Arrival: April 25 to May 2 The arrival was smooth. The coach that took us to the hotel was old but did the job. Tips started here. The bus driver and leader wanted their tip. this was only the beggining. Baggage claim was also smooth. Check was fast and easy. We did not have an option as to the room we got. The guy at the reception was rude and pushy. We had to pay 25 US for the safe; non-refundable.
The room was in one of the renovated updated biuldings. 26-102. The room quality did not exceed my expectations. The furnitue was old and ratty, but the sheets were clean and the room was clean aside from the moldy smell. We asked to change rooms because the smell was bad, they told us they were fully booked and could not move us. We told them the mold was strong, so they sent someone up to spray the room. The second day the mold mad us sick, but I presume our bodies got used to it as the rest of the vacation the smell did not seem to effect us anymore. As long as the AC was blasting it was ok. We noticed on the second last night that the sliding door was cracked and never locked properly. This was kind of a concern because we were right by the beach and this area was open to locals or anyone that wanted to stroll through the resort after going to Mangu. The maids were great. cleaned the room regularily. Aside from the rust in the bathtube and the discolouration on the groute on the floor everything they could clean was spotless. These small things were typical as the hotel is over 12 years old. overall it was ok. not up to par. but it fit my expectations after reading the previous reviews.
Restaurants and Bars::
The buffet was ok the first few days, but then I quickly realized that the same food was made on a daily bases. there were not changes. They use little spices in their foods, but this is typical as most dominican food is back to basics (tomato sauce on pasta was just that, boiled and pureed tomatoes). Breakfast (as mentioned by others) was amazing. Made to order omlets were great. All meat was greasy, but again, this is the way they cook. lunch and diner were the same with the exception of some minor changes. I dont think the food made me sick, it was the mold in the room. My friend did get sick from the taco place, as the chicken was undercooked. Pizza was ok, if you like goat cheese. Beach buffet was just the same was the main buffet. didnt eat much of the meat, but others that did said it was good. We tried 3/4 a la carte restaurants. The Mexican was ok, resembled the buffet alot. bland. the italian was good but not great. the soup was terrific here, but the pasta lacked spices. finally, the steakhouse was amazing. The steak was big and juicy and full of flavour. we were seranaded by a live Mariachi number. it was nice. At all restaurants drinks and wine were refilled regularily. Orders were taken fast and food was brought to the table fast. by day 5 you will be bored of the repetitive food. but it was ok as long as you dont expect too much. friut was all sooo sooo good and fresh. Passion fruit was so good I have never thought anything could be soo yummy. drunks were great. too little alcohol in them, so we always asked for them to make them stronger. bahama mama and the tikki tikki were amazing.
The beach was gorgeous. Would have been even better if people didnt reserve spots early in the morning to get the umbrellas. In 7 days I didnt even get the umbrella once. The pool was well maintained, but again the spots were all taken early in the morning. Most of the time these people dont show all day, or they leave their towels there overnite and come for an hour or two. We go fed up and just watched, it they were there for a while we just took over their spots. the staff were always cleaning up and making sure everything was up to par. everything was very well maintained.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel::
There were no activities until the 2nd last day. there was never any music by the beach. the nightly entertainment was very well done, and every night there was a new show. we did the catalina VIP tour, and it was well worth it. you get to see the local life, plus some history of the area. then you see old ruins and a cute town, Los Altos. Which is at the edge of a cliff. You walk down some steps and take a misssippi boat to the end of the river where you get on a catamaran. you sail the ocean to Saona island where you snorkel. they did not give new snorkle, it was used and kinda gross. from there you said to a virgin island, catalina island. Which was gorgeous. so beautiful this was worth it in itself. if it wasnt for the locals hounding you to visit their shops it would have been mucb better. then you are back at sea where you eat a great lunch with lobster. here we had the freshest pine apple i had ever tasted in my life. it was soo good. (it was nice to have a break from the bland and repetitive resort food) You spend another hour at sea and then arrive at a port where you are escorted to shore and take the bus back. Again this bus was very old. the shocks were old and it was a very bumpy ride. and fast. too fast. but this is typical of dominican driving. Thsi triop was well worth the 135 US. Do it if you can. it was a full day and a great experience.
Punta Cana is beautiful. You should expect to be hounded to buy things at all shops, be prepared to see the same things in each shop too. You can hagle with the owners for less than half of the inital asked price. the hotel staff are very attention and responsive. They try their hardest to please you. I know a lot of people complained about the langugage barrier. but english is not there native language, so they dont expect them to speak it. its fun trying to get your point across, they try and it usually works. although some do not speak english others speak german, italian, french, english and spanish. Our tour guide was great as he spoke 4 languages. all menus and signs are in french, english german and spanish. the staff and anyone you encounter expect tips for any little thing they do. if you try and tip everyone for services that are in their job description you will be out a lot of money. we tipped at all a la carte restaurants and if someone went out of thei was to appease us. Such as at lunch when a waiter noticed i was drinking orange juice, and brought me an orange based alcoholic beverage. if you leave the resort be prepared to be hastled to buy again. the locals are very forward but also very touchy. dont be surprised if they touch you or try to kiss you. this happened a lot. we also noticed with some staff that they were less receptive toward the end of our stay as they focused on the new comers more. the maid was great -Aldamira! loved her. this is a quiet resort. mainly couples and older people and families. I know they market it to be good for young people but its the opposite. there were barely any young people when we went. All resort workers and locals try to suade you to go to Mangu. there are mainly locals here and they stare and try to dance with you and do not take no for an answer. they play the same music every nite. all in all the resort is ok. we only paid 1000 canadian for it, so it was worth the price. had i paid what others did i would have really been dissappointed. as long as you dont set your expectations too high, you will have a great time. anywhere the resort lacks, the beach makes up for it. the staff was great with the exception of a few, but i did not let them ruin my spirits. all in all this was an ok hotel. when i go back to punta cana for the beach (because it was soo beautiful) I will not be staying at this hotel. Only because our room could have been better (not as bad as some of the non-renovated rooms we saw)and when we complained we were not taken seriously) and because it was dated and the food was bland. I would like to try something newer.