My husband and I have just returned from our vacation in Puerta Plata. We stayed at the Gran Ventana April 22-29/09. This was our fourth trip to Puerta Plata, first to this resort. Would we go back to the Gran Ventana? Yes we would. This is our fifth trip to the Dominican Republic; we have also been to Cuba and Mexico. Our trip was with Air Canada Vacations. We were battling a head wind most of the way down so we had a fair amount of turbulence, the return flight was pretty smooth, no turbulence at all. Because of the headwind we were also a little late arriving. No problem with seats, plenty of legroom. Bring your own food or be prepared to buy on board. They do still give out free water, coffee, tea, juice and soft drinks. The weather was pretty good for us. The first day and a half was sunny and hot. On the third day and every day after that we had a morning downpour and an evening downpour that lasted about ½ an hour. The rest of the day was sunny with some scattered clouds. We did have a couple of 10 minute sun showers. Yep, the sun was shining and there were raindrops, actually it was kind of refreshing. I did see a lot of sunburned people. I also got a little too much sun on the 2nd day.
Check in was quick and we found the front desk staff to be very friendly and professional; our room was ready when we arrived around 2:30. You can leave your luggage with the bell boys and they will deliver it to your room. We opted to take it ourselves so we didn’t have to wait on it. We were given room 1242 in the Soana Building. The room was large and well kept. We had a king-sized bed. The mattress was firm, just the way we like it, we both slept very comfortably. The room was clean, no mold, no bugs, no bad smells, no worries, plenty of hot water and the shower pressure was perfect. Our room faced the beach. The room next to ours was vacant all week so we basically had no neighbours. The resort is designed so everything is only steps apart and everything is easily accessible. There is an in room safe $16 US/wk (key), double closet, hairdryer, phone, table with two chairs, long desk with three drawers the fridge was in this unit, TV and bedside tables, no clock, great air conditioning plus a ceiling fan over the bed. The furniture was very nice and all was in good shape. We did not need our converter for the plugs. There are several English TV channels, including movies. The fridge contained a 4 lt bottle of water, two beers and two pop. The bathroom was a good size, with tub and shower. Get your beach towels at the hut next to the pool. VIP guests get a gift of a bottle of Brugal Rum and a very nice fruit plate!
The workers kept the beach very clean. There are spots where you can enter the water pretty easily. Watch for a couple of rocks. We took water shoes but didn’t need them in the water. The snorkeling is OK immediately in front of the resort. There are enough fish to keep you entertained but nothing like I have seen in the Mayan Rivieria. There might have been more fish further out, but I stayed within a hundred feet of the beach or so. The beach is protected by a reef. Not a lot of wave action right on the beach itself. No worries of being knocked off your feet getting in or out of the water. There are a lot of beach vendors and they arrive early in the day. They are selling everything from hair braiding to newspapers. Jewellery, cover-up, bathing suits, shirts, toys, flip flops, crocks (knock-offs), coconuts, wood carvings, paintings, massage, pedicure, manicure, excursions, etc. A simple no thanks will do fine. If you are not interested they do not harass you. The Orange Market is another story. If you are brave enough to enter, there are bargains to be had. But, be warned it is like a feeding frenzy. Everyone wants you to “come look in my shop”. There are three pools; the pool by the Beata building is the “quiet” pool, it is a pretty good size. The larger pool has a swim up bar. There was music by the pool daily. The third pool is a tot pool is it beside the main pool. I can’t remember if there were any Jacuzzis. The entertainment staff was active around the main pool during the day. They played Bingo in the afternoon other than that I don’t know what else they did in the afternoons because we were usually by the beach around the palapa area. They do have a playground and I think a children’s club. Bars – Lobby Bar, Pool Bar and Swim up Bar, Beach Bar and Quiet Pool Bar. Good selection of drinks. Nightly entertainment – Is pretty well standard AI shows. Ms Gran Ventana, Karaoke, Michael Jackson, Dance night, etc. They were supposed to have a beach party one night but the evening shower changed that. Food – we had no problem finding food. Breakfast was good, lots to choose from. Bacon, sausages, egg station, smoothie station, pastries, fruit, yogurt, cereal, etc etc. Lunch was good also. There was always something in chicken, pork and fish, vegetables, rice, salads, fruit, deserts, breads and rolls. Great deserts. If you did not want to eat at the buffet, you had other choices. At lunch there was a menu you could order from in the beach grill. They also had self serve, pizza, fruit, chicken wings (no sauce), French fries, salads, nacho chips, cheese, soup and a type of chilli. We were booked as VIP so we could also use the Victoria Resort’s beach grill and resort facilities. We ate at their beach grill twice and enjoyed it very much. We also ate at the GV’s Italian (over by the Beata Bldg) and beach side restaurants. Great food and plenty of it. There are four computers located by the main lobby, up the stairs from the guest services desk ($3US 30 minutes).
We’ve been to this area before so we only took one excursion off the resort which was a morning horse back ride. We booked this on the beach from Gregory. It was great, it had rained a couple of times that week so there was some puddles and mud on the ride. Still was fun. Make sure you take bug repellent. The rain showers tend to bring out the bugs. I have seen it worse in other places, but if the bugs like you then you better take spray. Overall, we had a great vacation. The Gran Ventana is a great place and we have no complaints about the resort. We would definitely recommend it to our friends.