Well…my turn, hope you like to read! Can’t listen to the @!##@!@# about towels or making reservations or staff not speaking english or how long checkin took … and if you know how to give a tip or have any sence about you these things would not be a problem + almost everyone speaks english, except some of the maids … but you can get along just fine.
If anyone had a problem with this resort it would have been very specific and related to their room or an event like check-in or a bad employee. I have traveled all over the world and stayed in many classes of hotels and resorts, but this one tops them all. There are very few things wrong with this resort and these people should look past these issues and describe the resort for what it is. Any problems can be resolved quickly as customer service very responsive. I did not hear any complaints from the people that we spoke to (and that was a lot) from all classes of rooms, regular to RS (Royal Service). My wife talked to one American couple that had been to a wedding in Fiji and stayed in one of those villas that stands on stilts over the ocean. They were comparing the Melia Caribe to their Fiji trip and did say the Fiji trip was far more superior in many ways. So if you run across these kinds of criticism, take things into perspective…you can get private villas on the ocean with extreme luxury for $20000/week or more. For what you pay here, even in Royal Service (RS), this resort is amazing. I went next door to the Paridisus (which is owned by the same company) and in my opinion the resort was not as lush as Melia Caribe + there is a row of Villas on your left when going to the beach from RS beach area that are the exact same construction as the Villas in RS.
Arrival: If you have never been to Punta Cana, even flying into the airport is a treat. The terminals have thatched roofs and look like a resort not an airport. Customs was quick and friendly + they take your picture which you can get on the way back if you wish. The ride to the resort is short, about 20 minutes. When you arrive at the resort, you are overwhelmed by the landscaping and greenery. There are Peacocks wandering everywhere, Flamingos in some areas and tropical vegetation of all varieties. Front lobby is beautiful, not too much concrete (as in some posh resorts) and blended well with the vegetation. Arrival: If you have never been to Punta Cana, even flying into the airport is a treat. The terminals have thatched roofs and look like a resort not an airport. Customs was quick and friendly + they take your picture which you can get on the way back if you wish. The ride to the resort is short, about 20 minutes. When you arrive at the resort, you are overwhelmed by the landscaping and greenery. There are Peacocks wandering everywhere, Flamingos in some areas and tropical vegetation of all varieties. Front lobby is beautiful, not too much concrete (as in some posh resorts) and blended well with the vegetation. Check-in: We had booked RS and upon arrival we were brought to a separate area for RS check-in. We arrived at about 12:30 in the afternoon, about 2.5 hours prior to check-in time. I had emailed ahead and explained that we would be there early and would appreciate a room to be ready at that time, with a list of request from pillows to bar contents…to my surprise all was taken care of. The RS lounge was relaxing and elegant. We were served a beer right away (not into the sweet drinks) and the kids got a drink of their choice. Even the bracelets they put on for RS where more like jewelry than resort bracelets (they were so nice we wanted to keep them at the end of our trip but where told that it was against hotel policy)
Rooms: Room: We were located in Villa #49 on the 2nd floor directly across from the Gabi pool and restaurant (recommend any of the villas across from the pool highly). We could see the Gabi bar at night light up in blue and when the kids fell asleep we could even go for a drink at the bar, if there was a problem all my 10 year old would need to do is call us from the balcony. The room was beautiful 1 bedroom suite with two entrances to the balcony, 2 separate living areas – 1) kitchen/living room – 2)Bedroom with King size bed, large flat screen, 2 person Jacuzzi + double sink + separate washroom with shower and double sink. We have 2 kids as I mentioned above. They slept on the pullout couch in the living room. The whole place is marble. You have a full size fridge that is stocked with pop, water and beer + a bottle of rum on the counter. There is room service included from 8 am to 11 pm. If you like to get pampered get this room.
Restaurants and Bars: Again, I cannot understand some of the negative reviews on this site re: the food. These people must be chronic complainers or are use to some kind of unrealistic standards. The food is awesome. I am not going to breakdown the restaurants because we ate mostly at the Gabi breakfast and dinner. We went to the Japanese and Capri (seafood) and they were fine. But the Gabi has it all, great beef, chicken and seafood, on the buffet or you can order off the menu. My kids are 5 and 10. They loved the deserts, pasta and seafood at the Gabi. My last night I ordered 5 lobster tails, 3 grilled and 2 fried. As you will see, this restaurant is all open air under a thatched palm roof with incense going in the back ground and a glow of candles and candle like lighting everywhere. On my way to the beach one day I got a ride by the Food Services Manager and he gave me a bit of a run down on the food coming into the resort. All of the food comes in frozen (for safety reasons). They do not spare anything for quality and order Black Angus beef from Argentina. And if you don’t know, this beef is hormone free as there is a ban on using hormones in Argentina. Unlike poison US and Canadian beef that is so full of who knows how many hormones and has lost its true natural taste, this beef melts in your mouth … even the regular cuts. Oh yeah. Someone posted earlier that there is nowhere to get food after 11pm. Yes there is. It’s called the Dominican Restaurant (off the front Caribe side lobby) opened from 11pm to 6am. They’ll grill you up a small, cheap looking steak (at 2 am if you wish) that will melt in your mouth! + there are a lot of other items on the buffet. We also had lunch beach side buffets (there are 2) + Dinner at the Market Place buffet on the Tropical side. All was very good.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Pools: There are 3 pools. 2 by the beach that are identical. One is on the Caribe side and one is on the Tropical side. 1- The Tropical side pool is the kid’s pool adjacent to Flintstone Village. The pool is massive and has a swim-up bar, a kiddy pool and close to the beach and beach side restaurant. 2- The Caribe side pool is identical without the kids theme. 3- The Gabi pool in the RS service area. This is the one we spent the most time at. It is close to the front of the resort was right in front of our Villa. There was sand on the sides making you feel like you are at the beach. The design of the pool and attached restaurant is amazing. They even have a little snack bar that is opened all day and serves great chicken, burgers, ice crème, pizza and french fries + other stuff. This was a big hit with the kids and some days we didn’t even really need to go for lunch. At the Gabi pool bar and restaurant you can get all brands of liquor, even Canadian Whiskey, baileys, Stolichnaya, etc. … which made my day. The Beach: Well this is on “Playas de Bávaro” which is one of the best beaches in the Dominican. The sand is almost pure white. The only downer, if you want to look at it that way, was that you could not find shells. They were all caught up by the reef that was only 1km out and the reason for this pristine beach. There was always room in the RS area of the beach and I did not see any problems with room anywhere else along the beach. On the RS beach area you have a private bar + a waiter that serves drinks. The beach front of this property stretches for about 1km and is all beautiful, with palm trees naturally blending with the beach front. There are local shops to the right of the resort (when looking at the ocean). Again, there are some complainers on this site that have posted negative things about locals trying to ripe them off or “beware of these areas, they are dangerous”. All I can say is Buyer Beware, use your head, ask questions and barter…you’ll have fun! There are also shops about a 20-30 minute walk to the left. I ran every day along the beach about 10 k so I visited all these places easily. These shops are more like the front of a shopping village and when you go deeper into them, you will find stores that the locals shop at. I bought some different beer here (they only serve President beer at the hotel), they were called Bohemians; price $3/1 liter bottle…the beer wasn’t too bad. The grounds: Every kind of tropical vegetation you can imagine, all meticulously groomed. Peacocks, Flamingos, Wild Turkeys, and Fish in the lagoons … I think you can get the pictures. This was more like being in a well kept jungle. And that is why this huge resort did not feel so huge. There is transportation everywhere. A train goes around the like a bus every 5 – 10 minutes. In the royal service area there are guys with golf carts buzzing by constantly and they usually give you a lift.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Dancing and Discos: There is a disco in the Tropical lobby. All welcome from 9-11 and 11-2 for adults only. The music is great. They also have a disco on the beach Wednesday nights (that was fun) … ask the front desk for the schedule. Oh, don’t miss a great party and show on Friday nights at the side lobby bar (I think it is on the Caribe side, but you can ask). They have fire breathing, a guy roller skating all light up with led lights and entertainers dancing to get everyone in the mood. There is also a Kids disco in the Caribe main lobby from 8:30 to 9:30. Shows: Start at 10:00 in the main lobby of the Caribe. Be careful or you will probably end up on stage as one of the performers. There are all kinds of stuff ranging from comedy to acrobatics, not bad … the kids liked it and we had a good laugh most of the time. I even made it up on stage for the Mr. Caribe contest, but luckily did not make it to the finals. There are nice mattresses in the lobby are that you can hang-out on and watch people. We had fun doing that one night for an hour or so. Kids Activities: This is definitely a family resort and there are things for the kids to do day and night. As I mentioned above, there is a Kids pool on the Tropical side by the beach. Beside that pool is a kid’s area called Flintstone Village, with you guessed it, a Flintstone theme. Here you will find activities for kids from toddlers to 13 years of age. They have different programs everyday to suite the age group. My 10 year old spent on day at the camp. He went rock climbing & horseback riding + other activities. We were there at a time when a lot of the older kids were at school and my 5 year old wanted to hang-out with us, so we never really took full advantage of the village. To make one thing clear, kids are allowed in all areas of the resort including RS pools and facilities. There are also babysitting services offered at $15/hr if you wish. You need to reserve 1 day in advance if will require babysitting. We did not take advantage of this service.
Other Comments: Time Sharing: You will also find the Time Sharing people at the Caribe beach side restaurant entrance. They are not annoying as everyone seems to mention. If you say no, they leave you alone. And they seem to be in this location only and maybe in the lobby but as I said they are not as noticeable as people on this site lead you to believe. I really did love this resort and was curious about the time sharing, so one day I turned the tables on them, hounded the salesmen down to give me a quick overview of their marketing scheme (I am a business man, so I thoroughly enjoy this kind of stuff). In short, the fist guy I talked to was from New Jersey and was working there as a salesman. I don’t think he was expecting someone like me. I told him straight out, before all the fluff, I need to see a contract and if there is a possibility that I like their program, my lawyer needs to review all the contracts. He stopped the presentation and told me that he cannot give me contracts for the lawyer to review…and I said ADIOS. He was very rude. On my way out of their marketing office (nice set-up, looks like a North American marketing center) a manager approached me and apologized for the salesperson. He finally did give me a breakdown and when all was said and done, they wanted a minimum of $32000 for 50 years and a maintenance fee of $700-$900 /year. When he worked it out we would have saved $700 on our trip. No thanks, I can think of better ways to invest my money and I can save $700 by booking this hotel more creatively next time. No offence to the people that bought into the program…the Melia is a great chain with amazing resorts all over the world. Service & People: The staff all seemed to be quite friendly and helpful. You can always find one or two people that are not perfect, but with this many staff it is bound to happen. We left a tip for the morning cleaning lady and the evening cleaning lady. Always had everything prefect and fridge full of beer to boot. Take a hundred or so $1 US bills for tipping. You should always leave a tip after meals and sporadically when getting drinks. They do appreciate it but the service does not decrease if you don’t tip. Apparently their average wage is $130 – $150 US per month and as I mentioned before a large bottle of beer costs $3 … so it’s not the easiest country to survive in. The resort is one of the best I have seen for a long time and I will be returning at the end of this month. There is something for everyone at this resort. If you can, book Royal Service, it’s worth it for the Gabi restaurant and pool alone.