Old Reviews – Lifestyle Vitalis Garden Club

My husband & I have just returned from a week at the Hacienda Garden Club where we and 2 other couples vacationed. Although this resort is very beautiful and filled with lush gardens and friendly people…I would definitely not recommend it! We had several problems during our stay, not to mention it rained severely for three straight days. The main issue was the lack of communication and service from the front desk staff, we had several problems with our rooms and it took the first three days to get moved to new ones, we still had problems after that as well that varied from sand fleas (my husband was attacked with over 100 bites!), leaky roofs, no phone service, no television reception, cold showers, no towels/bottled water, rock hard mattresses, no water at all, and repeated attempts at resolving these issues were ignored. They seem to have the staff that speaks the least amount of English on the front desk, the most important area, although the rest of the resort has many english speaking staff that were extremely friendly and helpful. We had to get our Conquest representative to come and translate for us before we finally had our rooms changed and services provided (although they never fully resolved our issues)..I must mention that Conquest was great and made our transfers easy and provided us with a great representative (Alexandra) who was wonderful and provided us with plenty of valuable information, booked tours for us, and was there whenever we needed her (she even gave us a cell number where we could contact her at anytime, which came in handy condsidering our problems). Thanks Alexandra! Some other bad points about this resort are: even though they advertise you have access to all of the bars and services of the four sister resorts that is not so as we had trouble figuring out which bars we could get drinks at, where to get snacks, etc. It took about 4 days to get our bearings and the correct information (after being asked to leave several areas), they do not provide you with a clear description of the inclusive facilities (you have to figure that out on your own), also booking a la carte dinners is near impossible! We didn’t even use one of our a la carte dinners due to the hassle…they have everyone gather in a herd at 8:00am (who wants to get up early on their vacation?) to wait to book reservations for that evening (you can not pre-book) and after waiting in line for an hour the tables were all gone by the time I got to the front (they only accept 10 people per resort as all the four resorts can book for dinners) considering there are hundreds of people…this system was very poorly organized and you could always see that several tables were available each evening but they would not let you get in and were quite rude about the whole situation! The restaurants we did try were okay, the Chinese was good, the Seafood was not (my husband ate the Mahi Mahi and was sick with nausea/diarrhea and spent an entire day in bed!) we did not get in to the Italian which we heard was the best of the three. The buffet was okay but got boring after a while, we ate lunch almost everyday at the Blue Lagoon snack bar by the beach just to have a change but wasn’t that great either (one of our travelling companions found an elastic and a piece of tinfoil in her spaghetti!) There is plenty of food but it all tasted the same everyday…note that the desserts look delicious but are very bland! Not to mention that there are several birds flying around your dinner tables, stray dogs looking for scraps everywhere as well as cats that resembled disease-infested horror scenes! Ugh! The beach was beautiful but full of sand fleas and huge waves (not a calm beach at all!), tour vendors and timeshare salespeople were hassling you constantly but local vendors kept to there own huts which was nice. We had our hair braided by some lovely local ladies on the beach and enjoyed that. Note: there is a great Canadian bar/restaurant called "Chris & Mady’s" down the beach near Ocean World that was fantastic (pretty bad that we were willing to skip a free meal and pay for one due to the crap at the resort!) If you are looking for a late night snack..go hungry! The "24 hour snack bar" is gross with soggy fries and half-cooked burgers…Yuck! I should also mention that this resort is not ideal for children as there is not much to do and elderly/diasabled persons would find it very difficult to get around the rocky paths…there is a lot of walking!!!!!

On a positive note: There are no more friendly people in the world than Dominicans and they love Canadians! Don’t stay on the resort, go discover this wonderful place because there are some wonderful tours and adventures out there. If we wouldn’t have left the resort our entire trip would have been wasted! We enjoyed the Banana Republic Catamaran Tour which was a giant floating party with a waterslide, diving board, open bar & lunch, snorkeling as well as karaoke, wonderfully energetic staff and a hysterical "Mr. Banana" contest; we also enjoyed a 4 hour taxi tour of the city with Carlo (don’t pay for the guided tour, a taxi will take you for cheap and it will be great!) we got to see a lot of historical sites and do some shopping and get a feel for real Dominican life; also we recommend riding the cable car (but not when it’s raining!) and enjoying the botanical gardens at the top; also the Monster Truck Safari was great and took us into the outback on a fabulous tour! In summary…get out and discover this country…it is filled with great people and lovely sights. (Keep in mind that bartering is a way of life with vendors and it can become quite overwhelming!)

Positively speaking on the resort: clean pools, clean grounds, beautiful landscape, bar staff fantastic (try the Banana Mama! Yum!) Air conditioning was good!

My final summary: Go to a different resort for sure! Use Conquest Vacations (ask for Alexandra!), fly with West Jet and get out and experience the tours offered and/or a taxi tour to different attractions. If you have booked this place….hurry up and change it if you can to save your vacation from becoming a giant headache! If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me directly and I will answer you as soon as possible. jeanettejoudrey@hotmail.com

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