Air travel: Living in Niagara Falls NY, we usually travel out of Toronto, Ontario. The flights are non-stop and the Canadian exchange is nice too. This year when we booked with Air Transat Holidays we upgraded to Club Transat. Major difference and I would highly recommend it. Seating was 2-3-2 in very roomy leather seats compared to the 3-3-3 cramped seating in the remainder of the plane. Also the fast Club check in both at Toronto and Punta Cana really made the upgrade more than worth it for the fee.
* Don’t forget you’ll need $20 US CASH per person for departure tax from Punta Cana. * We took a cab from the airport to the resort instead of waiting for the resort bus. The cab was only $22 US plus tip and we got there in about 25 minutes. Taking the bus you have to wait for all the other persons to get their luggage, get signed in and then you have to make to rounds to all the resorts for drop off, not just yours. All depends on your budget and patience either to choose the cab or not.
Resort check in: We chose the Royal Service and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Upon arrival to the resort we were taken to the Royal Service offices for check in. We arrived around 2:30 and by the time we finished our paperwork and some catch up with the staff our rooms were ready and we headed to building #30 as we had requested.
Bungalows: These are16 unit buildings, 8 to a side, 4 up & 4 down. Get 2nd floor if possible; more private and has vaulted ceilings. Also try and get the corner rooms. Their balconies wrap around the side of the buildings so you actually get two views. The rooms have a large bathroom with a separate room for the toilet and Jacuzzi tub/shower. It also contains the closets, safe, ironing board and full length mirrors. Next is the king-size bed, nightstands and dressers. Then two steps down is a sitting area with chairs, table and desk. TV is located on a ledge between the two areas so you can either watch in bed or in the sitting area. From there you lead to the balcony and a perfect view. Royal Suites are on the beach so your view is wonderful. Of course the whole resort is so beautiful and well maintained that garden view is just as great.
Restaurants: Seemed that the crowds started around 8:00-9:00 pm.
Hibiscus International Buffet. Nice selection, very fresh, made to order pasta bars. Plus large range of meats & seafood. Very nice for a more casual breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Marino Seafood: Dinner. Outside patio facing the beach. Lobster with lime was amazing. Service always smiling.
Dolce Vita (Italian): Lunch & Dinner. Starters were usually Capri salad (tomatoes and mozzarella) which was very fresh plus they brought tomato brushetta and garlic bread to the table. They have great thin-crust pizza with about any imaginable topping. Service was fast and fun although the restaurant is too lit for dinner IMHO.
Pavilion (Chinese): Dinner. Starters of dumplings were great. Service was nice.
La Romantico (French): Dinner. Had the Risotto for the main course, very nicely done. For dessert order the crepes. Don’t forget your cigars.
La Albufera (steak house): Didn’t do this time. (See 2004 report for details).
Rodizzio (Brazil): Didn’t do this time. (See 2004 report for details).
Antojitos (Mexican): Dinner. Great food and wonderful, fun service. Taco/salad bar for starters had a nice variety and very tasty. Watch out for those peppers though, HOT.
Sahura (Japanese): Hibachi seating with about 12 persons. Started with appetizers, then soup and a choice of various dishes with chicken, seafood or meat. All meals were well done (chicken a little over done) and the service was very good, although a bit conservative for a Hibachi chef (usually they are quite flamboyant!). The deep-fried ice cream for dessert definitely needs some work.
La Palapa: Lunch: Always seemed overcrowded and the food always looked picked at and not very hot (temperature wise). Staff tries their best but with so many persons, they are way outnumbered. We always opted for the Hibiscus or La Dolce Vita for lunch and never had to wait and were always pleased with the selection and service.
Hibiscus: Large buffet with made to order eggs, pancakes & waffles. Also yogurt, cereal, fruit, pastries and all the usual sides (bacon, sausage…)
Pool: It was large, clean and had many little alcoves for floating and relaxing. Always enough chairs and palm umbrellas for everyone. Pool bar is both upper (out of pool) and lower (in pool) and those guys hustle.
Beach: Long, clean and beautiful. We would walk a few times everyday from one point to the other. Seemed to go on forever. From our walks I can say that the Paradisus beach is one of the cleanest areas. The crews are out every morning around 6:30 am raking and there is always some persons walking around during the day picking up glasses, cigarette butts and such.
* There were issues regarding the beach chairs. Since I am an early beach walker (5:30 am) and usually on the beach for the start of the day by 7:30 we never had any troubles. But those coming out late mornings, did not always find the shady spots that they were hoping for. * At the left end of the beach, around the turn, are a collection of vendor shacks. You must take the walk to see the deals. Coffee, clothes, sculptures and other souvenirs can all be found and haggled for.
Grounds: The grounds at the resort are amazing. So lush and green with flowers and trees everywhere. The maintenance crew is always working on something and it shows. We were really surprised that for a resort of such size just how clean the grounds always were. No cigarette butts, empty glasses or any other debris anywhere. There are also flowing ponds stocked with Koi (bring a roll from breakfast and they will love you) and beautiful statues throughout the resort.
Royal Service: We chose the Royal Service and I would highly recommend it to anyone. From the moment we booked our trip I was in contact with Mariana, the Royal Service Manager and she was wonderful. She took care of our room requests (we were 2 couples and wanted to be near each other at the resort), made all our dinner reservations before our arrival and even offered to book our golf times ahead for us. The Royal Service lounge offers free internet access, daily newspapers and an assortment of books and movies. They also have a wonderful little restaurant that we used for breakfast everyday. The variety was the same as the larger Hibiscus but much more personal service. You can get beverages there all day long including espresso. Also, they have appetizers and cocktails before dinner starting at 7:00. Royal Service guests also have a reserved spot on the beach and have waiter service for its guests in that area. There wasn’t anything that you couldn’t ask of the staff of the Royal Service. They were highly efficient, very knowledgeable and still the nicest persons you could ever meet.
Manager Party: Outside the Main Lobby in Wednesdays starting at 7:00. Loads of food and drinks and a great opportunity to meet the managers and discuss the resort.
Beach Party: Saturday nights. Fun on the beach with games and grills!!
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