Check In: We arrived at the airport in the early evening, were quickly confirmed by our tourist rep and boarded our bus to the resort. Longest wait in the whole processes was waiting for our luggage. Everything else was smooth and quick. Bus ride to the resort was done in the dark so did not see much along the way. It was a short drive.
Were greeted at the resort by porters who took care of our luggage, a waitress with a tall cold fruit punch at the reception desk, we sipped out drinks as we checked in. Total time checking in about ten minutes. They were checking in several couples at the same time.
Room: Our room was on the second floor. It had two double beds, bar fridge, double sink wash area, tub-shower, toilet area, large closet, two chair dinette, balcony with two chair dinette and drying rack, beds were very firm ( we like them that way ). The room on arrival did smell musty but clean. You are in the tropics with very high humidity it’s going to smell that way, open the balconey door and air the room out when you can it helps, take along air freshner, take along fabric softner sheets to place in with your clothes and to hang in the closet. We were very happy with our room it was spacious, sheets and towels were changed daily, bathroom and floors were washed daily. Restocking of your fridge is not done by the maid, it is done by another worker who is only allowed to refill to a set level.
Food: We had thirteen restaurants to pick and choose from.
Breakfast was always eaten at the buffet. (Most of the people at breakfast were already in beach wear with a cover up, shoes of course are a must.) If you like hot chocolate it’s served at breakfast and is wonderful. Lots of fresh fruit, breads, cheeses (loved their cream cheese), yogurts, selection of cold cereals, hot items, or custom cooked eggs or omelets. Made to order fruit smoothies. Hot items offered a breakfast were sometimes usual to North American standards but hey that’s not where you are. If you are a timid eater you will still find something to satisfy you. Lunch was usually eaten at La Pina on the beach. (Swim suit, bare feet are the norm very casual beach dining). Serves a selection of salad items. Basic rice and beans as a side or baked potato or french fries. Cooks will then grill you what ever you want, steaks, chops, sausage, hamburger, hot dogs, kabob, chicken breast, several types of fish, fresh calamari or shrimp. Followed up by desert usually for us ice cream (the rum raisin is a must try, especially if you like rum) Supper was eaten at all the other buffets and or sit down restaurants. Each evening buffet has a large selection of items, soups, salads, and hot items. Once again there are unusual item offered, if adventureous try them if not there is custom made pastas, grilled to order meats. I always found something to eat. If I was disappointed in anything it was the desserts. They were okay not fabulous. Sit down restaurants were enjoyable. Offered a hot or cold appetizer, main entree, dessert. Only restaurant did not enjoy was the Mexican. Steak House, Seafood House, Italian were good. We did not try the French or Spanish as they were and extra cost.
Serve: Was always greeted with a smile and hello. Some servers spoke better english than others. The key is to be patient they really do want to please you. We found the staff friendly if they didn’t understand they alway got someone who did. The serve sometimes to North American standards was a little slow, you’re on holidays, relax!
Beach: BEAUTIFUL and CLEAN with CALM WATERS. Lots of beach chairs. Sun or shade available. Lots of things to do.
The grounds and whole resort were very clean and beautiful. Bathrooms were alway clean (no paper towel only hot air dryers).
Shopping: On the resort itself prices were higher and not much bartering room, flea market at the end of the beach, offers cigars, rum, coffee, vanilla, jewerly, crafts and trinkets, t-shirts, beach wear, art. Shoppers should compare and bargain hard, walk away if you have to. If you come back they’ll remember you and each item you were bargaining one even it it’s days later. If one stall has it, all the others pretty well do too. They are there to make a dollar so they can be aggressive.
Keep and open mind. You are not in North America you are in a Third World Country. If you can do any off resort out back country trips I encourage to go, it give a much better understanding. Would I go back to the Palace, yes. Relax and enjoy.