FLIGHT Air Transat was on time, staff were attentive and pleasant. No issues.
ARRIVAL & TRANSPORT
Nolitours gathered everyone quickly and we were taken to the Dunes by air conditioned bus. Took 30-40 mins… lost track of time enjoying the breathtaking scenery along the way.
moved quickly. we were a quartet of girls travelling together and asked for adjoining rooms or to be very close. they put us in separate buildings. we asked to be relocated and had to approach our tours rep to get anything done. the 2nd day we were moved to an adjoining room and were happy with our new locale. generally reception was luke warm when it came to giving assistance and were sometimes rather dismissive. it was best to go directly to the tour rep or the fellow in charge of guest services
yes. they’re small. but, they’re also clean. the beds are quite firm. i alleviated this by getting a couple extra blankets and folding them under the sheet and had no issues after that. the sheets were crisp and clean. no insects at all. we were in the new section, building 51 so we had the nice new showers. initially we were in bldg 53 and our room smelled somewhat musty, but it could have been a combination of the high humidity and the cedar closets that created an unfamiliar odour.
*NOTE* be sure you put your security bar in place on your door. when in bldg 53 we woke up to find our door had been opened in the night. another guest in that same bldg had the same thing happen. the hotel paid attention when we told them and there was an obvious increase in security the following night. *** not all rooms had clocks and the wake up call was rather hit and miss. our friends ordered one for 0700 and it came at 0230! another time we requested it for 0900 and the phone rang at 0820. you’ll also find that you get a 2nd call – a snooze alarm i guess – 10 mins later.
we were seriously impressed with the food. not greasy. a great deal of variety and fresh fresh fresh! for breakfast there was: cereal, yoghurt, croissants, toast, various sweet breads, waffles, pancakes, empanadas (with cheese or fish), omelettes, hard boiled eggs, veggie quiche, bacon/sausage, potato, steamed veggies, beans, juices, fresh fruit, cafe con leche… and i’m sure i’m forgetting some things! i am mostly vegetarian and considered a fairly serious foodie and i never had a problem finding something to eat. they have a full buffet in the main building, a snack bar at the pool, tea time with croissants, sweets and coffee at the lobby bar late afternoon, and a restaurant down on the beach with buffet or table service. each restaurant had pasta available for lunch and supper with a variety of sauces to select from.
BARS we eventually discovered the music bar which is just off the main pool not far from the lobby bar. it was a hidden delight! rarely had other guests in there so our rowdy group quite enjoyed the quick service and all the room we wanted to rearrange furniture. hector, the bartender, was a real sweetie too! lobby bar.. karaoke nightly. we didn’t hang there cause of the smokers. there is one bartender there, name unknown, who is a real fire cracker! great sense of humour and really keeps things moving tomas at the pool bar is a serious smooth talker who proposed marriage to one of our girls on a daily basis! fun to watch him spin the bottles while he mixed his drinks. we didn’t spend any time at the disco – the one night we went up it was super packed and very very loud and hot. we were there during a major island holiday so there were alot of locals enjoying the resort for a long weekend.
Grounds were beautifully maintained. very very clean. 1 childrens pool. another 3 pools overall. breathtaking scenery all around.
we only went on the Discover Margarita tour. 2 of our group had booked the snorkelling tour for our last day but, unfortunately, it was cancelled due to waves in excess of 3 metres! the daily hike to the lighthouse was also cancelled a couple times due to muddy conditions. i did hear that the mozzies were horrendous on that walk so if you go, repellent is required. also were told that bandits like to hang in that area and watch for tourists going it solo, so caution is advised. excellent things were said about the jeep tour. one couple we met went on the 1 day trip to angel falls (was about $300USD per person) and they thoroughly enjoyed it, although the falls were a mere trickle that day. they went on a 12 seater plane and visited another falls, did some hiking and rock climbing – said the trip did involve a certain level of fitness but they thoroughly enjoyed the day. *** Marisol that handled the excursions for Nolitours was a true GEM!! Each night they had the usual shows but the quality was actually pretty good. just sometimes went on a little too long was all. the activities group around the pool were fun without being overbearing. lots of folks took party in their games and water aerobics.
we didn’t do alot of shopping but you’ll find pearl items available at incredible prices. i paid about $12.50USD for a pair of pearl & corral earrings and my girlfriends each found stunning pearl rings for about $50USD each at a little pearl shop we were taken to on the Discover Margarita tour ($40USD for the day). coffee is, indeed, difficult to find. i ended up buying it at the resort ($40BF/pound… which was $10USD) but our excursion rep brought us some 200g packages of ground espresso for $1 USD/each at the end of the trip, so it’s definitely out there. prices at the malls are high – just like back home. also, the little shop at the resort is crazy pricey… a can of pringles is $15BF which is as much as $7USD depending on how you exchanged your funds! and the prices seemed to change from day to day depending on who was at the til.
MONEY *** wait til you’re there to exchange your US dollars!** and speak to your rep about where to go for the best rate. if you deal with a bank or currency exchange you’ll only get just over 2:1 but there are many places to get 4 or 5:1 exchange. if you do that, then you’ll find the trip is FAR less costly while you’re there.
it’s currently 157 Bolivares Fuerte /adult and breaks down to $111BF and $46BF (it’s 2 separate taxes and must be paid separately, with exact change). if you get a 4-1 exchange you’re only paying about $40USD rather than $73 USD. it’s a bit challenging to get small denominations of the BF so i’d suggest you work on trying to do so early on and tucking what you need aside in your room safe.
OVERALL….. no major complaints about the Dunes. I’d have no trouble recommending it at all and would even consider returning. i tend to visit new places on each trip as there are so many places in the world to see i dont often entertain "do overs". next time i may try Laguna Mar, just for the experience. some of the service staff were a bit lacking in attention but this wasn’t a 5star either. you get what you pay for, to a degree. the weather was great… yes, we had some rain, but it was a welcome respite from the heat for awhile and rarely lasted very long. temps were over 30C daily and humidity ran about 90% so be prepared for that if you go, find yourself a couple of brits and settle in for some relaxation and laughs! your holiday will be what you make it. i’m more than happy to answer any questions that i may have neglected to cover here. cheers!