Arrival: April 9 – April 16 We flew Air Transat, pretty uneventful really. A few minutes late in leaving, due to the incoming flight being a few minutes late. Nothing special, food was typical airline food, surprised that its supplied by Presidents Choice now.. Upon arrival, there was our flight and a Sunquest flight that arrived at the same time.. there’s a delay actually getting into the arrivals area because they (Airport / Tourism staff) take pictures of EVERY single person or couple as they enter the airport. This REALLY slows down getting in, going through customs / immigration, and getting your luggage. The luggage carousels were not numbered or labeled, so you were unsure as to which one was for your flight. After getting our bags, it was a pretty smooth transition to finding out what bus you’re to get on, lots of people around to direct you to the right spots. Bus ride to the hotel was about a half hour, as we were the last resort on the drop off list. Check-in was done at the VIP Paradise Club lounge, as we had purchased the Conceirge package, very quick and informative. Bell Boys take you and your luggage via golf cart to your room. They also point out key areas on the way to your room.. buffet etc.
Rooms were very nice. Clean, although we had 3 cockroach incidents, which kept me skittish for every nights sleep.. I had mentioned it to someone, another guest, but they had thought it was rather odd, that a door had been left open probably, not a usual thing there… fine. Rooms were cleaned every day around 10am, we were in room 2463, Paradise Club. Towels were refreshed when we required them, but most days we preferred to reuse them, for the sake of the environment. Mini-Bar was stocked and restocked daily (with the help of $1) and we left little gifts and a couple of US $$ for the housekeeper daily. Upon arrival, we had a fresh fruit plate and a bottle of rum, and a free gift of a keychain, which is a nice keepsake. One odd thing about the room was the bathroom, and the lack of privacy. We do understand its mainly for ventilation for steam etc, but there was a 2 foot gap between the wall and the ceiling, which didn’t allow for complete privacy in the bathroom area.. We just had a routine, one on the balcony, one in the lou!! Shower was wonderful, and in a separate enclosure. Toilet was in a separate enclosure, with a glass door.. all in all, nice bathroom.
There are jacuzzi tubs on the balconies in the Paradise Club rooms, but we never used ours. Only cold water flows from the taps, and it never got THAT hot to have to have a cool jacuzzi, and secondly, when we first arrived, there was a broken lightbulb which was later cleaned up, but I could still see shards of glass, so I didn’t bother using it.
Turn-down service was nice at night, but they didn’t come at the same time each night.. we’re not real night owls, so most of the time we just said no thanks, we were fine, but this is where they do turn down the beds and replace your towels etc… Our room was an inside pool view / partial ocean view. As a note for anyone that’s doing research and booking through Air Transat, the rooms totally facing the ocean and the private pools ARE NOT available to book through Air Transat, you have to book those directly with the hotel according to our tour rep Anne-Lise… it’s an extra $200USD per person, per night!
Restaurants and Bars
First off, you don’t go to the Dominican or anywhere Carribean, for the food! You go for the beaches etc… so my comments on the food and restaurants are what everyone else is probably thinking. You can find something to eat at the buffets, but you have to remember, they’re trying to make something available for everyone there, if they’re picky or not, they try to make sure theres something for everyone… for example, seems that once the new lot of people came in from the UK, Blood Pudding was at the buffet each breakfast.. that sort of thing.. We ate only 1 night at the buffet, as we had ala cartes booked and our in-room lobster dinner (that comes with the Conceirge package), as well as a night of room service. The buffet breakfast was hit and miss for food and service.. some days we’d sit for 15-20 mins until a server came around to acknowledge or offer you coffee… alot of times they had run out of coffee cups and utensils… From our previous experiences in Cuba, we found the service to be less than desirable every breakfast at this hotel… they look completely unorganized most times… The Ala Cartes were good, unfortunately we had only booked 2 when we first arrived.. the Asian Grill (hibachi) which was good, and the Gourmet / French Restaurant (Senses), which wasn’t bad… We tried booking towards the end of our trip for a couple more ala cartes, but could only get the Asain table ordering, which wasn’t good at all.. for either one of us… they’re version of Sweet and Sour sauce was bbq sauce.. rather revolting, but I wasn’t going away completely hungry. The bars at the VIP Paradise Club pools were good, and had premium alcohol, including Corona, but again, you’re paying for it… might as well drink it, right? We found the bartender Jorge at the Kiddie pool a little more approachable and friendly than the others… our opinion. Our lunches were spent at the Beach Grill, which always had a pretty good assortment, and also had salads and desserts in plastic take away containers so you could finish at the beach or pool if you liked.
We spent the first couple of days at the Paradise Club Adults only pool / bar area, then spent a day at the beach, then ended up at the Kiddie / Family pool in the Paradise Club area… and funny enough, we’re newlyweds, no kids.. but preferred to be at the family pool area… just seemed more relaxed and a little more friendly is this area. The main pool area always had something going on, whether it was volley ball, aquafit or just a group of people having fun…. but always something happening.
You never had to reserve your chairs around the Paradise Club pool areas.. but I’d look out from our balcony in the morning around 6am, and I’d see people reserving their chairs around the main pool, or heading down to the beach to do the same thing…. frustrating only when they left it like that all day, and never showed up…. oh well, you’ll get those people everywhere…
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Lots of stuff happening daily, hourly I’d say, but we didn’t get involved in any activities. We did go to the local shopping centre, where they drop you off for 2 hours. It’s a pretty high end shopping area… brand name places mainly.. and expensive. We had wanted to go Zipline Adventure , but I required a pair of close-toed shoes for that, and neglected to pack any… so off to the plaza to drop over $50 for shoes…. yes, they’re nice and I’ll wear them again…. but a little pricey… So we went Ziplining!!! What a blast! Our drivers name was Manuel, and man, can he drive and navigate those bumpy, windy roads!! Kudos to him! Our tour rep was Pedro..he was great! He told us information on the area and the people on our drive to the mountains for Ziplining! He was very friendly and full of knowledge! They take great care in doing the ziplining as far as safety and procedures are concerned… You really should check out the website for it to see the video and pictures, but it’s a lot of fun, and really safe!.. try to go in the morning though, as the afternoon would get pretty hot out there.. The drive through the country side and the small towns was interesting as well.. and Pedro would tell us about all the different vegetation, and we even tried unripened, or not dried, coacoa beans!… All Hail chocolate!! All in all it was a nice break, good to get away from the resort for a bit. we hear the Bavaro Runners Safari Adventure is a good tour as well… maybe next time!??!
All in all, we’d go back to this hotel in a flash.. we really enjoyed our stay!! Although, only if the price were right, and if we got the same package, Mirage Concierge.. we figured its really worth it for the extras you get… ie: free internet in the VIP Lounge.. Premium Liquor and Beers, all ala carte dinners booked as soon as you get there if you want, private lounge to chill out in with snacks and bottled water and pop any time of day… As much as we’ve been liking Cuba, we’ll be back to the Dominican and the NH Real Arena. Oh, before I forget.. the construction that I was concerned about before we got there was pretty much non-existant.. they were working, yes.. and it’s located on the adult pool side or building 2.. unless you had an outside room and were there during the day, it wouldn’t have bothered you one bit! Anna-Lise the Air Transat Rep was wonderful to deal with, and make sure you go to her orientation meeting, very informative! Indira at the VIP lounge was great as well!
Not sure what else I can say, but really a 9 out of 10!