Flights – We flew with First Choice from Manchester to Punta Cana ( why they dont fly to La Romana which is only 20 mins away as opposed to 1.5/ 2 hours away i don’t know.)
We upgraded on the flights to Star class Premier, think it was around 200 quid more but it was worth every penny. I did some research first before deciding who to fly with as some other tour companies seem to have less thatn favourable reviews when it comes to the flights. I honestly couldnt fault ours, the food was great ( for airline food) plenty of leg room, free drinks, a ‘pamper pack’ (contained lip balms, tooth paste, wipes, socks etc) blanket, eye mask and a cushion. it really was worth every penny i would never consider flying for that lenth of time now without upgrading. Its got to be worth it to get away from the majority of screaming kids!! At Punta Cana be prepared to be harassed by porters trying to carry your bags, its your choice at the end of the day but if you keep telling them no they get the message. Coming home, i let them cos i couldnt be arsed to, and it was worth the 2 dollars i gave the guy. The transfer to the hotel was on some old rickety battle bus with knackered suspension. We got stuck in traffic in the towns making a 1.5 hour trip in to a 2+ hour trip. Still, we got there in the end. Check in was painless and the rooms were fine. I cant believe people moan about having seperate double beds as opposed to a kingsize, seperate beds are great i’ve never slept so well ! As per previous posts room was clean and tidy ( until i opened my case an unpacked) Maid did a great job in keping it clean. TV had a green tinge to the picture, i was too lazy to complain and you get used to it, besides you dont go on holiday to watch tv do you. I filled in the defect card the day before we left, dont know whether they will fix it or not or just leave it for someone else to complain. Air con worked ok, shower is huge and quite powerful! The hotel itself is amazing and its grounds are beautiful. the team of gardeners are out there all day everyday maintaining them and it shows. On the whole the whole hotel is kept very clean. The beach is fantastic and kept clean, as previously stated the best sun loungers get ‘reserved’ by certain people very early on and stay empty for most of the day, mentioning no names..cough…Germans..cough….. I wish the hotel would do more to prevent this, but they dont. So if you cant beat them, join them and try and get down there before they do ( you snooze you lose), or just burn their towels.
Restaurants – Japanese, went twice, the sushi was beautiful, the beef cooked tepenyaki style could have been cooked a bit longer but thats personal choice, on the whole at the time we thought it was pretty good. Went back a second time a week later and we had a different chef, a guy called ‘Bassillo’, wow what a difference he was 10 times better than the first chef and we had a cracking group of people around the table, 2 french couples, a Columbian couple and a group of around 8 people from London. You all know who you are and thanks for a cracking night, probably the best night we had all holiday. Lots of singing involved, apologies to the americans on the next table if we were a bit too loud ha ha!! you should have joined in!
Mexican – mexican food isnt really my thing but it was tasty and we all enjoyed it, no complaints.
A la carte ( colonial) – Fine food and very tasty, those salmon parcels are to die for. Everything cooked well, again no complaints.
Steakhouse – Hmmm, went once service was terrible, wrong orders, food not cooked great, i had a rib eye, it wasnt the best. didnt go back although talking to others who went there most apeared to love it, maybe they were just having an off day.
Main buffet restaurant – Lots and lots of choice, if you cant find something you like in here then you are beyond hope, food is of a pretty high quality considering its catering for the masses. Yes some of it might be a little different from what you are used to but just deal with it and realise that these people with limitied resources are doing there very best to help you. Live life on the edge and try something new, you never know you might like it rather than moaning about how it not like granny used to make.
Service – in all the restaurants (except the steakhouse) the service was exceptional i don’t think that i ever managed to get my water or wine glass past the half way mark before it was topped up.
Activities – There isnt really a great deal to do outside of the hotel, so you either sizzle in the sun all day or do the activities. Theres all the usual stuff, ping pong, archery, pool, rifle & pistol shooting, football, volleyball , baseball, etc etc and its all good fun so give it a go. All the activities are supervised by the star friends which brings me nicely on to my next topic..
Star Friends – what can i say, whatever these guys and girls get paid it isnt enough. These people are fantastic, some are exceptional Lenny, Shakira, Ricky, Bethania, Carlos, I salute you, thanks for making a great holiday even better. You will be missed. The effort that these guys put in to their work is remarkable, they are always happy and willing to talk. Last Thursday they did a new show called ‘Broadway’. I dont know how long these guys were practicing for previously in the week but i do know that on the Wednesday they practiced most of Wednesday. this was inbetween still doing the activities. They then did the usual Wednesday night show and when that finished they were practicing until 3am that night. The next day they were up early again to organise activities, practice the show again then perform it. So to all who have said that the shows aren’t that good you make me sick and i ask you to try and do better. These people in my opinion do a fantastic job and work very very hard. Show them some respect and give them your full support.
Star dancers/singers – These guys also do a top job , although they dont get involved in the day to day stuff like the star friends (appart from the BBQ and Paella parties) these guys are really good. One of the singers ,Beatrice, is in particular is very talented.
Excursions – the only trip we went on was a trip to Saona island. It was booked through our First Choice rep and was around $70. Talking to a couple who booked the same trip through their Thomson rep paid over $120, so you Tomson travellers, you have been warned. I went to Saona in July 2002 ago and it was beautiful, not many people and thousands and thousands of butterflies going up and down the beach. 5 years on and there were more huts on the beach, loads of boats and people, a volleyball net and lots of loud music. No butterflies, although it maybe the wrong time of the year for them.. Such a shame how such a beautiful place has in my opinion been ruined. My advice, book a different trip.
My mate and i also booked a deep sea fishing trip through the hotel which was $100 for a mornings fishing. Hasten to say we caught nothing. Typical.
Weather – the first week was great, most of the second week was cloudy although it did pick up the last 2 days, still warm though.
Complaints – other than the tv being overly green, the only complaints i have regarding the hotel are that sometimes there is a dodgy smell around the poolside bar, sometimes it smells of sick, didn’t seem to bother most people though. It didn’t stop us from getting drinks there either. Also there are alot of birds (the feathered kind) which, during the day, go in to the restaurant by the beach ( the one which is the steakhouse at night) and actually peck at the food, particularly the bread. I think some fine netting around the windows would pretty much stop this problem.
These are really minor issues and on the whole the hotel is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone. We picked this hotel because we had such a fab time at the Iberostar Costa Dorada last time and i would say that this place is better. To all at IHD, keep up the good work.