Grand Oasis Marien Reviews – Dominican Republic Hotels – Debbie's Caribbean Travel Resort Reviews – Grand Oasis Marien

  Grand Oasis Marien   Patricia ~ Cheshire, UK

July 2009 Arrival: June 16 – June 30 We had stayed at this hotel previously when it was owned by Hilton. I had emailed ahead of time to advise them of this. We arrived in the late afternoon and were quickly checked in and taken with our luggage in a golf cart to our room.

We were very pleasantly surprised to be allocated a room right by the beach with a terrific ocean view. The room was slightly shabby but comfortable and kept very clean by the maid.

Restaurants and Bars:
We went to all the a la carte restaurants with the exception of The Creperie which was not open during our entire stay. We enjoyed all the a la cartes and found the food and the service to be excellent. Our particular favourite was the Italian. We had no difficulty getting into the restaurants despite the "no reservation" policy. We just went to the restaurant of our choice at around 7.45pm and if we could not be seated immediately, were given a time to return. The longest we waited was an hour and we just went off to have a pre-dinner drink. However, we found the evening buffet to be very limited in choice and the service poor. It was difficult to get a drink, even of water, and the tables were often missing items. There was no shortage of staff but there was no system or organization. The waiters seemed to run round like headless chickens and achieved very little. We ate lunch at the beach bar. The food was mostly the same each day but more than adequate for a quick snack. We did find the bar staff to be somewhat unfriendly. The same guy served us at the beach bar for practically two whole weeks and despite us being unfailingly polite and always greeting him with a "Hola", he never responded or spoke to us. Surely his day would have gone better if he interacted with the guests. He just did his job. It was not just him. Many of the staff had a similar attitude.

The beach and pool have lots of sun loungers. No need to get up early here. There is plenty of shade on the beach but more limited by the pool. We are beach folk and found it to be kept free of weed and very pleasant. We usually went to sit by the pool in the late afternoon and had no trouble finding a sun bed. The grounds are very nice but since they have erected several new builings, the site is rather cramped. We are used to hotels with a lot more garden and open space. However, what there was is well kept.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We have been many times to this area and done all the excursions on previous trips. The only trip we repeat is the catamaran. We booked through Jose 2 on the beach and paid $70 each. We had a lovely day out. We were picked up on time (yes really!!!) and it was very well organised. The boat was not too full and the other passengers and crew were a lot of fun.

Other Comments:
Our biggest gripe at this hotel is the lack of anywhere to sit in the evening and have a civilised drink. The only place you can have a drink in a glass (apart from the restaurants) is the Sports Bar. This is a dreadful place which we did not wish to spend any time in. We would get a drink in there to have in the lobby but would have to have it in a paper cup!! This seemed ridiculous to us. There were very few seats in the lobby and they were uncomfortable. This hotel could improve overnight if it just installed a comfortable seating area in the lobby and allowed drinks to be in proper glasses. In conclusion, we had a very pleasant stay at this hotel. We paid £100 less than last year in Punta Cana and felt that we had very good value for money. Would we return? Yes, possibly, if the cost was as good. The good outweighed the bad but we felt that some good management could very easily eliminate the bad very quickly.

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  Grand Oasis Marien   Arto ~ Montreal, Canada

July 2009 Arrival: June 19-26 Arrived at the hotel at around 6PM with my wife and 2 boys (9 & 12). The hotel is only about 20 minutes from the airport, and is located in the Costa Dorada complex which contains only this hotel and the Iberostar. Since there were more than 50 of us checking in from the same flight, we had to wait a bit to get our room. The front desk clerk filled us in on the mini-bar (which supposedly is operated by a separate company). Only the 2 BOTTLED soft drinks, and 2 beers(don’t remember the brand) are included. Everything else is extra, and is quite expensive. There is also a litre of bottled water in the room which is also included. We were given our room keys (cards), and sent on our way. Our luggage arrived at the room a few minutes after us.

Rooms: We had requested a 2nd floor room in building 8 or 9(2 of the newer ones). We were assigned a second floor room in building 7 (#7201). It’s one of the older buildings, and is located just to the left as you leave the lobby. Buildings 6, 8 & 9 are the new ones. Our room was relatively spacious. There were 2 double beds, a night table, a dresser with 4 drawers, a hutch with 3 large drawers, some storage space for suitcases, and which housed the TV. Plenty of channels on the TV(many in English), including the major US networks, and Cartoon Network (for the kids). There was also a small round table & chair in the corner. There was additional space for clothes in the closet on some wire shelves in. Overall, plenty of space to put things away. There was also the mini bar with drinks and snacks. The washroom was a nice size with a single sink in a large counter, the toilet, and bathtub. There is liquid hand soap next to the sink, and combination soap/shampoo/conditioner in a squeeze bottle in the bathtub. A couple of minor maintenance issues in the washroom, but nothing worth reporting. We did loose hot water one evening for about an hour, but no big deal. The room safe worked with a key cylinder, that you have to get from the front desk at a cost of $21 US for the week. Well worth it for the peace of mind. The A/C pumped out plenty of cold air, and the thermostat worked perfectly. There was also a ceiling fan in the middle of the room. Beds seemed fine to us; not too hard or soft. The clock radio in the room wasn’t working properly, so we called the front desk, who transfered us to housekeeping. There was a new unit in our room the following afternoon when we goot back from the beach. Houskeeping was, as in most other resorts, a multi-phased task. Dirty towels are removed from the room in the morning, the room is cleaned and made up after that, and some time in the afternoon, fresh towels are brought in. Somewhere in there, someone comes in and checks/restocks the mini-bar. Note that the mini-bar is locked down the day before you leave. The room was clean, and we only saw a couple of small bugs one day after a heavy rainfall. The rooms are sprayed on a regular basis, as we received a notice advising us of spraying to take place one morning. They also left a card you can hang on the door if you do not want your room sprayed. We left 3$ each day for the cleaning lady, who seemed to do a good job. After the first day, she realized that we did not use/want the bed covers, and stopped putting them back on the beds. On the first day, we left a note next to the provided water bottle asking for 2 bottles, and she left us 4. Every day after that, there were 4 bottles of water in the room!

Restaurants and Bars:
The hotel has 4 a-la-carte restaurants (Pasta, seafood, tex-mex, and crepe), the main buffet, as well as Mangos, which serves lunch, and perhaps other food after the restaurants are closed (never stayed up that late). Each of the a-la-carte restaurants was closed one night of the week. As indicated elsewhere, there are no reservations for the restaurants. You simply show up and try your luck. If there is no space, they will take your room number and tell you when to come back. Only the pasta restaurant is indoors, and is small, so it fills up fast… We ate at all of the a-la-cartes, and went to the tex-mex a second time. All were reasonable good. Service was decent but nothing exceptional. We had breakfast every morning at the buffet, had supper there only twice, and lunch only once (the last day). Service at the buffet is a bit lacking. Hard to find someone to refill a coffee or water cup, or to get a soft drink. Plates are not cleared from the table quite quick enough. As for variety, there are 2 rows of hot trays (one on each side), but when they are filled, they contain the same things. In the morning there are always pancakes, and an egg/omelette station, fresh juices, all kinds of breads, etc. Plenty to choose from. For supper, however, we noticed that the variety of options could have been improved a bit. Not a bad buffet, but perhaps just a bit weak at night. We ate lunch at Mangos just about every day. There are 5 or 6 hot items (with french fries every day), as well as hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, salad, soup, and deserts. They will also cook meats for you at the grill. The meats are located to the left of the grill in a section that is sort of outside the main food area (behind the coffee machine). There were pork chops, lamb chops, steaks, sausages to choose from, depending on the day. There are also tortilla chips a soft cheese dispenser back there. There were 4 bars, one near the beach at Mangos, one by the pool, one next to the show area, that I think only opens at night, and one in the sports bar just outside the lobby. Wait time at the bars was not too bad, but I think that they need to either increase the staff behind the counters, or add another bar near the pool during the day.

The beach was quite wide, and there were plenty of loungers. Lots of trees at the back for shade for the times where all of the shade ‘structures’ (not palapas) were reserved by non existing guests. Water was generally calm, but contained quite a bit of floating sea weed. They raked up what came ashore daily, but there is nothing they can do in the water. For a few days, low tide was near noon, and the kids were able to do some snorkeling near shore at the left end of the beach. Unfortunately there is not all that much to see. The pool is quite large, and divided into 3 walk-in sections. Never felt crowded in the pool, and were always able to find a lounger. Again, though, finding a spot under a hut was almost impossible, since they always seemed to have towels, books, etc. under them, but rarely people. Considering the number of rooms in the resort, the grounds are not that large. They are generaly well maintained, but I was a bit surprised that they didn’t clear the excess water from the pathways after a major downpour. Something else I noticed, or rather didn’t notice: I never saw anyone cleaning the public washrooms. Not once. The washrooms weren’t particularly dirty or anything, but on occasion, there were no paper towels, etc.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
As mentioned, there is a sports bar near the lobby, with a projection TV, a couple of pool tables, and a foosball table. There are also a couple of foosball tables, and a couple of ping pong tables near the pool. There’s also a large chess board/game behind the towel exchange place. At the beech, they have horse shoes, and bocce ball, right next to the kids club building. Our kids never went to the kids club, but we did notice a trampoline, and a small swimming pool outside the building. The also took the kids go karting one afternoon (heard this from one of the kids our boys made friends with. All kinds of activities around the pool and at the beach during the day. We went to the nightly show a couple of times. Not bad, but typical resort shows. We’ve seen much worse…

Other Comments:
Overally, the resort was quite nice, especially considering the price we paid ($2400 CDN for the 4 of us). Would we go back? Possibly, if we got a great price. However, if paying full price, we would probably try somewhere new, or go back the the nearby Gran Ventana, where we have gone for the previous 4 years. The food and service there (as well as the snorkeling) was definitely better. On the other hand, the rooms, and pool at the Grand Oasis Marien were better.

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  Grand Oasis Marien   Michelle ~ Central Scotland

June 2009 Arrival: May 16 – May 30 We were delayed for an hour and a half on the plane before taking off but once we got to hotel check in was very quick and porter helped us to our room with our suitcases. We went back and got our safe key after 10mins.

Me & my cousin were in building 7 – think this was an older building but we had no problems at all except for a musty smell from the air con every so often – never spoiled our hol. Maid done a great job and we left her $1 tip every day and got 2 bottles of water instead of one

Restaurants and Bars:
I was very impressed with the food – buffet restaurant changed slightly every night and my fav a la carte had to be the mexican! The Italian was also another favourite and dont be fooled that the seafood restaurant only has fish dishes – we dont like fish but went and you can get a steak or chicken dish – both lovley. Never tried the crepe restaurant

We spent most of our time at the beach as you could get a nice breeze – the min you went back to the pool the heat hit you! Great pool, beach and grounds – a mini paradise. Lots of workers tidying up seaweed on the beach and cutting the grass at the pool etc etc – they work very hard!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We went on the Monster Truck – $90 well spent – real eye opener to real dominican life but people so friendly and nice to see what "real" life is like outwith the resort. Guide Leo was great as was the driver and helpers! Oceanworld was great – i paid $165 for the dolphin swim and sealion encounter – dolphin swim was a once in a lifetime experience – well worth the money to spend 30mins with these amazing animals! Sealion encounter was also great.

Other Comments:
Activities and animation team – what can i say apart from amazing!! They spend 9am-midnight getting you involved in activities and dancing. Def would love to take up merengue dancing! Shoalin was my favourite – shame we didnt manage to swap email addresses like we meant to. Mini Me, Pablo & Sexy Koffee also made us laugh – these guys helped to make my holiday fantastic and i will return asap!!
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Kelly ~ Newfoundland, Canada

May 2009 Arrival: April 23 – May 1 We were late getting to the resort due to a delay with the airline. Check in went very quickly. We had to wait one hour to get our key and lock for the safe.

We were given the new building, building 8 which is very nice. The rooms was very clean, no bugs. Our room over looked the pool.

Restaurants and Bars:
We ate at all the restaurants, I really liked the steak restaurant which is just above the pool bar. The service was very good and quick. The only thing is at the crape restaurant the service was very slow. It took them over half an hour to bring out the drinks. I only ate there once.

The Beach was cleaned every morining of sea weed. We spend most of our time at the pool. You always got a spot to sit and relax. The grounds were kept up and always clean.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We took a taxi in the the city, cost us 45 dollars US for 10 people. We also had a tour guide which he only worked on tips. We were out in the city for 4 hours. Best tour I have been on. Well worth the money. Also went on tour of the rum factory. We walked there because it was only 10 min from the resort. This tour also was just tips only.

Other Comments:
This was my 2nd trip to this resort and I love it. You can’t get any better that the people there. When you go find Mine Me and Sexy Coffee I am sure they will make you laugh.

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  Grand Oasis Marien   Wendy ~ New Brunswick

April 2009 Arrival: March 30th to Apr 6th
We arrived at the resort around Midnight our first night. Check in went fairly quickly and we were driven on one of the small trucks to our room, our bags were even carried up for us. Rooms
We were really pleased with our room. We had originally booked a gardenview room but we got an Ocean view room in building 9 which was one of the new buildings and it was really nice, marble everywhere. The only thing we didnt really like was you had different people coming in at different times during the day. A lady came in early to pick up towels but didnt leave clean ones so if you didnt have any saved from the night before, you had no towels to dry with that morning so we knew to save some. The maid didnt come in til around 3 or so each day either with new ones, and i guess someone came in each day to check the minibar. Restaurants and Bars
We really loved the Sante Fe Grill, infact we ate there on 4 nights through out our stay. We ate at the Italien place one night which was also yummy but of all the restaurants had the longest lines which mean you had to line up around 5:30-5:45. For the Sante Fe we would line up around 6 and get in. If there is a waiting list you can leave your name and come in later that night which we did on one night when getting back from an excursion late. We did eat at the Seafood place but didnt really care for it, i thought i loved seafood but apparently not, so after picking at our food we went to the buffet which was okay most nights. We didnt really have any complaints with breakfast, we enjoyed the egg/pancake station. Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool area was amazing. It had a really big pool laid out in different sections. The beach was also really nice where we chose to hang out most of the time. If you wanted a hut or shade though you had to leave your towel. Although discouraged everyone did it anyways. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We thought the entertainment staff was amazing and so friendly, we loved mini me!! We were really impressed with the shows and found it to be our nightly highpoint. The entertaiment staff work all day and until midnight to treat you well, they were awesome! We went on the Puerto Plata Runners Safari Adventure tour which was really fun. There were many stops and lots to see and do. We went on a 15 minute horseback ride although the horses dont look the healthiest. Then stopped at a beach to boogeyboard. Bring some money as there are different stops to buy things. And it is a bumpy ride We went to Oceanworld and had a really awesome time, at first i thought i wouldnt like it but so much to do and see, plus we got a 2 for 1 dolphin encounter We went horseback riding one afternoon with Rancho Lorilar, canadian run and amazing. The horses are in healthy condition and the operators were so nice. Thanks Val! Other Comments
We loved this resort and would definitely recommend it. If we were ever to return to Puerto Plata we definitely would consider staying there again.
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Sandra & Del ~ New Brunswick, Canada

April 2009 Arrival: March 23 – 30
Arrived to pouring rain but that didn’t dampen our spirits. Easy process at airport and quickly shown to our bus by Transit employees. Not hassled by anyone wanting to take our bags. Quick, fun filled drive to resort. Gentleman at desk was very helpful and accomodating. Asked if we could possibly be close to our friends room and he put us in adjoining rooms. Registration process was very quick and easy. At this point, with the rain, after we went to our rooms, we returned to the lobby to have a drink with friends. Everyone very friendly. Rooms
Our room was large and very clean. We left a little gift and $1. for the maid every day and had no issues with the cleaning. Large clean bathroom and extra soap, lotion and shampoo left every day. Just one day we didn’t have any facecloths but I had brought some from home just in case. We also purchased the safe key for $21. for the week. Well worth the peace of mind for any valuables but again, we had no issues with this matter. Our room faced the pool so the view was spectacular. It was a little close to the pool bar for late night activities but they settled down fairly well. Our only problem is my husband is diabetic and when we asked for diet pop for the fridge it was hard to get. Had some only one day so we just didn’t drink the pop. Be sure not to take anything extra out of the fridge other than the 2 beer, 2 pop and bottle of water each day – apparently there is quite a charge for this. We didn’t feel the need to take anything. Restaurants and Bars
We were in two of the a la carte restaurants – Seafood and Sante Fe – the food was very good in both. Service was a little slow but it didn’t matter, we were on vacation and in no rush. The buffet restaurant was wonderful. Lots of variety for every meal and the waiters were very friendly and helpful. Again, sometimes you had to wait a bit for your wine or coffee, but not in a rush. The menue changed daily for the supper meal which gave you great variety so you didn’t get tired of the same food. No need for anyone to go hungry! Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool area was cleaned with javex and water every morning before breakfast. Clean, clear pool was wonderfully refreshing. We spent most days at the beach. There were lots of chairs and shade cover. Beach was really clean and you were not pestered with people trying to sell you anything. Grounds were immaculate and the maintenance people were always working at cleanup. We took shirts and hats for the men in the maintenance dept. as they tended to get forgotten whenever you tipped the staff. They were very appreciative of anything you gave them. You do have to sign a paper to say that you gave them was a gift so it wouldn’t seem like they were stealing anything. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
My husband went on a tour of the Rum Factory (10 minute walk from the resort) and was very impressed with the cleanliness of the factory. Rum was good too! We didn’t go on any other tours as we were there to rest and relax but we did walk up the beach to the "Orange Market" where you could barter for trinkets and beach clothes. Lots of fun and just a little jaunt up the beach. My friend went into Sasoua and bought my vanilla there for half the price it was at the market…what a bargain at $1.50 a bottle! My husband joined in a horseshoe tournament and had a blast – won a bag of coffee. The only complaint we had was the nightly entertainment needed to be improved a bit. The dancers were really working it but seemed to be the same thing over and over. But you didn’t have to go to the show so you would find other entertainment elsewhere. Didn’t go to the casino. Other Comments
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this resort and both said we wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to anyone and hoped to return again.
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Lori ~ New Brunswick, Canada

March 2009 Arrival: March 9 – 16
We arrived around 2AM ,3 hours late with Canjet out of Fredericton NB. No real explanation, but our flight was pretty uneventful. Upon arrival at the hotel we were greeted by very friendly front desk staff and check in went very smoothly. Our suitcases were tagged and the porter brought them to our rooms. Rooms
We had rooms in Building 8, which is one of three new buildings. We had a king size bed, flat panel TV and a beautiful balcony. The rooms were very spacious and the bathroom had a whirlpool tub as well as plenty of hot water for showering. We had plenty of towels and always had two faceclothes,shampoo, lotion,body wash,sewing kit and shower cap replenished everyday. There was a mini bar which included 1 Coke,1 Sprite,2 bottles of beer and 1 liter bottle of water. These were stocked every day we were there.There are other items in the mini bar like chips, choclate bars, juices etc.,but there is an additional charge for those.There was a coffee maker, coffee,sugar and whitener as well. There was also an iron, small ironing board,umbrella and hair dryer provided.There is a charge for your room safe, but it is well worth the piece of mind.It costs about $3 a day. Restaurants and Bars
There is the main buffet restaurant,breakfast has a good amount of options to choose from,everything from continental to full breakfast.Dinner at the buffet varied from day to day,but always could find something to eat. We always ate lunch at Mangos Beach Grill,they served pizza,fries, chicken,fish nachos with cheese sauce,hot dogs,hamburgers etc.There is 3 ala cartes , we ate at 2,the Seafood and the Santa Fe both were good. Tried to get into the Italian twice,but no room.Since you don’t make reservations,you have to go early to get a spot. Very limited selection of international drinks,so if you have a favorite, you might want to take one from Tax and Duty Free for your room. Premium brand drinks like Kahlua,Baileys, Drambuie etc are $5.US an ounce. Beach/Pools/Grounds
Oasis section of beach is actually quite nice compared to some resorts down the beach. The week we were there,it was very windy making some pretty good waves.The pool was beautiful and large,but really needs a swim up bar. The pool is quite sheltered so it can get rather hot and there is not alot of shelter. The grounds are beautiful and very well maintained. Other Comments
The only complaint I have about the hotel would be the harassment everyday leaving breakfast from the Vacation Club. It’s like they lay in wait until you leave breakfast and swoop in to get you to "talk to their people" for just a minute of your time.We have been to other resorts where we have been approached but it is usually only in your first couple of days and these guys tried all week.Even one day we were coming back from a walk up the beach they tried to give us a tour of the hotel until they found out we were staying there. If you walk down the beach there is a market,it’s interesting just to go down and barter with the vendors. There will be guys on the beach that try to get you to go to the market across the foot bridge,just say "no thanks" and keep going to the Orange Market.
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Tina ~ St Johns, Newfoundland

March 2009 Arrival: Feb 19 to Feb 27
We stayed at the GOM from feb 19 to feb 26. I must say it was a really good time and only have a few complaints. The weather was awesome and we spent half of our day by the pool; the other half on the beach ( which was a little windy at times) Flight/check in
We arrived at the hotel at about 5 am on the 20th after a rough and bumpy airride from St . Johns, Newfoundland. The transport from airport to hotel was very quick….luggage and en route in about 20 minutes…..but be prepared there are no road rules and they drive crazy…so if you make it there in one piece your laughin’ Rooms
we arrived at the resort our bags were tagged and we recieved a room in the 8 building (the new one). The room was nice and we recieved a complimentary fruit basket and a letter from the manager because this was our 2nd time there. that was a nice perk. our friends also got a room right next door: it was their 1st time. We had fresh towels everyday except later on 1 day like 4pm. Facecloths are hard to come by on our last day we had to use a hand We left a $1 for the maid everyday and recieved towel art and flowers in return. On our 6th day the shower curtain went missing and i called down to the front desk and they sent a maid up with 2 shower caps…lol.. that was funny…But we got it all straightened out eventually. Restaurants and Bars
Great! The bars had fairly quick service and if you like your drinks strong no worries here. the food was great! Some wait at the Restaurants but that was to be expected. Just get there early and no problem. If you plan on eating at 8 pm you may be in for a longer wait. Pool/Beach
Nice and relaxing. Alot of loungers although if you want one with a hut you have to reserve it early…even though there is a sign forbidding it, everyone does it. The pool and the decks were always clean. The beach was pretty clean as well….no seashells around though…when we went 2 years ago they were everywhere, now it was hard to find any….i guess between the locals selling them and the tourists bringing them home. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel We did the peurto plata runners tour. It was a bumpy ride with beautiful countryside. It was a prettty good experience; except at the school house. We had supplies for the teacher(paper,pencils,crayons) which we give to her and she distributes later. So we also had candy, hair buckles etc for the kids and were told we could give them this ourselves. Well we were mobbed more or less as you can imagine…too many children and not enough candy results in turning your back and them beating each other up…not nice and not pleasant, i just wish i had or realized. Many if that to was given to the teacher it would have been better. We were on the bus with french people and it seemed that our guide spoke about everything in french. We know little and it seemed that we didnt quite get everything there was out of the tour. Usually the tours bus are seperate for different languages. Dont ride those poor horses, i wish i didnt. I think they are worked too hard with no drink. Entertainment
So you think you can dance!!!! they are very talented dancers but it seemed that is all they did. It wasnt much variety….just the same moves over and over again with an extra kick here or an extra shake there….prevoiously when we visited the Chocolate Friends (not the same staff now) did theme shows like Grease, The Lion King etc….there was more of a storyline to it…During these shows it was hard to even stay awake… The disco well like i said i was too tired after the show… overall it was a quiet night for us especially after our early rise every am. Service
The service was good. the only complaint I have here would be the VACATION CLUB. oh my…I mean 2 years ago when we visited they were a nuisance but kind enough. This time they were scary. I literally used to go other routes to avoid them. On one occasion they were verbally abusive; one guy was cursing on us when we walked by and politely said "No, Grasias" . I think that is a problem with the resort and should be fixed or eliminated all together. They are too pushy and I could only imagine how they could take advantage of someone once thay get then to go to the vacation club office. I don’t imagine you’d be leaving there without signing your life away. Overall the trip was great! the resort beautiful and worth every penny. the only complaints being with the vacation club, the shows and the french speaking tour guide…
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Tammy ~ Nova Scotia

February 2009 Arrival: February 2nd – approx 1 am Rooms
Upon waking up on February 2nd – approx 1 inch of water was on the bathroom floor – leaking from the ceiling in the bathroom through the light fixture and fan. Was not addressed that day after several calls to service. Later in the week when it rained again, the leak reappeared and after a day and a half (including the electricity flickering) we were finally moved to a different room. Restaurants and Bars
OK – service was quite below other resorts. Most breakfast and lunch meals we were finished the meal before getting water / coffee. Constantly out of juice, glasses and simply appeared to have insufficient staff on hand for the number of guests. Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach is small, no bar on beach, really felt bugged by individuals wanting to sell everything. Only one large pool, no swim up bar – difficult to get a lounge chair – again appeared insufficient for the number of guests. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
No – due to the 4 1/2 days of rain – both tours were cancelled. Other Comments Staff pushing time shares was very annoying – every day.

Overall a 2 star compared to other resorts we’ve been to in the Dominican.

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  Grand Oasis Marien   Sandra ~ Ontario

February 2009 Arrival: Jan 23 – 30
we travelled with Airtransat, flight was good we were on time. Because we arrived around noon our rooms were not ready,but we got our braelets so we could at least eat and drink. Rooms:
Our rooms were large very clean, lots of room to hang your clothes. Bathroom with shower and jacuzzi tub. Restaurants and Bars: Food was amazing, buffet had so many choices, large bread station,pasta station,fruit and salad station. Breakfast had an egg and omolette station.

Italian reataraunt was wonderful service was great. only thing its hard for seeting a large group. Mexican Grill was good a nice change. Mangos snack bar was great open all the time burgers, hot dogs, pizza, nachos, that sort of thing. This hotel has the best chocolate cake.

Beach is large with lots of lounges and trees for shade, water was great. Pool is beautiful and huge lots of lounges and ubrellas for shade.. The water was warmer than any of the other 5 or 6 hotels in Playa Dorada i have stayed at. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: always activities going on at the resort, pool games, spanish lessons, lots of goofy silly games to join in.The staff work really hard especially Coffee and Shaggy. Thay also have pro. photographers Wilson and John they are amazing really great fun guys and the pics they take are sooo good.

Off the resort we did the Quads that was fun but very dirty, went go-karting and did the catamaran, great tour but make sure you have your sea sick pills or whatnot you will need them. Half the people were sick.

Other Comments:
Amazing trip. Went as a group of 10 ages 14- 50 everyone loved it. We plan on going back again next year. Only thing we would change is if you could make reservations for the al la carte restaraunts, especially with a group .
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Jo-Ann

January 2009 There was 9 of us ages 12- 65 We had a great relaxing time.

Airport went very fast and did not have a problem with porters trying to take our lugage. Check in was fast but we did have to wait for our rooms until 3:00 we new this, so no big deal it gave us time to roam the resort.

Depending what room you get watch the safes we were in the new buildings and they had digital safes I rented one and my friend did not but she could use her safe so she got it for free. Grounds were beautiful and well kept. The pool was cleaned every morning.
(BUT COLD) There is not much shade by the pool so get your huts early. But we found you could get shade on the beach all the time. We had no problem getting 9 chairs together at anytime on the beach. Around the pool was alittle harder but we eventually got them. We had to go to the transat meeting at 4:00. We went there but there was not much to know but the usual. We did find that the Transat ladies were not much help if we had a question about going off the resort. We wanted to find a grocerey store to get cheap vanilla and rum they we rude when asked. If it did not have to do with them getting a sale they did not help. The food was great none of us went hungery. The mexican restaurant the ribs were alittle tough. But it is a third world country. Service was very slow in all the restaurants, but the second night we ate in the pasta they were alittle faster I think they realised that if they moved us out faster they could seat three more tables. The pasta restaurant was great we ate there 2 times. We did not go to the seafood or the crepe restrauant we looked at the menus and did not see anything that we really wanted.

The buffet was dark at night we took candles from other tables to light our table . To get our drinks we did had to hunt the waitress down.Also for coffee in the morning.

We did the runner tour and had a great time. Dad and hubby did the 4 wheelers they had fun but they thought they would see more of the country side. Wear some old clothes if you are planing on doing this or the dune buggys. If you want rum wait and walk down to the rum factory we found this to be the cheapest. 7.00US a bottle. You do not need to take pasos just take US dollars they are taken everywhere. Take a walk down the beach to the orange market and see Danny’s deals he is really nice. All the shops have the same stuff. Make sure you go to the orange market there is a new market place just built and not that many shops are open just walk alittle farther to find the orange market. Drinks no shortage of alcohol very strong. And watch the young ones it was a good thing I have an honest 15 year old. They kept mixing her alcohol drinks when she would ask for a drink. She would come back to the table and say this is for you, they put alcohol in it . All in all it was a good time, I did not have to cook or clean and had some quality family time. Would we go back yes but we like to try new places. If we got a good price we would go back.
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Delores ~ Nova Scotia, Canada

January 2009 Arrival: April, 2008
Via Westjet, Great flight, Transportation to and from hotel went smoothly, A few tips to the workers in the bus and those that handled the luggage were appreciated by all Check-in all quick & went well. Room ready Rooms:
clean, no mater how much we tipped no special treatment was given, no bed swans etc. We had a ground floor our view was a building under construction with armed guards watching the area with rifles not exactly what we wanted but I did enjoy the ground floor and it was located very close to the beach.Please remember they lock up your fridge the day before your departure to take a count of what you used, A little annoying but I guess necessary for them, it would be nicer if that stuff for sale wasn’t in the same fridge because it is way overpriced anyway so be careful. Restaurants and Bars:
Same as most resorts, Italian was very good, We canadians like our beef and lobster our way but to date they never mastered it. Chicken and pork good. Fruits safe never got sick from the food, My husband really has a problem with the smell of the oils used with the cooking process. We loved the disco bar, The bartender was wonderful and made great Brandy Alexanders. Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Good, not as clear as one would want it but around the resort the beach is clean. Do not go pass the signs on the left that are there for your safety (your travel rep should tell you. Lots of trees and loungers, you don’t have to get up at 6 am to get a shaded area, I found this great. We swam daily, The weather incrediable, only rained minutes then out came the sun. Very few bugs but bring bug spray for it only takes a few mosquitoes to torment you. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We Loved the cable car ride to the top of the mountain with the huge statue of Jesus overlooking Puerta Plata, Amazing. We had some sort of a guide that worked for tips only, the taxi driver put us in touch with him. He was very good. The car ride to and from was unbelievable,no rules to the road, the largest vehicle on the road has the right of way. All I can say is, it was an experience and very memorial. All you need is luck and a good sense of humour. The entertainment was OK, Staff friendly and funny. Other Comments:
You need to learn to say "no" really quick to time shares sellers and don’t bye the tours,cigars or liquor offered from individuals at the beach (your travel rep should also tell you this) a simple "no not interested" is sufficient. unfortunately the are there daily so it get’s a little annoying but relax, your on vacation. Those little carts on the beach selling things like belts, ear rings, etc are fine but barter and remember they always ask for double what it is worth. Have a great time.
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Brian ~ Glasgow

September 2008 We have just returned from 2 weeks at the Grand Oasis Marien in Costa Dorada, Dominican Republic. This is our second visit to this hotel, although it was the Hilton Coral Marien before. I will try and be as objective as possible in this review and give you as many tips as possible for a great holiday at the Grand Oasis as well as in the Dominican Republic in general. Firstly, if you have been scanning through some reviews on this site you might be puzzled at the disparity of ratings and opinions for this property, mostly very good, but some very poor. If you look closely you will see that generally the good reviews come from the British, Europeans and Canadians and the bad from United States Americans. We met a delightful US couple on our stay and they were embarrassed by the reviews from a few of their fellow countrymen. However it would appear some US Tour Operators market the Marien as being on the same level as Sandals 5 star and other totally top-bracket resorts, however at about 35% of the price. The Marien is a really well run "5 star DR" resort (which means 4 star elsewhere). It is NOT Sandals!…it is also geared more for UK and European tastes. US visitors to Marien who somehow expected to get a $10,000 vacation for $3,500 are understandably disappointed…UK visitors who paid £1,700 and have experienced the poor standards of some Spanish All-Inclusives or the Great Euro Rip-Off are generally delighted and consider that they got a Thief’s Bargain (more on Thefts later). So the moral is my American friends…there is no such thing as a free lunch* If you want a top-dollar vacation – pay top dollar. *(actually there is such a thing as a free lunch – you could easily have lunch twice each day by using both the Buffet and the Snack Bar – judging by what you see waddling around The Marien, many do). Let’s now have a look at the hotel. There are lots of web-sites with details galore, so I will only give you my opinions and what has changed and is changing. HOTEL GENERAL. A very attractive and well cared for property, maybe not quite as nail-clipper-manicured as with Hilton, but still a pleasure to wander around for a week or two. Seriously high standards of housekeeping and cleanliness in rooms, public areas and dining areas. Plenty of sun-beds around one of the largest and most varied pools in the area. Attractive beach (which has been boosted in size by millions of tons of sand fed from an off shore sand bank). Lots of shade under the trees at the beach plus now, nifty little marquees here and there. This stretch of coastline varies from very calm to a fair degree of surf, but only really severe weather would stop you swimming. Light fronds of seagrass come ashore constantly and are also constantly cleared away by an army of beach rakers, just be aware that there will be seagrass floating about. This is the last resort property on the Costa/Playa Dorada beach so has Guards on duty 24/7, not that I ever saw anything you might be concerned about. ROOMS. Most rooms are large (by European standards) Doubles or Twins. Fully En-Suite (Shower-in-bath) with Balconies, 30 odd channel tv (BBC World,CNN,ABC7,HBO plus others in English), Mini-Bar (2 beers,2 soft drinks free each day – anything else extortionate), Safe ($42 for 2 weeks use – NOT included – but essential), Air Conditioning that really works, Ceiling Fan, Ice Machine on Floor 2. I have to say that for a holiday room these are absolutely fine, very comfortable and a nice relaxing haven to escape to. There are now two new blocks recently completed that have LCD tvs and more luxurious bathrooms, however their location is not as good in the complex. If you can express a preference I would go for blocks 3 or 4, sea view, floors 2 or 3. There are also Junior Suites etc, but these tend to be used by guests who have joined the "Vacation Club". DINING. Buffet and A La Carte Restaurants -Italian, Mexican, Seafood, Creperie (and the Snack Bar). So there is plenty of choice and there is no limit and no charge to use any restaurant. Getting in can be a bit of a challenge though! When quiet they close some restaurants, but it is a big secret – you have to spot which ones they start setting up about 4.30. Then it is a question of turning up at say, 6.30 to 7.00 and waiting for 30 mins to an hour and a half. We were turned away from some restaurants which were half empty so it is a bit arbitrary and is an area the hotel management need to work on. Perhaps some kind of booking system might be a good idea. Anyway – the Buffet is huge and varied. The food in the A La Carte is broadly the same in content, just presented prettily and with a few extra signature dishes. If you use the Buffet cleverly you can create the same result – with more choice. (you can of course also just get hold of 2 of the biggest plates and pile everything you see on them into 2 giant pyramids with no regard to flavour combination, presentation or the fact that you are leaving a trail of Guacamole and Gravy all the way back to your table…this is better to watch than the Cabaret!) The food is different – that is why you travelled 6000 miles. But the range in offer is so vast that I challenge anyone not to be able to find what they like. If this still sounds too challenging to you – may I recommend the Bide-a-Wee Guest House in Blackpool. BARS AND BEHAVIOUR. Well they kind of go hand in hand don’t they. 3 bars, one at the pool, one at the beach and an air-conditioned one with pool tables etc by the entrance lobby. On Show Nights, they open a 4th in the Theatre. Service is pretty slick, even when busy, the bar staff are the heroes of the Marien- but a little Spanish (Dos Presidente por favor), a smile and, at times a $1 bill, helps. Drinks are local, Rum is obviously good, Beer great, Vodka fine, Gin a bit oily, but they will serve Tanqueray on request. Due to a history of high levels of Scottish guests the Dominican "scotch" (ye’re nae gonnae put tha muck in ma glass are ye?) is not in evidence but JB Rare, Johnny Walker Red Label and perfectly decent Dewars Scotch are…phew! Lots and lots of fruit based cocktails and a great choice of soft drinks including…chilled water. Drunk folk? Not really. A few party groups form, intent on collecting every empty glass in the resort. First-nighters I have seen just get a bit carried away by "free booze" (funny – you don’t see them at Breakfast at 7 next morning), but it is all very civilised. If you want a posh drink – the Sports Bar uses glass glasses and is nice for a pre-prandial, even if the cleaning fluid they use in there has a very distinctive aroma. FACILITIES. There is a water Sports Centre who offer snorkelling (not really a location for this), Kayaks, Sailing and others. They can also arrange Scuba, Para sailing and belting you around the place on a big inflatable doughnut (please – no!) for a fee. A kiddies crèche – which looked really fine, but they do not allow 53 year olds to attend. A small shopping mall (well 5 shops) who obviously are oblivious to the Global Financial Situation and think that charging $7 for a packet of peanuts is just fine. Unsurprisingly I hardly ever saw anyone go anywhere near them. This is just wasted space – Marien, get rid of these franchise holders, reduce the rents and get some entrepreneurs in who can provide a service to your guests. An Internet "Cafe" (without the Cafe). This is OK, 7 or so pretty new PCs, $4 for 15 minutes, I would guess about 1.5Mb actual connection speed. I machine has Skype on it so if you bring a handset you can call home for free. The guys running it have trouble remembering what day it is though, too much surfing www.oddsubstances I think. They advertise Wi-Fi so I dragged my laptop on a 12,000 mile round trip. the Wi-Fi is there but they have apparently "lost" the key and they also plan to sell it in 24 hour continuous sessions for $24 – someone has really thought this through! So I used my laptop as a handy tray to carry drinks on. Again Marien , get Masa out of here and bring in a professional organisation to provide this essential service. There is an “Animacion” Team. Based mostly by the pool, they offer a day long programme of activities but do not go round trying to get you to join in. this is good and actually the guest involvement was as high as those places where they do drum up business. In the evenings the team put on shows in The Theatre. As their audience is multi-lingual these tend to be dance and music based with a flavour of Eurovision thrown in. If you want London West End or New York Broadway go there…not here. But it is actually all well done and they put their heart and soul into it. The Oasis website has a press release from their Vice President announcing the opening of the new casino at the start of September. Would have been a good idea to place a call to the hotel before you you made the Press Release Mr VP! Unless you can use a cement mixer as a roulette wheel I reckon you are 8 weeks off opening minimum. When complete this will be a handy and fun facility. TOURS AND EXCURSIONS. You don’t want to stay in the complex for 2 weeks so get out and about. Some tours are great, some are a bit "manufactured". Cable Car and Catamaran are my favourites, I am a bit wary of “School Visits” – tacky pseudo charity, also not sure if swimming with Dolphins is really what we should be doing these days, but ignore me, I am just a tree-hugger. For all of them there is one golden rule. DO NOT BUY FROM YOUR REP. They will simply send you on the tours they make most money from – trust me – I was that rep!. There are tour touts on the beach but actually the Dominican Republics most respected tour operator – Isaira Tours – Martin Espinal has their Head Office across the road. Just Google Isaira to find their comprehensive website which lists everything available plus a good selection of their own specials. Martin, Jami, Hose and the team will ensure you have good time at the right price – you can also pay safely by Paypal from home before you go. If you go round these review sites you will see Isaira Tours cropping up everywhere with glowing reports. Strangely enough the hotel and the reps have combined forces to exclude Isaira from speaking to you directly at the hotel – odd that isn’t it? GOOD IDEAS. Here are some of things that work for us – and some we see other people doing. Thermos Mugs – great for keeping the drinks cold and the bugs out. You can buy them out there but eBay before you go is about 25% of the price. Digital Camera card reader. You can take your card to the Internet centre and view/email your pics. $1 bills. Get some currency in $1 and $5 before you go. Great for tips etc. (Remember to have $10 to get into the DR and $20 to get out! -The people who collect this at the Airport are dressed as Dick Turpin). Goodies. We buy perfume samples and Argos-type pens before we go to use as thank-you and just friendship gifts. A tub of Celebrations or Heroes works as well. $2 and a a perfume sample left each day ensures your maid will work magic with your towels and ensure you have plenty bottled water in the room. Sticky Alarm – you can buy these self adhesive contact-breaker alarms for buttons. Put one INSIDE the safe and one on the balcony doors. Switch them on at night – it is not really necessary but there have been incidents of Safe thefts. You do NOT need to bring a travel iron or hair dryer with you. There are perfectly good ones in each room (plus a mini ironing board). Mozzie killers. 2 good plug in ones (1 bathroom, 1 main room). They do skoosh stuff about, but as we all know, it only takes one to make you look like a victim of Bubonic Plague. Non US people – remember to take adaptors, the plugs are US type 2 flat pin (with round pin earth option – any US plug will do) Voltage is 120/60 but most killers are multi voltage. Jungle Formula spray. Hi-Deet (yes I know it is acknowledged carcinogenic, but that is really about people who use it 365 days a year. Europeans – you can risk it for 2 weeks a year (sub-note – Scottish People have to use it for about 4 months in addition due to the dreaded Scottish Midge at home, but hey …have you ever seen as healthy a Nation as the Scots? Can’t be doing us any harm! (sub sub note. It’s not the Deet it’s the Deep fried Pizzas). A Walther PPK automatic pistol to deal with the ladies trying to sell you hair-braiding on the beach. (only kidding…they eventually left me alone towards the end of week 2 when I pointed out that I was completely bald} Swimmy Thingy – there is a name for them, those little waterproof screw-shut plastic cylinders that you wear round your neck or tied to your trunks. Handy for the Safe key (no – the bad guys know you hide it on the top of the wardrobe). SAFETY AND SECURITY. Despite my slight jibes, mostly directed at the over enthusiastic entrepreneurial activities of traders in the Dominican Republic, I have to emphasise that this is a SAFE country in which to travel and explore. I know of instances of drunk incapable tourist teenagers being encountered in Puerto Plata at 3.00 am by local youths – who took them straight to the local police station. There is an acceptance by everyone in the DR, not just tourist industry employees, that this is now the No2 earner for the country, so the form now is a "hola" a smile and let you enjoy your exploring. It’s not quite Barbados yet in terms of tourist overall care, but it certainly is not, or ever has been, Jamaica. Also the DR is now seeing economic stability (lucky them!) and folk have TVs, I pods, PSPs, Washing Machines, Digital Cameras, Mobiles (I saw a really young kid in ragged shorts run across the beach to dive into the sea, fortunately remembering at the last minute to pause and leave his Motorola Razr on a handy rock before plunging in).So although there is still poverty, the divide between locals and tourists is shrinking and it shows. HOWEVER. You will be short-changed wherever possible. A simple taxi ride will involve a detour to meet up with someone speaking slick English who will try and sell you a days taxi tour (which is good value, but by selling so aggressively they put you off). BIG BEWARE. Unless you have combination padlocks/twistwire/striplocks on your case you stand a high chance of having it robbed by the baggage handlers at Puerto Plata Airport as you leave and even if you do have all these you stand a moderate chance of being robbed. I am sorry, but this is simply not acceptable and is something the Tourist Industry and the DR Government need to stop -now. If the last memory you have of staying here is losing your camera/after-shave/knickers (yup!) I just don’t think you will be back. Which is a shame. So enjoy your trip – for my money the Grand Oasis Marien is totally the best value for money going at present. Feel free to contact me if you want any more information.
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Richard ~ Toronto

August 2008 Arrival and Flight
No problems, flew Skyservice, on time and good flight. Left on July 27th and returned on August 3rd. Rooms
Rooms were as expected with no surprises. I agree with most of the other reviews. Basic and clean. We were at the Iberostar 4 years ago and the rooms there were far superior. The door lock broke on two occasions but when I reported the problem someone was there to fix it within 5 minutes. Restaurants The Italian and Tex Mex were excellent. Don’t waste your time with the creperie as the food was very bland.

The buffet was average. We have been to Punta Cana 5 times and Puerto Plata twice and stay at 4.5 to 5 star resorts. The buffet food at the Grand Oasis was mediocre and probably at the bottom of the list so far. But don’t be afraid as you will find something that you like but do not expect a lot of choice. Stick to the a la carte restaurants for dinner. The la carte restaurants are unlimited and reservations are based on a 1st come 1st served. The Italian was the most difficult to get in but if you line up at 6:15 pm you will get a table when they open at 6:30. The food at the Italian was 5 star! Many other hotels have a beach buffet but this property only had a snack bar with a limited variety of food. I missed having lunch with an ocean view.

Ok, same as all the other properties except there is a charge for top shelf premium liquor. Beach and Pools
Beautiful pool! I prefer the Punta Cana beaches but fine otherwise Grounds
Beautiful grounds, on par with the Iberostar Activities and Entertainment
Just like all the other hotels. The animation crew work very hard. No nightly entertainment to speak of other than the nightly theatre shows which were amateurish. There is a small sports bar with a disco which starts playing music at 11pm. Parents don’t get your children to participate in the Saturday night kids talent event. The evening shows are very racy and fine for adults however they had a kids disco dance competition before the nightly show. We saw 5 to 10 year olds mimicking stripper routines, doing hip thrusts bumping, grinding and posing on stage as if they were doing a session for Playboy magazine. I guess some parents thought it was fun, it appeared that many of these kids were from the DR.. Tours
I scuba dive and there is not dive shop on the grounds other than a rep from Sea Pro who would arrange a bus to pick you up. I went next door to arrange my diving with Dressel Divers at the Iberostar. They have a dive boat you take from the beach. They are more expensive but worth every penny. Departure and Check Out
Fine Conclusion
Overall a good trip, we went with our 2 teenagers for a family holiday. This time of year many people from the DR stay at the hotel for their holidays. I would say 25% of the guest was from the DR. I don’t agree with the other reviews, the DR guests were not rowdy, they were there with their families to enjoy a vacation. The only negative observation I have is that the some bartenders tended to serve the Spanish speaking customers before others. When this happened I just pointed it out to them and they would serve me. You have to be assertive at times otherwise you may be waiting for a long time. I saw this British couple waiting at the bar while 3 customers rudely barged ahead of them and yelled out their drink requests. This would be my only negative criticism of the staff. Otherwise the staff at the resort was excellent. This is a solid 3.5 to 4.0 star resort. The rooms and buffet are 3.5 stars and the resort layout and grounds are 4.0 star. This was a last minute trip so choices were limited. I would only go back to Punta Cana where you will get more for your money. There are Vacation Club(time share reps everywhere) just give them a polite no. They will then work you all week saying good morning and what a wonderful family you have, but be prepared for the next phase which is the guilt trip. They will tell you that if you go the 5 minute presentation, which is not true, they will get $10.00 and they need the money for their family etc… etc… and you get a free t-shirt. Just say no and at this point and they will show their true colours and become pushy and rude. Politely say no once then completely ignore them the rest of the week. You shouldn’t have to be hounded by these time share people after paying for a vacation.
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  Grand Oasis Marien    Miranda and Marc ~ Ontario Canada

May 2008 Four of us flew together from Toronto – two couples who were looking for a week away with some relaxation, nothing overly fancy, clean, friendly staff, good food, lots of drinks, entertainment, but definitely NOT a spring break frat party….and we were lucky enough to find it here. Arrival and Flight – Flew Air Transat out of Toronto – I recommend booking your seats in advance both ways to ensure you are sitting with people whom you wish to sit with and get a window seat, as opposed to the middle row. Flight went smooth (as far as flights go). When you arrive in DR make sure you find out which bus is yours to take you to your hotel because many people that do not speak english will just say yes when you ask them, to get you to go on their bus – but you will end up elsewhere. We luckily double checked after 3 different men said we were to go with them. We went to the Air Transat booth which is just outside the airport. The trip was about 20 minutes and our tour guide gave us some great tips on the way. When we arrived, the Air Transat bus driver gave us a book and told us to make sure we made it to our orientation meeting the following morning at 9am. Some people had been told that these were time share meetings and that we shouldn’t go, but I wanted to go see what they had to say. The meeting was VERY BENEFICIAL!! She told us about all the excursions you can go on, how to get to different places, who to trust, and the prices that are reasonable, as well as a ton of great information. Rooms – We had requested a second floor room with a view of the pool or gardens and our travel agent had guaranteed us NO construction but when we arrived we were given a room on the bottom floor staring straight at the construction men. After speaking with the front desk we were given a new room the following morning as soon as it was available and this room looked out onto the garden and the pool. (Construction was not even noticed from this room!) Very simple rooms, some are double beds, we lucked out with our second room to get a huge king size bed. Great air conditioner and fan to keep you cool after being out in the heat – always hot water and great water pressure as well. Stick with the free items from the mini bar – the other items are expensive!! The rooms are fairly large and the balconies in every room are big and beautiful!! On a side note, the couple we were with did find a few cockroaches in their bathroom. I have to mention this because it happened, but I did not see any and I did not hear that anyone else did either. Restaurants – Nobody got sick while I was there!!!! I was very worried about this when I went away because I had heard horror stories of the water and the food in the DR. Other people we met at the airport on the way home complained about numerous people being sick at their resort (Breezes), but our resort stressed over and over that everything (fruit, vegetables, dishes) were all washed in pure clean water. The buffet was great for breakfast and lunch – some of it was repeats but many times I missed sections of the buffet because it was so big. Their is always a separate section that will make you your own pasta (SO GOOD!!), and huge cuts of meat and seafood, omelete sections, fruit, and so much more. Breakfast and lunch was usually similar food each day but dinners changed. One night it was seafood, another was Mexican and it was great!! One suggestion is to flag down a server and ask for drinks as soon as you sit down because it might take awhile. The hostesses who seated us were so incredibly sweet!!! Very welcoming! The a la cartes were AMAZING!!!! No reservations but you might have an hour wait so plan accordingly. Also ask ahead of time which nights any of them are closed. We were saving the Italian to have on our last night and it was closed to a wedding party. The Italian restaurant was my favorite!!!! Great antipasto, fresh cheese, amazing pastas, and an absolutely gorgeous view of the resort!! The crepe restaurant was beautiful as well. The dessert crepes are to die for….and REAL cappuccinos!!! Mangos, the beach buffet was our second home!!! In the afternoon after a few drinks and a lot of sun we would head there for a plate of fries, nachos and cheese, pizza, chicken wings, burgers, grilled cheese, pasta, fruit, desserts, and so much more!! This place closes at 6pm because that is where the Mexican a la carte is, but it is also open from 11-6am, so it was great to go there at 2am when the disco closed!!! Attached to this buffet is also a great bar with a bartender who likes to pour drinks like Tom Cruise from cocktail!!! This place is right on the beach and amazing in all areas!!!! One thing we were unaware of was that the resort rents day passes out to the locals on the weekends. So on Saturday there were all of a sudden a flood of people at the buffets and the pool/beach. Besides the overcrowding of the restaurant, my friend and I were annoyed at the fact that many locals were caught videotaping us with their cell phones. We left this comment with the resort and told them how much this interfered with our Saturday and Sunday. Other than these two days we never had to wait for a buffet and the food was always plentiful. Bars – First and most important suggestion is to bring your own cooler mug if you plan on having drinks around the pool. Even a thermos or something along those lines because it’ll stay cold and save you having to keep going up for the little glasses – and don’t worry, EVERYONE brings them!! The only thing I feel I missed out on is a swim up bar. But the pool bar is directly at the pool, you just have to get out of the beautiful pool!! One thing to note is that some of the drinks are not prepared the same as they are in Canada and you may have to specify what you want….oh, and they sometimes make them 1/2 alcohol, 1/2 mix so beware!!! The disco was fun – every night after the entertainment, the dance staff would come in and teach you some of the moves and play an interesting assortment of music! There is also a bar directly beside where the entertainment was so you can get anything you want while watching the great shows. Bar directly on the beach was great and the people are super friendly!! Careful though – strong drinks!! You might have to order an extra pop or juice to mix your own! Beach and Pools – The beach was beautiful – some days a little windier than others. I’m more of a pool fan in general. Suggestion for those of you who are going to lay around in the pool for HOURS like I did….bring a blow up mat. You know those cheap ones you can get at WalMart, Zellers, or pretty much anywhere else?!?! We bought one there and of course the prices were outrageous, but it was SO worth having with you. (They range from $17-$45 at the resort.) I brought it the pool and beach everyday. The pool has water aerobics, volleyball, water polo, step aerobics, dance competitions, and afternoon entertainment everyday!! Gorgeous little water falls all over the place and the water in amazing!!! I loved the pool and miss it the most for sure!!!! Grounds – The grounds are beautiful. Palm trees and gorgeous flowers everywhere. The grass was always perfect. Bring some cheap, waterproof flip-flops for the beach/pool because the concrete is HOT! Activities and Entertainment – Where to begin….. The animation team is the heart of this resort. These people work so hard ALL day to keep the guests entertained!! The dancers are unbelievable!!! The night time dance shows were amazing, I was in awe during every single show they did. The women are some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen and all the dancers move like I have never seen before. Try to talk with some of them before or after the show – the lives these people live truly are truly amazing! Many shows involve audience members so if you do not feel comfortable just say no, but I highly recommend you take part. All four of us were involved in at least one of the shows….some more than others!!! They are hilarious and so fun to watch – especially when it is somebody you know!!! We had karaoke one night – it was supposed to be another night as well but it never happened. Live bands were playing quite often as well – playing beautiful music at the pool side bar. One night was casino night, but we didn’t go. Tours – Catamaran – We booked through Carol, our Air Transat leader to take the catamaran full day trip. It was $86/person for the four of us. I feel it was too long for what was offered. We left at 9am, rode the boat for over an hour to Sosoua (beautiful beach) to go snorkeling. This was the best part, but we only did it for a little while. Then we got back on the boat and they served us cold cuts and salads (which was not a lot in comparison to the buffets we were now used to!!!). After snorkeling, the free bar opened up, but the majority of people maybe had a drink or two. I realized very early in the morning that I get sea-sick so this was also something that made a difference on how my day went. Four people had to be boated back to shore because they were SO sick!! After lunch we just drove the boat around for what seemed like HOURS. A few other girls we met on the boat also felt that it was way too long. For what we did it could have been a few hours less. Cable Car – We did this just on our own not in an organized tour. The tour you can book is way too expensive. Get the hotel to call you a cab – it’s $35 for the ride there and back, the cabbie waits while you go up and you don’t pay him until he drops you off at the hotel. While we were leaving the resort the cabbies friend jumped in and asked if we wanted a tour guide. They only ask for tips, which is usually around $10-$15. We said ok and were glad we did. The cable car costs 200 pesos/person to ride it up and down. It takes 10 minutes each way and is an INCREDIBLE trip. You can see almost the whole island!!! One suggestion – DO NOT GO IF THEIR ARE ANY CLOUDS!! And go as early in the morning as possible because it is clearer. If there are even a few clouds when you go, you see nothing when you are up there. The tour guide showed us beautiful gardens on the back side and gave us history of the mountain, and so much more! I definitely recommend this trip. Puerto Plata – I did not like going into Puerto Plata. I am very glad we did allow a man to come and show us around as a tour guide again because he was able to shoo away some of the people trying to harass us. Just make sure to tell your guide that you do not want to go into every shop because every shop you go into, you get bothered by people trying to barter with you about how much you should buy. It is a very poor town and we did not feel comfortable there. We stayed maybe an hour and then said we wanted to go back to the hotel. It was interesting to see another way of life, but nobody speaks english and you feel as though you are being lured somewhere at times. (Especially after we heard a story that happened recently about a woman tourist who was held hostage in the town while the husband had to leave her there and go back to the hotel to pay the ransom of $80 US to get her back.) Rum Factory – The rum factory is a 15 minute walk from the hotel – no cabs necessary! It’s hot so go early in the morning! The tour is free which is nice as well. You get to walk inside the factory, hear about the history, and watch the line workers bottling the rum (and drinking it while they work!!!) After the tour you get to sample some very yummy frozen drinks with rum in it!! Then they take you to the gift shop where you can buy the rum. We bought bottles that were 6 years old because the 9 year was all sold out!! For a bottle of 6 year it was only $8 there – at the airport and elsewhere it is $15. I definitely recommend doing this – it’s super cheap, doesn’t take long and was really fun! Departure and Check out – Easy and smooth. Took no time at all. You no longer have to pay the $20 departure fee!!! HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS I WISH I’D KNOWN
Bring lots of sunscreen!!!! When you think you have enough, BRING MORE!!!! We ran out and they were charging $21 for a small bottle in the resort – luckily we found a farmacia on the way to the rum factory where we got 2 large bottles for the price of the one small bottle!!! Also, bring cough candies or cold medicine, just in case. Bring a watch or little clock to have with you – although you are there to relax, it is important to know the time at certain points and there are few throughout the resort. Barter with everyone – even in the gift shop on the resort. Outside of the resort, cut the price they give you in half to start out with. Bring floaties for the water. Get up early to reserve a hut at the pool – the beach is easier to find shade. Bring thermal mugs – even if you’re not drinking alcohol for your water or pop. Do not pack jeans or even many pants – it is HOT!!!! I regret not bringing more cheap beach cover type things because the sun is incredibly hot and it was too hot to stay uncovered but too hot to put sweaters on!!! I over packed unecessary things!!
— BE CAREFUL WITH THE WEIGHT OF YOUR LUGGAGE!!! From Canada we were allowed in with the weight we had (it was just on), BUT on the way back we got stuck paying $100US between the two of us and we had only added a few small things to our luggage!!! —– Overall, I would go back to this resort. I would like to try a few other places first because I have not done any other all inclusive, but I recommend this resort to anyone who is looking for a clean, friendly resort with good food, drinks and entertainment! As mentioned earlier, this place is not for those who are looking for a spring break frat party – many families are here so if you want a place like that this is not it. We had a few crazy party nights but the resort is big enough that you do not hear the disco when you’re in your room with the air conditioner on. The nights we went to bed early we heard nothing. These people are sweet and caring and I truly enjoyed my first all inclusive experience!!
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Kelly & Jason ~ NS

April 2008 Hola! My boyfriend and I stayed at the GOM. We went with a wedding group (22 people flew out of Halifax & 10 more joined us in the DR) We flew out of Halifax in the afternoon with WestJet. They are a great airline – too bad they can’t get their TVs to work though – they had issues on both flights. We arrived at the Puerto Plata airport without incident….the last time I was there was 4 years ago so I was surprised to see some renovations going on (the smoker in me was frantically searching for the end to the no smoking signs!) After collecting our luggage we went to our bus and were on our way to the resort. Check in was easy and took just a few minutes. I will admit that I have never checked in at night before and it was hard to find the way to our room in the dark. After a few moments of confusion we found our building (3000) and our room (3201) I always have that moment of fear before opening the door to the room; I’m always scared I’m going to end up in a dump. I had no need to worry, our room was….I’m struggling for a word here….I guess the best thing to say is the room was suitable. It was your basic resort room. The tiled washroom is located to the immediate right when you walk in the door. Great water pressure. (after a few days in the sun I couldn’t leave it at full force) And would you believe that there are facecloths in the washroom?? Anyways, back to coming in the door, to the left is a big closet that has the safe inside (yes you need to pay for it ($21) & you get no refund) Also in the closet is an iron and ironing board. In case you are wondering the electrical outlets are the same as Canadian ones. Moving into the room I was happy to see 2 dbl beds rather then 2 twins pushed together to make a dbl. (I know that some in my group had a king in their room) They also have alarm clocks in the rooms (I rarely find those in resorts I visit) There is a mini bar & you are allowed 2 beer and 2 pops a day (both found in the glass bottles) anything else you take will be billed to your room (I had a Pepsi and a water and was charged) They do give you 2 big bottles of water BUT there is no room in the fridge for them. Speaking of the minibar – they will lock it the day before you leave so if you want something that night you have to remove it the morning before you go. There is a TV with about 20 channels or so – 4 or 5 english. And each room has a balcony. Ours was across the walkway from another building and some of the construction. The construction: Not a big deal. I watched the workers lay a walkway (this involved a Jack Hammer) and I wasn’t bothered by it. The thing is, if you are trying to catch an afternoon nap chances are you have the AC & fan on with the patio doors closed. The sound of any construction is drowned out. I will say it was interesting to watch the workers who were in turn watched over by a security guard armed with a rifle. I have no idea why. Lets move out of the room. As I said we were in the 3000 block that was central to everything. The great thing about the GOM is that it is a fairly small resort so nothing is far away. I should mention about the renovations that they are adding a casino. I would suspect the price of a stay at this resort will skyrocket upon the reno completion. The pool is great, a great size (no swim up bar but there is a pool bar) Lobby Area:
There is internet access just off the lobby where you will also find tour reps to book excursions. (note – when booking ask those reps if they get a commission and how much it is…..then go to the beach and avoid being ripped off) Internet access isn’t free – $8.00 IIRC for an hour. There is also a Disco located just off the lobby – the first night we were there they were playing “The Night Paddy Murphy Died” for a bunch of Maritimers in the DR that was pretty cool! The lobby washrooms are also equipped with 2 shower stalls if you should have a late day departure. There are gift shops on site along with a liquor and cigar store. (you can expect inflated prices) Restaurants:
The Buffet restaurant was where I ate most of my meals. I certainly did not go hungry. I would of liked to of see a bit more of a variety. Breakfast was lacking for a traditional meat side dish….there was only bacon 2 mronings. Like I said, I still found tasty things to fill my plate with at each meal. Mangos is the snack bar on the beach. You can get burgers and hot dogs there. French fries also. Good stuff….even better for a late night stop! The only A la Carte restaurant that I visited was the Italian one which was very good, with a view overlooking the resort. The interesting thing about this resort was the smoking policy. I’m a smoker and can’t remember another resort that had non-smoking sections. (the Italian restaurant was non-smoking – I thought this would be a plus for the non-puffers out there.) The Drinks/Bars:
Mmm mmm Good. The Nightly Shows:
Not bad actually. Lets be honest, they often miss the mark – I was impressed with this team. You’ve probably heard about Coffee & Cheeky Monkey….they work hard! The Beach:
Very nice. There is lots of shade – if not under a papala there are lots of trees. This isn’t an ideal area to snorkel though. Shopping:
If you walk right on the beach towards Playa Dorado & walk for 5-10 minutes you will come across the Orange Market. There are people that will lead you down the beach…the Orange Market isn’t the first set of shops after the bridge…keep walking. They are building a “shopping centre” there also – it looks like it will be a nice area. Make sure you don’t pay what they are asking. I was talking to one of the shop keepers and asked him how many times he gets what he is asking. He laughed and said once in a while. Just to give you some idea: If they say they want $95.00 for a widget and you say how about $80.00? You DID NOT get a deal! Offer them 50-60% below the quoted price! It’s fun once you get into it. Don’t feel guilty they will not sell anything to you if they aren’t making money. Oh and if you meet him tell “Tom Cruise” I said hello! We also took a cab to the Play Dorado shopping mall…the prices are pretty fair there. If you want an authentic shopping experience you can get a taxi into Puerto Plata. There is a price list of taxi fares to various locations posted outside of the resort. (I have a picture of if email me if you would like it) Excursions:
I did the Jeep Safari tour with the Waterfalls. This is actually my second time doing this trip. I know there are many opinions on this excursion so if you have any questions, feel free to email me. I think that is about it. The bride and groom were married the morning of our departure in Canada but they had also planned to have a 2nd ceremony on the beach. IIRC the cost was $450.00 and cake and champaign for 6. Since there were 32 of us that was a waste of money. They ended up having a makeshift ceremony on the beach that was probably more memorable then anything else could have been. There are a few things at the Puerto Plata airport that you should be aware of. Liquor is not allowed in your carry on until after security. They will take it from you. You are able to buy it after you get by security though. Also, the $20.00 departure tax was included in our tickets this year. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to have it just in case though. Like I mentioned earlier if you have any questions please email me & I’ll help you out the best I can
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Sylvie, Nathalie, Guy, Gerry, Francoise ~ Halifax, Nova Scotia

April 2008 We were a group of 5 traveling from Halifax for a 2 week stay at this hotel. We paid an excellent price for this vacation. Knowing that the reason why prices were reduced was because of construction, we were all ready to live with it, good or bad. As is turns out, the construction didn’t bother us at all. I must admit these reviews are very helpful and had an impact on us buying this vacation package. This is my 8th all inclusive trip in the Caribbean. Other locations were Punta Cana, Jamaica, Cuba and 3 times to Puerto Plata. I will try to be brief but helpful with my comments on this resort. Rooms & Hotel: The rooms were spacious, very clean and comfortable. We had the ultimate rooms, building 7 top floor facing the pool. The noise from the disco or the construction didn’t bother us. This hotel has 7 buildings, soon to expand to 3 more I believe. Everything was in close proximity to each other, but yet it never felt crowded. Pool & Beach: The hotel is nicely laid out & not too big. The pool bar made it very easy to meet people. The pool is amazingly large. There is a quiet pool, which is quite big as well and a larger pool where all the activities take place. The activities at the pool and the activities guys seem to be a lot quieter than other resorts I’ve been. So if you enjoy a nice relaxing quiet pool, this place is for you. The best part of this hotel is the amazing staff that is employed here. The bartenders at the pool bar, Quintin, Damien, Miguel, Jacinto, Yary and Mendy were the best! It rained for 2 days during our stay and this was the best place to hang out, have some drinks and play scrabble and cards. The beach is nice and clean, although it seemed best to go in the morning as the winds picked up enough in the afternoon to sandblast you away! I appreciated the security guard keeping the peddlers off the property. Restaurants: We tried all the a la carte restaurants. Because there are no advanced reservations, be prepared to put your name on a list, go for a drink and come back when you’re told. Don’t expect to walk into any of them and get a table immediately. The food was not up to par with a 4.5 star. We actually had better food last year at a 3 star in the same area. This is our only negative point about this resort. The Italian had good steak the first time, not the second. The Creperie we enjoyed the first time, not the second. We did not enjoy the Santa Fe – Tex Mex. We found the food at all of them, including the buffet was not consistent in taste or quality from one visit to another. Breakfast & lunch overall were the best meals at the buffet. Mangos is a nice spot for lunch. Nice change from the buffet. If you’re looking for the steak at Mangos, it’s located in the Santa Fe side of the restaurant. There you can order a steak, pork chop or sausage cooked for you on the grill. Although the buffet restaurant was a nice restaurant, we all found it dark, dim and hard to see your food on your plate. The wait staff, (especially Eradania, Dolores, Lillian & Isreal), were the buffet restaurant is excellent. Very service oriented and friendly. Please take the time to tip. It doesn’t have to be much, $1, they are very appreciative and really do give good service. We do it home, why wouldn’t you do it there? Off the Property: We went for walks every day. Most times we’d go to different neighborhoods of Puerto Plata, to the Playa Dorado complex and the orange market. The city of Puerto Plata is safe, don’t be scared to walk it! You actually get harassed more when you go to the Orange Market. People in the city go about their business and really leave you alone. It just nice to see a different way of life than ours in North America. The Brugal rum factory is just outside the resort about 10 minute walk away. Turn right towards the city just outside of the Costa Dorada complex. It’s the best place to buy your rum. Cheaper than the airport or the Playa Dorada shopping plaza. Just before you get there, you’ll see a t-shirt discount store. Apparently they have good prices. The local busses are easy to take. They are constantly pulling over to see if you need a ride into the city. It’ll cost you 20 pesos, not even a $1. Buses A, B, C, D, E, F take you in town. We took a taxi to the City Center and shopped in their local department stores. It was nice to not see any tourists or souvenirs being sold. We also checked out historical sites in the downtown area. The shopping plaza at the Playa Dorada complex has fair prices, compared to the shop at the Hotel which is outrageously expensive. Barter at the Orange Market! You can get 60 to 70% off the price they give you! They tell you not to walk to the left at the beach. This leads to the Puerto Plata city and it’s perfectly safe! No strangers come out of the woods offering you stuff (like in Jamaica). The beach is clean, the water is beautiful and it’ll take you about a half hour to get to the boulevard that parallels the beach. My only advice is to not walk bare feet in the sand as we saw some broken glass along the way. The only excursion we went on is a half day snorkeling in Sosua. We snorkeled for an hour or so in Sosua Bay. Snorkelling off our resort is not good. Conclusion: I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions and want to know more, feel free to contact me at
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Grace & Chuck ~ Timmins, Ontario

April 2008 Arrival and Flight
Flight from Toronto was on Air Transat TS-206. Departure from Pearson was at 6:25am, which meant a 3:15am start from the hotel. We flew in from Timmins the day before as there was no possible connector that early in the morning. The flight down was very good, and we flew down in “cattle” class. I am a fairly big fellow and it was not very comfortable in the current seat configuration, but we survived. Arrival in Puerto Plata was on-time and there were no issues with customs etc. We arrived at the resort at 11:30am, no find there were no rooms ready for most of the arriving guests. Check in went fairly smooth for the large group that was arriving. So we changed into shorts/swim suits and went to have lunch. We were told to come back at 3:00pm, and our room should be ready, which it was. Our luggage was delivered without delay. Rooms
The room was what we would have expected, as this is a return trip to this resort for us. It was very clean, but is beginning to show some signs of wear and tear. The lamp shades do not sit straight and look old and stained. The housekeeping staff is excellent, we left the maid $3 or $4 a day as a tip, with a request for extra water and it was there each day without fail. My wife has some long term health issues, and on occasion, needed to rest a little longer, and they were extremely accommodating around our schedule. The hotel should consider updating some of the furnishings. Restaurants
We went to the Sante Fe Tex-Mex grill on two occasions, as this is our favourite spot. The line-up for the Italian restaurant was usually very long with at least a one hour wait, and the Crepe’ place did not appeal to us at all. The buffet was the spot of choice for breakfast and supper, with a few lunches at the Mango’s beach bar if you did not feel like changing. Overall, the food was very good, with a wide variety of dishes to choose from. There is no reason for anyone to go hungry at this resort. Bars
Bars were the standard fare, the usual list of fruit/fancy drinks and of course Presidente Beach and Pools
The pool is extremely large, and not crowded. There are lots of chairs available, but if you want some shade, you need to stake out your ground early in the morning. There are signs telling you the reserving the loungers are not permitted; now that’s a misconception. I had to go out at 06:45 in order to get a spot in the shade, which we occupied 90% of the day, with only a break for lunch. The beach is clean and well kept, again with lots of loungers, and sufficient shady spots so there were no issues. The wind was quite strong during our stay and there was a lot of sand blowing around. Grounds
The grounds are very clean and well kept, there is always somebody raking, or sweeping in order to keep everything neat and tidy. Activities and Entertainment There is a list of daily activities for the resort, but we did not participate in any of these. Tours
We took in Ocean World and the Bravissimo show. I would highly recommend these tours to anyone; they are well worth the money. We also enlisted the help of Martin Espinal from Isaria Tours for a tour of Puerto Plata. This company is excellent, we learned about him here on Debbie’s, and I would highly recommend them to anyone. We had our own driver and tour guide (driver was Alex and the guide was Hosea) and for the cost, ($105USD for 3 people) it was well worth it. It was less expensive that the tours through the resort. Departure and Check Out
Here is were the real story starts. The evening before check out and return to Canada, my wife became ill. We contacted the doctor on the resort who came directly to the room to access her condition. She was immediately transported to a 24 hour clinic/hospital where she was given treatment that was as good as or better than you would receive hear in Canada. I am sure that the fact we had travel insurance helped, however, we learned the next morning that she had a bacterial bronchial pneumonia, and was deemed unfit to travel. Hence we missed our return flight to Canada, and then what I thought would be a nightmare would begin. Not the case for the most part, Air Transat (Transat Vacations) and our representative Carole did an outstanding job of making a bad situation, not so bad. The other from Air Transat that were extremely helpful were Alexandra from the Puerto Plata office, and Sandi who met us at the Airport and made clearing customs etc., so smooth and painless. I also take my hat off to the Grand Oasis Marien and Ester Gomez, the guest services manager for her help as well. They brought food to the hospital and accommodated us in every way possible, including insuring we did not have to vacate our room until we were ready to return home. My wife responded well to the treatment, and was released in 36 hours from the time she was admitted. The actual check out went well, and we departed with a sigh of relief at 10:30pm on Wednesday April 2nd, one day later that planned. The flight home was not as pleasant as there was turbulence on and off during the entire flight back to Toronto. Not enough that you couldn’t be served your meal, just a bit annoying. Conclusion
Once again, I can’t say enough about the treatment and care we received from both the Grand Oasis Marien and Transat Vacations and Air Transat. Needless to say, they will probably be our vacation company of choice going forward, and I would not ever hesitate to return to the Grand Oasis Marien. Final thought, NEVER NEVER travel without insurance
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Holly ~ Washington, DC

March 2008 Arrival and Flight
JetBlue was great – lots of leg room, Direct TV & XM radio, unlimited snacks & excellent choices Rooms
Our room was spacious, clean and simple. We had an oceanfront room on the second floor. Quiet and comfortable. Restaurants
The food was good, but not remarkable. The cheeses were bland & the salad bars were sparse. The buffet restaurant was the most boring- while there were many choices, there were no stand-out dishes. The crepe restaurant had excellent desserts and a good wine selection. The Tex Mex restaurant was good – excellent "salad" bar there. The snack bar did a good job of filling the void. Simple food, tasty. Bars
Good drinks, good service. I wish there were a few more beer brands, but found the selection of beverages to be good considering the price. Best bar is the one by the beach. Beach and Pools
Clean, large, spacious, not crowded. People save the shaded chairs very early in the morning so that can be annoying. But the temperature is so nice and the ocean brings a lovely breeze, so even the sunny spots are not too hot. Grounds
Immaculate – there were grounds crews out every morning raking leaves. Beautiful scenery. Gift shops are ok. Buildings are beautifully kept. Activities and Entertainment
Lively, funny & friendly. Even from a deck chair. Tours
We walked over to the Brugal rum factory to tour & buy rum. Not fancy, but worth it for the reasonably priced rum. Complimentary rum drink, too. Departure and Check Out
Uncomplicated & pleasant. Front desk staff was helpful and responded to any request (for towels, water) in a timely fashion. Conclusion
At only $650 a person for 3 nights & 4 days, including airfare, this trip was an excellent value.
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Diana ~ Toronto Canada

March 2008 Arrival
Feb 7-21 I really like the fact that this resort is so near to the airport (25 mins). (RIU is 45 mins) Rooms:
Small and dark. Beds were not comfortable. Insonorisation qualite (soundproofing) wasn’t there — I heard conversation and TV. Restaurants
I was impressed by their Rigoletto restaurant: food was excellent and service was great. Bars
Bartender named Raoul spoke English very well. He spoke better English than the receptionists at the main desk. He was so friendly. My complaint: glasses were tiny, next time I’ll bring my glass Beach & Pools
Beach was monitored by a watchman to avoid loitering and to secure safety for sun-bathers. Pools were kept clean by their pool cleaners every morning. They also, tested pool water for bacterial growth to avoid infection (very essential!) Grounds
Unlike RIU, Oasis is Flat: safe for children, disable, old people. Grounds were well manicured and maintained. Activities
Animation team is there to amuse and entertain you: water-polo, step-class, beach volley-ball, dance lesson, Olympic game..much more. Coffee (gentle soul,workaholic) is a good dance instructor. If you meet him, please, invite him to eat with you. I have learned about lively, interesting local culture & lifestyle from him ( things that you don’t read & hear about ). Canadians are known to be this passive, quiet people there. If you can, please prove them wrong. FYI: "wakie wakie Canadians!" favourite line for the animation team members Tours
I was not interested in any commercialized attractions. I did two tours: Paradise Island and Sosua (very charming, quaint place) for snorkeling. You really get to know their current socio-economic situation when you’re out there. Conclusion
I would say this resort is still 4 stars. It’s a family friendly resort with much comfort. I would go there again next year and I would like to purchase their vacation club membership. -if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email:
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Gunny and Garry ~ Winnipeg

March 2008 Arrival – This is our third time here…smoothest welcome yet and we got the room we had requested and a lovely welcome drink! We were on the beach and in the water within 10 minutes of arrival! The DR people still refer to this hotel as the Coral Marien…the cab driver didn’t know what I meant when I said Grand Oasis even with my almost perfect Spanish accent. Rooms – Beyond perfect…renovated within the last 2 years somewhat. We have a 1 bedroom suite which now has doors separating the bedroom from the livingroom and a coffee area has been added with a microwave (who exactly is doing their own cooking here?)Always clean! Absolutely no complaints other than a slight musty smell which does stay in your clothes when you get back home. We kept the a/c on all the time. We left a tip for the maid every day. A cold beer late in the afternoon after we returned form the beach/pool was a nice treat. Otherwise we didn’t touch the minibar at all…pretty crazy prices for the treats. Restaurants – We were unimpressed by the ribs at the Santa Fe and so didn’t go back…the service seeemed hurried to us. However the Cayuco (main diningroom) has such a variety that you’ll never go hungry. Breakfast is especially good. I love the yogurt! We finally tried the Rigoletto (Italian pasta restaurant), which was ok…nice view from the window seats. You no longer need reservations at these restaurants which was a nice change. My only complaint…the smoking section at the Cayuco is right by the main entry now so you have to walk thru it to get to no fumar. Bars – Ok…here’s a weird complaint…the drinks were too strong! We constantly had to ask them to tone down the alcohol and finally resorted to drinking the cerveza. Since we spent most of our water time by the ocean we used the Mango bar the most. Service is always quick. The local watered down wine is not much more than fruit juice but what the heck…we drank it anyway with supper! Beach and Pools – The best…we walk along the entire beach several times a day (way past the other hotels) and we really do have a very clean and well-kept beach. You can also walk with no fear to Puerto Plata along the beach which we did twice. You will be approached by children offering to give you shells and vendors for the orange flea market, which has some pretty good souvenirs (shop around!!! and be prepared to bargain-learn a bit of Spanish first…it goes a long way!). For the first time we did use the pool once it got too windy along the beach and it was warm. The entertainment was a little loud, but humourous so it was tolerable. We exchanged our wet towels before 5pm for new ones (they didn’t seem to like that for some reason), but that way we always had nice fresh ones to use early in the morning once we got to the beach. We didn’t have to save chairs since there are plenty by the beach. Grounds – A lot of bushes and trees seemed to be missing…we don’t know if the hurricane took them out or the painting of the exterior of the buildings but there are definitely less now than in the previous years. It’s also been a dry year so not as many flowers. We were disappointed to see that our garden has been replaced by a new building being erected on the far side of the pool. The staff is amazing at keeping everything immaculate tho! Glasses are constantly picked up, no garbage etc. The hallways in the buildings are washed twice a day as well! Construction noise was only heard the first night we arrived. The new seafood addition to the Santa Fe is almost ready so that noise is gone for good. The casino is being constructed right by the front entrance to the resort…doesn’t bother us in the complex but we’re in building 2 by the water. Buildings 1 and 2 are mostly now reserved for Vacation Club! We welcomed the change of the internet cafe to the front in an air/conditioned space and the additional of another little shop. Activities – We didn’t partake being old fogies (53 and 56) but my teenagers would have enjoyed them and we enjoyed watching. Most nights we couldn’t stay up long enough to watch the stage shows. Tours – We went snorkelling to Sosua with Sea Pro Tours with Krista by the towel/picture stand/library. $84 US each, but going out on the catarmaran was super fun, the fish were beautiful and we were glad to go on it. However, we’ve taken the Paradise snorkelling tours in the past and liked going into the countryside (great photo ops)and the fish were more plentiful with greater variety. Paradise is a cheaper trip too. Hubby really wanted to go on the catamaran tho and Iloved it! We got quite wet with waves, which was half the fun! Conclusion – Advice- sit down and talk to the Vacation Club people! We bought another 40 weeks and they gave us 10 free weeks. We now have a relatively cheap holiday for the next 25 years that can be spent anywhere in the world! You get a bigger, better room away from the noise of the pool for a fraction of what you’d pay for 2 weeks thru a tour company. Buy your t-shirts outside of the complex. Turn to the right towards PP and walk to the Super Mercado (opposite side of the street…maybe 10 minute walk)…right behind it is a shop called the Caribbean Banana and you can buy ready made or custom make your own for roughly $5 each. Be adventuresome…we walked into PP twice, explored, found great cheap grocery stores (wicked good juices for around $1) and bought our vanilla there for 17 pesos (approx. 50 cents) compared to $8 at the airport!! We also took a local van to Sosua with 25 others (that’s an experience by itself) for 30 pesos compared to $60 US taxi. The locals are friendly and it’s safe. Sosua has a ton of souvenir shops and a great grocery store called Playero Super Mercado where I found lovely bags for my teens for way less than the vendors. We love this resort! We’ll be back next Feb and March!!! Feel free to email me at for more advice!
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Andrew and Janice ~ Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

March 2008 Arrival – We arrived at the airport at 11:30 am,Jan.26/08. Got to the resort around 12:30.Check in was suppose to be 3:00 but was after 4. We were greeted with a drink, and told to enjoy the resort while we waited for the room. There was a little confusion with check in due to lack of good english by the resort staff. Rooms – Room was neat and clean. 1 water 2 pop, 2 beer per day. Lighting is poor. Room upkeep was good. We left a tip everyday. Restaurants – The buffet restaurant is a very good place to try different foods. Something different everyday. The food was good at all the eating establishments. No reason to go hungry. Bars – Bar Staff are very friendly, and are good at mixing drinks. They read between the lines when you ask for something that you don’t know how to explain. Pool bar was the best spot. Presidente is the local beer. Beach and Pools – Beach was very clean, always some one cleaning it.Water was very warm, and lots of big waves. lots of fun. The pool is huge, and very clean, but colder than the ocean. Lots of lounge chairs to lay back in. Grounds – grounds were very neat and well looked after. There is construction going on as they are expanding, but this did not bother us at all. Interesting to watch the workers work with mostly hand tools. Activities – Pool, ping pong, outdoor chess, water arobics, swiming, a spa and a jym. lots to do.Live nightly entertianment, and a Disco. Tours – We only did 1 tour. 1/2 a day to The city. Rum factory, Amber museum, and a fortress were the highlights. You also get to see how the people live. We took a couple walks up the road to other resorts, and a long walk on the beach to do some bargan shoppong. you must stop and dicker with "Mr. Cheapy". Conclusion – A very nice resort, friendly staff. Peurto Plata seems like a good place to vacation. We would go back to the same place agian.
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February 2008

1)We flew Service Air. They served lunch and gave free ear phones. It was great! 2) My husband had lost his Nike runners where he left them in our balcony (first floor). Apparently, running shoes are very expensive here. We think that it was one of those construction workers nearby. Rooms were regular and nothing spectacular. I was not impressed with them, beds were too small for two people but just right for one person. It was not comfortable to share it with my daughter. 3) We just loved buffet for fresh fruits, salad. We loved eating papaya, passion fruits and watermelons. We also, loved to that Italien restaurant. We were very impressed with their food and service that we left $5 US (tips) every time we’ve visited that restaurant. 4) We don’t drink alcohol but I was impressed with their water fountain where we can refill our water bottles 5) Pools were very well kept. I saw them conducting water tests, and they get up early in the morning to clean the pools. No chlorine here so I just loved it! Beach was very beautiful and clean. They have a man who collect sea weeds every day.This resort also has a security guy who patrols the beach. I want to emphasize that other resorts around us neither had weed cleaners or beach patrol personnel. No wonder Oasis had the best beach!!! 6) Clean, excellent! There were membership personnels on grounds- pursuadedme to purchase their membership to Oasis Hotels. I felt uncomfortable around them. They don’t do anything – stand and target people – get them to the club house for registration. 7) Activities were amusing and good. Some schedules were not on movies @ 7:30 pm each night. 8) Excursions offered by the hotel – Turisimo were expensive. Later I discovered that some excursions offered by Sport Divers were cheaper like $20- $30 than Turisimo and much flexible. You can find them at the Ping-Pong table. Conclusion: I would go back again because it was fun. I just love our activity personnels: Coffee (good latin dance instructor, gentleman) Claudios ( shy, considerate ) Cheeky Monkey ( funny guy who does really good Michael Jackson impression) Shaggy ( nice, pleasant ) I’ve been to better resorts than Oasis but what makes it special is because of these four people who made me laugh and enjoy myself.
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Brenda ~ PEI

February 2008 We flew Canjet and will probabally never do that again.We were not given our prebooked seats as they changed planes at the last minute and we were diverted to Nassau for re fueling.We lost a day at the resort because of this, we were supposed to land 11:00 am and didn’t get into Puerto Plata until 1:00pm by the time we got to the resort it was 3:30 pm We were not impressed to say the least. Also be very careful with your camera leaving Halifax as my new camera and memory cards were blasted and fried going through exray, I didn’t know this happened until we were in Nassau and tried to use it, it worked fine that morning at the hotel as I took pics of our daughter at 2am when we were leaving.When we finally arrived we were greated with a drink and a very smooth check in. We were told to come back in an hour for our safe which was fine. Rooms – The rooms are regular sized hotel rooms with balconies,we were traveling with our 14 year old and found them a bit tight , but would be wonderful for 2 people.There is liquid hand soap and a large shampoo in the bathroom,had we known that we would have left ours home and saved room. There is also a mini bar in the room with 2 cold beer and 2 pop a day for your consumption, you get 1 large bottle of water a day but ask the maid and she will leave extras. The mini bar items to buy are expensive but that is to be expected,ie a bar is 3.00 US and a water is 2.50US plus there is taxes added on.The cleanliness of the room is fault free and the maid does little extras every day. there was only 2 plugs in the room so take an outlet addapter to have more plug in space.The air conditioner keeps things cold and lovely there is also a big over head fan. You have to leave a door card in the slot inside the door to keep the power and air on.We stayed in the 2000 block and had a beach view and were close to everything. We were right beside the theatre and it was quite loud, but they are done at 11 pm and most nights we were there. Restaurants – THe food was wonderful, we all gained weight even a fussy 14 yr. old. We always had bacon and fresh pastries for breakfast and the smoothies are to die for. We ate at the Tex Mex 3 times and if you get there at 6:30 you will not have to wait but the wait times are never that long anyway. We ate at the Pasta Restaurant and both are excellant. We never made it to the Creperie at all. Th e main buffet is graet also for supper they do a different theme every night and in 2 weeks it was not repeated that we could see. The beach bar is great for snacks and lunch with pizza and fries and hamburgers, the chilli is awesome. If you go hungry here there is a problem. One point to remember the beach bar that says it stays open 24 hours closes sometime in the night, my hubby who is an extra early riser was down there at 5am and it was closed,they do have coffee available though. We don’t know when or why they close . Bars – There are 2 bars here . The pool bar that is not a swim up bar and the sports bar. The guys at the pool bar are wonderful and if you want a drink that they don’t know how to make just ask and tell them the recipe and if possible they will make it.There is sometimes a little band playing and singing here. The sports bar has a big TV and pool tables, kids are allowed in acompanied until 11 pm, then it becomes a disco. We never went to the disco though. The girls at the sports bar do something different every day for a display with the bar glasses. Both bars are very friendly. Beach and Pools – The pool is awesome we spent most days around the pool there are lots of chairs and palapas and shade to go around, I won’t lie we saved our spot everyday for 2 weeks at 7:30 am But we were usually at the pool by 9 at the latest, hubby was sometimes there at 7:30 to stay.Everyone saves spots and nobody seened to save a spot and not use it. The beach is wonderful we walked both ways on the beach and did’t have any problems however when you are on the public beaches they were quite dirty and garbage strewn.the waves were quite high when we were there. Grounds – The grounds are immaculate. The gardeners are always working at raking and cleaning.We saw some peacocks on the prowl and the flowering trellises are beautiful Activities – The animation team work hard and are usually quite funny. The shows are not Broadway bound but are good and usually funny. Tours – We did Paradise Island and while the snorkeling was fabulous the bus ride is too long and bumpy Conclusion – We enjoyed this resort and would definately go back.We packed way too much luggage and found out when we arrived how inexpensive it is to have your laundry done there. Any questions feel free to ask.
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  Grand Oasis Marien   Montreal, Canada

December 2007 We came back yesterday from a week spent at the Grand Oasis Marien. We were four: my husband, I and our two children (2 and 4 years old). Overall, we were very satisfied with our vacation. The weather was fine and the water very warm. We swam in the ocean every day. For two days, the water was completely flat but the rest of the time, there were medium sized waves. The children would have fun jumping in the waves. About the resort: The rooms were clean. The swimming pool was very large and had a shallow section for the kids. The beach was clean. There are many bars serving drinks. The restaurants were nice, the food was good but not great. The main advantage is that the selection was so vast you could always find something you’d like. At the restaurant facing the beach (the Mango), they would grill meat for you for lunch, there was a selection of beef, pork and sausage. I think many people may not have realized this option. In the afternoon, around 4 pm, there would be crepes made fresh at the Mango. It would last for half an hour only but it was nice, you could put ice cream and chocolate sauce and other toppings on it. At the main restaurant, there was always a very large selection of food. It was easy to find something for our children. In our room, we got two big bottles of water every day (the normal is one bottle per room, I am not sure why we got two, maybe because we were four in the room). We drank this water and occasionally refilled our bottle from the fountains at the bars. We had no problem with it, even our baby has been very healthy all the time and ate with good appetite. The staff was nice and nobody asked us for a tip. It is a nice resort to go with children. There is a kids’ club for children four years old and above. It runs from about 9 am (sometimes more like 10 am) to 5 pm. The club has a (small) room with toys and video games. They would play games either inside or outside and in and around the pools. Unfortunately, when we were there, there was only one woman in charge of the kids’ club. She was very sweet and good with the children but one person is not really enough. We left our daughter there several times but we kept informed on what they were doing, and stayed not too far. My daughter loved the kids’ club and enjoyed the mini discos in the evening at 8:30 pm. The kids even gave a show on Christmas eve. There were entertainments on the side of the pool in the afternoon, kind of games. We found it too loud. I watched the show only a few times in the evening. The nativity scene on the beach was nice – they even had real pigs, a donkey, horses and a young cow. After the show, they took pictures with the children sitting on the horses. The regular show was mainly danses with nice costumes and decors. It was cute but not outstanding. About the construction: They are currently building two new buildings. They are not close to completion at all and it will take many months before they are finished. Our room was supposed to have a “Garden view” but we had a view on the construction site which was pretty close. It was not too loud (mainly hammering noise) but it was a bit disturbing during nap time, although it did not prevent our children from sleeping. The work went from about 8 am to 5 pm. The positive side effect of this construction was that the hotel was far from being full. There were only few people on the beach and it was easy to find a chair around the pool. We did not take any tour. Since the weather was nice, we preferred to stay on the beach and go swimming. We took a taxi to go for a walk in Puerto Plata. There is not much to see but it is good to realize how poor the people are. Nobody disturbed us and only one young child came to us begging for money. We went twice to a small market located on the beach 10 min walk from our hotel. We bought four paintings for a very good price! So overall, a very nice vacation in what we think is still a four star hotel.
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Grand Oasis Marien Rob and Ty ~ Niagara Falls, ON

November 2007 Your Arrival
We won this vacation from 97.7 HTZ-FM back in February through , and finally got to take it on the first week of November. Glad we waited, since the vacation was indefinitely cheaper due to the US dollar. Also, we managed to miss Tropical Storm Noel by 1 day, and luckily had beautiful weather all week. Anyway, check in at Pearson (at 2 am) was a little slow, but who cares, we’re on vacation! Flight was very very cramped. DR Customs was very quick and easy. The $10 tourist card was included in our package. Porters will offer to take your bags, but there’s no point really since you only have to walk a very short distance. Many transfer buses were waiting for our flight, just ask the Tour Rep (she’s hard to miss) and you’ll be shown to the correct bus. The bus driver and loader guy hint at a tip.
When we arrived, the resort was -very- empty, but this changed after a few days. Rooms
Rooms were very nice, we stayed on the top floor of Bohio 3. High ceilings and incredibly spacious compared to other American hotels I’ve stayed in. As others have said, your towels are taken in the morning, and you won’t get them back until mid-afternoon. The room bar is expensive, but they give you a price list of the items inside it. 2 bottles of coke, 2 bottles of beer, and 1 big bottle of water is your daily allowance. Dominican Coke is much better than ours 😉 A/C worked wonderfully – I’d suggest getting 2 room keys though, since you have to insert your card in box on the wall to get power to your room, that way you can leave 1 card in there to keep your room cool.. TV is 85% Spanish stations from South America, there’s a couple English movie channels though (HBO, A&E). Restaurants The food…. had to be one of the best things on the trip! We ate at the Pasta Club and the Tex Mex place once each. Pasta Club was pretty good, the Tex-Mex place was.. mediocre at best. But… even over each of the theme restaurants, I’d rate the dinner Buffet the highest! They had a different theme every night, but it was all perfectly edible for everyone. The quality was MUCH higher than I expected, and the service is pretty good too. And, you can go back for as much as you like. The desserts are incredibly sweet, but equally as tasty. Breakfast buffet is pretty standard, as is the small lunch buffet at Mango’s.

Dinner starts at 6:30pm for each of the restaurants, but you’ll probably find that it’s least crowded at that time.

Bars The bars are pretty standard – they have a list of fruity cocktails you can pick from, but if you ask the bartender, they’ll make some other things too. Cuba Libre (rum and coke) are good. I don’t know if it’s because we’re 2 younger guys (24 and 26), but I found that the bartenders at Mango’s bar and the Poolside Bar made the drinks -way- too alcoholic for us. My Cuba Libre from there had to be 70/30 rum/coke. Now, the Sports bar (which was very quiet the entire time we were there) was much better. There were 2 different girls doing the bartending, and they each made a fantastic Blue Margarita. I tipped them a lot because their drinks were the best.

Presidente is a great beer – it tastes like Alexander Keith’s. Very easy to drink even if you don’t really like beer.

Beach and Pools
Beach was well kept, lounge chairs were plentiful when we were there. The ocean is nice to jump in the 2-4 foot waves, but don’t expect on swimming anywhere fast, and the water is too cloudy for snorkeling. The kayaks are fun. Pool looked nice, very clean. Didn’t bother swimming in it. Grounds
Again, very clean, the landscaping and presentation is amazing. They’re constantly upkeeping the grounds. There’s construction going on the west side of the resort, as they’re building a couple new Bohios, I guess. The noise wasn’t overly annoying, but you can hear it. One of the construction workers asked me for a tip as we walked by…. Yeah, they all want your money. They were doing some roofing work on Mango’s… but Dominican roofing is rather silent, as they were merely laying down new Banana Thatching 😛 Activities
Didn’t do a whole lot on the resort other than eat, sleep and have a few drinks. Never saw the Chocolate Friends. The Vacation Club reps didn’t bother us once. Tours Everyone will try to sell you a tour, even on the beach, even walking down the road! Coming from our society I’d rather get my services from a company that seems a little more respectable and trustworthy than some guy walking down the beach. Note: A few people here mentioned that Martin Espinal (Isaira Tours) is a great place. We looked fruitlessly for this company due to the previous recommendations, but it doesn’t seem to exist! The plaza (Plaza El Doral) across the road seems deserted, I called their phone number even, and the person had no clue what I was talking about. So… Who knows.
Go to the Playa Dorada mall complex, there’s lots of tour sellers there. They’re pretty much all the same pricing, so pick your favourite. We booked with Manuel from Alav tours. Nice guy. Went to Ocean World – great facility. Admission alone is $55 (swimming with the sharks or dolphins costs much more) but it includes the bus ride there and back. Recommended! Jeep Tour was very neat – got to see the countryside, saw how fresh coffee was made, a stone carving factory, and the Damajuada Waterfalls (lots of ..rugged.. walking here). Very scenic, bring a camera and some money for souvenirs. Puerto Plata City tour – Also worth it, there’s a few galleries and a museum involved, a quick tour of the old fort, the Brugal factory (Awesome! $5-8 rum!) and a bit of shopping time. Then the cable car. DO THE CABLE CAR! It’s an amazing view and experience, hopefully you get to see it on a clear day, before it clouds over. Conclusion Quick points: -On the beach, many vendors will try to get you to go to their shop over at a flea market sort-of-place. They will endlessly try. Don’t worry about knowing Spanish, because they will speak your language very very well. I found that all the shops (there’s 50-60 of them in the 2 buildings) have the same stuff. I’m probably bad at haggling, but don’t go to the vendors until you see prices at the shops in Playa Dorada. I found that you can get the same things (and more) in the real stores at Playa Dorada for somewhat cheaper than the vendors will let their products go for. But, it’s up to you… -Driving in Puerto Plata yourself would be downright scary. Let someone else do it for you!

-The art is quite pretty, and dirt cheap compared to buying art here in Canada. I missed out on a beautiful painting of 3 macaws in the Larimar/Amber Gallery though. It was a tad expensive, but I regret not picking it up, as it’s the only one I saw like that.

Checkout and the transfer to the airport was painless. The check-in at the airport was a little hectic, but went smoothly. No liquids allowed at all on your carryon pre-security. The security checkpoint was really quick and we didn’t have any problems like others have mentioned. There’s lots of duty-free stores post security, so you can stock up on more rum there, the prices are still reasonable 😉 The $20 departure tax is now included in your package. Flight back was much roomier than the flight in, for some unknown reason. All in all.. It was a fun time! All-inclusive resorts rock!
Any other questions, feel free to contact me at
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Grand Oasis Marien Chad And Rachel ~ St Catharines

April 2007

We stayed at the Coral Marien March 30 to April 6. We loved the resort.

Our trip was booked through Red Tag and was painless. They corrected my little mistakes and all was good.

4:30pm out of Toronto was a nice time to leave (no major rush like an early AM flight). Air Transat’s Airbus A330 is a very big plane, packed with a lot of people. 9 wide in the middle and not much elbow room. If you could see a TV you could follow along with the movie, but small screens placed far apart…. sucks.

D.R. customs was quick and easy. When outside the airport, relax and look for your bus, they won’t leave with out you (eight or nine buses were waiting for our flight).

Check in was nice, only 10 people from our flight were at this resort. They show you a list for the mini bar and how much it will cost you should you indulge. Two bottles of beer and two bottle of pop are complimentary, all the rest is expensive. The room safe key is $3us a day and worth it, but what to do with the key for a week?

The porters loaded us onto a little truck and whisked us to our room. Building 5 and our room overlooked the pool. An OK setup in the room and nice colors. The bathroom has a hairdryer and it is 110volt. But the clock in the room always increased in time, like the cycle rate was different (60 cycles in Canada). My girlfriend said her hair straightener was much hotter for the setting she would normally use. Also, the water in the mini bar you pay for, the bottle on the table is free and they give you a fresh one every day. ‘Mangos’ is the snack/beach bar and that night had great fried chicken. We had a few drinks and talked with Lisa and Lindsay from our flight.

All of the food was great. The buffet had a good selection, and I love the omelet grill. We never made it back for dinner at the buffet but lunch was good there as well. Most nights we ate at the Italian restaurant above the pool bar. The beef tenderloin was great. Good house wine and if you want a better wine, they have a large list of wines you can buy. The Sante’ Fe was nice, right beside Mangos, at the beach. The seafood was good (watch the lobster shell) and the burritos were ok. We only found the Crêpery open a few nights, the sea bass was great and what they did with crêpes was neat.

The grounds overall are very well kept. The beach is cleaned regularly. But the ocean had garbage and stuff floating around. I know it’s not their fault, but seeing plastic bags and wrappers floating around is not what I expected. They had storms not long before we got there and maybe that was the cause, I don’t know. The ocean was cloudy when we got there and was almost clear when we left. Lounge chairs are a problem….. People put towels out at 6am to mark a spot. After an hour they tell you to remove the other towels and use the chairs, because people will leave the chairs unattended for half the day. Also there are not enough chairs or umbrellas to go around. They just need more for both locations….

Watch for vendors, they are every where and will hound you….. Down the beach (toward the other resorts) there is a market full of vender. If you want to bargain and haggle that’s where to go…..

Bring a calculator if you really want to bargain with the venders. They figure out your exchange and show you a number…

Pesos and US dollars and best for vender but most will take Canadian, with their exchange rate….

26 pesos per Canadian dollar or 30 pesos per US dollar (the resort is a lower exchange rate 21/1 and 27/1)

Of the many tours we went on the Puerto Plata Runners, and Puerto Plata / Sosua city tour. Both were great. The city tour takes you all over the city stopping at many shops and the Brugal rum factory ($6 to $8us for rum there). The show you various parts of the city and take you to the old fort. After the fort was a little buffet lunch, the food was ok. Then off to Sosua beach for a two hour stay. We brought along our snorkel gear and swam out to the reef from shore. All the snorkel and dive tours take you there. Sea life is abundant and friendly. The Runners tour load you into a truck and off to the country you go. PLEASE DO NOT BRING CANDY!!!! The tour guide will tell you not to bring it. It will rot their teeth and teach them to beg and fight for what you give them. Pens, pencils, note books, penciled crayons…… all good choices, just not candy. They stop at a school, a farm, a cigar ‘factory’ and their ranch. At the ranch you go horse back riding or you can go see the beach. The horses were very lean and boney and the little ride you get is fun but too short. The food they served was good and more on the local side that the resorts serve. Off to another beach for boogie boarding or playing in the surf. Both were fun and informative tours

We were told about the Catamaran tour, most people got sea sick, and the waves for the Atlantic were too big. You can take a taxi anywhere and the rates are posted at the lobby.

Check out is at 1pm and you can store your entire luggage near the lobby. They have showers in the lobby bathroom just incase you need to shower before leaving. Customs leaving D.R. was painless as well. Remember your $20us for departure tax. And you pay that at a booth near your departure gate, (i.e. Gate 10) not at your departure gate. Many people assume you pay at the gate and are turned away to pay the tax over at the booth. The flight home was good, I had been sick all day (don’t drink the water) and was lucky with no one beside me. The long walk around Toronto’s airport is always fun….. Customs was simple as usual but baggage claim sucks on a flight that big. Parking at Pearson is the pits, get someone to drop you off and pick you up if you can. We may have parked in the wrong parking lot, but $135.00 for parking….. OUCH!!

On the whole, we had a great time and recommend the resort to anyone who just wants to lay back and relax.

Any questions just email..

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Coral Marien Beach Resort Grace & Chuck ~ Ontario Canada

April 2007

I would like to start this review by saying that it was by becoming a member of Debbie’s Dominican Travel Forums, I learned what to expect and what the real Dominican Republic is all about. We booked this trip on-line, and did not know what to expect, however I would not hesitate to do it again.

The flight to the to the island was great, we left Timmins at 6:00am with a terminal change inn Toronto. My wife has mobility issues and the staff at Pearson were great. They assisted with the transfer, and had plenty of time to make the switch with no hassle at all. Our holiday was through Transat Vacations, and we flew West Jet from Toronto to Puerto Plata. The flight was great and the West Jet staff was a treat as always. Check in at the resort was smooth, and we were at our room in the matter of ten to fifteen minutes. We had requested a quiet area away from all of the activity at night, and this request was granted, as we had a ground floor room in building 4 with an ocean view. There is a mini-bar in the room, from which your are allowed 2 sodas and 2 beer each day, everything else is big dollars. We left a 5 dollar tip and a request for an extra beer, and it showed up without fail every day but one. We also tipped the maid 3 dollars each day and a request for extra water, as you are given only a one litre bottle each day on the table, water from the fridge is at a cost. There was extra water every day, and a request for two extra pillows was handled immediately. I would also recommend the lock for the safe, $21US for the week, it is well worth the money for the peace of mind.

The property is very neat and clean, and there are people constantly working around the grounds. The beach is also kept in excellent condition. There are workers raking up the seaweed almost constantly. During our stay, which was March 24th to 31st, we had high winds each day, which made the beach very messy, but the staff was there steady cleaning. The pool is one of the biggest we have ever seen. It is shaped like a 3 leaf clover, and is probably 5 feet deep at the deepest point. It was actually cooler than the ocean, but very refreshing when the sun was out. No fault of the resort, the sun only came out on two of the seven days, the balance was cloudy and rain. However you have to look past that, and there were other things to occupy the time. Just the rest and the telephone not ringing were worth it.

The food was excellent at the buffet; there were choices there for everyone. Breakfast was the usual fair, bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, French toast, etc. There were all types of cold meat cheese, and fresh fruit. They also had an omelette station, which would cook you eggs anyway you wanted, and a smoothie station as well. For lunch there was again cold meats and cheeses, salad selections, hot beef or pork, chicken, fish, rice, potatoes, etc, etc. They also had hamburgers, hotdogs and ribs on the back grill. There was also a choice of two soaps and many “low-cal” desserts. Supper was usually some international theme, along with similar hot items that were served at lunch. There was a constant change in menu, so you never really got the same thing twice. The staff at the buffet were outstanding, particularly Jennette and Rosa. They always greeted you with a smile, and a hug. These two ladies made the greatest impression on us during the entire trip. The are also 3 a’lacarte restaurants on the property, we tried the Tex-Mex which was excellent. There is an Italian and French restaurant as well, but we didn’t bother going to them. Then there is Mango’s down by the beach, which is open almost around the clock. They close from 6:30am to 11:00am and 6:30pm to 10:30pm when the main buffet is open. The food was pretty good, the usual hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos and fries.

We took three of resort excursions, we did the ½ day Puerto Plata tour, the evening show and casino at Ocean World and the full day Ocean World visit with the Sea Lion encounter. The show at Ocean World is worth the $35US alone. It is a must see when you are there. The day trip and sea lion encounter is also well worth the money. You can also do the Dolphin swim if you so desire. The ½ day trip to Puerto Plata was not the greatest, the Rum Factory tour was OK, the rest was different stops to sell you something you may not really want. The Amber Museum was nice, and you can also buy cigars and Mamjuana there as well.

The only negative part of the entire vacation, was the vacation club pests as we called them. They normally hang out at the front of the buffet dining room, but they seemed rather aggressive and were wandering around the entire resort trying to pedal there “vacation club” time-shares. It got so bad we had to got to the guest services manager and make a complaint. However, I don’t think I would let that stop me from going back, I would just use a different tactic when they came to try and sell me again. That would probably put an end to it. When it was time to leave, we were very sad. It is truly a great resort, not too large where you we get lost in the crowd. The guest mix was very diverse; there were a large contingent of Germans, quite a few from Great Britain, a few other different Europeans, a few Americans and the balance Canadians. Most everyone was very friendly, but most of the Germans kept pretty much to themselves, however it may be just the language barrier. The flight home was also very good, and on-time which made the connections work very well.

Overall I would rate the resort 8 out of 10 for everything except the vacation club. If they would learn that no or no gracias mean NO they would be far better off. Would I go back again, you bet.

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Coral Marien Beach Resort A crazy bunch of PE Islanders

March 2007

We just returned from our fourth visit to the Coral Marien. We flew Westjet with Air Transat Holidays out of Halifax. Our flights both to and home from the Dominican were great.

The resort was immaculate once again, a pleasant surprise as they’ve changed management once again. It was nice to see some of the same staff still there from our visits in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The grounds at the resort are lush and well maintained. We couldn’t believe how much things grew since our last visit. The beach was expanded which was very nice to see. Lots of lounge chairs, both at the pool and on the beach but some are definitely in need of replacing..not a big deal.

The food was great as usual, always something for even the fussiest of eaters! We also tried the a la cartes, and the food was very good (the ribs are the mexican grill are a must).

The weather wasn’t as nice as other years. Each day started off with the sun shining brightly, but by 1 or 2pm it clouded over. Lots of thunder, lightening and rain. Again, attitude plays a very huge part in how this would affect your vacation. We didn’t let it *dampen* our spirits at all. We found lots to do in the rain, from playing water volleyball, to pool at the sportsbar, to just sitting around at either the pool bar or beach bar. We also spent one afternoon at the Playa Dorada mall. Even though we had rain daily, we all came home with wonderful tans!

The Chocolate Friends were very energetic as usual and lots of fun. If you didn’t feel like participating in their activities, they were not persistent. They work very hard to please the guests, and are so very friendly. We’ll especially miss Jose Orlando (Chewy Chewy), Cheeky Monkey, Scooby Doo and Shaggy. It was nice to see Francis once again as well as Ricky Martin. I only wish we would have had a chance to see Grace (Ricky’s wife) who is off work on maternity leave.

All in all, we had an awesome vacation and would definitely recommend the Coral Marien.
Just wish we were still there…..

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Coral Marien Beach Resort Shadow

March 2007

We returned recently from two wonderful weeks at the Coral Marien. Everything from our flights to check-in and check-out was flawless.

Compared to some of the mega-resorts, the Coral is relatively small which was to our liking. It afforded us the opportunity to meet and get to know many people from all parts of Canada, Europe and the U.S. because we would keep meeting the same people daily. The resort is compact, everything is easily accessible, yet we never felt crowded or in need of greater space. We stayed in building four. It was between the beach and the pool, a little off to the side, so it was a little bit quieter not that this is an unbearably loud resort. The room was very well maintained clean and comfortable. In fact the resort is very well maintained and spotless.

The beach was clean and inviting. The water was warm and for the most part fairly clear. We did have a few windy days when the ocean was a little rougher, but that just made for better boogie boarding. There were lots of loungers and a lot shade for those who needed it. We spent much time at the beach, but we also spent a lot of time at the pool, too. The pool is very large and very well maintained. There was no shortage of loungers, but we did I must admit engage in some early morning reserving by placing of towels on loungers. We were very fortunate with regards to the weather – a very few brief periods of rain but mostly sunny and hot.

The food and service were, also, very good. The buffet was large and there was a wide variety of choice. We tried all the a-la-cartes as well, and walked or rather, waddled away from each fully satisfied. Service was quick, friendly and efficient. The bars were well stocked, and I was so happy to be reunited with Presidente, Brugal and Barcelo. Thank goodness Quisqeya, arguably one of the world’s foulest brews – a staple at the Bahia Rio San Juan, was not to be seen.

The nightly entertainment was typical of AI’s in the D.R. There was lots of dancing and the required audience humiliation. The animation team, The Chocolate Friends, kept the place humming with their limitless energy.

This being our third trip to the D.R., we didn’t do any of the standard excursions, but we did a half day in P.P. and spent time with friends from the hotel in Sosua.

The hotel staff was very friendly and helpful from top to bottom. We tipped generously, and brought a lot of small cosmetic items, school supplies and such to give to the maids as well. Actually we ended up giving away a third of our clothing as well. All gifts were much appreciated.

On a scale of ten, I would rate this holiday and this resort a well deserved nine. I would return without hesitation, but we may try elsewhere just for the novelty. We loved the Coral Marien.

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Coral Marien Beach Resort Paula & Mike ~ Newfoundland, Canada

March 2007

My experience with this resort was a major disappointment. Myself and my husband along with another couple visited the Coral Marien from Feb. 20th-26th, 2007. Our disappointment actually began long before we got to Puerto Plata and it began with Air Transat. We were the first in line at the Air Transat check in and requested for the two couples to sit together. Request granted or so we thought until we boarded the plane and not only were we not sitting together but the other couple were put in different seats on the plane. We were supposed to fly out of St. John’s NL at 7:10 pm February 19th but due to a snow storm the flight was delayed which is understandable. What is not understandable or acceptable was after many delays that evening we were finally able to board the plane only to sit there for two hours and was told that the flight would be rescheduled. Air Transat did not remove our luggage nor was there a representative available once we got of the plane. Meanwhile West Jet passengers to Cuba were well taken care off. Their luggage was taken off, hotel rooms reserved for them along with a shuttle service. That is customer service! Air Transat was supposed to depart for Puerto Plata 9:30 am the next morning. After many delays we left St. John’s International Airport at 4:00 pm that afternoon. Meanwhile Air Transat once again failed to provide any customer services. Sometime later that afternoon they offered a meal voucher of $10.00 per person non refundable if you didn’t get your meal, which we didn’t due to long line ups and the plane starting to board.

When we finally arrived at the Coral Marien we were very impressed with the Hotel and the grounds. It is beautiful!!! Upon check in we had to pay for the safe. The receptionist explained that we were allowed two beer, two soft drinks and ONE water a day. When found our room ourselves to avoid delays with the bell boy but there were no lights so I had to go back to the receptionist to find out how to turn on the lights. She explained that you need to put your room key in the slot on the wall. Now why weren’t we told that in the beginning? I was very thirsty when I got to the room so I took out our ONE water out the fridge, BIG MISTAKE, the one water we were allowed was sitting on the table in the corner and I had to pay 4.50 American for cold one I took out of the fridge.

The pool was beautiful and clean, lots of chairs, you didn’t have to get up at 6:00 am to reserve one. HOWEVER the lounging chairs need a major upgrade. They sag in the middle making it uncomfortable to lay on your belly because the bar under the chair keeps digging in to you. This is the same for the chairs on the beach as well. The beach is ok but once you go pass Ibeorstar there is lots of garbage. It is also the same at the other end of the resort, garbage everywhere. Also there is a worker that harass you to sit in on a meeting (time share) and he doesn’t like to take no for an answer because he loses 10$ per person which makes him very persistent but annoying to the guest.

I was very disappointed with the food especially the Buffet. I am a person that can eat anything and everything , I put on 7lbs at Iberostar Varadero Cuba and Breezes Super Clubs Puerto Plata but not at Coral Marien. I ate mostly white rice and carrots here. If I was to recommend any restaurant it would definitely be the Sante Fe Grill, the Ribs are really good, you don’t get many and they may be cold but they are good. The Pasta restaurant was a really nice dining experience so we decided to go back on Sunday Night but they were closed. The Crepe Restaurant was also very nice.

In regards to the drinks I was also disappointed. They do not serve champagne and you have to pay for international drinks. Wine is served out of a big plastic jug. At the restaurants you have to ask for the second glass of wine. At the buffet you could be waiting a half hour before you get something to drink if you got it at all. On the resorts I mentioned above the wine was free flowing, your glass was always full. Also you could drink Pina Coladas and Bahaman Mamas all day and not feel the slightest tingle in your toes.

Entertainment was ok. They relied heavily on the guest to be a part of the show eventually that wore thin. I would like to have seen more signing and performing of the Chocolate friends then to see the same guest up on stage night after night.

The 24 hr bar was also a disappointment, it was dark and dingy. When you walk into it was like you walk out of the Caribbean into a bar back home. It had no Caribbean atmosphere!

I definitely would not recommend this hotel. I am not a person that is hard to please but when I pay a lot of money for vacation I expect good service. We did not get that at this hotel, we actually stopped tipping on the last few days because we were tipping for nothing. The maids are the only exception to this. They were great.

To sum it all up beautiful hotel, beautiful grounds, nice clean rooms but no service!

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Norm and Toni

March 2007

We have just returned from the Dominican Republic this was a revisit as we had not been there for the past seven years. We stayed at Coral Marien Puerto Plata and the hotel lived up to its reputation on the reviews. The rooms are beautiful, the grounds are immaculate they are continually scrubbing and cleaning everything in site and the pool is goergeous. The beach on a windy day can get a lot of seaweed but they are always trying to clean it up and you will only see the garbage beyond the hotel property…after all this is a third world country, if your’e looking for Canadian standards one should stay in Canada.The staff are always polite and friendly and we found the buffet had a very good choice of food. For my husbands particular tastes he preferred the buffet as he is not a pasta eater or very fond of crepes, but people we talked to said the food was good in both of these restaurants. The hotel had a mixture of people all ages and from many countries, we had some great conversations everday with many different cultures and being a small hotel we continued to see and chat with the same people often. We highly recommend this hotel……Yes there was the vacation club( time share) people outside the buffet…welcome to the world of hotels in the Caribbean. We have been to many other places and it is the same everywhere not just the Dominican. You just have to be firm say no thankyou and walk away with a smile. I agree about the safe key, it should be free and also they should upgrade the safes to the ones you can put in your own code as a better security. At Ocean World Adventure Park the sea lion show is great and we did the interaction with them after the show, that was the highlight of our vacation.

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Chris and Sherry ~ Canada

February 2007

This was our first trip away together without the children. We had a great time. The people at the resort were very friendly. We ate at the Sante Fe Grill three times and found the food very good. Although the service on our last night very slow. One of the servers Fabio was very nice and friendly. We tried the Italian restaurant 1 time and tried to get in a few more times. You should go early as it is small and fills up fast. We ate at the Crepe restaurant it was also good food. The buffet was large and always changing. Found food pretty good. Johny the photographer was really funny and very pleasant. Great help. If you ask him he will take some private and nice pictures around the resort. Which you can buy on a disk for about $3.00 each. Although the resort was full it at no time seemed over crowded. We took 4 excursions to Porta Platta, Cable Car, Cigar Factory and to Ocean World . Enjoyed all of them. Our room was always clean and tidy, Our Maid(s) were very nice and friendly. Pool was amazing. We would return to this resort again.

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Kathy ~ Canada

February 2007

Not recommended. Very disappointed with Puerto Plata and the Dominican Republic.

Stayed at the Marien Coral from the 9-16 Feb 07. Its looks absolutely wonderful when you first walk into the front lobby.

The rooms were OK, but the mattresses have seen betters days and need replacement, there were no info guides in the rooms, one single sheet of paper you received on check in. The restaurants were nothing special and I have had much better meals. On occasions the restaurants were closed no signs or why just not open. Mangos on the beach was suppose to be open until 6:30 pm for snacks, well by 4 pm it was usually closed, actually still open just absolutely nothing out. Getting a cup of coffee or tea at the buffet was so frustrating on average over 7 days it took 30 minutes (yes you are indeed reading that correctly 30 MINUTES).

For an all inclusive having to pay for a safe key is not something anyone should have to do that should already be included in the price. The vacation club recruits hounded my husband and I for 6 days, they hang out right by the buffet, every breakfast and lunch we have info for you blah blah blah….The beach looked great until you walked a short way either direction GARBAGE every where….washed up on the shore line. The same for going into the different villages or towns there is garbage every where.

6 words I never want to hear again "Lady, Lady, lookie, lookie, cheapie, cheapie." If you go to buy anything do not pay any more then HALF of what they are asking yes you have to Barter. It got to the point where I didn’t want to shop or go any where near people because the locals were always after you for something(excluding the ladies on the beach for the hair braids they were the only considerate bunch). My husband and I did venture out and take a couple of tours. The Monster trucks were very good, but the TOURIST are causing problems for the local people DO NOT GIVE THE KIDS MONEY(they don’t want to go to school) and candies(the villages now have problems with tooth decay and diabetes because the tourist keep on giving the kids candies), just take the rid and enjoy. But don’t contribute to the growing problem that we as the tourist have created.

Paradise Island great for snorkeling getting there and back to your resort is a very long trip 2 hr each way. The snorkeling was great.

Took a taxi and guide to see Puerto Plata, very good tour for $45.00 US, lasted about 4 hrs. Arranged it through the resorts front desk. The amber museum is NOT a museum its a few information boards hung on the wall…the same for the cigar factory…the rum factory is actually just the bottling and package plant no rum is produced there. The cable car is a must beautiful view about $16.00 for two to go to the top.

IF you spoke Spanish or were a member of the vacation club you were treated like royalty if not your were dirt.

And the biggest kicker of it all coming through the airport to leave one of the gentlemen had $100.00 Canadian dollars removed from his wallet. Someone else had to get the security(yep the security) to turn their pockets inside out, one of the security personnel had not just $100.00 Canadian in his pocket but $200.00, still wondering who else he ripped off. The airport Porters are rude and want $10 or $20 dollars per bag….Puerto Plata is a scam and a rip off. Not recommended.

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata David and Susan ~ Winnipeg, MB

January 2007

Just returned from the Coral Marien in Puerta Plata. Flight Used Air Transat out of Winnipeg. We were an hour late in departing for numerous reasons, however once in the air the flight went well. Two movies on the way down in a 5.5-hour flight so that passes the time. We traveled on an Airbus 310 with two aisles and 9 seats across in sets of threes. There are a number of two seats in the tail, which I usually reserved for hubby and I. Love the bigger play. Find the 737 of Westjet and Skyservice a little too small. Hotel Beautiful hotel with 6 three-story buildings. Buildings 1-4 are on the beach and buildings 5-7 are closer to the main lobby. Rooms are basic but very clean and very large. Bathrooms are great with a wonderful shower, coffee maker and hairdryer. Also included in the room are an iron and small ironing board. Room safe is $3.00 American per day. Housekeeping staff does a wonderful job. Just remember towels are taken out around 10 a.m. and you don’t usually get towels back until later in the bathroom. Pool towels are picked up at the room by the pool/activity area. If you want to put deadbolt on the door you have to turn the handle UP. Learned that the second last day we were there. Otherwise housekeeping is coming into the room. Pool The pool is fantastic. It wanders around in a shape of an 8 and has three bridges crossing it. You can swim under one bridge. Lots of chairs. Most of those under the palapas are saved each morning by 8 a.m. They clean the pool and pool deck each and every morning. Cooler water than the ocean but nice on a hot day. Lots of activities around the pool Beach Only two hotels on this beach so not too busy. LOTS of chairs on the beach. Water can be a little rough but fun to play in the surf. Ocean was quite warm. No vendors on this end of the beach and security always walking the beach. Bars Beach bar is not right on the beach but a short distance off the sand. Open 24 hours and a busy place later at night when people go down for 24-hour snacks. Great for teenagers as there is always hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, fries, chicken wings and assorted other foods. Great place for lunch. Pool bar is open from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Always busy but Quintin makes some great drinks. Sports Bar-Air conditioned and nice place in the evening to play a fun game of pool. Turns into the disco at about 11-11:30 p.m. once the shows are over

Food Food was very good at all the restaurants. The buffet is great for breakfast. Never ate lunch there but heard it was fine. Had one or two dinners there and they were fine. A la cartes were good. Italian, French and Mexican. Italian is only inside, air-conditioned restaurant and it was my favorite. It is overtop of the pool bar and has a great view of the pool in the evening. Quite Small Sante Fe grill was good. First night service was slow, however second time went well

French restaurant is a creperie. There is also a chicken and potato dish on the menu, however if you don’t like crepes not the place to go. I like that you DO NOT have to reserve a la cartes. All open at 6:30 p.m. Either get in line at 6:30 or you have to wait until about 8-8:30 to get a table. You can eat at a la cartes as many times as you like. We went to Italian twice, Mexican twice and French once. Enjoyed them all and great service.

We walked to Playa Dorado complex one day and took a cab to the disco and casino one night. It is $7.00 American for a cab. It is safe to walk during the day but not at night.

Beautiful hotel that is well kept. I would definitely return to this hotel. Many Swedes, Danes, Brits and Canadians. Met lots of nice people especially those from Halifax.

Email me if you want further information Sue

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Judy ~ Canada

December 2006

We (28 of us) travelled to the DR for my niece’s wedding at the Marien Coral – Nov 12 – 19.

Departure from Pearson – uneventful – check in with Air Transat efficient. Customs no problem providing you have your liquids/etc. in medium Ziploc bags – they actually had some there for you just in case.

Flight to POP 4:45 p.m.- quite turbulent, service OK, plane full so seating cramped. Only served a snack (Subway ½ sub – yuk) since flight is less than 4 hours. Arrived a bit of schedule due to tail winds.

Arrival at POP airport 9:30 DR time – again uneventful – customs clearance no problem, baggage off carousels in timely fashion – no bag checks by customs, etc. Air Transat staff awaiting arrival and direction of travellers to appropriate buses for transport to hotels. All but 4 on our bus were in the wedding party/family…transfer to Marien with 1 stop at Viva Wyndham 20 minutes.

Marien Coral reception – organized for registering incoming guests to their rooms. We had requested adjoining with a friend but were told to come back in a.m. to do that. Also told to get safe locks in a.m. – believe they cost $6 US/day. We opted to use 2 suitcases locked within each other and had no problems…Staff was very congenial. Some people were offered refreshments – however they came up short. No problem as the 24 hour sports bar/disco is just off the lobby. It was very hot… Porter service to rooms with luggage was good.

Rooms – just as you picture on the numerous websites/brochures. Having prebooked as a group in June we had what Air Transat called partial oceanview but they actually were beachfront – bonus. Our original room #3319(3rd floor) which had a king bed which was firm and comfy. Iron/ironing board and hairdryer in room. Very clean with high ceilings and a fan. A/C worked well. We moved in a.m. to room #3216 (2nd floor) with 2 double/queens – mattresses not as nice as king..and no high ceiling. Buildings 1, 2, 3, 4 front onto the beach with rooms numbered 16 thru 21 facing the ocean. Bar frig you are only allowed 2 bottled pops at no charge and the large bottle of water they leave in your room on the table. All other things in the frig cost you big $;s.

The honeymooners were upgraded to the bridal suite after their wedding – it was all done in ivory with canopy bed, separate living area, double balcony, 2 washrooms, 2 Tvs – 1 Spanish and 1 English – gorgeous…..We had a problem with a fan blade coming off in the night for which the hotel offered us an upgrade to a suite but we opted for 2 rooms with late checkout since our flight wasn’t until 10:30 p.m. – they were very considered and fixed the fan immediately.

Grounds/buildings – clean and always being cleaned. Nice gardens always being trimmed and weeded. This is a smaller resort which we find more friendly and accommodating. Very easy to get around to any of the buildings/lobby/restaurants.

Pool – very large with lots of chairs and palapas but get there early – saving chairs after 8 a.m. did not seem to be a problem. There was no bar/waiter service around the pool.

Beach – lovely and always being cleaned. Seaweed in ocean not that bad and cleaned up when it hit shore. Lots of palapas and shade trees. Only problem was the sand fleas which seemed to come out after 6 p.m. and were also in the Santa Fe restaurant at the wedding reception and at Mangos bar – bring the OFF or a deet spray for sure. This is the only resort we’re been to where I’ve came home with lots of bites….Is it the new sand???

Buffet Restaurant – casual – lots of variety at all meals. Good quality food. Breakfast excellent with egg/omelette station and juice bar. No complaints about the buffet food at this resort. This is an open air eatery with no A/C and was very warm on occasion.

Mangos Restaurant/Bar – by the beach – real casual – usual fare of burgers, hotdogs, fries, pizza. Also chicken, pork, rice, soup, salad fixings, breads, desserts. It was nice to get to a resort where we could get something decent to eat at 11:30 pm after check in. We spent a lot of time at this spot and the service was very good and attentive.

Santa Fe Restaurant – wedding dinner served here – very elegant – however some meals were not as hot as they should have been but overall very enjoyable. We’re given 3 main course choices, 2 appetizer choices and the best chocolate cake ever for dessert. Service was tentative at first but improved over the course of the meal. Again this is an open air restaurant.

Creperie – excellent main course and dessert crepes. Small salad/cheese bar also offered. I would recommend their food highly. Open air restaurant..

Rigoletto/Italian – we ate here twice – A/C’ed – elegant – great food and service – risotto and smoked salmon appetizer wonderful. I found seafood medley overcooked. All in all very good eating.

We were offered as many a la cartes as we wanted. They did not take reservations and suggest you get there when they open 6:30 if you are a group of 8 or more otherwise your wait would be an hour or so. Tips also seemed to speed up the seating priority.

Bars – good service, lots of choices, Presidente on tap. Service usually friendly and quick but there is not pool/beach waiter service.

Phones – we called collect once and direct once from the room which cost about $10 US for 15 minutes – not bad.

Excursions – we did the Freestyle Catamaran which was a great day $79 and we got a cab for 10 to Playa Dorado for $20 US return. Others did Paradise Island and enjoyed. Both purchased with Nolitours/Air Transat Rep. Kids did ATV’s purchased off someone on the beach and loved it for $40 US..

Shopping – we (6) hired a taxi to Sosua for $55 return – over 300 huts – a lot of the same but a fun outing. Be prepared to barter and be nagged. Take bug spray with you as sand fleas were biting here too!!!! Also walked down to other side of the Iberostar to new Plaza and got some good deals – about 15 minute walk.

Checkout/departure from POP – good but transfer to airport confused – 2 buses not enough seating for all – porters demanding tips – we weren’t impressed. POP airport checking OK – no bag checks – pay your $20 departure by the gate you leave from (at least with Air Transat) – lots of duty free….

Flight home – scary – we nose dived 1 hour into our flight – thought it was our time but pilot pulled us out of it (turbulence or something off radar). Air Transat staff bruised up but rose to the occasion. Bravo to the flight attendants of TS749 on November 19, 2006 – you did your profession proud. God Bless us all.

All in all, a great trip, wedding and resort. Would return in a minute to this resort – Marien Coral, Playa Dorado, Puerto Plata. The best DR vacation of the 5 we’ve had here.

I have posted pictures on – go to ‘search tags’ at bottom of page and type in Marien Coral Wedding.

Email me at if you have any questions.

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Adele & Dennis ~ Canada

July 2006

We actually won this trip through a Sears travel show last year and were only able to take it now. We would like to thank Air Canada for the flight and Coral Marien Hilton for a fabulous holiday. The Marien gave us a great ocean view suite and treated us like royalty.

The restaurants at this resort do not get enough justice, the service and food were FANTASTIC. The beach and pool were very nice and we went for long walks every day. The housekeeping was very good and we did leave a tip every other day which they appreciated very much. We were very sad to leave but hope to come back some day.

Puerto Plata is getting to be a very nice place since our last visit in 2001 and it was nice to see very positive changes. We also heard they are going to expand their port to accommodate the Cruise ships.

I would not hesitate to recommend this resort to anyone. Eat, Drink, Relax and have a great time.

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Canada

June 2006

We stayed at the Marien Coral from April 21 to May 5th. This was our first Dominican Republic visit and also our first all inclusive resort.

We flew Canjet from Halifax. Great flight and it only took 4 hrs. We got through immigration fairly quickly after filling out our tourist cards, there were locals waiting outside the airport to carry your bags you could tell them no gracias or give them a few dollars for carrying your luggage. We got them to carry ours and we had brought way too much and gave them a few dollars for there help. We found our Sunquest rep easily who directed us to which bus to get on. The trip to the resort was only 20 minutes.

Check In
we were also welcomed with a cool drink and received our bracelets, and towel cards. We arrived before our rooms were ready so we quickly got changed in the lobby washroom and went for some drinks and a swim. We purchased the key for the safety deposit box to hold our money and passports which I would recommend as it was only $42 US for 2 weeks. $3’s a day.

The weather was great. The first night we did have thundershowers but it was in the evening and it didn’t ruin and of our plans. It was mainly sunny the whole two weeks we were there. We might have had 2 days of clouds, if that, as the morning it might be a bit cloudy but by afternoon the sky was blue and sunny. We learnt to not go by the weather forecasts posted at the front desk as it was never accurate. It called for thundershowers the whole time we were there and it only rained twice for maybe a half an hour.Also, the rain was a welcome as it cooled down a bit.

We were in building 5. I like this building as we were close to the pool, the bar and the disco. The room we had two double beds, and was kept spotless by our maid. We did not have any problems with the maid at all. She did a great job everyday we did leave her either a $1 or $2 a day and a few odds and ends every couple of days. In your room you are permitted to have two bottles of beer and 2 bottle soda and one litre of water.

The pool was great; it was split into two sections mainly. One side was for people who just wanted to lie in the sun and relax. The other side was the activities area. You had the Chocolate Friends who constantly entertained you. Sexy Richard, Chicken Legs and Mickey were great. The pool did close at 7 p.m. for cleaning every night. We were always up early to save a seat under a hut and to enjoy the sun.

I have to admit we didn’t spend a great deal of time at the beach. The sand isn’t white but they do keep the beach nice and clean. There are plenty of loungers there so you never have a problem getting one. We tended to go to the beach to do the water activities. We tries Kayaking, the banana boat (we had to pay $7 for this but it was well worth it), and wind surfing. All non motorized activities are free. Many people don’t realize that you gave have a scuba diving lesson in the pool for free.

I found that the resort had food for the pickiest eaters. We ate at the buffet for breakfast the grill for lunches and snacks and mainly at the Mexican and Pasta restaurants. I really loved the Mexican Restaurant. The French was a little to fancy for us. The staff at the Pasta Restaurant were awesome we through a surprise birthday party for our mom and my sisters boyfriend and all the staff came out singing happy birthday. We were highly impressed. We also tried the Tex Mex and pasta restaurants. We ate steak and ribs at the tex mex

The service at every bar was great. I mainly used the pool bar because it was so convenient. We would meet there for drinks before dinner and before the evening shows.

Was great. I don’t think I met one unhappy or unpleasant staff member. They work long hours and are always cleaning and serving the guests. I would have to say that the staff was always trying to please. The Chocolate friends were amazing and work long hours and work hard to entertain the guests. The evening shows were always a highlight to watch. The work that they put into performing really shows off.

We did four excursions. The first we did was the Outback Jungle Safari . Our guide was Nico and our driver was French Fry. This was great experience. We got to visit a local school (had an opportunity to donate some school supplies), a typical home, drive through some communities, go boogie boarding ect. Second tour was the Freestyle Catamaran This was a great day being out on the water and being able to snorkel with the fishes. Third, we did half day tour of Peuta Plata, visit amber museum, run factory, the forts and went souvenir shopping. Lastly, a group of us hired a cab and went to Sousa for a half a day to lay on the beach and shop. This was a great experience as we loved the bartering with the merchants.

The disco was the only bar on the resort. Some nights it was very quiet others it was quite crowded and fun. The disco doesn’t begin until 11pm after the nightly shows. Some would start off at the resort and then go off the resort to go to Mangos in Playa Dorado. If you have any questions about the resort please email me at

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata David and Tracey

June 2006

Let me start by saying that thanks to you & the info on your site, our honeymoon was the best holiday we’ve ever had!!! Whether it was the Spanish phrases or what to expect, it all helped make for a truly unforgettable holiday to an amazing country, so Thank You.

Now for our review…..

Warning: this review contains topics such as rain on a daily basis, bad sunburn, tummy upsets & messed up honeymoon packages. So why would I give this resort & the holiday 5 stars?

Well, to start it only rained for an hour or so, & when it did it cooled things down for a while which was never a bad thing & it never stopped us from doing anything that we wanted to do. The rain is why that part of the country is so green & beautiful, so never complain when it rains. It’s just an excuse to go & have fun indoors.

Bad sunburn….well when you spend the whole day in the sun on a catamaran, there’s only so much sun block can do for you….if you’re not smart (as I wasn’t) you will burn. Lots of Aloe Vera later I was good as new.

Tummy upsets as a result of too much food & alcohol is inevitable. Everything there is so purified. They are constantly cleaning & we’re probably exposed to more germs at home than we were on holiday. I can’t imagine anyone getting sick through much more than over indulgence.

Coral Marien is a stunning resort, with great food & drinks served 24/7 as well as some of the friendliest staff I have ever met. They did make us wait forever for the honeymoon package fruits etc & the bottle of rum never did arrive, but that was nothing to get upset about either…..we didn’t pay for it to begin with. The great time we had with everything else more than made up for any minor glitches. In fact each time things didn’t run according to schedule or the entertainment seemed a little cheesy, it was a reminder that we were in a different country, different culture & different priorities. Running a few minutes late is not a big deal…..arriving alive is. (& considering the driving, that was not always something to be taken for granted).

Anyways what I’m trying to say is that we treated everything as an experience & it always reminded us that we were on vacation….what could be better??

I could go on & on, but suffice to say if you’re considering a trip to Puerto Plata, consider the Coral Marien. You will not be disappointed. It’s about attitude more than anything else anyways!!

We went on several excursions & not only was each one well worth the money, we also came back a little richer in spirit from them as well.

Outback Jungle Safari : If you want to know more about the real Puerto Plata as their slogan says, than give this a try. You’ll also have a hell of a lot of fun doing so. Jesse & Scoobie are such great characters & so knowledgeable & really made this trip a memorable one for us. Boogie boarding was a blast!!!!

Freestyle Catamaran Adventure : The experience of a lifetime…as romantic, exhilarating & fun as you want it to be. There just something about being on the open ocean, sail blowing in the wind, waves lapping at the hull. Not to mention the amazing snorkeling at Sosua beach. There were 2 reefs to discover & my wife loved it. The skipper & crew of Freestyle 2 are real entertainers.

Puerto Plata city tour : We didn’t take the usual tours provided but went with a great taxi driver called Fabio who we met outside the Playa Dorado plaza. It was a spur of the moment deal & turned out to be a great time. Learnt a lot about the city from him & he also took us to the shops downtown so we avoided the usual tourist pricing. I haggled for a bit, but not too much. A few dollars for us makes a few hundred peso’s difference for them.

Ocean World : Could say I saved the best for last. What an amazing place. We did the sea lion show, which was really funny, played with the birds, which was cool, snorkeled in the man made reef, which was beautiful. Any of this would’ve been good enough, but to add to all of it, my wife did the dolphin swim & I did the stingray/shark encounter & swim. What an experience. My wife has always loved dolphins so this really was a dream come true. They are such amazingly intelligent animals & put on a great show. I almost lost a finger to a hungry stingray (that’s another story) but that was just a warm up for swimming with nature’s perfect killing machine & barracuda & tarpon etc. Nurse & reef sharks are not known to attack humans unless provoked, but anything that can kill you, especially when they’re within inches, with no protection for you, deserves a lot of respect. Again, a must do!!

All in all, we’d definitely go back!! All inclusive is the way to go!!

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Michael ~ Canada

May 2006

This is a little late, but we did stay at the Marien Corel by Hilton the last week of April, 2006. What can I say, they live up to their name.

Can’t really find anything wrong with this resort. The staff were more than accomodiating, the food was excellent, an the beach was relaxing, up to about 1PM daily when the winds picked up. Then, off to the pool area. With the ‘three leaf’ configuration, there was plenty of room and quiet swimming if you did not want to partake in the activities.

Please note: Anyone going to Marien Corel, or any other resort on this strip….. I have burried a treasure box that needs collecting. I had intended it for some friends that went a month later than us, but they didn’t get it, so…. Canadians only, and first come, first serve! Just email me and I will send you the Pictures for the hunt and the details.

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Eric & Evelena ~ Canada

May 2006

My husband and I just returned from a week at Coral Marien in Puerto Plata. This was our third trip to this very resort (other visits Apr 2002 & Apr 2004). It was also our best visit to the resort. This time we were one of four couples.

My husband requires the use of a wheelchair, which is one of the reasons for visiting the same resort three times (it works well for us). We tried several other resorts along the North Coast of D.R. but none were able to guarantee that they could meet our needs. The staff at Coral Marien are to be commended for their outstanding service in making sure that everything suited our needs.

Upon previous visits to Coral Marien, there were several modifications necessary to make our room perfectly accessible for my husband. These modifications include the removal of the bathroom door (easier to get around), removal of the toilet roll holder which is usually on the wall next to the toilet, and the installation of a hand-held shower head. As there is no roll-in shower available, but there is a drain in the floor of each bathroom, my husband simply showered outside of the bathtub. The first thing we had to do on our first two visits, was to get the plumber/carpenter (the same guy, by the way) to come and make these modifications. We had made these requests ahead of time prior to this visit, and we are very happy to say that all was well upon our arrival. There was also a very lovely fruit basket awaiting us (must have been a treat for return guests as none of the couples travelling with us received one).

They have added a ramp that allows wheelchair access to the beach now (was not there on previous visits). It requires the assistance of another person as it is a little steep and there is a pile of sand on the other side, but there is access now. Once you get past the looser sand, mobility along the beach is quite good (sand is hard-packed until the tide comes in). We walked/wheeled along the beach until we came to Iberostar. We spent more time on the beach this time, whereas before we were limited to poolside, which gets quite hot in the afternoon.

The grounds and all buildings are accessible, except for the restaraunt above the poolbar (Rigolette, a pasta restaraunt). We did however want to try this place out, so we requested that they set us a table downstairs in the poolbar. This was not a problem, my husband and I enjoyed quite a nice, romantic dinner beside the pool. They would not set a table for all four couples, so we ate downstairs and the other three couples were seated upstairs like everyone else. We got MUCH better service than the rest of them! We were finished our meal, including dessert, even before they had received appetizers! The waiter (Thomas) was exceptional and made sure we had everything we wanted. We made sure he received a nice tip.

On previous visits to Coral Marien there was no wheelchair access to the Crepe restaraunt (same building is also used for the Vacation Club during the day). Now they have a portable ramp that they place in front of the step when necessary. Service at this restaraunt was not the greatest, but I think it was mainly due to the language barrier.

All in all, the trip was one to be remembered for a long time! A good time was had by all. The staff at Coral Marien are certainly to be commended for doing their absolute best to make sure everyone’s needs were met. The Chocolate Friends are the mood setters for the resort. By the end of the week, they were calling us all by name. They work long hours and they work very hard, but they are always smiling. We would recommend this resort to anyone wishing to travel to Puerto Plata. I believe that any other resort along that stretch of beach would have a very difficult time in keeping up with Coral Marien in terms of the grounds and the truly exceptional staff. It almost feels like going home when we go there.

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Kathleen ~ New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada

April 2006

My three single girlfriends and I stayed at The Coral Marien Beach Resort from April 12-19, 2006. If you are single female and you are looking to party with the boys this is not the resort for you. I don’t know if it was just the week we were there but we were told by our travel agent (we booked through Sears Travel) that it was relatively a single crowd, anyway not the truth. We did meet several people during the day (and when you’re putting back the Dominican rum who really cares?) Our agent also failed to mention that since we were in Puerto Plata on Easter weekend that entertainment, all water sports, some housekeeping and some excursions were not available. It would of been nice to know this before hand. Easter is a HUGE holiday for the Dominican people.

I definitely do not have any complaints about the resort. It was very clean, the staff was friendly, and the entertainment was ok. The first day in our room our toilet clogged up and we called the front desk. Literally within 2 minutes a maintenance man was at the door to fix it, and he did. The grounds and beach were very clean. Don’t expect the chrystal clear waters though, but the water was warm. The pool is very large and they are several activities throughout the day. My girlfriends participated in water aerobics in the morning.

The food was excellent. There is a buffet that has everything from chicken nuggets to eggplant. The 3 a-la-cart restaurants were great depending on what you ordered. My favs included the ribs at Tex-Mex and steak at the Italian restaurant.

Our flight home to Nova Scotia was in the evening. Apparently some people handle flying better than others. We were in line at the Puerto Plata airport when this crazy intoxicated lady, who had been staying at the resort beside us, threatened to punch one of the girls I with in the face for no reason. This is the truth. This threat was reported to airport security and nothing was done. The crazy lady and her boyfriend/husband/travelling partner, whatever, were allowed to bord the same flight we were on. None the less there we flew back to Halifax without incident but these people were so drunk they couldn’t even stand and were falling over baracades and falling down……(no judgement, but should you really be allowed to bord an airplane in this condition especially after making a threat to a stranger on the same flight)

Overall, if I was married, or had children I would definitely return to this resort. Next year we’re headed to Cancun…………:)

Hola!!!!! Swiss Monsieur, Chicken legs, Richardo, Greaseball Gary……..

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Coral Marien Beach Resort – Puerto Plata Leanne ~ Newfoundland, Canada

April 2006

We stayed at the Coral Marien from April 17-24 and were VERY pleased with our choice. After having our flight delayed for over a day (that’s a whole other story!) we were soooo happy to have the rest of the vacation go as planned…just compacted into really only 5 days.

Our transfer from the airport to hotel went pretty smooth. We arrived around 9:00 p.m. and check-in went quickly. We were also given a yummy drink – orange juice in a champagne glass rimmed with sugar. We were shown how the minibar works…PLEASE PAY ATTENTION…you are only allowed 2 FREE bottles of Coke (glass bottles only), 2 FREE bottles of beer (usually Presidente, but this changed after a few days to another brand…I guess they ran out) (glass bottles only), and one large plastic bottle of water (on table)…everything else in the fridge there is a charge for, and it is HUGE!!! (i.e. $12US for a can of peanuts!!!) You have to sign a waiver saying you understand how they charge for the extras in the fridge. The safe is also an extra charge…I think it’s $3US a day. Use it (better safe than sorry, right?!) The porters then took our bags and loaded them on to a large golf cart-type vehicle and we also jumped on so they could drive us to our room. This was actually so much fun and sure beats dragging our heavy bags over to Bohio 1 (building 1).

As I said, we were in Bohio 1, room 1321 ocean view. There was two double beds, large armoire with t.v. and storage, low dresser with storage, large mirrored closet, huge bathroom, ceiling fan, a.c., vaulted ceilings (only in 3rd floor rooms), table with chairs, and on the balcony there were two plastic patio chairs with small table. There is no elevator, so if you don’t want to climb three flights of stairs everyday I suggest getting a lower floor…this got tiring after a day or two in the HOT sun!!! We had a great view from the room, though the palm trees did obstruct our view a little…who cares, we’re in paradise!!! The maids always did a great job of cleaning to room…after tracking in a tandem load of sand everyday you would never say it after they were done in the room! They always folded the towels up into a cute design and stocked the room nicely. What I found weird was how they do the room: in two visits. They usually came in the mid-morning to take dirty towels and stock the fridge. Then they would come back later to bring fresh towels and make the beds…this was usually fine as we didn’t spend much time in the room at all. We left a few little gifts (shampoo, hair accessories, tampons, etc.) everyday, and at the end a few dollars and any treats we had left…our maid got so much stuff in the end!!! LOng story short, the rooms are beautiful!!!

The resort isn’t huge by some standards though it took a day to find our way around. There is always people cleaning/tidying, and the place was immaculate. Lots of areas to "hide away" if you want to relax, or you can get more involved around the pool.

The pool is huge and is in a couple different sections, which is great depending on what you want to do – some areas are "quieter" than others and the depth varies from a few inches to about 5 1/2 feet. There is volleyball net in one section and a basketball net in another. There is no swim-up bar, but the pool bar is only a few feet away…even lazy people can manage that! There are small "waterfalls" around the pool in some areas…nice to get a refreshing splash once in a while…do not climb up on these, though. There were always lots of loungers around the pool, but the ones under the "huts" were taken by 7:00 a.m. most mornings!!! You get a towel card to trade in for a towel – make sure you always have either the card or a towel at all times….it costs $25US if you lose one!!! You can bring your wet towel back as many times as you want to get a fresh one, so that’s nice. We brought our own towel, as well, so when we did tours off the resort we didn’t have to worry about losing it.

Animation Team (Chocolate Friends)
These guys and gals were great! So much energy and such great dancers. Most of them can speak 4 or 5 languages and make you want to get on the go…but they don’t pressure you if you don’t want to do something. They sing this hilarious (and VERY catchy) song – "choc choc choc choc-o-lat-e". There are lots of activities throughout the day…dancing, spanish lessons, basketball (pool), volleyball (pool), water polo, bingo, table tennis…the list goes on and on. And, yes, "Chicken Legs" is so much fun. One of the days they had activities on the beach with a BBQ as well.

We ate here a lot because it had the most variety (especially for our vegetarian friend). Breakfasts are the best with so many choices. We also ate lunch and dinner here a few times as well – the menu changed slightly everyday.

A la Cartes (Italian, TexMex, French)
We loved the TexMex place the best. Yes, the ribs are "to die for"!!! We managed to go there a second time, so I tried the fajitas then. LOVE the mango margaritas too!!! The restaurant is near the beach (next to Mango’s). We tried the Italian place (upstairs above the pool bar) the night of the wedding. The steak was delicious as were all the different breads they put on the table as appetizers. I didn’t try the French Creperie, but others in the group did and they thought it was great, but choices were limited. We were told if you want lobster you have to pre-order it at the buffet restaurant and they will give you a price – you can decide where you want to eat it (which restaurant) and when. We didn’t this time, but wish we had have. Oh well!

Mango’s is near the beach (attached to the TexMex place). They have great french fries and chicken wings, and lots of other snack food and pasta. It was nice to just sit near the beach and have the breeze cool you off a little. It’s open basically 24 hours (well, it closes during the dinner time at the TexMex place – 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.???) No worries.

The beach was nice – no, it’s not white sand, but a nice brown…it’s soft and warm and sure beats a rocky beach here in Newfoundland!!! Yes, some seaweed washed up onshore – it didn’t stick around long, though, because there was always some men raking it up and carting it away. There are loungers along the beach as well, but as is with the pool the "huts" get taken up quickly. There are "showers" along the beach as well, and hammocks nearby. At one end (near building 1) you will find the water sport area. You can go windsailing, swimming, kayaking, etc. and you can also go on the banana boat for $7 per person. This gets dragged behind a speed boat and you are guaranteed to fall off!!! One of our friends did and got some coral in his toe which was pretty painful. There are lots of little "reefs" near the shore so watch out. Also watch for the flags…green means you can go ahead and have fun, yellow means be careful, and red means to stay out of the water…it can get pretty rough as it’s on the north shore of the island (remember: windsurfing capital of the Caribbean!!!) Be forewarned: you will be approached by vendors on the beach. They will ask you to come to their shops at the end of the beach, across a polluted river (there is sometimes a rickety bridge across is when the river is small – after a lot of rain the bridge washes away and you have to cross it up to your knees.) If you want to buy souvenirs this is a great place to go – you must bargain. Start with 1/3 their asking price and NEVER pay more than half!!! If you don’t like the deal, walk away…chances are they will follow and give in. You can also get your hair braided. This depends on your hair length and if you want extensions. My sister has thick shoulder length hair but wanted extensions – it cost her $60US and took 5 hours!!! But it looked great. You can get it for as low as $25US or upwards of $100US. There will also be people trying to sell you tours on the beach. In my opinion I would never book with these people. I will only book with my rep or at Isaira Tours (directly across the street from the hotel in the same building at Cariatide’s Restaurant).

The best bar (in my opinion) was the one near the pool. We always got great service and it was centrally located. I loved the strawberry daiquiries, though they aren’t "real" strawberry – who cares?!!! There is also beer on tap and a menu of drinks to chose from…of ask them to make one of your own! There is another bar by the beach (Mango’s) which is great too. During the nightly shows there is a bar by the stage. The sport’s bar is by the lobby and is 24 hours. Was pretty quiet when we were there. It turns into the Disco at 11 p.m. – though we thought the place was "dead"…until some staff and locals started coming in to show us tourists how to really dance!! Closes at 2 or 3 a.m. Many of the guests went to the Playa Dorada complex ($6US cab ride away) to some of the all-night discos afterward. There are also some really good bars/discos in town – I hear the "car wash" bars are fun. We were also going to try the Pub Crawl offered by Cafe Cito, but we didn’t have enough time this trip…but definitely next time!!!

Nightly Shows
After dinner they start with a show for the kids – though many adults went along. The adult show started around 9:30 – though this is "Dominican time" so it can vary by a half hour. The shows are held in the theatre near the pool. The shows were different every night, but we only stayed for two. They are "typical resort shows"…I find them boring. But, I will say the staff are such great dancers and entertainers.

Off-resort Tours
As I said, be careful when booking tours – I don’t recommend booking with the people on the beach (it’s just my opinion) or from people on the street. ONly do it through your rep or from Isaira Tours (Martin Espinal ) across the street from the hotel (same building at Caritide’s Restaurant). We booked a 1/2 day city tour with cable car ride as well as the Outback Jungle Safari Tour through Isaira Tours and were very happy with our choice. They gave us a great deal and we saved money when booking our second trip. The 1/2 day city tour involved a visit to the Brugal Rum Factory (with complimentary daiquiri) with chance to buy rum for cheap ($4-$9 US a bottle!!!). The we went for a tour of the city and saw how the different classes of people lives – rich, middle-class, poor. It is almost shocking. Then we went to the Fort San Filipe and took a tour of the building and listened to a very old local man tell the history (give him a tip – he does this everyday for free!). Back on the bus we visited the Amber Museum, jewellery store, a few other stores, before heading up the mountain (Isablella Torres) on the cable car. It was so much fun – even for those of us who are afraid of heights! It takes about 10 minutes but you get great views of the city (if it doesn’t cloud over…which it did when we got right to the top!). At the top you will find a statue of Christ, botanical gardens/park and a restaurant. We explored the area for a little while before heading back down on the cable car. Got some nice photos, too. As for the Outback Jungle Safari , we had a blast! Rudy was our guide (Victor was the driver). We visited a typical Dominican home in the countryside – they are very poor but proud. Many are farmers on leased land and they work the land until they can buy it or are kicked off – sad but it’s part of the culture. We got to have coffee with them after touring their small home and heading off to tour the countryside. There are cows, pigs, donkeys, goats and chickens everywhere. We also stopped by a fruit plantation to sample fresh pineapple, sugar cane, bananas, oranges. It was delicious. Remember to spit the sugar cane out – it is very fiberous – you just chew to release the sweet juices. Yummy! Back on the truck we stopped by a school, but it was closed as it was a Saturday. Bring school supplies/money and they will give it to the principal. Do not give things to the kids like candy and money – this will teach them to beg and depend on tourists and they will not go to school. We stopped for a bite to eat – a typical Dominican meal – rice and beans, chile con carne, tortillas. Then we went out back to see crocodiles, birds, etc. before getting on a rickety boat ride up a little river. There was also swimming at a nearby river. The current is strong but the water is shallow so you jump in and let the current bring you down to the end. We then headed to Cabarete beach for some boogie boarding, though it was raining off and on all day so it wasn’t so much more. The waves were pretty big too, so I stayed on the beach and had a few Cuba Libres (rum and cokes) and watched the others getting mouthfulls of salt water! Back on the truck again and we headed to a rum shack to buy rum, pineapple wine, cigars, vanilla, and more. This was a great day out, even though it rained…I would do this again in a heartbeat and highly recommend it to anyone.

The main purpose of our trip was to attend the wedding of our friends. The wedding was at 2:00 p.m. in the gazebo by the beach which was decorated lovely with white flowing fabric and beautiful flowers. The actual ceremony only took around 10 minutes with the spanish-speaking judge and wedding-coordinator as the translator. We had champagne and hors d’ovres before taking pictures all over the resort and finally dinner at the Italian Restaurant. The cake was small but beautiful and the day went perfectly. This is a great place to have a wedding.

I loved the Coral Marien. It was everything I expected and more. It was clean, comfortable, fun and relaxing, and the staff were always really "happy to serve you". I can’t think of any downsides to the resort and would go again anytime. People who complain about this resort either didn’t actually stay there OR are impossible to please!!!

If you have any questions on the Coral Marien feel free to drop me a line at .

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