I have to admit, I was scared to venture to this resort after having read many reviews. However, it was too late at that point to cancel, so my hubby and I bit the bullet and agreed to take everything we read with a grain of salt. I am sure glad we did! There were no hookers in the bathrooms that I saw, and we felt we as well as our belongings were safe.
We flew with Transat Vacations via Canjet. Our plane was delayed by 2 or so hours. The flight got underway and we were given a "shot" of champange. 1 movie and a half plus a bagged lunch and we were finally in Punta Cana. I was a bit bummed that we arrived in the early morning and missed the view of the strip. Oh well, always next time! I had braced myself for a busy arrival at the Punta Cana airport which to our surprise was empty except for the folks on our plane. So getting our luggage and finding our bus was a breeze. We arrived at the resort about 2am and again because it was late and there were only 2 other couples at our resort, checkin was a breeze.
We stayed in building 24, room 122. We had asked for a 3rd floor room with a nice view. This was our honey moon and we wanted something really special. At checkin we had mentioned this and the fellow at the desk checked for another room and because it was heading into peak season, they did not have a room to move us too right away. We purchased a lock for our 2 week stay. By the time we had settled in for the night it was going for 3:30 am and we were beat. Before we went to sleep we made plans to vist it our tour rep and explain about our room request. Plus, the lock we "rented" wouldn’t fit into the safe and I was kinda bummed my terrace looked out at a fence over to the next resort. However, the room was great other then that. It was clean, bright and functional. We had a king sized bed. Always had clean towels/sheets and our fridge was filled everyday! Our maid Carmen was excellent! Anything we wanted she gave us. I asked for more water. No problem! Hubby fell in love with Presidente and we asked for that instead of Brahma and we got it. We left her a tip every day as well as trinket every other day. To be honest, I think our room still would have sparkled if we didn’t tip! The bathroom needed some updating and yup, the tub leaked – big freaking deal! Amazing what a face cloth strategically placed can do to stop a raging river into your room. Air conditioner worked like a top! We were in Transat’s Preference club. Had robes/slippers and beach towels. Also was met with a beautiful fruit tray and a bottle of Brugal rum. Over all pretty pleased.
Restaurants and Bars: When we arrived and checked in, in our info packet was our reservations for our al a cartes. As a member of Transat’s preference club, you get 5 guaranteed reservations for your al a cartes. Our reservations were all for the second sitting which is around 8:30pm. At that time we would have been famished. So we just went to the buffet for most of our meals. That said, had we wanted to change the times we could of. Now as to the food in the buffet. I have to admit it was pretty good. Bear in mind, hubby and I are extremely picky eaters. We always found something to eat and tried a few new things. You need to keep in mind this restaurant caters to an international palette. Breakfast was the best! Well, we just happen to be breakfast kind of people. Desserts were beyond yummy! Fresh made breads and pastries. Made to order smoothies and crepes! What is not to like? The service here was exceptional. We did wait once for a Pepsi, but if you had seen the folks who were in the buffet at the time, you would understand the small wait. No biggie! We were on vacation! Home Run Bar and grill: We mostly ate lunch here. Burgers, fries, nachos – what we call picky foods. Again, great service whether you tip or not. Pizza bar: No words to describe how yummy this was. We ate there on the nights we couldn’t find anything to suit our picky appetites, which was twice 🙂 Food wise, you won’t go hungry. We were in line up for the buffet and the folks in front of us who seemed to have had a few were going on about how the chicken in the buffet had made a lot of folks sick. Let me just say, we were at the Occidental for 2 weeks and I ate the chicken in many forms (roast, fajitas, fried) every day and never got sick. The bars: What can one say? Unlimited drinks all day and night. During the day we lounged in the lobby and had a noon cervaza or two before hitting the beach or pool. The staff in this bar was great! Whether we tipped every drink or not, we always got service with a smile and a giggle. Both hubby and I became fans of the Tiky Tiky! Wilson and Johira at the lobby bar went beyond for every customer. Swim up bar: Provided some giggles, great staff!
Theater bar: Again, great staff and service!
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Wow, is all we could say. Hard to believe places like this exist. Pools: Always clean or being cleaned. Spent most of our pool time in the main pool with the swim up bar. Getting a lounger was hit and miss, but didn’t matter to us, we dropped our beach bag on the little island and just floated around. The beach: Wow! As part of Transat’s preference club we had access to a private beach area and bar service. Which was nice, but we never used it. We never not found a lounger. Might not have been in the shade all the time, but hey we were there to enjoy the sun and just relax. The water is so blue and warm! Sand is like flour!
Resort Grounds: Immaculate. We gave props to the fellows who were always doing some sort of garden work or cleaning the beach. These are the unsung heroes and we let them know it with a tip. It was the least we could do for being in paradise. Not to mention these folks usually don’t see a lot of tips, but certainly do earn them!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We did 3 excursions… Parasailing: My hubby talked about doing this for months before we even left for our trip. I was just going to sit on the boat and take pictures. Or so I thought. The company we went with (forget the name) said only folks going parasailing to get on the boat. So I sucked it up and went. What a thrill! What an experience! I am so glad I bit the bullet and did it. Something hubby and I will always remember. 90 USD for 2 folks. We could have got it cheaper on the beach, but liked the look of this company’s boat and equipment. Reef Explorer: My dream come true! I always wanted to snorkel amongst coral reefs and tropcal fish. Swim with sharks and rays. This excursion is by the same folks who do Marinarium. However, instead of being on a party boat boat, you hang out on a floating island. You can do a snorkel tour. Get massages, go kayaking, sunbath. Kind of a build your own excursion. Once the “organized“ part was over, you were free to go back in the water and snorkel the coral or head back into the shark/ray pen. The snorkel tour was in open water where as the sharks/rays were in deep fair sized pen. I didn’t feel like these animals were abused. But, well looked after. The tour guide made it a point to give you the dos and don’ts. No smoking or drinking is allowed. They provide a lunch that you make yourself. Sandwiches/veggie sticks to hold you over until you get back to the resort. You can get your picture taken with a ray. Great experience. Got some neat pictures! Bring an underwater camera! Also bring 10 usd for your picture of the ray, and 30 usd if you want to purchase the video of pictures from your excursion. Cost was 170 USD for the two of us not including souvenirs or tips. Half day excursion.
Jurassic buggies/boogies: Did this trip on our second last day. Was a hoot! Great fun. We drove our own buggie to Macao beach and spent about 30 mins there where you could go swimming or have a cervaza. A few vendors set up. A simple no gracias was enough to avoid them. Beautiful spot with some nice waves. From there, you drive your buggie to a cave. In this cave is crystal clear water. It is about 30 feet deep, but looks about 3! You get to go for a dip which was welcomed after blazing around in the sun and dust. Some vendors are set up in this area, again, if you’re not interested a simple no gracias will suffice. From the cave you travel back to your starting point. Whole trip was about 3 hours. 130 usd for both of us. 7 usd for a picture and 35 usd for a video.
Other Comments: We had a wonderful time. We decided to keep our first floor room after it grew on us. We are not picky or try not to be and it is amazing how great things look after you have had a proper nights sleep. After our orientation meeting, we went for lunch had a poke around, then went back to our room and crashed. We got a replacement lock and everything was great from then on. Our tour guy was working on getting us a honeymoon room, but we decided as great as that sounded, we were happy clams in our original room. We did not go to the disco, instead watched the shows put on by the Fun club every nigh. What an amazing job these guys and gals do. They worked hard and it showed. Vacation club: I was scared to find out what this was about. Terrified I would be hunted down to attend the seminar. Our building concierge explained it to us. He did not push it on us. We went for 2 reasons. 1. To hear about the club (which I have to say is not our cup of tea now, but sounds like it could in later years) and 2. Because by us going, our friend got a point. This point goes towards his job. He works mainly on commission and it is a rough job. If you are not interested, simply say so. 2 nights a week, the resort allows vendors on the grounds. Which is really neat. There is much bargaining to be had. Our first time, we did so bad. 60 USD and a small stone carving, a cigar and a necklace to show for it. Hubby gets a bit upset because he feels bad. Our second time however, 30 usd and I made out like a bandit. Had some good giggles with the vendors. Now hubby and I have a system! We’re all ready for our next trip! Listen, we are new to Punta Cana as well as all inclusives. What I do know is that this is a great middle of the road resort. A good place for families of all shapes and sizes. Would we go back? You betcha! What it will really come down to when planning our next vacation is price. Also, we just might want to try something else. Our reasons for going back are this. The people are great! The service is great! Somethings take "dominican" time to solve, but, it always gets resolved. Although, this is a fair sized resort, it seems to be easy to get around. A bit compact I guess. After reading other reviews, I just remember what my mom used to say.."You can’t please everyone, and sometimes, people just like to complain!"
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me! Or message me on Debbie’s Dominican travel board under "The Carters".