Old Reviews – Dunes Beach Resort

My husband and I travelled to MI Feb 21/07 to Mar 7/07. We just returned from a fabulous vacation (celebrating our 20th anniversary) on Margarita Island. The Dunes Hotel is a very strong 4*.

Room- We had e-mailed prior to our departure to ask for a room with a balcony & within close proximity to all amenities. The hotel transfer from the airport is nice & orderly. Check-in was quite informative & we were given our bracelets, safe lock and key in a timely fashion. Our room was a wonderful treat, we were given a suite! 2 bed/ 2 bath/ kitchenette w/ 2 balconies. Our room #3312 was clean, well stocked & a complimentary bottle of rum awaited us. We tipped our maid ($1US) everyday & had fresh towels, clean room & plenty of bottled water everyday. The water is highly chlorinated (piped in from the mainland) and 2 lt bottles of water are supplied everyday. As much as you want. All ice cubes & cooking water is bottled. Not 1 person during our stay had stomach problems, except for self induced.If you need face cloths then bring your own from home. They suply you with hairdryers, coffee makers & a small fridge in each room. If you want milk, you’ll have to get some from the buffet to keep in your room for your morning java.

Meals- The food was plentiful, wide variety and delecious. There are 3 restaurants to choose from: the buffet 7am-1130am, 1230pm-230pm, 630 pm-1030pm beach restaurant 12pm- 430pm a la carte 630/730/830 sittings. Beef, pork, chicken & fish are offered at all meals .A large variety of salads, veggies, breads, fruits & great desserts to choose from. All the wait staff & chefs are helpful and very eager to please. Very nice white & red wines from Chile and awesome cappacino con armarretto to end your meal. From the waffles in the mornings to the hips of beef, you will have no problem filling your plates, each & everyday .

Beach- Yes it is rough, clean and uncrowded. The beach is somewhat divided by the beach bar. To the left is the beach restaurant, quieter sunbathing w/shade & along the beach is very private. To the right is the vendors area (it’s as close to the pool they can come) , sunbathing, shade, etc. The waves are a blast for body surfing. If you don’t get taken down a few times it just isn’t worth it. We are both in our early 50’s but we felt like kids in the surf. Everyone, young & old were all laughing & enjoying themselves! Out about 30′ you can swim, float or whatever. Beautiful stretch of beach to walk. The beach bar gets a little busy, could use another bartender, make awesome pina coladas. You also can stay right in your chair, as they supply wait service on the beach! For a good Margarita, you must ask for Tequila Margarita. Vendors are quite respectful. They do approach you, but a simple smile & no gracis is enough, no need to be rude or abusive, they are only trying to make a living. They have some very nice pearls, massages & hair braiding. People were disappointed in the tatoos, if you don’t swim or shower they will stay on, after all they are TEMPORARY. We used 45 SPF for the first few days then nothing but moisturizing gel at night. You can start your tan at 9am ’til 5pm, but it’s gets mighty hot 1130-1.

Pools- Very clean, plenty of chairs, pads available to rent, alot of activities, 2 great pool bars. At the large pool you can usually hear 2 iguanas yakking at each other. It’s hilarious, great weather, nice breeze- what do they have to complain about! The waiter/waitress are pretty quick. Don’t forget your coolie mug, ice stays at bit longer.

Kids Activities- There is a seperate play area w/ a little pool for the kids to splash in, park area, jungle gym setup, etc. Most the time you forget there are kids at the playground. The resort is very well laid out so there is plenty of room for everyone doing their own thing.

Tipping & Gifts- Like everyonelse, the staff really appreciate a $1 tip. Whether it’s the maid, wait staff, bartenders, shuttle drivers, bell hops, etc. The staff is mostly placed by 6 month contracts, tourism is the majority of work available on the Island. They work extremely hard and management makes sure their jobs are done well, as there are 10 people willing to replace the person let go. If you need smaller US $ or Bs, you can exchange dollar for daollar with the bell hops or any rep at the upstairs operators lounge. We usually gave the bellhop a $1 tip for changing our $50 bills. The staff have no problem changing the $1 (probably w/ the bell hops), so please show some appreciation. The average wage is around $75US for a 6 day week (was given the opportunity to see a staff’s pay stub) If you would like to give a gift or large amount of money, you must write the employees name, list everything included in package or envelope (12 pencils, 2 books, $10 US) print your name, room # & sign it. This protects the hotel, staff member & yourself. Not too many will take the time to do this, but a few minutes time will bring the largest smile & usually a tear or two, well worth it.

Hotel Hints- There is a small mini mart in the lobby, but very expensive. For juice, milk, chips, cigarettes, pop, beer & your rum to bring home, walk out the main gate to the left. Down the street (3 minute walk) is a corner store. Madalaina (owner/operator) is as helpful as possible. She does not speak any English, just understands whether you want to pay in bolivars & dollars. Very reasonable, our rum to bring home was 9900 for a litre. To change money without leaving the resort & without paying the service fee & to get a good rate, there is a beach vendor (rt of beach bar, tent w/ t-shirts, hats, etc.) was giving 3000 last week. By the way, they have a nice variety of beachwear & clothing at a great price. Building 18 is the nicest guy (Klaus) with the best priced, quality pottery, gifts, trinkets & art work around. He speaks 5 languages, has been a resident of MI the last 2 years & his wife runs the boutique in the lobby. Stop by & just have a look around, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Head to the front gate complex around 630pm, walk around the back of the buildings & make sure you have fruit or bread to feed the capybaras. These large docile rodents look like a beaver head w/pig body & ostrich feet. They love bananas the most & will eat peel & all. The largest will even sit for you, to take pics, while you scratch behind their ears. The smaller ones & babies will scurry, so you’ll have to toss them some food. Feed them like a horse, flat hand & walk around the lagoon thru the day to hear them (sounds like hippos) splashing about. Behind the main rooms is a nice road leading up to the light house. This is a must around 6pm. The most awesome sunset can be seen or go earlier to get the best pics of the resort. There is a more challeging path from the far left of the beach if you feel the need to pull your hamstrings(lol).

Excursions- Marcos Tours! I know the previous post praised John-John, we met him, had lunch with him, etc. but did not use him for any tours. Marcos was considerably cheaper on all tours & went with you around the island & personalized your tours as much as possible. We contacted Marcos (marcostours@yahoo.com) before our arrival, he called the night we arrived (please ensure you give him your hotel registered name so he can call you), met us on the beach the next day to arrange your tours to fit your schedule. He is prompt, a true gentleman and as accommadating as humanly possible. We went horseback riding, island tour, swim with the dolphins, fishing, lobster dinner , etc. Basically you let him know what you are interested in, he then arranges everything. I am not saying that John-John is not to be used, I am just stating what I experienced. He is a tour operator for Innovations Tours, a large company, he tells you what is available, calls his office for availablity, you pay him, he tells you the arrangements, transportation, etc., which is his job. Marcos arranged for the ranch to pick us up for horseback riding (only tour he did not drive us), Geraldo (ranch manager) arrived at 2pm as scheduled at the front desk, 3 of us were booked thru Marcos, 4 were booked thru John-John, 4 paid John-John $60pp, 3 of us paid $50 @ the ranch to Geraldo. That is just 1 example. John-John is personable & professional but I do tend to be a bit squeaky when I’m spending my money. Both tour operators are fully insured and licensed, it’s your personal choice, your holiday & your money.

All in all we had a great vacation & would not hestitate to return or recommend the Dunes Resort for a memorable holiday. Hasta Luegeo

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