We flew Air Transat Club Class from Toronto. Good flight, everything was on time. We arrived at Punta Cana Airport around 8 p.m. and it was pouring with rain. The plane was close to the airport entrance, but we still got soaked. The girls that take your picture when you arrive weren’t too happy, as we were all soaked and no one wanted their picture taken. Immigration was quick, as usual, and we got our luggage and grabbed a taxi to Palma Real. Not one of our better taxi experiences. We told him we wanted to go to Palma Real and he repeated it, but somewhere along the way, maybe after he stopped at a gas station for 15 minutes to get gas, he forgot where we were going and thought we were going to Ocean Blue. We said no, we’re going to Palma Real, so he had to turn around and spent the rest of the time apologizing in Spanish. Taxi fare was $30.00 U.S. Paradisus Palma Real is located about 25 minutes from the airport.(depending on your taxi driver). It is just north of Melia Caribe Tropical. With a total of 554 rooms, it is one of the smaller resorts in Punta Cana. The hotel is absolutely beautiful. They had beautiful Christmas decorations and lights everywhere. As you enter the hotel, the front desk is to the left, and to the right is a large carpeted lobby bar with comfortable seating. A large central staircase takes you to the ground level, where you will find all of the restaurants on the left side, and the Onyx Bar/Disco, Casino, Games Room, and Theatre on the right side, with fountains and seating areas in the middle. There is also an elevator that goes to the ground level. Checkin was quick and we were given our wristbands and taken to our room with our luggage in a golf cart. The bellboy showed us how everything worked in the room and showed us the “shortcut” across the gardens to reach the lobby/restaurant area.
Our room was a Deluxe Garden View Suite, Room 1051, which is one of their regular suites. It was in a location convenient to the lobby/restaurant area, and about a 2 minute walk to the pool and beach. It was next to a pathway, so was a little noisy at times. I will describe the various rooms in more detail later, but basically the rooms are the same, it’s just the included amenities and room location that are different.
Our room was large, 520 square feet. Rooms have a plasma TV, a huge Jacuzzi tub big enough for 2, and a separate shower stall with European spa jetshower (should come with an instruction manual), and toilet stall with frosted glass doors. While there are shutters that can be closed between the Jacuzzi tub area and the rest of the room, it is still not totally private when using the tub. Water was only lukewarm the night we arrived, but got progressively warmer the next day and was fine the rest of the week. Bathroom amenities included a hairdryer, makeup mirror soap, bath gel, shampoo/conditioner, body lotion, travel toothbrush kit, q-tips and makeup removal pads, razor with shave cream, sewing kit, shoe polish pad, and Kleenex.. An electronic in-room safe is included, and is large enough to hold a laptop computer. I had my 15.4” widescreen laptop with me, and by putting it in on an angle horizontally to get it in and out, it fit nicely. Our room had two double beds, with good pillows and a comfortable mattress. My only complaint is that the beds are not attached to the headboard, so if you’re sitting up reading or watching TV, the bed tends to slide away from the wall. The room also contains a living area with sofa bed and table and chairs. It was very nicely decorated, and had mahogany furniture. The air conditioning worked very well and there was also a ceiling fan. A mini-fridge contains 2 cans of Presidente, Pepsi, Pepsi Light, 7-up, 7-up Light, and bottled water, which is restocked daily. If you want more of one thing, just leave a note. There is also a coffee maker, stereo with radio and MP3/CDR/RW playback, highspeed internet access, ironing board and iron., umbrella, bathrobes and slippers. Lots of closet and drawer/shelf space for your clothes. Outdoor terrace has a table and 2 chairs. We had turn-down service one night, and one night I declined it, otherwise it didn’t seem to happen (possible we had the Do Not Disturb sign out a couple of times?). There are 4 large bath towels in the bathroom, we were never short of towels. Getting facecloths was sometimes a challenge. Hint: The bathrooms in the common areas have baskets of facecloths to dry your hands with, just grab a couple from there if you don’t get them in your room. Room service is free, and you will find a 24-hour room service menu in your room, including things like Continental breakfast, salads, hamburgers, club sandwiches, beef, chicken, and fish entrees and desserts, as well as pizzas. We did not try room service.
They have a “Serviexpress” hotline you can call that promises a 1-hour resolution to problems with room appliances or missing room amenities.. We did have a minor problem with our TV the first night. I think we hit the sleep button and then could not get it to come on. I called Serviexpress and told them the problem, they said they would send someone. An hour later no one had come – but in the meantime Pat was able to reach behind the TV (mounted on the wall) and unplug it and then plugged it back in and it worked.. I called and they said someone would be there in 5 minutes, I said forget it, we fixed it. I’m sure this has happened before, they really should tell people on the phone how to fix it.
Room types at Paradisus Palma Real are as follows: Deluxe Garden View Suites (regular rooms) 520 square feet – located on right side of property (as you face the entrance to the resort). Regal Ocean View Jacuzzi Suites – same as above, but with ocean view. Imperial Romance Ocean View Jacuzzi Suites (honeymoon suites) As above, but with 400 thread count sheets, romantic room setup, luxury amenities by Etro, his and hers sarong-style bathrobes, fresh flower arrangements and chocolates.
Luxury Junior Suites – 560 square feet with garden view or ocean view Located on the left side of property as you face the entrance to resort. Includes a Jacuzzi for two, separate living room area with sofa bed, equipped kitchenette, daily stocked minibar, and connection available with a one bedroom Master Suite. One-bedroom Master Suite with Jacuzzi – This is the only accommodation that allows 2 adults and 3 children. – 815 square feet with Garden View or Ocean View, one kingsize bed, bathroom with Jacuzzi for two and double sinks, Luxury amenities, separate living room with sofa bed, daily stocked refrigerator, equipped kitchen, separate dining area, and connection available with luxury junior suite for larger families. This is really nice, it’s just like an apartment.
Rooms for People with Disabilities
There are specially-equipped rooms for people with disabilities – wider doors for wheelchair access, grab bars, etc. There is an elevator in the lobby area to get to ground level.
The resort is built in the shape of an “M” (for Melia). The lobby, common areas and restaurants are located in the middle, with the rooms to the left and the right. It is possible to walk under cover from one end of the resort to the other. In the area between the rooms and common areas are beautiful, well-manicured gardens, with ponds, fountains, and wildlife – turtles, fish, and flamingos.
Weather and Bugs
The weather was beautiful for the most part. Even though it rained at some point nearly every day, showers were brief. Temperatures were in the mid-80’s, dropping off to comfortable mid-70’s at night. So if you are looking at forecasts for Punta Cana, don’t be alarmed when you see rain forecast every day! There was only one day during this week where it was cloudy and rained off and on most of the day. It did get a little windy the last couple of days of our stay here. No problem whatsoever with bugs or mosquitos the week we were there.
Beach and Pool
This hotel is located on a beautiful stretch of beach that was kept very clean. The hotel was at about 60 per cent occupancy the week we were there. There was never any problem finding chairs in the shade, either at the pool or on the beach. They also have a couple dozen “Bali beds” (big mattresses under a palapa) . These are so comfortable! One morning when it was raining we got one of these and just relaxed and read, keeping perfectly dry. The pool is very large, with a swim-up bar, and numerous “jacuzzis” (cold) and fountains throughout the pool, as well as built-in tiled sunbeds you can lay on and be partially submerged in the water.
There are no towel cards at this resort! The beach towels are large and luxurious, you just go and get them at the Clubhouse by the pool/beach. You will see wicker baskets with lids throughout the pool area, these are for your dirty beach towels. Some people tended to just leave their towels on the chairs when they went back to their rooms, and pool attendants had to go around and collect them. Be considerate and return your towel when you leave for the day, or take it to your room with you for the next day.
Bar waitresses go around and take your drink orders where you are sitting at the pool or beach. For that matter, if you sit down anywhere at the resort, someone will quickly appear and ask you if you would like something to drink.
The main buffet restaurant is called Naos. It is located right at the beach and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The seating area is open air, but the buffet is in an enclosed air-conditioned area in the centre of the restaurant. It opens from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. for continental breakfast, breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and dinner from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Breakfast offers a large assortment, everything you can think of. Good omelettes made to order. Toast is somewhat of a problem, takes about 3 times through for bread to toast (I find this to be the case at most resorts). Some items could have been hotter. At lunch and dinner there is a good selection of coldcuts, salads, meat (steak, pork, chicken, lamb), fish and vegetables, fresh breads and rolls, and desserts. Their cheesecake was wonderful. There is always a pasta bar with a selection of different types of pasta and sauces. Within the restaurant there is also a separate Mexican buffet section “Algarve”, open at lunchtime and dinner.. At breakfast this is the area where you can get fresh juice made to order.
The Market Grill is located next to Naos Restaurant, and is usually open 24 hours a day. There is an entrance from the beach, and at lunchtime they serve hamburgs, hotdogs, fries, salads, etc. You can also get grilled meats here.
The first night we had dinner at “Passion”, (open for dinner only from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) which was excellent and my favourite meal. Wait staff very good in this restaurant. This restaurant is for adults only (16 and over). I had the Black Angus stuffed with mushrooms, served “nouvelle cuisine” style. There is a good selection of included wines, from Chile, Spain, and Argentina.
Bana Restaurant (open for dinner only 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) is an a la carte Asian fusion bistro – 3 dining options in one restaurant. There is a sushi bar, tepanyaki tables, contemporary Asian fusion, as well as a Martini Bar. We didn’t try the sushi or the Tepanyaki tables, but ate in the “contemporary Asian fusion” section . It was very good. Vento is a Meditteranean restaurant featuring a la carte international specialties. Food was good. It is open for dinner for all guests from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and there is an a la carte breakfast and lunch served there as well for Royal Service/Family Concierge upgrades only.
No reservations were required for any of the restaurants. The a la carte restaurants are all very nice, and the food was good, but I felt there wasn’t a lot of difference in the food offered from one to the other. It seemed very similar in presentation, just in a slightly different atmosphere.. (Now I don’t eat seafood so my choices are somewhat limited and I tend to always have the beef). And we didn’t have the Sushi, or eat at the Tepanyaki tables (Japanese – where they cook the food in front of you).
It is stated that a dress code applies for all the a la carte restaurants – No shorts or sleeveless shirts or sports shoes or sandals allowed for men. (although we did see some men wearing shorts, so I don’t know how strict they are in enforcing this.)
Gabi Beach There is also a section of the resort called Gabi Beach. It has its own bar, restaurant, entertainment and beach area. This is all-inclusive for Royal Service and Family Concierge guests only, except for Fridays, when anyone can go there all-inclusive. I didn’t really see much going on here the week we were there. It seemed pretty much deserted during the day. We did have an opportunity to have dinner there one night. It was a nice atmosphere, open air restaurant by the beach, with food choices of rib eye steak, lobster tails, chicken and fish dishes. Food and service was very good. The highlight, though, was that David Ortiz (Big Papi) from the Boston Red Sox came in with a group of people for dinner (he’s Dominican). He was signing autographs and people were taking photos of him. He graciously agreed to let me have my picture taken with him! A very nice man.
One night we went to the Jellyfish Restaurant for dinner, which is about a 10 minute walk down the beach, almost right next to the Melia Caribe Tropical (or a $10.00 cab ride). We met owners Gabriel and Wanda, and had an excellent dinner (I’m not a seafood person, but they had a nice pasta and chicken dish on the menu which was excellent). They are open for lunch and dinner. Unfortunately the night we were there it had turned quite windy, so they had the tarps down, otherwise would be a beautiful ocean view at night.
There are 8 bars serving Caribbean cocktails and international premium brand drinks (Absolut Vodka, etc., and they have Canadian Club). Bottled water is also available at all the bars. There is 1 lobby piano bar, 2 pool bars, 1 swimup bar, 1 casino bar, 1 Onyx disco lounge bar, 1 sky bar and 1 beach club bar. Included beer is Presidente, Presidente Light, Budweiser, Bud Light, Heineken, Miller, and Coronna. They also make very good Caesars!
We saw a couple of shows while we were there – a Latin show and yet another Michael Jackson show. Effects were good, but the shows were disappointing, but we’re not really into that kind of thing. Another night they had a Jazz band playing, and on Dominican night a Dominican band played and they had Dominican dancers in beautiful costumes out by the restaurant/pool area. There were also vendors stalls set up where you could buy souvenirs, cigars, jewellery, paintings, rum, etc.
There is a casino at the resort, open from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. We just went in and looked around, they have Roulette, Blackjack, Caribbean Poker, Texas Hold Em Poker, and some slot machines.
The disco is in the Onyx Bar, located next to the Casino. Can’t comment on this, other than poking our heads in one night, we did not go – too late for us.
Although I didn’t use any of the services, I toured the spa, and it is beautiful. There is a full selection of services available, as well as a gift shop. They have a Water Ritual Center (sauna, herbal steam, contrast thermal shower, experiences essence shower, Jacuzzi, chromotherapy shower, bithermal foot bath) that overlooks the pool, you can buy a daily admission to be able to use these facilities. They have the indoor spa, as well as outdoor treatment cabins in the garden area. There were no massage beds at the beach. They also have Pilates,Yoga, Tai Chi, and guided meditation classes. Prices for spa services are what you would expect to pay at home.
A well-equipped gym with a personal trainer is located adjacent to the spa. It is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is free for guests to use.
Royal Service (RS) This is an upgrade for adults only, that includes extras not available to other guests, including: Same room types available, but in a better location, closer to the beach. More room amenities, including pillow menu, aromatherapy menu, butler services, expanded room service menu, luxury amenities. Services of a concierge for planning tours and excursions. Preferential reservations for golf, tennis and other activities. Separate roped-off beach area with their own pool. They can also reserve chaise lounges and Bali beds on a daily basis. There is a Royal Service lounge for private checkin/out, that also has complimentary internet access, a daily continental breakfast buffet, coffee and beverages, international newspapers, and evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. RS rooms have a DVD player and guests can check out DVD’s from the Business Centre. Access to Vento Restaurant for a la carte breakfast and lunch. Includes use of Gabi Beach facilities. There are also Royal Service Presidential Suites (2) – 1,670 square feet with huge terrace, 1 king-size bed, spacious livingroom, 2 bedrooms with Jacuzzi for two with luxury amenities, exclusive butler service, and connection available to Royal Service Imperial Romance Oceanfront Suites
Family Concierge (FC)
This is an available upgrade for families, the family counterpart of Royal Service. There is a Family Concierge lounge with a private checkin area, specially appointed Family Concierge Suites, and the all-day assistance of a Family Concierge to coordinate needs and entertainment for the family. On checkin you are given a radio that gives you instant access to the Family Concierge. Staff will come and pick up your children to do activities, and you can check via radio at any time to see where your kids are. Kids receive a beach kit containing a hat, t-shirt, float and tanning lotion. They are given a kids menu in each restaurant. Accommodation is in Family Concierge Luxury Suites and/or One-Bedroom Master Suites with extras such as a Play Station in the room upon request, children’s mini bathrobes and slippers, children’s amenities kit in bathroom, kid-size towels and pillows, kids’ activities menus, minibar stocked with children’s drinks, turndown service with milk and cookies, all-inclusive at Gabi Beach, and a separate pool area.
The Kids Club (called the Paradisus Club) is located down the hall to the left from the lobby area.. It is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is for children 5 to 12 years old. They will take the kids for lunch at 12:30 p.m. and dinner at Naos Restaurant at 7:30 p.m. There is a full schedule of planned activities for each day, as well as evening activities such as mini disco, mini karaoke, magic show, movie night, mini Miss show, Minis Playback Show, and a camping night every Wednesday from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. including dinner, a movie, mini disco and bonfire. There is a games room next to the Theatre where they have Playstations, X-box, etc. This is free for guests, and seemed to be a popular spot.
Day Activities for Adults
There are all kinds of daily activities, pick up a brochure at the Clubhouse. Things like horseback riding, bicycle tours, snorkeling excursions, scuba diving, and boat trip are all included, as is tennis at the 3 courts located at the front of the resort. Non-motorized watersports are also included – see the Scuba Caribe people at the beach to arrange use of the equipment. – paddle boats, catamarans, windsurfers, kayaks, kite surfing, diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing (extra cost), and motorized water sports (extra cost).
The activities staff also arranges volleyball games, water polo and beach soccer. Also available are table tennis, table games, billiards, darts, giant chess, and bocci ball. During the week there are also cooking classes, a wine tasting class, flower arranging class, painting classes, Tango and Salsa dance classes, and Spanish lessons.
Golf is included at the 27-hole Cocotal Golf & Country Club with unlimited green fees.. However, there is a mandatory cart rental at $35.00 per person (double) or $45.00 per person (single).
You will find the tour desk in the lower lobby area, where you can book off-site day trips such as jeep safaris, boat trips, Manati Park, etc.
There is a new shopping centre which was scheduled to open in December, near the front entrance of the hotel. This will include restaurants such as Hard Rock Café, Tony Roma’s, and some high end stores (not souvenir shops). There was only one store in the hotel itself, which sold a little bit of everything. Take what you think you will need as prices are higher than you’d pay at home, although not as high in this store as I’ve seen in other places, ie. They were selling paperbacks for $12.00 U.S. and suntan lotion for $9.00 U.S. From the beach, if you walk to the right past the Melia Caribe, there is a little “mall” of souvenir stores.
Paradisus offers free Internet in all rooms if you have your own cable with you. Otherwise I am told you can purchase a cable for $14.00 U.S. (although the front desk did tell me you had to have your own cable). There is also free wireless in the lobby and salon areas of the resort. If you do not have a laptop with you, you can use the computers in their Business Centre, located on the lower floor under the lobby. Cost is $4 for 15 minutes, $7 for ½ hr., or $12/hr. They also have DVD players you can check out for free, as well as a DVD library.
For information and pricing on weddings at Paradisus Palma Real, see their website at: http://www.romancebyparadisus.com/packages/weddings_anniversaries
There is a pharmacy and medical staff on call 24 hours.
Car and motorcycle rentals are available.
Sol Melia Vacation Club does have a desk on the lower lobby level, but never once were we bothered by anyone. Vacation club accommodations, I believe, are on the left side of the resort as you face the lobby.
Money can be exchanged at the front desk. If you have U.S. cash, you can use it for virtually everything without having to change it into pesos.
This is a very “elegant” resort, one of the nicest we’ve stayed at, one of the best in Punta Cana. Virtually anything you want to do can be arranged at the resort. There is a full assortment of activities available, or you can just relax by the beautiful pool and beach. Animation staff is somewhat low-key, they aren’t asking you to participate in things all the time. There is no loud music. While Royal Service and Family Concierge upgrades are available for a “total” experience, in my opinion they are not needed to have a great vacation at this resort. The staff at this hotel were excellent. Very friendly and many spoke English very well. Service was consistently good. If you have any questions about Paradisus Palma Real, you can contact us.
Special thanks to the staff of Palma Real, and to Vilma Flaquer for all your assistance.