Arrival: February 23 – March 2 We arrived in Samana late morning after a smooth and uneventful flight out of Toronto. A comfortable coach bus ride lasting about 40 minutes first dropped off most of the passengers at the GBP Cayacoa and then the remaining 5 couples went on another 10 minutes to where the boat was waiting for us. Here in a separate, luxurious building we received our welcome envelopes with the room key cards, our identification bracelets, as well as a cold drink before boarding the boat. The island and hotel made a welcome and impressive sight as we approached. Once on the island, we were given cool towels to refresh, another welcome drink and and official welcome from the manager. In no time, we and our luggage were whisked away in a little buggy to our villa.
Having booked the least expensive, standard grade room, and expecting a room in the main building, we were delighted to discover that we had been upgraded to a villa suite. The oceanview from our room was probably one of the best on the island. The room was gigantic and gorgeous, with a very comfortable king size canopy bed, separate sitting area, and a huge bathroom with jacuzzi tub. There was another sitting area with couch and chair and dinette out on the terrace. The room was stocked with beach towels, bathrobes, hair dryer, any toiletry item you could possibly need, free electronic safe, umbrella (we only had one little downpour one morning, that’s all),bug spray (we never saw a single bug), coffee maker (which made excellent coffee), minibar with lots of bottled water, pop, beer, liquor, even Pringles chips! (restocked daily). The room was immaculate and kept that way. Every evening, the sheets were turned back and a little box of chocolates left on the bed. One night we came back to rose petals and a lit candle! The first morning we were suprised when a large fruit tray was delivered to our room. We truly felt pampered.
Restaurants and Bars
We only ate at the buffet restaurants. Breakfast had anything you could possibly want. There was a station where you could have omelettes and eggs made to order, lots of fresh fruit and fruit juices, etc,etc. Lunch we usually ate at the beach buffet which was good, but not as good as the main buffet. Theme dinners at the buffet were all very good, lots to choose from, especially for those who enjoy seafood. We thought that the bakery breads and desserts were especially good. Drinks and wine were very good as well. The service in the restaurants and bars was the best we have experienced. Drink orders were taken and delivered to you everywhere, even on the beach!
Beach/Pools/Grounds The beaches were beautiful, sandy and very clean, although the waves were a bit rough at times for swimming. There were always plenty of chairs and shady or sunny spots to be found anywhere. It seemed as though the resort was only maybe a third full, very quiet, and relaxing. Many times it felt as though we had the place to ourselves. The pools were beautiful and clean, perfectly kept. There were canopy beds with linen curtains by both pools,as well as the chaises. You could exchange or get more clean beach towels any time as often as you wanted. The grounds were the most beautiful we’ve ever seen. They have left as many of the large trees as possible and landscaped the island with an incredible selection of flowering tropical plants and trees, all trimmed and tended beautifully. There are little brick roadways going up and downhill all through the island, which make going for a walk or jog truly a pleasure. That said, this resort would not really be good for someone with mobility problems.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We really enjoyed using the catamaran sailboat and sailing around the island. The boat was in great shape and there was always a good wind for sailing. They ask you to pay 5 dollars per day insurance for the catamaran or risk a much higher cost if you damage it. We also went over to the public beach a couple of times. When the cruise ships were in Samana, the public beach area was packed, and otherwise it was completely empty. The public beach is beautiful and very nice for swimming. There were also some local souvenir vendors there who had much better prices and selection than the hotel boutique. We also went on a whale watching trip about 10 kilometres out toward the ocean, which was very rough, but extremely exciting. We saw many whales and despite the huge waves, got some good photos. The day after our whale watching tour, the whales were in much closer and the boats were right out front of the resort, so we sailed over in the catamaran and joined them. We saw the whales again! We even saw them one morning in the distance when we were sitting on our terrace. Other than the whale trip, we stayed on the island and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. There were a few activities during the day for those who were interested, but most people seemed to be pretty happy to just relax amd enjoy the sun. There were books and magazines in many languages as well as games and beach toys that you could borrow. There was also free internet on two laptops in the lobby which were readily available. Many people brought their own laptops. The room safes are large enough to accomodate a normal size laptop.
We chose this resort based on the photos in the travel brochures, and the reviews we read here. We were a little leary at first on going back to the DR because we found in the past that a five star in the DR is not always the same as elsewhere. This resort, however, far exceeded our expectations. It was definitely the most beautiful resort and area we have ever been to. We love that this area is so untouched and undeveloped, and we hope that it stays that way. This was probably the best vacation we have had yet, and we would highly recommend this resort to anyone looking for a quiet, relaxing, and beautiful vacation.