We booked at the very last minute, but everything turned out well. We were a group consisting of my husband and me, and 2 grown children, aged 18 and 22. We all had a lovely vacation. It was restful for me and hubby, and it was busy enough for my kids who really took advantage of water sports, and late night socializing. We went during March break. There were children around to be sure, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the resort was not over-run by little ones.
A majority of the guests were Canadian, plus there were Russians and Europeans from Spain and Italy. There were many smokers! This made it difficult to enjoy the bars and even the beach. Fortunately, there was no smoking in the restaurants.
Arrival: Sunwing was fabulous, as always. On-time departures, great service. However, I do wish the seats were bigger.
Check in was smooth and efficient. There are members of the reception staff that speak great English, but not all. It helps to brush up on some Spanish phrases.
Rooms: The resort had 12 connected buildings that were two or three stories high. Rooms opened to an open air corridor, around a central courtyard. It was very pretty. We had a corner room on the third floor, with a king bed. Our kids were in a room a few doors away with 2 double beds. Both rooms had lovely balconies with patio furniture. There were lots of louvered doors and lots of wood and marble touches. It makes the resort look like a large plantation.
The rooms were well appointed, but dated. Our linens and towels were changed whenever we requested. We asked for extra pillows, and it was no problem. There were chipped tiles, and scuff marks on the door. There was always plenty of water for showers. Our in-room fridge was re-stocked daily. We always had extra bottes of water left in our room. Our tv did not work, but my husband was able to hook up the cable. We don’t usually watch tv on vacation, but we really wanted to watch the news, with the tragedy unfolding in Japan.
Restaurants and Bars: There is one main buffet which serves breakfast, lunch and supper. It has a fabulous selection. There are so many options, from the typical burgers and fries, to roast beef, leg of lamb and turkey. There is a pasta bar, two grill tables, a nice selection of salads, a delicious assortment of buns and breads, and so much more. Fruit is offered with each meal. I don’t know how people can complain about the food. There is a lunch buffet near the beach. It has a more limited selection, but there is always pasta, salads, burgers, fries and tacos with fixings. We really enjoyed the Italian a la carte restaurant. The starters were excellent: caprese salad with very good boconcini, prosciutto, grissini, salads and more. The veal marsala was very good. Other guests seemed to be enjoying their meals too. The Media Luna grill restaurant had good steaks. The appetizers weren’t the best. La Perla seafood restaurant was good. For an extra cost, lobster was available. The house wine was quite good. The icecreams were very good. The salads and fresh veggies were safe to eat. They had plenty at each meal. The coffee is strong. The bars are lovely and well situated. The service is absolutely excellent, from the hostesses, to the waiters, to the bar tenders…. we had great service, and it didn’t really seem to matter whether you tip or not. We never got the sense that we would only be served if we tipped. The staff worked so hard and was so cheerful, we were pleased to offer a few dollars at each meal.
Guests dressed more casually here than other resorts we have been to. For example, men would not be required to wear trousers at dinner. Many men just wore shorts and a t-shirt.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The grounds were gorgeous. I was a bit worried about all the lagoons. All that still water might be breeding areas for mosquitos. Not so! I got two insect bites, but my family members did not get any. There are lots of flamingos, ducks, geese and other birds. There are fish in the lagoons. On one evening walk, we came across a turtle crossing the path, and large frogs. The pool is small for a resort of this size. however, it was never crowded. That might be because the water temperature was surprising cold. The beach was lovely. There is decent snorkelling just by swimming out towards the buoy line. We saw sea urchins, a water snake and lots of fish. There was lots of seaweed on the beach every morning, but there were always workers raking to pick it up. It was difficult to get lounge chairs and palapas. You would have to do the towel game around 6am. By 8am we coulc not find
I found the wind was quite brisk. Though it was sunny and hot, the wind made it uncomfortable. This is our 4th time to the Dominican Republic and the first time that I wish I had brought a sweater.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: The entertainment staff was wonderful. They worked hard to organize activities throughout the day. You could participate in as little, or as much as you would like. The evening entertainment was much better than we expected. We really enjoyed the dances from around the world, and the circus show. There were lots of options for relaiable off-site activities, including tours, horseback riding, dune buggies, fishing and more. The resort organized markets of local suppliers on two evenings. This made it very easy to purchase souvenirs or pick up some Dominican products like rum, vanilla, cocoa, coffee, and trinkets. Vendors are quite aggressive compared to Canadian experiences. It helps to be firm if you are not interested in the goods, and to enjoy bartering if you wish to make a purchase.
Other Comments: We took walks to nearby resorts and we found that the gift shop at Natura Park is reasonably priced compared to stores at other resorts. Bring sunscreen from home! Ths gift shop offers a big selection of sunscreen, but the prices are in the $30 range. This resort is not for the physically challenged. There are stairs throughout the resort.
We had a very good vacation. The little things that could be improved are minimal. People were friendly. We would go back.