MEALS – The buffet meals offered an amazing variety of meats, vegetables, fruits, breads, beverages, and sweets. Something was always being offered freshly grilled to order, eggs, burger, fish, pasta, lamb chops, etc. Hot foods were hot, cold foods were cold. (However, it is not the Cheesecake Factory, Cracker Barrel or McDonalds, if you are afraid of new foods or familiar foods cooked new ways, take your vacation in the states). The buffet waiters were always attentive. We never made it to the reservations desk for restaurants before 11:00 am and always had at least 2 to choose from. We also stopped by the buffet each night to see what we were missing and, !surprise!, the buffet offers a different theme each night reflecting the restaurants with the exact same food and a beautiful presentation, in addition to the regular variety. So, while the restaurants offer menus and personal service, the food is the exact same as the corresponding theme night at the fabulous buffet. If you think you are getting a superior meal in the restaurants, that is just an illusion. Based on various reviews we had read, we brought some snack foods from home just in case and never touched them. Between lunch and dinner and late night, beach bar offered nachos and cheese, salad makings, chicken, pasta, etc.
BEACH – The soft white sand beach is deep and wide in front of this resort, spacious even when every chair is filled. Endless walks are available in either direction. We did bring our own beach towels which was nice only because we on the beach well before the beach towel hut opened, and had no trouble finding loungers as we were up for the glorious sunrise each day. I did notice that by 7 AM each day all the shade chairs were taken on the beach. We took our first sailing lesson on the beach from the resort beach/ocean toy guys and then sailed confidently every day on our own. The water was too choppy the day we wanted a windsurfing lesson, but they were great about letting us take one out anyway in the shallows to just get a feel for it. Yes, there is a small bit of seaweed/sea grass, it is an ocean. Volleyball games and soccer were easy to join into, and with the pool right on the beach, we could just lift our heads to see if that was an activity we were interested in as well.
EVENING ENTERTAINMENT – The evening shows, well, … the choreography lip syncing, and dancing were excellent. Unfortunately, the sound system is just awful, sitting in the very last row made it tolerable. The nightly lobby dances were great, lots of energy, enthusiastic, friendly animation staff. They do enjoy pretty girls and flirt extensively, but will concede to the boundaries set by the guest. They are incredible dancers and happy to gently and patiently teach everyone their steps.
TOUR – We did the Apple safari tour early in the week. It is an excellent tour for seeing the country side, learning a lot about the dr, and seeing a completely different beach. We also met some great people who were with us on the tour and it was fun to run into them throughout the week and learn what they had been up to. We had pencils, crayons, colored pencils for the school children which they were very happy to receive. We also took several recorders (penny flutes) and these really lit up their little faces, wish I had brought lots more!!
SHOPPING – Bargains are to be had. Haggle, and haggle some more. Try to pay 1/3 or less of the asking price. If you pay too much in one shop, you are bound to make up for it in the next. There are shops both to the right and left of the resort on the beach. The ones to the left are closer and a bit more relaxed with a wider variety of goods. They are all open approx 9 – 5. Of course the prices in the resort shops are high for things you could have brought from home; they have to pay shipping and import taxes and make a profit.
TIPPING – We were haphazard about it, didn’t always have a wallet with us. Of course everyone likes and deserves to be rewarded for jobs well done, but whether we had a dollar ready or not, we always had a ready smile, good humor and a kind word and always got good service.
LANGUAGE – Neither of us knew any Spanish beforehand. We did make an effort to learn a few basic travelers’ phrases on the plane ride such as please, thank you, good morning-afternoon-evening, how are you, what is your name, where is, what is, when is, how much is, too expensive, it’s delicious, etc, and picked up more as the week went on. It was fun to surprise the staff with our Spanish; they almost always answered us with a big smile and in English. It appeared that only the maids and a few of the wait staff knew very little if any English, but it was not a problem at all.
MISC – We, nor any of the folks we met were on the VIP plan and did not miss it or feel the least bit slighted. Brought bug spay, didn’t need it, got 3 bites between us all week. Had drinks at various times in all the bars and always found the drinks delicious and bartenders fun and eager to serve.
COMPLAINTS – #3. We were told by Apple that a hospitality room would be available for us to shower and change after check out on our last day since our flight home was not until 8:00 PM. We went to the desk an hour before our bus to the airport and none were unoccupied, so we had to take our hospitality shower in the open air shower by the pool and change in a nearby restroom. Really, no problem! #2. The maid left no clean towels one day. We called housekeeping mid-morning, but still had no towels in the afternoon. After a second call, we received towels within 30 minutes. We had been tipping her, but stopped after that. #1. Trash left all over the beaches by inconsiderate, lazy resort guest. Yes, there are workers who clean it all up, but why not leave it the way you found it for all to enjoy?
OVERALL – This resort is large, but has a compact, cozy feel and is it very simple to find one’s way around. The nature walk to and fro the lobby, stores, night show stage, is well lit, lots of peaceful wildlife and interesting vegetation and takes about 5-7 minutes. We always saw trams available especially at night, both after the shows and the lobby dancing. None of my pre-trip worries came true. I would definitely recommend this resort and I would definitely stay here again myself. It is safe, fun, clean, has good food, plenty of activities, wonderful staff, and a great location on a perfect beach. Sure there are ritzier, more posh, and more pampering resorts. You do get what you pay for and sometimes a little more. This resort delivers a lot for a little. Do read and learn from others reviews, but don’t let the whiners discourage you. We will answer any other questions we can, just ask. Go, Experience, Play, Enjoy!!! firstname.lastname@example.org