that run around the resort every 20 – 30 minutes. This is the best way to get from one place to another. It stops at all the lobbies, the casino, the spa, and several other stops along the route. You are given a map of the resort when you check in, and there are “You are Here” maps posted at various places throughout the resort. For Royal Suites guests, it is a short walk to the Royal Gourmet Restaurant, Palace Lobby, and Casino. See the Map we have posted, it was submitted previously by one of our reviewers and shows the different sections of the resort, and is still the current map.
Check-In at Royal Suites – Adults Only (18+)
Although Royal Suites is considered part of the Palace, it has its own lobby. The lobby is smaller than the others and enclosed and air-conditioned. Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is 12 noon (late checkouts may be available at additional charge). We were given VIP wristbands (I don’t think this entitled us to any extra services, though), towel cards, a map of the resort and information sheet, and our room keys (electronic key cards). One key operates the power in the room and must be inserted in the slot inside the door. Keep your keys in the sleeve they give you and don’t put them near the TV or phone or anything magnetic. We did have some issues with our keys and sometimes it would take 5 or 6 tries to open the door. The remote for the TV is in the room. Our room was located in the same building as the lobby, we were on the third floor, in a honeymoon suite, room 5142, and our luggage was brought to our room promptly. A fruit basket and bottle of rum was in our room.

Note there are no elevators anywhere in the Palladium complex.

Room
The Honeymoon Suite was beautiful. It was on the third floor, right in the centre of the building, and we had a view of the whole Royal Suites section and the beach and ocean. It was very large, decorated in white tones, consisting of a king-size 4-poster bed, open-concept bathroom with double sinks, shower stall and toilet stall, as well as a living area with sofa, coffee table, desk, and table and chairs. There was no tub in the room, it was located out on the huge balcony – a large double Jacuzzi tub. Although we did use it a couple of times, I felt that it was not private enough, and would have rather had it in the room, or had a screen of some type on the balcony that you could pull for assurance of privacy. The room had a telephone, coffee-maker, ice-bucket, satellite TV with a lot of English stations (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN Sports, Showtime, CNN, TNT, Discovery, BBC America, Cinemax, SciFi) – unfortunately the satellite signal seemed to go out frequently, probably because of the weather, so some channels weren’t always available. There was a basket in the bathroom containing bottles of shampoo and bath gel,shower cap, bath sponge, combs, makeup removal pads, razors, toothbrushes, no body lotion though. Bars of soap were very small, I was glad I had brought my own. There is no clock in the rooms. You can leave a wakeup call if you need to, but I prefer to bring my own travel alarm clock. There is a mini fridge stocked with 2 large bottles of water, 1 bottle of Orange, Sprite, Coke, Coke light and 2 beer, one Presidente and one Bohemia. The mini fridge is restocked daily at Royal Suites, 3 times per week in the other sections of the resort. Bottled water is readily available at any of the bars, and in the Royal Suites you just have to go to the lobby and grab it out of the cooler there, which also contains pop and beer, as well as salads, fruit, and wraps if you’re looking for a late night snack. We did receive facecloths most days, a couple days we did not. I always pack a couple of my own. Another thing I took this time was a nightlight, which came in handy. There was also an ironing board and iron, bathrobes and slippers. There are no umbrellas in the rooms, which would have come in handy a couple of days we were there, but apparently they are available at reception if you ask for one. There is a combination in-room safe, at no extra charge. I had brought my laptop with me, but I could not fit it into the safe. A smaller laptop may fit though. Maid service was excellent, we tipped $3 a day and we had some wonderful towel art every day. Air-conditioning worked great, it was almost too cold sometimes and we used the blanket provided, there was also an extra pillow. There is no turn-down service provided in the evening. The regular rooms in the Royal Suites section, Royal Junior Suites, are spacious (41.08 m2/442 sq. ft.)and include a king-size or two double beds, as well as the living area with sofa, open-concept Jacuzzi tub, and shower and toilet stalls.

I didn’t get to see the Presidential suite

Currency
Take U.S. currency, cash is best. You can pay for virtually everything in U.S. dollars, and even if you exchange your money for pesos at the front desk, you will get the best rate with U.S. dollars.

Grounds, Beach and Pool

The grounds and beach of this complex are beautiful. I was told they have 70 gardeners working there. The grounds are perfectly manicured and everything is kept very clean. The beach area in front of Royal Suites is reserved exclusively for Royal Suites guests. Lots of shade on the beach, – trees and palapas – they have recently added more palapas. There was never a problem finding a place to sit, any time of the day, although Royal Suites was only at about 45% occupancy when we were there, as were the Palace and Punta Cana sections. The Bavaro section was at 89% occupancy. Lots of guests from Europe – Spain, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Austria, not as many North Americans this time of year. Americans and Canadians are the majority during the winter season. The Royal Suites pool is in the centre of the Royal Suites section. It has a walk-in entrance and integrated Jacuzzis (cold). There is a nice swimup bar. Towels are available at the activities centre by the beach. We alternated between sitting on the beach and around the pool. Both the ocean and the pool water were warm, it was beautiful. The Royal Suites area is very quiet. There are no activities staff here, or loud music. If you want to join in activities you have to go to other areas of the resort or further down the beach. The activities staff come around once in a while to see if people are interested in joining an activity. There are listings of the activities available, with times and locations in the Royal Suites lobby. We were content to relax by the pool or beach and read a book (vacations are the only time I ever have time to read). If you run out of reading materials, there are books in the lobby that people have left, and we also left the ones we had finished with. Also available in the lobby each day are internet newspapers from various countries, they had the National Post. You can’t take it out of the lobby, for an extra charge you can have a copy delivered to your room each day. A photographer came around the pool area a couple of times to take pictures. He brought parrots the first time, and a snake the second time. I got as far away as I could. Dolin Dive Center runs the watersports at the resort. The dive center is located at the beach at Grand Palladium Bavaro Included watersports are kayaks, catamaran (lessons extra), windsurfing (lessons extra, from $40 US) (1 hour per day). Here you can also book banana boat rides, waterskiing, parasailing ($45 US for 10 minutes, $85 US for 10 minutes tandem), snorkeling trips, glass bottom boat, speedboat trips, deep sea fishing, trip to Catalina Island, and Sunset boat tours. And of course dive instruction and trips are available.

You can also book deep sea fishing trips on the beach at El Cortecito, just go down the beach to your right from Royal Suites.

Bars and Drinks
There are numerous bars throughout the complex: Bavaro Section: Lobby bar Caoba – open 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Pool bar Boca Chica with swimup bar – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cocktail Bar Hemingway – open 6 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. – very nice – air-conditioned and comfortable seating and music. Punta Cana Section: Lobby Bar Macao – open 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Pool bar Samana with swimup bar – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pool Bar Saona – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Palace Section: Lobby Bar Guayacan – open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Pool bar Barahona with swimup bar – open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Royal Suites Section: Lobby Bar – open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Swimup Bar at Royal Suites Pool – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sports Bar – open 24 hours Casino bar – open 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. Plus 6 Bar kiosks along the beach, and bars in the two theatres and the disco. Bars offer national drinks and some imported drinks (selection will vary from bar to bar). Beer is Presidente and Bohemia, sometimes they have Budweiser. I mostly drink white wine and found the house wine pretty good after I got used to it. Also had a few Banana Mamas which were excellent.

Royal Suites guests have pool and beach bar service, so you don’t have to move if you don’t want to.

Restaurants
There are a number of dining options available. Overall, I would consider the food quality and choices available to be excellent, both in the buffet restaurants and the a la carte restaurants.
Royal Gourmet Restaurant
Royal Suites guests have exclusive use of the Royal Gourmet Restaurant, which is enclosed and air-conditioned. It is all glass windows, very bright and clean-looking. In the morning watch where you sit or you may get the sun in your face. The Royal Gourmet is open for breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. It is not open at lunchtime. No reservations are required. Men must wear long pants at dinner. Note that there is no smoking in any of the enclosed restaurants on the property, only the open air restaurants have smoking areas. There is an a la carte menu for breakfast and dinner, along with buffet items. We ate breakfast here several times. We would order off the menu and then check the buffet for anything else we wanted. Everything is served piping hot and was very good.

We ate dinner here twice. The first time we had the beef tenderloin, it was okay, but not great. The other time I had Churrasco (Argentine Flank steak), and Pat had Chicken Parmesan and it was very good. On Sundays, they have Lobster as a special, but since we don’t like lobster, we opted for the buffet that night. Each day has a special listed, but most items are available every day. They had copies of the menus for each day posted in the lobby of Royal Suites, basically the same with a different special each night and a few slight changes.

Las Torres Buffet Restaurant – Palace Section
This buffet is right next to the Royal Gourmet Restaurant, and we ate dinner here a couple of times and breakfast most days. It is open from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. It is not open at lunchtime. There was always a large selection of food and it was very good. In addition to the prepared food in the buffet, you could ask for a steak, hamburger, porkchop or hotdog and they would cook it for you. They always had several kinds of pasta, salads, rice dishes, vegetables, fish and meat, cheese and breads and deserts. Getting drinks was a little hit and miss sometimes, ie. at dinner they’d bring the wine but not the water. We enjoy a cup of coffee after our evening meal, and this seemed to be a problem in all of the restaurants. We’d ask for Café Americano or Cafe con Leche, and end up with espresso almost every time – best to stick to cerveza. The buffet restaurants have a different theme every night, ie. Sunday is Americano, Monday is Mexican, Tuesday is Oriental, Wednesday is Italian, Thursday is Dominican, etc.. This is also posted in the lobby of Royal Suites every day.

La Catedral Buffet Restaurant- Bavaro Section

Same hours as Las Torres. We did not eat here. I enquired if there was different food at the different buffets and was told it was the same at all of the buffet restaurants.

El Behique Buffet Restaurant – Punta Cana Section

Same hours as the other buffets, and is also open at lunchtime from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. We ate lunch here once, it was very nice, again lots of choice. Each section also has its own beach restaurant, located between the pool and the beach.

El Bohio Lunch Buffet – Palace Section

Open from noon to 4 p.m. for lunch. This is where we ate lunch most of the time, it is closest to Royal Suites. Good variety and service. I loved their Waldorf salad, and later in the week they had potato salad, which was excellent. Again, you could have a hamburger or hotdog or porkchop or steak cooked to order. They also had a machine for icecream cones. I thought originally that it was soft icecream but it wasn’t – it was great. A lot easier than trying to scoop out of frozen icecream containers.

La Uva Lunch Buffet – Punta Cana Section

Open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch, and it is also open for continental breakfast and snacks from 10 a.m. to noon, and snacks from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. We were told it was nice here, same food as other lunch buffets but a nicer atmosphere. We never got to try it though.

Arrecife – Bavaro Section

Open for lunch from noon to 4 p.m. Didn’t eat here.

A La Carte Restaurants
he hotel now has a “no reservations” system for all of the a la cartes for this season. (It’s something they are trying out to see how it works, so it is subject to change). Previously guests had to make reservations for the a la carte restaurants, and guests other than those in Royal Suites were restricted on the number of times they could eat at a la carte restaurants. Now no one needs to have a reservation, it’s first come, first served.. Royal Suites guests have the option of making a reservation at the front desk in the morning for their choice of a la carte restaurant and they will be guaranteed a table at the time they select. All a la cartes are open from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Note that if it is the Mexican theme night at the buffets, the Mexican a la carte restaurant will be closed, if it is the Italian theme night, the Italian a la carte restaurant is closed, etc.

There are 5 a la carte restaurants:

Mare Nostrum – Italian – Palace Section This restaurant is located right next to the Las Torres Buffet Restaurant. There are a number of menu choices, as well as an antipasto/salad bar. Food and service was very good. I had the veal parmesan. El Arrecife – Seafood – Bavaro Section We did not eat here as I don’t like seafood, but in looking at the menu later I saw that they do have steak, chicken and pork entrees on the menu. This restaurant is right at the beach. According to the menu, there is an extra charge for Lobster. Bamboo – Asian Restaurant – Bavaro Section This restaurant is located off the lobby of the Bavaro Section. Nice décor, lots of bamboo. The menu includes dishes from China, Japan, India and Thailand. They also have an antipasto/salad bar. We ordered our meal and because we were in Royal Service they also brought us a plate of extras. The food was very good, but we were so full when we left… El Quijote – Spanish Specialties – Bavaro Section This restaurant is also located off the lobby of the Bavaro Section. Again, this was very good. I had lamb, Pat had beef, and they also had an antipasto/salad bar. Good service. Interesting décor, chandeliers made out of bottles. La Gran Cantina Mariachi – Bavaro Section Also located off the lobby of the Bavaro Section. We ate here on our last night and it was pouring with rain. The food was good here, but service wasn’t the best as they were having issues with water leaking through the roof. I had a buffalo wing appetizer that was almost a meal in itself, and then a steak with guacamole. There was also an antipasto/salad bar, so we were stuffed when we left. House wine is included at all the restaurants; they also have a wine list if you want to purchase a bottle of wine with your meal.

Dress Code for the a la carte restaurants is long pants for men. Having said that, I did see some men in shorts in the a la carte restaurants… Dress shorts are fine for the buffet restaurants.

Room Service
Only Royal Suites guests have room service, which is available 24 hours. There is a $6.00 U.S. service charge. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., main courses from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and salads and sandwiches are available 24 hours. We never tried room service, it says to allow 20 to 30 minutes for delivery.

Nightly Entertainment

There are two theatres here, one at Grand Palladium Bavaro, the Sunset, and one at Grand Palladium Punta Cana, the Merengue . The shows didn’t start until 10:00 p.m., we never did make it to one. In the Royal Suites lobby they post which shows are available at which theatre. Karaoke, Michael Jackson show, Dominican Folklore, Phantasia of Horror, Gala..were a few I saw listed.

Disco

The Sunset Boulevard Disco is located across from the main lobby of the Palladium Bavaro and is open from 11:15 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. – never went in, too late for us..

Casino

The casino is located near the Palace lobby. The slot machines are open at 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., the tables don’t open until 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. We went in a couple of times and played the slot machines, didn’t win anything but they have 1 cent and 5 cent slot machines, so you can play for quite a while. Drinks are included here. Tables are Blackjack, Caribbean Poker, and Texas Holdem Poker.

Internet Access

There are two computers in the lobby of Royal Suites which are free for Royal Suites guests to use and are available 24 hours a day. Connections were a little intermittent, it was down the first day we were there and went out a couple of times during the week for short periods. For non-Royal Suite guests there is an internet café in the Palace area and in the Sports Bar in the Bavaro side of the complex where they charge $5 US for 30 minutes or $8 for an hour. Apparently there are plans to have wireless internet in the resort in the future.

Hotel Stores/Shopping

In the Palace area you will find a gift shop, logo shop, and supermercado. I went in to buy some hairspray as I had forgotten mine, but decided that $18 US for a can of hairspray was a bit much.

The Dominican vendors also come into the resort once a week, or you can walk down the beach to the right where you will find a lot of vendors.on the beach and in El Cortecito. Be prepared to bargain, and everyone will want you to come and look at what they have for sale.

Spa
The spa at Grand Palladium Resorts is operated by Renova Spa and is currently located near the beach at Palladium Punta Cana. It is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The gym, sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi are included in the all-inclusive plan (reservations may be required). The gym is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. I went to the spa for a massage and it was wonderful. I had the 80 minute Stress Cure massage, s a combination-type massage – cost is $110.00 U.S. They have many different types of massages and body treatments available starting from $55.00 U.S., as well as manicures, pedicures, and hair salon services, There are also massages available at the beach. A large new spa is currently under construction across from the Royal Gourmet Restaurant. They are building a huge new spa scheduled to be completed in December, it will be the largest in the area.

Sports

The Sports Center is located centrally in the Punta Cana section of the resort, furthest away from the beach. (Note that sports activities organized by the animation team take place at the beach and pools.) Archery, rifle shooting, badminton, basketball and mini golf are located at the sports centre, as well as the tennis courts, and a soccer field.

Medical Services – available 24 hours.

Weddings

For information on Grand Palladium Resorts wedding packages, see our Weddings Page

Tours

Tour reps have desks in the lobbies of the various sections (never saw any reps in the Royal Suites section), you can check their books and see what their hours are in the other sections, and you can see them for available tours. Also, if you have any donations of school supplies, etc. that you bring with you, Apple (Amstar) reps at the hotel will gladly accept them and see that they are distributed to those that need them.

Weather and Bugs

We were there during Tropical Storm Noel. Although it caused a lot of devastation in the southern part of the country, Punta Cana only received heavy rain for a couple of days. We arrived on a Sunday and the weather was great all week, mostly sunny with only an occasional brief shower, until Saturday, when it clouded over and rained for much of the day. We had rain all of Sunday and into Monday. As far as bugs, there weren’t any to speak of. A few flies, no problem with mosquitos at all.

Summary

As an adults only section, Royal Suites is an excellent option for those who just want to veg out and relax. At the same time, a full range of activities are also available to you. Grand Palladium Resort is a great spot for families, singles, and couples. The food everywhere at the resort is excellent, with many dining options, and service for the most part was excellent.. I’ve tried to cover the main aspects of the resort in my review – if you have any questions feel free to contact us, and I’ll try to answer them for you.

Special thanks to the staff in Royal Suites, and to Octavio Subervi for showing me around and answering all my questions.

* One of the nicest we’ve stayed at
Hotel Paradisus Palma Real
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Nov 1, 2006
November 2006

Arrival

Summary

We flew Air Transat Club Class from Toronto. Good flight, everything was on time. We arrived at Punta Cana Airport around 8 p.m. and it was pouring with rain. The plane was close to the airport entrance, but we still got soaked. The girls that take your picture when you arrive weren’t too happy, as we were all soaked and no one wanted their picture taken. Immigration was quick, as usual, and we got our luggage and grabbed a taxi to Palma Real. Not one of our better taxi experiences. We told him we wanted to go to Palma Real and he repeated it, but somewhere along the way, maybe after he stopped at a gas station for 15 minutes to get gas, he forgot where we were going and thought we were going to Ocean Blue. We said no, we’re going to Palma Real, so he had to turn around and spent the rest of the time apologizing in Spanish. Taxi fare was $30.00 U.S. Paradisus Palma Real is located about 25 minutes from the airport.(depending on your taxi driver). It is just north of Melia Caribe Tropical. With a total of 554 rooms, it is one of the smaller resorts in Punta Cana. The hotel is absolutely beautiful. They had beautiful Christmas decorations and lights everywhere. As you enter the hotel, the front desk is to the left, and to the right is a large carpeted lobby bar with comfortable seating. A large central staircase takes you to the ground level, where you will find all of the restaurants on the left side, and the Onyx Bar/Disco, Casino, Games Room, and Theatre on the right side, with fountains and seating areas in the middle. There is also an elevator that goes to the ground level. Checkin was quick and we were given our wristbands and taken to our room with our luggage in a golf cart. The bellboy showed us how everything worked in the room and showed us the “shortcut” across the gardens to reach the lobby/restaurant area.

Our room was a Deluxe Garden View Suite, Room 1051, which is one of their regular suites. It was in a location convenient to the lobby/restaurant area, and about a 2 minute walk to the pool and beach. It was next to a pathway, so was a little noisy at times. I will describe the various rooms in more detail later, but basically the rooms are the same, it’s just the included amenities and room location that are different.

Our room was large, 520 square feet. Rooms have a plasma TV, a huge Jacuzzi tub big enough for 2, and a separate shower stall with European spa jetshower (should come with an instruction manual), and toilet stall with frosted glass doors. While there are shutters that can be closed between the Jacuzzi tub area and the rest of the room, it is still not totally private when using the tub. Water was only lukewarm the night we arrived, but got progressively warmer the next day and was fine the rest of the week. Bathroom amenities included a hairdryer, makeup mirror soap, bath gel, shampoo/conditioner, body lotion, travel toothbrush kit, q-tips and makeup removal pads, razor with shave cream, sewing kit, shoe polish pad, and Kleenex.. An electronic in-room safe is included, and is large enough to hold a laptop computer. I had my 15.4” widescreen laptop with me, and by putting it in on an angle horizontally to get it in and out, it fit nicely. Our room had two double beds, with good pillows and a comfortable mattress. My only complaint is that the beds are not attached to the headboard, so if you’re sitting up reading or watching TV, the bed tends to slide away from the wall. The room also contains a living area with sofa bed and table and chairs. It was very nicely decorated, and had mahogany furniture. The air conditioning worked very well and there was also a ceiling fan. A mini-fridge contains 2 cans of Presidente, Pepsi, Pepsi Light, 7-up, 7-up Light, and bottled water, which is restocked daily. If you want more of one thing, just leave a note. There is also a coffee maker, stereo with radio and MP3/CDR/RW playback, highspeed internet access, ironing board and iron., umbrella, bathrobes and slippers. Lots of closet and drawer/shelf space for your clothes. Outdoor terrace has a table and 2 chairs. We had turn-down service one night, and one night I declined it, otherwise it didn’t seem to happen (possible we had the Do Not Disturb sign out a couple of times?). There are 4 large bath towels in the bathroom, we were never short of towels. Getting facecloths was sometimes a challenge. Hint: The bathrooms in the common areas have baskets of facecloths to dry your hands with, just grab a couple from there if you don’t get them in your room. Room service is free, and you will find a 24-hour room service menu in your room, including things like Continental breakfast, salads, hamburgers, club sandwiches, beef, chicken, and fish entrees and desserts, as well as pizzas. We did not try room service.

They have a “Serviexpress” hotline you can call that promises a 1-hour resolution to problems with room appliances or missing room amenities.. We did have a minor problem with our TV the first night. I think we hit the sleep button and then could not get it to come on. I called Serviexpress and told them the problem, they said they would send someone. An hour later no one had come – but in the meantime Pat was able to reach behind the TV (mounted on the wall) and unplug it and then plugged it back in and it worked.. I called and they said someone would be there in 5 minutes, I said forget it, we fixed it. I’m sure this has happened before, they really should tell people on the phone how to fix it.

Room types at Paradisus Palma Real are as follows
Deluxe Garden View Suites (regular rooms) 520 square feet – located on right side of property (as you face the entrance to the resort). Regal Ocean View Jacuzzi Suites – same as above, but with ocean view. Imperial Romance Ocean View Jacuzzi Suites (honeymoon suites) As above, but with 400 thread count sheets, romantic room setup, luxury amenities by Etro, his and hers sarong-style bathrobes, fresh flower arrangements and chocolates.

For Families

Luxury Junior Suites – 560 square feet with garden view or ocean view Located on the left side of property as you face the entrance to resort. Includes a Jacuzzi for two, separate living room area with sofa bed, equipped kitchenette, daily stocked minibar, and connection available with a one bedroom Master Suite. One-bedroom Master Suite with Jacuzzi – This is the only accommodation that allows 2 adults and 3 children. – 815 square feet with Garden View or Ocean View, one kingsize bed, bathroom with Jacuzzi for two and double sinks, Luxury amenities, separate living room with sofa bed, daily stocked refrigerator, equipped kitchen, separate dining area, and connection available with luxury junior suite for larger families. This is really nice, it’s just like an apartment.

Rooms for People with Disabilities

There are specially-equipped rooms for people with disabilities – wider doors for wheelchair access, grab bars, etc. There is an elevator in the lobby area to get to ground level.

Grounds

The resort is built in the shape of an “M” (for Melia). The lobby, common areas and restaurants are located in the middle, with the rooms to the left and the right. It is possible to walk under cover from one end of the resort to the other. In the area between the rooms and common areas are beautiful, well-manicured gardens, with ponds, fountains, and wildlife – turtles, fish, and flamingos.

Weather and Bugs

The weather was beautiful for the most part. Even though it rained at some point nearly every day, showers were brief. Temperatures were in the mid-80’s, dropping off to comfortable mid-70’s at night. So if you are looking at forecasts for Punta Cana, don’t be alarmed when you see rain forecast every day! There was only one day during this week where it was cloudy and rained off and on most of the day. It did get a little windy the last couple of days of our stay here. No problem whatsoever with bugs or mosquitos the week we were there.

Beach and Pool

This hotel is located on a beautiful stretch of beach that was kept very clean. The hotel was at about 60 per cent occupancy the week we were there. There was never any problem finding chairs in the shade, either at the pool or on the beach. They also have a couple dozen “Bali beds” (big mattresses under a palapa) . These are so comfortable! One morning when it was raining we got one of these and just relaxed and read, keeping perfectly dry. The pool is very large, with a swim-up bar, and numerous “jacuzzis” (cold) and fountains throughout the pool, as well as built-in tiled sunbeds you can lay on and be partially submerged in the water.

There are no towel cards at this resort! The beach towels are large and luxurious, you just go and get them at the Clubhouse by the pool/beach. You will see wicker baskets with lids throughout the pool area, these are for your dirty beach towels. Some people tended to just leave their towels on the chairs when they went back to their rooms, and pool attendants had to go around and collect them. Be considerate and return your towel when you leave for the day, or take it to your room with you for the next day.

Bar waitresses go around and take your drink orders where you are sitting at the pool or beach. For that matter, if you sit down anywhere at the resort, someone will quickly appear and ask you if you would like something to drink.

Food

The main buffet restaurant is called Naos. It is located right at the beach and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The seating area is open air, but the buffet is in an enclosed air-conditioned area in the centre of the restaurant. It opens from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. for continental breakfast, breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and dinner from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Breakfast offers a large assortment, everything you can think of. Good omelettes made to order. Toast is somewhat of a problem, takes about 3 times through for bread to toast (I find this to be the case at most resorts). Some items could have been hotter. At lunch and dinner there is a good selection of coldcuts, salads, meat (steak, pork, chicken, lamb), fish and vegetables, fresh breads and rolls, and desserts. Their cheesecake was wonderful. There is always a pasta bar with a selection of different types of pasta and sauces. Within the restaurant there is also a separate Mexican buffet section “Algarve”, open at lunchtime and dinner.. At breakfast this is the area where you can get fresh juice made to order.

The Market Grill is located next to Naos Restaurant, and is usually open 24 hours a day. There is an entrance from the beach, and at lunchtime they serve hamburgs, hotdogs, fries, salads, etc. You can also get grilled meats here.

The first night we had dinner at “Passion”, (open for dinner only from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) which was excellent and my favourite meal. Wait staff very good in this restaurant. This restaurant is for adults only (16 and over). I had the Black Angus stuffed with mushrooms, served “nouvelle cuisine” style. There is a good selection of included wines, from Chile, Spain, and Argentina.

Bana Restaurant (open for dinner only 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) is an a la carte Asian fusion bistro – 3 dining options in one restaurant. There is a sushi bar, tepanyaki tables, contemporary Asian fusion, as well as a Martini Bar. We didn’t try the sushi or the Tepanyaki tables, but ate in the “contemporary Asian fusion” section . It was very good. Vento is a Meditteranean restaurant featuring a la carte international specialties. Food was good. It is open for dinner for all guests from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and there is an a la carte breakfast and lunch served there as well for Royal Service/Family Concierge upgrades only.

No reservations were required for any of the restaurants. The a la carte restaurants are all very nice, and the food was good, but I felt there wasn’t a lot of difference in the food offered from one to the other. It seemed very similar in presentation, just in a slightly different atmosphere.. (Now I don’t eat seafood so my choices are somewhat limited and I tend to always have the beef). And we didn’t have the Sushi, or eat at the Tepanyaki tables (Japanese – where they cook the food in front of you).

It is stated that a dress code applies for all the a la carte restaurants – No shorts or sleeveless shirts or sports shoes or sandals allowed for men. (although we did see some men wearing shorts, so I don’t know how strict they are in enforcing this.)

Gabi Beach There is also a section of the resort called Gabi Beach. It has its own bar, restaurant, entertainment and beach area. This is all-inclusive for Royal Service and Family Concierge guests only, except for Fridays, when anyone can go there all-inclusive. I didn’t really see much going on here the week we were there. It seemed pretty much deserted during the day. We did have an opportunity to have dinner there one night. It was a nice atmosphere, open air restaurant by the beach, with food choices of rib eye steak, lobster tails, chicken and fish dishes. Food and service was very good. The highlight, though, was that David Ortiz (Big Papi) from the Boston Red Sox came in with a group of people for dinner (he’s Dominican). He was signing autographs and people were taking photos of him. He graciously agreed to let me have my picture taken with him! A very nice man.

One night we went to the Jellyfish Restaurant for dinner, which is about a 10 minute walk down the beach, almost right next to the Melia Caribe Tropical (or a $10.00 cab ride). We met owners Gabriel and Wanda, and had an excellent dinner (I’m not a seafood person, but they had a nice pasta and chicken dish on the menu which was excellent). They are open for lunch and dinner. Unfortunately the night we were there it had turned quite windy, so they had the tarps down, otherwise would be a beautiful ocean view at night.

Bars

There are 8 bars serving Caribbean cocktails and international premium brand drinks (Absolut Vodka, etc., and they have Canadian Club). Bottled water is also available at all the bars. There is 1 lobby piano bar, 2 pool bars, 1 swimup bar, 1 casino bar, 1 Onyx disco lounge bar, 1 sky bar and 1 beach club bar. Included beer is Presidente, Presidente Light, Budweiser, Bud Light, Heineken, Miller, and Coronna. They also make very good Caesars!

Entertainment

We saw a couple of shows while we were there – a Latin show and yet another Michael Jackson show. Effects were good, but the shows were disappointing, but we’re not really into that kind of thing. Another night they had a Jazz band playing, and on Dominican night a Dominican band played and they had Dominican dancers in beautiful costumes out by the restaurant/pool area. There were also vendors stalls set up where you could buy souvenirs, cigars, jewellery, paintings, rum, etc.

Casino

There is a casino at the resort, open from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. We just went in and looked around, they have Roulette, Blackjack, Caribbean Poker, Texas Hold Em Poker, and some slot machines.

Disco

The disco is in the Onyx Bar, located next to the Casino. Can’t comment on this, other than poking our heads in one night, we did not go – too late for us.

Paradisus Spa

Although I didn’t use any of the services, I toured the spa, and it is beautiful. There is a full selection of services available, as well as a gift shop. They have a Water Ritual Center (sauna, herbal steam, contrast thermal shower, experiences essence shower, Jacuzzi, chromotherapy shower, bithermal foot bath) that overlooks the pool, you can buy a daily admission to be able to use these facilities. They have the indoor spa, as well as outdoor treatment cabins in the garden area. There were no massage beds at the beach. They also have Pilates,Yoga, Tai Chi, and guided meditation classes. Prices for spa services are what you would expect to pay at home.

A well-equipped gym with a personal trainer is located adjacent to the spa. It is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is free for guests to use.

Royal Service (RS) This is an upgrade for adults only, that includes extras not available to other guests, including: Same room types available, but in a better location, closer to the beach. More room amenities, including pillow menu, aromatherapy menu, butler services, expanded room service menu, luxury amenities. Services of a concierge for planning tours and excursions. Preferential reservations for golf, tennis and other activities. Separate roped-off beach area with their own pool. They can also reserve chaise lounges and Bali beds on a daily basis. There is a Royal Service lounge for private checkin/out, that also has complimentary internet access, a daily continental breakfast buffet, coffee and beverages, international newspapers, and evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. RS rooms have a DVD player and guests can check out DVD’s from the Business Centre. Access to Vento Restaurant for a la carte breakfast and lunch. Includes use of Gabi Beach facilities. There are also Royal Service Presidential Suites (2) – 1,670 square feet with huge terrace, 1 king-size bed, spacious livingroom, 2 bedrooms with Jacuzzi for two with luxury amenities, exclusive butler service, and connection available to Royal Service Imperial Romance Oceanfront Suites

Family Concierge (FC)

This is an available upgrade for families, the family counterpart of Royal Service. There is a Family Concierge lounge with a private checkin area, specially appointed Family Concierge Suites, and the all-day assistance of a Family Concierge to coordinate needs and entertainment for the family. On checkin you are given a radio that gives you instant access to the Family Concierge. Staff will come and pick up your children to do activities, and you can check via radio at any time to see where your kids are. Kids receive a beach kit containing a hat, t-shirt, float and tanning lotion. They are given a kids menu in each restaurant. Accommodation is in Family Concierge Luxury Suites and/or One-Bedroom Master Suites with extras such as a Play Station in the room upon request, children’s mini bathrobes and slippers, children’s amenities kit in bathroom, kid-size towels and pillows, kids’ activities menus, minibar stocked with children’s drinks, turndown service with milk and cookies, all-inclusive at Gabi Beach, and a separate pool area.

Kids Club

The Kids Club (called the Paradisus Club) is located down the hall to the left from the lobby area.. It is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is for children 5 to 12 years old. They will take the kids for lunch at 12:30 p.m. and dinner at Naos Restaurant at 7:30 p.m. There is a full schedule of planned activities for each day, as well as evening activities such as mini disco, mini karaoke, magic show, movie night, mini Miss show, Minis Playback Show, and a camping night every Wednesday from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. including dinner, a movie, mini disco and bonfire. There is a games room next to the Theatre where they have Playstations, X-box, etc. This is free for guests, and seemed to be a popular spot.

Day Activities for Adults

There are all kinds of daily activities, pick up a brochure at the Clubhouse. Things like horseback riding, bicycle tours, snorkeling excursions, scuba diving, and boat trip are all included, as is tennis at the 3 courts located at the front of the resort. Non-motorized watersports are also included – see the Scuba Caribe people at the beach to arrange use of the equipment. – paddle boats, catamarans, windsurfers, kayaks, kite surfing, diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing (extra cost), and motorized water sports (extra cost).

The activities staff also arranges volleyball games, water polo and beach soccer. Also available are table tennis, table games, billiards, darts, giant chess, and bocci ball. During the week there are also cooking classes, a wine tasting class, flower arranging class, painting classes, Tango and Salsa dance classes, and Spanish lessons.

Golf

Golf is included at the 27-hole Cocotal Golf & Country Club with unlimited green fees.. However, there is a mandatory cart rental at $35.00 per person (double) or $45.00 per person (single).

Tours

You will find the tour desk in the lower lobby area, where you can book off-site day trips such as jeep safaris, boat trips, Manati Park, etc.

Shopping

There is a new shopping centre which was scheduled to open in December, near the front entrance of the hotel. This will include restaurants such as Hard Rock Café, Tony Roma’s, and some high end stores (not souvenir shops). There was only one store in the hotel itself, which sold a little bit of everything. Take what you think you will need as prices are higher than you’d pay at home, although not as high in this store as I’ve seen in other places, ie. They were selling paperbacks for $12.00 U.S. and suntan lotion for $9.00 U.S. From the beach, if you walk to the right past the Melia Caribe, there is a little “mall” of souvenir stores.

Internet

Paradisus offers free Internet in all rooms if you have your own cable with you. Otherwise I am told you can purchase a cable for $14.00 U.S. (although the front desk did tell me you had to have your own cable). There is also free wireless in the lobby and salon areas of the resort. If you do not have a laptop with you, you can use the computers in their Business Centre, located on the lower floor under the lobby. Cost is $4 for 15 minutes, $7 for ½ hr., or $12/hr. They also have DVD players you can check out for free, as well as a DVD library.

Weddings

For information and pricing on weddings at Paradisus Palma Real, see their website at: http://www.romancebyparadisus.com/packages/weddings_anniversaries

Medical

There is a pharmacy and medical staff on call 24 hours.

Rentals

Car and motorcycle rentals are available.

Vacation Club

Sol Melia Vacation Club does have a desk on the lower lobby level, but never once were we bothered by anyone. Vacation club accommodations, I believe, are on the left side of the resort as you face the lobby.

Money Exchange

Money can be exchanged at the front desk. If you have U.S. cash, you can use it for virtually everything without having to change it into pesos.

Summary

This is a very “elegant” resort, one of the nicest we’ve stayed at, one of the best in Punta Cana. Virtually anything you want to do can be arranged at the resort. There is a full assortment of activities available, or you can just relax by the beautiful pool and beach. Animation staff is somewhat low-key, they aren’t asking you to participate in things all the time. There is no loud music. While Royal Service and Family Concierge upgrades are available for a “total” experience, in my opinion they are not needed to have a great vacation at this resort. The staff at this hotel were excellent. Very friendly and many spoke English very well. Service was consistently good. If you have any questions about Paradisus Palma Real, you can contact us.

Special thanks to the staff of Palma Real, and to Vilma Flaquer for all your assistance.

Photos: http://travel.webshots.com/album/556453295YGYgRy
* It’s more of a country club atmosphere
Hotel Punta Cana Resort & Club
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Nov 1, 2005
October 30 to November 6, 2005 We arrived in Punta Cana on October 30, via AirTransat. We had booked Club Transat seating, which in my opinion is the best the charter airlines have to offer. To me the priority checkin and luggage handling (first off the plane) is worth it, along with free food, snacks and drinks on the flight, not to mention the larger seats. During the first week of our two-week visit, we stayed at PUNTACANA Resort and Club. Before I talk about the Resort itself, I will give you a little bit of history: In 1969 a group of American investors bought 48 square kilometers of jungle on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, with 10 kilometers on the Caribbean Sea. Later, local investor Frank Rainieri and others joined this group with his vision to use this land for tourism development. Known today as GRUPO PUNTACANA, S.A., they began development of the land in 1971, with the opening of a small hotel called Punta Cana Club, that had 10 two-room villas, a Clubhouse, a small town for employees, a power plant and a basic runway for aircraft. In 1978 the Dominican Government started construction of the first access road to connect Punta Cana with the country road network, but the nearest airport, Santo Domingo, was almost 4 hours away. In 1982 the group started construction on the first private international airport in the world, Punta Cana International Airport, which was completed in 1984. Due to its isolated location and lack of public facilities, GRUPO PUNTACANA, S.A. assumed responsibility for building and maintaining facilities such as access roads, security, waterworks, electricity, garbage disposal, waste water disposal, schools, etc. Today the owners of GRUPO PUNTACANA are Theodore Kheel, Frank Rainieri, Julio Iglesias, and Oscar de la Renta. This and other corporations belonging to the group now go under the trade name of PUNTACANA Resort & Club.

The Resort has undergone many changes over the years. We visited the resort about 5 years ago, and I could not believe all the changes since I saw it last. It was damaged in last year’s hurricane, and there are many new structures.

Arrival at Punta Cana Airport
For guests who have booked directly with the hotel and do not have transportation included via a tour operator (ie. Apple, Sunquest, etc.), you will be greeted as you enter the airport (sign with your name on it) and be expedited through the airport customs process (ie. You get to go to the head of the line). As they own the airport, they are the only ones allowed to do this. Assistance is provided with your luggage as soon as you get it off the carousel and transportation is waiting to take you to the hotel. Completely hassle-free. When you leave, you have the option of paying $25.00 U.S. per person to use the VIP Lounge at Punta Cana Airport, which is only for guests of PUNTACANA Resort & Club. Here you can get free drinks and snacks. There is a TV, and 2 computers you can use, couches and chairs, washroom facilities and everything is spotlessly clean. A comfortable way to pass the time until your flight boards. There is a screen showing the flights and their status, and you can hear the boarding announcements made in the airport. There is a window in the lounge where you can look out into the departure lounge of the older section of the airport – it is a one-way glass, you can see out, but nobody can see you 🙂
Arrival at PUNTACANA Resort & Club
The Resort is located only 5 minutes from the airport (not noisy, no planes flying over the resort). Upon arrival you are greeted with a welcome drink and a wet facecloth. At checkin you are provided with your room keys and information about the hotel. Ask for your safe key, it’s included, just don’t lose the key or they’ll charge you $30.00 U.S. TV remotes are in the room, there is a $20.00 U.S. charge if you lose it. The bellboys will take you and your luggage to your room. Checkin is at 3:00 p.m. and checkout is at noon. Extended checkout is available for $20.00 U.S. per extra hour. I was told occupancy was at 80% the week we were there, but it was never crowded anywhere. They had two conventions. Guests are mostly American and some Europeans. We found many of the staff spoke excellent English. It was also interesting to learn that they have an excellent school there that the children of the employees of PUNTACANA Resort & Club attend.

There are no wristbands at this hotel. It is sold on an MAP basis, which means breakfast and dinner at selected restaurants is included. All drinks (including water, soft drinks, etc.) and lunch and snacks are at extra charge. You will be asked to sign for all your meals (including breakfast and lunch for inventory control), although I must say we only had to sign for breakfast a few days out of the 7 we were there). Having only been to all-inclusive hotels, it took a bit of getting used to having to sign every time we got something…more than a few times we would just get up to leave and have them running after us to sign…oops.

Accommodations
There are 420 rooms of various types with ocean, golf, and garden views. We had a Deluxe Junior Suite in Villa 4 on the second floor of a 3 floor building. It was in a very central location, close to the pool and lobby, and close to the buffet restaurant and the beach. (If your room is further away, there is a shuttle that you can take that goes around the resort on a regular basis). A deluxe junior suite is like a regular deluxe room, with an extra room off of the main room, like a sunroom, windows all the way around with shutters, and a couch and tables. Although we were close to the beach, the trees and vegetation blocked our view of the ocean from the balcony. The suite was nicely decorated and had solid wood furniture (Dominican-made). There is a large closet with shelves for your clothes, and ample hangers, unless you’re like me and overpack – you only need half as many clothes as you think you need. There is no dresser in the room. There are two bedside tables with one drawer. There is also an umbrella, ironing board and iron in every room. The bathroom is pretty standard, tub and shower, toilet and vanity, with a makeup mirror and hairdryer. There is a clothesline for hanging clothes over the tub. We always had plenty of hot water, and I mean hot, not warm. Air conditioning in the room worked very well. We had, I think, a full-size bed as opposed to a Queen size. Pillows were very small and soft, but I imagine you can ask for more if you need them. There was a coffeemaker, and 2 bottles of water per day is left in the room. There is a minibar, but you have to pay for everything in there. That’s one thing I would like to see here, more water available for free, even water coolers in the bar area would be good. (There is a water cooler in the gym and by the tennis courts). All other water is sold by the bottle at the bars. Maid service was excellent, our maid spoke some English. Along with our usual tip I left her some candies one day, and she left me a thank-you note. Turn-down service is provided daily (we didn’t get it a few nights, but we may have had the do not disturb sign out). Fresh flower blooms were put in the room every day, unfortunately I think this caused some of those little tiny bugs to appear in the bathroom area. Not a big deal, just be sure not to leave any food out as this will attract them also. Voltage in the rooms is 110 VAC (same as North America). They get a wide variety of TV channels, including the main network channels, so you don’t have to miss your favourite shows. (NBC CBS, ABC, Fox A & E, ESPN, Family/Disney, 3 or 4 movie channels, CNN, Discovery, Golf, WGN, TBS, TNT, USA channel, SciFi channel and Spanish channels).

The first night when we went to bed, Pat put the deadbolt on the door. He found it very hard to turn, but it did eventually lock. Next morning we got up and got ready to go for breakfast. Unfortunately we could not open the door. The deadbolt was jammed and we had to call guest services to send someone to get us out They were very prompt, though, and after the bellboy and the maid had tried to open the door (I don’t think they understood the problem, maintenance was called and he ended up having to go through the next door room and climb the wall onto our balcony and dismantle the lock mechanism from the inside. Anyway, he got us freed fairly quickly, and by the time we returned from breakfast it was repaired.

Other Types of Accommodation
A Deluxe Suite is two-storeys, with a deluxe bedroom upstairs and a complete living area and second bathroom downstairs. Deluxe Rooms are located in six three storey buildings with golf, garden or ocean views. One building sits directly on the beach.

Beach Villas

Two or three bedroom individual beach villas are located directly on the beach. One bedroom has a king size bed, and the other bedroom(s) have two full-size beds in each. Each bedroom has its own ensuite, and all are connected by a common area with kitchenette, living/diningroom, and garden or terrace. I think these are a great idea for families or friends traveling together.

Nature Villas

These are the same as the beach villas, but located at the front of the resort, near the tennis courts, in a more tropical setting. Maximum occupancy for suites, junior suites and suites is 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids under 12. Villas accommodate a maximum of 4 adults in a two-bedroom villa and 6 adults in a 3-bedroom villa. There are some no smoking rooms available. The resort is not really wheelchair-accessible and has no handicap-equipped rooms. The hotel offers facilities for meetings and conventions, with air-conditioned conference rooms for up to 200 people. Also with its proximity to the airport, it seemed to be a favourite place for flight crews to spend their layovers. We saw a number of flight crews checking in and out while we were there. Adjacent to the hotel and surrounding the golf course are the residential areas of Corales and Arrecife, home to celebrities such as Julio Iglesius, Mikhail Barishnykov, and Oscar de la Renta. A new exclusive boutique hotel, Tortuga Bay, will be opening in December, comprised of 15 luxurious villas.

Grounds and Beach

The grounds are beautiful here. Lots of birds, and you’ll see lots of green geckos. Very tropical, one of the most beautiful spots I’ve seen in the Dominican Republic. The resort sprays twice a day for mosquitos, we did not notice any problem with them at all. This resort is right on the Caribbean, with its turquoise-green water and palm trees and mangroves dotting the beach. The water is very calm here, seldom are there any waves to speak of. There was a bit of seaweed on the beach, but the beach is machine-groomed every day. I’m told the water is usually very clear, but due to a lot of rainstorms prior to our arrival, the water was quite silty and not very clear. There are no vendors on the beach. The pool is not large but is very refreshing, with a swimup bar. The pool is only 4 feet deep. We were always able to find a chair there, but there is not a lot of shade. We usually spent the mornings at the pool, then went to the beach in the afternoon. No problem finding a spot there either. They play “easy listening” music at the pool, no loud music.

Beach towels are available at the pool or the beach – we had no towel cards, you just sign the towels in and out (although there was no one there most of the time, we just exchanged them as needed). If you lose your towel it costs $30.00 U.S.

Restaurants
La Cana Restaurant – The included buffet breakfast and dinner is served in La Cana Restaurant. It’s a beautiful open-air restaurant overlooking the ocean. There is a large selection of food at the breakfast buffet – fresh fruit, smoothies, omelettes, pancakes, bacon, sausage, fresh donuts…anything you can think of. The first night we arrived La Cana was closed and they had the dinner buffet at La Choza on the beach, where they were barbecuing fish, chicken, and beef. We ate at the La Cana buffet for dinner two other times during the week, lots to choose from, and they always had a pasta station. Some mornings and on Dominican night, vendors would set up their stalls adjacent to the restaurant.

Anani – this is one of the included restaurants for dinner, located upstairs from the main lobby. This restaurant is very elegantly decorated and is air-conditioned. Try their black bean soup, it is excellent! You need to make reservations for this restaurant with guest services. Guitar players will serenade you as you eat.

Mama Venezia – this is the third included restaurant for dinner, located across from the Anani Restaurant. It was closed while we were there, due to low season, but the menu was available at the Anani Restaurant., so we ate from that menu one night. The Mama Venezia restaurant is not air conditioned.

There is no restriction on how many times you can eat at any restaurant. The following restaurants are not included in the meal plan, but are certainly worth considering:

La Yola – this restaurant is located in the Marina area. La Yola is Spanish for “boat”, it is modeled after a fisherman’s boat, and overlooks Punta Cana Marina. Open from Wed. to Monday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. for supper. Advance reservations required at guest services. Shuttle transportation provided. The food was very good here, and the atmosphere was wonderful. I had beef teriyaki and mashed potatoes, they also had seafood and pasta entrees.

El Cocoloba Restaurant – specializing in Caribbean food nouvelle cuisine. This restaurant is located at the Clubhouse. I had an organic salad (many of the organic vegetables they use are grown at the resort), a beef tenderloin with peanut sauce, vegetables, and cheesecake for desert…it was absolutely excellent. There is a small air-conditioned area of the restaurant, but we opted to sit out on the terrace, it was beautiful. You can even arrange for a private dinner on the beach.

Prices at these restaurants are about the same as what you’d expect to pay at home for a nice meal. Lunch is available at the following restaurants (lunch not included in meal plan)

La Choza – located on the beach, open-air, casual restaurant. Sandwiches, burgers, steak (try the Churrasco), salads, etc.

El Grille – this is at the Clubhouse, we did not eat here, but heard it was excellent. It’s open from noon to 4:00 p.m. for lunch, no reservation required.

Franco’s Pizzeria – adjacent to the pool. They have really good pizza, and sandwiches and pasta dishes.

All of these restaurants are open-air. Entrees start from around $8.00 U.S. for lunch.

Room Service is available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. with breakfast until 11 a.m., salads, sandwiches, etc.are available – we never tried it.

Bars There are lots of bars throughout the property.

Los Platanos – located at the Golf Clubhouse – open 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Lobby Bar – in the hotel lobby, where people tended to congregate in the evening. Open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

The Lounge Bar – located off the lobby – opens at 7:00 p.m.

Manantial Pool Bar – open from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
La Choza – beach bar – open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
La Jola – at the Marina – open from noon to 1:00 a.m.
Mascara Bar & Lounge – at Galerias PUNTACANA, opens at 9:00 p.m.
La Cana Restaurant bar
Franco’s Pizzeria bar Try a Banana Mama – they use real bananas and mix the ingredients in a blender! Strawberry Daiquiri’s are good too.

Beer available – Presidente, Miller, Coronna, Budweiser, Quisqueya Also premium liquor. But no Canadian Club…

Not sure of the cost of the beer, a Banana Mama was $5.00 U.S., an Espresso Coffee $3.00 U.S., a bottle of water $1.50 U.S. Oh, and they have Pepsi, not Coke.

Sports

For golfers there is La Cana Golf Course, designed by P.B. Dye. It has 18 holes, 14 with ocean views, and 4 holes interacting with the sea. The famous pot bunker of the Dyes is present in this golf course, and the 7th hole is golfer’s purgatory. For guests the cost for 18 holes is $100.00 U.S., including a cart. A second new golf course by Tom Fazio is now under construction on the property. The La Cana Golf Course Clubhouse has a pro shop, lockers for visitors and members, and has its own pool and beach, as well as The Grill Restaurant for lunch and El Cocoloba Restaurant for dinner. (these restaurants not included in meal plan). This place is gorgeous, even if you’re not a golfer, you have to go and see it. It was decorated by Oscar de la Renta. You can take a shuttle or it’s about a 20 minute walk along the beach. Guests of the hotel can come and spend the day at the pool or beach here if they wish.

Tennis – There are 6 tennis courts made out of limestone mixed with blue sand, available for no charge during the day. There is a night fee of $10 US/hr. Lessons are available. The Nature Villas are located in this area as well as a small swimming pool.

Watersports – Sailing, windsurfing and snorkeling lessons are free of charge 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. Make your reservations at the activities centre. Boating, canoeing and sailing are also available free of charge. Fishing, scubadiving, and waterskiing are available at additional cost. They have their own dive centre where you can book dives, or take certification courses.

There are ping pong tables, soccer and air hockey tables in the pool area.

Kids’ Club

There is a kids club for children aged 4 to 12 adjacent to the pool, open daily with an activities program including boat rides, water skiing lessons, horseback riding, and a variety of competition and beach sports, painting lessons and other activities.

It’s open from 10:00 a.m. to noon and from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Lunch for the kids is available for an additional cost of $10.00 U.S. Seemed to be a lot of families with kids there while we were there.

Tours Any off-resort tours you want to take can be booked at their travel desk, in the Commercial area near the lobby. Some of the tours available are: Catamaran to Saona Island, Dominican Jones, deep-sea fishing, ½ day or full day, Fun Fun Cave, Hot Caribbean nightlife show, Higuey to Romana, horseback riding tour 1 or 2 hours (they have their own ranch across the road from the entrance to the hotel), Manati Park, Saona Island, Bavaro Runners, Santo Domingo city tours, Safari Monster Truck, ½ hour sightseeing tours, shopping trip to Higuey – 3-1/2 hours, Bavaro Trackers, helicopter tours, Shopping tour to Bavaro – 4-1/2 hours. Swimming with dolphins at Manati Park, Bavaro Trackers. Car and bicycle rental is also available. You can also rent a 4 passenger golf cart for $40 US/day or a 2 passenger golf cart for $30 US/day to get around the resort. Myself, I enjoyed the walking, as the grounds are so beautiful.

Shopping

There is a small gift shop in the hotel Commercial area. There is also a shopping Centre located across the road from Punta Cana International Airport. There is free transportation to and from the hotel between 6 p.m. and midnight. There are a variety of shops and restaurants here, including: *Altamar – bathing suits and beach apparel *Bank – money exchange, personal accounts and other services. Open Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. *Beauty Salon *Baskin Robbins Icecream Shop – open 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. *Tobacco/Cigar Store – open 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. *Coco – clothing store *El Guano Restaurant – Dominican cuisine – open only at lunchtime. *El Portuguesse Restaurant – traditional Portuguesse cuisine – open 12:00 noon to 3:00 a.m. *La Scaveola – flowers, gift shop *La Creperie *Le Four a Pain – bakery *Mascara Bar & Lounge *Medical services – GP, pediatrician, dentist *Movie store – foreign movie rentals, DVD sales *Oscar de la Renta Clothing store – casual clothing for men and women. Seemed to be very reasonably priced. *Pharmacana – drugstore, personal care products, magazines, toys, etc. *Pizzarelli – pizzeria *Bowling Alley – good for a rainy day. *Trattoria Mamma Luise – Italian cuisine *Western Union office *Art Gallery

Internet Access

There are 4 computers available. The cost is quite reasonable at $2.00 U.S. for 15 minutes, $7.00 U.S. per hour. There is free wireless internet in the lobby and convention room areas. Everytime I went to the lobby I would see one or two people there with their laptops.

Beauty Salon/Spa

Beauty salon open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. where you can get braids, manicures, pedicures and massages. You can also get a massage at the beach in a raised gazebo out over the Caribbean. Opening in December at the La Cana Clubhouse will be Six Senses Spa, a world-class spa, this being the first one in the Americas. Sounds like it will be wonderful. I was hoping they were closer to opening when we were there and needed someone to practice on 🙂

Gym Next door to the spa, looks to have very good exercise equipment, saw people using it on a daily basis.

Medical Services

Available next door to the beauty salon, near the pool area.

Currency Exchange

There is a currency exchange open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and an ATM in the Commercial area next to the lobby. We took U.S. cash and never had a need to change it into Pesos. You can use U.S. dollars for everything.

Marina

Punta Cana Marina is located on the southern area of hotel, providing complete immigration and customs services. Each port berth has 110 and 220 VAC elect. Telephones, cable network as well as gasoline and diesel, boats available for rental.

Religious Services

There are religious services at Our Lady of Punta Cana Church, located at Residencial Punta Cana Sundays at 11:30 a.m. Catholic weddings are held here as well. It’s a beautiful little church.

Weddings

Both Civil and Catholic Weddings are available. For more information see our Weddings Page.

Ecological Reserve

Part of the resort is designated as an ecological reserve where visitors can see the region’s flora and fauna, with nature trails throughout the property. Guided tours, bird-watching tours and educational workshops are offered weekly by professional naturalists. Reservations can be made at the activities centre or visiting the Centre of Ecological Foundation. Take the path off the beach and you will come to a beautiful clear spring. It is full of large fish swimming around in the crystal clear water. You can go swimming here as well. Their Center for Biodiversity and Sustainability offers educational and research opportunities to visiting students and teachers, who come from all over the world to study Dominican flora and fauna. If you visit in July or August they say if you walk in front of the Tortuga Beach Villas you can see the turtles burying their eggs in the sand at the beach.

Entertainment

There is a theatre adjacent to the pool area and we watched one show on Dominican Folklore and dancing. I don’t think there were any other shows the week we were there. Most people seemed to congregate in the lobby in the evening, they have live music from 7:00 p.m.

Weather

The weather was very hot and there were some very humid days. It rained overnight several days, but the days were clear and sunny, some of the best weather we’ve ever had in the DR.

Summary

The atmosphere here is very different from an all-inclusive resort. It’s more of a country club atmosphere, quiet and relaxing. While they do have some activities, it is all rather low-key, things like aerobics in the pool, or games at the beach. If you’re looking for a party place with constant action, this isn’t the place for you. But if you’re looking for a place to just relax and unwind and do things at your own pace, it is the perfect place. Staff are friendly and accommodating. The beach and ocean views and tropical gardens at this resort are truly beautiful. PUNTACANA Resort & Club is sold in Canada through Sunquest, Voyages Gendron, and Air Canada Vacations, and through Apple and GoGo in the U.S.

Special thanks to Amil, Francesca, and Dinorah, and the wonderful staff of PUNTACANA Resort & Club for an unforgettable week.

* A very nice, well laid-out hotel.
Hotel Ocean Blue Golf & Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Nov 1, 2005
November 6 to November 13, 2005
Location
Ocean Blue Golf & Beach Resort is located approximately 35 minutes from Punta Cana Airport. It shares its property with Ocean Sand Golf & Beach Resort. If you’re walking along the beach, it is directly adjacent to LTI Resort to the south, and the Iberostar Hotels are to the north. Ocean Blue and Ocean Sand are essentially the same resort. When you enter the lobby, the reception for Ocean Blue is on your right and for Ocean Sand it is on the left. Rooms along the left side of the resort as you face the beach are for Ocean Sand guests, Ocean Blue accommodations are on the right. Accommodations are identical, all room types are available on both sides. All resort facilities are shared between the two.

Check-In

You check in at reception, unless you have upgraded to a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite. For these suites, which are in Villas 6 and 10, you have private checkin/checkout privileges at Guest Services, which is around the corner from the Ocean Blue reception. We just went into the Ocean Blue reception and they escorted us to Guest Services. On checkin you will be given a wristband, your room keys, towel cards, and a “Welcome Passport”. This includes a map of the resort and excellent information about all the restaurants and other hotel services. The occupancy rate was between 50 and 60 per cent the week we were there it seemed to be mostly Canadians and Americans.

Grounds and Beach

A nice thing about this hotel is you don’t have to spend a lot of time finding your way around. All the restaurants (except for the beach restaurants) are in one spot, across a courtyard from the lobby, and all other common areas are at the front of the resort by the lobby, with the two swimming pools in the centre of the two resorts. The villa buildings of the resorts are in a row along each side of the resort. There are palm trees and gardens throughout the property. The gardens are still young, but will fill in nicely as they mature. A shuttle runs around the resort on a regular basis. If you are walking, it would take about 10 minutes to walk from the beach to the lobby. There are two huge swimming pools, both with a swimup bar. The pools have a beach-like sloped entrance, which is nice. At their deepest point they are less than 5 feet deep. There are lots of chairs surrounding the pools, and some umbrellas for shade. The chairs around the pool are plastic, though, and not as comfortable as the chairs at the beach. Beach towels are available at the Watersports Centre on the beach. Due to lower occupancy, only the bar on the Ocean Sand side of the swimming pool was open. The one on the Ocean Blue side is a swimup bar only, and it was closed. The hotel is located on a beautiful wide stretch of beach. You can walk for miles in either direction. There was a little bit of seaweed washed up on the beach, but not much. There were some waves, not as calm as further south at PUNTACANA Resort where we spent our first week, and the water was not quite as turquoise blue-green as it is there, but still very beautiful.

A few palm trees dot the beach, offering a little bit of shade. They don’t have the traditional thatched beach palapas, they have constructed wooden pergola-type structures with a covering on top (see pictures). I didn’t find that these really provided much shade, though.

Weather/Bugs
We had a great week for weather, hot and sunny every day, it only rained at night a few times. Unfortunately one of those times was the first night we arrived, it started pouring rain while we were walking to the restaurant for dinner, we got absolutely soaked in just a few minutes! There is an umbrella in every room, too bad we didn’t bring it. The morning we left there was a change in the weather due to a tropical depression. First thing in the morning we could see the ocean was a very deep blue colour. A little while later the dark clouds rolled in and it started blowing hard rain off and on. There was absolutely no problem with insects or mosquitos.

Rooms

There are 374 rooms on the Ocean Blue side, and 334 rooms on the Ocean Sand side, located in 10 buildings. It is interesting to note that this is one of the few resorts that allow 3 children in a room. Maximum occupancy is 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 children, or 3 adults and 1 child. All of the Villa buildings have inner courtyards, all decorated differently. Reminds me very much of the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus. I especially liked the beautiful pots of Trinitarias (bougainvillea). There are 3 room categories – the regular Junior Suites, in Villas 1 through 5 at Ocean Blue and Villas 7 through 9 at Ocean Sand, the Deluxe Junior Suites in Villas 6 and 10, and the Honeymoon Suites, also located in Villas 6 and 10. Regular junior suites are very spacious. All offer 1 king or two queen-sized beds, air-conditioning, ceiling fan, living area, full bathroom with Jacuzzi-style tub, hairdryer, telephone, cable TV, coffee maker, mini-fridge stocked with soft drinks and water, iron and ironing board, umbrella, in-room safe. There is no clock-radio in the room. We stayed in a deluxe junior suite. The deluxe junior suites are all in Villa 6 at Ocean Blue and Villa 10 at Ocean Sand, which are the buildings closest to the beach. We had a wonderful view of the pool and beach. These suites are larger than the regular junior suites, and the bathroom is different.. there is a window in the bathroom that looks into the rest of the room from the Jacuzzi tub (toilet and shower are private), which lets in lots of natural light during the day. There are blinds on the window that you can close for privacy. We had a 4-poster canopy bed and comfortable seating area, and nice wicker furniture on the balcony. There was no ceiling fan in our room, I was told rooms with 4-poster canopy beds did not have ceiling fans. The air-conditioning worked well, and we always had plenty of hot water. English TV channels available were Cinemax, HBO, ESPN, Disney, CNN, TBS WGN TNT, and the cartoon network.

A little tip – The power in our room went out one day, apparently very briefly. A few lights came on immediately, but the TV and most of the lights were not working. We just assumed there was a power outage and the generator was on. I happened to go downstairs a while later and mentioned to the concierge about the power being out. She told me it had only been out for a minute, and that I just needed to re-insert the card in the slot inside the door. I’m glad I asked, not sure we would have figured that one out for a while.

Deluxe junior suites have all the amenities of a regular junior suite, plus you become a member of the Ocean Elite Club, which entitles you to: Private checkin and checkout, VIP wristband, welcome cocktail, fruit basket upon arrival, 2 beach towels in the room, bathrobe and slippers, 24 hour a la carte room service, personalized concierge service, nightly turn down service, one 30 minute massage per adult per stay, selected Dominican cigars in room -3 per room per week (we never got these). You also have beer in your fridge and a selection of bottles of premium liquor in your room. Extra water or soft drinks are available on request. I just left a note and tip in the fridge. In addition, those staying in Deluxe Junior Suites have the following options (note these inclusions were in effect at the time of our stay, check with the hotel for current inclusions): *Fresh tropical fruits in the room daily. *Gourmet dinner at the beach *One complimentary dinner at Bucanero seafood restaurant *One complimentary dinner at El Bodegon Chef’s Table & Wine Cellar Restaurant *Motorized water sports – 1 hour per day *Catamaran sailing – ½ hr. per day, with captain *One dive excursion per person per week for certified divers There are 12 honeymoon suites (six in Villa 6 – Ocean Blue and six in Villa 10 – Ocean Sand). These rooms are beautiful, very different. Everything is white, including the door to the room. These suites are two-storey, with a king-size four-poster bed with white netting and sitting area on the main level, You go up the stairs to a Jacuzzi area, also with a table and chairs, and then outside to a private outdoor shower. (see photos). The Jacuzzi overlooks the beach, but there’s special glass so people can’t see in from outside. There are two balconies in these suites. The suite also has a DVD player, and alarm clock. Those in Honeymoon Suites also get the Ocean Elite Club amenities described above, plus the following: *Romantic dinner for 2 at Bucanero Seafood Restaurant or El Bodegon *Morning after breakfast in their room with sparkling wine *Private Spanish and Merengue lessons *Catamaran sailing ½ hour per day, with captain *Romantic horseback riding at night – one hour per stay *Extended checkout *You can specify what time you want your room cleaned Villa 5 of Ocean Blue is for Apple Vacations clients, and they have representatives on the desk in this Villa during the day. The resort is wheelchair-accessible, and they have 4 handicap-equipped rooms. (grab bars, etc.)

Bars and Drinks

*There is no shortage of bars at this resort: *La Cana Lobby bar – popular in the late afternoon and evening. from 10 a.m. to midnight *Overtime Sports Bar – open from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m. *Luna Bar – by the theatre – open from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. *Las Palmeras pool bar – open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. *El Cocotal pool bar – open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. *Caribbean Grill Bar – open from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. *Wave – disco bar – 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. *Buffet Bars – at La Tortuga Restaurant and El Carey Restaurant *Snack Bar bar – at La Cana Restaurant at the beach * Beach bar

I was drinking mostly white wine, but did have a decent Banana Mama at the beach bar. I asked for a Caesar at the Lobby Bar, but was advised they do not have Clamato juice. And while they do have a selection of premium liquors, they don’t have any Canadian whisky. The only beer they had was Presidente.

Restaurants
Main Buffet Restaurant The main buffet restaurant is El Carey for Ocean Sand and La Tortuga for Ocean Blue. The buffet area where you get your food is between the two, so the food is the same for both, there is just separate seating on each side of the buffet. While we were there the La Tortuga side was closed, so everyone sat in the El Carey section. The food selection is good. At breakfast they have all the usual stuff – fresh fruit, omelettes, juices (their orange juice tasted like Tang, though, it wasn’t real orange juice), pancakes, sausage, bacon, etc. The restaurant is air-conditioned. There is a smoking section in the restaurant. We found the service to be fairly good here. The restaurant opens at 6 a.m., with continental breakfast until 7 a.m., breakfast buffet 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, and Dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. During the week we were there, this central buffet restaurant was closed a couple of nights, and the buffet was at the beach restaurant.

La Cana Buffet Restaurant – at the beach

La Cana Beach Restaurant at the beach opens for continental breakfast between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and snacks are available between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. We ate there at lunchtime most of the time as it was more convenient than going to the main buffet and you could go in with your bathing suit on. They had hamburgs, hotdogs, French fries, pasta, salads, and pizza on a daily basis, and a few other items that changed each day, as well as fruit and deserts. Try their icecream – it’s great! Aside from the buffet restaurant for dinner, you can also choose to go to one of the a la carte restaurants. We never had a problem getting into any of the restaurants. Some people made reservations for the restaurants at the buffet restaurant in the morning, but it is my understanding this winter they will totally do away with reservations. If the restaurant you want to eat at is full when you arrive, they’ll give you a beeper and you can go and have a drink at the lobby bar, or relax at Mike’s Coffee while you wait. Long pants for the men are required in the a la carte restaurants, although it didn’t seem this was enforced as I did see some men wearing shorts.

Route 66 Restaurant

They serve American-type food – burgers, fries, ribs, steak, etc. They have gone all out in the decoration, complete with a ‘50’s Ford parked out in front. We ate here our first night. I had a rib-eye steak, it was just okay, a little big tough. Service was pretty good. Coffee was horrible, but that’s before we discovered Mike’s Coffee. The music played was mostly from the 60’s and 70’s.

Margarita Restaurant

This is the Mexican Restaurant, and it was excellent. They have an antipasto bar which is a meal in itself. Very nice décor.

I Mascherati di Venezia

This is the Italian restaurant. Again, the décor is very nice and food was good. The menu offered chicken and shrimp dishes, spaghetti, rigatoni, etc. I also had an eggplant appetizer that was very good and Pat had the soup and said it was excellent. The “salad” was ricotta cheese with apples and raisins, different but good.

La Casa de Mi Abuela (My Grandmother’s House)

This is the Dominican restaurant. It is very elegantly decorated, and the food was very good. Service was excellent.

Overtime Sports Bar We never went in here, just looked in from outside. Typical sports bar with TV’s, pool tables. It is open from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m., with snacks served from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Mike’s Coffee and Tea

This place is the best! It’s the closest thing to Tim Horton’s you’ll find in the Dominican Republic. You can get just regular “Americano” coffee or specialty coffees and teas. There is also a “cookie jar” with delicious cookies, or you can choose from an assortment of deserts – the cheesecake is awesome! It is air-conditioned with comfortable chairs and tables. It is open from 4 p.m. until midnight every day. After the first night we never ordered coffee in the restaurants, we just went to Mike’s afterwards for our coffee and desert. This is one place that may be crowded when the hotel is full. It’s not that big, although there are tables and chairs in the courtyard outside where you can sit as well.

La Brasa Caribbean Grill on the Beach

This is near the La Cana Beach Restaurant, it wasn’t open when we were there. It serves continental breakfast from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. lunch from noon until 3 p.m., and dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

El Bodegon Chef’s Table & Wine Cellar

This is not one of the included restaurants, you pay extra to eat here unless you have a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite, then you can eat here once free of charge. Otherwise the cost is around $25 U.S. per person (plus wine) for a Black Angus steak. If I remember correctly, you could also get a salmon fillet ($15), Churrasco ($22), or a ribeye steak ($25). Their Black Angus steak is excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. They start off by bringing a plate of prosciutto and cheese, and a basket of fresh bread. They have an extensive wine list. You can’t get a glass of wine here, though, you can only buy it by the bottle.

Bucanero Grill Seafood Restaurant

This is not an included restaurant, again, unless you have a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite, then you can eat here once free of charge. It is right on the beach, not really a restaurant, just some wooden tables set up on the beach, with a thatched roof over top. A lobster dinner costs $35 U.S. per person. Room Service is available for those in Villas 6 and 10 only, who are in the Ocean Elite Club. They had a fairly extensive room service menu, we never tried it, though.

Sports

Watersports

Pelicano Watersports is located at the beach. Here you can sign out windsurfers, kayaks, snorkel equipment, boogie boards, etc. and arrange for motorized watersports, fishing, catamarans, dive trips, and certification courses. Also saw someone kiteboarding one day.

Golf

There is a new golf course, White Sands, right outside the resort (transportation provided from the hotel). They have a special right now – $45 U.S for 9 holes, regular $60.U.S. The second 9 holes will open next year.

Tennis

Tennis courts are located just inside the entrance to the hotel. Open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Make your reservations directly at the tennis courts.

Kids’ Club

The Kids club is at the beach next to Watersports. It’s for children ages 4 to 12 and is open from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. They play supervised games, have competitions, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, go on bike tours, have videos and movies, and snacks. There is a Mini-Disco and games for the kids at the theatre every night at 8 p.m.

Vacation Club There is a Royal Vacation Club that operates at this resort. It was somewhat annoying when there were 5 or 6 of their sales people standing at the entrance to the restaurant every morning. I started handing them my card when they approached me, and then they didn’t want to talk to me anymore ? They sell timeshares (oops, excuse me, vacation club) at this resort with exchange privileges at other resorts worldwide

Entertainment/Activities

They put out a newsletter every other day telling what is going on. There will also be a board by the Pool Bar with Activities (they had taken it down to fix it while we were there). There are lots of activities – aerobics, bicycle tour, ping pong, darts, boccia, archery, beach volleyball, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, contests, etc. There is a rock-climbing wall where you can try your skill. Didn’t see many people using it, though. There is live entertainment (saxophone) in the lobby starting at 7:15 p.m. which we enjoyed. A large enclosed theatre is at the front of the resort beside the lobby. There are shows every night at 10 p.m., with a Mini Disco for the children at 8 p.m. We only went to a couple of the shows. One was the Dominicano show and one was an audience participation dance competition. Guests are given one free game per room at their “Strike” bowling alley, then it’s $15. U.S. per game for up to 6 people. A good activity for a rainy day.

Internet Access

There is an internet place with 5 computers in the front lobby area. Found the rates a little pricey at: *15 minutes – $4 *30 minutes – $7 *1 hr. – $12 *Wireless Internet is also Available – $12.00 for 60 minutes *Also noted they did have a card reader available, if you wanted to upload photos, etc. *It’s open from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Casino

The Casino inside the resort is open from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. It is run by Tower Casino, who also have a large casino just outside the resort. We didn’t go to the one outside the resort, but did go a couple of times to the one in the resort. The first night we played $60.00 in slots for about 1-1/2 hours, came out only down $3. People did seem to be winning on slots – one man next to us won 1,000 coins. We went back another night and lost about $20.00 in the slots, then Pat played Blackjack for awhile, but we came out losing. We had fun for a while, though.

Disco

The “Wave” Disco is located off the lobby area. It’s open from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. We never went… Just saw it while we were at the Manager’s cocktail party there, which is every Wednesday.

Hotel Stores/Shopping

There are several shops in the lobby area. There is a cigar shop, a Harrison’s Jewellery Store, a Mini-Market that sells clothing, snacks, souvenirs, paintings, a little bit of everything, and a store with clothing and sandals (I bought a pair of sandals there for $16.00 U.S. because the sandals I’d brought broke, unfortunately the new ones cut into my feet so badly, I still have the marks…

For more shopping options, you can go into the “town” area outside of the resort. We never did do this, because it was just too hot to wander around, but there are lots of shops, money exchanges, and bars and things in the area outside the resort, including Plaza Bavaro. You can walk there, or take a taxi for $6.00 U.S. On Dominican night vendors set up in the courtyard between the lobby and the a la carte restaurants. Or you can visit the vendors on the beach, just to the left of the resort. Be sure to bargain for the best prices.

Money Exchange

I assume you can change money at the hotel, I don’t recall seeing an ATM machine there. We just took U.S. cash and never had a need to change any money into pesos.

Spa

The spa here is run by Metamorphosis Spas, who run many of the resort spas in the Dominican Republic. They have a complete line of services available, prices are the same as you’d expect to pay at home. They use top of the line products, and the spa is beautifully decorated, with an inner “outdoor garden courtyard” where there is a Jacuzzi and other treatments are available here. For those who book a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite, a free ½ hour massage is included. I went one day for the ½ hour massage and another day had the 75 minute “Scents of the Caribbean” massage treatment. It was wonderful, very relaxing. Pat enjoyed a combination massage. There is also a massage hut near the beach where you can get massages. Massages start from $40.00 U.S. for 25 minutes.

The gym is also located at Metamorphosis Spa and is available to all guests. Medical Services is located on the other side of the spa.

Weddings There were a couple of weddings held at the beach the week we were there. A beautiful backdrop for pictures. They offer free weddings for guests booking a deluxe junior suite under the Ocean Elite Club, or if you book a minimum of 7 rooms with a minimum 4 night stay. You can have your wedding at the beach, in the hotel gardens, or by one of the ponds. The free wedding includes the services of a civil judge, silk bouquet for the bride, silk boutonniere for the groom, ironing of wedding dress and groom’s tuxedo, a bottle of champagne, wedding cake for ten people, romantic candlelight dinner for 2 near the beach, guaranteed late checkout, , 10 per cent discount on all spa services, and turn down service each night. Additional services are available at extra cost. There is also a wedding package available for $850.00 U.S. Contact the hotel for further details.

Tours

You can book off-resort tours such as jeep safaris, boat cruises, ATV trips, horseback riding ($35.00 for an hour), Manati Park, a trip to Santo Domingo, shopping trips, etc. at your tour operator’s desk in the front lobby or through Turinter Tours, who have a representative at the hotel every day. You’ll find him in the lobby in the morning from about 9:30 a.m. on.

Summary

A very nice, well laid-out hotel. Spacious rooms, numerous dining options, lots of activities, and beautiful pools and beach, make it a good choice for a holiday destination. I found the staff to be very helpful, and service was good. Ocean Blue and Ocean Sand are sold from Canada by Transat Vacations, Signature Vacations, and from England through First Choice.

Special thanks to Alexandra, Mr. Smith, Benedicto, Wellington “The Duke”, and all the guest services staff for making our holiday special, and to Turinter Tours http://www.turinter.com/travel/welcome.asp for providing our transportation while at Ocean Blue.

* The resort is absolutely beautiful and spotlessly clean.
Hotel Bahia Principe Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Nov 1, 2004
November 6 – 13, 2004 We flew Air Transat out of Toronto. We purchased the Club Transat upgrade, and it is well worth it. The upgrade gives you big seats, with a separate checkin at both airports. Your luggage is given priority, first off the plane. You are allowed twice the baggage allowance as well! Whereas with the cutbacks regular passengers are just given a sandwich, and you have to pay for snacks and anything you want to drink except water, tea and coffee, with Club Transat you have unlimited drinks, a menu with 4 dinner choices, free snacks, free headphones, etc. The flight staff were excellent. I only wish they had better flight times to Punta Cana. We didn’t leave until 4 in the afternoon, making for a late arrival in Punta Cana, and the return flight didn’t leave until 10:30 at night, getting us into Toronto around 2 a.m. (although our return flight did leave half an hour early). A long day, particularly if you can’t get late checkout at your hotel.

We arrived in Punta Cana in a thunderstorm, and had to circle for about 15 minutes before being able to land, then wait for them to bring a shuttle out to the plane to take us to the terminal. When we got to the terminal building there were, as usual, two girls and a photographer waiting to take your picture. We “by-passed” this, as did many others, and went quickly through customs. Our luggage was first off and we were out of the airport in 15 minutes. There are porters waiting to take your baggage as you exit the airport, it is easiest to just let them take it and give them a few dollars. A $24.00 U.S. cab ride and we arrived at Bahia Principe Punta Cana. It is about half an hour from Punta Cana Airport.

Location
Bahia Principe Punta Cana is located in the northern part of Punta Cana, just north of the Riu Hotels. Along the beach it is about a 10 minute walk to the Riu Hotels. If you walk north on the beach, it is about a 20 minute walk to Grand Paradise and Superclubs Breezes. The “Astron” wreck is offshore, right in front of the hotel. Bahia Principe Punta Cana opened in June 2004 and is comprised of 708 junior suites. Its sister hotel, Bahia Principe Bavaro, opened on November 6 and has 540 junior suites. It has its own lobby, and is pretty much a mirror image of the Bahia Principe Punta Cana. As you walk down the main pathway from lobby to beach, Bahia Principe Punta Cana is on the right and Bahia Principe Bavaro is on the left. They each have their own buffet restaurant, Japanese restaurant and Gourmet Restaurant, with the same food. The Italian, Grill, Mexican and Seafood Restaurants are shared by both hotels. So if you’re laying awake at night trying to decide which one to stay at, it really doesn’t matter, both offer the same facilities. By the end of our stay there both hotels were fully booked. Due to the layout of the hotel and the many pools and restaurants, it never seemed to be crowded.

A third deluxe hotel, Bahia Principe Premier, with 288 suites, is scheduled to open on December 23, and is located in front of the Bavaro section, and is furthest from the beach.

Check-In
Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is 12 noon If you have an early flight into Punta Cana, you may have to wait a while for your room to be ready. Late checkouts may be available (at an extra charge) if you have a late flight going home. They put your luggage in a locked room off the lobby and you can have access to it during the day. If you have made charges to your room, you can pay in U.S. dollars or pesos. Ask what the exchange rate is…we had charges for some local phonecalls we made, which came to 121 pesos, and when I said I wanted to pay in U.S., he told me it was $7….not. I questioned this and he revised that to $5, which was still a bit high, I think they round up to the nearest dollar. We were the only ones checking in at 10:30 p.m., so it went fairly quickly once they located our reservation. We were given wristbands, towel cards, a map of the resort and our room key card (only 1). I enquired about the in-room safe and was told to come back in the morning to arrange it. Remote for the TV is in the room. The bellboy took us in a golf cart to our room, with our luggage, which was in Building 5, the Club Golden section. We then realized we had the wrong bracelets on, they hadn’t given us the Club Golden bracelets, which are gold. Pat also discovered he didn’t have his jacket containing his glasses, etc. We called the front desk and were assured that if it was found it would be taken to Guest Services and we could check with them the next morning. We decided to go back and check for it ourselves and a bellboy told us they had found the jacket and it was in guest services, which unfortunately was closed by that time, but we picked it up the next morning. While there we also made a quick trip to the lobby store, just as it was closing, where we bought milk to keep in our room for coffee in the morning, and a big bottle of water, as they had not filled our mini bar prior to our arrival and it only contained two bottles of pop. The resort is very large, and trams run from one end to the other on a regular basis. We took the tram sometimes, but it was a pleasant walk. It only takes about 15 minutes to walk from the lobby right down to the beach. There are umbrellas in the rooms to use when it’s raining, as the walkways are not covered.

Monday morning we awoke to blue skies and a hot sunny day. Had I known this was going to be the best weather of the week, I would have spent more time in the sun, I was trying not to overdo it on the first day! Unfortunately the weather was not good during our vacation. It rained a lot, both during the day and in the evening, and even when not raining it was very overcast and windy. If we saw the sun peeking through, we’d head for the beach. We still managed to spend quite a bit of time at the beach, though. This weather is very unusual for the Dominican Republic. I see from the forecasts that the weather is better there now.

The first morning we went to the Club Golden Guest Services (which is actually where you should check in and check out if you have the Club Golden upgrade) and got the proper wristbands, and made our dinner reservations for the week at the a la carte restaurants. If you’re in Club Golden, you get 4 a la carte dinners per week. Make your reservations the first day, as the best times fill up quickly. If you are not in Club Golden, you make your dinner reservations at the regular Guest Services area located beside the front desk. You are entitled to 3 a la carte reservations during the week. I asked about the in-room safe and was told it was $30 U.S. for the week. This seemed kind of expensive, but I would still recommend it. The code for the safe is programmed into your room key card, and that is what you use to lock and unlock the safe. We also asked for a second key to the room, which we were given. You need to put one of the cards in the slot inside the door to run the electricity and air conditioning in the room. Remember to take this card with you when you leave your room , because it will also open your safe. The air-conditioning works very well and cools the room quickly, so you don’t have to worry about the room being warm if you don’t leave the card in the slot. Actually we shut it off a few nights as it was too cold, even on the low setting and I found it loud. You can pay for items in the stores in pesos or U.S. dollars. If you pay with U.S. dollars your change will be a mixture of U.S. and pesos. Credit cards are also accepted.

Grounds and Beach

The lobby is very beautiful with its marble floors, beautiful chandeliers and the massive palm trees sculpture in the centre. There is comfortable seating in the lobby and a large bar area right off the lobby with tables and chairs, and waitress service. In the early evening they have live music here, which was nice. They also set up a coffee/tea bar with snacks in this area around 4 p.m. The vegetation and gardens are lovely, and even though the hotel is new, it doesn’t look bare at all. There is also a natural mangrove swamp area that runs across the centre of this resort. There are two pools, one about halfway down the property, that has a swim-up bar, and a large swimming pool that is located right in front of the beach and has a cold-water Jacuzzi. There are actually two pools here, joined in the middle, one for each resort. There is a swim-up bar on each side. There are palapas around the pool, but these fill up quickly. They will also come around and take your drink orders at the pools, but not on the beach. The towel hut is located near the pool, where you can exchange your towel cards for beach towels or get clean ones. Some days people had to wait for towels, they didn’t always have them yet first thing in the morning. The beach is beautiful, with white sand and palm trees. There are dozens of thatched palapas at the beach and we had no problem finding one any time of the day. They are still building new ones, so there shouldn’t be any shortage of shade at the beach. Because of the weather most people seemed to stay by the pool. The wind and rain made the ocean a little rough and few people were in the water and watersports were not available most days.

Scubacaribe http://scubacaribe.com/ runs the watersports here. Included watersports are kayaks, catamaran, windsurfing, boogie boards, sunfish sailing,snorkeling equipment, and scuba lessons in the pool. Time limitations may apply. You can also book fishing trips, a sunset cruise, etc. with Scubacaribe.

Rooms
This resort is all junior suites, in 2 and 3-storey buildings (no elevators). Due to the layout of the resort, few rooms appeared to have an actual full ocean view. We were in building 5, a 2-storey building, in Room 5208, and if we looked to the right from our balcony we could see the ocean in the distance. It was actually a pretty good location. All the rooms are the same. The Club Golden upgrade puts you in a section closer to the beach, but the room is the same as the others. Rooms are large and nicely decorated, and have two double or 1 king-size bed, and a seating area with couch, table and chairs. Rooms have a telephone, coffee-maker, clock-radio with alarm, satellite TV (19”) with a lot of English stations (network channel NBC, cartoon channels, CNN, movie channels, sports channels, etc.) and balcony or patio. There is a full bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and shower, hairdryer, and makeup mirror. You also get a few extra goodies like razors and toothbrushes in the basket of amenities, as well as shampoo, bath gel, body lotion, shower cap, etc. There is a mini fridge stocked daily with 2 bottles of water, 2 Pepsi, 2 Seven-up, 1 Diet Pepsi, some apple juice, and 2 Presidente beer. If you want more of something, leave a note and a tip in the fridge, and you’ll get whatever you want. We always asked for extra water, as it is impossible to get bottled water elsewhere in the resort unless you buy it. If you ask for it at a bar, they give it to you in a glass. In the Club Golden rooms you also have two beach towels, you can use your towel cards to get 2 more if you want them. There are also bathrobes, and an umbrella. There was no iron in the room, but you can request one from housekeeping. I take my own travel iron with me, that way I don’t have to worry about tracking one down if I need it. With the humidity down there, things don’t get that wrinkled anyway – just hang them up for a while. Electricity in the DR is the same as North America, and our plugs fit the outlets just fine. I believe turn-down service at night is another feature of Club Golden, but we only received this on the last night. Perhaps we had the Do Not Disturb sign out when they had come other nights? Maximum occupancy in the rooms is 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children. Rooms with connecting doors to the next room are available. They also have some handicap rooms available, as well as highchairs and cribs for children. If you’re traveling with small children I would suggest you bring a stroller. Maid service was very good, our room was always cleaned by noon. Suggest you pack a washcloth or two, we had them most days, but sometimes the maid didn’t leave any. We left a $2 tip each day for the maid. The whole resort is spotless! The air-conditioning went out on Thursday, and was out for two days. To fix it they had to dig up the area in front of the hotel entrance, and seemed to be working pretty much around the clock to fix the problem, lots of heavy equipment and noise. Because the weather was overcast and not really hot, it wasn’t any particular hardship not having air conditioning, at least in my opinion. I didn’t even really notice it wasn’t working until Thursday night.

Staff here is very friendly, always ready with an “Hola” as they pass you. Key employees all speak excellent English, some of the staff do not speak much English. Remember you are in a Spanish-speaking country and take the time to learn a few phrases in Spanish, they appreciate it.

Bars and Drinks
Pat is not a drinker, and I drink mostly white wine. I didn’t find their house wine too bad. I tried a few daiquiris which were pretty good, except they were never the same twice. They seem to have some international liquors available in the all-inclusive, others such as Beefeater gin, Canadian Club, Chivas, Black Label, Absolut vodka, Bailey’s, Grand Marnier, etc. are available at an extra cost of between 140 and 300 pesos ($5 to $10) – pretty pricey. Presidente beer is the only beer they have. The a la carte restaurants also have a wine list if you want to purchase a bottle of wine with your meal.

Restaurants

All restaurants (except for the beach snack bar) are air-conditioned and non-smoking. Men must wear long pants in the a la carte restaurants at dinner, they can wear shorts to the buffet. If you are in Club Golden, you can make 4 reservations at a la carte restaurants during the week. Otherwise you can only make 3 reservations for the week. We chose to make reservations at the Japanese Restaurant, Italian Restaurant, Grill Restaurant, and Gourmet Restaurant. There is also a Mexican restaurant and Seafood restaurant we did not try.

There is a main buffet restaurant in the lobby area, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It is open from 7 to 10:30 a.m. for breakfast, 1 – 3:30 p.m. for lunch, and 7 – 10 p.m. for dinner. (would have been nice if it opened a little earlier for lunch and dinner. 7 p.m. is late for some, especially those with small children). A smaller buffet for breakfast and lunch is also served in the Seafood Restaurant near the pool and beach. Food here is the same as what is served in the main buffet restaurant, just on a smaller scale (ie. At breakfast it is all buffet, they do not have a cook there to make eggs, etc. for you). We ate breakfast here a few days, but usually went to the main buffet for the freshly-cooked eggs. The pre-made scrambled and fried eggs tended to be cool in both restaurants, as were the hash-browns. The Seafood restaurant was our favourite place for lunch. Overall, I thought the buffet food was excellent. There was a large choice and always something I liked, and things I hadn’t previously seen at buffets, like Caesar salad and fajitas. They also had my favourite, fried eggplant. And my favourite desert here, oddly enough, was Jello! And of course, pineapple. Cheesecake was good too.

There is also a snack bar with tables and wait service for drinks located by the pool, where they serve hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries, nachos and cheese, chicken, pizza, etc. This is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

There is a limited room service menu. We didn’t try this. It is available from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Italian Restaurant – Il Capriccio We ate here the first night. We had an 8 p.m. reservation (a la carte restaurants all open at 7:00 p.m.) There was a self-serve antipasto bar, and they serve a cheese and pasta appetizer, which I thought was good. Menu selections include pizza, pasta, or chicken dishes. There is a desert bar, but there wasn’t too much selection. Staff were very nice, service started out good, but kind of deteriorated toward the end… Again, I think this is because the hotel is new and they aren’t totally organized yet. (This restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch as well, but is only for Club Hacienda members, which is the upgrade for their sister hotel, Bahia Principe Bavaro.)

Japanese Restaurant – Mikado

This was our favourite a la carte restaurant. You are seated at a table for 12 and the food is cooked right in front of you. You get lots of food, more than you can eat. Then you move to individual tables for dessert and coffee/liqueurs. Service was very good here.

Grill Restaurant – Garden Grill

Food was okay, I asked for a steak done medium well, it was pretty rare. They had a salad/appetizer bar, which could have been a meal in itself. The potato skins were good! Service wasn’t the best but the waiters were friendly.

Gourmet Restaurant – Le Gourmet Restaurante

On our last night we ate at the Gourmet Restaurant, it was okay, but our least favourite. Again, the beef was rare, and service could have been better. For late night snacks you can go to “Burger Principe” in Pueblo Principe at the front of the resort, where you can get hamburgers, hotdogs and sandwiches. It’s open from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Mini-Club

There is a Mini-Club for children ages 4 – 12. It is in a nice building near the centre of the resort, and they have lots of toys, games, TV, video games, etc. The day I stopped in it was only some young children there with their mothers, as they only take children ages 4 and up. There seemed to be lots of toddlers at the resort the week we were there, not so many older children. Babysitting is available for $10.00 U.S. per hour. They have a Mini-Club Program listed, as follows: 9 – 10 a.m. – Welcome 10 a.m. – Tennis Lesson 11 a.m. – Pool Games 12 a.m. – Table Games 1 p.m. – Lunch time 2 p.m. – Walk 3 p.m. – Beach Games 4 p.m. – Mini Golf 5 p.m. – Nintendo 8:30 p.m. – Mini Show

Entertainment During the Day

The animation team works hard to provide daily activities. You can join in if you wish or if you’re like me and just like to sit and relax, they’ll leave you alone. Here is the schedule for activities during the day: 10 a.m. – Tennis Lesson 10:30 a.m. – Spanish lesson 11 a.m. – Beach Volleyball/Beach aerobics 11:30 – Beach games 12 noon – Pool games 12:15 p.m. – Pool aerobics 3:30 p.m. – Water polo/beach volleyball 4 p.m. – Pool games/soccer 4:30 p.m. – Stretching 5:00 p.m. – Tropical Dance lesson 8:30 p.m. – Mini Disco for kids 9:00 p.m. – Dance lessons on stage/show 10:00 p.m. – Show

11:00 p.m. – Live Music in Pueblo Principe

Nightly Entertainment You can see the daily list of activities and entertainment down by the main pool, by the Activities/Towel Desk. There seemed to be two shows usually, sometimes the same show at 9 and again at 10, sometimes different shows. They are the usual audience participation or singing/dancing. We watched a couple of them, they try hard. The theatre is lovely, large and covered-in with comfortable seating. Waitresses come around and take your drink orders.

Pueblo Principe

After the shows end at 11 p.m., you can head to Pueblo Principe (Principe Town). They have an outdoor stage where they sometimes have a band or a show, there is a Piano Bar, a Karaoke Bar, and the Casino and Disco. Food and drinks are included here, except for the casino where you have to pay for drinks. Unfortunately because of the weather we didn’t see too much going on there. This resort has more entertainment options than most resorts, so it’s a good place for people who want to party. There were all ages at the resort. Lots of English-speaking people, as well as German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

Internet Access

If you have the Club Golden upgrade, you have free internet access in the Club Golden Guest Services. There are two computers available, they ask that you limit your time to 15 minutes if someone else is waiting to use it. There are newspapers and a small bar if you want a drink while you’re waiting. Otherwise, there is an Internet Café in Pueblo Principe, where you can purchase time for $8.00 U.S. per hour, $6 for 40 minutes, or $3 for 10 minutes.

Casino

The casino is open from 8 p.m .to 4 a.m. We went in a couple times. They have slot machines and some tables – blackjack, poker, roulette – it’s not too large. The slot machines are the latest technology, kind of hard to figure out at first, but people were plugging money into them anyway. We lost about $6.00 and decided to call it quits. We did get a half hour or so of play time out of it though. We went in one other time near the end of the week and lost another $15.

Hotel Stores/Shopping

Lots of stores to shop at here. There is a lobby shop which has a bit of everything. However, there is no price on anything and checkout can be slow while they try to find the item in the computer. I bought a couple of candles one day and paid $2.67 U.S. each, and a few days later a lady in line in front of me bought the same candles, and they determined a different code for them and she paid almost $4.00 U.S. each for them. In Pueblo Principe at the entrance to the resort you will also find a couple of jewellery stores (one being Harrison’s), clothing stores, stores selling cigars, liquor, souvenirs, and handicrafts (saw lots of different things here), lots of silver items from Mexico, and vendors also have carts set up here with various souvenirs. There are also vendors on the beach – don’t forget to bargain with the beach vendors.

Money exchange

Money can be exchanged at the front desk. I just used U.S. for everything. There are also two ATM machines on the property.

Spa

The spa is at the front of the resort as you enter, and they also have massage beds at the beach. They have a full range of services – prices comparable to what you would pay at home. Massages are $84 US per hour or $54 U.S. for half an hour. I had a massage at the beach one day, she gave me a special price of $63 for the hour massage because she wasn’t busy. It was very relaxing. There is also a fitness room here free for all guests, open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Mini-Golf Located next to the Spa. Again, because of the weather we didn’t try this.

Tennis Courts

Are located at the front of the resort.

Medical Services

Medical services are available 24 hours a day The doctor’s office is located in Pueblo Principe.

Weddings

There is a wedding gazebo where the weddings are held, and there were lots of them, seemed to be 2 or 3 a day. The bride is picked up in a golf cart decorated with balloons and brought to the gazebo, which is decorated with palms and flowers. Wedding dinners are held in an a la carte restaurant. For more information on their wedding packages, see our Weddings Page

Tours

If you want to get out of the resort and see something of the Dominican Republic, there are many tours available – everything from a jeep safari tour to a day trip to Santo Domingo. Your tour operator will have office hours in the Tour area near the Club Golden guest services, and you can book trips through them. I would also suggest that you attend the welcome briefing that your tour operator provides when you first arrive, they provide lots of useful information and also outline the tours that are available.

Golf

Bahia Principe has plans to build its own golf course in the future. Golfing is currently available at Cocotal Golf & Country Club, Punta Cana Beach Resort, and Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog and The Links). You can make arrangements through Guest Services or your tour operator, or see our Golf Page at: http://www.debbiesdominicantravel.com/golf.html#pb

Summary

Considering this hotel has only been open since June of this year, I think they have done an amazing job. The resort is absolutely beautiful and spotlessly clean. I thought the food was very good, employees are very friendly. Service in some areas can use improvement, but this will come with time. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel to anyone. I’ve tried to cover all aspects of the resort in my review – if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me, and I’ll try to answer them for you.

Special thanks to Jacques, Daniel, and Minerva.

Photos: http://community.webshots.com/album/223981719qlUyzp
* Grand Paradise Bavaro is a nice hotel
Hotel Grand Paradise Bavaro Resorts
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Oct 1, 2003
October 19 – 26, 2003
Location
Grand Paradise Bavaro is about a 35 minute drive from Punta Cana Airport, being one of the northernmost hotels on the Punta Cana strip. This is a relatively new hotel, opened in July 2001 by Amhsa Marina Hotels. The hotel is located directly next to Superclubs Breezes hotel, and there are no other hotels in the immediate area. The next closest hotels are the Riu hotels, which are about a 25 minute walk down the beach to the south. A new Bahia Principe hotel scheduled to open next summer, is currently under construction about midway between Grand Paradise and the Riu Hotels.

The occupancy rate at Grand Paradise when we were there was around 75 – 80%, with 45% of the guests being from France, 26% from North America, and the rest from Germany, the U.K., and other European countries. There seemed to be lots of younger people around, and towards the end of the week there were lots of children.

Checkin
Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is 1 p.m. If you have an early flight into Punta Cana, you may have to wait a while for your room to be ready. Late checkouts may be available (at an extra charge) if you have a late flight going home. Otherwise a courtesy room will be available where you can shower and change.

On checkin you are given a wristband, 2 electronic key cards (note that one card has to be put in the slot inside the room to operate the lights and air-conditioning), towel cards, a remote for the TV, and an information sheet about the hotel. A key for the in-room safe is available at an extra charge of $19 U.S. per week. (I highly recommend this). The front desk staff speak good English.

Grounds and Beach
The lobby area is very large, with comfortable seating, and two staircases leading up to the Piano Bar and some shops. From the lobby, you go down more stairs to the grounds of the resort. The buildings are kind of in a horseshoe shape, with the lobby at the top, buildings on the sides, and lots of open space in the middle, and then you have the two swimming pools in the centre, closest to the beach. From the lobby you have an unobstructed view of the whole resort. There is a large natural pond near the lobby filled with fish, turtles, and frequented by the resident ducks. Even the turtles will stick their heads up and take food from your hand. (A review submitted recently talked about a duck with a “tuft” on its head that she named Priscilla, I spotted Priscilla right away). There are a couple of fountains in the pond to keep the water circulating, but I still found that it smelled a bit once in a while. You walk across a wooden bridge over the pond (in the middle there are benches where you can sit) and then there are concrete walkways throughout the resort. There are lots of beautiful tall palm trees.

There are two large pools, and a couple of smaller round pools. I think one was actually a Jacuzzi, but there were quite a few kids there and they were both being used as kids’ pools. There are lots of comfortable lounge chairs around the pool. There are some tall palm trees, but they don’t give off much shade, it would be nice if they added some umbrellas or thatched palapas around the pool area. The majority of the people seemed to favour going to the beach. There are dozens of thatched palapas at the beach and we had no problem finding one any time of the day. The beach is very nice, but not as wide as further south, and the sand is a little less white and a little less soft. But still very beautiful and dotted with lots of palm trees. Walking into the water it is a sandy bottom for the most part, but there are occasional rocks so you have to watch where you’re stepping. There were always waves, they were higher towards the end of the week. Great for boogie boarding, but they were sometimes strong enough to knock you down. There was no seaweed at all on the beach most of the week, but after it rained all day Thursday, there was a tiny bit that washed up. There is a roped off swimming area, the beach isn’t as busy as further south, not as many motorboats going by. Both the ocean and pool water were fairly warm.

Rooms
This resort has 504 rooms, in six colourful 3-storey buildings (no elevators). Some rooms have a partial ocean view, but only a few rooms at the ends of the buildings have a full oceanfront view. We were in room 6325 and had a partial ocean view. All the rooms are the same. Rooms are a good size and nicely decorated, and have two double or 1 king-size bed. There is a mini fridge stocked with water and soft drinks (Sprite and Coke), telephone, full bathroom with hairdryer, and a basket containing shampoo, conditioner, lotion, a shower cap, and a sewing kit. There are no coffeemakers yet as listed in the tour books. They will be added in the future. I always take my own kettle and tea and coffee, anyway, and pick up some milk in the hotel store. Water in the mini-fridge is in a large bottle – 1500 ml (50.7 oz), so you might want to take smaller bottles of water to refill. Sometimes some of the bars have small bottles of water available. They do have water coolers at the bars so you can refill the bottles. The mini-fridge is restocked daily, they will leave extra water if you ask them. Some rooms have an ironing board in them, and an iron is available on request from housekeeping. I have a travel iron I always take with me, that way I don’t have to worry about tracking down an iron if I need one. With the humidity down there, things don’t get that wrinkled. Electricity in the DR is the same as North America, and our plugs fit the outlets just fine. There is satellite TV in the rooms, but not many English stations, no HBO or American Network channels. Maximum occupancy in the rooms is 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children. Rooms with connecting doors to the next room are available (20). The hotel does have future plans to convert some of their rooms into suites, containing a jacuzzi, but this won’t be completed until next summer sometime. While we didn’t hear any noise from adjoining rooms, the hallways are somewhat noisy. Doors closing, footsteps, etc. seem to echo in the wide hallways.

They have 4 handicap-equipped rooms available, and there are also ramps and an elevator in the main building to the various levels.

Bars and Drinks
There are 4 bars – Las Arenas Bar at the pool, open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., La Cana Beach Bar, open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., the Terrace Bar open from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., and the Sportsbar, which is open 24 hours. Only national brand liquor and beer is included in the all-inclusive packages, except for liqueurs served in the a la carte restaurants. Premium liquor and beer (Miller’s, Heineken) is available at extra cost of $2 to $5 US per drink.

At the Sports Bar, located on the lower level of the main building and fully enclosed and air-conditioned, you can get popcorn or nachos and cheese during the day, and from midnight on there are sandwiches available. There are a couple of pool tables, 2 foosball tables, a big screen TV, and tables and chairs. Adjacent to this bar is the Vacation Club area, where the timeshare guys hang out, I didn’t find them to be much of a bother, even had an interesting conversation with one of them.

Restaurants
The main buffet restaurant (La Laguna) is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with every night being a theme night – Italian, Asian, BBQ, German, Dominican, etc. They have a sign outside the restaurant telling you what the theme night is for that night and also for the next night. Very helpful in planning what restaurant you want to go to. The buffet restaurant is very large, enclosed, and air-conditioned. There is a good selection of food, always a pasta bar, and service was usually pretty good. At breakfast they will cook you omelettes, they also have a crepe and waffle station, cereals, fruit, etc. Pat usually has the scrambled eggs from the buffet, but they were only hot a couple of days, the rest of the time they were cold. I took a thermal mug to breakfast with me every day and got my second cup of coffee on the way out. Tea, coffee and cookies are served outside the buffet restaurant around 4 p.m. every day.

Re the Dress Code: Long pants are required for the Italian and Chinese restaurants. Men can wear Bermuda shorts or dress shorts to the buffet and La Cana Grill, but no tank tops or beach sandals.

There are 3 a la carte restaurants – Michelangelo (Italian), Chinese Restaurant Asia (Asian), and La Cana Grill (steak, chops, seafood). Also, every Tuesday they have a lobster dinner at La Cana Grill Restaurant, including champagne, which is not included in the all-inclusive. It costs $30 US per person. We don’t eat seafood, so didn’t sign up for this. You can make reservations for this at the front desk. You no longer make reservations for the a la carte restaurants, you just show up when you want to eat. (unless you’re a group of 15 to 20, then they’ll make a reservation for you). They take a group of people (25 to 30) in every half hour. That is why you may show up for the first sitting and be told you have to wait, yet see empty tables. They stagger the number of people so they can handle the orders and serving, etc. If you cannot get in at the time you go, they will tell you what time to come back, and write down your room number. The first night there we ate at the Italian restaurant, which opens at 6:30 p.m. This restaurant is located right next to the Buffet restaurant and is enclosed and air-conditioned, and very nicely decorated. They have a help yourself antipasto bar, which was quite good. While Pat really enjoyed his meal, I didn’t particularly like mine, and I thought the house white wine in that restaurant was terrible. The house wine in the other restaurants and at the bars was okay. They do have a wine list available at extra cost. They bring around a dessert cart (great desserts) and also offer you coffee and a choice of liqueurs. The next a la carte we tried was La Cana Grill, which is located at the beach. It is a huge, thatched roof, open-air restaurant, definitely my favourite restaurant – we ate there twice. They are open for lunch from 12 to 3 p.m., and dinner from 7 to 10 p.m. You might not want to wait until 8 p.m. to go to the restaurant, as it is very popular and you may not get in until after 9 p.m.

At lunchtime they have pizza, chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, porkchops, steak, salads, French fries, sandwich stuff, etc. Lots of choice and lots of room to sit. You can go in with your bathing suit and a coverup. They also serve snacks here from 3 to 5 p.m.

At dinnertime they have a choice of salad and soup, main courses – rack of lamb, grilled pork loin, sirloin steak, various seafood/shrimp dishes, Tex Fajitas, mixed grill beef and seafood for 2. We had the sirloin steak each time, it was very good. Service was excellent. Again, they bring around a dessert cart (try the lemon cheesecake, it’s wonderful), and offer you coffee and liqueurs. They also have a wine list at extra cost which includes wines from France, Spain, Italy, Chile, the U.S. and Argentina, with prices ranging from 300 pesos to 5000 pesos for a bottle of Dom Perignon. The Asian Restaurant, located next to the Italian restaurant, is also enclosed and air-conditioned, and nicely decorated. It was disappointing, maybe it was just what we ordered. Service was very fast, too fast, they were serving the main course before we’d finished our soup.

Shows and Disco

There is a show in the theatre every night starting at 9:45 p.m. We watched a couple of them, there was a Magic Show, a Hawaii Show, audience participation shows. They had good costumes and effects. The disco is located in the main building, open from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Long distance calls

You can make long distance calls from your room. Just dial 0 and have the operator open the line, then dial 9 to access Canada Direct or U.S. phone companies. The hotel charges a connection fee of about $2 US. They also have phones in the front lobby, where you can use the phone and pay on the spot at the front desk. Collect calls or using your calling card is the best way to call home, Dominican long distance rates are expensive. I also noticed a card in our room with a 1-800 number for making long distance calls (requires credit card). I do not recommend using this, I think it turns out to be very expensive. The hotel also has a hotline number (7777) you can call if you need something (mini-bar refills, luggage picked up, etc.)

Activities

The animacion staff, “Kiko’s Team”, work hard to entertain and involve guests in games and sports, as well as putting on the evening shows. Most activities take place by the pool, near the beach. They have a big board by the pool showing the list of activities and times, and they also post what the evening show is going to be for that night and for the next night. At the activities desk (beside the pool bar) you can borrow board games, sports equipment, etc. and this is also where you get your towels, and sign up for horseback riding (I think different tour operators have different inclusions for this, in the Air Canada Vacations book it says a one hour horseback ride is included). We didn’t go on the horseback ride. There are different horseback riding tours available at extra cost. There are 2 lit tennis courts at the front of the property (charge for night tennis). A hotel photographer goes around taking candid photos of the guests, one day he had parrots and one day he had a snake, for people to pose with. I gave him a wide berth the day he had the snake. Slot Machines There is no casino here, but they have a small room off the sports bar with about 30 slot machines. We tried our luck one night, but ended up losing about $30.00. The machines did give some play time though, we were there for a while. If you want table games, go next door to Superclubs Breezes’ casino.

Weather

The weather this week was not as good as our previous week. It rained several days in the evening, and there was one day where it rained most of the day, and another day where it was totally overcast all day. Still very warm, though. The rain did bring out a few mosquitos, not many though.

Kids Club There is a Kids Club between buildings 4 and 5 for kids aged 4 to 12. It’s fairly large and they have TV’s, video games, a playground area, crafts, etc. The girl looking after the kids at the time I dropped in spoke a little bit of English, but was not fluent.

Internet Access

There are 2 computers just inside the sports bar, available 24 hours a day. You can buy an internet card with an access code at the front desk. The cost is $5US for half an hour’s time and $9 US for an hour.

Hotel Stores/Shopping

There is a large store in the lobby area, that sells a little bit of everything. There is also a cigar shop, and a Harrison’s Jewellery Store will be opening in mid-November. Dominican vendors come in a couple of times a week. There are also vendors on the beach, but it’s about a 10 to 15 minute walk down the beach to the right. They sell jewellery, paintings, wood carvings, rum, and other souvenirs. Be sure to barter for the best price. I bought a bottle of their best rum, Brugal Anejo Viejo, for $7 US, I could have gotten a better price if I bought more than one bottle, but it was still a couple of dollars less then it was selling for in the gift shop. I also bought some wind chimes, their initial price was $23 US, I ended up paying $10 US, they were a lot more expensive in the gift shop. Upstairs from the lobby is the piano bar open from 6 p.m. to midnight. I am also told that they will be adding a coffee shop on the lobby level, where the tour desk is now, and moving the tour desk upstairs. You can go to the tour desk in the lobby to book trips or ask questions of your tour representative. The tour reps have certain hours that they are at the hotel, check the binder for your tour company. There are many tours you can take: Jeep safari trips, Saona Island or Catalina Island tours, bus trip to Santo Domingo, Marinarium, Kontiki boat trip, Aquatic Tour, Crazy Wheels, Tropicalissimo Show, Manati Park, helicopter rides, etc. For approximate prices see my review of Ocean Bavaro. Some prices may be a little different because the hotel is further away. The only tour we did was the helicopter ride, through Helidosa Helicopters. It is rather expensive at $80 U.S. per person for 15 minutes, but was interesting as I’d never been in a helicopter before. There are 10, 15, 20, and half hour trips available. We actually ended up with 20 minutes as the other couples had purchased the 20 minute trip and that’s what they were flying then, even though we only paid for 15 minutes. They pick you up from your hotel in their mini-bus and take you to their base. We did have to wait for about half an hour once we got there before it was our turn. They fly up the coastline, and point out all the hotels. I found it quite interesting and even got a great aerial photo of Grand Paradise. The watersports centre is operated by Mariana Diving. Here you can take out snorkel equipment, boogie boards, windsurfers, etc. and sign up for scuba diving and other trips. There are free lessons in the pool daily. Parasailing is available for $75 US for 2.

Money exchange

The front desk was paying 33 pesos to the U.S. dollar and 20 pesos to the Canadian dollar, a better rate than some hotels were paying. It’s best to take U.S. dollars, though, as you can use them for everything. You can use credit cards or travellers cheques to pay for tours. There is also an ATM machine at the resort and one next door at Breezes as well.

Spa Metamorphosis Spa is located on the lower level of the main building. They have a fully-equipped gym which is available for use by the all-inclusive guests. There is also a hair salon and full spa services. Pat and I had a massage there, it was great. There is also a massage hut by the beach. Another day I had a European Seaweed body wrap treatment, which was wonderful, and includes time in the sauna, a Jacuzzi tub, and ends with a massage, and the day before we left I went for a manicure and pedicure. They have various specials on, starting from $45 U.S.

Medical Service

Medical services are available 24 hours a day. There is a doctor’s office located at the resort, behind Metamorphosis Spa.

Gifts and Tipping

Tipping is not required, but is appreciated. Note that if you bring gifts to give to the staff, you should give them a note they can show to security, indicating what you have given them, and your name and room number.

Summary

Grand Paradise Bavaro is a nice hotel. Their facilities are excellent for the number of rooms they have, ie. Their restaurants are large, no shortage of chairs at the beach or pool. I think their beach restaurant, La Cana Grill, is beautiful. I also like the way they post information, like what the buffet is going to be that night and the next, and the same for the evening shows and daily activities. We enjoyed our stay at Grand Paradise.

Special thanks to Rubennz Guzman, Domenica at Metamorphosis Spa, and to Sophie at Air Canada Vacations.

Photos: http://community.webshots.com/album/98327954hMJVdh
* A really beautiful hotel, with good service
Hotel Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus
User Rating:  
Debbie >  15 contribution(s) 
Feb 1, 2002
February 23 to March 2, 2002
Arrival
We traveled from Punta Cana to the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus, which is approximately 1-1/2 hours. We had made prior arrangements for Rafael from RS Taxi to pick us up and take us to Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus. The Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus is a new hotel located near the Village of Bayahibe, 90 minutes from Punta Cana, 20 minutes from La Romana Airport, and about an hour and 45 minutes from Santo Domingo Airport. It opened on November 15, 2001. We arrived at the hotel around 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. My first impression was “wow”. This was my first visit to an Iberostar hotel, so I can’t compare it to other Iberostars, but the lobby is absolutely amazing! I’ve never seen such a large lobby area. And the décor is beautiful. Huge chandeliers, beautiful tables, comfortable chairs, wall decorations, porcelain vases, etc.

Our room was not ready yet and we were told it would be 30 minutes. When we returned to the front desk, we were told some repairs had to be done in the room, so it would be another hour. They offered us a different room, but after seeing it, we decided to wait for the original room we had been given. The front desk staff was very courteous, however, and trying to do the best they could, as the hotel was fully booked. A short time later we were taken to our room on a golf cart with our luggage. Housekeeping and maintenance were still in the room finishing up. A last minute check revealed that our toilet was leaking around the base, which apparently has been a common problem at this hotel. However, by the time we returned to our room that night, it had been repaired. The TV remote we had been given on checkin did not work. We called the front desk and someone arrived promptly with two remotes, handed them to us and left, not taking the one that didn’t work, so now we had three, so if there was anyone there that week that couldn’t get a remote for their TV, I apologize 🙂

Rooms
Our room was really lovely, there was a full bathroom with good lighting, king-sized bed, dresser, couch and table. It was on the point of the building, so had the added bonus of an extra window and two balconies and had a partial view of the pool. We were in Building 6, which is a central location, halfway between the pool/beach and the restaurants/lobby. There was a hairdryer in the bathroom, as well as daily supplies of shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and bath gel. There was also a shampoo and bath gel dispenser in the bathtub area. Water pressure was good and we always had hot water. There is a minibar in the room with soft drinks, beer and a gallon jug of water. This is refilled every two days. If you run out of something in the meantime you can ask for it and they’ll bring it to you. There is no clock/radio or coffeemaker in the room. We bring our own small travel kettle and coffee/teabags. We bought milk at a store just down the street to the right of the resort, they don’t sell any in the hotel shops. You might want to bring your own mugs, we didn’t and the maid kept taking the cups that we brought from the restaurant. I hid them one day so she couldn’t take them, but I left them out again after the room had been cleaned and when we returned to our room that night the maid had been in, and the cups were gone. There is a mini-safe in the room. When the hotel first opened the safes were free, but they started charging for them the week we were there, the cost is 200 pesos per week. Most North American appliances should fit into their plugs, our travel kettle was fine, but my travel iron, which has worked in other places, had a left-hand prong that was just a little too wide to fit. Pat performed surgery on it with the nail clippers, though (the iron plug, not the outlet) and did get it to fit. After traveling to the DR so many times you learn to improvise.

There are 496 rooms at Iberostar Hacienda, in 7 two or three storey buildings. Map of Resort The whole resort is built in sort of a horseshoe shape, and you can actually walk from one building to another under cover if it is raining. Each building has a central courtyard, each with different decoration and landscaping. Very beautiful. Standard rooms come in two types – one with a full bathroom, king-sized bed, couch and table, like the one we had, and the other has a large walk-in shower (no tub), an armoire instead of a couch, and two beds (they call these double beds, but I saw one of these rooms and it is more a ¾ size bed, not much larger than a twin.) They also have 36 Junior Suites with ocean view. The only difference I could see from a regular room was that the living area where the couch is is a little bit larger.

The Beach, Pool, and Grounds
he resort is huge. Considering there are only 496 rooms I was surprised at how big it is, it’s almost as wide as it is long. There are fountains, ponds, gardens, topiary sculptures, trees, benches to sit on, they seem to have gone all out in the decoration of this resort. The vegetation is young and the palm trees are a little sparse right now, but these will grow quickly. There are 3 pools. The main pool is very large, with a swim-up bar. There is a sports pool, which is about 3 feet deep, and another circular pool which is deeper than the others, about 5 ft. There are lots of shade palapas around the pool area. The week we were there the beach seemed to be the most popular spot, and there were always lots of chairs by the pool and shade available. There is a kiddie pool located at the Kids Club, which was not yet operational. Several days when we went for lunch we saw a maintenance person standing there looking into the kiddie pool, I think there was some problem, but it didn’t seem any closer to resolution by the end of the week. The beach is beautiful, the water was crystal clear, different shades of blue. The water was a little cool, but not too cold to go in. The sand on the beach is quite deep, it’s not natural, it has been trucked in and I found it a little difficult to walk in. It’s not white sand like Punta Cana. The palm trees on the beach are very sparse and don’t offer much in the way of shade. They do have shade palapas, but they need to add some more, (and I understand that they are going to) as the ones they have fill up very quickly. They are trying to solve the issue of saving chairs early in the morning by not allowing anyone to put their stuff on them before 8 a.m. unless you are going to stay there. The first day we headed to the beach around 7:30 a.m. and were greeted by the security guard waving his arms, saying “no reservations”. Meanwhile another guard was coming from the beach with an armload of towels, bags, books, clothing, etc. which was taken “someplace” for the owners to claim later. I don’t imagine this went over very well, but at least they’re trying. For the rest of the week Pat would go down about 7:15 a.m. and put our stuff out and stay there, as this is what everyone else was doing. I’d come down just before 8. As long as you stayed with your stuff until 8:00 a.m., you could go for breakfast at that point and leave your stuff there. You can walk a long way on the beach in either direction. Lots of topless sunbathing along this beach.

To the left of the Iberostar is the Ventaclub Dominicus, then some vendors stalls, and then the Coral Canoa Hotel. To the immediate right are more beach vendors and Club Dominicus Palace and Club Dominicus Resorts.

Weather and Bugs No mosquitos and no bugs to speak of! This area had the same windy weather the week prior as we had in Punta Cana. Overall the weather this week wasn’t bad, but still more clouds and wind than usual. I think there was one day when it was quite cloudy and windy. But when the sun came out, it was very hot.

Restaurants

There are 5 restaurants:

The main buffet restaurant is very large. There is a huge variety of food to choose from and it is very good. Most items have a sign identifying what it is. This restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is a dress code in the evening for men, long pants or Bermuda shorts are allowed. Sandals for men are questionable, the thong-type beach sandals are definitely a no-no, other types some were allowed and some weren’t. We were sitting near the entrance one night and I was watching as people came in. The hostess turned away one man because of his sandals and a couple minutes later someone came in with what I thought was a very similar type and he was allowed in, so I’m not sure of the criteria here. Suggest you pack a pair of long pants and regular shoes. This restaurant does have a no smoking section. Some of the tables for 2 are very close together. The first night we ate dinner around 7:30 p.m. and it was not that busy, but when we came out around 8:30 p.m. there were about 50 people lined up waiting to be seated. That’s the only time I ever saw a lineup. Otherwise service was very good. If you ask for coffee, be sure to say “with milk” if you want it, otherwise they will bring it without, and it doesn’t seem possible to bring the milk afterwards, they will take the black coffee away and come back with another cup of coffee with milk in it. (In the morning they go around with a pot of coffee and a pot of milk) House wine is available at lunch and dinner, but I did not see a wine list available. I noted they had a raised balcony for a band in this restaurant – unfortunately we didn’t see the band playing here the nights we ate in this restaurant. The Beach Grill and Snack Bar is open during the day for continental breakfast and lunch, until around 4 p.m. It’s close to the beach and the pool. A t-shirt/coverup is required. We always had our lunch here. The food was good, they had hot items – pasta, chicken, rice, vegetables, seafood (there are no signs in this restaurant saying what the food is, which would have been helpful, you had to ask if you weren’t sure, ie. During the week I had both fried calamari rings and onion rings, and you couldn’t tell from looking which one it was). They also had hamburgers, French fries, as well as salads and sandwich items, nachos with cheese, icecream, other deserts. Note that you are not allowed to take food out of the restaurants. They do have a self-serve coffee/tea, soft drinks, juices and water bar set up just inside the restaurant. A couple of days they had a beach party barbecue set up just outside the restaurant, with a band playing.

There are 3 specialty restaurants that you have to make reservations for. You make these reservations in the lobby between 9 and 12. I went the second morning we were there and was able to make reservations for all the restaurants. I got there around 5 minutes to 9 and waited in line about 20 minutes to half an hour. A copy of the menus is available there for you to look at.

The first restaurant we tried was the Steakhouse, which is located in the Beach Grill and is open-air. I ordered a rib-eye steak medium well and it was a little too well done, but was good anyway. Pat had the ribs. Before the main course you can help yourself to the appetizer buffet, which included salad items, fish appetizers, shrimp, etc. Then they bring a “blooming onion” and some dipping sauce to your table, which I had never seen served in the DR, thought that was a Canadian thing. It was good. The main course came with a baked potato and sour cream, stewed tomato and corn. Service was excellent. The next night we went to the Japanese restaurant. This restaurant is enclosed and air-conditioned. Most people are seated around the show tables, although there were some regular tables around the sides of the restaurant. The night we were there, it wasn’t very full and there were lots of empty tables. You could order from a menu, which had quite a large choice. Some menu items were prepared in the kitchen and served to you, while others were prepared in front of you. You are served several courses of appetizers, soup, suishi, your main course and then desert. Again, service was excellent, no complaints. On our last night we went to the Mexican Restaurant. This is also enclosed and air-conditioned. This restaurant had the most elegant atmosphere, it was beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of Mexican food, but I really enjoyed this meal. They had an appetizer buffet which could have been the full meal, it had so many items on it. Very good, and good service.

Late-night snacks are available at the Mexican Restaurant, can’t tell you what they had, we never felt hungry. Food and drinks are available pretty much 24 hours a day.

Bars Lighthouse bar at the beach – this was the most popular bar during the day. There were times when they could have used another bartender, though.

Beach Grill Bar – near the pool area.

Swimup Bar/Icecream bar at the pool

There was a bar in the disco and in the theatre.

Lobby Bar

This was where we spent a lot of evenings after dinner, comfortable chairs and tables, with table service. A nice place to sit and chat. Some premium liquor is available, as well as Heineken beer.

Staff and Service

Considering the hotel has only been open for a few months, I thought the service was excellent. Staff are friendly and many speak English.

Activities

The “Star Friends” activities staff work hard to provide daily activities – water polo, beach volleyball, water volleyball, basketball, dance lessons, aerobics. There are 2 tennis courts (lit). There is a video game room and billiard/games room. Movies are shown at 4:00 p.m. every day. One night they had a Manager’s Cocktail Party in the theatre, followed by the show, which were Dominican Folklore dancers, it was excellent. This is the only professional group they have in, the activities staff put on the rest of the shows. They do a good job, good effects and costumes, and of course they have the usual audience participation shows. We only saw two shows, it was too easy to get comfortable in the lobby bar. After the show the disco opens. Just took a peek in one night, it’s decorated in a nautical theme.

Watersports Facilities

Dressel Divers operates the watersports. There is catamaran sailing, windsurfing, kayaks, snorkeling, diving clinics. Lessons cost extra, ie. Windsurfing class is $20 US per hour, private lessons $30 US per hour, Sailing classes $25 US per hour, private lessons $35 US per hour. Diving is available at $52 US with equipment. They have dive packages as well as open water certification courses. Local snorkeling trips are $29 US + taxi charge, snorkel and equipment rental $5 US, Waterskiing $35 US, Banana ride $9 US. There is a gym, beauty salon, spa with sauna and Jacuzzi, as well as massages and other beauty treatments.

Kids Club

There is Lucy’s Kids Club for kids 4 to 12, with supervised activities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The kids seemed to be enjoying themselves, and at lunchtime they take them into the Beach Grill for a supervised lunch. There is also a Kiddy Disco at night before the adults show.

Internet Access

There is an internet access room, they have 4 computers, although only 3 were working the week we were there. They will be charging for this service in the future, it was still free the week we were there.

Golf/Casinos

There is a casino trip available to Santana Beach Resort, not sure I think it’s about an hour away. Golf is available at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog golf course, a world-class golf course.

Tours and Shopping

There are jeep safari tours, trips to Catalina Island and Saona Island, Santo Domingo, just to name a few. See your tour operator at their desk in the lobby for full details on trips. We didn’t go on any as we have done all of these trips before. A couple we met went on the Saona Island tour by catamaran, and really enjoyed it. You can go into the village of Bayahibe, which is about 5 minutes away by car or local bus, or if you go down the road to the right of the hotel, there is a souvenir shop/convenience store. If you go to the left and then cut back towards the Club Dominicus Palace, there are shops there, artwork, crafts, souvenirs, etc.

Going Home Checkout was a long process, as there was only one person on the checkout desk. As they had just started to charge for the mini-safes that week, there was some confusion about returning the safe key (the safe is electronic, but there is a key on the inside of it, which we didn’t even know that it had because it was there already). Now that you have to pay for the mini-safe, you will be given this key at checkin. Just be sure you have your towel cards, remote, and key safe with you when you check out. If you are leaving from La Romana airport, note that almost all luggage is searched at checkin, as they don’t have x-ray equipment for the checked luggage yet.

Summary

A really beautiful hotel, with good service, which should only improve with time. An enjoyable week. A special thankyou to Angelica Martinez, Juan Llinas, and Yahaira Tejeda.

And hello to Dave and Janet!

Old Reviews – Debbie’s Own Reviews

NH Real Arena (formerly called EdenH Real Arena)
Photos
Map of Resort
November 2008
November 9 to 16, 2008 We flew Air Transat Club Class to Punta Cana on November , 2008. Our first week was spent at NH Real Arena (formerly called EdenH Real Arena). Just a name change, no change in ownership or anything. This hotel is located in Bavaro, about 15 minutes from Punta Cana Airport, 50 miles from La Romana Airport, and 120 miles from Santo Domingo. The cab ride from Punta Cana Airport cost us $35.00 U.S. The hotel is located between Paradisus Palma Real and Los Corales, and is about a 20 – 30 minute walk along the beach from El Cortecito. The resort is quite compact, and the layout makes it very easy to get around and find things. Its design reminds me of a combination of several resorts – Punta Cana Princess for the grounds, Ocean Blue for the courtyard area where the restaurants, bars, and lobby are, and Majestic Colonial for the rooms.
Check-In
Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is noon. Late checkout may be available depending on availability or they will provide a courtesy room where you can shower and change. We were booked into a Paradise Club Concierge room and checkin was at the Paradise Club Lounge in the lobby, opposite the front desk. Note that Transat Holidays calls the Paradise Club Concierge room Le Mirage Concierge room. I don’t know why they insist on using different names than the hotel uses, it just causes confusion in my opinion. We were provided with a welcome drink and checked in and given a pink wristband, a map of the resort, our key cards and towel cards, and a slip to fill out with time preferences for our restaurant reservations. Transat Mirage and Transat Concierge guests only are guaranteed 5 a la carte restaurant reservations . The Paradise Club lounge was also the checkin for guests that had the Mirage rooms, they were given a green wristband. The Paradise Club lounge has complimentary internet for Paradise Club guests, snacks, newspapers, a TV, coffee, drinks, and a fridge with beer, pop and bottled water. During high season Mirage room clients will be booked in at the Paradise Club lounge in the lobby, and the Paradise Club guests will be taken to the respective lounges in buildings 1 and 2 for checkin. These lounges were not in use while we were there, but will be fully staffed during high season.

We were then taken to our room with our luggage by golf cart, which was located in the Paradise Club section, on the 4th floor. Note there are elevators in all the buildings.

Rooms
The rooms are lovely – large and very bright and airy. We had a great view of the pool and beach, we were in room 1460. What was especially nice was the key cards for the door, you didn’t have to slide them, just touch them to the lock like a Paypass credit card. Apparently it will even read the card if it’s in a wallet. When you enter the room you have to place your room key in the slot by the door for the power to work. Our room had a king-size bed, 2 night tables, a desk, dresser, couch, chair, and coffee table. Note that the Paradise Club Concierge rooms do not have a tub in the room, it is out on the balcony, that was a little disappointing, but the shower is large and very nice. There are double sinks and separate toilet and shower stalls, divided from the rest of the room by a wall, so the bathroom area is more private than their regular rooms. The room also contained a 27-inch TV, telephone, coffee maker, clock radio with MP3 plugin – never did figure out how to stop the alarm from going off, it went off at 6 a.m. the first two mornings, we ended up just changed the time to a more reasonable hour. There is a minibar which is restocked daily with beer, soft drinks and water. Leave a note and tip with your preferences. Bathrobes and slippers were provided in the room as well as beach towels – we never needed to use the towel cards we had, we just exchanged the towels at the beach for clean ones when we needed them (towels are at the Watersports Centre). An iron and ironing board was provided. There is an ice bucket, and ice machines are located near the elevators. There is lots of closet space and shelves to put your stuff on and the electronic safe is included. It is large enough for most laptops, you might have to tilt it up a little to close the door. One problem we had with the room was the door banging – changes in humidity make the doors swell and shrink and it was quite breezy while we were there. We solved this by putting a small pad of paper in the door as we shut it for the night. The bathroom contained a hairdryer, makeup mirror, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, bath sponge, even a plastic brush and comb, sewing kit and makeup pads. Suggest you pack a couple of facecloths, as they are not necessarily left every day, or hide the ones they leave so they don’t take them. We started out with 2, but by the end of the week we didn’t get any. This is not unique to this hotel, happens in all the hotels we’ve stayed at. We always had good water pressure and hot water. The Jacuzzi tubs are big and take a LONG time to fill up. As we had a Paradise Club room, we only had a tub outside on the balcony, so I only used it once. We tipped the maid every day and maid service was excellent. I think this is the first hotel where we actually received turn-down service every night, and they literally did a cleanup of the whole room, ie. emptied garbage, washed dishes, left clean towels, etc. In all room categories they are available with a king-size bed or two full-size (double) beds. The rooms with double beds may have a table and chairs instead of a couch.

The regular Deluxe rooms and Mirage deluxe rooms (same as regular Deluxe rooms, just in a better location higher floors overlooking the pool and extra includes) have an open concept bathroom (no wall), but have a Jacuzzi tub in the room. They are a little smaller than the concierge rooms (495 square feet), but still a good size. These rooms have no Jacuzzi on the balcony, just inside the room.

The Le Mirage Inclusions are:
– preferred room location – Concierge service with direct phone line and private reception – Minimum 5 guaranteed reservations for a la carte dining (Transat Holidays only) – Separate checkin/checkout – 30 minutes/person/week Internet access in the business centre (must be used in one session) – Beach towels, bathrobes and slippers in room – VIP amenities – Turn-down service – Fruit basket upon arrival and distinct identification bracelet – One bottle of rum in room – 50% discount on a 20-minute massage – 15% discount on selected spa treatments

– Welcome gift in room

Air Transat inclusions for the Paradise Club rooms (Le Mirage Concierge) are the inclusions listed above, plus:
– Accommodations in more luxurious and spacious rooms (581 sq. ft.) with outside Jacuzzi and ocean or pool view, closest to the beach. – Private continental breakfast (This is at the Italian Restaurant) – VIP in-room lobster dinner (restrictions apply and this is for Transat Holidays guests only and is only available for a couple of months during high season (Dec. to Feb.) – Premium drinks – Private pool with butler service – A la carte pillow and bath products (we never saw any pillow menu, but the pillows were fine).

There are about 20 larger oceanfront suites, but these are not sold through the tour operators, you would have to book these with the hotel. You can also purchase upgrades at the front desk after you arrive, subject to availability – the prices are posted. It’s probably cheaper to book the upgrade when you book your trip.

Some rooms with connecting doors are available.

Grounds, Beach and Pools
The grounds are beautiful, I love the layout of the resort and all the palm trees and fountains.. Pools run down the middle of the resort, and rooms are on each side in 4-storey buildings with elevators. There are covered walkways to protect from rain and sun. For a new resort not even open a year the landscaping is very nice. They still need some umbrellas around the pools, there isn’t much shade there and people tended to be on the beach instead. I understand they are working on that. They were experimenting with some shade cloths on the pergolas. There is a swimup bar in the pool right at the beach, the main pool, and a “relaxing” pool, as well as a kid’s pool. In addition there are two private pools for Paradise Club members at the front of each oceanfront section, complete with bar serving premium drinks. When you look at the pools you will see they are not the “pool blue” most pools are, the pools actually have brown and white tiles in them and looking at them from the room, the colour matches the colour of the ocean. The pools are open later than most resort pools, until 8:00 p.m. (bar service ends at 6 p.m.)

The beach here is spectacular, nice and wide, with lots of palapas. You can walk for miles in either direction, it’s easier walking in this section of beach, at resorts further north the sand tends to be deeper and harder to walk in.

Bars and Drinks
Lots of bars around. There’s the Alisios Bar off the lobby (large and enclosed), open from 10 a.m. to midnight – they also have live entertainment here, and Karaoke once a week.

The Olas bar is at the beach restaurant, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Swimup bar – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – the bartenders are quite entertaining – one day they were delivering drinks to guests at the pool on a bicycle while balancing the drinks on their head.

Tahntra Bar is next to the casino and opens at 9 p.m. This is a very nice open-air bar, they have lots of comfortable couches and even a splash pool.

Sports Bar – open from 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. – there are several pool tables in here and a bowling alley. Bowling is $10.00 an hour plus $2.00 for shoes – available from 5 p.m. to midnight. Automatic scoring, so you don’t have to keep score. You have to wear socks. Also a popcorn machine in the bar.

Theatre Bar – open from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Paradise Club bars – there is a bar at each Paradise Club pool, open from 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Presidente is the main beer served at the resort, sometimes they may have Heineken, Coronna or Miller’s. I could not get a drink menu at any of the bars. The bartenders will be happy to recommend a drink. I tried the “Carlos Special”, it was very good. Mostly I just drank white wine though.

Also loved the icecream machine at the main pool bar.

Restaurants
The Festival Buffet restaurant is open for Continental breakfast from 6:30 a.m. – 7:00 a.m., Breakfast from 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Lunch from 12:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., and Dinner from 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. There is a small open-air section in this restaurant. They had a good selection at breakfast and I enjoyed their freshly-made smoothies and Felix’s wonderful omelettes! We ate lunch here several times, was very good, with lots of coldcuts and things for sandwiches. We ate dinner here the first two nights. Loved the food the first night, but I did not feel they had as great a selection of items as other resorts I have been to, but I had no trouble finding something to eat. I was told during high season there would be more variety available – at the time we were there occupancy was less than 50 per cent. They always have pasta and pizza available. I was a little disappointed in the deserts available, not a great selection, again likely due to the low occupancy.

Service in this restaurant was good most of the time.

A La Carte Restaurants
All of the restaurants are located in the same area, opposite the lobby, with a central courtyard in the middle. This is where some of the entertainment takes place and they have tables and chairs where you can relax with coffee or a drink before or after dinner. They have 5 a la carte restaurants, and reservations are required. If you are in a Paradise Club room, the concierge will have you fill out a form when you check in noting your preference for dining time, and will make the reservations for you. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. We didn’t get our reservations and found out they had not been made, but another concierge looked after it for us. Later on during the week we needed to change a reservation as friends were joining us for dinner, we assumed the concierge would look after this for us, but they just told us to go see the Reservations person at the Sports Bar. For other room categories you make your restaurant reservations at the Sports Bar.

Dress for the a la carte restaurants is “Casual Elegance” – long pants and collared shirt for men, no flip-flops.

Asian Restaurant
Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. This was our first reservation, on Tuesday. When we were seated we realized that there were 3 Tepanyaki tables, but we were not asked if we wanted our reservation for a Tepanyaki table or to order off a menu. We would have chosen the Tepanyaki table. Actually while we were waiting for our food I made a comment to Pat that the food they were cooking at the Tepanyaki table smelled good, and one of the servers overheard me and brought over a small plate of it for us to sample! Our food was okay, but they didn’t bring me what I had ordered, and they ran out of white wine..

Cinque Terra Italian Restaurant

Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. We ate here on Wednesday. We had friends from Santo Domingo joining us for dinner. Service was very slow. Pat and I ordered spaghetti and meatballs with red sauce and they brought spaghetti with a different kind of sauce and no meatballs. Our friends pointed this out to the waiter and he did bring the meatballs. The thing was, our main course did not arrive until an hour after we’d had our appetizers. But, we were talking with our friends, so it wasn’t a big deal for us. We had coffee but elected to skip desert.

This restaurant is also open for a la carte breakfast for Paradise Club guests. We went there one morning, I think we were the only ones there. It was fine and service was great, but we found it just as easy to go to the buffet.

American Shore Grill Restaurant
Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

We ate here Thursday night and again on Saturday night – this was my favourite restaurant. The first time I had a salad, pumpkin soup (aka butternut squash) and beef tenderloin. Cheesecake and apple pie was on the menu for desert, but we were just too full. The second time Pat had the 24-oz. hamburger (really – that’s what it says in the menu, actually it is just a regular hamburger), and I had the “World Famous Ribs” – I actually enjoyed them very much – better than what I’ve had at our local Ribfests. Service the second time we were there was slower than the first time, but they had a couple of large groups they were serving.

Senses Romantic Restaurant
This restaurant is Adults Only, and is open from 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

The décor is all in red and white – red chandeliers, white curtains and fabric on the ceilings, roses on the chairs – kind of cheesy. But the food was good and service was excellent.

Olas Beach Restaurant
Located at the beach, this restaurant is open for lunch and snacks from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It’s the only open-air restaurant, all of the others are enclosed and air-conditioned. They serve hamburgs, hotdogs, chicken, pizza, salads, French fries, nachos and cheese, a good selection. We alternated between eating lunch here and up at the main buffet.
Room Service
24 hour Room service is included for all guests. The menu is quite limited, consisting of continental breakfast items from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and the entrees available from 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. included Chef’s Salad; Cheese, Olives & Mustard/Raspberry Vinaigrette; Beef Carpaccio of Manchego Cheese; Caprese Salad; Ceviche; Cheese platter; Club Sandwich with potato chips; or “Make your own sandwich – choice of cheese, ham, tuna, and salmon with choice of bread, and Deserts consisting of cheesecake or Tripical Fruit Selection The literature indicates an upgraded room service menu for Paradise Club guests, but I didn’t see any signs of this?
Candlelight Dinner for 2
You can make arrangements for a private dinner on the beach or other area of the resort – see guest services for details.
Lobster Dinners
The Italian and Grill restaurants offer a lobster dinner at an additional cost of $29.99 plus tax.
Daytime Activities and Sports
There is no shortage of activities here, if you want to be active. You can check the activities board near the Buffet restaurant for daily events. They have dance classes, aerobics, cocktail-making classes, weaving classes, beach games, Spanish lessons, all kinds of things. At the beach is a “coconut tree” for climbing (kind of like rock-climbing) – you get the harness from Animation. I never saw anybody doing it, but it looked interesting. They also have a bungee trampoline in this area, which is privately owned and costs $10.00 to use, again I never saw anyone using it. There is an ocean trampoline in the water for kids.

The Animation hut is located next to the pool and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., where you can get board games, books, etc.

Tennis
They have 2 clay tennis courts at the front of the resort, open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Private lessons are available for $30.00 U.S. an hour, you make your reservations with Guest Services.
Watersports
See the Watersports desk at the beach operated by Sea Pro Divers for info on catamarans, party boat cruises, parasailing, glass bottom boat rides, sport fishing, diving, snorkeling, banana boats, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing, etc. They also have a free scuba clinic in the pool every day.
Nightly Entertainment
They have various entertainment venues in the area of the courtyard There is the Crystal Theatre where they put on song and dance type shows, some with audience participation. We’re really not into these shows, watched one for a few minutes. In the evening they have large screens up in the central courtyard and we enjoyed the music videos, ie. Frank Sinatra and Bee Gees concerts.. On Latin night they had an entertainer who put on a “fire” show. He was covered in wax and lit various parts of his body on fire.

Since we get up early, we didn’t stay up for much of the evening entertainment.

Casino
There’s a small casino off the courtyard. There are 25 – 30 slot machines open from 4:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., and poker, roulette and blackjack tables open from 8:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.
Internet Access
If you are in the Paradise Club, you can use one of two computer terminals in the Paradise Club lounge off the front lobby for free.

There is also a business centre where you can purchase internet time. (Mirage room guests get 30 minutes free, to be used in one session). If you have your own laptop you can purchase wireless internet access in your room for $25.00 for 24 hours of time good for 6 days.

Hotel Stores/Shopping
There is a large gift shop at the hotel, and space for another store, maybe a jewellery store. Shuttle service is also available to the nearby Palma Real Shopping Centre. We meant to go and check it out, but we never got there.
Golf
Golf is available at 8 local courses. See your concierge or Guest Services in the lobby to make arrangements for any of the local courses or others located throughout the country
Spa
There is a lovely full-service spa run by Renova Spa, open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.. I had a combination massage which was wonderful. They also have two massage palapas at the beach which are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Watch for their daily specials!
Fitness Centre
Next to the spa is the Fitness Centre. Sorry, didn’t go in
Medical Services
24 hour medical service is located next to the gym.
Kids Club
Nino’s Kids Club is located near the buffet restaurant and is for children ages 4 – 12. It’s open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. At night it is open from 8:15 p.m .until 9:30 p.m. when the kids put on their shows and parents are invited to watch. I was told that during high season they bring in kids entertainers to put on shows.
The day I went in there weren’t any kids there, but I was impressed with the facilities they have. There is a full program of activities for the kids, they are divided into two groups – Cubs – ages 4 to 7, and Bears, ages 8 to 11.
Weddings
We didn’t see any weddings the week we were there. There are a number of packages available, starting from $649.00 U.S. For a description of the various packages, see our Weddings Page.
Currency
Take U.S. currency. You can pay for virtually everything in U.S. dollars, and even if you exchange your money, you will get the best rate with U.S. dollars. There is no ATM at the resort. Money can be exchanged for pesos at the front desk, or there is a bank at the Palma Real Shopping Centre.
Weather and Bugs
We had gorgeous weather during our week at this hotel, except for the last afternoon when we had some rain. It was hot during the day, but very comfortable in the evening, not humid at all.
Didn’t notice any mosquitos, there were a few flies and bees around.
Meet and Greet for forum members
On Tuesday we went into El Cortecito to La Casa de Piedra with Hula and her husband and Mikefisher, and met some other forum members for a couple of drinks. These meet and greets are usually held on a weekly basis, a good way to put faces to names if you post on the forums.
Donations
If you want to bring school supplies or other donations (clothing, etc.) you can leave these items with Mike Bryant at the hotel. We had the privilege of going with Mike to a school in the barrio on his weekly trip to deliver school supplies and see firsthand the good that these donations do. The children are so excited to see him, and Magdalena is so grateful for the donations.
Summary
The staff at this hotel are great, they are always smiling and there is always an “hola” when you pass by. Service was good for the most part, but could use some improvement in the concierge area and restaurants. Quite a bit of English is spoken by the staff, the hotel provides English classes every day for its employees.. This is still a new hotel, not even a year old yet, and they are still working on making improvements in service and other areas. We really enjoyed this hotel, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and I’ll try to answer them for you.

With special thanks to Mike Bryant, Carmen Rosa de Torres, Priscila in Guest Services and Maria in Restaurant services.

Majestic Elegance
Majestic Elegance is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, in Arena Gorda (Bavaro Beach), next to Macao beach, 30 kms away from Punta Cana Airport, 1 hour from La Romana Airport and 3 ½ hours from Santo Domingo’s International Airport. Majestic Elegance Punta Cana opened its doors to guests on Friday, November 21, 2008, after having the date pushed back several times. Pat and I had originally been scheduled to stay there from November 16 to 23, but due to the delay in opening only got to spend 2 nights there. We spent the first part of our week at its sister hotel, Majestic Colonial, which is adjacent to Majestic Elegance, an excellent hotel, and I will be updating my review of Majestic Colonial from two years ago as well. As I start this, I have to emphasize that we were there on opening day and the day after. By the time you read this, many opening day issues will already have been resolved. I spoke to a number of people there who have promised to send their reviews when they return. Most agreed the hotel will be fabulous once everything is up and running and the staff gain a little more experience. Some arrivals who were unaware of the delay in opening were understandably upset, but management was doing everything they could to compensate for this, ie by making all the facilities at Majestic Colonial next door available to them. Some people chose to remain at Majestic Colonial where they had been for the first part of their stay. Make no mistake – Majestic Elegance will be one of the premier hotels in Punta Cana, it’s just going to take time for everything to run smoothly. We packed up and arrived at Majestic Elegance on Friday afternoon around 2 p.m. They have a beautiful lobby very similar to Majestic Colonial, but the top level is smaller, and the lower level is more than twice as large From the upper lobby you have a beautiful view of the whole resort, right down to the ocean. The upper lobby will also have the Internet Center and some shops. As we were in the Elegance Club section, we were taken to the VIP lounge at the Elegance Club for checkin, where we joined other people waiting for their rooms. We were told our room wasn’t ready yet and it would be 3 p.m. before we could check in. The VIP lounge has comfortable seating, and drinks and snacks were available. Free internet access will be available there, it wasn’t yet set up. Unfortunately the air conditioning wasn’t working in the lounge and it was a little sticky, and it was pouring with rain outside. We were given a pamphlet outlining all of the hotel facilities. I’ve been told that in the future they will bring the guests to the VIP Lounge by golf cart, instead of having to walk. A little after 3 p.m. the concierge took us to our room, a Junior Suite – the room was absolutely beautiful! We were in Room 4233, which was on the second floor, on the back side of the building away from the pool, but had a nice view of the ocean. The concierge showed us around and advised us that someone would be in shortly to program the TV. (They have brackets on the walls for the TV’s, but ours was just sitting on the table). Someone arrived promptly to program the TV and hook up the phone. We had also discovered our refrigerator wasn’t working, and it was promptly replaced, and stocked with beer, water and pop. This is replenished once a day. Internet access will be available in the rooms for a fee, but was not yet working. We had no hot water initially, and then the water was off totally for a while, but within a few hours we had both hot and cold water. We found that you had to let the water run for a while, particularly in the tub, for it to get hot. The room did not yet have all of the advertised amenities such as. 4 bottles of liquor, alarm clock radio, DVD player, pillow menu and aromatherapy for pillows, newspapers, etc. We did have an iron, and bathrobes. We had a coffeemaker but no coffee, creamer, sugar, etc. until the next day. We had a very comfortable 4-poster king-size bed, with nice pillows. Nice rugs on each side of the bed. Furnishings are very modern, from the square toilet (the one thing Pat did not like), a shower with 3 different settings, double sinks, and a beautiful 2-person Jacuzzi located in the corner of the room by a window. There is an electronic safe, lots of closet and drawer space, and a separate room service closet. (At first I thought the drawers were hard to close, then realized that you just push them gently and they close on their own.) Lights go out automatically when you leave the room and come on when you open the door.

There are basically two types of rooms – a Junior Suite or a Suite, which is two rooms divided by a sliding door. Other categories are determined by location. I’ll outline these further in this report.

Grounds
In walking around the grounds, there were construction workers still finishing things in some areas, but having toured the resort the Tuesday before, it was amazing how much had been done in just a few days. 500 of the 600 rooms are complete, and it’s mostly inside work for the remaining 100 rooms, so shouldn’t cause disruption. The pools are all filled and operational. The main pool is 400 metres long, running the length of the property and include two integrated jacuzzis. Some of the bars were still being finished. The landscaping looks pretty good considering it is new. They put it in a month or so ago so it would grow a little bit. In a year or two it will be beautiful. Plaza Colon is an outdoor area with tables and chairs and a stage for live entertainment. They had a band playing here in the evening. The adjacent building will house some shops and Coco’s Nightclub, not finished yet. The building is a replica of the Alcazar de Colon in Santo Domingo.

The theatre and bar on the opposite side of the resort is complete – we didn’t see any shows though.

Beach
The beach is of course gorgeous, and they have many palapas already constructed for shade, as well as many chairs available. There will be a separate area for Elegance Club guests, but this was not set up yet.
Dining
There will be 6 restaurants to choose from plus La Bodeguita del Majestic at Majestic Colonial for late-night snacks.

Flavors is the buffet restaurant.

Argentinian Steakhouse – not sure of the proper name for this one, in the brochure we received it’s called Asadito, but on the hotel website it is called West Meat Corp. – they had no signage up yet for any of the restaurants. – no reservations required

Il Bottaccio – Italian Restaurant – no reservations required

Restaurant 9 Doors – this is a Japanese restaurant and will have 9 teppanyaki tables and a suishi bar – wasn’t open yet. – reservations will be required

Restaurant Limited Gourmand – gourmet restaurant – reservations will be required. – (children over 12 only)

See & Sea Restaurant – located at the beach, will be open for continental breakfast and lunch, and in the evening is the seafood restaurant.

La Bodeguita del Majestic – This is actually in the Majestic Colonial section, across from their theatre – open from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. for snacks.

As there were not many rooms occupied, there were only limited dining facilities available while we were there. The main buffet restaurant, Flavors, will open when the occupancy is higher. We were told for the first night only two restaurants would be open – the Italian Restaurant, Il Bottaccio, and the beach restaurant, See & Sea, which is the seafood restaurant. We were also told that for breakfast the Italian restaurant would be open for a la carte dining, and only a continental breakfast was available at the See & Sea Restaurant from 10:30 a.m.. We later found out the Steakhouse Restaurant was also open for dinner that first night, and for breakfast the See & Sea Restaurant had a full breakfast available.

We went to the Italian Restaurant for dinner, it’s a lovely big restaurant. We ordered and our meal was served in a timely manner. Staff is new, so service was a little tentative, but no complaints, they are really trying. We had Caesar salad and pumpkin soup, and I had veal scallopini and Pat had lasagna (called “over-baked” lasagna on the menu, I think maybe it should have said “oven-baked” : )

After dinner when we were walking around we talked to someone who said the steakhouse was also open and he had just had a fabulous steak. The next morning we went to the Italian restaurant for the a la carte breakfast, as we were not aware there was a full breakfast available at See & Sea Restaurant. The Italian restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch for Elegance Club members only. There were few people there. We ordered eggs, sausage and toast (they had no idea what toast was) and ended up bringing buns. It was kind of funny because they served breakfast as a 3-course meal – first they brought a plate with just scrambled eggs on it, a little later the sausage came, and then later on the buns. They’ll get the hang of it, I’m sure. Our last night we went to the Argentinian Steakhouse for dinner. This was somewhat of a disaster. They did not have enough menus for everyone and orders were not being taken. The staff seemed confused. People were walking out, some having waited over an hour and had not even had their orders taken. We waited about half an hour for a menu, and then it was a while before our order was taken. It was another half an hour or so before any food arrived. We ordered a Caesar salad, soup and steak. The salad was fine, although it took us a minute to realize they had brought the dressing separately. We ordered onion soup, Pat’s arrived steaming hot and mine was lukewarm – it was really good though. It was a long wait until the steak arrived – I ordered Churrasco and Pat ordered the Chateaubriand. The food was fine, but it took over two hours to have dinner. We opted to skip desert and went to the bar for our coffee. When we left the steak restaurant we noticed that the Gourmet restaurant was also open, but I didn’t get a chance to speak to anyone who had eaten there. Something I haven’t seen before – in all 3 of the restaurants we ate at, they all had an open or glassed off kitchen area so you can see the chefs at work.

We ate Saturday lunch and Sunday breakfast at the See & Sea Restaurant at the beach. A very good selection and good service. Once their main buffet restaurant is open this restaurant will likely not serve a full breakfast, just a continental breakfast from 10:30 a.m.

Miscellaneous Info
The Kids Club, Casino, and Sports Bar are located on the “Caribbean Street” at Majestic Colonial., accessed by a walkway from Majestic Elegance.
Room Descriptions
Rooms are large, with lots of European marble, king-size four poster bed or two full-size beds, complete bathroom, Jacuzzi for 2, walk-in shower with 3 functions- rain, massage and soft, air-conditioning, ceiling fan, 32” TV, satellite TV, DVD, telephone, hi-speed internet connection available, mini-bar, safe, coffee machine, desk, iron and ironing board. Connecting and handicap rooms are available.
Room Types
Majestic Elegance – Pool or Garden view – 473 rooms

  • Jr. Suite: Large and comfortable hotel room with an Indoor Jacuzzi for two, pool or garden view, two full-size or king-side beds.- Max occupancy 4 people

  • Colonial Jr. Suite: Same as above, but has both an indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, on higher floors. Max occupancy 4 people

  • Majestic Jr. Suite (swim up room): Indoor Jacuzzi and is located on first floor with direct access to the Swimming pool and has a small private garden. Max occupancy 4 people

  • One bedroom Suites: one bedroom suite with an Indoor Jacuzzi, a sliding door connects to the living room area. Max occup. 4 people

Elegance Club (Adults Only section with Majestic Supreme service) – 127 rooms

The Elegance Club accommodations are in buildings at each side of the resort, closest to the beach. There is a separate pool for Elegance Club guests with bali beds, loungers, tables and chairs. and bar service. They were just finishing the rooftop bar area, so it was not open yet

  • Jr. Suite: Indoor Jacuzzi, pool, garden or Ocean view, Majestic Supreme Service and facilities. Max occup. 2 people.

  • Majestic Jr. Suite, Same as above, but located on first floor with direct access to the swimming pool and small garden.

  • Swim up Suite: One bedroom Suite located on first floor with direct access to the swimming pool and small garden, Indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi,. Max occup. 4 people. Room and living room divided by a sliding door.

  • Ocean front suites: – Ocean view. One bedroom Suites, room and living room divided by a sliding door. Max. Occupancy 4 people

Majestic Elegance Club Inclusions:

  • Two private swimming pools

  • Private beach area with “Bali style” beds

  • Private and personalized check in

  • Complimentary late check out (based on availability)

  • Two private ocean front roof top bars with hors d oeuvres and drinks

  • VIP lounge at the lobby with library, table games and free internet connection

  • Exclusive access to “Il Botaccio” Restaurant for breakfast and lunch a la carte

  • Room service included 24 hours

  • In room bar selection with up to 4 bottles of liquor per stay (ej. Vodka, Whisky, Rum, Baileys)

  • Bottle of champagne in room upon arrival

  • Access to 13 bars throughout the property (4 bars exclusive for adults)

  • Butler service during your stay

  • Express bell boy service

  • Surprise gift in room

  • In room beach towels

  • Pillow menu

  • Aromatherapy for pillows

  • Robes and slippers in room

  • Bath Kit

  • DVD’s selection

  • In room newspaper

  • Espresso machine in room ( suites only)

Bars
There are 8 bars plus 4 additional bars for Elegance Club guests only

  • Lobby bar

  • Disco bar

  • Plaza bar

  • Wet bar

  • Beach bar

  • Parrots bar

  • Lobby bar

  • Midnight bar

Spa
The spa and gym are not finished, but guests can use the facilities at Majestic Colonial. They have a wonderful spa there.
Weddings
See our weddings page for details
FACILITIES AND SERVICES FOR ALL GUESTS STAYING AT THE MAJESTIC ELEGANCE PUNTA CANA
  • Refreshing towel upon arrival

  • Welcome cocktail upon arrival

  • 24 hours All Inclusive

  • 6 restaurants

  • 9 bars located in different areas of the hotel. Open during different hours

  • Premium drinks in all bars

  • Room service included

  • Daily stocking of mini bar

  • Sports bar / Discotheque with drinks included

  • 400 meter long swimming pool

  • Casino located at the Majestic Colonial Punta Cana (2 minute walk) ($)

  • Gym

  • Spa ($)

  • Golf nearby (300 meters away from hotel main Entrance) ($)

  • Theatre for shows and entertainment team with day and night activities

  • Supervised Kids Club for children (at the Majestic Colonial) 2 minute walk

  • Nintendo’s for children in kids club. (at the Majestic Colonial) 2 minute walk

  • Caribbean street with boutiques (jewelery, cigars, souvenirs, mini market, photo shop, pharmacy, clothes) ($)

  • High speed internet in all rooms ($)

  • Wireless internet in Lobby and Convention Center ($)

  • Convention Center for up to 600 people ($)

  • Business Centre with internet access ($)

  • Gazebo for weddings ($)

  • Wedding facilities: Catholic church and gazebo, beach and tropical gardens. ($)

  • Umbrellas, towels and lounge chairs at the beach and the swimming pool

  • Bath robes in room

  • Slippers in room

  • Medical center ( 24 hrs.) ($)

  • Laundry Services ($)

  • Live Music at the Plaza bar ( night)

  • Live piano at the” Limited Gourmand Restaurant”. Adults only

  • 2 integrated jacuzzis within the main swimming pool

  • Guest Service (flight confirmation, car rental, excursions, and help with any special needs)

  • ATM machine. Major credit cards accepted

  • Tennis courts with lights

  • Audio System

  • Plasma TV

  • Iron and ironing board

  • Basketball area

  • Ping-pong, pool tables, darts, etc.

  • Soccer field

  • Water sports available

  • Elevators in each building

  • Handicap rooms available

Conclusion
Majestic Elegance is a new hotel – there will be growing pains. Go with an open mind and you will enjoy…it will improve on a daily basis! Staff are friendly and eager to serve you. You have only to look at the success of Majestic Colonial to see what it will be. With special thanks to Ricardo Espinosa, Annmarie at Majestic Colonial Guest Services, and Angel, our concierge at Majestic Elegance.
Punta Cana Princess
We spent the second week of our Punta Cana vacation at the Punta Cana Princess All Suites Resort & Spa. This hotel is located in Bavaro, 35 minutes from Punta Cana Airport. Punta Cana Princess is the Adults Only resort of three Princess resorts located here – the Tropical Princess and the Caribe Princess. They are sister hotels of the Bavaro Princess, located a couple of hotels to the south. As you face the beach, Paradisus Punta Cana is to the right and LTI Punta Cana (Cayena Club) is to the left. Punta Cana Princess All Suites Resort & Spa was built 4 years ago. It started out as a family resort but was changed to an Adults Only resort (18+) 2 years ago. Its sister hotels, Caribe Club Princess and Tropical Princess were originally Hodelpa hotels and bought by Princess Hotels 6 or 7 years ago. Bavaro Princess which is on the other side of Paradisus Punta Cana Resort, used to be a Melia hotel. Guests staying at Punta Cana Princess are free to use any of the facilities at Tropical Princess or Caribe Club Princess, they cannot use facilities at Bavaro Princess. (Bavaro Princess guests who have the Platinum upgrade can use facilities/restaurants at any of the Princess hotels.)

Punta Cana Princess itself is a very compact, self-contained resort, about a 5 minute walk from the lobby to the beach. Guests can also use facilities at the Caribe Club Princess and Tropical Princess, a short walk away, or they do have a shuttle that leaves from the lobby on a regular basis.

Check-In
Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is noon. Late checkout may be available depending on availability or they will provide a courtesy room where you can shower and change. Checkin was quick, you are given your wristbands according to the package you have – regular, Platinum (for Canadians it is called Regency Club), or VIP. You are provided with your electronic room keys, a map of the resort, as well as an information sheet and luggage tags. You find your luggage and the bellboy will put the tags on them with your room number and deliver them to your room. They weren’t busy with checkins when we arrived, so we got to ride with our luggage to the room.

Packages and their Inclusions

    Basic All-Inclusive Package

  • All Inclusive 24 hours

  • Safety Deposit box (free of charge)

  • Mini bar in room (Water, Soft drinks, Beer) stocked daily

  • Butler service by the Pool & Beach (Drinks only)

  • 1 Buffet and, 4 à la carte, (Italian, Tex-Mex Steakhouse, Seafood and Swiss) and 1 snack bar, with Additional use of 5 a la carte restaurants (Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Brazilian, Dominican) and 1 buffet restaurant located at Caribe Club Princess Tropical Princess Beach Resort & Spa

  • 3 bars (national and international drinks included, premium brand drinks not included), Additional use of 7 bars located at the Tropical and Caribe Club sections.

  • Weekly Dinner Beach Party (weather permitting)

  • 1 Swimming pool for adults. Use of pools in entire complex.

  • Gym, Sauna and Jacuzzi at the mini spa (located next to the beach restaurant)

  • Nightly Entertainment at lobby area & Shows at the Serenata Theatre located at the Caribe Club Princess

  • Discotéque Areito* (entrance free, national drinks included until midnight, after midnight drinks at a charge)

  • Free use of non-motorized Water Sports

  • Daily organized activities

  • Introductory scuba lesson in pool (1 lesson per person per stay)

  • Tennis, archery, bicycles, games room and mini golf

  • Church with religious services (located at Caribe Club Princess)

  • IFree transportation to Tower Princess Casino (located at entrance to Bavaro Princess) and Caribe Club and Tropical Princess.

  • Use of all facilities and services at Caribe Club Princess and Tropical Princess.

    Platinum/Regency Club Upgrade – (this is the package that all Canadians with Transat Holidays have)

    In addition to the basic all-inclusive package:

  • Use of bathrobes and slippers in room

  • 2 Beach towels in room

  • Use of sunbeds at pool and beach

  • Nightly turn down service

  • Restaurant reservations by phone from 9 a.m. until 12 noon

  • 24 hour room service

  • Fruit basket on arrival

  • 15% Discount for spa

  • 1 bottle of rum (per room per week)

  • Free internet access (20 minutes at a time)

  • Premium brand drinks – (aged liquors or wines not included)

  • 3 cigars in room per room per stay

    VIP Package (Guests with Platinum/Regency Club Package can upgrade to VIP Package for an additional $22 US per person per night, but it’s probably cheaper just to purchase the upgrade features that you want individually.)

  • Use of sunbeds at pool and beach.

  • Nightly turn-down service.

  • Restaurant reservations by phone from 9 a.m. until 12 noon

  • 1 complimentary gourmet dinner either at “La Cava” (international) or “El Pescador” (fish and seafood) restaurants (per person, per week) – make your reservations at least 2 days in advance – only valid for stays of more than 4 nights, You must stop by guest services the day you are going to these restaurants with your VIP restaurant special coupon, and they will give you an invitation you need to get into the restaurant).

  • 3 cigars (per room, per week)

  • 1 bottle of rum (per room, per week)

  • Use of bathrobes during your stay

  • 20 minute massage per person, per week. Make your reservations at the spa or mini-spa.

  • Premium brand drinks in all the bars of the hotel, including the ones at the Caribe and Tropical Princess resorts. Aged liquors or wines not included.

  • 1 Open Water Dive (per room, per stay, certified divers only, proof of certification required). Weather permitting. Make reservations at Dive Center at the beach from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

  • 1 hour of motorized water sports (per person, per week). Make reservations at the Dive Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • 1 hour of internet service (per person, per stay) at computers located in lobby. Must be used all at one time.

  • 24 hour room service (menu in room), allow 45 minutes for delivery of order.

  • Minibar included – filled daily – 2 – 1 litre bottles of water, 2 coke, 2 7-up or Sprite and 2 local beer.

  • Beach Towels located in your room – can be exchanged at Aquatic Center at beach.

  • Honeymoon Suites Inclusions (based on minimum 5 night stay)

  • Restaurant reservations by phone from 9 a.m. until 12 noon

  • 24 Hour room service

  • Use of sunbeds at pool and beach

  • Fruit basket on arrival

  • 1 twenty minute massage per person per week

  • 1 twenty minute romantic massage per couple per week

  • 1 bottle of Dominican Rum

  • 1 Breakfast in room (per week)

  • Romantic dinner (one per stay) at one of the restaurants on property

  • Private Merengue and Spanish lessons

  • Private Check in and Check out

Room
We were given the honeymoon suite right at the beach, and it was awesome. We had two balconies, one looking straight out to the ocean, and one overlooking the resort and the beach and ocean. We were on the third floor (top floor), room 5217. The honeymoon suite is decorated all in tones of white. It had a king-size 4-poster bed with netting, nice wicker furniture, a sunken living area with TV, coffee table, and minibar, 2 phones, and an alarm clock. The minibar was restocked daily with water, pop, and beer. TV channels included Court TV, TBS, USA, CNN International, ABC, Cartoon network, nickelodeon, ESPN, several sports channels, CBS, BET TV, FX – science fiction channel, Showtime, Animal Planet, PBS, TNT, Family, Turner Classic Movies, weather channel, Disney channel, and an adult channel. There was also a lounge chair in the room that was so comfortable, actually I think it belonged out on the balcony but because of the rain they had brought it inside. You insert one of your keys in the slot to operate the electricity in the room. There was a huge walk-in closet containing the electronic safe (included, and was large enough for my laptop), ironing board and iron, umbrella, and lots of space to hang clothes as well as shelving, and lots of space to put your suitcases. The bathroom in the Honeymoon Suite was very large. The thing I liked about it was that it had a door on it, it was not open to the rest of the room and there was a window to let in natural light. It contained a beautiful large Jacuzzi tub surrounded by candles, a vanity with double sinks, and a separate shower and toilet stall. We always had good water pressure and lots of hot water. They provide amenities including shampoo, bath gel, shower cap, small bars of soap, hairdryer. We didn’t have any facecloths in the room, so I just used the ones we had brought. Recommend you always pack a couple of facecloths, I don’t think I’ve stayed anywhere in the Dominican Republic where we’ve been given a facecloth every day. I did ask guest services if they had facecloths at the resort and was told they do. There were 2 telephones in the room, electricity is 110 V so North Americans do not need an adapter. We tipped the maid every day and maid service was very good. Nightly turn-down service was provided. I took a number of pictures of the room when we arrived, but due to camera difficulties, it appears that all but one has disappeared into cyberspace, so you’ll have to take my word for it that the honeymoon suites are lovely. There are 7 honeymoon suites in the resort, some are two levels, with the Jacuzzi and a daybed on the second level.

The rest of the resort is 263 deluxe/superior suites, they are all the same. They are a good size, with a living area and balcony. No Jacuzzi tub, just a regular bathroom (private). If you look at my photos, I have a number of pictures of the deluxe suites.

Grounds, Beach and Pools
The grounds are really lovely. Everything is perfectly manicured and there are lots of “Taino statues” throughout the grounds. Everything is kept spotless. Rooms are located in several long 3-storey buildings vertical to the beach (you can walk all the way from one end to the other in an open covered hallway at the back of the building if the weather is rainy), and there are 2 villa-style buildings with garden views closer to the lobby. The pool has a walk-in beach-like entrance. Water was a little cool at the beginning of the week due to all the rain, but had warmed up considerably by the end of the week, the same with the ocean. There was a nice swimup bar, and the pool was kept very clean. The pool is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are guards at the beach who may ask to check your band before letting you into the resort. There was a fair amount of seaweed on the beach that they worked hard to keep cleaned up. This, of course, was more than usual because of the heavy rains. The beach is gorgeous, very wide, lots of palapas and lounge chairs. There are gorgeous sunbeds for guests with VIP, Honeymoon or Platinum/Regency Club packages only, security was quite diligent about checking to see if you were allowed in that section. The sunbeds were really comfortable, but a lot seemed to not have a top on them, which makes it very hot being in the direct sun. They had them both around the pool and at the beach. They do have a sign posted saying that you cannot reserve loungers or sunbeds with towels or other objects, and if they are left unattended for more than 30 minutes, they will be removed and other guests can use them. It wasn’t an issue when we were there, we never had a problem finding a spot. The hotel was at 90 per cent occupancy during the week, and by the time we left it was at 100 per cent occupancy. There were guests there from Germany and Spain, as well as North Americans. In June they have a lot of guests from Puerto Rico, but during the winter months, the majority of guests are Canadians and Americans. For Canadians traveling from Canada – I took a look at the Transat Holidays new brochure, and want to point out that the picture of the resort shown is very misleading.It is an old picture, and does not show the mini-spa at the beach, and the vegetation looks very sparse. I was advised the mini-spa has been there for 3 years, so the picture is older than that, probably taken shortly after the resort was built. I also noted that they make reference to the “Regency Clubhouse” in the brochure, which makes it sound like there is a separate “clubhouse” for Transat Holidays guests, but this is not the case.

I was told that all “Regency Club” guests would be in Buildings 4 or 5, which are the best location. If you purchase Oceanview you would be in Building 5, rooms in Building 4 would have poolview and some rooms also partial oceanview.

Bars and Drinks
There are several bars at Punta Cana Princess, the main Oasis Bar in the lobby, the pool bar Splash with swimup bar, the beach bar at Mare Nostrum, and another bar set up in the middle of the beach. There is also butler service at the bar and beach for drinks only. If you do not have the Platinum/Regency, VIP or Honeymoon upgrades, there is an extra charge for drinks with premium liquor. Be sure to request premium liquor, otherwise you will likely get the national brand. Budweiser or Heineken beer is available at all the bars at Punta Cana Princess (served in plastic glasses at the pool or beach, and they may not have both kinds at any given time) Lobby cocktails include Mai-Tai, Merengue, Coco Loco, Tropical Princess, Sex on the Beach, Bavaro Princess, Pina Colada, Caiprina, and Margaritas. They also make great Caesars.

I drink white wine and thought their house wine was pretty good.

Restaurants
Buffet Restaurant (Casabe) – no reservations This is the main buffet restaurant at Punta Cana Princess. It is open from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, and 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. for dinner (Monday nights is dinner at the beach, weather permitting, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) Due to the rain caused by Tropical Storm Noel, they did not have this the week we were there. Later in the week they did some painting and colour changes in the buffet restaurant, all new tablecloths and cushions in brown and orange. The restaurant is open-air, with smoking and non-smoking sections. We ate breakfast here every morning. I liked their coffee. Lots of selection for breakfast – omelettes and eggs cooked to order, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, toast, cereal, fruit, a good selection, including a diet station. We also had lunch here a few times. They have a sub station with sandwich stuff, salads, as well as hot entrees and soups, hamburgs, hotdogs, etc. We only ate dinner here twice, on our first and last night. The first night we had turkey, it was very good, it was Americano night. The last night was Mexican night, with burritos, fajitas, chili con carne, to name a few things. They always have a pasta station at the buffet restaurant.. Overall I thought the buffet food was pretty good, you certainly won’t go hungry. I noticed the quality control manager frequently checking temperatures of the food in the buffet and the Food and Beverage manager was always visible, both at the buffet and other a la carte restaurants.

Mare Nostrum

This open-air restaurant is located by the beach. It is open for breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., Continental Breakfast from 10 a.m. to noon, lunch buffet from noon to 4 p.m., teatime from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and snacks from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. (so basically 24 hours). It is also the Meditteranean/seafood a la carte restaurant in the evening. We never tried it for breakfast, but had lunch here most days. There were salad items, hotdogs, hamburgs, a sandwich grill if you wanted to make a toasted sandwich, pasta station, icecream and other deserts.

El Higuero Buffet Restaurant – no reservations – located at Caribe Club Princess

You also have the option of going to this buffet restaurant at Caribe Club Princess. We never tried it. I understand they serve different food there from the buffet at Punta Cana Princess, ie. if it is Mexican night at Casabe Buffet, it will be a different theme night at El Higuero, and the food is different for the theme nights.

A la carte Restaurants

There are 4 a la carte restaurants at Punta Cana Princess, and you also have the option of making reservations at any of the 5 a la carte restaurants at Caribe Club Princess or Tropical Princess (guests at those hotels cannot eat at Punta Cana Princess or use the facilities). There is a shuttle you can take, or it is a leisurely 10 minute walk from the lobby of Punta Cana Princess.

Reservations were required for all a la carte restaurants at the time we were there, and can be made at the Guest Services desk between 9 a.m. and noon. You can make reservations for up to 3 nights at a time. They have menus for all the restaurants at Guest Services so you can look at them ahead of time. I have been advised that starting in December they are going to a "no reservation" system for the a la carte restaurants in Punta Cana Princess, only the a la cartes at Caribe Club/Tropical Princess will require a reservation.

There is a dress code for the a la carte restaurants – Men are required to wear long pants, collared shirts and closed shoes. Shorts are fine for the buffet restaurants. There is no limit to the number of times you can eat at the a la carte restaurants as long as you can get a reservation.

Rio Grande Tex-Mex Restaurant – Punta Cana Princess

This restaurant is located close to the lobby and buffet restaurant. Ambience was nice, the tables were nice, we were able to sit side by side on bench seats. You are given a Margarita when you arrive and they give you a basket of corn chips and dipping sauces to start with. Service was good. I had the filet mignon with baked potato and vegetables, and a caesar salad to start, and cherry cheesecake for desert. I have to say it was the best meal I had on this trip to Punta Cana. We had coffee after the meal, they seem to know how to serve regular coffee in the evening at this hotel.. Other menu items included ribs, wings, and beef or chicken fajitas, etc.

Il Bacio Italian Restaurant – Punta Cana Princess

Located next to Rio Grande Tex-Mex Restaurant, near the lobby. Usual Italian fare, they had Bolognese Lasagna, Pizza, Fettucini Alfredo, etc. I had the Fettucini Alfredo, it was just okay. They had a trio of musicians going from table to table, who were entertaining and took requests, we gave them a tip, although noticed many did not tip them. My only complaint on this evening was that they had loud music playing in the Restaurant, it was hard to even talk to each other, although another couple we spoke to went a couple days later and said the music was so low you couldn’t even hear it 🙂

La Petite Fondue – Swiss Restaurant – Punta Cana Princess

I really liked this restaurant, mainly because it was something different from the usual a la carte restaurants. There is a fondue pot on each table and you are given two forks each. We had French onion soup as an appetizer and they brought a basket of rolls. You have a choice of the following fondues: Cheese fondue, a Bourgionne fondue of beef, chicken, and sausage (hotdogs), Chinoise fondue – beef slices dipped in boullion, or a Neptune fondue – fish slices and seafood dipped in boullion. All come with several dipping sauces and a plate of French fries. For desert we had a chocolate fondue made with Toblerone chocolate, served with marshmallows and fruit, it was excellent.

Mare Nostrum – Meditteranean/Seafood – Punta Cana Princess, at the beach

We did not eat here, as I am not a fan of seafood, although they do have beef filet on the menu. It’s right at the beach, so would have been nice for dinner. Some of the menu choices included Grouper filet in coconut sauce, Mare Nostrum seafood mixed grill, grilled lobster, Beef filet in green pepper sauce, Grilled salmon filet and Seafood Casserole

Sombrero Restaurant – Mexican – Caribe Club Princess

Located at Caribe Club Princess. Main course choices included beef filet, Texan fajitas, chicken fajitas, shrimp quesadillas, grilled ribeye, fish filet, taco combos, chicken chimechangas, pork filet. We did not eat here. Had a reservation for Saturday night, but saw that it was Mexican night at the Casabe buffet and decided to stay at Punta Cana Princess.

Mama Mia – Italian – Caribe Club Princess

This is a second Italian Restaurant, located at Caribe Club Princess. We did not eat here. Too many restaurants, not enough time.. Some of the menu items included Bolognese lasagna, Ravioli Napolitana, Pizza, Spaghetti, Linguine with marinara sauce, Tagliatelle with mushrooms, Fettucini Alfredo, Chicken breast, Beef filet and Shrimp.

Shanghay Chinese Restaurant – Caribe Club Princess

We had dinner at this restaurant . The food was good and there was lots of it. I had the beef chow mein, but service was very slow here. They had a large group of people at one table and that may have been the reason for the slow service. Menu choices include sushi rolls, curry shrimp, crab and salmon, seafood fried shrimp, seafood casserole, lobster pieces in oyster sauce, Pekinese duck, Teriyaki pork, beef filet, goat casserole, beef or chicken chow mein, fried rice, as well as appetizers..

El Pilon – Dominican restaurant – Tropical Princess

Located at Tropical Princess, we did not eat here. Main courses included goat country style, Grouper filet, Chicken leg Creole style, Pork filet, Sautéed snail meat with fine vegetables, Sirloin in onion sauce, as well as other Dominican Specialties and deserts.

Rodizzio Brazilian Restaurant – Tropical Princess We didn’t eat here. Didn’t see the menu for this one, if it’s like other Brazilian restaurants we’ve been to, they serve all different kinds of meat.

There is also a Creperie located at Tropical Princess (near the beach) that looked interesting, but never did try it. There are also two restaurants that you can pay to eat at

El Pescador Restaurant – $$$ – Specialty Fish and Seafood – Caribe Club Princess. El Pescador Restaurant is available at extra cost – $25.00 U.S. per person plus taxes (total $32.00 U.S.). It is located at the beach at the Caribe Club Princess. If you have the VIP package, you can dine at either this restaurant or La Cava free of charge, once per week. The menu choices include a grilled fisherman platter, grilled lobster, grouper filet charcoal style, and grilled shrimp. We did not eat here.

La Cava Restaurant – $$$ – Wine Cellar and Gourmet Cuisine – Caribe Club Princess

La Cava Restaurant is available at extra cost – $25.00 U.S. per person plus taxes (total $32.00 U.S.). It is located at Caribe Club Princess. If you have the VIP package, you can dine at either this restaurant or El Pescador free of charge, once per week We chose La Cava to eat at. The food was very good. I had the Shrimp Surprise for an appetizer which was very good, Pat had the Asparagus soup. Entrees included a beef filet, Red Snapper, Palillotte bell pepper, Grouper filet in puffed pastry with saffron sauce, Pork and sweet and sour sauce, Top sirloin in sauce and mushrooms, Chicken mignon in curry sauce and mushrooms, a NY sirloin au maitre d’hotel butter, Duck with honey and thyme sauce, Entrecote served in 3 pepper sauce, Lamb loin au rosemary butter, and Grilled lobster.

Pat and I both had the NY sirloin and it was excellent. They also have an extensive wine list if you want to purchase a bottle of wine. Service was good. My only complaint was it was very cold in this restaurant. Pat was fine, but I had a sleeveless dress on and I was freezing. One couple moved to a table outside. So bring a sweater just in case..

Room Service
Room service is included free for guests who have the Platinum/Regency Club, VIP or Honeymoon packages. If you do not have a Platinum or VIP package you still have the option of Room Service, but it will cost you a $20.00 U.S. service charge plus 26% taxes each time.

Items available through room service include: soup, Caesar salad, garden salad, pizza, calzone, choice of pasta, eggs, sandwiches, grilled porkchops, chicken burgers with french fries and coleslaw, plus deserts. It states to allow 45 minutes for room service, we did not try it.

Daytime Activities and Sports
Punta Cana Princess has its own animacion team that lead activities on the beach and by the pool – dance lessons, aerobics, games, volleyball, etc. You are not pressured to join in. Sports activities available include tennis, archery, bicycles, table games and mini-golf.

The Animacion office is located at the beach, where they have games and books (leave your books here when you’re finished with them, or leave them at the library in the lobby).

Nightly Entertainment
The Animacion team also has a small show or games in the lobby in the evening, and once a week they do a show at the stage on the beach in front of the Animacion booth. Otherwise you can go to the Serenata Theatre at Caribe Club Princess where they have a nightly show. We’re not big on these shows, and we only went once, it was a comedy show, and we didn’t stay for the whole show. A lot of people seemed to be enjoying it, though.
Disco
There is a disco at Caribe Club Princess, Areita Disco. We did not go. National drinks are included until midnight, after that you have to pay for drinks.
Casino
There is a shuttle to the Tower Casino from the front lobby, which is located just outside the Bavaro Princess. It’s about a 10 minute ride via shuttle. The shuttle starts at 7 p.m. and goes to 5 a.m., every 20 minutes or so. Just look for the shuttle with the Tower Casino logo on it. We went once to take a look. It’s a lot larger than other resort casinos in Punta Cana, but it’s not Vegas. We played the slots for a while then left. Not many people at the tables. We were there fairly early in the evening around 9:30 p.m., I’m sure it gets busy later in the evening.
Internet Access
Wireless internet is available in the rooms here. It is run by an outside company (they manage the wireless internet in a number of hotels in Punta Cana) – you can sign up in the lobby by the computers (the ones across from the front desk, not the computers by Guest Services – the ones beside Guest Services are only for Platinum/Regency Club guests.) Wireless costs $10.00 U.S. per day. For $15.00 U.S. per day you can rent a laptop with wireless connection (note you will have to give them a credit card imprint as security for the laptop.) I bought the wireless for the week, unfortunately due to the location of our room (right at the beach), I couldn’t get a connection in the room, and only occasionally on the balcony. Ended up taking it down to the pool or lobby. They also have two computer stations set up in the lobby that cost $10.00 U.S. per hour. You can use this 20 or 30 minutes at a time until it’s used up. If you have the VIP package, you get a card entitling you to one hour of free internet, but it can only be used at one sitting, ie. if you only use it for 40 minutes, you’re done.

If you have the Platimum/Regency Club package, you are allowed free internet access at one of the two computers set up beside Guest Services on the other side of the lobby. You are restricted to 20 minutes at a time unless no one is waiting.

Hotel Stores/Shopping
There is a souvenir shop/general store near the lobby, as well as a souvenir stand by the pool. There is a bikini shop at the beach and a Caribbean gift shop next door on the beach. Dominican vendors also come into the resort a couple of times a week and set up their stuff – be sure to bargain.

You can get your luggage wrapped in plastic for $7 US per suitcase, this is located in the lobby.

Spa
There is a spa located close to the front lobby. (Take the first road to the left outside of the lobby). It is run by Metamorphosis Spas, and they have a full range of massages, body treatments, salon services, etc.). If you have the VIP package you get a 20-minute free massage – I opted to purchase an additional 25 minutes for $35.00 U.S. to make it a 45 minute massage. Braids are available for $1 each. Other prices are what you’d expect to pay at home.

There is also a Mini-Spa located right at the beach. There are two massage huts, as well as a sauna, gym and Jacuzzi. Also had a massage here, it was very nice.

Watersports
Watersports is run by Pelicano Watersports and they are located right at the beach, in front of Building 5. Note that if you pay for watersports activities or excursions with a credit card, they charge you 9% more than if you pay by cash. Non-motorized watersports are included with the basic all-inclusive. There are charges for motorized watersports and instruction. They have a full range of things available – There is windsurfing, catamaran, wakeboard, banana boat, crazy tube, waterskiing, boat trip to the wreck Astron, boat trip along the coastline, snorkel trips (3 hrs. $39 US), bottom fishing, sunset boat tour, deep sea fishing, Speedcat (like a small catamaran with an engine that goes really fast). You can book parasailing here – $49 US for 10 minutes, or $89 US for tandem Excursions include the Tropical Storm Sunset Tour, which includes a lobster dinner at the Jellyfish Restaurant, catamaran excursions, excursions to Catalina Island and Saona Island. Dive packages, PADI open water dives and certification available.

With the VIP package you get 1 hour of free motorized watersports. You can do different things that add up to one hour, such as banana boat, waveboard, waterskiing, or on Tuesdays and Thursdays you can take a free 1-hour sightseeing boat trip up and down the coast.

Medical Services – near the lobby, available 24 hours. (extra charge)
Weddings
Weddings at Punta Cana Princess usually take place at the gazebo at the beach, beside Mare Nostrum Restaurant. There is another gazebo near the Spa at the front of the property, which is also used for weddings, with a garden setting.

For information on the wedding packages available at Punta Cana Princess, see our Weddings Page

Currency
Take U.S. currency, cash is best. You can pay for virtually everything in U.S. dollars, and even if you exchange your money for pesos at the front desk, you will get the best rate with U.S. dollars.
Tours
Tour reps have desks in the front lobby, and you can book any number of different tours through them. They have the usual jeep safaris, boat trips, trips to Santo Domingo, Manati Park, etc. New this year is a Zip Lines Tour (Canopy Tour), run by Bavaro Runners.

Here you can also check your flight information for your flight home. Be sure to check the night before you leave to make sure there are no changes in your flight times.

Calling home to Canada
I made one phonecall home, from our room. There is a $2 US service charge for them to connect you with a Canadian operator. Just dial “0” for the hotel operator and ask for a Canadian operator. I have a Bell calling card, and just used it to make my call.
Weather and Bugs
We arrived here on Sunday, October 28. It was a rainy day because of Tropical Storm Noel, and the rain lasted through Monday. Tuesday was mostly overcast, but dry, and by Wednesday the sun was shining again and the rest of the week was fine, although Saturday and Sunday were really hot and humid.

No problem with mosquitos. We had a few small bugs in our room (teeny tiny ones), I think they come in with the flowers they use to decorate the room. Not a big deal. Just don’t leave any food out.

Summary
We enjoyed our stay here very much. What I liked about this Adults Only resort is that it’s very compact, and offers everything you need for your vacation in one spot. While you do have the option of going to its sister resorts’ a la carte restaurants, there are 4 a la carte restaurants right at the Punta Cana Princess. It takes 5 minutes or less to walk from the lobby right through to the beach. Staff at the resort are very friendly, and most speak at least some English, and many speak English very well. Management was always visible at the resort, and are genuinely interested in guests’ comments and ways to improve things.

If you have any questions, you can contact us and I’ll try to answer them for you.

Special thanks to Jesus Tabliega, Eric Rodrigues, Raul Cedano, Diana Casoliba and guest services staff for all their assistance.

Grand Palladium Royal Suites Turquesa
Our Photos of Grand Palladium Royal Suites
October 21 – 28, 2007
Airports and Flights
We flew Air Transat out of Toronto. We purchased the Club Transat upgrade, and it is well worth it. The upgrade gives you big seats, with a separate checkin at both airports. Your luggage is given priority, first off the plan and you are allowed twice the baggage allowance. With Club Transat you can have unlimited drinks, a menu with 4 dinner choices, free snacks, free headphones, etc. We actually had good flight times going down, leaving Toronto at 10:20 a.m. and arriving in Punta Cana at 2:30 p.m.

When we got to the terminal building there were, as usual, two girls and a photographer waiting to take pictures, which you can view and purchase when you leave. Went through customs, our luggage was first off and we were out of the airport in 15 minutes. There are porters waiting to take your baggage as you exit the airport, it is easiest to just let them take it and give them a few dollars. A $30.00 U.S. cab ride and we arrived at Grand Palladium Royal Suites. If you are planning to take a taxi to your hotel, be specific about the name of the hotel, the taxi driver confirmed with us a couple of times that it was Palladium Royal Suites we were going to – so many hotels in the area have similar names or different sections. It is about half an hour from Punta Cana Airport.

Location and overview of Grand Palladium Complex
The Grand Palladium complex is located centrally in Bavaro, with the village of El Cortecito to the right of it, and Occidental Flamenco Resort to the left of it. It has 1 kilometer of beachfront, and the resort is built on 320,000 square metres, so even if the resort is completely full it wouldn’t seem crowded. The resort was built in 1992 and was previously known as Fiesta Hotels, but in 2004 and 2005 underwent major renovations and was upgraded to their premium Palladium brand. It is comprised of 3 resorts – Grand Palladium Bavaro, Grand Palladium Punta Cana, and Grand Palladium Palace, which has the separate Adults Only (18 years and over) Royal Suites section, with its own lobby, pool and beach area. Each section has its own lobby and pool (there are two pools in the Punta Cana section). Guests staying in the Bavaro, Punta Cana, and Palace sections are free to use any of the facilities on the property, except for the Royal Suites section. Royal Suites guests can use any facilities on the property. Grand Palladium Bavaro is the largest section, with 636 rooms comprised of 349 Junior suites, 33 Romance Suites and 254 Superior rooms, in 62 2-storey bungalows of 8 rooms each and 5 two-storey villas of 28 rooms each. Grand Palladium Punta Cana is the middle section, with 451 rooms, comprised of 243 deluxe rooms and 12 junior suites in 3 buildings of 85 rooms each, and 14 loft suites (junior suites with two levels) and 182 deluxe rooms in 7 villas of 28 rooms. Grand Palladium Palace was built in 1996 and totally renovated in 2004. It consists of 504 rooms, comprised of 202 superior double rooms and 78 loft suites (24 of which are honeymoon suites), in 14 two-storey villas of 20 rooms, and 6 junior suites and 78 superior double rooms in 3 two-storey villas of 28 rooms. The Royal Suites was built in 2004 and consists of 124 junior suites, 15 honeymoon suites, and 1 Presidential suite, located in 3 three-storey buildings forming a horseshoe shape around the pool. All rooms have at least a partial view of the beach. I had the opportunity to see some of the different room types in the Palladium complex. All the rooms have been renovated in the last few years and look like new. They have some different types of rooms, ie. Loft suites in the Punta Cana or Palace sections have a second storey bedroom accessed by stairs with one king or two doubles, that is open to the entire room. On the ground floor there is a sitting area with a queen-size pullout couch, and full bathroom with jacuzzi tub. In the Bavaro section there are Junior suites that can accept a family of 5, and Junior Suites that have an adjoining deluxe room for larger families. In the Bavaro section only, pay-per-view movies, sports, and video games are available. The Bavaro section also has Romance Suites that are for adults only – they are closest to the beach and have a private outdoor shower under a thatched roof as well as a hammock for two (these rooms are gorgeous!)

All rooms are a good size. Junior suites are 47.28 m2/510 sq. ft., Loft suites are 50.96 m2/548 sq. ft., and Deluxe(Superior) rooms are 30.33 m2/326 sq. ft. Royal Junior Suites are 41.08 m2/442 sq. ft., and Royal Honeymoon Suites are 51.65 m2/556 sq. ft.

Getting around the Resort
Depending on which section you are in and where you want to go, it could be a very long walk. They have two trams that run around the resort every 20 – 30 minutes. This is the best way to get from one place to another. It stops at all the lobbies, the casino, the spa, and several other stops along the route. You are given a map of the resort when you check in, and there are “You are Here” maps posted at various places throughout the resort. For Royal Suites guests, it is a short walk to the Royal Gourmet Restaurant, Palace Lobby, and Casino. See the Map we have posted, it was submitted previously by one of our reviewers and shows the different sections of the resort, and is still the current map.
Check-In at Royal Suites – Adults Only (18+)
Although Royal Suites is considered part of the Palace, it has its own lobby. The lobby is smaller than the others and enclosed and air-conditioned. Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is 12 noon (late checkouts may be available at additional charge). We were given VIP wristbands (I don’t think this entitled us to any extra services, though), towel cards, a map of the resort and information sheet, and our room keys (electronic key cards). One key operates the power in the room and must be inserted in the slot inside the door. Keep your keys in the sleeve they give you and don’t put them near the TV or phone or anything magnetic. We did have some issues with our keys and sometimes it would take 5 or 6 tries to open the door. The remote for the TV is in the room. Our room was located in the same building as the lobby, we were on the third floor, in a honeymoon suite, room 5142, and our luggage was brought to our room promptly. A fruit basket and bottle of rum was in our room.

Note there are no elevators anywhere in the Palladium complex.

Room
The Honeymoon Suite was beautiful. It was on the third floor, right in the centre of the building, and we had a view of the whole Royal Suites section and the beach and ocean. It was very large, decorated in white tones, consisting of a king-size 4-poster bed, open-concept bathroom with double sinks, shower stall and toilet stall, as well as a living area with sofa, coffee table, desk, and table and chairs. There was no tub in the room, it was located out on the huge balcony – a large double Jacuzzi tub. Although we did use it a couple of times, I felt that it was not private enough, and would have rather had it in the room, or had a screen of some type on the balcony that you could pull for assurance of privacy. The room had a telephone, coffee-maker, ice-bucket, satellite TV with a lot of English stations (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN Sports, Showtime, CNN, TNT, Discovery, BBC America, Cinemax, SciFi) – unfortunately the satellite signal seemed to go out frequently, probably because of the weather, so some channels weren’t always available. There was a basket in the bathroom containing bottles of shampoo and bath gel,shower cap, bath sponge, combs, makeup removal pads, razors, toothbrushes, no body lotion though. Bars of soap were very small, I was glad I had brought my own. There is no clock in the rooms. You can leave a wakeup call if you need to, but I prefer to bring my own travel alarm clock. There is a mini fridge stocked with 2 large bottles of water, 1 bottle of Orange, Sprite, Coke, Coke light and 2 beer, one Presidente and one Bohemia. The mini fridge is restocked daily at Royal Suites, 3 times per week in the other sections of the resort. Bottled water is readily available at any of the bars, and in the Royal Suites you just have to go to the lobby and grab it out of the cooler there, which also contains pop and beer, as well as salads, fruit, and wraps if you’re looking for a late night snack. We did receive facecloths most days, a couple days we did not. I always pack a couple of my own. Another thing I took this time was a nightlight, which came in handy. There was also an ironing board and iron, bathrobes and slippers. There are no umbrellas in the rooms, which would have come in handy a couple of days we were there, but apparently they are available at reception if you ask for one. There is a combination in-room safe, at no extra charge. I had brought my laptop with me, but I could not fit it into the safe. A smaller laptop may fit though. Maid service was excellent, we tipped $3 a day and we had some wonderful towel art every day. Air-conditioning worked great, it was almost too cold sometimes and we used the blanket provided, there was also an extra pillow. There is no turn-down service provided in the evening. The regular rooms in the Royal Suites section, Royal Junior Suites, are spacious (41.08 m2/442 sq. ft.)and include a king-size or two double beds, as well as the living area with sofa, open-concept Jacuzzi tub, and shower and toilet stalls.

I didn’t get to see the Presidential suite

Currency
Take U.S. currency, cash is best. You can pay for virtually everything in U.S. dollars, and even if you exchange your money for pesos at the front desk, you will get the best rate with U.S. dollars.
Grounds, Beach and Pool
The grounds and beach of this complex are beautiful. I was told they have 70 gardeners working there. The grounds are perfectly manicured and everything is kept very clean. The beach area in front of Royal Suites is reserved exclusively for Royal Suites guests. Lots of shade on the beach, – trees and palapas – they have recently added more palapas. There was never a problem finding a place to sit, any time of the day, although Royal Suites was only at about 45% occupancy when we were there, as were the Palace and Punta Cana sections. The Bavaro section was at 89% occupancy. Lots of guests from Europe – Spain, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Austria, not as many North Americans this time of year. Americans and Canadians are the majority during the winter season. The Royal Suites pool is in the centre of the Royal Suites section. It has a walk-in entrance and integrated Jacuzzis (cold). There is a nice swimup bar. Towels are available at the activities centre by the beach. We alternated between sitting on the beach and around the pool. Both the ocean and the pool water were warm, it was beautiful. The Royal Suites area is very quiet. There are no activities staff here, or loud music. If you want to join in activities you have to go to other areas of the resort or further down the beach. The activities staff come around once in a while to see if people are interested in joining an activity. There are listings of the activities available, with times and locations in the Royal Suites lobby. We were content to relax by the pool or beach and read a book (vacations are the only time I ever have time to read). If you run out of reading materials, there are books in the lobby that people have left, and we also left the ones we had finished with. Also available in the lobby each day are internet newspapers from various countries, they had the National Post. You can’t take it out of the lobby, for an extra charge you can have a copy delivered to your room each day. A photographer came around the pool area a couple of times to take pictures. He brought parrots the first time, and a snake the second time. I got as far away as I could. Dolin Dive Center runs the watersports at the resort. The dive center is located at the beach at Grand Palladium Bavaro Included watersports are kayaks, catamaran (lessons extra), windsurfing (lessons extra, from $40 US) (1 hour per day). Here you can also book banana boat rides, waterskiing, parasailing ($45 US for 10 minutes, $85 US for 10 minutes tandem), snorkeling trips, glass bottom boat, speedboat trips, deep sea fishing, trip to Catalina Island, and Sunset boat tours. And of course dive instruction and trips are available.

You can also book deep sea fishing trips on the beach at El Cortecito, just go down the beach to your right from Royal Suites.

Bars and Drinks
There are numerous bars throughout the complex:

Bavaro Section:

Lobby bar Caoba – open 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Pool bar Boca Chica with swimup bar – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cocktail Bar Hemingway – open 6 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. – very nice – air-conditioned and comfortable seating and music.

Punta Cana Section:

Lobby Bar Macao – open 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Pool bar Samana with swimup bar – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pool Bar Saona – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Palace Section:

Lobby Bar Guayacan – open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Pool bar Barahona with swimup bar – open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Royal Suites Section:

Lobby Bar – open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Swimup Bar at Royal Suites Pool – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sports Bar – open 24 hours

Casino bar – open 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Plus 6 Bar kiosks along the beach, and bars in the two theatres and the disco. Bars offer national drinks and some imported drinks (selection will vary from bar to bar). Beer is Presidente and Bohemia, sometimes they have Budweiser. I mostly drink white wine and found the house wine pretty good after I got used to it. Also had a few Banana Mamas which were excellent.

Royal Suites guests have pool and beach bar service, so you don’t have to move if you don’t want to.

Restaurants
There are a number of dining options available. Overall, I would consider the food quality and choices available to be excellent, both in the buffet restaurants and the a la carte restaurants.

Royal Gourmet Restaurant

Royal Suites guests have exclusive use of the Royal Gourmet Restaurant, which is enclosed and air-conditioned. It is all glass windows, very bright and clean-looking. In the morning watch where you sit or you may get the sun in your face. The Royal Gourmet is open for breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. It is not open at lunchtime. No reservations are required. Men must wear long pants at dinner. Note that there is no smoking in any of the enclosed restaurants on the property, only the open air restaurants have smoking areas. There is an a la carte menu for breakfast and dinner, along with buffet items. We ate breakfast here several times. We would order off the menu and then check the buffet for anything else we wanted. Everything is served piping hot and was very good. We ate dinner here twice. The first time we had the beef tenderloin, it was okay, but not great. The other time I had Churrasco (Argentine Flank steak), and Pat had Chicken Parmesan and it was very good. On Sundays, they have Lobster as a special, but since we don’t like lobster, we opted for the buffet that night. Each day has a special listed, but most items are available every day. They had copies of the menus for each day posted in the lobby of Royal Suites, basically the same with a different special each night and a few slight changes.

Las Torres Buffet Restaurant – Palace Section

This buffet is right next to the Royal Gourmet Restaurant, and we ate dinner here a couple of times and breakfast most days. It is open from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. It is not open at lunchtime. There was always a large selection of food and it was very good. In addition to the prepared food in the buffet, you could ask for a steak, hamburger, porkchop or hotdog and they would cook it for you. They always had several kinds of pasta, salads, rice dishes, vegetables, fish and meat, cheese and breads and deserts. Getting drinks was a little hit and miss sometimes, ie. at dinner they’d bring the wine but not the water. We enjoy a cup of coffee after our evening meal, and this seemed to be a problem in all of the restaurants. We’d ask for Café Americano or Cafe con Leche, and end up with espresso almost every time – best to stick to cerveza. The buffet restaurants have a different theme every night, ie. Sunday is Americano, Monday is Mexican, Tuesday is Oriental, Wednesday is Italian, Thursday is Dominican, etc.. This is also posted in the lobby of Royal Suites every day.

La Catedral Buffet Restaurant- Bavaro Section

Same hours as Las Torres. We did not eat here. I enquired if there was different food at the different buffets and was told it was the same at all of the buffet restaurants.

El Behique Buffet Restaurant – Punta Cana Section

Same hours as the other buffets, and is also open at lunchtime from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. We ate lunch here once, it was very nice, again lots of choice. Each section also has its own beach restaurant, located between the pool and the beach.

El Bohio Lunch Buffet – Palace Section

Open from noon to 4 p.m. for lunch. This is where we ate lunch most of the time, it is closest to Royal Suites. Good variety and service. I loved their Waldorf salad, and later in the week they had potato salad, which was excellent. Again, you could have a hamburger or hotdog or porkchop or steak cooked to order. They also had a machine for icecream cones. I thought originally that it was soft icecream but it wasn’t – it was great. A lot easier than trying to scoop out of frozen icecream containers.

La Uva Lunch Buffet – Punta Cana Section

Open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch, and it is also open for continental breakfast and snacks from 10 a.m. to noon, and snacks from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. We were told it was nice here, same food as other lunch buffets but a nicer atmosphere. We never got to try it though.

Arrecife – Bavaro Section

Open for lunch from noon to 4 p.m. Didn’t eat here.

A La Carte Restaurants

The hotel now has a “no reservations” system for all of the a la cartes for this season. (It’s something they are trying out to see how it works, so it is subject to change). Previously guests had to make reservations for the a la carte restaurants, and guests other than those in Royal Suites were restricted on the number of times they could eat at a la carte restaurants. Now no one needs to have a reservation, it’s first come, first served.. Royal Suites guests have the option of making a reservation at the front desk in the morning for their choice of a la carte restaurant and they will be guaranteed a table at the time they select. All a la cartes are open from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Note that if it is the Mexican theme night at the buffets, the Mexican a la carte restaurant will be closed, if it is the Italian theme night, the Italian a la carte restaurant is closed, etc.

There are 5 a la carte restaurants:

Mare Nostrum – Italian – Palace Section

This restaurant is located right next to the Las Torres Buffet Restaurant. There are a number of menu choices, as well as an antipasto/salad bar. Food and service was very good. I had the veal parmesan.

El Arrecife – Seafood – Bavaro Section

We did not eat here as I don’t like seafood, but in looking at the menu later I saw that they do have steak, chicken and pork entrees on the menu. This restaurant is right at the beach. According to the menu, there is an extra charge for Lobster.

Bamboo – Asian Restaurant – Bavaro Section

This restaurant is located off the lobby of the Bavaro Section. Nice décor, lots of bamboo. The menu includes dishes from China, Japan, India and Thailand. They also have an antipasto/salad bar. We ordered our meal and because we were in Royal Service they also brought us a plate of extras. The food was very good, but we were so full when we left…

El Quijote – Spanish Specialties – Bavaro Section

This restaurant is also located off the lobby of the Bavaro Section. Again, this was very good. I had lamb, Pat had beef, and they also had an antipasto/salad bar. Good service. Interesting décor, chandeliers made out of bottles.

La Gran Cantina Mariachi – Bavaro Section

Also located off the lobby of the Bavaro Section. We ate here on our last night and it was pouring with rain. The food was good here, but service wasn’t the best as they were having issues with water leaking through the roof. I had a buffalo wing appetizer that was almost a meal in itself, and then a steak with guacamole. There was also an antipasto/salad bar, so we were stuffed when we left. House wine is included at all the restaurants; they also have a wine list if you want to purchase a bottle of wine with your meal.

Dress Code for the a la carte restaurants is long pants for men. Having said that, I did see some men in shorts in the a la carte restaurants… Dress shorts are fine for the buffet restaurants.

Room Service
Only Royal Suites guests have room service, which is available 24 hours. There is a $6.00 U.S. service charge. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., main courses from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and salads and sandwiches are available 24 hours. We never tried room service, it says to allow 20 to 30 minutes for delivery.
Nightly Entertainment
There are two theatres here, one at Grand Palladium Bavaro, the Sunset, and one at Grand Palladium Punta Cana, the Merengue . The shows didn’t start until 10:00 p.m., we never did make it to one. In the Royal Suites lobby they post which shows are available at which theatre. Karaoke, Michael Jackson show, Dominican Folklore, Phantasia of Horror, Gala..were a few I saw listed.
Disco
The Sunset Boulevard Disco is located across from the main lobby of the Palladium Bavaro and is open from 11:15 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. – never went in, too late for us..
Casino
The casino is located near the Palace lobby. The slot machines are open at 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., the tables don’t open until 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. We went in a couple of times and played the slot machines, didn’t win anything but they have 1 cent and 5 cent slot machines, so you can play for quite a while. Drinks are included here. Tables are Blackjack, Caribbean Poker, and Texas Holdem Poker.
Internet Access
There are two computers in the lobby of Royal Suites which are free for Royal Suites guests to use and are available 24 hours a day. Connections were a little intermittent, it was down the first day we were there and went out a couple of times during the week for short periods. For non-Royal Suite guests there is an internet café in the Palace area and in the Sports Bar in the Bavaro side of the complex where they charge $5 US for 30 minutes or $8 for an hour.

Apparently there are plans to have wireless internet in the resort in the future.

Hotel Stores/Shopping
In the Palace area you will find a gift shop, logo shop, and supermercado. I went in to buy some hairspray as I had forgotten mine, but decided that $18 US for a can of hairspray was a bit much.

The Dominican vendors also come into the resort once a week, or you can walk down the beach to the right where you will find a lot of vendors.on the beach and in El Cortecito. Be prepared to bargain, and everyone will want you to come and look at what they have for sale.

Spa
The spa at Grand Palladium Resorts is operated by Renova Spa and is currently located near the beach at Palladium Punta Cana. It is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The gym, sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi are included in the all-inclusive plan (reservations may be required). The gym is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. I went to the spa for a massage and it was wonderful. I had the 80 minute Stress Cure massage, s a combination-type massage – cost is $110.00 U.S. They have many different types of massages and body treatments available starting from $55.00 U.S., as well as manicures, pedicures, and hair salon services, There are also massages available at the beach.

A large new spa is currently under construction across from the Royal Gourmet Restaurant. They are building a huge new spa scheduled to be completed in December, it will be the largest in the area.

Sports
The Sports Center is located centrally in the Punta Cana section of the resort, furthest away from the beach. (Note that sports activities organized by the animation team take place at the beach and pools.) Archery, rifle shooting, badminton, basketball and mini golf are located at the sports centre, as well as the tennis courts, and a soccer field.
Medical Services – available 24 hours.
Weddings
For information on Grand Palladium Resorts wedding packages, see our Weddings Page
Tours
Tour reps have desks in the lobbies of the various sections (never saw any reps in the Royal Suites section), you can check their books and see what their hours are in the other sections, and you can see them for available tours. Also, if you have any donations of school supplies, etc. that you bring with you, Apple (Amstar) reps at the hotel will gladly accept them and see that they are distributed to those that need them.
Weather and Bugs
We were there during Tropical Storm Noel. Although it caused a lot of devastation in the southern part of the country, Punta Cana only received heavy rain for a couple of days. We arrived on a Sunday and the weather was great all week, mostly sunny with only an occasional brief shower, until Saturday, when it clouded over and rained for much of the day. We had rain all of Sunday and into Monday.

As far as bugs, there weren’t any to speak of. A few flies, no problem with mosquitos at all.

Summary
As an adults only section, Royal Suites is an excellent option for those who just want to veg out and relax. At the same time, a full range of activities are also available to you. Grand Palladium Resort is a great spot for families, singles, and couples. The food everywhere at the resort is excellent, with many dining options, and service for the most part was excellent..

I’ve tried to cover the main aspects of the resort in my review – if you have any questions feel free to contact us, and I’ll try to answer them for you.

Special thanks to the staff in Royal Suites, and to Octavio Subervi for showing me around and answering all my questions.

Majestic Colonial
Our Majestic Colonial Photos
December 2006 and December 2008
I originally wrote this review in December 2006. We stayed at Majestic Colonial for 5 days in November 2008, as a result of which I have updated some of the information in this review.
Arrival
Our second week in Punta Cana was at Majestic Colonial, a $15.00 cab ride away from Palma Real.. Majestic Colonial is located immediately south of Grand Paradise Bavaro. (November 2008 – the new Majestic Elegance is right next door to Majestic Colonial). It is about 30 minutes from Punta Cana Airport, 90 minutes from La Romana Airport, and 3-1/2 hours from Santo Domingo Airport. As you enter the hotel the front desk is located to the left, guest services and the lobby bar and seating is located to the right. There is a staircase down to the ground level, also a glass panel elevator. Checkin was quick, we received our wristbands and an information package consisting of two room keys (don’t lose them or they’ll charge you $90.00), a map of the resort and information regarding the resort restaurants and facilities, and then the bellboy took us to our room. The rooms at Majestic are beautiful, large and nicely decorated. We were in a second floor Oceanfront Junior Suite, steps from the pool and beach. The room had a king-size bed, a Jacuzzi tub, walk-in shower with a glass door and separate toilet stall with glass door, 2 double sinks. We always had hot water. The living area had a sofabed, desk, and coffee table. The room is open concept, ie there is no division or privacy between the Jacuzzi tub and the rest of the room, which could be a problem for families staying in one room. It looks beautiful, but it would be nice if they could add a curtain or blinds that could be put down to afford some privacy when using the tub. Amenities in the bathroom included a basket with shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, sewing kit, shower cap, comb, shoeshine sponge, Kleenex. There is also a makeup mirror and hair dryer. In the closet you will find lots of shelves and space for your clothes. There are also 3-drawer nightstands to put things in. Don’t put your things in the cupboard closest to the door. This is a room service unit that can be accessed by staff from the outside to deliver room service orders or collect dishes and laundry. In the closet there is an electronic safe (included), big enough to hold a laptop. I have a 15.4” widescreen and it fit just fine, you just have to put it in vertically on an angle and prop it up at the back of the safe. Bathrobes and slippers, along with an iron and ironing board, are in the closet. Glasses and a bottle of champagne awaited us, and later they brought a small bottle of rum. All guests receive a bottle of champagne in their room on arrival, the bottle of rum or whisky is in the upgraded rooms and suites only. Two bath towels and two hand towels are provided (plus you get two extra towels if you are lucky enough to get swans). Facecloths were kind of hit and miss, some days we had them and other days we didn’t. I had brought one from home, though, so it didn’t really matter. We had 4 pillows in our room. Two were flat and lumpy, two were just flat. I do understand they have ordered new pillows. The room had a phone, and TV with North American, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and South American channels. (They get CNN). Air-conditioning worked well, and there was also a ceiling fan. The minibar was replenished daily, and contained 2 beer, 4 pop (they had Diet Pepsi), and 4 bottles of water, along with 2 chocolate bars. Bottled water is also readily available at all the bars.

There were plastic chairs and a table on the patio, mid-week these were replaced with brand new aluminum chairs. November 2008 – we had a ground-floor Junior Suite this time, I like the upper floors better.

Room Descriptions
All of the Junior Suites at Majestic are the same. size. Upgrades are related to location or whether they have an outdoor Jacuzzi or larger terrace. Following is a list of the various junior suites and suites available.

Standard Junior Suite – 538 square feet

Contains one King or two double beds, Colonial style furniture, Full bathroom with jacuzzi tub, walk-in shower, hair dryer, ironing board and iron, bathrobe and slippers, air conditioning, ceiling fan, satellite TV, direct phone line ($), Hi-speed internet connection ($), Room Service ($), free minibar restocked daily, free safety deposit box, separate door for room service, desk and sofa in living area, balcony or terrace with table and 2 chairs. pool or garden view. Maximum occupancy – 2 adults and 2 children or 3 adults.

Majestic Junior Suite – 538 square feet

Same as Standard Junior Suite on interior, with the following extras: Outdoor Jacuzzi located on terrace, private garden area with direct access to swimming pool, all located on ground floor, two lounge chairs in garden area No children allowed in these rooms, adults only. Maximum occupancy 2 adults (The terrace for these rooms is private in that there is no path in front of you so nobody can walk by, but people sitting around the pool have a clear view of these rooms. Maybe when the gardens grow a little bit more it will be more private. It would be nice if a lattice of some kind was put up in front of the outdoor Jacuzzi to give privacy – I don’t think they’re used too often.)

Colonial Junior Suite – 538 square feet

Same as standard junior suite on interior, with the following extras: Outdoor Jacuzzi on private terrace, rooms located on 2nd and 3rd floors, pool or garden view. No children allowed in these rooms, only for adults. Maximum occupancy 2 adults. (Third floor Colonial Junior Suites are nice, they have vaulted ceilings)

Majestic Suite – 1,076 square feet

One bedroom suite with two separate areas, living room and bedroom, divided by sliding door. Living room area has a desk with internet connection and telephone, 29” TV, two sofas, and a balcony. Bedroom area is the same as a junior suite. Garden or pool view with large terrace. All suites are located on the 4th floor. Children allowed in these rooms – Maximum occupancy 2 adults and 2 children.

Colonial Suite – 1,076 square feet

Same as Majestic Suite but with an outdoor Jacuzzi on the terrace. Pool view. Children allowed in these rooms – Maximum occupancy 2 adults and 2 children. They also have a Presidential Suite which is over 1,600 square feet, and has a huge rooftop terrace – very impressive. You could have a party for 100 people up there. They have some specially-equipped rooms for disabled people, ie. wider doors, grab bars.

Clock-radios are being added to all the rooms, both Junior Suites and Suites. Coffeemakers in the suites only are being replaced with Nespresso coffee makers, and DVD players and a stereo system are also going to be added to the Suites only.

Guest Services
Annemarie is guest services manager at Majestic Colonial (as of November 2008). It is at guest services that you make reservations for the Gourmet and Japanese Restaurants, and they can also make reservations for golf, and help you with any other questions or concerns you have. You can contact guest services at: pr@majesticcolonial.com
Changes to All-Inclusive Plan
Changes were being made to the all-inclusive plan, effective December 23, 2006, as follows (as far as I know this information is still correct in November 2008): All international premium liquors will be included for North American guests (while we were there only a few were included, the rest were available at an extra cost). There will still be an additional cost for beer other than Presidente and wine other than the house wine.

Room service is available in the Standard Junior Suites at additional cost, but as of December 11 will be included in the upgraded Junior Suites and Suites.

Grounds/Pool
There are a lot of ponds and fountains throughout the resort. Christmas lights were everywhere, with a big decorated Christmas tree in the lobby. It is beautiful at night with everything lit up. The huge swimming pool runs through the length of the resort. It’s length provides several different areas to sit in, some more quiet than others. Found the pool water cold, but refreshing. It’s quite a shallow pool, less than 4 feet deep I think. There is also a small kids’ pool in the area of the main pool. We liked to sit at the end of the pool nearest the beach, it was quiet there. The area around the swim-up bar in the middle was where the Activities staff hung out, and then there were quieter areas up closer to the lobby.

The hotel was 85 – 90 per cent full the week we were there, and it didn’t seem crowded. There were lots of chairs available, even after 9 a.m. in the morning. (November 2008 – the hotel was completely full and it still never seemed crowded, and we were always able to find a spot at the beach.)

Beach
The beach is beautiful, you see lots of people walking the beach every day. The Bahia Principe hotel is about a 10 minute walk down the beach, and the new Riu Palace is about 20 minutes away. Grand Paradise is right beside Majestic to the north.

There are lots of palapas on the beach, no problem finding a place to sit.

Weather and Bugs
There was no problem at all with bugs or mosquitos the week we were there. The weather was generally good. It was quite windy the beginning of the week, but the winds calmed down toward the end of the week. It did rain at some point almost every day, but didn’t last long. Temperatures were in the mid-80’s during the day, dropped to the 70’s at night, it was very comfortable.
Restaurants
You can eat at the a la carte restaurants as much as you want (if you can get reservations) There is a limit of 4 bookings under one room number. The Japanese and Gourmet restaurants are the only ones you need reservations for, best to make them as soon as you arrive. While most people did dress up a little for the a la carte restaurants, the only restaurant that enforces a dress code for men is the Gourmet restaurant – long pants and a collared shirt required. No "muscle shirts" allowed at any of the restaurants at dinnertime.

Main Buffet Restaurant

The main buffet restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast, 12:30 p.m. to 3.00 p.m. for lunch, and 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dinner. It is enclosed and air-conditioned, up near the lobby. They had a fairly good selection of food. Fresh-made omelettes in the morning were my favourite. The crepes were also good. They did have some pre-made omelettes, fried eggs, pancakes, etc., but I found these were cold. Toast always took a long time, had to put it through the toaster several times. (November 2008 – enjoyed the food in the buffet, felt it had improved from the first time we were there. Their pre-made stuff in the mornings was still cold though). At lunch time they had pizza, salads, cold cuts, as well as different meats, fish and vegetables, fresh bread and rolls. The rice and red beans was my favourite. They also have a pasta bar. I like their French fries, but they’re really greasy. At dinner there was a choice of meat and fish, vegetables, salads, rolls, etc. as well as pasta. You could always find something you liked. There was fresh fruit and deserts, but not a large selection. We only had dinner here once, as we went to all of the a la carte restaurants. A hostess will seat you when you enter the buffet restaurant, and then someone will take your drink order. I usually like to drink white wine, but I did not like the white wine they served in this restaurant at all. I did not try the red wine. Some of the a la carte restaurants had a different white wine that I liked better.

La Hispaniola Beach Restaurant

Open from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for continental breakfast Open from 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. for lunch and snacks This is an open air restaurant at the beach/pool area. At night it becomes the Steakhouse and Seafood Restaurants. We had lunch here a couple of times. They serve hamburgs, hotdogs, salads, and usually a paella or something with fish in it., and also have a pasta bar. I had a hamburger here the first day and it was still pink in the middle, so that kind of turned me off. Had pasta another day, that was very good. (November 2008 – they had added a sandwich station, where you could get a sandwich made to order). Never tried the continental breakfast there, it opens too late, and it didn’t really seem to have “breakfast” foods, there were things like cheese and ham and dinner rolls.

November 2008 – service very good, plates cleared right away, or in some cases before you finished eating, ie. Pat had a hamburger on his plate and picked it up to take a bite and his plate was taken away 🙂

Steakhouse – Rodeo Grill

Open 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (in half of the Hispaniola Beach Restaurant) This was my favourite restaurant, we ate here a couple of times and had the Chateaubriand, and it was very good. There is also a Caesar salad station where you can get fresh Caesar salad. We ate here again in November 2008 – was very good, but service was a little too fast in this restaurant.. Someone was there to take our order before we even had a chance to open the menu.

Seafood Restaurant – Tres Carabelas

Open 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (in other half of Hispaniola Beach Restaurant) We don’t like fish, so didn’t eat here.

Le Gourmet Restaurant – requires reservations

No shorts allowed. No kids under 12. Open 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. This restaurant is located up at the lower lobby. Had the Surf and Turf and Pat had a chicken dish, both were good. The other entrees on the menu were seafood.

Oriental “Matsuri” Restaurant

Open 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. This is actually two separate dining areas – one is the Teppanyaki tables – you have to make a reservation for this. This is show cooking where the food is cooked in front of you. It was good. At the end of the meal they give you a shot of “mamajuana” to try, the Dominican cure-all. Actually, I think they had a jug of it in all the restaurants. (November 2008 – we ate here again, didn’t enjoy it as much as the first time. No mamajuana served.) The other section of this restaurant is the Chinese portion, no reservations are needed to eat here. We had the chicken chow mein and Szechwan beef. Appetizer choices were egg rolls or won ton soup. It was pretty good. There is also a buffet sushi bar.

Caribbean Taino Restaurant

Open 7:00 p.m. to midnight for dinner This is also a “two-part” restaurant. They have a buffet of Dominican/Mexican food, as well as a menu you can order from. You can just have the buffet if you want, or just order from the menu, or have both. We had a 3-meat entrée with baked potato from the menu, and also sampled some stuff from the buffet.

(November 2008 – we ate here again, it’s pretty much the same)

Bars
Piano Bar (upper level of lobby) – open 9 a.m. to midnight Lobby Bar (ground floor) – open 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sports Bar/Disco – open 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Theatre Bar – open 8 p.m. to midnight Plaza Bar – open 5 p.m. to midnight Pool Bar – open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Swimup Bar – open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Beach Bar – open 9 a.m. to midnight As of December 11/06 all international liquors are included for North Americans. Beer – Presidente Beer is included in the all-inclusive. Other beers such as Coronna, Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller, or Heineken are $3.00U.S. a bottle.

They make good Caesars, they have Clamato juice! Their welcome drink, the “Majestic” is also really good. In the evening, outside the lobby, they set up a table with hors d’oeuvres and serve a special drink, I think it was something different every night.

Entertainment and Activities
There is a big board just outside the entrance to the lobby that tells what the activities and entertainment are for the week. During the day the activities staff has pool games and contests in the area of the swimup bar and on the beach.. On Caribbean Street near the front of the resort is a games area with a giant chessboard, foosball, two pool tables, and a pingpong table. They also have games and books to lend out.. Next to this area is a well-equipped gym (included). Tennis courts (day and night) are located at the front of the resort, and they are going to be adding a baseball diamond as well as walking trails through the mangroves At night, after dinner, people would congregate in the lobby areas, or wander through the shopping areas. There is a Harrison’s jewellery store off the lobby on the Reception level, they have beautiful stuff. There is also a clothing store (very expensive) (November 2008 – the clothing store is gone, and has been replaced by the internet lounge), and a cigar shop. On the “Caribbean Street” adjacent to the lobby is where you’ll find a Mini-Mart, souvenir shops, paintings, Internet Centre, the Sports Bar/Disco where you can watch sports games on big screen TV’s, and the casino and theatre. They were in the process of opening up a “café” where you could get late night snacks. We never went to the disco, but drinks are included.

(November 2008 – internet lounge has moved to the lobby, they now have a place here called La Bodeguita del Majestic where you can get late night snacks such as burgers and wings. It is open from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) On Dominican night vendors had stalls set up around the lobby entrance.

There is a beautiful theatre where they put on evening shows. The seating is very very comfortable – I fell asleep there one night. We actually only watched a couple shows for a short while. There was an Acrobatic show, a Michael Jackson show (I’ve only seen about 25 of them). Others that we missed – Ideal Couple, His and Hers, Magician show. A waitress will come around and take your drink orders in the theatre. What we enjoyed the most was the saxophone player that played in the outdoor plaza every evening. There are tables and chairs here, and bar service, and it was nice to just sit back and relax and listen to him play. There is a casino with table games and slot machines. Drinks are included. Pat played Blackjack one night and ended up about $50.00 ahead.

Kids Club

There is a Kids’ Club for ages 3 to 7, located near the front of the resort near the theatre. Next to that is a Teens Club for ages 8 to 14. They are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Kids’ Club looked interesting with its castle and swimming pool. Parents are encouraged to go there with their children

Golf

There are several golf courses in the area – Cocotal Golf Course, White Sands Golf Course, and Punta Blanca – contact Guest Services for information and pricing and to make reservations.

Majestic Spa

A nice full-service spa, with indoor treatment rooms, as well as massage beds at the beach. There is a water entrance that connects to the pool. In this area are outdoor spa tubs and showers that you can use for free. I didn’t discover until the last day that the spa tubs actually had hot water in them. In fact, the whole pool area around the spa entrance is much warmer than the rest of the pool. I did go in one day for a massage – 55 minutes for $80.00 U.S. Also had a nail polish change done for $10.00 U.S. (hands and feet).

(November 2008 – went for a massage which was very nice, also had a nail polish change done)

Hair Braiding and Tattoos

Next to Mariana Watersports at the beach is a place where you can get your hair braided, or temporary henna tattoos. I paid $7.00 U.S. for 5 braids. Also got a temporary tattoo on my ankle for $15.00 U.S. that’s supposed to last two weeks. She said to come back the day I was leaving and she would touch it up for free, but I never bothered.

T-Shirt Painting (New in November 2008)

Antonio has a place at the beach where he will handpaint a t-shirt for you. We had him make a few with our logo and name on the front and the website URL on the back – he did an awesome job. (If any of the forum members are interested in buying a “Debbie’s” shirt, just ask him about it – you could probably get your forum name added on the shirt as well.

Money Exchange
There is an ATM machine in the lobby as you enter where you can get pesos, or you can exchange money at the front desk. If you take U.S. cash, there is really no need to change it into pesos.
Watersports
Mariana Watersports is located at the beach. Included items are snorkel equipment, boogie boards, ocean kayaks, and a scuba clinic in the pool. Also included are catamarans and windsurfers, but these require a security deposit, ie. credit card, and must be reserved one day in advance. Here you can also book fishing trips, parasailing, boat trips, etc.
Tours
The tour operators have desks in the upper lobby area where you can book excursions – jeep tours, boat trips, 4-wheelers, day trip to Santo Domingo, trip to Altos de Chavon, boat trip to Catalina Island, horseback riding, etc
Internet Lounge
November 2008 – The Internet Centre is located off the lobby. About 8 computer terminals, lots of comfortable seating and tables and chairs. Internet cost is $5. for 30 minutes. If you bring your laptop, you can get internet in your room for $10.00 U.S. a day. (good idea to bring your own cable).
Weddings
There were lots of weddings at this resort while we were there, either on the beach or at the gazebo in the gardens near the lobby. Information on their new wedding package will be posted shortly on our Weddings Page along with contact information.
Medical Services and Pharmacy
Located near the theatre.
Late Checkout
If you have a late flight, you might be able to get late checkout. The cost is $40.00 (up to 6:00 p.m.). You will have to go to the front desk the day before you leave to see if a late checkout is available for your room. Note that you must take your room cards to the front desk and have them re-programmed before 12 noon on the day you are leaving, otherwise you will be locked out of your room at noon, even if you arranged for the late checkout.
If you do have to vacate your room, they have showers adjacent to the reception area.
Summary
We really liked this hotel. Accommodations are beautiful, the grounds and pool are nice, the food was fine, and the staff and service were great. Management seems committed to continually make improvements to the resort. There are lots of things to do if you want to, or you can just “veg out” at the pool or beach. If you have any other questions about Majestic, you can e-mail me. Special thanks to Ricardo Espinosa and “Majestic Mike”, for all your assistance during our stay.

November 2008 – the hotel was as great as I had remembered!

Paradisus Palma Real
Our Paradisus Palma Real Photos
November 2006
Arrival
Summary
We flew Air Transat Club Class from Toronto. Good flight, everything was on time. We arrived at Punta Cana Airport around 8 p.m. and it was pouring with rain. The plane was close to the airport entrance, but we still got soaked. The girls that take your picture when you arrive weren’t too happy, as we were all soaked and no one wanted their picture taken. Immigration was quick, as usual, and we got our luggage and grabbed a taxi to Palma Real. Not one of our better taxi experiences. We told him we wanted to go to Palma Real and he repeated it, but somewhere along the way, maybe after he stopped at a gas station for 15 minutes to get gas, he forgot where we were going and thought we were going to Ocean Blue. We said no, we’re going to Palma Real, so he had to turn around and spent the rest of the time apologizing in Spanish. Taxi fare was $30.00 U.S. Paradisus Palma Real is located about 25 minutes from the airport.(depending on your taxi driver). It is just north of Melia Caribe Tropical. With a total of 554 rooms, it is one of the smaller resorts in Punta Cana. The hotel is absolutely beautiful. They had beautiful Christmas decorations and lights everywhere. As you enter the hotel, the front desk is to the left, and to the right is a large carpeted lobby bar with comfortable seating. A large central staircase takes you to the ground level, where you will find all of the restaurants on the left side, and the Onyx Bar/Disco, Casino, Games Room, and Theatre on the right side, with fountains and seating areas in the middle. There is also an elevator that goes to the ground level. Checkin was quick and we were given our wristbands and taken to our room with our luggage in a golf cart. The bellboy showed us how everything worked in the room and showed us the “shortcut” across the gardens to reach the lobby/restaurant area. Our room was a Deluxe Garden View Suite, Room 1051, which is one of their regular suites. It was in a location convenient to the lobby/restaurant area, and about a 2 minute walk to the pool and beach. It was next to a pathway, so was a little noisy at times. I will describe the various rooms in more detail later, but basically the rooms are the same, it’s just the included amenities and room location that are different. Our room was large, 520 square feet. Rooms have a plasma TV, a huge Jacuzzi tub big enough for 2, and a separate shower stall with European spa jetshower (should come with an instruction manual), and toilet stall with frosted glass doors. While there are shutters that can be closed between the Jacuzzi tub area and the rest of the room, it is still not totally private when using the tub. Water was only lukewarm the night we arrived, but got progressively warmer the next day and was fine the rest of the week. Bathroom amenities included a hairdryer, makeup mirror soap, bath gel, shampoo/conditioner, body lotion, travel toothbrush kit, q-tips and makeup removal pads, razor with shave cream, sewing kit, shoe polish pad, and Kleenex.. An electronic in-room safe is included, and is large enough to hold a laptop computer. I had my 15.4” widescreen laptop with me, and by putting it in on an angle horizontally to get it in and out, it fit nicely. Our room had two double beds, with good pillows and a comfortable mattress. My only complaint is that the beds are not attached to the headboard, so if you’re sitting up reading or watching TV, the bed tends to slide away from the wall. The room also contains a living area with sofa bed and table and chairs. It was very nicely decorated, and had mahogany furniture. The air conditioning worked very well and there was also a ceiling fan. A mini-fridge contains 2 cans of Presidente, Pepsi, Pepsi Light, 7-up, 7-up Light, and bottled water, which is restocked daily. If you want more of one thing, just leave a note. There is also a coffee maker, stereo with radio and MP3/CDR/RW playback, highspeed internet access, ironing board and iron., umbrella, bathrobes and slippers. Lots of closet and drawer/shelf space for your clothes. Outdoor terrace has a table and 2 chairs. We had turn-down service one night, and one night I declined it, otherwise it didn’t seem to happen (possible we had the Do Not Disturb sign out a couple of times?). There are 4 large bath towels in the bathroom, we were never short of towels. Getting facecloths was sometimes a challenge.

Hint: The bathrooms in the common areas have baskets of facecloths to dry your hands with, just grab a couple from there if you don’t get them in your room.

Room service is free, and you will find a 24-hour room service menu in your room, including things like Continental breakfast, salads, hamburgers, club sandwiches, beef, chicken, and fish entrees and desserts, as well as pizzas. We did not try room service.

They have a “Serviexpress” hotline you can call that promises a 1-hour resolution to problems with room appliances or missing room amenities.. We did have a minor problem with our TV the first night. I think we hit the sleep button and then could not get it to come on. I called Serviexpress and told them the problem, they said they would send someone. An hour later no one had come – but in the meantime Pat was able to reach behind the TV (mounted on the wall) and unplug it and then plugged it back in and it worked.. I called and they said someone would be there in 5 minutes, I said forget it, we fixed it. I’m sure this has happened before, they really should tell people on the phone how to fix it.

Room types at Paradisus Palma Real are as follows
Deluxe Garden View Suites (regular rooms) 520 square feet – located on right side of property (as you face the entrance to the resort).

Regal Ocean View Jacuzzi Suites – same as above, but with ocean view.

Imperial Romance Ocean View Jacuzzi Suites (honeymoon suites)

As above, but with 400 thread count sheets, romantic room setup, luxury amenities by Etro, his and hers sarong-style bathrobes, fresh flower arrangements and chocolates.

For Families

Luxury Junior Suites – 560 square feet with garden view or ocean view Located on the left side of property as you face the entrance to resort. Includes a Jacuzzi for two, separate living room area with sofa bed, equipped kitchenette, daily stocked minibar, and connection available with a one bedroom Master Suite.

One-bedroom Master Suite with Jacuzzi – This is the only accommodation that allows 2 adults and 3 children. – 815 square feet with Garden View or Ocean View, one kingsize bed, bathroom with Jacuzzi for two and double sinks, Luxury amenities, separate living room with sofa bed, daily stocked refrigerator, equipped kitchen, separate dining area, and connection available with luxury junior suite for larger families. This is really nice, it’s just like an apartment.

Rooms for People with Disabilities

There are specially-equipped rooms for people with disabilities – wider doors for wheelchair access, grab bars, etc. There is an elevator in the lobby area to get to ground level.

Grounds
The resort is built in the shape of an “M” (for Melia). The lobby, common areas and restaurants are located in the middle, with the rooms to the left and the right. It is possible to walk under cover from one end of the resort to the other.

In the area between the rooms and common areas are beautiful, well-manicured gardens, with ponds, fountains, and wildlife – turtles, fish, and flamingos.

Weather and Bugs
The weather was beautiful for the most part. Even though it rained at some point nearly every day, showers were brief. Temperatures were in the mid-80’s, dropping off to comfortable mid-70’s at night. So if you are looking at forecasts for Punta Cana, don’t be alarmed when you see rain forecast every day! There was only one day during this week where it was cloudy and rained off and on most of the day. It did get a little windy the last couple of days of our stay here.

No problem whatsoever with bugs or mosquitos the week we were there.

Beach and Pool
This hotel is located on a beautiful stretch of beach that was kept very clean. The hotel was at about 60 per cent occupancy the week we were there. There was never any problem finding chairs in the shade, either at the pool or on the beach. They also have a couple dozen “Bali beds” (big mattresses under a palapa) . These are so comfortable! One morning when it was raining we got one of these and just relaxed and read, keeping perfectly dry. The pool is very large, with a swim-up bar, and numerous “jacuzzis” (cold) and fountains throughout the pool, as well as built-in tiled sunbeds you can lay on and be partially submerged in the water. There are no towel cards at this resort! The beach towels are large and luxurious, you just go and get them at the Clubhouse by the pool/beach. You will see wicker baskets with lids throughout the pool area, these are for your dirty beach towels. Some people tended to just leave their towels on the chairs when they went back to their rooms, and pool attendants had to go around and collect them. Be considerate and return your towel when you leave for the day, or take it to your room with you for the next day.

Bar waitresses go around and take your drink orders where you are sitting at the pool or beach. For that matter, if you sit down anywhere at the resort, someone will quickly appear and ask you if you would like something to drink.

Food
The main buffet restaurant is called Naos. It is located right at the beach and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The seating area is open air, but the buffet is in an enclosed air-conditioned area in the centre of the restaurant. It opens from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. for continental breakfast, breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and dinner from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Breakfast offers a large assortment, everything you can think of. Good omelettes made to order. Toast is somewhat of a problem, takes about 3 times through for bread to toast (I find this to be the case at most resorts). Some items could have been hotter. At lunch and dinner there is a good selection of coldcuts, salads, meat (steak, pork, chicken, lamb), fish and vegetables, fresh breads and rolls, and desserts. Their cheesecake was wonderful. There is always a pasta bar with a selection of different types of pasta and sauces. Within the restaurant there is also a separate Mexican buffet section “Algarve”, open at lunchtime and dinner.. At breakfast this is the area where you can get fresh juice made to order.

The Market Grill is located next to Naos Restaurant, and is usually open 24 hours a day. There is an entrance from the beach, and at lunchtime they serve hamburgs, hotdogs, fries, salads, etc. You can also get grilled meats here.

The first night we had dinner at “Passion”, (open for dinner only from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) which was excellent and my favourite meal. Wait staff very good in this restaurant. This restaurant is for adults only (16 and over). I had the Black Angus stuffed with mushrooms, served “nouvelle cuisine” style. There is a good selection of included wines, from Chile, Spain, and Argentina.

Bana Restaurant (open for dinner only 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) is an a la carte Asian fusion bistro – 3 dining options in one restaurant. There is a sushi bar, tepanyaki tables, contemporary Asian fusion, as well as a Martini Bar. We didn’t try the sushi or the Tepanyaki tables, but ate in the “contemporary Asian fusion” section . It was very good. Vento is a Meditteranean restaurant featuring a la carte international specialties. Food was good. It is open for dinner for all guests from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and there is an a la carte breakfast and lunch served there as well for Royal Service/Family Concierge upgrades only.

No reservations were required for any of the restaurants. The a la carte restaurants are all very nice, and the food was good, but I felt there wasn’t a lot of difference in the food offered from one to the other. It seemed very similar in presentation, just in a slightly different atmosphere.. (Now I don’t eat seafood so my choices are somewhat limited and I tend to always have the beef). And we didn’t have the Sushi, or eat at the Tepanyaki tables (Japanese – where they cook the food in front of you).

It is stated that a dress code applies for all the a la carte restaurants – No shorts or sleeveless shirts or sports shoes or sandals allowed for men. (although we did see some men wearing shorts, so I don’t know how strict they are in enforcing this.)

Gabi Beach
There is also a section of the resort called Gabi Beach. It has its own bar, restaurant, entertainment and beach area. This is all-inclusive for Royal Service and Family Concierge guests only, except for Fridays, when anyone can go there all-inclusive. I didn’t really see much going on here the week we were there. It seemed pretty much deserted during the day. We did have an opportunity to have dinner there one night. It was a nice atmosphere, open air restaurant by the beach, with food choices of rib eye steak, lobster tails, chicken and fish dishes. Food and service was very good. The highlight, though, was that David Ortiz (Big Papi) from the Boston Red Sox came in with a group of people for dinner (he’s Dominican). He was signing autographs and people were taking photos of him. He graciously agreed to let me have my picture taken with him! A very nice man.

One night we went to the Jellyfish Restaurant for dinner, which is about a 10 minute walk down the beach, almost right next to the Melia Caribe Tropical (or a $10.00 cab ride). We met owners Gabriel and Wanda, and had an excellent dinner (I’m not a seafood person, but they had a nice pasta and chicken dish on the menu which was excellent). They are open for lunch and dinner. Unfortunately the night we were there it had turned quite windy, so they had the tarps down, otherwise would be a beautiful ocean view at night.

Bars
There are 8 bars serving Caribbean cocktails and international premium brand drinks (Absolut Vodka, etc., and they have Canadian Club). Bottled water is also available at all the bars. There is 1 lobby piano bar, 2 pool bars, 1 swimup bar, 1 casino bar, 1 Onyx disco lounge bar, 1 sky bar and 1 beach club bar. Included beer is Presidente, Presidente Light, Budweiser, Bud Light, Heineken, Miller, and Coronna. They also make very good Caesars!
Entertainment
We saw a couple of shows while we were there – a Latin show and yet another Michael Jackson show. Effects were good, but the shows were disappointing, but we’re not really into that kind of thing. Another night they had a Jazz band playing, and on Dominican night a Dominican band played and they had Dominican dancers in beautiful costumes out by the restaurant/pool area. There were also vendors stalls set up where you could buy souvenirs, cigars, jewellery, paintings, rum, etc.
Casino
There is a casino at the resort, open from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. We just went in and looked around, they have Roulette, Blackjack, Caribbean Poker, Texas Hold Em Poker, and some slot machines.
Disco
The disco is in the Onyx Bar, located next to the Casino. Can’t comment on this, other than poking our heads in one night, we did not go – too late for us.

Paradisus Spa

Although I didn’t use any of the services, I toured the spa, and it is beautiful. There is a full selection of services available, as well as a gift shop. They have a Water Ritual Center (sauna, herbal steam, contrast thermal shower, experiences essence shower, Jacuzzi, chromotherapy shower, bithermal foot bath) that overlooks the pool, you can buy a daily admission to be able to use these facilities. They have the indoor spa, as well as outdoor treatment cabins in the garden area. There were no massage beds at the beach. They also have Pilates,Yoga, Tai Chi, and guided meditation classes.Prices for spa services are what you would expect to pay at home. A well-equipped gym with a personal trainer is located adjacent to the spa. It is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is free for guests to use.

Royal Service (RS)

This is an upgrade for adults only, that includes extras not available to other guests, including: Same room types available, but in a better location, closer to the beach. More room amenities, including pillow menu, aromatherapy menu, butler services, expanded room service menu, luxury amenities. Services of a concierge for planning tours and excursions. Preferential reservations for golf, tennis and other activities. Separate roped-off beach area with their own pool. They can also reserve chaise lounges and Bali beds on a daily basis. There is a Royal Service lounge for private checkin/out, that also has complimentary internet access, a daily continental breakfast buffet, coffee and beverages, international newspapers, and evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. RS rooms have a DVD player and guests can check out DVD’s from the Business Centre. Access to Vento Restaurant for a la carte breakfast and lunch. Includes use of Gabi Beach facilities.

There are also Royal Service Presidential Suites (2) – 1,670 square feet with huge terrace, 1 king-size bed, spacious livingroom, 2 bedrooms with Jacuzzi for two with luxury amenities, exclusive butler service, and connection available to Royal Service Imperial Romance Oceanfront Suites

Family Concierge (FC)
This is an available upgrade for families, the family counterpart of Royal Service. There is a Family Concierge lounge with a private checkin area, specially appointed Family Concierge Suites, and the all-day assistance of a Family Concierge to coordinate needs and entertainment for the family. On checkin you are given a radio that gives you instant access to the Family Concierge. Staff will come and pick up your children to do activities, and you can check via radio at any time to see where your kids are. Kids receive a beach kit containing a hat, t-shirt, float and tanning lotion. They are given a kids menu in each restaurant. Accommodation is in Family Concierge Luxury Suites and/or One-Bedroom Master Suites with extras such as a Play Station in the room upon request, children’s mini bathrobes and slippers, children’s amenities kit in bathroom, kid-size towels and pillows, kids’ activities menus, minibar stocked with children’s drinks, turndown service with milk and cookies, all-inclusive at Gabi Beach, and a separate pool area.
Kids Club
The Kids Club (called the Paradisus Club) is located down the hall to the left from the lobby area.. It is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is for children 5 to 12 years old. They will take the kids for lunch at 12:30 p.m. and dinner at Naos Restaurant at 7:30 p.m. There is a full schedule of planned activities for each day, as well as evening activities such as mini disco, mini karaoke, magic show, movie night, mini Miss show, Minis Playback Show, and a camping night every Wednesday from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. including dinner, a movie, mini disco and bonfire.

There is a games room next to the Theatre where they have Playstations, X-box, etc. This is free for guests, and seemed to be a popular spot.

Day Activities for Adults
There are all kinds of daily activities, pick up a brochure at the Clubhouse. Things like horseback riding, bicycle tours, snorkeling excursions, scuba diving, and boat trip are all included, as is tennis at the 3 courts located at the front of the resort. Non-motorized watersports are also included – see the Scuba Caribe people at the beach to arrange use of the equipment. – paddle boats, catamarans, windsurfers, kayaks, kite surfing, diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing (extra cost), and motorized water sports (extra cost) The activities staff also arranges volleyball games, water polo and beach soccer. Also available are table tennis, table games, billiards, darts, giant chess, and bocci ball.

During the week there are also cooking classes, a wine tasting class, flower arranging class, painting classes, Tango and Salsa dance classes, and Spanish lessons.

Golf
Golf is included at the 27-hole Cocotal Golf & Country Club with unlimited green fees.. However, there is a mandatory cart rental at $35.00 per person (double) or $45.00 per person (single).
Tours
You will find the tour desk in the lower lobby area, where you can book off-site day trips such as jeep safaris, boat trips, Manati Park, etc.
Shopping
There is a new shopping centre which was scheduled to open in December, near the front entrance of the hotel. This will include restaurants such as Hard Rock Café, Tony Roma’s, and some high end stores (not souvenir shops). There was only one store in the hotel itself, which sold a little bit of everything. Take what you think you will need as prices are higher than you’d pay at home, although not as high in this store as I’ve seen in other places, ie. They were selling paperbacks for $12.00 U.S. and suntan lotion for $9.00 U.S.

From the beach, if you walk to the right past the Melia Caribe, there is a little “mall” of souvenir stores.

Internet
Paradisus offers free Internet in all rooms if you have your own cable with you. Otherwise I am told you can purchase a cable for $14.00 U.S. (although the front desk did tell me you had to have your own cable). There is also free wireless in the lobby and salon areas of the resort. If you do not have a laptop with you, you can use the computers in their Business Centre, located on the lower floor under the lobby. Cost is $4 for 15 minutes, $7 for ½ hr., or $12/hr. They also have DVD players you can check out for free, as well as a DVD library.
Weddings
For information and pricing on weddings at Paradisus Palma Real, see their website at: http://www.romancebyparadisus.com/packages/weddings_anniversaries
Medical
There is a pharmacy and medical staff on call 24 hours.
Rentals
Car and motorcycle rentals are available.
Vacation Club
Sol Melia Vacation Club does have a desk on the lower lobby level, but never once were we bothered by anyone. Vacation club accommodations, I believe, are on the left side of the resort as you face the lobby.
Money Exchange
Money can be exchanged at the front desk. If you have U.S. cash, you can use it for virtually everything without having to change it into pesos.
Summary
This is a very “elegant” resort, one of the nicest we’ve stayed at, one of the best in Punta Cana. Virtually anything you want to do can be arranged at the resort. There is a full assortment of activities available, or you can just relax by the beautiful pool and beach. Animation staff is somewhat low-key, they aren’t asking you to participate in things all the time. There is no loud music. While Royal Service and Family Concierge upgrades are available for a “total” experience, in my opinion they are not needed to have a great vacation at this resort. The staff at this hotel were excellent. Very friendly and many spoke English very well. Service was consistently good.

If you have any questions about Paradisus Palma Real, you can contact us.

Special thanks to the staff of Palma Real, and to Vilma Flaquer for all your assistance.

Ocean Sand/Blue Golf & Beach Resort
November 6 to November 13, 2005
Location
Ocean Blue Golf & Beach Resort is located approximately 35 minutes from Punta Cana Airport. It shares its property with Ocean Sand Golf & Beach Resort. If you’re walking along the beach, it is directly adjacent to LTI Resort to the south, and the Iberostar Hotels are to the north.

Ocean Blue and Ocean Sand are essentially the same resort. When you enter the lobby, the reception for Ocean Blue is on your right and for Ocean Sand it is on the left. Rooms along the left side of the resort as you face the beach are for Ocean Sand guests, Ocean Blue accommodations are on the right. Accommodations are identical, all room types are available on both sides. All resort facilities are shared between the two.

Check-In
You check in at reception, unless you have upgraded to a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite. For these suites, which are in Villas 6 and 10, you have private checkin/checkout privileges at Guest Services, which is around the corner from the Ocean Blue reception. We just went into the Ocean Blue reception and they escorted us to Guest Services. On checkin you will be given a wristband, your room keys, towel cards, and a “Welcome Passport”. This includes a map of the resort and excellent information about all the restaurants and other hotel services.

The occupancy rate was between 50 and 60 per cent the week we were there it seemed to be mostly Canadians and Americans.

Grounds and Beach
A nice thing about this hotel is you don’t have to spend a lot of time finding your way around. All the restaurants (except for the beach restaurants) are in one spot, across a courtyard from the lobby, and all other common areas are at the front of the resort by the lobby, with the two swimming pools in the centre of the two resorts. The villa buildings of the resorts are in a row along each side of the resort. There are palm trees and gardens throughout the property. The gardens are still young, but will fill in nicely as they mature. A shuttle runs around the resort on a regular basis. If you are walking, it would take about 10 minutes to walk from the beach to the lobby. There are two huge swimming pools, both with a swimup bar. The pools have a beach-like sloped entrance, which is nice. At their deepest point they are less than 5 feet deep. There are lots of chairs surrounding the pools, and some umbrellas for shade. The chairs around the pool are plastic, though, and not as comfortable as the chairs at the beach. Beach towels are available at the Watersports Centre on the beach. Due to lower occupancy, only the bar on the Ocean Sand side of the swimming pool was open. The one on the Ocean Blue side is a swimup bar only, and it was closed. The hotel is located on a beautiful wide stretch of beach. You can walk for miles in either direction. There was a little bit of seaweed washed up on the beach, but not much. There were some waves, not as calm as further south at PUNTACANA Resort where we spent our first week, and the water was not quite as turquoise blue-green as it is there, but still very beautiful.

A few palm trees dot the beach, offering a little bit of shade. They don’t have the traditional thatched beach palapas, they have constructed wooden pergola-type structures with a covering on top (see pictures). I didn’t find that these really provided much shade, though.

Weather/Bugs
We had a great week for weather, hot and sunny every day, it only rained at night a few times. Unfortunately one of those times was the first night we arrived, it started pouring rain while we were walking to the restaurant for dinner, we got absolutely soaked in just a few minutes! There is an umbrella in every room, too bad we didn’t bring it. The morning we left there was a change in the weather due to a tropical depression. First thing in the morning we could see the ocean was a very deep blue colour. A little while later the dark clouds rolled in and it started blowing hard rain off and on.

There was absolutely no problem with insects or mosquitos.

Rooms
There are 374 rooms on the Ocean Blue side, and 334 rooms on the Ocean Sand side, located in 10 buildings. It is interesting to note that this is one of the few resorts that allow 3 children in a room. Maximum occupancy is 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 children, or 3 adults and 1 child. All of the Villa buildings have inner courtyards, all decorated differently. Reminds me very much of the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus. I especially liked the beautiful pots of Trinitarias (bougainvillea). There are 3 room categories – the regular Junior Suites, in Villas 1 through 5 at Ocean Blue and Villas 7 through 9 at Ocean Sand, the Deluxe Junior Suites in Villas 6 and 10, and the Honeymoon Suites, also located in Villas 6 and 10. Regular junior suites are very spacious. All offer 1 king or two queen-sized beds, air-conditioning, ceiling fan, living area, full bathroom with Jacuzzi-style tub, hairdryer, telephone, cable TV, coffee maker, mini-fridge stocked with soft drinks and water, iron and ironing board, umbrella, in-room safe. There is no clock-radio in the room. We stayed in a deluxe junior suite. The deluxe junior suites are all in Villa 6 at Ocean Blue and Villa 10 at Ocean Sand, which are the buildings closest to the beach. We had a wonderful view of the pool and beach. These suites are larger than the regular junior suites, and the bathroom is different.. there is a window in the bathroom that looks into the rest of the room from the Jacuzzi tub (toilet and shower are private), which lets in lots of natural light during the day. There are blinds on the window that you can close for privacy. We had a 4-poster canopy bed and comfortable seating area, and nice wicker furniture on the balcony. There was no ceiling fan in our room, I was told rooms with 4-poster canopy beds did not have ceiling fans. The air-conditioning worked well, and we always had plenty of hot water. English TV channels available were Cinemax, HBO, ESPN, Disney, CNN, TBS WGN TNT, and the cartoon network

A little tip – The power in our room went out one day, apparently very briefly. A few lights came on immediately, but the TV and most of the lights were not working. We just assumed there was a power outage and the generator was on. I happened to go downstairs a while later and mentioned to the concierge about the power being out. She told me it had only been out for a minute, and that I just needed to re-insert the card in the slot inside the door. I’m glad I asked, not sure we would have figured that one out for a while.

Deluxe junior suites have all the amenities of a regular junior suite, plus you become a member of the Ocean Elite Club, which entitles you to: Private checkin and checkout, VIP wristband, welcome cocktail, fruit basket upon arrival, 2 beach towels in the room, bathrobe and slippers, 24 hour a la carte room service, personalized concierge service, nightly turn down service, one 30 minute massage per adult per stay, selected Dominican cigars in room -3 per room per week (we never got these). You also have beer in your fridge and a selection of bottles of premium liquor in your room. Extra water or soft drinks are available on request. I just left a note and tip in the fridge. In addition, those staying in Deluxe Junior Suites have the following options (note these inclusions were in effect at the time of our stay, check with the hotel for current inclusions):

  • Fresh tropical fruits in the room daily.

  • Gourmet dinner at the beach

  • One complimentary dinner at Bucanero seafood restaurant

  • One complimentary dinner at El Bodegon Chef’s Table & Wine Cellar Restaurant

  • Motorized water sports – 1 hour per day

  • Catamaran sailing – ½ hr. per day, with captain

  • One dive excursion per person per week for certified divers

There are 12 honeymoon suites (six in Villa 6 – Ocean Blue and six in Villa 10 – Ocean Sand). These rooms are beautiful, very different. Everything is white, including the door to the room. These suites are two-storey, with a king-size four-poster bed with white netting and sitting area on the main level, You go up the stairs to a Jacuzzi area, also with a table and chairs, and then outside to a private outdoor shower. (see photos). The Jacuzzi overlooks the beach, but there’s special glass so people can’t see in from outside. There are two balconies in these suites. The suite also has a DVD player, and alarm clock. Those in Honeymoon Suites also get the Ocean Elite Club amenities described above, plus the following:

  • Romantic dinner for two at Bucanero Seafood Restaurant OR El Bodegon Chef’s Table & Wine Cellar

  • Morning after breakfast in their room with sparkling wine

  • Private Spanish and Merengue lessons

  • Catamaran sailing ½ hour per day, with captain

  • Romantic horseback riding at night – one hour per stay

  • Extended checkout

  • You can specify what time you want your room cleaned

Villa 5 of Ocean Blue is for Apple Vacations clients, and they have representatives on the desk in this Villa during the day.

The resort is wheelchair-accessible, and they have 4 handicap-equipped rooms. (grab bars, etc.)

Bars and Drinks
  • There is no shortage of bars at this resort:

  • La Cana Lobby bar – popular in the late afternoon and evening. – open from 10 a.m. to midnight

  • Overtime Sports Bar – open from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m.

  • Luna Bar – by the theatre – open from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

  • Las Palmeras pool bar – open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • El Cocotal pool bar – open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Caribbean Grill Bar – open from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

  • Wave – disco bar – 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

  • Buffet Bars – at La Tortuga Restaurant and El Carey Restaurant

  • Snack Bar bar – at La Cana Restaurant at the beach

  • Beach bar

I was drinking mostly white wine, but did have a decent Banana Mama at the beach bar. I asked for a Caesar at the Lobby Bar, but was advised they do not have Clamato juice. And while they do have a selection of premium liquors, they don’t have any Canadian whisky. The only beer they had was Presidente.

Restaurants
Main Buffet Restaurant The main buffet restaurant is El Carey for Ocean Sand and La Tortuga for Ocean Blue. The buffet area where you get your food is between the two, so the food is the same for both, there is just separate seating on each side of the buffet. While we were there the La Tortuga side was closed, so everyone sat in the El Carey section. The food selection is good. At breakfast they have all the usual stuff – fresh fruit, omelettes, juices (their orange juice tasted like Tang, though, it wasn’t real orange juice), pancakes, sausage, bacon, etc. The restaurant is air-conditioned. There is a smoking section in the restaurant. We found the service to be fairly good here. The restaurant opens at 6 a.m., with continental breakfast until 7 a.m., breakfast buffet 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, and Dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. During the week we were there, this central buffet restaurant was closed a couple of nights, and the buffet was at the beach restaurant.

La Cana Buffet Restaurant – at the beach

La Cana Beach Restaurant at the beach opens for continental breakfast between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and snacks are available between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. We ate there at lunchtime most of the time as it was more convenient than going to the main buffet and you could go in with your bathing suit on. They had hamburgs, hotdogs, French fries, pasta, salads, and pizza on a daily basis, and a few other items that changed each day, as well as fruit and deserts. Try their icecream – it’s great! Aside from the buffet restaurant for dinner, you can also choose to go to one of the a la carte restaurants. We never had a problem getting into any of the restaurants. Some people made reservations for the restaurants at the buffet restaurant in the morning, but it is my understanding this winter they will totally do away with reservations. If the restaurant you want to eat at is full when you arrive, they’ll give you a beeper and you can go and have a drink at the lobby bar, or relax at Mike’s Coffee while you wait. Long pants for the men are required in the a la carte restaurants, although it didn’t seem this was enforced as I did see some men wearing shorts.

Route 66 Restaurant

They serve American-type food – burgers, fries, ribs, steak, etc. They have gone all out in the decoration, complete with a ‘50’s Ford parked out in front. We ate here our first night. I had a rib-eye steak, it was just okay, a little big tough. Service was pretty good. Coffee was horrible, but that’s before we discovered Mike’s Coffee. The music played was mostly from the 60’s and 70’s.

Margarita Restaurant

This is the Mexican Restaurant, and it was excellent. They have an antipasto bar which is a meal in itself. Very nice décor.

I Mascherati di Venezia

This is the Italian restaurant. Again, the décor is very nice and food was good. The menu offered chicken and shrimp dishes, spaghetti, rigatoni, etc. I also had an eggplant appetizer that was very good and Pat had the soup and said it was excellent. The “salad” was ricotta cheese with apples and raisins, different but good.

La Casa de Mi Abuela (My Grandmother’s House)

This is the Dominican restaurant. It is very elegantly decorated, and the food was very good. Service was excellent.

Overtime Sports Bar

We never went in here, just looked in from outside. Typical sports bar with TV’s, pool tables. It is open from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m., with snacks served from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Mike’s Coffee and Tea

This place is the best! It’s the closest thing to Tim Horton’s you’ll find in the Dominican Republic. You can get just regular “Americano” coffee or specialty coffees and teas. There is also a “cookie jar” with delicious cookies, or you can choose from an assortment of deserts – the cheesecake is awesome! It is air-conditioned with comfortable chairs and tables. It is open from 4 p.m. until midnight every day. After the first night we never ordered coffee in the restaurants, we just went to Mike’s afterwards for our coffee and desert. This is one place that may be crowded when the hotel is full. It’s not that big, although there are tables and chairs in the courtyard outside where you can sit as well.

La Brasa Caribbean Grill on the Beach

This is near the La Cana Beach Restaurant, it wasn’t open when we were there. It serves continental breakfast from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. lunch from noon until 3 p.m., and dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

El Bodegon Chef’s Table & Wine Cellar

This is not one of the included restaurants, you pay extra to eat here unless you have a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite, then you can eat here once free of charge. Otherwise the cost is around $25 U.S. per person (plus wine) for a Black Angus steak. If I remember correctly, you could also get a salmon fillet ($15), Churrasco ($22), or a ribeye steak ($25). Their Black Angus steak is excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. They start off by bringing a plate of prosciutto and cheese, and a basket of fresh bread. They have an extensive wine list. You can’t get a glass of wine here, though, you can only buy it by the bottle.

Bucanero Grill Seafood Restaurant

This is not an included restaurant, again, unless you have a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite, then you can eat here once free of charge. It is right on the beach, not really a restaurant, just some wooden tables set up on the beach, with a thatched roof over top. A lobster dinner costs $35 U.S. per person.

Room Service is available for those in Villas 6 and 10 only, who are in the Ocean Elite Club. They had a fairly extensive room service menu, we never tried it, though.

Sports
Watersports Pelicano Watersports is located at the beach. Here you can sign out windsurfers, kayaks, snorkel equipment, boogie boards, etc. and arrange for motorized watersports, fishing, catamarans, dive trips, and certification courses. Also saw someone kiteboarding one day.

Golf

There is a new golf course, White Sands, right outside the resort (transportation provided from the hotel). They have a special right now – $45 U.S for 9 holes, regular $60.U.S. The second 9 holes will open next year.

Tennis

Tennis courts are located just inside the entrance to the hotel. Open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Make your reservations directly at the tennis courts.

Kids’ Club

The Kids club is at the beach next to Watersports. It’s for children ages 4 to 12 and is open from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. They play supervised games, have competitions, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, go on bike tours, have videos and movies, and snacks. There is a Mini-Disco and games for the kids at the theatre every night at 8 p.m.

Vacation Club

There is a Royal Vacation Club that operates at this resort. It was somewhat annoying when there were 5 or 6 of their sales people standing at the entrance to the restaurant every morning. I started handing them my card when they approached me, and then they didn’t want to talk to me anymore ? They sell timeshares (oops, excuse me, vacation club) at this resort with exchange privileges at other resorts worldwide

Entertainment/Activities
They put out a newsletter every other day telling what is going on. There will also be a board by the Pool Bar with Activities (they had taken it down to fix it while we were there). There are lots of activities – aerobics, bicycle tour, ping pong, darts, boccia, archery, beach volleyball, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, contests, etc. There is a rock-climbing wall where you can try your skill. Didn’t see many people using it, though. There is live entertainment (saxophone) in the lobby starting at 7:15 p.m. which we enjoyed. A large enclosed theatre is at the front of the resort beside the lobby. There are shows every night at 10 p.m., with a Mini Disco for the children at 8 p.m. We only went to a couple of the shows. One was the Dominicano show and one was an audience participation dance competition.

Guests are given one free game per room at their “Strike” bowling alley, then it’s $15. U.S. per game for up to 6 people. A good activity for a rainy day.

Internet Access
There is an internet place with 5 computers in the front lobby area. Found the rates a little pricey at:

  • 15 minutes – $4

  • 30 minutes – $7

  • 1 hr. – $12

  • Wireless Internet is also Available – $12.00 for 60 minutes

  • Also noted they did have a card reader available, if you wanted to upload photos, etc.

  • It’s open from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Casino
The Casino inside the resort is open from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. It is run by Tower Casino, who also have a large casino just outside the resort. We didn’t go to the one outside the resort, but did go a couple of times to the one in the resort. The first night we played $60.00 in slots for about 1-1/2 hours, came out only down $3. People did seem to be winning on slots – one man next to us won 1,000 coins. We went back another night and lost about $20.00 in the slots, then Pat played Blackjack for awhile, but we came out losing. We had fun for a while, though.
Disco
The “Wave” Disco is located off the lobby area. It’s open from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. We never went… Just saw it while we were at the Manager’s cocktail party there, which is every Wednesday.
Hotel Stores/Shopping
There are several shops in the lobby area. There is a cigar shop, a Harrison’s Jewellery Store, a Mini-Market that sells clothing, snacks, souvenirs, paintings, a little bit of everything, and a store with clothing and sandals (I bought a pair of sandals there for $16.00 U.S. because the sandals I’d brought broke, unfortunately the new ones cut into my feet so badly, I still have the marks… For more shopping options, you can go into the “town” area outside of the resort. We never did do this, because it was just too hot to wander around, but there are lots of shops, money exchanges, and bars and things in the area outside the resort, including Plaza Bavaro. You can walk there, or take a taxi for $6.00 U.S.

On Dominican night vendors set up in the courtyard between the lobby and the a la carte restaurants. Or you can visit the vendors on the beach, just to the left of the resort. Be sure to bargain for the best prices.

Money Exchange
I assume you can change money at the hotel, I don’t recall seeing an ATM machine there. We just took U.S. cash and never had a need to change any money into pesos.
Spa
The spa here is run by Metamorphosis Spas, who run many of the resort spas in the Dominican Republic. They have a complete line of services available, prices are the same as you’d expect to pay at home. They use top of the line products, and the spa is beautifully decorated, with an inner “outdoor garden courtyard” where there is a Jacuzzi and other treatments are available here. For those who book a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite, a free ½ hour massage is included. I went one day for the ½ hour massage and another day had the 75 minute “Scents of the Caribbean” massage treatment. It was wonderful, very relaxing. Pat enjoyed a combination massage. There is also a massage hut near the beach where you can get massages. Massages start from $40.00 U.S. for 25 minutes.

The gym is also located at Metamorphosis Spa and is available to all guests. Medical Services is located on the other side of the spa.

Weddings
There were a couple of weddings held at the beach the week we were there. A beautiful backdrop for pictures. They offer free weddings for guests booking a deluxe junior suite under the Ocean Elite Club, or if you book a minimum of 7 rooms with a minimum 4 night stay. You can have your wedding at the beach, in the hotel gardens, or by one of the ponds. The free wedding includes the services of a civil judge, silk bouquet for the bride, silk boutonniere for the groom, ironing of wedding dress and groom’s tuxedo, a bottle of champagne, wedding cake for ten people, romantic candlelight dinner for 2 near the beach, guaranteed late checkout, , 10 per cent discount on all spa services, and turn down service each night. Additional services are available at extra cost.

There is also a wedding package available for $850.00 U.S. Contact the hotel for further details.

Tours
You can book off-resort tours such as jeep safaris, boat cruises, ATV trips, horseback riding ($35.00 for an hour), Manati Park, a trip to Santo Domingo, shopping trips, etc. at your tour operator’s desk in the front lobby or through Turinter Tours, who have a representative at the hotel every day. You’ll find him in the lobby in the morning from about 9:30 a.m. on.
Summary
A very nice, well laid-out hotel. Spacious rooms, numerous dining options, lots of activities, and beautiful pools and beach, make it a good choice for a holiday destination. I found the staff to be very helpful, and service was good. Ocean Blue and Ocean Sand are sold from Canada by Transat Vacations, Signature Vacations, and from England through First Choice.

Special thanks to Alexandra, Mr. Smith, Benedicto, Wellington “The Duke”, and all the guest services staff for making our holiday special, and to Turinter Tours http://www.turinter.com/travel/welcome.asp for providing our transportation while at Ocean Blue.

PUNTACANA Resort & Club
October 30 to November 6, 2005
We arrived in Punta Cana on October 30, via AirTransat. We had booked Club Transat seating, which in my opinion is the best the charter airlines have to offer. To me the priority checkin and luggage handling (first off the plane) is worth it, along with free food, snacks and drinks on the flight, not to mention the larger seats. During the first week of our two-week visit, we stayed at PUNTACANA Resort and Club. Before I talk about the Resort itself, I will give you a little bit of history: In 1969 a group of American investors bought 48 square kilometers of jungle on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, with 10 kilometers on the Caribbean Sea. Later, local investor Frank Rainieri and others joined this group with his vision to use this land for tourism development. Known today as GRUPO PUNTACANA, S.A., they began development of the land in 1971, with the opening of a small hotel called Punta Cana Club, that had 10 two-room villas, a Clubhouse, a small town for employees, a power plant and a basic runway for aircraft. In 1978 the Dominican Government started construction of the first access road to connect Punta Cana with the country road network, but the nearest airport, Santo Domingo, was almost 4 hours away. In 1982 the group started construction on the first private international airport in the world, Punta Cana International Airport, which was completed in 1984. Due to its isolated location and lack of public facilities, GRUPO PUNTACANA, S.A. assumed responsibility for building and maintaining facilities such as access roads, security, waterworks, electricity, garbage disposal, waste water disposal, schools, etc. Today the owners of GRUPO PUNTACANA are Theodore Kheel, Frank Rainieri, Julio Iglesias, and Oscar de la Renta. This and other corporations belonging to the group now go under the trade name of PUNTACANA Resort & Club.

The Resort has undergone many changes over the years. We visited the resort about 5 years ago, and I could not believe all the changes since I saw it last. It was damaged in last year’s hurricane, and there are many new structures.

Arrival at Punta Cana Airport
For guests who have booked directly with the hotel and do not have transportation included via a tour operator (ie. Apple, Sunquest, etc.), you will be greeted as you enter the airport (sign with your name on it) and be expedited through the airport customs process (ie. You get to go to the head of the line). As they own the airport, they are the only ones allowed to do this. Assistance is provided with your luggage as soon as you get it off the carousel and transportation is waiting to take you to the hotel. Completely hassle-free. When you leave, you have the option of paying $25.00 U.S. per person to use the VIP Lounge at Punta Cana Airport, which is only for guests of PUNTACANA Resort & Club. Here you can get free drinks and snacks. There is a TV, and 2 computers you can use, couches and chairs, washroom facilities and everything is spotlessly clean. A comfortable way to pass the time until your flight boards. There is a screen showing the flights and their status, and you can hear the boarding announcements made in the airport. There is a window in the lounge where you can look out into the departure lounge of the older section of the airport – it is a one-way glass, you can see out, but nobody can see you 🙂
Arrival at PUNTACANA Resort & Club
The Resort is located only 5 minutes from the airport (not noisy, no planes flying over the resort). Upon arrival you are greeted with a welcome drink and a wet facecloth. At checkin you are provided with your room keys and information about the hotel. Ask for your safe key, it’s included, just don’t lose the key or they’ll charge you $30.00 U.S. TV remotes are in the room, there is a $20.00 U.S. charge if you lose it. The bellboys will take you and your luggage to your room. Checkin is at 3:00 p.m. and checkout is at noon. Extended checkout is available for $20.00 U.S. per extra hour. I was told occupancy was at 80% the week we were there, but it was never crowded anywhere. They had two conventions. Guests are mostly American and some Europeans. We found many of the staff spoke excellent English. It was also interesting to learn that they have an excellent school there that the children of the employees of PUNTACANA Resort & Club attend.

There are no wristbands at this hotel. It is sold on an MAP basis, which means breakfast and dinner at selected restaurants is included. All drinks (including water, soft drinks, etc.) and lunch and snacks are at extra charge. You will be asked to sign for all your meals (including breakfast and lunch for inventory control), although I must say we only had to sign for breakfast a few days out of the 7 we were there). Having only been to all-inclusive hotels, it took a bit of getting used to having to sign every time we got something…more than a few times we would just get up to leave and have them running after us to sign…oops.

Accommodations
There are 420 rooms of various types with ocean, golf, and garden views. We had a Deluxe Junior Suite in Villa 4 on the second floor of a 3 floor building. It was in a very central location, close to the pool and lobby, and close to the buffet restaurant and the beach. (If your room is further away, there is a shuttle that you can take that goes around the resort on a regular basis). A deluxe junior suite is like a regular deluxe room, with an extra room off of the main room, like a sunroom, windows all the way around with shutters, and a couch and tables. Although we were close to the beach, the trees and vegetation blocked our view of the ocean from the balcony. The suite was nicely decorated and had solid wood furniture (Dominican-made). There is a large closet with shelves for your clothes, and ample hangers, unless you’re like me and overpack – you only need half as many clothes as you think you need. There is no dresser in the room. There are two bedside tables with one drawer. There is also an umbrella, ironing board and iron in every room. The bathroom is pretty standard, tub and shower, toilet and vanity, with a makeup mirror and hairdryer. There is a clothesline for hanging clothes over the tub. We always had plenty of hot water, and I mean hot, not warm. Air conditioning in the room worked very well. We had, I think, a full-size bed as opposed to a Queen size. Pillows were very small and soft, but I imagine you can ask for more if you need them. There was a coffeemaker, and 2 bottles of water per day is left in the room. There is a minibar, but you have to pay for everything in there. That’s one thing I would like to see here, more water available for free, even water coolers in the bar area would be good. (There is a water cooler in the gym and by the tennis courts). All other water is sold by the bottle at the bars. Maid service was excellent, our maid spoke some English. Along with our usual tip I left her some candies one day, and she left me a thank-you note. Turn-down service is provided daily (we didn’t get it a few nights, but we may have had the do not disturb sign out). Fresh flower blooms were put in the room every day, unfortunately I think this caused some of those little tiny bugs to appear in the bathroom area. Not a big deal, just be sure not to leave any food out as this will attract them also. Voltage in the rooms is 110 VAC (same as North America). They get a wide variety of TV channels, including the main network channels, so you don’t have to miss your favourite shows. (NBC CBS, ABC, Fox A & E, ESPN, Family/Disney, 3 or 4 movie channels, CNN, Discovery, Golf, WGN, TBS, TNT, USA channel, SciFi channel and Spanish channels).

The first night when we went to bed, Pat put the deadbolt on the door. He found it very hard to turn, but it did eventually lock. Next morning we got up and got ready to go for breakfast. Unfortunately we could not open the door. The deadbolt was jammed and we had to call guest services to send someone to get us out They were very prompt, though, and after the bellboy and the maid had tried to open the door (I don’t think they understood the problem, maintenance was called and he ended up having to go through the next door room and climb the wall onto our balcony and dismantle the lock mechanism from the inside. Anyway, he got us freed fairly quickly, and by the time we returned from breakfast it was repaired.

Other Types of Accommodation
A Deluxe Suite is two-storeys, with a deluxe bedroom upstairs and a complete living area and second bathroom downstairs.

Deluxe Rooms are located in six three storey buildings with golf, garden or ocean views. One building sits directly on the beach.

Beach Villas
Two or three bedroom individual beach villas are located directly on the beach. One bedroom has a king size bed, and the other bedroom(s) have two full-size beds in each. Each bedroom has its own ensuite, and all are connected by a common area with kitchenette, living/diningroom, and garden or terrace. I think these are a great idea for families or friends traveling together.
Nature Villas
These are the same as the beach villas, but located at the front of the resort, near the tennis courts, in a more tropical setting. Maximum occupancy for suites, junior suites and suites is 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids under 12. Villas accommodate a maximum of 4 adults in a two-bedroom villa and 6 adults in a 3-bedroom villa. There are some no smoking rooms available. The resort is not really wheelchair-accessible and has no handicap-equipped rooms. The hotel offers facilities for meetings and conventions, with air-conditioned conference rooms for up to 200 people. Also with its proximity to the airport, it seemed to be a favourite place for flight crews to spend their layovers. We saw a number of flight crews checking in and out while we were there. Adjacent to the hotel and surrounding the golf course are the residential areas of Corales and Arrecife, home to celebrities such as Julio Iglesius, Mikhail Barishnykov, and Oscar de la Renta.

A new exclusive boutique hotel, Tortuga Bay, will be opening in December, comprised of 15 luxurious villas.

Grounds and Beach
The grounds are beautiful here. Lots of birds, and you’ll see lots of green geckos. Very tropical, one of the most beautiful spots I’ve seen in the Dominican Republic. The resort sprays twice a day for mosquitos, we did not notice any problem with them at all. This resort is right on the Caribbean, with its turquoise-green water and palm trees and mangroves dotting the beach. The water is very calm here, seldom are there any waves to speak of. There was a bit of seaweed on the beach, but the beach is machine-groomed every day. I’m told the water is usually very clear, but due to a lot of rainstorms prior to our arrival, the water was quite silty and not very clear. There are no vendors on the beach. The pool is not large but is very refreshing, with a swimup bar. The pool is only 4 feet deep. We were always able to find a chair there, but there is not a lot of shade. We usually spent the mornings at the pool, then went to the beach in the afternoon. No problem finding a spot there either. They play “easy listening” music at the pool, no loud music.

Beach towels are available at the pool or the beach – we had no towel cards, you just sign the towels in and out (although there was no one there most of the time, we just exchanged them as needed). If you lose your towel it costs $30.00 U.S.

Restaurants
La Cana Restaurant – The included buffet breakfast and dinner is served in La Cana Restaurant. It’s a beautiful open-air restaurant overlooking the ocean. There is a large selection of food at the breakfast buffet – fresh fruit, smoothies, omelettes, pancakes, bacon, sausage, fresh donuts…anything you can think of. The first night we arrived La Cana was closed and they had the dinner buffet at La Choza on the beach, where they were barbecuing fish, chicken, and beef. We ate at the La Cana buffet for dinner two other times during the week, lots to choose from, and they always had a pasta station. Some mornings and on Dominican night, vendors would set up their stalls adjacent to the restaurant.

Anani – this is one of the included restaurants for dinner, located upstairs from the main lobby. This restaurant is very elegantly decorated and is air-conditioned. Try their black bean soup, it is excellent! You need to make reservations for this restaurant with guest services. Guitar players will serenade you as you eat.

Mama Venezia – this is the third included restaurant for dinner, located across from the Anani Restaurant. It was closed while we were there, due to low season, but the menu was available at the Anani Restaurant., so we ate from that menu one night. The Mama Venezia restaurant is not air conditioned.

There is no restriction on how many times you can eat at any restaurant. The following restaurants are not included in the meal plan, but are certainly worth considering:

La Yola – this restaurant is located in the Marina area. La Yola is Spanish for “boat”, it is modeled after a fisherman’s boat, and overlooks Punta Cana Marina. Open from Wed. to Monday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. for supper. Advance reservations required at guest services. Shuttle transportation provided. The food was very good here, and the atmosphere was wonderful. I had beef teriyaki and mashed potatoes, they also had seafood and pasta entrees.

El Cocoloba Restaurant – specializing in Caribbean food nouvelle cuisine. This restaurant is located at the Clubhouse. I had an organic salad (many of the organic vegetables they use are grown at the resort), a beef tenderloin with peanut sauce, vegetables, and cheesecake for desert…it was absolutely excellent. There is a small air-conditioned area of the restaurant, but we opted to sit out on the terrace, it was beautiful. You can even arrange for a private dinner on the beach.

Prices at these restaurants are about the same as what you’d expect to pay at home for a nice meal. Lunch is available at the following restaurants (lunch not included in meal plan)

La Choza – located on the beach, open-air, casual restaurant. Sandwiches, burgers, steak (try the Churrasco), salads, etc.

El Grille – this is at the Clubhouse, we did not eat here, but heard it was excellent. It’s open from noon to 4:00 p.m. for lunch, no reservation required.

Franco’s Pizzeria – adjacent to the pool. They have really good pizza, and sandwiches and pasta dishes.

All of these restaurants are open-air. Entrees start from around $8.00 U.S. for lunch.

Room Service is available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. with breakfast until 11 a.m., salads, sandwiches, etc.are available – we never tried it.

Bars
There are lots of bars throughout the property.

Los Platanos – located at the Golf Clubhouse – open 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Lobby Bar – in the hotel lobby, where people tended to congregate in the evening. Open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

The Lounge Bar – located off the lobby – opens at 7:00 p.m.

Manantial Pool Bar – open from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
La Choza – beach bar – open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
La Jola – at the Marina – open from noon to 1:00 a.m.
Mascara Bar & Lounge – at Galerias PUNTACANA, opens at 9:00 p.m. La Cana Restaurant bar Franco’s Pizzeria bar Try a Banana Mama – they use real bananas and mix the ingredients in a blender! Strawberry Daiquiri’s are good too.

Beer available – Presidente, Miller, Coronna, Budweiser, Quisqueya

Also premium liquor. But no Canadian Club… Not sure of the cost of the beer, a Banana Mama was $5.00 U.S., an Espresso Coffee $3.00 U.S., a bottle of water $1.50 U.S.

Oh, and they have Pepsi, not Coke.

Sports
For golfers there is La Cana Golf Course, designed by P.B. Dye. It has 18 holes, 14 with ocean views, and 4 holes interacting with the sea. The famous pot bunker of the Dyes is present in this golf course, and the 7th hole is golfer’s purgatory. For guests the cost for 18 holes is $100.00 U.S., including a cart. A second new golf course by Tom Fazio is now under construction on the property. The La Cana Golf Course Clubhouse has a pro shop, lockers for visitors and members, and has its own pool and beach, as well as The Grill Restaurant for lunch and El Cocoloba Restaurant for dinner. (these restaurants not included in meal plan). This place is gorgeous, even if you’re not a golfer, you have to go and see it. It was decorated by Oscar de la Renta. You can take a shuttle or it’s about a 20 minute walk along the beach. Guests of the hotel can come and spend the day at the pool or beach here if they wish.

Tennis –There are 6 tennis courts made out of limestone mixed with blue sand, available for no charge during the day. There is a night fee of $10 US/hr. Lessons are available. The Nature Villas are located in this area as well as a small swimming pool.

Watersports – Sailing, windsurfing and snorkeling lessons are free of charge 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. Make your reservations at the activities centre. Boating, canoeing and sailing are also available free of charge. Fishing, scubadiving, and waterskiing are available at additional cost. They have their own dive centre where you can book dives, or take certification courses.

There are ping pong tables, soccer and air hockey tables in the pool area.

Kids’ Club

There is a kids club for children aged 4 to 12 adjacent to the pool, open daily with an activities program including boat rides, water skiing lessons, horseback riding, and a variety of competition and beach sports, painting lessons and other activities.

It’s open from 10:00 a.m. to noon and from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Lunch for the kids is available for an additional cost of $10.00 U.S. Seemed to be a lot of families with kids there while we were there.

Tours
Any off-resort tours you want to take can be booked at their travel desk, in the Commercial area near the lobby. Some of the tours available are: Catamaran to Saona Island, Dominican Jones, deep-sea fishing, ½ day or full day, Fun Fun Cave, Hot Caribbean nightlife show, Higuey to Romana, horseback riding tour 1 or 2 hours (they have their own ranch across the road from the entrance to the hotel), Manati Park, Saona Island, Bavaro Runners, Santo Domingo city tours, Safari Monster Truck, ½ hour sightseeing tours, shopping trip to Higuey – 3-1/2 hours, Bavaro Trackers, helicopter tours, Shopping tour to Bavaro – 4-1/2 hours. Swimming with dolphins at Manati Park, Bavaro Trackers. Car and bicycle rental is also available.

You can also rent a 4 passenger golf cart for $40 US/day or a 2 passenger golf cart for $30 US/day to get around the resort. Myself, I enjoyed the walking, as the grounds are so beautiful.

Shopping
There is a small gift shop in the hotel Commercial area. There is also a shopping Centre located across the road from Punta Cana International Airport. There is free transportation to and from the hotel between 6 p.m. and midnight. There are a variety of shops and restaurants here, including:

  • Altamar – bathing suits and beach apparel

  • Bank – money exchange, personal accounts and other services. Open Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  • Beauty Salon

  • Baskin Robbins Icecream Shop – open 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

  • Tobacco/Cigar Store – open 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

  • Coco – clothing store

  • El Guano Restaurant – Dominican cuisine – open only at lunchtime.

  • El Portuguesse Restaurant – traditional Portuguesse cuisine – open 12:00 noon to 3:00 a.m.

  • La Scaveola – flowers, gift shop

  • La Creperie

  • Le Four a Pain – bakery

  • Mascara Bar & Lounge

  • Medical services – GP, pediatrician, dentist

  • Movie store – foreign movie rentals, DVD sales

  • Oscar de la Renta Clothing store – casual clothing for men and women. Seemed to be very reasonably priced.

  • Pharmacana – drugstore, personal care products, magazines, toys, etc.

  • Pizzarelli – pizzeria

  • Bowling Alley – good for a rainy day.

  • Trattoria Mamma Luise – Italian cuisine

  • Western Union office

  • Art Gallery

Internet Access
There are 4 computers available. The cost is quite reasonable at $2.00 U.S. for 15 minutes, $7.00 U.S. per hour. There is free wireless internet in the lobby and convention room areas. Everytime I went to the lobby I would see one or two people there with their laptops.
Beauty Salon/Spa
Beauty salon open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. where you can get braids, manicures, pedicures and massages. You can also get a massage at the beach in a raised gazebo out over the Caribbean. Opening in December at the La Cana Clubhouse will be Six Senses Spa, a world-class spa, this being the first one in the Americas. Sounds like it will be wonderful. I was hoping they were closer to opening when we were there and needed someone to practice on 🙂
Gym
Next door to the spa, looks to have very good exercise equipment, saw people using it on a daily basis.
Medical Services
Available next door to the beauty salon, near the pool area.
Currency Exchange
There is a currency exchange open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and an ATM in the Commercial area next to the lobby. We took U.S. cash and never had a need to change it into Pesos. You can use U.S. dollars for everything.
Marina
Punta Cana Marina is located on the southern area of hotel, providing complete immigration and customs services. Each port berth has 110 and 220 VAC elect.
Telephones, cable network as well as gasoline and diesel, boats available for rental.
Religious Services
There are religious services at Our Lady of Punta Cana Church, located at Residencial Punta Cana Sundays at 11:30 a.m. Catholic weddings are held here as well. It’s a beautiful little church.
Weddings
Both Civil and Catholic Weddings are available. For more information see our Weddings Page.
Ecological Reserve
Part of the resort is designated as an ecological reserve where visitors can see the region’s flora and fauna, with nature trails throughout the property. Guided tours, bird-watching tours and educational workshops are offered weekly by professional naturalists. Reservations can be made at the activities centre or visiting the Centre of Ecological Foundation. Take the path off the beach and you will come to a beautiful clear spring. It is full of large fish swimming around in the crystal clear water. You can go swimming here as well. Their Center for Biodiversity and Sustainability offers educational and research opportunities to visiting students and teachers, who come from all over the world to study Dominican flora and fauna.

If you visit in July or August they say if you walk in front of the Tortuga Beach Villas you can see the turtles burying their eggs in the sand at the beach.

Entertainment
There is a theatre adjacent to the pool area and we watched one show on Dominican Folklore and dancing. I don’t think there were any other shows the week we were there. Most people seemed to congregate in the lobby in the evening, they have live music from 7:00 p.m.
Weather
The weather was very hot and there were some very humid days. It rained overnight several days, but the days were clear and sunny, some of the best weather we’ve ever had in the DR.
Summary
The atmosphere here is very different from an all-inclusive resort. It’s more of a country club atmosphere, quiet and relaxing. While they do have some activities, it is all rather low-key, things like aerobics in the pool, or games at the beach. If you’re looking for a party place with constant action, this isn’t the place for you. But if you’re looking for a place to just relax and unwind and do things at your own pace, it is the perfect place. Staff are friendly and accommodating. The beach and ocean views and tropical gardens at this resort are truly beautiful. PUNTACANA Resort & Club is sold in Canada through Sunquest, Voyages Gendron, and Air Canada Vacations, and through Apple and GoGo in the U.S.

Special thanks to Amil, Francesca, and Dinorah, and the wonderful staff of PUNTACANA Resort & Club for an unforgettable week.

Bahia Principe Punta Cana
Map of Resort
Photos
November 6 – 13, 2004
We flew Air Transat out of Toronto. We purchased the Club Transat upgrade, and it is well worth it. The upgrade gives you big seats, with a separate checkin at both airports. Your luggage is given priority, first off the plane. You are allowed twice the baggage allowance as well! Whereas with the cutbacks regular passengers are just given a sandwich, and you have to pay for snacks and anything you want to drink except water, tea and coffee, with Club Transat you have unlimited drinks, a menu with 4 dinner choices, free snacks, free headphones, etc. The flight staff were excellent. I only wish they had better flight times to Punta Cana. We didn’t leave until 4 in the afternoon, making for a late arrival in Punta Cana, and the return flight didn’t leave until 10:30 at night, getting us into Toronto around 2 a.m. (although our return flight did leave half an hour early). A long day, particularly if you can’t get late checkout at your hotel.

We arrived in Punta Cana in a thunderstorm, and had to circle for about 15 minutes before being able to land, then wait for them to bring a shuttle out to the plane to take us to the terminal. When we got to the terminal building there were, as usual, two girls and a photographer waiting to take your picture. We “by-passed” this, as did many others, and went quickly through customs. Our luggage was first off and we were out of the airport in 15 minutes. There are porters waiting to take your baggage as you exit the airport, it is easiest to just let them take it and give them a few dollars. A $24.00 U.S. cab ride and we arrived at Bahia Principe Punta Cana. It is about half an hour from Punta Cana Airport.

Location
Bahia Principe Punta Cana is located in the northern part of Punta Cana, just north of the Riu Hotels. Along the beach it is about a 10 minute walk to the Riu Hotels. If you walk north on the beach, it is about a 20 minute walk to Grand Paradise and Superclubs Breezes. The “Astron” wreck is offshore, right in front of the hotel. Bahia Principe Punta Cana opened in June 2004 and is comprised of 708 junior suites. Its sister hotel, Bahia Principe Bavaro, opened on November 6 and has 540 junior suites. It has its own lobby, and is pretty much a mirror image of the Bahia Principe Punta Cana. As you walk down the main pathway from lobby to beach, Bahia Principe Punta Cana is on the right and Bahia Principe Bavaro is on the left. They each have their own buffet restaurant, Japanese restaurant and Gourmet Restaurant, with the same food. The Italian, Grill, Mexican and Seafood Restaurants are shared by both hotels. So if you’re laying awake at night trying to decide which one to stay at, it really doesn’t matter, both offer the same facilities. By the end of our stay there both hotels were fully booked. Due to the layout of the hotel and the many pools and restaurants, it never seemed to be crowded.

A third deluxe hotel, Bahia Principe Premier, with 288 suites, is scheduled to open on December 23, and is located in front of the Bavaro section, and is furthest from the beach.

Check-In
Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is 12 noon If you have an early flight into Punta Cana, you may have to wait a while for your room to be ready. Late checkouts may be available (at an extra charge) if you have a late flight going home. They put your luggage in a locked room off the lobby and you can have access to it during the day. If you have made charges to your room, you can pay in U.S. dollars or pesos. Ask what the exchange rate is…we had charges for some local phonecalls we made, which came to 121 pesos, and when I said I wanted to pay in U.S., he told me it was $7….not. I questioned this and he revised that to $5, which was still a bit high, I think they round up to the nearest dollar. We were the only ones checking in at 10:30 p.m., so it went fairly quickly once they located our reservation. We were given wristbands, towel cards, a map of the resort and our room key card (only 1). I enquired about the in-room safe and was told to come back in the morning to arrange it. Remote for the TV is in the room. The bellboy took us in a golf cart to our room, with our luggage, which was in Building 5, the Club Golden section. We then realized we had the wrong bracelets on, they hadn’t given us the Club Golden bracelets, which are gold. Pat also discovered he didn’t have his jacket containing his glasses, etc. We called the front desk and were assured that if it was found it would be taken to Guest Services and we could check with them the next morning. We decided to go back and check for it ourselves and a bellboy told us they had found the jacket and it was in guest services, which unfortunately was closed by that time, but we picked it up the next morning. While there we also made a quick trip to the lobby store, just as it was closing, where we bought milk to keep in our room for coffee in the morning, and a big bottle of water, as they had not filled our mini bar prior to our arrival and it only contained two bottles of pop. The resort is very large, and trams run from one end to the other on a regular basis. We took the tram sometimes, but it was a pleasant walk. It only takes about 15 minutes to walk from the lobby right down to the beach. There are umbrellas in the rooms to use when it’s raining, as the walkways are not covered. Monday morning we awoke to blue skies and a hot sunny day. Had I known this was going to be the best weather of the week, I would have spent more time in the sun, I was trying not to overdo it on the first day! Unfortunately the weather was not good during our vacation. It rained a lot, both during the day and in the evening, and even when not raining it was very overcast and windy. If we saw the sun peeking through, we’d head for the beach. We still managed to spend quite a bit of time at the beach, though. This weather is very unusual for the Dominican Republic. I see from the forecasts that the weather is better there now. The first morning we went to the Club Golden Guest Services (which is actually where you should check in and check out if you have the Club Golden upgrade) and got the proper wristbands, and made our dinner reservations for the week at the a la carte restaurants. If you’re in Club Golden, you get 4 a la carte dinners per week. Make your reservations the first day, as the best times fill up quickly. If you are not in Club Golden, you make your dinner reservations at the regular Guest Services area located beside the front desk. You are entitled to 3 a la carte reservations during the week. I asked about the in-room safe and was told it was $30 U.S. for the week. This seemed kind of expensive, but I would still recommend it. The code for the safe is programmed into your room key card, and that is what you use to lock and unlock the safe. We also asked for a second key to the room, which we were given. You need to put one of the cards in the slot inside the door to run the electricity and air conditioning in the room. Remember to take this card with you when you leave your room , because it will also open your safe. The air-conditioning works very well and cools the room quickly, so you don’t have to worry about the room being warm if you don’t leave the card in the slot. Actually we shut it off a few nights as it was too cold, even on the low setting and I found it loud.

You can pay for items in the stores in pesos or U.S. dollars. If you pay with U.S. dollars your change will be a mixture of U.S. and pesos. Credit cards are also accepted.

Grounds and Beach
The lobby is very beautiful with its marble floors, beautiful chandeliers and the massive palm trees sculpture in the centre. There is comfortable seating in the lobby and a large bar area right off the lobby with tables and chairs, and waitress service. In the early evening they have live music here, which was nice. They also set up a coffee/tea bar with snacks in this area around 4 p.m. The vegetation and gardens are lovely, and even though the hotel is new, it doesn’t look bare at all. There is also a natural mangrove swamp area that runs across the centre of this resort. There are two pools, one about halfway down the property, that has a swim-up bar, and a large swimming pool that is located right in front of the beach and has a cold-water Jacuzzi. There are actually two pools here, joined in the middle, one for each resort. There is a swim-up bar on each side. There are palapas around the pool, but these fill up quickly. They will also come around and take your drink orders at the pools, but not on the beach. The towel hut is located near the pool, where you can exchange your towel cards for beach towels or get clean ones. Some days people had to wait for towels, they didn’t always have them yet first thing in the morning. The beach is beautiful, with white sand and palm trees. There are dozens of thatched palapas at the beach and we had no problem finding one any time of the day. They are still building new ones, so there shouldn’t be any shortage of shade at the beach. Because of the weather most people seemed to stay by the pool. The wind and rain made the ocean a little rough and few people were in the water and watersports were not available most days.

Scubacaribe http://scubacaribe.com/ runs the watersports here. Included watersports are kayaks, catamaran, windsurfing, boogie boards, sunfish sailing,snorkeling equipment, and scuba lessons in the pool. Time limitations may apply. You can also book fishing trips, a sunset cruise, etc. with Scubacaribe.

Rooms
This resort is all junior suites, in 2 and 3-storey buildings (no elevators). Due to the layout of the resort, few rooms appeared to have an actual full ocean view. We were in building 5, a 2-storey building, in Room 5208, and if we looked to the right from our balcony we could see the ocean in the distance. It was actually a pretty good location. All the rooms are the same. The Club Golden upgrade puts you in a section closer to the beach, but the room is the same as the others. Rooms are large and nicely decorated, and have two double or 1 king-size bed, and a seating area with couch, table and chairs. Rooms have a telephone, coffee-maker, clock-radio with alarm, satellite TV (19”) with a lot of English stations (network channel NBC, cartoon channels, CNN, movie channels, sports channels, etc.) and balcony or patio. There is a full bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and shower, hairdryer, and makeup mirror. You also get a few extra goodies like razors and toothbrushes in the basket of amenities, as well as shampoo, bath gel, body lotion, shower cap, etc. There is a mini fridge stocked daily with 2 bottles of water, 2 Pepsi, 2 Seven-up, 1 Diet Pepsi, some apple juice, and 2 Presidente beer. If you want more of something, leave a note and a tip in the fridge, and you’ll get whatever you want. We always asked for extra water, as it is impossible to get bottled water elsewhere in the resort unless you buy it. If you ask for it at a bar, they give it to you in a glass. In the Club Golden rooms you also have two beach towels, you can use your towel cards to get 2 more if you want them. There are also bathrobes, and an umbrella. There was no iron in the room, but you can request one from housekeeping. I take my own travel iron with me, that way I don’t have to worry about tracking one down if I need it. With the humidity down there, things don’t get that wrinkled anyway – just hang them up for a while. Electricity in the DR is the same as North America, and our plugs fit the outlets just fine. I believe turn-down service at night is another feature of Club Golden, but we only received this on the last night. Perhaps we had the Do Not Disturb sign out when they had come other nights? Maximum occupancy in the rooms is 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children. Rooms with connecting doors to the next room are available. They also have some handicap rooms available, as well as highchairs and cribs for children. If you’re traveling with small children I would suggest you bring a stroller. Maid service was very good, our room was always cleaned by noon. Suggest you pack a washcloth or two, we had them most days, but sometimes the maid didn’t leave any. We left a $2 tip each day for the maid. The whole resort is spotless! The air-conditioning went out on Thursday, and was out for two days. To fix it they had to dig up the area in front of the hotel entrance, and seemed to be working pretty much around the clock to fix the problem, lots of heavy equipment and noise. Because the weather was overcast and not really hot, it wasn’t any particular hardship not having air conditioning, at least in my opinion. I didn’t even really notice it wasn’t working until Thursday night.

Staff here is very friendly, always ready with an “Hola” as they pass you. Key employees all speak excellent English, some of the staff do not speak much English. Remember you are in a Spanish-speaking country and take the time to learn a few phrases in Spanish, they appreciate it.

Bars and Drinks
Pat is not a drinker, and I drink mostly white wine. I didn’t find their house wine too bad. I tried a few daiquiris which were pretty good, except they were never the same twice. They seem to have some international liquors available in the all-inclusive, others such as Beefeater gin, Canadian Club, Chivas, Black Label, Absolut vodka, Bailey’s, Grand Marnier, etc. are available at an extra cost of between 140 and 300 pesos ($5 to $10) – pretty pricey. Presidente beer is the only beer they have. The a la carte restaurants also have a wine list if you want to purchase a bottle of wine with your meal.
Restaurants
All restaurants (except for the beach snack bar) are air-conditioned and non-smoking. Men must wear long pants in the a la carte restaurants at dinner, they can wear shorts to the buffet. If you are in Club Golden, you can make 4 reservations at a la carte restaurants during the week. Otherwise you can only make 3 reservations for the week. We chose to make reservations at the Japanese Restaurant, Italian Restaurant, Grill Restaurant, and Gourmet Restaurant. There is also a Mexican restaurant and Seafood restaurant we did not try.

There is a main buffet restaurant in the lobby area, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It is open from 7 to 10:30 a.m. for breakfast, 1 – 3:30 p.m. for lunch, and 7 – 10 p.m. for dinner. (would have been nice if it opened a little earlier for lunch and dinner. 7 p.m. is late for some, especially those with small children). A smaller buffet for breakfast and lunch is also served in the Seafood Restaurant near the pool and beach. Food here is the same as what is served in the main buffet restaurant, just on a smaller scale (ie. At breakfast it is all buffet, they do not have a cook there to make eggs, etc. for you). We ate breakfast here a few days, but usually went to the main buffet for the freshly-cooked eggs. The pre-made scrambled and fried eggs tended to be cool in both restaurants, as were the hash-browns. The Seafood restaurant was our favourite place for lunch. Overall, I thought the buffet food was excellent. There was a large choice and always something I liked, and things I hadn’t previously seen at buffets, like Caesar salad and fajitas. They also had my favourite, fried eggplant. And my favourite desert here, oddly enough, was Jello! And of course, pineapple. Cheesecake was good too.

There is also a snack bar with tables and wait service for drinks located by the pool, where they serve hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries, nachos and cheese, chicken, pizza, etc. This is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

There is a limited room service menu. We didn’t try this. It is available from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Italian Restaurant – Il Capriccio

We ate here the first night. We had an 8 p.m. reservation (a la carte restaurants all open at 7:00 p.m.) There was a self-serve antipasto bar, and they serve a cheese and pasta appetizer, which I thought was good. Menu selections include pizza, pasta, or chicken dishes. There is a desert bar, but there wasn’t too much selection. Staff were very nice, service started out good, but kind of deteriorated toward the end… Again, I think this is because the hotel is new and they aren’t totally organized yet. (This restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch as well, but is only for Club Hacienda members, which is the upgrade for their sister hotel, Bahia Principe Bavaro.)

Japanese Restaurant – Mikado

This was our favourite a la carte restaurant. You are seated at a table for 12 and the food is cooked right in front of you. You get lots of food, more than you can eat. Then you move to individual tables for dessert and coffee/liqueurs. Service was very good here.

Grill Restaurant – Garden Grill

Food was okay, I asked for a steak done medium well, it was pretty rare. They had a salad/appetizer bar, which could have been a meal in itself. The potato skins were good! Service wasn’t the best but the waiters were friendly.

Gourmet Restaurant – Le Gourmet Restaurante

On our last night we ate at the Gourmet Restaurant, it was okay, but our least favourite. Again, the beef was rare, and service could have been better.

For late night snacks you can go to “Burger Principe” in Pueblo Principe at the front of the resort, where you can get hamburgers, hotdogs and sandwiches. It’s open from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Mini-Club
There is a Mini-Club for children ages 4 – 12. It is in a nice building near the centre of the resort, and they have lots of toys, games, TV, video games, etc. The day I stopped in it was only some young children there with their mothers, as they only take children ages 4 and up. There seemed to be lots of toddlers at the resort the week we were there, not so many older children. Babysitting is available for $10.00 U.S. per hour. They have a Mini-Club Program listed, as follows: 9 – 10 a.m. – Welcome 10 a.m. – Tennis Lesson 11 a.m. – Pool Games 12 a.m. – Table Games 1 p.m. – Lunch time 2 p.m. – Walk 3 p.m. – Beach Games 4 p.m. – Mini Golf 5 p.m. – Nintendo

8:30 p.m. – Mini Show

Entertainment During the Day
The animation team works hard to provide daily activities. You can join in if you wish or if you’re like me and just like to sit and relax, they’ll leave you alone. Here is the schedule for activities during the day: 10 a.m. – Tennis Lesson 10:30 a.m. – Spanish lesson 11 a.m. – Beach Volleyball/Beach aerobics 11:30 – Beach games 12 noon – Pool games 12:15 p.m. – Pool aerobics 3:30 p.m. – Water polo/beach volleyball 4 p.m. – Pool games/soccer 4:30 p.m. – Stretching 5:00 p.m. – Tropical Dance lesson 8:30 p.m. – Mini Disco for kids 9:00 p.m. – Dance lessons on stage/show 10:00 p.m. – Show

11:00 p.m. – Live Music in Pueblo Principe

Nightly Entertainment
You can see the daily list of activities and entertainment down by the main pool, by the Activities/Towel Desk. There seemed to be two shows usually, sometimes the same show at 9 and again at 10, sometimes different shows. They are the usual audience participation or singing/dancing. We watched a couple of them, they try hard. The theatre is lovely, large and covered-in with comfortable seating. Waitresses come around and take your drink orders.
Pueblo Principe
After the shows end at 11 p.m., you can head to Pueblo Principe (Principe Town). They have an outdoor stage where they sometimes have a band or a show, there is a Piano Bar, a Karaoke Bar, and the Casino and Disco. Food and drinks are included here, except for the casino where you have to pay for drinks. Unfortunately because of the weather we didn’t see too much going on there. This resort has more entertainment options than most resorts, so it’s a good place for people who want to party. There were all ages at the resort. Lots of English-speaking people, as well as German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
Internet Access
If you have the Club Golden upgrade, you have free internet access in the Club Golden Guest Services. There are two computers available, they ask that you limit your time to 15 minutes if someone else is waiting to use it. There are newspapers and a small bar if you want a drink while you’re waiting.

Otherwise, there is an Internet Café in Pueblo Principe, where you can purchase time for $8.00 U.S. per hour, $6 for 40 minutes, or $3 for 10 minutes.

Casino
The casino is open from 8 p.m .to 4 a.m. We went in a couple times. They have slot machines and some tables – blackjack, poker, roulette – it’s not too large. The slot machines are the latest technology, kind of hard to figure out at first, but people were plugging money into them anyway. We lost about $6.00 and decided to call it quits. We did get a half hour or so of play time out of it though. We went in one other time near the end of the week and lost another $15.
Hotel Stores/Shopping
Lots of stores to shop at here. There is a lobby shop which has a bit of everything. However, there is no price on anything and checkout can be slow while they try to find the item in the computer. I bought a couple of candles one day and paid $2.67 U.S. each, and a few days later a lady in line in front of me bought the same candles, and they determined a different code for them and she paid almost $4.00 U.S. each for them. In Pueblo Principe at the entrance to the resort you will also find a couple of jewellery stores (one being Harrison’s), clothing stores, stores selling cigars, liquor, souvenirs, and handicrafts (saw lots of different things here), lots of silver items from Mexico, and vendors also have carts set up here with various souvenirs.

There are also vendors on the beach – don’t forget to bargain with the beach vendors.

Money exchange
Money can be exchanged at the front desk. I just used U.S. for everything. There are also two ATM machines on the property.
Spa
The spa is at the front of the resort as you enter, and they also have massage beds at the beach. They have a full range of services – prices comparable to what you would pay at home. Massages are $84 US per hour or $54 U.S. for half an hour. I had a massage at the beach one day, she gave me a special price of $63 for the hour massage because she wasn’t busy. It was very relaxing. There is also a fitness room here free for all guests, open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Mini-Golf
Located next to the Spa. Again, because of the weather we didn’t try this.
Tennis Courts
Are located at the front of the resort.
Medical Services
Medical services are available 24 hours a day The doctor’s office is located in Pueblo Principe.
Weddings
There is a wedding gazebo where the weddings are held, and there were lots of them, seemed to be 2 or 3 a day. The bride is picked up in a golf cart decorated with balloons and brought to the gazebo, which is decorated with palms and flowers. Wedding dinners are held in an a la carte restaurant. For more information on their wedding packages, see our Weddings Page
Tours
If you want to get out of the resort and see something of the Dominican Republic, there are many tours available – everything from a jeep safari tour to a day trip to Santo Domingo. Your tour operator will have office hours in the Tour area near the Club Golden guest services, and you can book trips through them. I would also suggest that you attend the welcome briefing that your tour operator provides when you first arrive, they provide lots of useful information and also outline the tours that are available.
Golf
Bahia Principe has plans to build its own golf course in the future. Golfing is currently available at Cocotal Golf & Country Club, Punta Cana Beach Resort, and Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog and The Links). You can make arrangements through Guest Services or your tour operator, or see our Golf Page at: http://www.debbiesdominicantravel.com/golf.html#pb
Summary
Considering this hotel has only been open since June of this year, I think they have done an amazing job. The resort is absolutely beautiful and spotlessly clean. I thought the food was very good, employees are very friendly. Service in some areas can use improvement, but this will come with time. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel to anyone. I’ve tried to cover all aspects of the resort in my review – if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me, and I’ll try to answer them for you.

Special thanks to Jacques, Daniel, and Minerva.

Grand Paradise Bavaro Beach Resort – Punta Cana
Map of Resort
Photos
October 19 – 26, 2003
Location
Grand Paradise Bavaro is about a 35 minute drive from Punta Cana Airport, being one of the northernmost hotels on the Punta Cana strip. This is a relatively new hotel, opened in July 2001 by Amhsa Marina Hotels. The hotel is located directly next to Superclubs Breezes hotel, and there are no other hotels in the immediate area. The next closest hotels are the Riu hotels, which are about a 25 minute walk down the beach to the south. A new Bahia Principe hotel scheduled to open next summer, is currently under construction about midway between Grand Paradise and the Riu Hotels.

The occupancy rate at Grand Paradise when we were there was around 75 – 80%, with 45% of the guests being from France, 26% from North America, and the rest from Germany, the U.K., and other European countries. There seemed to be lots of younger people around, and towards the end of the week there were lots of children.

Checkin
Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is 1 p.m. If you have an early flight into Punta Cana, you may have to wait a while for your room to be ready. Late checkouts may be available (at an extra charge) if you have a late flight going home. Otherwise a courtesy room will be available where you can shower and change.

On checkin you are given a wristband, 2 electronic key cards (note that one card has to be put in the slot inside the room to operate the lights and air-conditioning), towel cards, a remote for the TV, and an information sheet about the hotel. A key for the in-room safe is available at an extra charge of $19 U.S. per week. (I highly recommend this). The front desk staff speak good English.

Grounds and Beach
The lobby area is very large, with comfortable seating, and two staircases leading up to the Piano Bar and some shops. From the lobby, you go down more stairs to the grounds of the resort. The buildings are kind of in a horseshoe shape, with the lobby at the top, buildings on the sides, and lots of open space in the middle, and then you have the two swimming pools in the centre, closest to the beach. From the lobby you have an unobstructed view of the whole resort. There is a large natural pond near the lobby filled with fish, turtles, and frequented by the resident ducks. Even the turtles will stick their heads up and take food from your hand. (A review submitted recently talked about a duck with a “tuft” on its head that she named Priscilla, I spotted Priscilla right away). There are a couple of fountains in the pond to keep the water circulating, but I still found that it smelled a bit once in a while. You walk across a wooden bridge over the pond (in the middle there are benches where you can sit) and then there are concrete walkways throughout the resort. There are lots of beautiful tall palm trees.

There are two large pools, and a couple of smaller round pools. I think one was actually a Jacuzzi, but there were quite a few kids there and they were both being used as kids’ pools. There are lots of comfortable lounge chairs around the pool. There are some tall palm trees, but they don’t give off much shade, it would be nice if they added some umbrellas or thatched palapas around the pool area. The majority of the people seemed to favour going to the beach. There are dozens of thatched palapas at the beach and we had no problem finding one any time of the day. The beach is very nice, but not as wide as further south, and the sand is a little less white and a little less soft. But still very beautiful and dotted with lots of palm trees. Walking into the water it is a sandy bottom for the most part, but there are occasional rocks so you have to watch where you’re stepping. There were always waves, they were higher towards the end of the week. Great for boogie boarding, but they were sometimes strong enough to knock you down. There was no seaweed at all on the beach most of the week, but after it rained all day Thursday, there was a tiny bit that washed up. There is a roped off swimming area, the beach isn’t as busy as further south, not as many motorboats going by. Both the ocean and pool water were fairly warm.

Rooms
This resort has 504 rooms, in six colourful 3-storey buildings (no elevators). Some rooms have a partial ocean view, but only a few rooms at the ends of the buildings have a full oceanfront view. We were in room 6325 and had a partial ocean view. All the rooms are the same. Rooms are a good size and nicely decorated, and have two double or 1 king-size bed. There is a mini fridge stocked with water and soft drinks (Sprite and Coke), telephone, full bathroom with hairdryer, and a basket containing shampoo, conditioner, lotion, a shower cap, and a sewing kit. There are no coffeemakers yet as listed in the tour books. They will be added in the future. I always take my own kettle and tea and coffee, anyway, and pick up some milk in the hotel store. Water in the mini-fridge is in a large bottle – 1500 ml (50.7 oz), so you might want to take smaller bottles of water to refill. Sometimes some of the bars have small bottles of water available. They do have water coolers at the bars so you can refill the bottles. The mini-fridge is restocked daily, they will leave extra water if you ask them. Some rooms have an ironing board in them, and an iron is available on request from housekeeping. I have a travel iron I always take with me, that way I don’t have to worry about tracking down an iron if I need one. With the humidity down there, things don’t get that wrinkled. Electricity in the DR is the same as North America, and our plugs fit the outlets just fine. There is satellite TV in the rooms, but not many English stations, no HBO or American Network channels. Maximum occupancy in the rooms is 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children. Rooms with connecting doors to the next room are available (20). The hotel does have future plans to convert some of their rooms into suites, containing a jacuzzi, but this won’t be completed until next summer sometime. While we didn’t hear any noise from adjoining rooms, the hallways are somewhat noisy. Doors closing, footsteps, etc. seem to echo in the wide hallways.

They have 4 handicap-equipped rooms available, and there are also ramps and an elevator in the main building to the various levels.

Bars and Drinks
There are 4 bars – Las Arenas Bar at the pool, open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., La Cana Beach Bar, open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., the Terrace Bar open from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., and the Sportsbar, which is open 24 hours. Only national brand liquor and beer is included in the all-inclusive packages, except for liqueurs served in the a la carte restaurants. Premium liquor and beer (Miller’s, Heineken) is available at extra cost of $2 to $5 US per drink.

At the Sports Bar, located on the lower level of the main building and fully enclosed and air-conditioned, you can get popcorn or nachos and cheese during the day, and from midnight on there are sandwiches available. There are a couple of pool tables, 2 foosball tables, a big screen TV, and tables and chairs. Adjacent to this bar is the Vacation Club area, where the timeshare guys hang out, I didn’t find them to be much of a bother, even had an interesting conversation with one of them.

Restaurants
The main buffet restaurant (La Laguna) is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with every night being a theme night – Italian, Asian, BBQ, German, Dominican, etc. They have a sign outside the restaurant telling you what the theme night is for that night and also for the next night. Very helpful in planning what restaurant you want to go to. The buffet restaurant is very large, enclosed, and air-conditioned. There is a good selection of food, always a pasta bar, and service was usually pretty good. At breakfast they will cook you omelettes, they also have a crepe and waffle station, cereals, fruit, etc. Pat usually has the scrambled eggs from the buffet, but they were only hot a couple of days, the rest of the time they were cold. I took a thermal mug to breakfast with me every day and got my second cup of coffee on the way out. Tea, coffee and cookies are served outside the buffet restaurant around 4 p.m. every day.

Re the Dress Code: Long pants are required for the Italian and Chinese restaurants. Men can wear Bermuda shorts or dress shorts to the buffet and La Cana Grill, but no tank tops or beach sandals.

There are 3 a la carte restaurants – Michelangelo (Italian), Chinese Restaurant Asia (Asian), and La Cana Grill (steak, chops, seafood). Also, every Tuesday they have a lobster dinner at La Cana Grill Restaurant, including champagne, which is not included in the all-inclusive. It costs $30 US per person. We don’t eat seafood, so didn’t sign up for this. You can make reservations for this at the front desk.

You no longer make reservations for the a la carte restaurants, you just show up when you want to eat. (unless you’re a group of 15 to 20, then they’ll make a reservation for you). They take a group of people (25 to 30) in every half hour. That is why you may show up for the first sitting and be told you have to wait, yet see empty tables. They stagger the number of people so they can handle the orders and serving, etc. If you cannot get in at the time you go, they will tell you what time to come back, and write down your room number.

The first night there we ate at the Italian restaurant, which opens at 6:30 p.m. This restaurant is located right next to the Buffet restaurant and is enclosed and air-conditioned, and very nicely decorated. They have a help yourself antipasto bar, which was quite good. While Pat really enjoyed his meal, I didn’t particularly like mine, and I thought the house white wine in that restaurant was terrible. The house wine in the other restaurants and at the bars was okay. They do have a wine list available at extra cost. They bring around a dessert cart (great desserts) and also offer you coffee and a choice of liqueurs.

The next a la carte we tried was La Cana Grill, which is located at the beach. It is a huge, thatched roof, open-air restaurant, definitely my favourite restaurant – we ate there twice. They are open for lunch from 12 to 3 p.m., and dinner from 7 to 10 p.m. You might not want to wait until 8 p.m. to go to the restaurant, as it is very popular and you may not get in until after 9 p.m.

At lunchtime they have pizza, chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, porkchops, steak, salads, French fries, sandwich stuff, etc. Lots of choice and lots of room to sit. You can go in with your bathing suit and a coverup. They also serve snacks here from 3 to 5 p.m. At dinnertime they have a choice of salad and soup, main courses – rack of lamb, grilled pork loin, sirloin steak, various seafood/shrimp dishes, Tex Fajitas, mixed grill beef and seafood for 2. We had the sirloin steak each time, it was very good. Service was excellent. Again, they bring around a dessert cart (try the lemon cheesecake, it’s wonderful), and offer you coffee and liqueurs. They also have a wine list at extra cost which includes wines from France, Spain, Italy, Chile, the U.S. and Argentina, with prices ranging from 300 pesos to 5000 pesos for a bottle of Dom Perignon.

The Asian Restaurant, located next to the Italian restaurant, is also enclosed and air-conditioned, and nicely decorated. It was disappointing, maybe it was just what we ordered. Service was very fast, too fast, they were serving the main course before we’d finished our soup.

Shows and Disco
There is a show in the theatre every night starting at 9:45 p.m. We watched a couple of them, there was a Magic Show, a Hawaii Show, audience participation shows. They had good costumes and effects.

The disco is located in the main building, open from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Long distance calls
You can make long distance calls from your room. Just dial 0 and have the operator open the line, then dial 9 to access Canada Direct or U.S. phone companies. The hotel charges a connection fee of about $2 US. They also have phones in the front lobby, where you can use the phone and pay on the spot at the front desk. Collect calls or using your calling card is the best way to call home, Dominican long distance rates are expensive. I also noticed a card in our room with a 1-800 number for making long distance calls (requires credit card). I do not recommend using this, I think it turns out to be very expensive. The hotel also has a hotline number (7777) you can call if you need something (mini-bar refills, luggage picked up, etc.)
Activities
The animacion staff, “Kiko’s Team”, work hard to entertain and involve guests in games and sports, as well as putting on the evening shows. Most activities take place by the pool, near the beach. They have a big board by the pool showing the list of activities and times, and they also post what the evening show is going to be for that night and for the next night. At the activities desk (beside the pool bar) you can borrow board games, sports equipment, etc. and this is also where you get your towels, and sign up for horseback riding (I think different tour operators have different inclusions for this, in the Air Canada Vacations book it says a one hour horseback ride is included). We didn’t go on the horseback ride. There are different horseback riding tours available at extra cost. There are 2 lit tennis courts at the front of the property (charge for night tennis).

A hotel photographer goes around taking candid photos of the guests, one day he had parrots and one day he had a snake, for people to pose with. I gave him a wide berth the day he had the snake.

Slot Machines
There is no casino here, but they have a small room off the sports bar with about 30 slot machines. We tried our luck one night, but ended up losing about $30.00. The machines did give some play time though, we were there for a while. If you want table games, go next door to Superclubs Breezes’ casino.
Weather
The weather this week was not as good as our previous week. It rained several days in the evening, and there was one day where it rained most of the day, and another day where it was totally overcast all day. Still very warm, though. The rain did bring out a few mosquitos, not many though.
Kids Club
There is a Kids Club between buildings 4 and 5 for kids aged 4 to 12. It’s fairly large and they have TV’s, video games, a playground area, crafts, etc. The girl looking after the kids at the time I dropped in spoke a little bit of English, but was not fluent.
Internet Access
There are 2 computers just inside the sports bar, available 24 hours a day. You can buy an internet card with an access code at the front desk. The cost is $5US for half an hour’s time and $9 US for an hour.
Hotel Stores/Shopping
There is a large store in the lobby area, that sells a little bit of everything. There is also a cigar shop, and a Harrison’s Jewellery Store will be opening in mid-November. Dominican vendors come in a couple of times a week. There are also vendors on the beach, but it’s about a 10 to 15 minute walk down the beach to the right. They sell jewellery, paintings, wood carvings, rum, and other souvenirs. Be sure to barter for the best price. I bought a bottle of their best rum, Brugal Anejo Viejo, for $7 US, I could have gotten a better price if I bought more than one bottle, but it was still a couple of dollars less then it was selling for in the gift shop. I also bought some wind chimes, their initial price was $23 US, I ended up paying $10 US, they were a lot more expensive in the gift shop. Upstairs from the lobby is the piano bar open from 6 p.m. to midnight. I am also told that they will be adding a coffee shop on the lobby level, where the tour desk is now, and moving the tour desk upstairs. You can go to the tour desk in the lobby to book trips or ask questions of your tour representative. The tour reps have certain hours that they are at the hotel, check the binder for your tour company. There are many tours you can take: Jeep safari trips, Saona Island or Catalina Island tours, bus trip to Santo Domingo, Marinarium, Kontiki boat trip, Aquatic Tour, Crazy Wheels, Tropicalissimo Show, Manati Park, helicopter rides, etc. For approximate prices see my review of Ocean Bavaro. Some prices may be a little different because the hotel is further away. The only tour we did was the helicopter ride, through Helidosa Helicopters. It is rather expensive at $80 U.S. per person for 15 minutes, but was interesting as I’d never been in a helicopter before. There are 10, 15, 20, and half hour trips available. We actually ended up with 20 minutes as the other couples had purchased the 20 minute trip and that’s what they were flying then, even though we only paid for 15 minutes. They pick you up from your hotel in their mini-bus and take you to their base. We did have to wait for about half an hour once we got there before it was our turn. They fly up the coastline, and point out all the hotels. I found it quite interesting and even got a great aerial photo of Grand Paradise. The watersports centre is operated by Mariana Diving. Here you can take out snorkel equipment, boogie boards, windsurfers, etc. and sign up for scuba diving and other trips. There are free lessons in the pool daily.

Parasailing is available for $75 US for 2.

Money exchange
The front desk was paying 33 pesos to the U.S. dollar and 20 pesos to the Canadian dollar, a better rate than some hotels were paying. It’s best to take U.S. dollars, though, as you can use them for everything. You can use credit cards or travellers cheques to pay for tours. There is also an ATM machine at the resort and one next door at Breezes as well.
Spa
Metamorphosis Spa is located on the lower level of the main building. They have a fully-equipped gym which is available for use by the all-inclusive guests. There is also a hair salon and full spa services. Pat and I had a massage there, it was great. There is also a massage hut by the beach. Another day I had a European Seaweed body wrap treatment, which was wonderful, and includes time in the sauna, a Jacuzzi tub, and ends with a massage, and the day before we left I went for a manicure and pedicure. They have various specials on, starting from $45 U.S.
Medical Service
Medical services are available 24 hours a day. There is a doctor’s office located at the resort, behind Metamorphosis Spa.
Gifts and Tipping
Tipping is not required, but is appreciated. Note that if you bring gifts to give to the staff, you should give them a note they can show to security, indicating what you have given them, and your name and room number.
Summary
Grand Paradise Bavaro is a nice hotel. Their facilities are excellent for the number of rooms they have, ie. Their restaurants are large, no shortage of chairs at the beach or pool. I think their beach restaurant, La Cana Grill, is beautiful. I also like the way they post information, like what the buffet is going to be that night and the next, and the same for the evening shows and daily activities. We enjoyed our stay at Grand Paradise.

Special thanks to Rubennz Guzman, Domenica at Metamorphosis Spa, and to Sophie at Air Canada Vacations.

Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus – Bayahibe
February 23 to March 2, 2002
Arrival
We traveled from Punta Cana to the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus, which is approximately 1-1/2 hours. We had made prior arrangements for Rafael from RS Taxi to pick us up and take us to Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus. The Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus is a new hotel located near the Village of Bayahibe, 90 minutes from Punta Cana, 20 minutes from La Romana Airport, and about an hour and 45 minutes from Santo Domingo Airport. It opened on November 15, 2001. We arrived at the hotel around 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. My first impression was “wow”. This was my first visit to an Iberostar hotel, so I can’t compare it to other Iberostars, but the lobby is absolutely amazing! I’ve never seen such a large lobby area. And the décor is beautiful. Huge chandeliers, beautiful tables, comfortable chairs, wall decorations, porcelain vases, etc.

Our room was not ready yet and we were told it would be 30 minutes. When we returned to the front desk, we were told some repairs had to be done in the room, so it would be another hour. They offered us a different room, but after seeing it, we decided to wait for the original room we had been given. The front desk staff was very courteous, however, and trying to do the best they could, as the hotel was fully booked. A short time later we were taken to our room on a golf cart with our luggage. Housekeeping and maintenance were still in the room finishing up. A last minute check revealed that our toilet was leaking around the base, which apparently has been a common problem at this hotel. However, by the time we returned to our room that night, it had been repaired. The TV remote we had been given on checkin did not work. We called the front desk and someone arrived promptly with two remotes, handed them to us and left, not taking the one that didn’t work, so now we had three, so if there was anyone there that week that couldn’t get a remote for their TV, I apologize 🙂

Rooms
Our room was really lovely, there was a full bathroom with good lighting, king-sized bed, dresser, couch and table. It was on the point of the building, so had the added bonus of an extra window and two balconies and had a partial view of the pool. We were in Building 6, which is a central location, halfway between the pool/beach and the restaurants/lobby. There was a hairdryer in the bathroom, as well as daily supplies of shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and bath gel. There was also a shampoo and bath gel dispenser in the bathtub area. Water pressure was good and we always had hot water. There is a minibar in the room with soft drinks, beer and a gallon jug of water. This is refilled every two days. If you run out of something in the meantime you can ask for it and they’ll bring it to you. There is no clock/radio or coffeemaker in the room. We bring our own small travel kettle and coffee/teabags. We bought milk at a store just down the street to the right of the resort, they don’t sell any in the hotel shops. You might want to bring your own mugs, we didn’t and the maid kept taking the cups that we brought from the restaurant. I hid them one day so she couldn’t take them, but I left them out again after the room had been cleaned and when we returned to our room that night the maid had been in, and the cups were gone. There is a mini-safe in the room. When the hotel first opened the safes were free, but they started charging for them the week we were there, the cost is 200 pesos per week. Most North American appliances should fit into their plugs, our travel kettle was fine, but my travel iron, which has worked in other places, had a left-hand prong that was just a little too wide to fit. Pat performed surgery on it with the nail clippers, though (the iron plug, not the outlet) and did get it to fit. After traveling to the DR so many times you learn to improvise.

There are 496 rooms at Iberostar Hacienda, in 7 two or three storey buildings. Map of Resort The whole resort is built in sort of a horseshoe shape, and you can actually walk from one building to another under cover if it is raining. Each building has a central courtyard, each with different decoration and landscaping. Very beautiful. Standard rooms come in two types – one with a full bathroom, king-sized bed, couch and table, like the one we had, and the other has a large walk-in shower (no tub), an armoire instead of a couch, and two beds (they call these double beds, but I saw one of these rooms and it is more a ¾ size bed, not much larger than a twin.) They also have 36 Junior Suites with ocean view. The only difference I could see from a regular room was that the living area where the couch is is a little bit larger.

The Beach, Pool, and Grounds
The resort is huge. Considering there are only 496 rooms I was surprised at how big it is, it’s almost as wide as it is long. There are fountains, ponds, gardens, topiary sculptures, trees, benches to sit on, they seem to have gone all out in the decoration of this resort. The vegetation is young and the palm trees are a little sparse right now, but these will grow quickly. There are 3 pools. The main pool is very large, with a swim-up bar. There is a sports pool, which is about 3 feet deep, and another circular pool which is deeper than the others, about 5 ft. There are lots of shade palapas around the pool area. The week we were there the beach seemed to be the most popular spot, and there were always lots of chairs by the pool and shade available. There is a kiddie pool located at the Kids Club, which was not yet operational. Several days when we went for lunch we saw a maintenance person standing there looking into the kiddie pool, I think there was some problem, but it didn’t seem any closer to resolution by the end of the week. The beach is beautiful, the water was crystal clear, different shades of blue. The water was a little cool, but not too cold to go in. The sand on the beach is quite deep, it’s not natural, it has been trucked in and I found it a little difficult to walk in. It’s not white sand like Punta Cana. The palm trees on the beach are very sparse and don’t offer much in the way of shade. They do have shade palapas, but they need to add some more, (and I understand that they are going to) as the ones they have fill up very quickly. They are trying to solve the issue of saving chairs early in the morning by not allowing anyone to put their stuff on them before 8 a.m. unless you are going to stay there. The first day we headed to the beach around 7:30 a.m. and were greeted by the security guard waving his arms, saying “no reservations”. Meanwhile another guard was coming from the beach with an armload of towels, bags, books, clothing, etc. which was taken “someplace” for the owners to claim later. I don’t imagine this went over very well, but at least they’re trying. For the rest of the week Pat would go down about 7:15 a.m. and put our stuff out and stay there, as this is what everyone else was doing. I’d come down just before 8. As long as you stayed with your stuff until 8:00 a.m., you could go for breakfast at that point and leave your stuff there. You can walk a long way on the beach in either direction. Lots of topless sunbathing along this beach.

To the left of the Iberostar is the Ventaclub Dominicus, then some vendors stalls, and then the Coral Canoa Hotel. To the immediate right are more beach vendors and Club Dominicus Palace and Club Dominicus Resorts.

Weather and Bugs
No mosquitos and no bugs to speak of! This area had the same windy weather the week prior as we had in Punta Cana. Overall the weather this week wasn’t bad, but still more clouds and wind than usual. I think there was one day when it was quite cloudy and windy. But when the sun came out, it was very hot.
Restaurants
There are 5 restaurants:
The main buffet restaurant is very large. There is a huge variety of food to choose from and it is very good. Most items have a sign identifying what it is. This restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is a dress code in the evening for men, long pants or Bermuda shorts are allowed. Sandals for men are questionable, the thong-type beach sandals are definitely a no-no, other types some were allowed and some weren’t. We were sitting near the entrance one night and I was watching as people came in. The hostess turned away one man because of his sandals and a couple minutes later someone came in with what I thought was a very similar type and he was allowed in, so I’m not sure of the criteria here. Suggest you pack a pair of long pants and regular shoes. This restaurant does have a no smoking section. Some of the tables for 2 are very close together. The first night we ate dinner around 7:30 p.m. and it was not that busy, but when we came out around 8:30 p.m. there were about 50 people lined up waiting to be seated. That’s the only time I ever saw a lineup. Otherwise service was very good. If you ask for coffee, be sure to say “with milk” if you want it, otherwise they will bring it without, and it doesn’t seem possible to bring the milk afterwards, they will take the black coffee away and come back with another cup of coffee with milk in it. (In the morning they go around with a pot of coffee and a pot of milk) House wine is available at lunch and dinner, but I did not see a wine list available. I noted they had a raised balcony for a band in this restaurant – unfortunately we didn’t see the band playing here the nights we ate in this restaurant.

The Beach Grill and Snack Bar is open during the day for continental breakfast and lunch, until around 4 p.m. It’s close to the beach and the pool. A t-shirt/coverup is required. We always had our lunch here. The food was good, they had hot items – pasta, chicken, rice, vegetables, seafood (there are no signs in this restaurant saying what the food is, which would have been helpful, you had to ask if you weren’t sure, ie. During the week I had both fried calamari rings and onion rings, and you couldn’t tell from looking which one it was). They also had hamburgers, French fries, as well as salads and sandwich items, nachos with cheese, icecream, other deserts. Note that you are not allowed to take food out of the restaurants. They do have a self-serve coffee/tea, soft drinks, juices and water bar set up just inside the restaurant.

A couple of days they had a beach party barbecue set up just outside the restaurant, with a band playing.

There are 3 specialty restaurants that you have to make reservations for. You make these reservations in the lobby between 9 and 12. I went the second morning we were there and was able to make reservations for all the restaurants. I got there around 5 minutes to 9 and waited in line about 20 minutes to half an hour. A copy of the menus is available there for you to look at.

The first restaurant we tried was the Steakhouse, which is located in the Beach Grill and is open-air. I ordered a rib-eye steak medium well and it was a little too well done, but was good anyway. Pat had the ribs. Before the main course you can help yourself to the appetizer buffet, which included salad items, fish appetizers, shrimp, etc. Then they bring a “blooming onion” and some dipping sauce to your table, which I had never seen served in the DR, thought that was a Canadian thing. It was good. The main course came with a baked potato and sour cream, stewed tomato and corn. Service was excellent.

The next night we went to the Japanese restaurant. This restaurant is enclosed and air-conditioned. Most people are seated around the show tables, although there were some regular tables around the sides of the restaurant. The night we were there, it wasn’t very full and there were lots of empty tables. You could order from a menu, which had quite a large choice. Some menu items were prepared in the kitchen and served to you, while others were prepared in front of you. You are served several courses of appetizers, soup, suishi, your main course and then desert. Again, service was excellent, no complaints.

On our last night we went to the Mexican Restaurant. This is also enclosed and air-conditioned. This restaurant had the most elegant atmosphere, it was beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of Mexican food, but I really enjoyed this meal. They had an appetizer buffet which could have been the full meal, it had so many items on it. Very good, and good service.

Late-night snacks are available at the Mexican Restaurant, can’t tell you what they had, we never felt hungry. Food and drinks are available pretty much 24 hours a day.

Bars
Lighthouse bar at the beach – this was the most popular bar during the day. There were times when they could have used another bartender, though.
Beach Grill Bar – near the pool area.
Swimup Bar/Icecream bar at the pool
There was a bar in the disco and in the theatre.

Lobby Bar

This was where we spent a lot of evenings after dinner, comfortable chairs and tables, with table service. A nice place to sit and chat. Some premium liquor is available, as well as Heineken beer.

Staff and Service
Considering the hotel has only been open for a few months, I thought the service was excellent. Staff are friendly and many speak English.
Activities
The “Star Friends” activities staff work hard to provide daily activities – water polo, beach volleyball, water volleyball, basketball, dance lessons, aerobics. There are 2 tennis courts (lit). There is a video game room and billiard/games room. Movies are shown at 4:00 p.m. every day. One night they had a Manager’s Cocktail Party in the theatre, followed by the show, which were Dominican Folklore dancers, it was excellent. This is the only professional group they have in, the activities staff put on the rest of the shows. They do a good job, good effects and costumes, and of course they have the usual audience participation shows. We only saw two shows, it was too easy to get comfortable in the lobby bar.

After the show the disco opens. Just took a peek in one night, it’s decorated in a nautical theme.

Watersports Facilities
Dressel Divers operates the watersports. There is catamaran sailing, windsurfing, kayaks, snorkeling, diving clinics. Lessons cost extra, ie. Windsurfing class is $20 US per hour, private lessons $30 US per hour, Sailing classes $25 US per hour, private lessons $35 US per hour. Diving is available at $52 US with equipment. They have dive packages as well as open water certification courses. Local snorkeling trips are $29 US + taxi charge, snorkel and equipment rental $5 US, Waterskiing $35 US, Banana ride $9 US.

There is a gym, beauty salon, spa with sauna and Jacuzzi, as well as massages and other beauty treatments.

Kids Club
There is Lucy’s Kids Club for kids 4 to 12, with supervised activities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The kids seemed to be enjoying themselves, and at lunchtime they take them into the Beach Grill for a supervised lunch. There is also a Kiddy Disco at night before the adults show.
Internet Access
There is an internet access room, they have 4 computers, although only 3 were working the week we were there. They will be charging for this service in the future, it was still free the week we were there.
Golf/Casinos
There is a casino trip available to Santana Beach Resort, not sure I think it’s about an hour away.

Golf is available at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog golf course, a world-class golf course.

Tours and Shopping
There are jeep safari tours, trips to Catalina Island and Saona Island, Santo Domingo, just to name a few. See your tour operator at their desk in the lobby for full details on trips. We didn’t go on any as we have done all of these trips before. A couple we met went on the Saona Island tour by catamaran, and really enjoyed it. You can go into the village of Bayahibe, which is about 5 minutes away by car or local bus, or if you go down the road to the right of the hotel, there is a souvenir shop/convenience store. If you go to the left and then cut back towards the Club Dominicus Palace, there are shops there, artwork, crafts, souvenirs, etc.
Going Home
Checkout was a long process, as there was only one person on the checkout desk. As they had just started to charge for the mini-safes that week, there was some confusion about returning the safe key (the safe is electronic, but there is a key on the inside of it, which we didn’t even know that it had because it was there already). Now that you have to pay for the mini-safe, you will be given this key at checkin. Just be sure you have your towel cards, remote, and key safe with you when you check out.

If you are leaving from La Romana airport, note that almost all luggage is searched at checkin, as they don’t have x-ray equipment for the checked luggage yet.

Summary
A really beautiful hotel, with good service, which should only improve with time. An enjoyable week. A special thankyou to Angelica Martinez, Juan Llinas, and Yahaira Tejeda.

And hello to Dave and Janet!

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