Arriving: check in was uneventful and easy, although if staying in the garden, I recommend letting the bell boys carry your luggage- otherwise you will a) never find your room and b) not discover how to use the power. The big keychain that your keys come how you get power.
The rooms aren’t really rooms at all, they are more huts, and are very cute. Walking up to them in evening after dark is very pretty. They are pretty basic, but have everything you need for a week or two stay. The TV even has a few channels in english for your viewing pleasure.
Well, if you are willing to try new things there is an assortment of food that will keep you going for a couple weeks. I don’t think i ate the same thing twice the whole time we were there. There are 5 al-a-cart resturants. I would recommend going to the italian resturant at least once. It was wonderful. There are two buffets on the resort, and the buffet in the tropical has a wonderful break fast- you cant’ beat the omlets there! Being the student I am any change from Kraft Dinner is welcome.
Drinks: There is no shortage of alcohol thats for sure. I think the girl I went with and I drank the price of our trip in one night there. I would definalty recommend the banana momma’s although they come back to bite you in the butt in the morning. The bars are just nicely placed through out the resort so if you are walking around you will run outta a drink in your hand just as you happen to be at another bar. If you are looking for a real good bar tender- find a guy named Carlos- we followed him around all week- very good bar tender and great service.
The beach: Well I didn’t expect too much from the beach- and I wouldn’t recommend hanging out on the beach after dark- for one the security guys will come kick you off, and you will get a bunch of bites on your legs, that you won’t even notice getting. If you are looking for a real adventure- or to go get some shells, go to the very end of the beach- (opposite ocean world) and go over the hill and down the other side. There are a couple horses running loose on the hill, but dont’ be worried about them.
Swimming: The pools were nice, generally the tropical was pretty busy, but the garden pool was great there are acctually 5 pools on the resort, one of which I never found, and one we never found till a day before we left, but the other pools didn’t have bars in them, so we usually stuck around where ever we were served alcohol.
The weather was pretty good the whole time we were there, and I came back with a pretty bad burn from the last day we were there. The whole resort was wonderful- as definitely the best restarant. Everyone’s preferences are different, however, so you should try them all – make sure to make reservations. The food was good, not gourmet, and we never had trouble finding enough to eat. The pasta bar is a must for those who are not big meat eaters or who may be a little reluctant to try the meat cooked Dominican style. I did try the pork and chicken kabobs; however, and they were wonderful, and one night they have half chickens on the grill which were also very tasty. The Hacienda Garden area is in the middle of the resort with the villas higher up on the hillside. Ahh, the villas. We stayed in villa 55, a three bedroom, all with king sized beds and private baths. There was also a half bath downstairs in the living area which was an open concept with a living space with television (great reception and lots of English speaking stations), and a dining room table for eight. The refridgerator was stocked daily with bottled water, soda, wine, and beer. The private pool, although not heated, was refreshing. The maid came in at 7:30 every morning and made coffee, then back at 8:30 (if we wanted breakfast) to cook breakfast for us (meat and cheese platter, fruit platter, pastry platter, juice, and eggs). We at breakfast at the buffet twice just for a change (and it was good), but usually had breakfast at the villa. I can’t comment on the other villas at this resort, but the one we had was spectacular. Other than our days at the beach and the one afternoon my husband and I explored the resort, we never left the villa except at mealtime. I cannot comment on the nightly entertainment because we were usually in bed early and up early – the entertainment starts at 9:30 and although we always had good intentions of attending, we never did make it. It rained one day and there was the occasional shower (you will notice that the grounds are very green and lush, so you know it must rain frequently – don’t let this spoil your vacation). The only side trip we took was a trip to Puerta Plata one day. We booked a taxi through the resort at the RCI reception area with a driver and a guide at $35 for a three hour tour, plus a tip. It was definitely the way to go as Puerta Plata is a large, very poor city and trying to navigate where to go and the right parts of town to visit I think would be difficult to do on your own. The Dominican people are extremely friendly and accommodating; all you need to do is smile and ask and you will receive. Remember that you are in a different country with a different way of life, and go with the flow. If you are one of those people who always sees the glass as half full, you will have a wonderful time at this resort; if, not, oh well. In short, if you are visiting this resort, I would not worry about all those negative reviews you might be reading.