Ocean Blue and Sand Reviews – Dominican Republic Hotels – Ocean Blue and Sand

November 6 to November 13, 2005

Location: Ocean Blue Golf & Beach Resort is located approximately 35 minutes from Punta Cana Airport. It shares its property with Ocean Sand Golf & Beach Resort. If you’re walking along the beach, it is directly adjacent to LTI Resort to the south, and the Iberostar Hotels are to the north. Ocean Blue and Ocean Sand are essentially the same resort. When you enter the lobby, the reception for Ocean Blue is on your right and for Ocean Sand it is on the left. Rooms along the left side of the resort as you face the beach are for Ocean Sand guests, Ocean Blue accommodations are on the right. Accommodations are identical, all room types are available on both sides. All resort facilities are shared between the two.

Check-In

You check in at reception, unless you have upgraded to a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite. For these suites, which are in Villas 6 and 10, you have private checkin/checkout privileges at Guest Services, which is around the corner from the Ocean Blue reception. We just went into the Ocean Blue reception and they escorted us to Guest Services. On checkin you will be given a wristband, your room keys, towel cards, and a “Welcome Passport”. This includes a map of the resort and excellent information about all the restaurants and other hotel services. The occupancy rate was between 50 and 60 per cent the week we were there it seemed to be mostly Canadians and Americans.

Grounds and Beach

A nice thing about this hotel is you don’t have to spend a lot of time finding your way around. All the restaurants (except for the beach restaurants) are in one spot, across a courtyard from the lobby, and all other common areas are at the front of the resort by the lobby, with the two swimming pools in the centre of the two resorts. The villa buildings of the resorts are in a row along each side of the resort. There are palm trees and gardens throughout the property. The gardens are still young, but will fill in nicely as they mature. A shuttle runs around the resort on a regular basis. If you are walking, it would take about 10 minutes to walk from the beach to the lobby. There are two huge swimming pools, both with a swimup bar. The pools have a beach-like sloped entrance, which is nice. At their deepest point they are less than 5 feet deep. There are lots of chairs surrounding the pools, and some umbrellas for shade. The chairs around the pool are plastic, though, and not as comfortable as the chairs at the beach. Beach towels are available at the Watersports Centre on the beach. Due to lower occupancy, only the bar on the Ocean Sand side of the swimming pool was open. The one on the Ocean Blue side is a swimup bar only, and it was closed. The hotel is located on a beautiful wide stretch of beach. You can walk for miles in either direction. There was a little bit of seaweed washed up on the beach, but not much. There were some waves, not as calm as further south at PUNTACANA Resort where we spent our first week, and the water was not quite as turquoise blue-green as it is there, but still very beautiful.

A few palm trees dot the beach, offering a little bit of shade. They don’t have the traditional thatched beach palapas, they have constructed wooden pergola-type structures with a covering on top (see pictures). I didn’t find that these really provided much shade, though.

Weather/Bugs: We had a great week for weather, hot and sunny every day, it only rained at night a few times. Unfortunately one of those times was the first night we arrived, it started pouring rain while we were walking to the restaurant for dinner, we got absolutely soaked in just a few minutes! There is an umbrella in every room, too bad we didn’t bring it. The morning we left there was a change in the weather due to a tropical depression. First thing in the morning we could see the ocean was a very deep blue colour. A little while later the dark clouds rolled in and it started blowing hard rain off and on. There was absolutely no problem with insects or mosquitos.

Rooms

There are 374 rooms on the Ocean Blue side, and 334 rooms on the Ocean Sand side, located in 10 buildings. It is interesting to note that this is one of the few resorts that allow 3 children in a room. Maximum occupancy is 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 children, or 3 adults and 1 child. All of the Villa buildings have inner courtyards, all decorated differently. Reminds me very much of the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus. I especially liked the beautiful pots of Trinitarias (bougainvillea). There are 3 room categories – the regular Junior Suites, in Villas 1 through 5 at Ocean Blue and Villas 7 through 9 at Ocean Sand, the Deluxe Junior Suites in Villas 6 and 10, and the Honeymoon Suites, also located in Villas 6 and 10. Regular junior suites are very spacious. All offer 1 king or two queen-sized beds, air-conditioning, ceiling fan, living area, full bathroom with Jacuzzi-style tub, hairdryer, telephone, cable TV, coffee maker, mini-fridge stocked with soft drinks and water, iron and ironing board, umbrella, in-room safe. There is no clock-radio in the room. We stayed in a deluxe junior suite. The deluxe junior suites are all in Villa 6 at Ocean Blue and Villa 10 at Ocean Sand, which are the buildings closest to the beach. We had a wonderful view of the pool and beach. These suites are larger than the regular junior suites, and the bathroom is different.. there is a window in the bathroom that looks into the rest of the room from the Jacuzzi tub (toilet and shower are private), which lets in lots of natural light during the day. There are blinds on the window that you can close for privacy. We had a 4-poster canopy bed and comfortable seating area, and nice wicker furniture on the balcony. There was no ceiling fan in our room, I was told rooms with 4-poster canopy beds did not have ceiling fans. The air-conditioning worked well, and we always had plenty of hot water. English TV channels available were Cinemax, HBO, ESPN, Disney, CNN, TBS WGN TNT, and the cartoon network.

A little tip – The power in our room went out one day, apparently very briefly. A few lights came on immediately, but the TV and most of the lights were not working. We just assumed there was a power outage and the generator was on. I happened to go downstairs a while later and mentioned to the concierge about the power being out. She told me it had only been out for a minute, and that I just needed to re-insert the card in the slot inside the door. I’m glad I asked, not sure we would have figured that one out for a while.

Deluxe junior suites have all the amenities of a regular junior suite, plus you become a member of the Ocean Elite Club, which entitles you to: Private checkin and checkout, VIP wristband, welcome cocktail, fruit basket upon arrival, 2 beach towels in the room, bathrobe and slippers, 24 hour a la carte room service, personalized concierge service, nightly turn down service, one 30 minute massage per adult per stay, selected Dominican cigars in room -3 per room per week (we never got these). You also have beer in your fridge and a selection of bottles of premium liquor in your room. Extra water or soft drinks are available on request. I just left a note and tip in the fridge. In addition, those staying in Deluxe Junior Suites have the following options (note these inclusions were in effect at the time of our stay, check with the hotel for current inclusions): *Fresh tropical fruits in the room daily. *Gourmet dinner at the beach *One complimentary dinner at Bucanero seafood restaurant *One complimentary dinner at El Bodegon Chef’s Table & Wine Cellar Restaurant *Motorized water sports – 1 hour per day *Catamaran sailing – ½ hr. per day, with captain *One dive excursion per person per week for certified divers There are 12 honeymoon suites (six in Villa 6 – Ocean Blue and six in Villa 10 – Ocean Sand). These rooms are beautiful, very different. Everything is white, including the door to the room. These suites are two-storey, with a king-size four-poster bed with white netting and sitting area on the main level, You go up the stairs to a Jacuzzi area, also with a table and chairs, and then outside to a private outdoor shower. (see photos). The Jacuzzi overlooks the beach, but there’s special glass so people can’t see in from outside. There are two balconies in these suites. The suite also has a DVD player, and alarm clock. Those in Honeymoon Suites also get the Ocean Elite Club amenities described above, plus the following: *Romantic dinner for 2 at Bucanero Seafood Restaurant or El Bodegon *Morning after breakfast in their room with sparkling wine *Private Spanish and Merengue lessons *Catamaran sailing ½ hour per day, with captain *Romantic horseback riding at night – one hour per stay *Extended checkout *You can specify what time you want your room cleaned Villa 5 of Ocean Blue is for Apple Vacations clients, and they have representatives on the desk in this Villa during the day. The resort is wheelchair-accessible, and they have 4 handicap-equipped rooms. (grab bars, etc.)

Bars and Drinks

*There is no shortage of bars at this resort: *La Cana Lobby bar – popular in the late afternoon and evening. from 10 a.m. to midnight *Overtime Sports Bar – open from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m. *Luna Bar – by the theatre – open from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. *Las Palmeras pool bar – open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. *El Cocotal pool bar – open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. *Caribbean Grill Bar – open from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. *Wave – disco bar – 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. *Buffet Bars – at La Tortuga Restaurant and El Carey Restaurant *Snack Bar bar – at La Cana Restaurant at the beach * Beach bar

I was drinking mostly white wine, but did have a decent Banana Mama at the beach bar. I asked for a Caesar at the Lobby Bar, but was advised they do not have Clamato juice. And while they do have a selection of premium liquors, they don’t have any Canadian whisky. The only beer they had was Presidente.

Restaurants:
Main Buffet Restaurant The main buffet restaurant is El Carey for Ocean Sand and La Tortuga for Ocean Blue. The buffet area where you get your food is between the two, so the food is the same for both, there is just separate seating on each side of the buffet. While we were there the La Tortuga side was closed, so everyone sat in the El Carey section. The food selection is good. At breakfast they have all the usual stuff – fresh fruit, omelettes, juices (their orange juice tasted like Tang, though, it wasn’t real orange juice), pancakes, sausage, bacon, etc. The restaurant is air-conditioned. There is a smoking section in the restaurant. We found the service to be fairly good here. The restaurant opens at 6 a.m., with continental breakfast until 7 a.m., breakfast buffet 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, and Dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. During the week we were there, this central buffet restaurant was closed a couple of nights, and the buffet was at the beach restaurant.

La Cana Buffet Restaurant – at the beach

La Cana Beach Restaurant at the beach opens for continental breakfast between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and snacks are available between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. We ate there at lunchtime most of the time as it was more convenient than going to the main buffet and you could go in with your bathing suit on. They had hamburgs, hotdogs, French fries, pasta, salads, and pizza on a daily basis, and a few other items that changed each day, as well as fruit and deserts. Try their icecream – it’s great! Aside from the buffet restaurant for dinner, you can also choose to go to one of the a la carte restaurants. We never had a problem getting into any of the restaurants. Some people made reservations for the restaurants at the buffet restaurant in the morning, but it is my understanding this winter they will totally do away with reservations. If the restaurant you want to eat at is full when you arrive, they’ll give you a beeper and you can go and have a drink at the lobby bar, or relax at Mike’s Coffee while you wait. Long pants for the men are required in the a la carte restaurants, although it didn’t seem this was enforced as I did see some men wearing shorts.

Route 66 Restaurant

They serve American-type food – burgers, fries, ribs, steak, etc. They have gone all out in the decoration, complete with a ‘50’s Ford parked out in front. We ate here our first night. I had a rib-eye steak, it was just okay, a little big tough. Service was pretty good. Coffee was horrible, but that’s before we discovered Mike’s Coffee. The music played was mostly from the 60’s and 70’s.

Margarita Restaurant

This is the Mexican Restaurant, and it was excellent. They have an antipasto bar which is a meal in itself. Very nice décor.

I Mascherati di Venezia

This is the Italian restaurant. Again, the décor is very nice and food was good. The menu offered chicken and shrimp dishes, spaghetti, rigatoni, etc. I also had an eggplant appetizer that was very good and Pat had the soup and said it was excellent. The “salad” was ricotta cheese with apples and raisins, different but good.

La Casa de Mi Abuela (My Grandmother’s House)

This is the Dominican restaurant. It is very elegantly decorated, and the food was very good. Service was excellent.

Overtime Sports Bar We never went in here, just looked in from outside. Typical sports bar with TV’s, pool tables. It is open from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m., with snacks served from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Mike’s Coffee and Tea

This place is the best! It’s the closest thing to Tim Horton’s you’ll find in the Dominican Republic. You can get just regular “Americano” coffee or specialty coffees and teas. There is also a “cookie jar” with delicious cookies, or you can choose from an assortment of deserts – the cheesecake is awesome! It is air-conditioned with comfortable chairs and tables. It is open from 4 p.m. until midnight every day. After the first night we never ordered coffee in the restaurants, we just went to Mike’s afterwards for our coffee and desert. This is one place that may be crowded when the hotel is full. It’s not that big, although there are tables and chairs in the courtyard outside where you can sit as well.

La Brasa Caribbean Grill on the Beach

This is near the La Cana Beach Restaurant, it wasn’t open when we were there. It serves continental breakfast from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. lunch from noon until 3 p.m., and dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

El Bodegon Chef’s Table & Wine Cellar

This is not one of the included restaurants, you pay extra to eat here unless you have a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite, then you can eat here once free of charge. Otherwise the cost is around $25 U.S. per person (plus wine) for a Black Angus steak. If I remember correctly, you could also get a salmon fillet ($15), Churrasco ($22), or a ribeye steak ($25). Their Black Angus steak is excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. They start off by bringing a plate of prosciutto and cheese, and a basket of fresh bread. They have an extensive wine list. You can’t get a glass of wine here, though, you can only buy it by the bottle.

Bucanero Grill Seafood Restaurant

This is not an included restaurant, again, unless you have a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite, then you can eat here once free of charge. It is right on the beach, not really a restaurant, just some wooden tables set up on the beach, with a thatched roof over top. A lobster dinner costs $35 U.S. per person. Room Service is available for those in Villas 6 and 10 only, who are in the Ocean Elite Club. They had a fairly extensive room service menu, we never tried it, though.

Sports

Watersports

Pelicano Watersports is located at the beach. Here you can sign out windsurfers, kayaks, snorkel equipment, boogie boards, etc. and arrange for motorized watersports, fishing, catamarans, dive trips, and certification courses. Also saw someone kiteboarding one day.

Golf

There is a new golf course, White Sands, right outside the resort (transportation provided from the hotel). They have a special right now – $45 U.S for 9 holes, regular $60.U.S. The second 9 holes will open next year.

Tennis

Tennis courts are located just inside the entrance to the hotel. Open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Make your reservations directly at the tennis courts.

Kids’ Club

The Kids club is at the beach next to Watersports. It’s for children ages 4 to 12 and is open from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. They play supervised games, have competitions, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, go on bike tours, have videos and movies, and snacks. There is a Mini-Disco and games for the kids at the theatre every night at 8 p.m.

Vacation Club There is a Royal Vacation Club that operates at this resort. It was somewhat annoying when there were 5 or 6 of their sales people standing at the entrance to the restaurant every morning. I started handing them my card when they approached me, and then they didn’t want to talk to me anymore ? They sell timeshares (oops, excuse me, vacation club) at this resort with exchange privileges at other resorts worldwide

Entertainment/Activities

They put out a newsletter every other day telling what is going on. There will also be a board by the Pool Bar with Activities (they had taken it down to fix it while we were there). There are lots of activities – aerobics, bicycle tour, ping pong, darts, boccia, archery, beach volleyball, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, contests, etc. There is a rock-climbing wall where you can try your skill. Didn’t see many people using it, though. There is live entertainment (saxophone) in the lobby starting at 7:15 p.m. which we enjoyed. A large enclosed theatre is at the front of the resort beside the lobby. There are shows every night at 10 p.m., with a Mini Disco for the children at 8 p.m. We only went to a couple of the shows. One was the Dominicano show and one was an audience participation dance competition. Guests are given one free game per room at their “Strike” bowling alley, then it’s $15. U.S. per game for up to 6 people. A good activity for a rainy day.

Internet Access

There is an internet place with 5 computers in the front lobby area. Found the rates a little pricey at: *15 minutes – $4 *30 minutes – $7 *1 hr. – $12 *Wireless Internet is also Available – $12.00 for 60 minutes *Also noted they did have a card reader available, if you wanted to upload photos, etc. *It’s open from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Casino

The Casino inside the resort is open from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. It is run by Tower Casino, who also have a large casino just outside the resort. We didn’t go to the one outside the resort, but did go a couple of times to the one in the resort. The first night we played $60.00 in slots for about 1-1/2 hours, came out only down $3. People did seem to be winning on slots – one man next to us won 1,000 coins. We went back another night and lost about $20.00 in the slots, then Pat played Blackjack for awhile, but we came out losing. We had fun for a while, though.

Disco

The “Wave” Disco is located off the lobby area. It’s open from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. We never went… Just saw it while we were at the Manager’s cocktail party there, which is every Wednesday.

Hotel Stores/Shopping

There are several shops in the lobby area. There is a cigar shop, a Harrison’s Jewellery Store, a Mini-Market that sells clothing, snacks, souvenirs, paintings, a little bit of everything, and a store with clothing and sandals (I bought a pair of sandals there for $16.00 U.S. because the sandals I’d brought broke, unfortunately the new ones cut into my feet so badly, I still have the marks…

For more shopping options, you can go into the “town” area outside of the resort. We never did do this, because it was just too hot to wander around, but there are lots of shops, money exchanges, and bars and things in the area outside the resort, including Plaza Bavaro. You can walk there, or take a taxi for $6.00 U.S. On Dominican night vendors set up in the courtyard between the lobby and the a la carte restaurants. Or you can visit the vendors on the beach, just to the left of the resort. Be sure to bargain for the best prices.

Money Exchange

I assume you can change money at the hotel, I don’t recall seeing an ATM machine there. We just took U.S. cash and never had a need to change any money into pesos.

Spa

The spa here is run by Metamorphosis Spas, who run many of the resort spas in the Dominican Republic. They have a complete line of services available, prices are the same as you’d expect to pay at home. They use top of the line products, and the spa is beautifully decorated, with an inner “outdoor garden courtyard” where there is a Jacuzzi and other treatments are available here. For those who book a deluxe junior suite or honeymoon suite, a free ½ hour massage is included. I went one day for the ½ hour massage and another day had the 75 minute “Scents of the Caribbean” massage treatment. It was wonderful, very relaxing. Pat enjoyed a combination massage. There is also a massage hut near the beach where you can get massages. Massages start from $40.00 U.S. for 25 minutes.

The gym is also located at Metamorphosis Spa and is available to all guests. Medical Services is located on the other side of the spa.

Weddings There were a couple of weddings held at the beach the week we were there. A beautiful backdrop for pictures. They offer free weddings for guests booking a deluxe junior suite under the Ocean Elite Club, or if you book a minimum of 7 rooms with a minimum 4 night stay. You can have your wedding at the beach, in the hotel gardens, or by one of the ponds. The free wedding includes the services of a civil judge, silk bouquet for the bride, silk boutonniere for the groom, ironing of wedding dress and groom’s tuxedo, a bottle of champagne, wedding cake for ten people, romantic candlelight dinner for 2 near the beach, guaranteed late checkout, , 10 per cent discount on all spa services, and turn down service each night. Additional services are available at extra cost. There is also a wedding package available for $850.00 U.S. Contact the hotel for further details.

Tours

You can book off-resort tours such as jeep safaris, boat cruises, ATV trips, horseback riding ($35.00 for an hour), Manati Park, a trip to Santo Domingo, shopping trips, etc. at your tour operator’s desk in the front lobby or through Turinter Tours, who have a representative at the hotel every day. You’ll find him in the lobby in the morning from about 9:30 a.m. on.

Summary

A very nice, well laid-out hotel. Spacious rooms, numerous dining options, lots of activities, and beautiful pools and beach, make it a good choice for a holiday destination. I found the staff to be very helpful, and service was good. Ocean Blue and Ocean Sand are sold from Canada by Transat Vacations, Signature Vacations, and from England through First Choice.

Special thanks to Alexandra, Mr. Smith, Benedicto, Wellington “The Duke”, and all the guest services staff for making our holiday special, and to Turinter Tours http://www.turinter.com/travel/welcome.asp for providing our transportation while at Ocean Blue.

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