Lifestyle Crown Residence Suites Reviews – Dominican Republic Hotels – Debbie's Caribbean Travel Resort Reviews – Lifestyle Crown Residence Suites

March 2005

Prior to our vacation in January, 2005, I had a difficult time finding reviews for this resort which made me a bid uneasy. Six of us traveled to the DR late January, early February. Our ages range from 50-70. For those of you with upcoming vacations at the Lifestyle Crown Villas (through RCI), I will attempt to provide more information on this resort. The villas are part of the Hacienda Resorts located about 10 minutes west of Puerto Plata on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. Also part of this resort are the Hacienda Tropical (hotel complex) and the Hacienda Garden (these structures look like small private cabins (with a Caribbean flair of course). I also believe there are suites at this resort but did not see them (frankly, I was not there to investigate the accommodations, I was there to relax and have fun)!. The resort layout is as follows: the beach is at the front of the resort and is two layered. When the tide is out, you can sit directly on the beach on the lower level. There is also an all sand, no water, upper level to the beach. The beach was never crowded and we did not have trouble finding beach chairs. There is an area on the upper level for volleyball. We saw at least one beach bar, and there is also a beach grill where there are hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, french fries, and salad served daily, with undercover tables nearby. I would rate the beach about a 3 star, not the most spectacular beach around, but it was clean and relaxing, and it beats Maine in the dead of winter anytime. There are also a few shops along the beach, and shopping there truly provides you with a Caribbean experience. Make a deal on your purchases – never pay top dollar – negotiating is all part of the experience. Directly behind the beach is the hotel complex, the main pool area, the main buffet, and the oriental and seafood restaurants. All six of us liked the buffet over the oriental and seafood restaurants. There is also an italian restaurant in the building where RCI members check in, and that wa

  Lifestyle Crown Villas   Sandye and Shawn ~ Ontario, Canada

May 2008

My husband and I traveled to Puerto Plata April 1-8th, 2008. Just to let you know, we have traveled a fair bit, everything from luxury cruises, 5 star resorts, to mud huts in Africa, and every type of 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 star accommodation in between! We rented a 3 bdrm villa from an owner on the internet. Upon our arrival at the airport, the person who was sent to pick us up had been told there were 12 of us – not just the 2 of us. No amount of persuasion on our part could convince them we were it, so we had to wait until the whole airport cleared out before they would believe us. Finally they got us a taxi and took us to the resort. Nothing fancy here. Check in was OK, no one seemed in any hurry. There was no great welcome, or drinks offered or anything like that. We paid our $37.50 US pp/day for the all-inclusive fee. No amount of asking would get us a golf cart. Only the owners they said. We were told our villa wasn’t ready so we went off to find something to eat. It took many hours before the villa was finally ready.
This would have been OK except that it was pouring rain, and we really couldn’t find anything to do in the meantime. When we did get to our villa, number 18B, I was somewhat disappointed in the furnishings etc. Some of the furniture was broken and worn out (arms on chairs, finish coming off the dining table etc). Because of the rain, one of the beds in the upstairs bedroom was soaking wet from a roof leak. It’s a good job that wasn’t where someone had to sleep as there was just the two of us. The floors, which are ceramic tile, were wet in many places making them very slippery both upstairs from the leaking roof and downstairs from the rain coming in under the doors etc. Villa 18A was attached duplex style, but the people beside us were very good. With regards to the chef who comes to make breakfast, he only showed up the first two days and then stopped coming. No explanation given. No big deal, we just went to the buffet, but if it is part of what we paid for, then we should have had that service. Speaking of service, it was like grand central station at our villa. There were always people coming in the house and grounds. The pool boy would be by to clean the pool daily, the grounds keepers would appear to rake the leaves, maids were in and out all day long. The guy who fills the fridge would come in. The paperboy would come right in to deliver the newspaper. It didn’t matter if you locked all the doors, there were always people in the house! Once I went into the kitchen and some shuttle driver was helping himself to a soda in our fridge because he was thirsty! And he wasn’t even shuttling for us! And did I mention the continuous flow past our villa of golf carts driven crazily by kids. They would be kids of owners of course, as we mere renters couldn’t have a golf cart. I truly believe that there should be a golf cart per villa regardless of who is staying in it. We walked by the "garage" where they kept the carts and there were lots of them not in use. On top of all these people, we had the timeshare salesmen. Now, as I said, we’re pretty used to them around a resort and are pretty good at spotting them and avoiding them, but when they attack on your own turf, that’s too much. One morning we were sitting there having breakfast and this guy was looking in the patio door at us. He came right in and started his pitch in our own place while we were eating! Two days later my husband and I are in the pool at our villa, and along comes another salesman who would not leave us alone! We feel we are fair game while roaming the resort, or even sitting by a public pool, or coming out of a restaurant, but this was just too much!
One interesting thing we did find out however, was that we had rented a VIP Gold villa, but he told us we were only in a silver and why not go along with him to see what we could get if we bought Platinum. Silver? Silver? No where on their site does it say anything about a silver level. Guess that explains the disrepair/shabbiness of the villa. He also mentioned that we were to be out of the villa as they had 6 new people coming in. this was on Sat and we were booked until Tues. We told him he’d better find somewhere else to put them. Nothing ever came of it however. Now don’t get me wrong, it was impressive to a lot of people. We happened to meet a couple staying at the resort in a hotel room from our hometown. They were blown away by our villa. They took pictures of every room and said they were going to come back and ask to rent the same villa they were so impressed. So, I guess it is based on your previous travel experiences. If you haven’t traveled much, you will probably think it is awesome. I won’t go into the VIP beach and pool area as many others have written reviews. They were a neat touch. It is nice to have your drinks brought to you. Don’t bother getting them to bring you food though (other than nachos) as it is stone cold by the time it gets there, you might as well wander over to the restaurant yourself. For the last couple of days we actually parked ourselves on the outside of the VIP Beach wall and stayed on the resort side near a little beach bar. If you’re looking to meet the most enthusiastic and entertaining fellow at the resort, stop by there and visit Pedro. We thought all the restaurants were fine. The gourmet was certainly the best. We caution taking a seat outside at the early sitting as all the workers and their smelly diesel trucks are leaving for the day and driving by continuously while you are eating. If you have trouble walking, be aware there is a lot of it to be done if you don’t get a golf cart. The sidewalks are all too narrow and made of uneven paving stones and are very poorly lit at night. My main complaint was that there was no evening entertainment offered other than a “theatre” show that lasted an hour. The disco was supposed to open at 10:30 PM but a few times we looked in, there was no one in there. We were told that it was very loud and hot inside the disco whenever it did get rolling. No where was there a band playing that you could listen to either during the day or in the evening after dinner. Even the lower end resorts we’ve stayed at have all had a house band. It is rather boring after dinner. I know our teenage kids would have been very bored here either day or night.

For 3 days it rained (obviously not the resort’s fault!), and that knocked out the satellite TV so you couldn’t even watch TV. There was one day that the power went off around 7:30 am and it didn’t come back on for about 12 hours, and it was not one of the rainy days.

All in all, the place was fine; neither of us got sick, it’s clean, renting from an owner off the internet went fine. It was our 4th time to the Dominican. I don’t think we would go back to this resort, but then we’ve never gone back to the same place twice. I’m sure anyone would have a great time there and I wouldn’t hesitate to send anyone, as long as they know what to expect. Like I said there’s nothing horribly wrong with the resort. But it wouldn’t take much to make it a lot better. We started playing a game called "if I owned this place, I would…." and talked about inexpensive changes that would make a huge difference. If you would like more info, feel free to email me at hooktravellers@sympatico.ca Food – Very Good
Accom – Good
Entertainment – Poor
Liked — The villas are a nice option, better than staying in a hotel room.
Disliked — Too many staff always in the villa and on the grounds, the timeshare salesmen bothering us right in the villa, no house band/live music entertainment. Every villa should get a golf cart.
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  Lifestyle Crown Villas   Stephen and Rita ~ Baton Rouge, LA.

April 2008

Debbie… To begin with, the resort wanted to waste our valuable vacation time with a sales pitch that lasted three hours. When we refused to buy, even after a very high-powered approach, the level of our services dropped drastically. The booze was cut off and shuttles were less accessible. We still got beer and soft drinks, but the pool cleaning ended immediately. At one point the fire alarm went off and there was never any response. I guess if a real fire had occurred we would have been victims of our reluctance to buy one of their villas. The food was insipid, at best. The best meals were served at the gourmet restaurant. Forget the buffet – the mashed potatoes tasted exactly like the custard pie. The all-inclusive advertising deals only with facilities on the resort. Anything off the resort is expensive and difficult to arrange with the “Excursion” shop on the resort. By the way – forget golf. The closest golf course is only nine holes carved out of a goat pasture. The Los Mangos greens were small and filled with barren spots that made putting impossible. Horse-back riding is a joke! The poor horses are so under-nourished that the SPCA would condemn all stables on the Island for cruelty to animals. Anyone weighing more that 100 lbs. would kill the poor beasts with a ride of any distance. The street vendors are all over the tourists like white on rice! Once off the resort, one cannot shake them. We suggest tourists hire a good private cab driver and tip him handsomely for his service if you want to see anything off the resort. Our guy, Santiago Batista, was the high point of our trip. He took care of us and braved the anarchy of Dominican highways with practice and poise. All in all, the trip was excessively expensive and disappointing. For the price we paid, the treatment was more like that received at a Motel 6!
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Lifestyle Crown Villas Dennis and Susan

July 2007

We stayed at the Lifestyle Crown Villas from June 10 – 17, 2007. We stayed in villa 65. We had an absolutely wonderful time there and would go back in a heart beat. We are a family of 5 with daughters 9, 12 and 16. It was the girls first trip out of the country and only my second. This was our first stay in an all-inclusive.

VILLA – The villa was Amazing. We were in awe from the moment we walked in. We had 3 bedrooms all with king sized beds. Each bedroom had its own full bathroom. The pool was definitely the highlight of our trip. It was a great size for our family and very private. There was a little bridge over the pool that the girls and yes even my husband liked to jump off of. We had a full kitchen and a fridge that had pop, beer and water in it. We made a note in Spanish to ask for diet pepsi and had no trouble getting it. Our housekeeper was very nice and made a great breakfast everyday. There were always people around in the mornings gardening, cleaning the villa and pool. There was a guard stationed close by and he always appreciated it when I brought him pop/water and snacks. I was glad we brought snacks from home to eat during the non-meal times. We brought our own pool toys as well. We did not have a golf cart, we were told they were only for owners. RESTAURANTS – The best was by far the VIP Gourmet. We ate there 4 nights in a row. It is for VIP Members and their guests only. It is only open Mon – Fri nights and you need to make reservations the day before. We were very impressed with their steaks. The servings aren’t large, but that was okay. It is also the only restaurant with air conditioning. We ate at the main buffet a couple of times for lunch and never had trouble finding something to eat. There was always fruit, bread and a pasta bar. Those three things alone please my family. I found it was fun to try some new things and many of them were very good. We ate at Bellini’s a couple of times for lunch. They serve pizza and pasta at lunch. We ate one night at each Bellini’s and Indochinese. They were both good and a nice diversion from what we had eaten the rest of the week. Our only main complaint about the restaurants was the lack of air conditioning. Other than VIP Gourmet there was not air conditioning, my husband found it pretty hard to eat lunch when it was so hot. It’s not really a complaint; it’s just the way it is. We also ordered hamburgers (yuck) and a fish fillet (yummmm) of the bar menu at both the VIP World and VIP Beach. My girls were not impressed with the hamburgers, couldn’t even eat them. But I knew this before going due to other reviews so it was no surprise. Plus we were are from Iowa and what do you expect in the Dominican Republic anyways? POOLS/BEACH – We did swim in a couple of the pools but much preferred staying at our villa pool. The tropical resort pool was very busy but extremely nice and beautiful. Everything about the resort was beautiful. The VIP World pool was definitely nice and a lot less crowded. If I wasn’t staying in a Villa this is where I would have swum. The beach was fine. We also knew beforehand that this was not on the Caribbean side of the island and to not expect Caribbean water. We enjoyed the ocean very much. My family used the resort kayaks and had fun exploring with them. We probably swam in the ocean 3 times during our stay at the resort; our pool was just so incredible we spent most of our time there. BARS – We loved the VIP World bar it was where we spent our evenings. It is quite beautiful there and the bartender was always willing to make any drink we wanted. The bar and VIP Beach was also very good. There never seemed to be seats available at the swim up bar at the Tropical but the drinks I had there were good as well. I am not a picky drinker; brands don’t matter to me much. The mai tais, bloody mary’s, sex on the beach ( drink ), bahama mamas, rainbow, green finger, etc. were all good. I feel like I am going through withdrawal. Actually, I didn’t drink that much. Our main goal on this vacation was family time. My girls did get a kick out of watching me drink this shot drink called a rainbow. The bartender lit it at the end and I sucked it through a straw. The girls thought that was pretty cool. EXCURSIONS – We had to push ourselves to do anything, we were just having so much fun sitting around the pool and enjoying the resort. We went to Ocean World on Tuesday. We did not do any of the extra add on activities there. Ocean World was okay but I don’t think we’ll go again in the future. The snorkeling tank was a very short experience but they did let us do it again later in the day. It was a great first snorkeling experience for our kids. The swimming pool is very nice. We spent a lot of time there. The waterfalls and the tiger behind the glass were kind of cool. We also enjoyed the birds. Supposedly, they used to include a BUFFET LUNCH, this is NOT INCLUDED anymore. On Saturday morning we went on a snorkeling excursion with an excursion group there near the tropical. I think it was called aqua ? – something. We left about 8 a.m. and headed to Sosua. We were outfitted with gear and then boarded a boat for a very short ride to a snorkeling spot. We snorkeled there and then went to another location. We felt the snorkeling was very good. Someone on a travel site had recommended bringing water bottles filled with bread and then squirt out the bread to feed the fish. This was amazing. There were fish swarming around us. I’ve been on several snorkeling trips and this was the most fish I had ever seen. The girls thought it was pretty cool. We were back to the resort around noon. It think it was $35/adults and $25/kids. A real bargain for our family. MISC. – We thought the staff was very helpful and friendly. Many of them did lack English skills but that was to be expected. The Welcome VIP Party on Sunday night was amazing and definitely worth attending. We were pulled into a sales pitch. The man was very slick pulling us into it without us knowing it was happening. Of course I kept telling my husband that this was happening and he didn’t believe me. It took a while for our NO to get heard but once they knew we meant it the pitch ended. That was on Monday afternoon and they never bothered us again. If they asked we just said we’d already been on the "tour". We took $100 in ones and $60 in fives to use for tipping as well as some small treats and gifts. We used everything, and felt good doing it. We also took along plenty of sunscreen and bug repellant. I made my family sign a vacation attitude contract before leaving home. It included things like "I will not complain about the food", "I will make the best of every situation", "I will not complain about being bored" etc. It was very effective with everyone including my husband . We brought most of our common meds, but forgot the imodium. This was basically the only meds we could have used, bummer. No one got really sick but a little diarrhea. We brought a couple of cheap umbrellas and they came in very handy. My daughter enjoyed the light sticks I brought along and we shared them with many kids sitting around us. Thank goodness for Dollar Tree. HINT- Book your stay through an owner. We did and felt we got a true bargain. We stayed one week in a 3 bedroom villa for $1100 plus the all inclusive fees of $37.50/adult/day and ½ that for ages 12 and under. Our whole villa plus all inclusives for our family of 5 for one week was $2150. We were had VIP Access across the board. We had the gold bracelets. I’ve read a couple of comments about the lack or "romance" at the resort especially for honeymooners. My husband and I were celebrating our 20th Anniversary and found the resort to be very romantic especially or 2nd Honeymooners like us especially when you had kids along. Feel free to email me with any questions, muyfamily@msn.com
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Lifestyle Crown Villas Francois

October 2006

What a great place to go for vacation

We landed at the airport (pop) and the van was waiting for us Drove thru town by way of the city beach um very nice and the water looked Great Got to the resort and I had a big smile on my face I had read so much about this Resort that I was not sure I was going to like it But man was I WRONG the van took us to vip check in had a cold beer and some snacks For you man that presidenta beer is good Then the vip van took us to are villa 46-a and when I saw the outside I was like ok this looks nice then they opened the door and it was very very nice all new stuff in it All the villas are being remolded and they are doing a great job on them and they all have a big private pool Pool guy comes every day to clean the pool 7am he shows up Went to vip world BBQ on Sunday that is a must go the food and the shows are a lot of fun Back to the villa and malitta showed up at 8am to cook breakfast oh she did this everyday and she is the house keeper too Make sure you tip them well they work so HARD and man she can cook And Fatimah the villa manager showed up to make sure everything was great with the villa and everything was just great They keep beer soda and bottle water in the fridge at all times for you and a 5 gallon water dispenser on the counter Oh Daniel the MC at the vip world BBQ is one of the best people I have ever met in my life Always happy and will help you with any thing you need He cleaned the beach for 9 years and now is the MC at vip world he makes the night very fun at the party So I feel in love with the resort and the DR that I also bought a villa at the resort and Daniel help me with that made the hole process very nice so every 4 month we will be back at the resort Oh rent a jeep $60 a day and drive thru the small towns see a place to eat get out of the jeep and do it the food rocks You will have a great time at lifestyles crown villas and if you do not Go get a leg up

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Lifestyle Crown Villas Heather ~ Canada

March 2005

Please ignore any reviews posted in 2004 about this hotel- the hotel has made drastic changes since those reviews. Anything before 2004 makes the resort sound like crap- but really its great

Arriving: check in was uneventful and easy, although if staying in the garden, I recommend letting the bell boys carry your luggage- otherwise you will a) never find your room and b) not discover how to use the power. The big keychain that your keys come how you get power.

Rooms:
The rooms aren’t really rooms at all, they are more huts, and are very cute. Walking up to them in evening after dark is very pretty. They are pretty basic, but have everything you need for a week or two stay. The TV even has a few channels in english for your viewing pleasure.

Food:
Well, if you are willing to try new things there is an assortment of food that will keep you going for a couple weeks. I don’t think i ate the same thing twice the whole time we were there. There are 5 al-a-cart resturants. I would recommend going to the italian resturant at least once. It was wonderful. There are two buffets on the resort, and the buffet in the tropical has a wonderful break fast- you cant’ beat the omlets there! Being the student I am any change from Kraft Dinner is welcome.

Drinks: There is no shortage of alcohol thats for sure. I think the girl I went with and I drank the price of our trip in one night there. I would definalty recommend the banana momma’s although they come back to bite you in the butt in the morning. The bars are just nicely placed through out the resort so if you are walking around you will run outta a drink in your hand just as you happen to be at another bar. If you are looking for a real good bar tender- find a guy named Carlos- we followed him around all week- very good bar tender and great service.

The beach: Well I didn’t expect too much from the beach- and I wouldn’t recommend hanging out on the beach after dark- for one the security guys will come kick you off, and you will get a bunch of bites on your legs, that you won’t even notice getting. If you are looking for a real adventure- or to go get some shells, go to the very end of the beach- (opposite ocean world) and go over the hill and down the other side. There are a couple horses running loose on the hill, but dont’ be worried about them.

Swimming: The pools were nice, generally the tropical was pretty busy, but the garden pool was great there are acctually 5 pools on the resort, one of which I never found, and one we never found till a day before we left, but the other pools didn’t have bars in them, so we usually stuck around where ever we were served alcohol.

The weather was pretty good the whole time we were there, and I came back with a pretty bad burn from the last day we were there. The whole resort was wonderful- as definitely the best restarant. Everyone’s preferences are different, however, so you should try them all – make sure to make reservations. The food was good, not gourmet, and we never had trouble finding enough to eat. The pasta bar is a must for those who are not big meat eaters or who may be a little reluctant to try the meat cooked Dominican style. I did try the pork and chicken kabobs; however, and they were wonderful, and one night they have half chickens on the grill which were also very tasty. The Hacienda Garden area is in the middle of the resort with the villas higher up on the hillside. Ahh, the villas. We stayed in villa 55, a three bedroom, all with king sized beds and private baths. There was also a half bath downstairs in the living area which was an open concept with a living space with television (great reception and lots of English speaking stations), and a dining room table for eight. The refridgerator was stocked daily with bottled water, soda, wine, and beer. The private pool, although not heated, was refreshing. The maid came in at 7:30 every morning and made coffee, then back at 8:30 (if we wanted breakfast) to cook breakfast for us (meat and cheese platter, fruit platter, pastry platter, juice, and eggs). We at breakfast at the buffet twice just for a change (and it was good), but usually had breakfast at the villa. I can’t comment on the other villas at this resort, but the one we had was spectacular. Other than our days at the beach and the one afternoon my husband and I explored the resort, we never left the villa except at mealtime. I cannot comment on the nightly entertainment because we were usually in bed early and up early – the entertainment starts at 9:30 and although we always had good intentions of attending, we never did make it. It rained one day and there was the occasional shower (you will notice that the grounds are very green and lush, so you know it must rain frequently – don’t let this spoil your vacation). The only side trip we took was a trip to Puerta Plata one day. We booked a taxi through the resort at the RCI reception area with a driver and a guide at $35 for a three hour tour, plus a tip. It was definitely the way to go as Puerta Plata is a large, very poor city and trying to navigate where to go and the right parts of town to visit I think would be difficult to do on your own. The Dominican people are extremely friendly and accommodating; all you need to do is smile and ask and you will receive. Remember that you are in a different country with a different way of life, and go with the flow. If you are one of those people who always sees the glass as half full, you will have a wonderful time at this resort; if, not, oh well. In short, if you are visiting this resort, I would not worry about all those negative reviews you might be reading.

Lifestyle Crown Villas Janie and Michael from Canada

February 2005

As there are no new reviews on the villa’s I thought I would write. We just returned home this week and had a great vacation. We had a four bedroom villa with ocean view (Villa 7). It was one of the older villa’s but beautiful all the same. It was huge with it’s own pool. All four bedrooms had king size beds and their own bathroom..some with shower and tub, a huge living room dining room and kitchen all open concept. Everything had a view of the Ocean. There was also a lovely covered porch with comfortable furniture.

We did not go all inclusive and chose to shop in Puerta Plata for our groceries. The resort transported us to and from the grocery store several times at no charge. The groceries were no more expensive than at home here in Canada. We were able to opt out of all inclusive because this is our home resort. I do not think you can do this if coming with RCI.

Maid service was included and she was very efficient. We never had to ask for than once for anything and she was right there with towels, etc. She even did our dishes. Although we could not eat at the restaurants at the Hacienda Tropical or use their bars as we were not all inclusive we did have our own VIP bar which had international drinks at no charge and there is going to be a grand opening of the VIP beach and bar in a week or so which is also included in your stay with the Villas if you are a member.

Confresi Beach is definitely not the best beach we have ever been to. Several days it proved difficult to find a place to sit right on the beach as the water was so high. There is however a level above this with sand where you can sit. They do their best to keep it clean. There is only one other resort on this crescent shaped beach so the beach is not crowded.

We had supper at Chris and Maddy’s a few times which is owned by a Canadian which is just a 10 minute walk just down the beach. The food was quite good. We also went to Ocean World which is at the end of the beach (15 minute walk). It was $55.00 per person which included admission and lunch. If you wanted encounters with the dolphins…wales, etc. there was an additional charge. It was quite nice and we were able to put in 4 or 5 hours there.

My husband and I travel at least twice a winter for the last 15 years or so and I have to say that this was our best vacation yet. Having a villa in lieu of a hotel room is great. We took several of our friends and they also had a great time.

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