May 8-15 2009 Let me start off by saying this was our 23rd trip to Punta Cana, so we have had many flights with various carriers and visited many resorts as guests as well as resort tours given to me by the management of various resorts. A lot of reviews I have read, people complained about Sunwing airlines but we had nothing to complain about although the 3 hour and 41 minute flight down was turbulent, the 4 hour ride home was very smooth. The staff on the plane was excellent and the 737-800 planes were quite comfortable and I had lots of leg room. We left on time both ways. We did have an hour bus ride to the resort with 5 stops along the way; I definitely will use a private transfer with IBK Servicios next time. We took a private cab back to the airport on departure day. Check in at the desk was efficient but were told to return in the morning to get a lock for the safe, only one room key card was given to us and there was a sign at reception telling us that only 1 card per room would be issued. See my other comments at end of review.
We started off in the Club section with a second floor pool view room in Building 4, the room was clean but with rather dated furniture and two double beds. We had requested a Queen bed. Television was a massive 13 inch that did not work, after a trip to reception in the morning and two phone calls later that day about this, I finally found the coax end broken off and fixed myself with tweezers and a nail clipper. Nobody ever showed up to fix to our knowledge. Two days in this room at around 4 pm we received a note in Spanish, I went to the bartender at the pool and he told me to go to reception as it appeared we were be moved to another room, indeed we were to the next section closest (Sunquest select section) to the beach. After visiting reception I was taken back to my room by golf cart, packed everything up and moved to Building 8 to a third floor garden view(actually tennis courts)room with 2 queen beds and a working 29 inch wall mounted LCD TV (no remote?). This room was very clean bright and cheery in comparison to our first room. We unpacked and proceeded to get ready for our dinner reservations, only to find out the in room fridge was locked (No water or soft drinks) and NO towels. Another call to reception and 15 minutes later water, 2 bottles of sprite and 2 cokes along with towels arrive. The next afternoon we found that our fridge was unlocked and other than the soft drinks everything else in the fridge had a charge for using.
Bars, Food and Restaurants Lobby bar was not been open the whole week, all three pool bars are operating, as well as the bar in the very back of the resort next to the Mangiar restaurant, the Sunquest section bar and theatre were closed. The boat bar, unique fixture but it is a joke, as only beer and Cuba Libras are part of the AI anything else is charged for, in fact the hours say 6 pm till 1 am and it rained one night at 5:55 and they told us they were closed till 6:30 because of the rain……?? Fridge in room has no beer and other things that you have to pay for, 2 sprites and 2 cokes are free Sports bar is open 24 hours but if there are more than 25 people there it is overcrowded. We were told by our tour representative to book the a la cartes with him, we got no bookings from him as each time he told us they were all booked full….when we went by them after leaving the buffet around the times we asked for, there were many chairs and tables available. This was a real pain having to go to his desk area every day during his hours to be told the restaurants were full, when in fact we booked the Italian one day at lunchtime as there was staff right outside the door taking evening reservations. I had a great beef tenderloin covered with melted blue cheese at the Michaelango (Italian a la carte) ordered it well done and it came the way I like it, medium. At the La Laguna main buffet I had a small grilled steak which was very good, tasty and tender so I went back for seconds and it was tough like my leather belt. Mexican night at the main buffet was very good; fajita’s and burrito’s were excellent. Overall in a nutshell there was a decent variety at the buffets but being able to get things piping hot was a challenge. Pork and chicken at times was undercooked and pinky inside so that in my opinion is not safe to eat, and was left on my plate, something I do not like to do. Breakfasts were actually the best overall consistent meal with delicious omelets made to order at the cooking station. Soups very very hot and tasty and I love my bowl of soup, the problem was three nights in a row the soup had a different name card shown but it was exactly the same crème tomato soup with basil and oregano each night. I was aware that the Asian restaurant had a surcharge but not the Steakhouse or the seafood restaurant so things have apparently changed, this did not bother us as I mentioned before we were told they were booked full anyway. The Mangiar restaurant at the rear Club section was basically a smaller buffet with less selection than the main Laguna buffet, but had the same situation of not very hot food. Just a word about the resort staff, like most Dominicans there were very happy, friendly, cheerful and a pleasure to talk to a deal with.
Bavaro beach as usual is the soft white sand with clear multi colored blue waters.
The grounds of the resort which is quite large and serviced by a tram that runs every 15 minutes or so from the beach to the rear section are very pretty and maintained appropriately, nice for taking pictures of the flora and fauna. Pools from a distance look very inviting and also are quite picturesque. Closer inspect and I don’t mean to say that I went looking for items that needed repair but when it stares you in the face, I guess it should be reported. Many missing tiles on the fascia of the pool walls, some indication of algae growing on the places where the tiles were absent. Some cracked, uneven and deterioring concrete around the pools that left water standing in spots around the pools. Some of the shade arbors adjacent to the pool were in need of some paint to spruce up their looks. While these are minor issues, it appears to me that more regular maintenance is required. Public washrooms were in various states of repair, in the Club section they were not too bad although poorly lit, in the Select (center) section they were quite well looked after and clean, those in and around the main lobby and ocean view pool in my opinion were disgusting, urinals that were leaking on the floors and toilets that overflowed and lots of paper towels strewn on the floors. Not what I would say were very sanitary conditions. I did not take any pictures of these situations but trust me, they did exist. While this resort is advertised as a 4 star resort All inclusive it should be in my opinion be shown as a 3.5 star semi inclusive as there were many additional charges that could be incurred. Safe key is $20, surcharges at 3 of the 4 a la cartes, drink surcharges at the Boat bar and surcharges for drinks at the casino. One room key card is issued per room, a strange situation and why I do not know, but we had many people banging on the neighboring doors in the wee hours of the morning by people returning to their rooms and having to wake their partners up to get in. I happened to have an old card from another resort so I went to the desk and told them that my card would not open the door; they asked me “What is your Room number?” So I told them and they programmed me another card, without asking for some kind of identification, what my name was, absolutely nothing was asked. I could have easily asked for any occupied room number and obtained a key and helped myself to anything in that room. This to me was very lax and unacceptable security. Would I return?
Let me say this for the price I paid, I went with an open mind knowing that I was not going to a 5 star resort, but the price was so incredible for a week in the sun, with a beautiful white sand beach, cold drinks, food and entertainment. I would say quite likely here or another closely priced resort.