We’ve traveled to AI’s seven times now and this resort would fall in the top 4 of those. It seemed to have everything you would look for, but it was just missing that little something. Dunno, can’t quite put my finger on it. It certainly wasn’t the staff, they rocked, I mean they would do anything for you and they worked really hard and quickly. I’ll keep writing to see if I can uncover what it is.
Arrived at the resort around midnight on a full bus. Two people on the desk, took about a half hour to check in. Pick up your towel cards and room key. Trolley took bags to room.
Rooms: We were on the third floor, we had requested second floor but when everything works in the room we don’t push our luck. 😉 The rooms use key cards which oftentimes fail, forcing you to go to the front desk for a fix. Gets annoying after 3 or 4 times. Good sized rooms with a pull out couch. Sliding doors to a balcony with a couple of chairs and a table. Fridge was stocked with water, pop(pepsi, diet pepsi and seven-up) and a couple of Presidente. The maid (who was a real sweetheart, by the way) stocks the pop and water, a beer guy delivers beer (appropriately enough)… if you aren’t there, or the maid is not there, you get no beer restock. I left maid a note one day asking about beer, she took it but left no answer… with my spanish knowledge though, for all I know I may have asked her if her cat liked cervesa. There is a safe with a number lock system, an iron and board. Hidden behind the ironing board is an umbrella (good to know!)… the only thing we used was the safe – it didn’t rain and our clothes stayed wrinkled (we’re on vacation!!). The washroom is well equipped with two sinks, dental kit, soaps, shampoos, mouthwash, bath gels, sewing kits and shoeshine stuff (kept my toenails nice and shiny 😉 ). The hair dryer is modern and functions well. The little toothpaste things were so cute we just had to take one home. There is a large jacuzzi type tub. On the one night we tried it out, only one of the jets worked and the wife hogged it. The tub has a half glass door which if you aren’t careful can result in a raft of water on the floor while showering. Water pressure and temperature was sometimes an issue but of course is related to the time of day and the number of users at that time. The beds were comfortable but the pillows were like slate… thin and hard. Noise from next rooms was not really an issue but the racket that can come from the halls can be quite loud at times.
Overall, the rooms were quite acceptable.
Restaurants and Bars: Bar service was outstanding at all locations as was the service at the restaurants, in fact maybe the best we’ve experienced in our 7 AI trips. Drinks were premium brands and mixed relatively weak unless you ask for stronger. Lobby bar made the best drinks and was a nice relaxing atmosphere… until they started with the music. Why must it be so loud? Can’t it just be background music? And for gawds sake, there is only one Celine Dion out there, do not try to sing her stuff!! 😉 We ate at the buffet, the Italian restaurant(twice), the Mexican restaurant, the steak joint and Route 66 (twice). Not much to say here really, food was quite edible at all locations and there was enough selection for the pickiest eaters. Well, maybe a couple of things… 1) folks raved about the steak joint… er, I didn’t get it, grilled meat and baked potatoes, no big whoop. 2)I loved the atmosphere and the light fare at Rte 66, but really they need to investigate the smell in there, kinda moldy. 3) Dress codes were either not in effect or not enforced and 4) No reservations needed (except for the steak joint) and walk up waits were quite short. Not the best food we have had on vacations south, but very passable.
I cannot say enough about the brilliance behind having a person apply hand sanitizer at the doors of the buffets. There are a lot of travelers out there who simply do not wash their hands and rub their grime on utensils in the buffet. Thanks you Ocean Blue for keeping my tummy free of any troubles.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Beach is Bavaro Beach… what else can you say? Um… while quite functional, the four poster huts with the canvas tops are kind of trashy looking, let alone the fact that there is just way too much wood to bang your head on… again and again. Just a personal preference, but I like the tropical look of the traditional palm branch palapas. There are two pools each with it’s own bar. Water is cooler in the morning and really heats up in the afternoon… wonder why? The sun of course. There is a daily handout at the breakfast buffet. The paper outlines the days activities and includes a note that basically says that saving chairs and spots at the pools and beach is prohibited. Er… a lot of people must not be able to read because chair and spot saving is the worst I have ever seen. Nuff said. Grounds are quite well kept but some areas in the courtyards are showing wear, nothing to really detract from your stay, but if left in a state of disrepair eventually will look dumpy. There is a trolley that makes it’s way around the resort to pick up weary walkers… sometimes I wished there were two trolleys running.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Kids did some tubing. They also tried to get on the rock wall, but alas it wasn’t manned the entire week we were there, despite being listed on the daily time schedule. We took in a couple of shows. The circus show which while sometimes cheesy, still managed to wow me at the end. We also took in a dance show but it got repetitive and dull really quickly, and we usually enjoy these things. Again with the really loud music! Now, just as an aside and to demonstrate that it was not just me who thought that way, my 19 yr old son found it way too loud as well. There are lots of opportunities for excursions or rides offered on the beach by vendors, who by the way are not aggressive, we didn’t partake in any of them however. We checked out the shops a few times down the beach a little. Want to avoid the aggressive guys on the beach? Enter the first shop and walk along the backside of the shops. The workers back there are much less aggressive and have been known to be asleep. There are a couple of shop owners who are really nice and fair guys, I was actually quite impressed.
There was lots to do on the resort – movies, kids discos, adult discos, bowling, but really by the time we did the beach, the pool, dinner and an hour or so at the lobby bar, we were pretty much wiped.
Other Comments: Well, that barely touches on our experience and I can’t explain it but I just don’t have that "I wanna go back" feeling that I have had at other resorts. I’m a beach person and those huts were tacky, and the whole mini-mall feel of the main court was kind of trashy. Don’t we go to the Caribbean to get away from that? There’s an old Trooper song that plays in my head when I think back on it… a three dressed up as a nine. Don’t get me wrong, for the right price you will be definitely be pleased. There’s really nothing of any significance to complain about here, I had a good vacation, it just didn’t do it for me. I hate to end on a negative note, it’s an OK spot, I doubt you’ll be disappointed… but maybe not wowed. Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for questions, or to tear a strip off of me if you’re a huge fan of this resort. 😉