Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana Reviews – Dominican Republic Hotels – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana

We really wanted to like the Hard Rock at Punta Cana. The resort is huge, the rooms spacious and clean, the food was pretty good for an all inclusive. My wife loved the spa, and dinner service was always friendly and prompt. However, there were too many operational things they have to fix that took the shine off the place. See below for details.

Room Number:
4115, 4117

Lineups weren’t long, but once it was our turn to check in it took an hour to negotiate our rooms. Since we have 5 in our party (2 adults, a 9-year-old, and twin 3-year-olds) they forced us to have 2 rooms, although we could have easily (and preferably) been accommodated in one room. They wouldn’t give us adjoining rooms (although we requested via our travel agency 6 months prior) until we had them speak to the manager. We got a "minor" upgrade to accommodate our adjoining rooms requirement, and were told that we were near the pool, which is a "great spot". Too bad it was the "party" pool with non-stop booming music and drinking spring-breakers. I guess they can’t figure that with 3 young kids (who were with us during the check-in process) we might want to be near the kid’s pools several buildings away…

Rooms: Very nice and spacious. The huge jacuzzi in the middle of the room was used most days after the pool and beach, although it takes half-an-hour to fill and five people to displace the water high enough so you can turn on the jets. Beds are very comfortable. Flatscreens are nice but if you don’t speak Spanish, a waste of time as that’s all they show on cable. Luckily I knew this beforehand and brought my own media player for the kids. Biting bugs in the room are a HUGE problem. Our room (4117) was 20 feed away from an outside non-moving water source. All of us, especially my 3-year-olds, were eaten alive by no-see-ums. One child had 35 red dots – on her face after the first night! Wife’s ankles were pretty well chewed, had to spend $30 US for two small bottles(!) of repellent and calomine, which helped a little. Itching for her was unbearable for days. Showers are huge and beautiful, but water pressure is non-existent and go from scalding hot to cold instantly – don’t leave small children alone in them! And toilets just don’t flush, whether in your room or at a restaurant. There was usually a surprise waiting for me when using a toilet in the restaurants that needed to be flushed away first.. You have a bar fridge in your room which they would restock in the late afternoon… IF you were there. It’s nice to get a few (ok, a six-pack) of brews and bring to the kid’s pool in a bag of ice – there’s no alcohol served near the kiddie pool, you have to walk a ways to get an adult beverage if you’re parked there.

Restaurants and Bars: All good here. There’s a Brazilian theme (mmmeat!!) and the wait staff kept my plate and glass full. Steakhouse was also very good, and the asian restaurant "Zen" was Benihana on steroids – the kids loved the experience of watching the chef cook in front of you and engaging the diners. The breakfasts and lunches are all buffets, and I consider them above average when compared to Mexican and Jamaican all-inclusives.

If you like beer, you better get used to El Presedente as it’s all they have. A palatable lager, definitely preferable to Red Stripe. Ice-cold (see above) is the way to drink this one.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: The sand near the water is beautiful, with the consistency and colour of brown sugar, great for sandcastles. The rest of the beach is equally beautiful, a white-powdery sand that doesn’t get too hot for the bare feed. It’s always windy (yellow or red flags) and high waves. Fun for the older kids (and myself) to body surf but NOT suitable for toddlers! Pools are clean, there’s lots of them. But the water was always cold – not sure why this was. Great kiddie pools, perfect for toddlers. They dole out towels like they’re made of gold. You have to ask an attendant for towels and provide a name and room number along with how many towels you’ve received. I was refused 5 towels on most occasions – they would only give me 2 or 3. Several times they had no towels to give. This is easily fixed by providing cards-for-towels – I give a laminated card that I receive with my check-in package, I get a towel. I give a towel, I get back a laminated card for the next towel. This seems to work at many all-inclusives I’ve been to. What about it, Hard Rock? This one’s simple to fix.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: What activities? I sent my 9-year-old to the mini-golf, and they wanted $35 PER PERSON for a round! They also have a large pool where you can enclose yourself in a large transparent inflatable ball and roll around the pool like a hamster for $10 for half-an-hour. What happened to "all-inclusive"? There’s no other water activities available – no waterskis, canoes, hobicats, or the usual craft offered at all-inclusives. Probably because the beach is just too rough all the time…

Kids clubs are non-existent, or invisible at the very least. There’s a room in the main building ("Space Zone", I think they call it) for kids – but it was always empty when we went past it. You can’t leave your kid there unless they’re at least 4 years old, and even then there’s not much for them to do there. I went in once with our 3-year-olds and it took the attendant 10 minutes to find some crayons.

Other Comments: The real downer for this place is their emphasis on selling memberships and their "resort credit" nonsense. On the bus ride from the airport we were told by our tour operator to be in the main lobby the next morning for a "very important information session" on when our bus would be taking us back to the airport at the end of the week. And he also said, "No timeshare, I promise!" Bulls***. It was nothing but a high-pressure sales presentation where they have this stupid credit concept. You get $1500 of resort credits that can be used for merchandise and services IF you sit through their sessions to buy a membership (apparently, it’s not "timeshare"). Luckily, I didn’t go, and my wife called them on their BS tactics and got the credits anyways (we were entitled to $3000 because we had two rooms – lucky us!). And there never was a mention on what time the bus was leaving to take us to the airport… The credits are worthless and a sham. There’s a store in the main building where you can exchange them for local trinkets and junk, but you have to pay the "mandatory 16% tax", which in my opinion alone exceeded the value of the crap you redeemed your credits for. We signed up for a half-hour photoshoot that was 935 credits, and all we had to pay was the 16% tax for the photoshoot and 10 prints, and the amount $150 is mentioned. I was told this was the value, and we pay the tax on it – so 16% of $150 is $24 in my little mind. Turns out that $150 IS the tax on their perceived value for a rushed half-hour photoshoot and 10 mediocre 8"x6" prints that were created on a low-end home printer. They think this was worth $935??!! Chalk this one up to experience. Buyer beware, at least I didn’t buy one of their stupid memberships for tens of thousands of dollars that many on this board have done…

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