The Rooms: As I said we got an upgrade. From what I could tell this meant pictures and a king-size bed. The room was rough but clean. One interesting note was that our pictures (from the upgrade) were never straight. Not just a bit out of line but a full 30 degrees or so out of whack. This gave us a chuckle all week. The room was cleaned daily but at random times. Fresh towels and sheets every day which we learned from other guests was not the norm. (There’s that upgrade again…) The bed was rock hard however, once we pulled the plywood out from between the mattress and box spring it was great. The staff had no problem taking care of that for us. We had a one little visitor in the form of a 2 inch cockroach one night but otherwise we had no complaints about the rooms themselves. Location, on the other hand, had a few minor issues. We were directly behind the souvenir shop / bar complex down by the beach. This was not a bad thing as it was very close the bar as well as 150 feet away from the pool, both pluses in my book. The problem was the open sewer way and the construction. This didn’t really allow us to sit outside on the deck and enjoy the view. Obviously we were forced to sit in the really nice open bar area right beside us. (Darn). The mini bar contains 2 beers (El Presidente) 1 coke and 1 sprite. I tipped the mini bar staff heavily the first day and was rewarded with an extra bottle of sprite. Anyone who has a right to come into your room (Mini bar, cleaning staff) will do so with 1 light knock and then they come in. Many of the guests commented on this and a few were caught with more than their proverbial pants down.
Restaurants – The buffets are far better than you would expect. Lunch is the best time for fresh food and grilled items. Anything not consumed at lunch finds its way into the buffet bar at dinner. The Italian restaurant was great. Even the tableside entertainment was great and I normally don’t approve of having my meals interrupted. These guys were good and not over powering. We didn’t care for the Mexican and never went into the Dominican restaurant for dinner. The Dominican didn’t have a menu in English and this kind of food is not something you guess at. Trust me. The location is also used as the daytime bar and lunch buffet during the day. It turns out surprisingly good roast chicken and burgers. If you like corn then the Dominican is the place for you. They put corn on EVERYTHING. Eggs, pizza, pasta, lasagna… The staff in the buffet were very good. They were attentive and courteous as well as friendly without being intrusive. The chefs were awesome. Pass on anything beef and dig into the pork at every opportunity. Even the roast turkey was very good. Here is my one of big complaints. Twice during our stay, the resort brought in 10+ merchants to set up their tables directly outside of the main buffet. At first I thought this was great until I realized that this meant I had to walk through a gauntlet of very aggressive (but polite) salesmen who were pretty much selling the same stuff we had seen all week every where else. It really became an annoying obstacle. More than a few folks expressed their discontent. I truly liked the concept of an open air market. At night with their lights it was a really cool spectacle and well worth wandering through. However, don’t force everyone walk through it on their way to dinner.
Bars – The bars were OK. Loved the RUM!! Contrary to popular belief, tipping doesn’t get you any better service. If you drink something not main line like Rum and Coke / Vodka and 7 then you are out of luck. The resort caters to cruise ship excursions during the day. If they show up then don’t even try to get in line as they are paying cash, tipping heavily and getting all the attention. This is only at one bar (Beachside) so take 30 seconds of your time and walk over to the pool bar. It’s worth the trip
Beach and Pools – WOW is the only way to describe them. The pool is awesome, the beach is very good. Key point, poolside, throw a towel on a chair to reserve it early. (8am) otherwise you are out of luck. They actually gather up the unused chairs around 1 in the afternoon. If you are stuck without, then mosey on down to the beach (Once again… Darn) or hang out at the pool bar. By the way, here is something they don’t tell you… You get your towels at the Scuba shop at the very far corner of the resort.
Grounds – The grounds were nice and well kept. They are doing some construction but it wasn’t a problem. The work crews were actually very nice and completely polite and respectful. The grounds were kept exceptionally well. The beaches and grass were racked daily and there were always crews working on the plant and tree plots. If you avoided the construction in the middle of the grounds an evening walk with your loved one was a very pleasant experience
Activities and Entertainment – The evening entertainment is very weak. Nice theater and all but the shows are very amateurish and continue along the mass participation theme. By 9:45 I’m tired and really just want to be entertained. Let me sit and watch… thank you. The poolside activity team is very high energy and I really looked forward to their regularly schedule events at 4:30. Once again they were mass participation but they were not pushy about it. Generally it was all a ton of fun. 2 issues here, 1) the team promotes Staff vs. Guests contests all the time. Don’t kid yourself here folks, there is NO consideration given to the fact that you are paying their salary. The staff look at these little events as an opportunity to kick the %$#@ out of the guests all the time at every event. Still a lot of fun though. 2) The Bikini contest. I’m a healthy red blooded male and appreciate the female form very much; however this was a little uncalled for. The activity staff walks through the pool side and asks all the “attractive” people if they want to participate. This tends to send a poor message to those not part of the perfect body crowd. The first part of the contest was fun and done well, however, there was a second part where they brought up a couple of men from the senior crowd and the contestants were expected to perform a lap dance on them. A few of the participants walked out of the contest and there were more than a few families with children in the area that were offended. If this was done at 11:30 at night I would have been all over it. But at 4:30 in the afternoon it’s not the best thing to be doing. We went on the free horseback riding a couple of times. This is well worth your time. The horses are a far cry from Secretariat but the equipment was well maintained and the excursion saw some good sights. We did a morning boat trip to Catalina. $40 got you 2 snorkeling stops, an open bar and a snack. The snorkeling was very poor and the equipment was questionable at best. There was very little color and the highlight was feeding fish with bread. Our snorkeling almost didn’t happen. When we stopped the captain suddenly stopped speaking French and English and proceeded to grab a nap on the deck while his assistant dove into the water and started paddling around. This left 17 guests on the boat with flippers but no masks or snorkel. We had to get the assistant back on the boat to have him pull the box of equipment out for us. Catalina Island was great. It’s set up like an open air BBQ and picnic grounds. The snorkeling was better but once again almost didn’t happen. No-one told us this was the second site. Once we all disembarked the captain immediately sped off with all of our equipment to visit with another boat up the beach. He came back 20 minutes later and actually asked why no-one was in the water. (Suddenly he spoke English again) Our snack was a bag of Doritos and the open bar was a 64 oz bottle of rum and that ran out in a few minutes. There were a few merchants on the island as well as some ladies braiding hair. Nice touch and a welcome distraction. My wife looked awesome with a few braids. I was a little concerned with the boat when we stopped (twice) in the middle of the ocean to change spark plugs and tape up wires. A third stop had us drifting for 20 minutes before I could draw the “Captain’s” attention to the fact he had kicked off a battery cable on the fully exposed car battery sliding around the deck at his feet. We did see a whale and some dolphins as well as a view of the homes for the rich and famous. If you want to snorkel, do it at the beach. The view by the netting / reef is very good and it’s free. A few folks we talked to went on the afternoon and all day Catalina trip and they had nothing but great things to say about it. We also went on the River Run where we boated up the local tributary. This was great. Lot’s to see and a lot of good times with the crew and guests. (Far more rum on this trip) The resort has some nice add-ons during the week. They have a movie night on the open air veranda just outside the sports bar and Italian restaurant. This was really nice and at times very romantic. They also had a beach party that was absolutely a blast. Dance, sing, and laugh well into the night. This is a definite Must-do. Don’t bother with the little market on the beach between resorts. The stuff is all very poor quality
Departure and Check Out – This was hassle free. Shuttle was there when we needed. The Customer support staff made sure we were confirmed on the shuttle as well as the airline. The trip back was once again a thrill ride but we arrived in one piece.
Conclusion – Overall we really enjoyed our time at the Oasis Canoa resort. We would definitely do it again. All we recommend is to not have your standards too high, enjoy yourself and be prepared to be self sufficient. Most of the staff speaks Spanish and French and enough broken English to get by. The important staff speaks all 3 fluently. Everyone is there to help and generally there to make your stay pleasant.