Overall for the price we paid we were very pleased with NH Real. We booked "Le Mirage" through transat holidays with our Travel Agent at tripcentral in Bedford, NS. Didn’t see the need to upgrade to "Conceirge". Although we would upgrade to the NH Royal (adults only) if we return here. We are a married couple, aged 50 & 55. This trip was all about rest & relaxation. I booked NH Real because the beach and rooms sounded great (and they were). Here is our detailed review of the NH Real Arena:
Your Arrival: We departed Halifax on Friday April 2 at 6:45am on Canjet. Flight uneventful and arrived at PUJ airport on time. Passed in our Immigration cards and got our passports stamped at the airport counter, through security…then unto pick up our luggage. Wait wasn’t very long. Boarded the bus and enjoyed the short daytime ride to resort (only 20 minutes). The entrance to the resort is very plain and minimalistic. The inside lobby is quite dark with all of the dark colours and wood. Very Zen looking with incense burning most of the time. We rather liked it….the clean, open, spacious feel. If you like a rustic, jungle-type property….this isn’t it. Having booked "Le Mirage" we were able to access the private Paradise Club Lounge. We checked in there actually. They offer a small bar, coffee, water, soft drinks, fruit, sandwiches, snacks, a nice seating area, internet access and always had staff on hand to assist. We arrived around noon and our room wasn’t ready, so we changed and headed to the beach…Wow! After a look around and a cold drink we checked on our room status again and it was ready at 1:00 for us…so off we went with the porter and our luggage.
Rooms: I had emailed the NH Real one week before we arrived requesting a poolview room. I never received a response back from them but we did get our poolview room. We were Room # 2143. The Punta Cana building, ground floor, Rm. 43. Very well appointed rooms with a nice big shower, separate toilet area with a frosted glass door, large whirlpool tub and the "infamous" hole-in-the-wall….it was a non-issue for us. I enjoyed soaking in the tub and watching TV at the same time. Adequate drawer & closet space. The safe is free. Iron came in handy twice. We did bring along extra hangers since you don’t get many. We packed facecloths but they do have them….the maid finally gave us some after a few days. Room had a king bed (very firm), 3 pillows, a small sofa, coffee table, armchair, bureau with 4 drawers, desk & chair, 2 nightstands with drawers. We thought the rooms were spacious. There is a terrace outside. Rooms do have coffee makers. Mini fridge stocked daily with beer, Coke, Coke Lite, Sprite & water.
The only issue we had with our room was mosquitos coming in when housekeeping was cleaning. The slippers provided made a good flyswatter….lol! No big deal but I think an upper floor would be better!
Restaurants and Bars: We mostly used the Festival Buffet for our meals. Selection was quite good. Yummy omelets for breakfast. Lots of fresh fruit available at all mealtimes. I was pleased to see plenty of salad veggies. Usually had 2 types of lettuce, arugula, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrtots & beets, onions etc. Carving stations had turkey, fish, ham etc. Had grilled shrimp a few times. They had nice stuffed baked potatoes one night. Lots of hot vegetables. We thought the bread was very good. Nice dessert selection and ice cream. The service in the buffet was very good. But we found the staff very friendly and helpful. We usually lunched at the Beach Restaurant. They have a large BBQ grill set up everyday outside offering chicken, beef, fish, fried rice etc. Inside they have hamburgers, hot dogs, assorted meats, veggies, salad & desserts. It is best to go early when they open at noon…it is hard to find a table at around 2 when it is busiest. Somedays I just made up hamburgers and wrapped them in napkins to take back to our beach chairs. We only booked 2 a la carte restaurants. The Shore Grill – fair-good. We had the shrimp wrapped in bacon and the ribeye. The meal starts with an appetizer of nachos & a few chicken wings. Tasted ok but never warmer than room temperature. Other folks we talked to said the same. I think they must prepare them ahead of time and just serve them ‘as is’. Then came a ceasar salad…good but had at least qtr. cup of dressing poured on top of it. Even asked for dressing ‘on the side’ but still received the salad the same way. The shrimps were good but the ribeye was quite fatty. It tasted good…you just had to cut off all the fat first. It came with a baked potatoe. Dessert was a small cheesecake topped with a brownie & white chocolate decoration….very good. There is definate room for improvement at the Shore Grill Restaurant. Our second restaurant choice was the Asian-Tapanki – Good. We were seated at the cooking station and enjoyed the sushi, fried crispy onions & soup as an appetizer. The busboy was over-enthusiastic and absconded with my husbands soup and onions….we light-heartedly teased him when he returned and laughed it off. The main course was fried rice with egg & veggies, shrimp, chicken & beef…all good. We then were ushered to a large table for a dessert of fried ice cream. Overall we enjoyed this meal but felt a bit rushed. Although we understand the need to have the next seating on time…we felt that an offer of coffee with dessert would have been nice. After speaking to a few of the staff…they suggested that the French restaurant, Senses offers the best meal of all, they recommend the beef tenderloin……have to remember if we go here again. Anyone should be able to find a decent meal at this buffet unless they are super-picky.
NH Real also has a sports bar that opens at 5pm (I think). It has a couple pool tables, popcorn machine & a bowling alley ($10 per game to bowl) And a few TV’s.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach…the reason we chose this resort…and it is gorgeous. We love to take long walks and this fit the bill perfectly. Waves not too big, soft white sand, no rocks. I love this beach. Yes…the towel game is in ‘full-force’ here. There were a couple mornings that you still could get chairs at around 8:30-9:00 but most mornings we had to get up around 6 and claim our palapa. Then back to the room for an early coffee on the patio…breakfast at 7:00…then hit the beach for the day. There are not as many palm trees on this area of beach so the palapas provide the most shade. We only encountered a problem on one day when a family of 5 parked themselves under our palapa. They never moved or touched our chairs..they just decided to squeeze under with us….we said "Hello" but got absolutely no response from either him or her. They just turned their heads away from us and kept talking in French. I thought "Hello" was a fairly universal word! We have galdly shared our shade before but were asked first. To be totally ignored I thought was a deliberate insult to my husband and myself. Yes…we ended up moving. It was just too darned uncomfortable and weird to stay there with them. The pool wasn’t used much by us since we’re beach people. I found it a bit too noisy and too many kids. Very hard to get a chair with shade at the pool. I didn’t even try. The grounds are very nice. A few more years will see the plants and shrubs mature and more flowering vines. Overall very tidy, clean grounds. One suggestion would be for the resort to provide a few benches or seating areas around the grounds. We enjoyed a stroll every evening but found nowhere to sit and jusy enjoy the atmosphere. We didn’t like sitting in the central courtyard because it smells of smoke from cigarettes eventhough it is open air, it is enclosed on all four sides by the buildings.
One afternoon we watched a maintenance worker scrub the beach rocks around the base of the palm trees by hand. He had a wheelbarrow with soapy water in it and a scrub brush…we went to the bar and got him two cold drinks. Smiles & handshakes were exchanged and we wondered what he’d make of our ‘gas powered high-pressure washer’ at home!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We didn’t take any tours this trip. We only went for rest & relaxation this time. Shopping is an adventure in itself here. The prices at the hotel gift shop are very expensive. One small tube of sunscreen = $26 us. Thankfully, we bought plenty from home. We did want to purchase coffee and rum to take home and I found directions on the internet (can’t remember where from originally) to the Supermarcado behind Captian Cook’s restaurant in Cortecito. Overall their prices were about half of what the hotel gift shop wanted. We bought 6 large bags of Santo Domingo coffe @ 105 pesos each (hotel price 300) The best Dominican Rum 368 pesos (hotel price 575) Pringles 86 pesos (hotel price 150) Overall our shopping cost us $55.00 us for everything. Hotel shop would have charged us over $100 us for the same purchases. To find the supermarket….looking out at the ocean, turn left. The walk is about 25-35 minutes down the beach. Go past the restaurant that sticks out in the water about another 5 minutes…watch for Captain Cook sign. Turn in right beside Captain Cooks and walk through the alley. Be careful crossing a small paved road, as there are lots of motorbikes. The doors to the supermarket are right there. You should see a few metal carts outside the door. It is a real grocery store with set prices. The vendors along the way are very persistant! Be firm but polite. Don’t believe what they tell you! We mistakenly told them we were looking for the Supermarcado….and twice we were told that they was no supermarcado up there and we could buy from them…ha ha ha! As for the entertainment….we have no comment on this aspect of the trip. We never saw one show. We were usually in our room by 9:30-10:00. The shows didn’t start until 9:45. Didn’t use the Tantrah Bar upstairs either.
Other Comments: I must mention the service at this hotel…we were very impressed with the level of service we received. We thought it was the best we have ever had at any resort we’ve been to. We never felt any pressure to tip however we did when we felt it was appropriate. Being a ‘curious’ person I wandered over to the NH Royal one day and had a walk around their pool area. I didn’t know that I wasn’t allowed. I just wandered by and entered the property. The swimming pool is fantastic! It is a lazy river type. The lower level rooms all have sun lougers outside their patio doors right on the edge of the pool. It’s almost like having a swim-out room. It’s nice & quite, adults only and you have access to all the NH Real facilities & restaurants. And no kids allowed the Royal beach.
If we go back to this resort it would be to the Royal section for sure.