Scuba Diving | Debbies Caribbean Resort Reviews

The resort was extremely disappointing
Hotel Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island
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StaceyMesaAZ >  1 contribution(s) 
Sep, 2003 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
On September 2, 2003, my husband and I arrived at the Sandals Royal Bahamian resort, what was indicated as "the Caribbean’s Most Impressive Resort" on the Sandals website. We stayed eight days, seven nights and I would not indicate that any portion of our stay at your resort was impressive.
The resort was extremely disappointing and is far overpriced for what you actually get. We saved up for this Caribbean vacation and we would never recommend that anyone visit a Sandals resort after our experience that definitely was not "perfect in every way."
CHECK-IN & LUGGAGE SERVICE
Upon check-in at the resort, we sat on a couch that was ripped and dirty. After check-in, someone took us to the Windsor building, where our first (of three!) room was located. We were taken to the floor of our room and when the elevator doors opened on our floor, the person pointed down the hallway to where we were to go, as he was escorting another guest to their room.

Upon arrival in our room, I assumed that our luggage would be inside the room or would arrive shortly thereafter, especially since the website indicates "Our exclusive Suite Concierge Service will pamper you with VIP check-in, special luggage handling." I was not aware that this "special luggage handling" really meant that we were to call three times and ask where our luggage was at and that our luggage would arrive three hours after we arrived in our room. We were hungry and just wanted to take a shower and relax, but instead became restless and irritated as we waited and waited for our luggage.

Conclusion
The Sandals website states that "At Sandals you get more than you ever dreamed of…not only in quantity, but in quality." This was definitely not the case at the Royal Bahamian resort!
DINING
As a "pampered guest" the website indicated I would "dine on dazzling delicacies" and would experience "ultra-gourmet dining." First, we were told that we needed to make reservations for three of the restaurants. We thought we would just make the reservations for our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th nights, then would make another reservation at any of the restaurants that we really enjoyed. Instead, we were able to get in The Crystal Room on our 2nd night, then we were on the waiting list for Café Goombay on our 4th night, and didn’t have reservations at Baccarat until our 6th night! In the FAQ’s on the website, it even references dinner reservations and says that "You may make reservations for each day of your vacation," yet we were not able to make some of our reservations until our 6th night at the resort.

During our stay, we did have the opportunity to dine at all of the restaurants and would definitely not say that "Sandals Royal Bahamian is an incomparable passport of excellent taste for the world’s most discerning palates." The food was average, to say the least. In fact, I got sick from the food on my 2nd day there and my husband got sick from the food on our 5th day there! And I was extremely disappointed with the limited selection of entrees available at the restaurants. There wasn’t even lobster on any of the menus and this is something I expected while staying at a resort termed as a "monument to regal elegance" with "sensational haute cuisine."

DINING (CONT’D)
A few of the restaurants, namely, Spices and Royal Café, often had birds in the seating areas or even on the tables. The servers never seemed to try to shew them away. This was rather disgusting. We were very disappointed with the speed – or lack thereof – of the service overall. A few of the restaurants that required reservations actually gave you a new drink after you were finished with your last one, but overall drink service was extremely slow at the restaurants. For some reason, I believe that the lack of tips most likely does have something to do with the speed of the food and drink service received, which should not be the case at an "all-inclusive" resort. In regard to the times the restaurants were open, we were very disappointed that not all restaurants were open for long periods of time. If we wanted a late night snack or drinks, we always ended up at Cricketers Pub, which was probably the place with the slowest service out of all of the restaurants.

We were also very surprised that we were offered a wine list of bottles of wine we could purchase. We purchased what we thought was an "all-inclusive" vacation where "everything’s included." So, why would we have to purchase beverages? Especially because certain types of alcohol were not listed on the website in the "What’s not included in the all-inclusive package?" area. My husband also stated that the overall quality of the liquor that was included was lower than what he expected, since the "top-shelf" brands were not available.

NIGHTLIFE
Due to our slow luggage service on the first night, we missed what we found out was the only show (Ooh La La) during our entire stay. We expected more shows and entertainment from a resort claiming "Sandals Royal Bahamian satisfies your desires to be endlessly entertained. Whether it’s sharing intimate conversations at seven bars or applauding the nightly shows at the impressive Royal Theatre, the pleasure of choice is already yours." We expected more than boring contests (in fact, they were begging people to participate!) and the same band every night at the Royal Theatre. The only other entertainment was the Piano Bar, but you can only listen to the same songs so many nights before becoming tired of it.
OUR ROOM
Room #1 – 1334 (Windsor) As soon as we had stepped foot in the Windsor building, we should have known that something was wrong because even the lobby had a strange smell when we walked up to our room. After entering our room, we noticed that the walls, bathtub, floors, etc. were all dirty and everything in the room smelled of mold. There was even obvious evidence of mold on the walls where the paint was peeling off. You could not sit down on any of the furniture without smelling the mold and the awful smell had even sunken into the pillows we were to sleep on, all of the bed linens, as well as the robes in the rooms. We took towels and slept on those to try to help with some of the smell on the pillows, but that didn’t even help. We couldn’t even hang our clothes in the closet because it smelled so bad, so we left our suitcases packed, but open and all of our clothes and other items ended up smelling just like the room. We tried leaving our towels and swim suits in the room to dry, but determined that there was too much moisture in the room and that nothing would dry, so we had to place all wet items on the balcony. The moisture in the room was so bad that it even ruined some of the reading materials that we brought to enjoy on our vacation. And out on our balcony, I assumed we would have a nice ocean view, after all, we were staying in the Royal Honeymoon Oceanview Suite. Instead of a big ocean view, we had to lean over the balcony to see the ocean and our view consisted of the tenant’s facility and parking lot, where they often played loud music. Also on the website when I booked this trip, we assumed we would receive room service with our "Suite," as it states that "An extensive and sophisticated in-room menu serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers and late night snacks is available for guests staying in qualifying suites." When we looked around our room, all we saw was a continental breakfast menu. After a second un-restful night in the room, we could not take it any more. We decided to complain about our room because there is no way that was the room that we paid for, indicated as a "perfect private palace" and "the finest rooms and suites in the Caribbean" on the website. When we complained, the check-in attendant seemed like she didn’t hear anything, in fact, she told us that we were actually given an "upgraded" room from the one that we supposedly paid for. She told us that we were upgraded to a "junior suite" and that the room we paid for was smaller, had a smaller bathtub and was a "level 5," whereas the room we were given was the "nicest" room, at a "level 9." If this was in fact a "free upgrade," why would they not have mentioned this to us upon check-in? If they were, in fact, giving us a "nicer" room for free, why wouldn’t they have told us this? This whole thing seemed rather suspicious. Also, when we asked about the room service, we were told that we booked a "room," not a "suite." Clearly, on the website, we selected the Royal Honeymoon Oceanview Suite. I paid more for this room, thinking we would get the room service and all we received was stale bagels and old fruit for breakfast. We stated that we wanted to see the room we paid for since we were not staying in this room another night. Once again, I mentioned all of the things wrong with the room, as well as the bad view; and finally the desk attendant picked up her phone and asked for a room with a better view. Of all of the things wrong with the room, it was just the view that she felt she could fix. Then, we were instructed to come back in three hours so we could see the new room, but never did she apologize for the awful room that we were initially given.

I thought that "At Sandals, there are no compromises and no surprises. The best of everything is included at one up-front price"? At least that’s what is indicated on your website.

POOLS & POOL BARS
In regard to what is listed on the website in amenities, it lists "2 swim-up pools," "7 pools & 6 whirlpools." Then, on the fact sheet that we were given upon arrival, it actually stated that there were "3 swimming pools, 3 mini-pools, scuba pool, 6 whirlpools." Based upon the initial information from the website, we imagined a vast array of large pools that we could frequent. Instead, we really only had access to two main pools on the main island and these were always extremely crowded and dirty (the pool itself, as well as having plastic Dixie cups, straws, and cigarette butts all over the place – sometimes even in the pool!). In fact, there were a few nights that the main pool closed for some reason, so it wasn’t even useable. In regard to the whirlpools, they were often either uncomfortable, as they were either scorching hot or cool/lukewarm in temperature.

The pool bars were very disappointing as well. Since there was no drink service to us poolside, we all had to wait in lines at the pool bars. And while standing or sitting downwind of the bars, you pretty much lost your appetite for a drink after smelling how bad the area smelled (potentially another mold issue).

POOLS & POOL BARS (CONT’D)
On occasion, my husband and I wanted to take a swim or sit in the whirlpool in the evening and the pool bars weren’t even open after the sun went down!

Regarding the pool towels, I don’t see how you can even call those towels "beach towels." They were thin and raglike pieces of cloth that barely absorbed any water. Since the website stated that "beach towels are provided by the resort," we didn’t bring any beach towels and definitely regretted that. And when we did turn our towels in during the day to get our evening towels before 5 p.m. each night (since that is when the towel area closed), our maids took the clean ones from our room! They never took our used ones, but did manage to take the clean ones we were going to use.

Room #2 – 519 (Manor)
When we came back three hours later, we were told that the new room was not ready yet. The person at the check-in desk asked a staff member to go look at the room to see if it was ready and he indicated that it was. So, he took us to see the room that we supposedly "paid for." This room smelled a little musty, but was definitely an improvement on the overwhelming mold smell of room #1. The view was better, but this room still did overlook a construction site. At least the ocean was clearly visible. We took this room and were instructed to go and pack and call the bellhop to pick up our luggage. We never really unpacked, so we were quickly out of the old room and decided to wheel all four of our bags all the way across the resort by ourselves since our initial luggage service was so bad.

After we entered the room, the phone rang and we were told that the room was not ready. We said that the room seemed "ready," but then we were told that they had to paint the ceiling. This was rather strange. So, the check-in person met us at this room and told us to go to room 619, as that would be our new room. So, we lugged our bags up to room 619.

Room #3 – 619 (Manor)
This new room had a similar smell and view as room #2, but was still an improvement upon room #1. So, we started unpacking and got changed so we could try to enjoy what was left of our day. While I was changing, another couple used a key they were given and actually entered our room. They seemed rather embarrassed and confused and told us they were told this was their room, so we immediately called down to the front desk to find out who’s room this really was. It turns out the check-in desk made a mistake and told us, then this other couple that this room was each of ours. The check-in desk straightened out the confusion and gave this other couple another room. Not only is this an invasion of privacy that this other couple was allowed to walk right into our room, but it is also a breach in the security of the hotel. When we later tried to get back in our room again, to our dismay, our keys wouldn’t work. It turns out that since this other couple used their key in the door, this voided out our keys and the check-in desk attendant had to reset our keys again so they would work for our room.

And the air conditioning definitely left something to desire. The room was either hot or cold. You couldn’t even adjust the temperature on the thermostat! Also, at all times of the day, there were dogs barking outside the resort – it seems as if this happened each time we tried to rest!

THE BEACH
The beachfront was definitely smaller than I expected. We tried taking a moonlit stroll one evening and the beachfront is practically just a few steps, then you turnaround and come back. And the offshore island is stated as having "2 beaches," per the fact sheet we received, but one of the beaches was really where we docked and shouldn’t have been considered a "beach."
THE PRIVATE OFFSHORE ISLAND
We visited this "private" island on one of our first days and were instructed to stay on the "Sandals side" of the island because the cruise lines use the other half. This is very misleading, as your website specifically states that "Within minutes of the shoreline lies our magnificent offshore island." If this is really the Sandals’ island, why are cruise lines using half of it? And on the Sandals side, the pool was filthy, as if it had not been cleaned in days.
TRANSPORTATION
We booked what was indicated on your website as the Royal Honeymoon Oceanview Suite. On the website, there is a mention of a Rolls Royce VIP Airport Service when guests stay three nights or longer in a qualifying suite. This "qualifying suite" is not clarified on the site and obviously is misrepresented, as when we arrived at the airport and checked in at the Sandals desk, we discovered that the "VIP treatment" we would be receiving was an old bus that was not even owned by Sandals. We sat on this bus for at least 45 minutes since we had to wait for several other couples to board the bus for this "VIP treatment."

When I recently looked at your site again, I noticed on the main page of the website that it states that "Our inclusions are designed to take the worries out of your vacation. That’s why we include airport transfers in air-conditioned buses, all tips, gratuities and all hotel and government taxes." This is rather interesting, as on the way to the resort and upon departure, we were told that the drivers gladly accept tips; this is even on signs hanging in the buses!

WATER ACTIVITIES
Prior to leaving for vacation, my husband and I read the information on scuba diving on your website and knew that we wanted to scuba dive while at the resort. So, we went to the doctor (per the instructions on the form) and made sure to have our Medical Statement Participant Record filled out and ready for when the instructor asked for them. On our first morning at the resort, we called for reservations for scuba diving, as this was what we were instructed to do. To our surprise, they told us that we would not be able to go because it was booked for the entire week! We later found out that scuba diving isn’t even available on Sundays! If phone or fax-in reservations would have been available, I would have done this before we left so we could go scuba diving, as this was a big disappointment for us. The website even states "Guests must arrange this [Scuba Diving] upon arrival at the Water Sports Center for the following day," so we never thought we just wouldn’t get to go over our eight days at the resort.

While on the phone with the water sports reservation desk, I asked about snorkling and was shocked that we even needed reservations for snorkling! We weren’t even able to go until our 4th day there because that was booked up too. And when we went snorkling, we couldn’t believe that we could only use the equipment during the time that the ferry took us to the spot to go snorkling and that we couldn’t just take it and use it ourselves in the water offshore or across on the offshore island.

Bayahibe is the Centre for Drug Smuggling!
Hotel Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa
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Jim >  1 contribution(s) Antigua and Barbuda
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Why has no one commented on the fact that the Italian Mafia is controlling the Cocaine Drug Smuggling Trade in Bayahibe. The importation of Drugs to the USA and Europe from the Domincan Republic has increased by 20% in the last year. The D.R. Police are underfunded and do not have the resoources to counteract this. Why is the Dominical Republic Government allowing these criminals to operate and giving them their blessing?. During our stay there was a massive 500 kilos of cocaine discovery on the island of Sanoa ironically twinned with the Sicilian Mafia town oif Savona, home of the Mafia.

Avoid the Dominical Republic! Do not contribute to the proliferation of drugs which cantaminate our communitites and addict our children.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
ok but disturbed by the continual drug drops.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
ok
Other Comments
Shame Shame on the D.R. Govt for proliferating the spread of drugs worldwide!
Restaurants and Bars
Not Good.
Rooms
ok
Your Arrival
January
Wyndham big Mistake
Hotel Wyndham Cozumel Resort & Spa (formerly Reef Club)
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Shannon >  2 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We purchased a ‘vacation club’ in 2003 and traveled to Cozumel almost every year and enjoyed our stay here UNTIL we arrived this year with our son (8 years old) and are told we are limited access to the resort bc the hotel has gone ‘ALL ADULT’!!!!! We were NOT notified of these changes and were told ‘sorry’ upon our arrival & that we could leave our kid in ‘kids club’ in order to enjoy the ‘all adult’ area of the resort. Yeah right, who is going to leave their kid in a foreign country with complete strangers for hours on end to enjoy other areas of the resort!!??? We were limited to less that half of the resort and there were big signs posting ‘No one Under 18 Beyond this point’…needless to say we caught a cab to find another resort to spend the week!!! We lost our maintenance fees and are currently trying to receive our all inclusive money back…we didn’t stay/eat/drink there so it’s only fair for a refund, right? Waiting for my apology that has yet to come!!!
It’s not Mexico’s fault that some owners at a resort are scumbags with no customer service skills!!! We love Cozumel…Wyndham Reef Club not so much! I believe Wyndham has made a big mistake in going All Adult!!!! And we will never stay there again as long as it’s all adult!
Other Comments
Wanted to leave a ZERO flower rating but required something which explains my ONE flower rating.
Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants and Bars in the ‘family’ area close and you will not have access to drinks or food after dinner time…where the all adult area is open later in the evenings. No late night snacks or drinks by the pool!!
Your Arrival
No customer service skills whatsoever!!
NO, DO NOT GO!!! THEY DO NOT CARE, THEY GIVE YOU PAID ROOM AWAY, THEY HAVE MOSQUITOS!!!!!
Hotel Barcelo Bavaro Beach & Convention Center (Formally Palace)
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Belkys >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | Family
11 persons in my vacation, all but one adults, one age 3. my parents 72, and 71, everyone else from age 25 to age 52, all professionals, non-drinking 9 persons, only 2 drinks if any for the two persons that do drink. They do not care, who visits the hotel. They do not Care!! that is the conclusion we have ended with. They do not want to speak to you if you are not Happy or having a problem. They just have to give you a room, and check the room when you check-out to make sure you did not take anything!!!! even if it was not there when you checked in. MAKE SURE YOU REPORT IN WRITING!!!! ANYTHING MISSING AT CHECK-IN. MUST DO SO, DO NOT FORGET. The missing plastic ice holder, which was not in the room since it was cleaned the 2nd day, was the hold up for 2 1/2 hours at check – Out, We did not ever use it so, so we did not report it missing. I’ll be more than happy to open my bags and have them checked in the lobby, infront of everyone, I have nothing to hide. They never gave us an answer, I waited hours for them to find the plastic ice holder, Did they find it??? I still do not know. What kind of people visit this Hotel? they have to check the rooms at your departure. WOW. they will not be visited by my friends and Family, that is for sure.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
9. Unless you go to ALL the area Hotels and see the calenders you have no idea if there are shows? or parties? or what ever, no itinerary or calender to help plan your days, and activities, WHY they are a Big Well known hotel??? NO organization for the programs offered, not good with the amount of persons checking in daily. They have to get organized and have an organized schedule for persons wanting to do things. 12. They need more help in the Casino, you wait for over 5 minutes for someone to help if a machine is not working. Not GOOD… 13. Stores in the Barcelo Barvaro inside shops, they need to be organized and updated, too much stuff, but nothing to really buy, you can not find anything nice at any price. they are old things and dusty, not clean, Gum is $4.50 and up??? why??? If they do not have good sales, there is a reason why. they need uptodate stores, since you really can not go outside without a taxi and allot of planning. They need a good BUYER!!!

They should organize going to the nice outside stores, a bus tour, you could sign-up for, a trip once per week or twice, morning or afternoon. they may get people to put money into the area this way.

Arrival
1. Arrived on 7/30/10 around 9 PM, Barcelo Bavaro Palace, they say this is not the hotel take your things and you will be transported to the next hotel Palace Deluxe, they have your rooms, ok, 2. Arrived at 2nd Hotel Palace Deluxe, they are asking me why we are there? Because I was send by the 1st. hotel here to check in, we do not have your rooms. you have to go to the 3rd hotel Palace Family (the new one) they have your rooms. What are you saying? This is crazy we have confirmed and paid reservations. Why do you not have our rooms? "I can not help you, I do not have the rooms, you will be at Family one tonight and then tomorrow you will move to the other correct hotel." NO WAY, I will not be moved any more, You have the rooms and the guy at that desk is shaking his head, because of what you are saying. what game is it you play? I have elderly travelers and a small child, what is wrong with you? do you really think we are going to send our vacation moving hotel rooms? NO NO, I will sit here until you get this matter and our rooms solved here, not moving. I will be here, and we will all sit here, until you can get this mess together. I do speak Spanish, so do not get nasty, in Spanish, I do understand. 4. Called our travel agent. 5. Called lady at 1st., hotel. she gave us an apology for the mistakes, and said you will be taken care of. ok, I said. thank you.

6. We finally had rooms (5) rooms, 2 persons per room, as reserved. they were two rooms next to each other on 1st floor of building 4, one in the 2nd floor, one in the 4th floor and in building 3, one in the 3rd floor. But why say anything, we had rooms!! Happy. The rooms are beautiful, the mosquitos NOT!!!! everyday all day, Mosquitos!!!! and more Mosquitos. WHY???

Beach/Pools/Grounds
10. Truly, the beach temperature was great!!!, Love it, but the beach was not clean, they need to clean and take care of the Mosquitos, Never visited the pool too far from my hotel, they are building a new one infront of the room I was staying in, wanderful, for the next person to visit, not for me.

Distance is too much for elderly my parents, they walk, but this was too much for them, because of the temp. weather also affected the situation.

Other Comments
14. I requested to speak to the person in charge on the last day at the facilities and no one ever came. why? No one ever spoke to us. 15. Wheel chairs look like I just got them from the 2nd hand store, WHY?? 16. They need to be supervised by a general manager that cares, seems as if no one cared, what you had to say, good or bad. no reactions, no one is in charge of anything, or gives an answer to anything. 17. Owner and investors of this Barcelo Bavaro need to wake up, and look around, they are building more, without fixing big problems.

I would love to speak to the investors and ask them why? are they so big that they do not care if a few customers are not happy? Paradise or Mosquito infested dream.

Restaurants and Bars
everyday all day, Mosquitos!!!! and more Mosquitos. Chicken Soup was GOOD, Great, Bread was good, Desserts fantastic. 8. the other, Food was not too tasty?? all the same in every restaurant. well, that’s life. The workers (cooks, maids and helpers, bag boys, bell boys, VERY VERY NICE!!!!!! love them all. they work hard.

11. The restaurants at the Casino, Hotel, smells BAD, BAD water smell!!!!! you can not eat, at this restaurant because you can smell is so bad, so this restaurant is always with less visitors, wander why???…

Rooms
NICE CLEAN and Great…..!!! Really Great. Take inventory of all things every thing, make a list and take to them at chekin. DO SO. They think you take things, even if you do not.
Dancing in the Resort Disco and A GIANT TELEVISION FELL ON MY BACK!!… NO APOLOGIES!!
Hotel Grand Papagayo by Occidental
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Dean >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
There I was going to Costa Rica from Toronto to Celebrate 26 years together with my spouse! Also Celebration my birthday in the coming weeks!! -We upgraded to the Royal Suite (Thank Goodness!!) The evening of our new upgrade I was Dancing up a Storm with Andrea (fm California)when a HUGE HONKIN’ TELEVISION FELL FROM ABOVE ON MY BACK AND ARMS KNOCKING ME TO THE GRAOUND! The music stopped and the lights came on, when the night manager came running in and yelled "IS THE TELEVISION BROKEN!!??" well…..needless to say, I awoke on the ground with hearing Vince (my partner) yelling "WHAT ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMER?" (The first time I heard him raise his voice in 26 years!! For the next 2 days i litterally could not move!! I could not put on my shoes or wipe my rear-end. Luckily we had a bidet and a jacuzzi!! I requested 4 times to see the Manager, and not until I said "there might be a claim", Then she called and ONLY then! She said right away "I am suprized you are still in Pain, the tv was on a stand this high, as she pointed 6 inches from the ground!!!??? Vince said "Dino, show her your back." I lifted my shirt a you could see the red marks by my shoulder blades, and she was nodding no!! No apologies, no compensation, NOTHING!!! We were embarrased for her! We could not do the Volcanoe tour, river tour or the Zip lining!! When we returned home the bruising started and my entire lower back was the colors of the rainbow! Also my arms were bruised! They did not admit to anything and she had totally down-played the situation!! I am still awaiting to hear from them, it has been over 6 weeks!! I had been advised to aquire a lawyer in Costa Rica, which I am in the process of! We live an 100% Honest, peaceful and happy life together, so our Dissappointment is obvious. I can NOT wait to return to Costa Rica, but unfortunately NOT TO THE OCCIDENTAL GRAND, PAPAGAYO, DEFINATELY NOT!!!! Thank you,

Dino Jalapeno xxxxxxxxxxxxx 🙁

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Unfortunately we could NOT get out of the Hotel. DAMAGED BY THE TV THAT ALMOST FREAKIN KILLED ME!!
Arrival
August 6, 2010
-Easy ride fm airport to Hotel, nice scenery, and Butterflies!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
-Great Beach and pool. (We actually never even made it into the pool, cause the ocean was Perfect!!
Other Comments
I CAN NOT RECOMMEND THIS HOTEL BECAUSE OF THEIR BLATANT DISREGARD FOR THE WELL BEING OF THE CUSTOMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I AM STILL IN PAIN AND HAVE TO GO FOR A COMPARISON ULTRA SOUND!!!
Restaurants and Bars
-We are Both Vegetarians and the food was very good and lot of it too! The bars were great, especially the bar tenders EDWIN AND JOHNNY!xx Try the iguana drink w/tequila……"Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

BE CAREFUL OF THE DISCO, THAT A TELEVISION DOESN’T CRASH LAND ON YOU!!!

Rooms
Royal Suite -We asked for an upgrade on the second day, and had our own room service menu, a bottle of champagne a letter fm whats her face titled Mr & Mrs … (we are a gay couple!!??) Helloooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Nice jacuzzi outside w/the view of the bay!!! Yum that!

Don’t Go!!
Hotel Club Bucanero
User Rating:  
ted >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
I will never go to this resort again,the staff are rude and extortion is common place. No tip no service no drink or beer. The people outside the resort are like pesky begging dogs, you can’t even go for a stroll without being harressed to death.
Arrival
Stay away!!!!
Will never go back
Hotel Bahia Principe San Juan
User Rating:  
Nick >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
On the resort the activities were fun. But watch your wife or girl friend. Those few straight guys are always trying to pickup your woman. Very pushy people.

Now off the resort. We went on serveral tours the best was the ater based tours. They were all great. The land tours are a waste of time and money but if you do choice PLEASE stay away from the CARIBBEAN BUGGY TOURS. They are the worst. There were four of us in the tour. It cost $110.00 dollars for this piece of crap ride and a extra $40.00 if you want pictures of it. The buggy broke down 11 times in 3 hours and we did not even drive much. My wife and I had the better buggy, our front wheel only pasted us once. That took a hour to fix. The other buggy with us lost a rear tire. That buggy was done so we had to wait for a replacement buggy in 100 degree weather with no water. We spent more time talking to the locals while the asshole ( THOMAS ) was saying what he would like to do with the white women in spanish of coarse. The pictures you see and would like to do take around 5 minutes to get. The rest is as boring as paint dry.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The poola dn ground are the best. Not the soft white sand of Puna cana but very nice. One of the best parts of the club.
Other Comments
The scuba diving is good and the guide Neil is the best. I think he needed a vaction to though. WANT EVER YOU DO NEVER MISS YOUR FLIGHT HOME FOR ANY REASON IT WILL COST YOUA EXTRA $980.00 TO GET HOME.
Restaurants and Bars
The foood was great. Totally not worth paying extra for the gold club or diamond club though. The booze was second rate, more like watered down sugar water with flavour. The wine was good and so was the beer.
Rooms
The room we had at first was terrible. It was room 2612. It was at the end iof the resort and smelled like dying vegitable matter. The AIR CONDITIONER DID NOT WORK. We sweated buckets all night. The most fun was when someone climbed up to our second story balcony and broke in. When he jumped down( yes jumped with a little help ) he sunk inthe mud a few inches and ran off. My wife was scared but I felt pretty good about having the oppertunity to left off some steam. The next Day we moved to room 2408. It was quiet and the a/c worked well. YOu had to keep the bathroom door closed so it would stay cool but that was fine.
Your Arrival
We arrived without any problems, be sure to bring a change into summer closes. Lots of the ussaul paper work and long drive with a nut behind the wheel and more on the road. I was amazed no one was killed. Oscar at the hotel is the best man in the hotel front staff. The other are not as helpful or speak the best english. They are very good at helping you with your luggage and finding your way around.
OK for the price but don’t expect much
Hotel Playa Girón
User Rating:  
L >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
I was there from February 19 – 26 2010 I don’t want to be negative about Playa Giron but Remember this is a 2 star and it’s not worth more , but that being said , It is really Ok if you know what to expect. Don’t pay more than $650 / week or $1150 for 2 weeks. I recommend 1 week. I’m guessing 75% of most people would not like this hotel but for the other 25% it can me a nice opportunity. For a week of sun , this all inclusive hotel at $590 is worth the money as long as you expect "basic" in everything. I went there to scuba dive and do snorkeling ; for that it is good and I would go back eventually. To scuba dive you are transported in a blue scuba bus to different beaches (the closest is 10 mins , the farthest beach about 50 mins) You swim out about 100 feet in the ocean to a beautiful coral wall which goes many km long and down very deep. Its enough to keep you occupied a long time. I’d recommend this place mainly for scuba divers and snorkelers or to couples or older folks who wish to relax on the beach in a basic all inclusive but don’t expect much service or any luxury at all. Its as basic as you can get. Warning to the younger crowd : This is not a party place ; I promise, you will be bored here. It takes 1h40 from Cienfuegos airport to Playa Giron its about 100km on not so great roads at times. Some buses have bathrooms ; ours did not and people stopped on the side of the road to go … I’ve been told the hotel is at least 30 yrs old and used to be military barracks later converted into a tourist hotel. I spoke with people who had been there a few times before and this hotel has been going downhill ever year … -Caleta Buena is about 12km left . No longer free , It costs 3CUC to go and come back by bus (9am/16h30). 6 CUC one way by taxis. Negotiate fare before leaving and have the exact change because they try to rip you off. The Resto buffet there is free if you go get a voucher at the hotel lobby. It is pretty here. It’s a jagged volcanic rock shore with a small natural pool and a small bay in the ocean where you can swim and snorkel. There are colourful fishes here but because there is fresh water and salt water mixing , it creates a haze in the water which makes it difficult to see. The white sand beach beside our hotel is better in my opinion to see fish.

I wrote this lengthy review to do my share and inform people. I hope I have painted an accurate portrait of Hotel Playa Giron. I tried to be as objective as possible. I encourage you to post your own views of this place regularly because things can change a lot in a few months.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
virtually non existent ! except snorkeling and Scuba diving …
Beach/Pools/Grounds
-The pool is nice but there was too much sediment at the bottom and the water wasn’t too clear but it was ok ; Not many people used it. -There are two beaches. There is the beach in back of the hotel in a small ½ km bay. The bay is fenced in with a grey cement wall sticking out 8 feet out of the ocean. I was told it was to prevent waves. Its not a pretty view and the water is a bit greenish and stagnate in some places. It has beige medium sand probably trucked in because most of this area is jagged volcanic rock shore. The second beach is 10 minutes to your left (facing the ocean) It is part of the hotel. There are many abandoned rooms there. The sand is whitish medium fine sand .Its a pretty enough beach with palm trees. The problem is you must have sandals or thick water shoes because it is full of 4-6 inches rocks and there are urchins but once in the water about 100 feet out to the left there is a beautiful coral garden with many fish here enough to please the most avid snorkeler. *** The beach at Elmoro (you have to go with the divers or by taxis) is the nicest for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Other Comments
There are 2 tour operators TMR (Tour Mont Royal) and Caribesol. Be warned I’ve been twice already with Caribesol and have not had a good experience their service is not good. This time it was non existent ! There was simply no Caribesol Rep ! My spouse lost her luggage with Canjet. The Hotel did nothing. "Lydia" the nice Cuban Rep for TMR took care of us even though we were not her customers. She said the Caribesol Rep stays at another Hotel because it pays more ! We never got the suitcase , so always remember to mix clothes in both suitcases. Anything you can’t afford to loose bring on your carry on and ALWAYS tag your baggage’s with name , phone # , address and add an extra tag with the hotel name and the dates you’ll be staying there.
Restaurants and Bars
-There is only one buffet and no more resto even though they advertise one. There is a schedule for the buffet and not much to eat besides that so take note. The food is simple and edible and has very little variety. Its Ok occasionally good , sometimes not so good. There is only milk in the morning so good luck trying to get some for your tea at supper. No other alcohol than white wine at supper. 1 week of this food is enough for me and I’m not very difficult. -There is a grill place that serve frozen fries and fried plantain (good) and hot dogs in wonder bread type. The problem with this place is it’s either not open half the time or out of fries so not very practical. There are 2 bars very close to each other (none on or close to the beach). I didn’t come here to drink but it is the worst bars I’ve ever seen.

Only one serves beer. Both only have the cheapest white rum and 3 or 4 liquors like banana, mint, coffee liquor… all alcohol is served in tiny plastic throw away glasses (so bring a thermos). The few drinks they do make aren’t very good.

Rooms
-The rooms are fine. We had Air conditioning and a small fridge. unfortunately only single beds and no mosquito screens on the windows and there are a few mosquitoes.
Beautiful resort, terrible food and bad service
Hotel Grand Palladium White Sands Resort & Spa
User Rating:  
Jackie >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
We were very unhappy with our stay in April 2010 in the Mayan Suites in White Sands. We had red ants in the room every night and 6 times housekeeping came to fumigate. Only the last time did they clean up the dead ant bodies. Each time we were stuck in the room waiting for them to finish between 1-2 hours, the last night we missed dinner due to this. Each person we tried to talk to advised us they did not understand or speak english. If you are charging the rates you charge and claim to be a 4 or 5* hotel your front staff must speak english. We stayed at the Bahia Principe Akumal in March 2009 and were very impressed by the service and food. Also the pathway to our suite was long and winding quite and every night we walked in the dark which is very unsafe, we complained 5 times and twice they turned the lights on for 1 hour. Each nights the light would go out at 10 or 11 pm, this is unacceptable. The service is terible as far as response etc, and mostly because everyone claims to not understand us. We were with a big group as part of a wedding and all thought it was the worst resort we have been to as far as food and service. When I advised the front manager Fernanda of the terrible food she suggested we all eat at Colonial. Why when we paid more to stay at the White Sands??
On the last night when we were waiting a grand total of 2 hours to have them fumigate the ‘large red ants’ that seemed to live in our room we finally got to talk to some sort of a superviser who said when we asked for compensation, that he would check the records to see if we actually had problems, (like anyone keeps records there, I asked each time if they were documenting it and they replied no english) and then said talk to someone the next morning at checkout. When we went to talk to the manager she wasn’t there and the same superviser advised we have to go online and lodge a complaint and they will review it (yeah right!). Anyway, we are not picky people or picky eaters, it’s just bad here. It is a beautiful resort but the worst food/service of 12 I’ve been to. I wanted to let any potential travellers out there know that so you know what’s going on.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Cozumel and Playa del Carmen are always a good time, lots to do and see.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Awesome, clean and beautiful. The tall bridges made it very difficult when the rain was puring…it’s the only way to get anywhere. Compared to Gran Bahia Principe Akumal which is also large but simpler transportation, much more difficult to get around by trolley at White Sands as they only run in certain areas.
Restaurants and Bars
Brazilian was good food and service, the other al a carte’s leave much to be desired. Buffet good for breakfast, not so good for the rest of the meals. The Front Desk manager at the White Sands advised we eat at Colonial buffet as "it has better food"?!
Rooms
Spacious, not very clean, red ants and spiders constantly. Not good service as everyone you deal with claims not to speak english, you have to push to get a manager to talk to and they claim everyone speaks english, not so.
Your Arrival
Quick and simple
Wouldn’t return
Hotel Grand Paradise Bavaro Resorts
User Rating:  
Laura >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
We just arrived home from a weeks vacation at this resort. We went with a group of 18 people aged 22-28. The hotel was not what we had expected considering we booked through a travel agent. 4 of our friends had money stollen from them out of their locked suitcases (maids actually looked for keys to open their suitcases). On another occasion a friend had already had his room cleaned and 2 hours later went back to use the washroom. He heard shuffleing around and saw that a maid was going through his bag and then covered it up by asked him if he wanted a massage. The reason we chose not to get a safe and lock our money in our bags instead was because they charge you $20 which you don’t get back. Out of the 8 a la cartes offered – only 2 were open. The food wasnt too bad – some days were better than others. The resort offers 24 hour food but however this was not true. The only thing you could find to eat 24 hours was a sandwich with cheese and ham that had been sitting around the sports bar for ages. The bar tenders were not pleasant at all and did not cater to large groups. We were impressed with the staff at the buffet because they were very pleasant. We made the mistake to book a parasailing trip for 12 of us from a company on the beach who offered us the trip for $45 per couple. This was a disaster. Pay the extra money and go through your travel representative!!!!! The rooms were below average – very old and not the cleanest I have seen. The entertainment around the pool hardly existed.

We paid 1285 for this trip but it isnt worth this at all. I’d only pay 800 MAX for this resort.

Don’t expect too much.
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Sandra >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
4 stars to all staff. Always smiling doing their best to keep clients happy. It’s obvious the Melia chain is neglectful during the low season. For instance the quiet bar is closed leaving adults no area to spend a quiet evening and no drinks nor coffee offered at the Italian and Oriental restaurants. No music. We sit, eat and leave. And we don’t eat that well. The water below the main lobby bar should be cleaned and covered. It’s ugly and it stinks. I don’t understand, as it cannot be a main attraction but repulsive. The waiters, with embarassement, had a shortage of juice, straws, drinking glasses, coffee, milk, amaretto, etc.. What could they do? It’s not their fault, but some folks don’t understand that the Hotel management is to blame. No fumigation, lots of mosquitoes. Cutting down some more.. The food, everywhere was awful and we know that no matter how much we complain it will never change. Generally the bars and tables were always dirty.

Would not recommend this hotel.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Okay.
Beach not clean. Water amazing.
Restaurants and Bars
Dirty.
Food, Cuban standard: Bad
Rooms
Clean.
Your Arrival
Quick check-in.
As long as nothing goes wrong, you’ll have a good time.
Hotel Paradisus Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Kevin >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
The quality of a resort, or of any product for that matter, is not measured by when things go right, but rather when things go wrong. When things go right, Paradisus Punta Cana is pretty decent. It occupies a large property and the guests are housed in two-storey apartment blocks, which has two immediate results: you do a lot of walking to get from one place to another and the beach isn’t as crowded as many other resorts we’ve seen. The property is beautiful and well-maintained, the staff is very friendly and helpful, the food is respectable but not spectacular (though if you want to go to any of the theme restaurants you should be there as soon as they open for dinner as the alternative is a one- to two-hour wait).

Things started to go wrong for us almost as soon as we arrived.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The babysitting service was pretty good; certainly, the night time babysitter we had arrived on time and was very good with the kids. On the day we were scheduled to go on a dive trip, my wife came down sick and was unable to go. In hindsight, that was actually a good thing. We had scheduled a babysitter to come that morning well before the dive trip bus was supposed to pick us up. The babysitter was so late that we would have missed the bus. The agreement was that the babysitter would watch the kids for a couple hours and then take them to the kids’ play zone for the day, something we obviously didn’t need. My wife turned the babysitter away but ultimately decided that she wanted a day to herself anyway and took the kids to the kids’ zone shortly after they opened. That’s when she learned that the kids’ zone requires that parents take care of the lunches; the staff won’t take the kids to the restaurants or bring food in. If you want to do any kind of day trip without the kids, forget it. The shop at the resort is decently stocked with most of the vacation amenities (t-shirts, toys, sunscreen, snacks, etc.) but I was very surprised to find that they didn’t carry baby formula. We can’t have been the first parents to run out of the stuff on vacation; I took a walk into town with my rudimentary high school Spanish and was able to find some, but I should have been able to find it at the resort. While at the shop, I bought a flotation toy for our baby son, only to find that the valves would open themselves after only a couple minutes of use. Since we didn’t relish the idea of playing Titanic with our son, I took it back to the store for an exchange, only to find that all of them suffered from the same problem. When I asked for a refund, they pointed me to a sign stating their “no refunds” policy. I told them that I have a policy of not buying defective merchandise, but to no avail. I eventually walked out of the store, leaving both defective toys (the original and the replacement) on the counter. Even upper level hotel management was unable to do anything for me (apparently because the store is not owned and run by the resort) though they sympathized (sympathy doesn’t mean much to me when I’m out of pocket). Memo to customer service personnel: if you’re going to annoy a customer, make sure you do it over something more worthwhile than an $8 plastic toy.
Other Comments
Since we had skipped the tour operator’s welcome meeting on first morning of our stay, we apparently missed the instructions for the bus to the airport. Crucial information like that should be included in the handout you are given on arrival (it wasn’t; we checked) and not left to the chance that regular resort-goers like ourselves will pass on the sweetness and sunshine dished out at these presentations and instead spend the time more productively on the beach. This shouldn’t be a big deal, we thought, so while I was in reception towards the end of our stay I asked the concierge at the desk what to do about transportation to the airport. He ask what time our flight was and told us that all we needed to do was be at the front of the resort three hours prior to our flight and we could catch the next bus. It doesn’t work that way. Every bus is there for a specific list of passengers and there was simply no way to get to the airport except by taxi as our bus had left half an hour or so earlier. Arguably the $35 we spent is our own fault for having missed The Briefing, but the concierge should have known better. We’ve been to many resorts that had the “any bus will get you there” setup and reasonably expected that the concierge would know what he was talking about. Finally, there was the Internet. For $15 a day, you can rent a wireless network card that will get you online through the local cellular provider. Everything worked perfectly; the setup instructions were almost idiot-proof and we were able to catch up with email (we each run our own businesses) in the evenings after the kids were asleep. As we had to leave early Friday morning and the business centre wasn’t open, I returned the wireless card to the reception desk when we checked out. Imagine my surprise to find a charge for $120 on my credit card a couple weeks after we got home. It took a week of calling to get a vague statement that the wireless card was damaged on return and a month of calls after that to get someone at the management level to contact me. They were adamant that a card that was working perfectly for me Thursday night was broken on return to them Friday morning; they further insisted that I should have returned the card to the business centre rather than the reception desk (something I couldn’t have done without forfeiting a day of the service I paid for because of their hours) and they have refused to refund the damage deposit. When I then said that the card was now my property and that I would appreciate it being shipped to me, they agreed, as long as I paid the shipping charges. Why exactly they still had possession of a card six weeks after declaring it damaged is beyond me; I guess it wasn’t so broken after all. We will never again stay at Paradisus Punta Cana and will never again visit a Sol Melia resort. You’d be well advised to do the same.
Your Arrival
Of the crowd that got off our bus, we and a few other couples were singled out as targets for up selling to a “vacation package”. Flustered from our trip and somewhat confused about the offer of a better understanding of the resort, we agreed to meet our concierge for breakfast the next day. At breakfast, once it became clear that we were being asked to do a 90-minute tour to discuss a vacation package, we declined and said that if they wanted to sell us on it they would start first with the price, not the amenities. After a couple days of back-and-forth on this whenever we saw the concierge in passing, one of the sales reps sat down with us and laid out the price: $40,000 for one week per year for 50 years. Save yourself the 90 minutes and decline any offer of a tour of the “preferred guest” accommodations. When we got to the room, we found that the plug in the bathroom sink was broken and the back door leading to the patio would unlock just by shaking the door. Maintenance arrived in fairly short order but the results were less than stellar: the plug in the bathroom sink closed but wouldn’t seal and the patio door still wouldn’t stay locked. We decided to live with the plug problem but it took three attempts and a little bit of shouting over the next two days to get the door fixed. Thankfully, we’re not paranoid about security. One thing we had forgotten to pack was dish soap for the baby bottles. I called and asked for some and was promised immediate delivery. Several phone calls, a couple visits to reception, and two days later we finally got some dish soap.
Photos: http://bahiaprincipecayacoa.com
I was not pleased
Hotel Gran Bahía Príncipe Cayacoa
User Rating:  
gisela >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Family
The hotel scenery was great, the room was very roomy poor lighting, the toilets kept backing up for 3 days. upon our arrival of 7 family members we all had to carry our luggage to the room. The food was not very pleasing in the Dalia buffet, everything was repetitive, the food was just missing taste and texture. Two of our servers Luis and Edwin were really rude to us seems that if we don’t tip they didn’t like to serve us and we didn’t even get a chance to tip he catered with much better attitude to the Europeans.I complaint to Marcos the Front Desk Manager and expressed his staff rudeness including the lady in the pool bar she was very rude and spoke very nasty of her customers and proceeded to tell my father we were a bunch of animals drinking. I also asked that he speaks to the chef in regards to placing some type of Dominican food since I am Dominican and there was not one thing Dominican on the menu and it was cold also. The next day i saw one new item added. They also have A La Carte restaurants however you cannot enjoy all of the three restaurants unless you stay more than five days and they do not tell you this information until you go ask not when you pay for the hotel, i don’t agree with this i think they should let their guess know or when they sell the package is very deceiving. The guys that do the entertainment Jhonatan,Leiny,Johan,Yubi,Araceli and Bernanrdo they were great they did a great job and also Emmanuel @ El Pescador restaurant. I wouldn’t go back the hotel is extremely quite and entertainment is limited @ night.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
activities were good.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
beach staff was really nice, not enough activities for the beach and guest
Other Comments
Entertainment staff was great really pleasant and friendly jhonatan, leiny, Johan, yubi, Araceli, Bernardo.
Restaurants and Bars
El pescador, Dalia buffet. We actually took the ride down to the town to eat because the food at the buffet was aweful.
Rooms
3 rooms were rented and we were separated we asked that we were kept together and I booked the hotel with 4 weeks out.
Very dissapointed
Hotel Barcelo Arenas Blancas
User Rating:  
Joe >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
I will be as honest as possible. The only nice thing about this hotel was the touristsi met and the pool was gorgeous. I was there from Sept 13 2010 to sept 20 2010. When i checked in i had to wait at least 1 and a half hours for 1 towel. i just wanted to take a shower. the buffet was pathetic. I have videos and pictures to prove my point. There was absolutely no variety.At most there were 3 trays with hot food, the rest was salads or vegetables.We ate out every lunch and dinner. Even the employees agreed that the food,and i use the word lightly was non existing. The security staff who are suppose to make sure that onlt the hotel guests could get in were caught on video (which i have) sleeping on there watch. The front desk girl aswell was fast asleep on her desk.(again i have videos)The hotel was infested with cats. In the 7 days i was there we witnessed 2 kittens dying. It took the staff 5 days to finally discard of one of the kittens which i had wrapped in a napkin,"so that the kids would not see this".
I was injured on a scooter accident, nothing major but the hotel nurse who was suppose to be in at 8:30am showed up 2 i repeat 2 days later to finally dissifect my cut and put a bandaid on it. The only good thing that the staff was good at was pressuring people to give them there personel belongings before they left. I had about 10 staff members ask me for my nike running shoes? It was a very unconfortable feeling. The power went out twice for about 2 hours.The surrounding hotels had power. Beleive it or not at about 5:30 am you can witness all the staff collecting plastic glasses from the garbage and the pool area to wash them and reuse them.I have video of this aswell?Ive stayed in different hotels in Varadero, usually 3 stars and the quality of the food and service was much better than this so called 4 star hotel.I was looking forward to leaving this place that i did not even wait for the bus on the departure day. I taxi’d it with the friend i was with. This was my 7th trip to varadero and i can easily say that i have never regretted a hotel stay as much as this one. I honestly regret going to this hotel. The 24hr snack bar closes often for hours at a time??
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Gorgeous beach but that has nothing to do with this Hotel.
Other Comments
I Would not recommend this place
Restaurants and Bars
The bar was ok. Staff there tried there best to serve us right
Rooms
The room was nice.I had pressure in my shower and did not see one insect in my room, my friend rarely had pressure and no hot water
Nothing but praises for the "concierge staff" and "scuba dive team"
Hotel Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
User Rating:  
BonnieEdmontonAlberta >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Arrival: January 17 – January 31 No Sandals private reception room with refreshments at the airport. Just a booth outside the airport. We did receive champagne and snack on arrival at the resort at check-in on the Meditteranean side. Check in was great on the Meditteranean side. Rooms:

As a repeat Sandals Select guest, we were upgraded to "concierge". WOW, I’ve never stayed in such a BEAUTIFUL room. Balcony with ocean view, big flat screen TV, fully stocked bar, marble bathroom, double sinks, HUGE jetted tub, glass shower, decorated to the "9’s".

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Definite lack of activities/entertainment compared to other Sandals where they have "play-makers" that get guests involved in the activities and fun. We were told they were in the process of hiring "play-makers" though. Also no large venue to accommodate the large number of guests for nightly entertainment, (which was not the greatest). Didn’t bother paying big dollars for the tours. We did hire a cab on our own to go shopping. We also took advantage of the scuba diving, and the dive team was excellent. Was disappontment with the coral reefs. Web site said numerous dive sites 5 minutes from shore. Which shore ??
Arrival
No Sandals private reception room with refreshments at the airport. Just a booth outside the airport. We did receive champagne and snack on arrival at the resort at check-in on the Meditteranean side. Check in was great on the Meditteranean side.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The main pool and grounds were the most beautiful I’ve seen. However, no brochure will tell you the beach is public, not private as other Sandals Resorts. Since we prefer the beach, we were entertained by security guards chasing after "non-Sandals guests" that would try and sneak onto the resort for the free food and booze.
Other Comments
Overall, the resort itself is beautiful and have nothing but praises for the "concierge staff" and "scuba dive team". However was very disappointed with no private beach, lack of activities, and staff who were not the friendliest. Arguments, swearing and shouting between staff in front of guests was not pleasant. They have a few issues to resolve with the staff there for sure. In addition, the airport really needs to bite the bullet and purchase an xray machine for luggage rather than ran-sack EVERY suitcase to be checked-in. They only have 2 or 3 staff going through every piece of luggage for every tourist, and they un-wrap all the breakables (which you carefully wrap up so they don’t break), which in turn, backs-up the tourists trying to check-in at the appropriate air line counters before their flight leaves….
Restaurants and Bars
Food was excellent with a wide variety of restaurants (a la carte and buffet). I’ve never eaten so many desserts, and they were all great! Compared to other Sandals Resorts we’ve been to in Jamaica, staff could have been a bit friendlier by smiling occasionally and maybe even saying good morning ?? In addition, there was supposed to be "dress codes" for the a la carte restaurants which was not adhered to as in other Sandals Resorts.
Rooms
As a repeat Sandals Select guest, we were upgraded to "concierge". WOW, I’ve never stayed in such a BEAUTIFUL room. Balcony with ocean view, big flat screen TV, fully stocked bar, marble bathroom, double sinks, HUGE jetted tub, glass shower, decorated to the "9’s".
There is also a beautiful yet seemingly secret Jacuzzi and Sauna
Hotel RIU Paradise Island
User Rating:  
BenCrystalToronto >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2005 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Having just returned from the RIU Paradise Island and extensively used Debbie’s Caribbean Reviews in the last couple of years we thought it was time to contribute.
Let me start by saying straight off that we had a fabulous time, it is so nice just to jet down to the islands for a quick break away from the city. My wife and I love travelling and always make sure no matter what (within reason) that we make the most of our trips. And having read the good reviews of the RIU we were excited to check it out.
Beach
The beach at the RIU is wonderful. The sand is bright white, and always so clean. The ocean is wonderful: very warm, clean, and with just the right amount of waves. There is usually enough sun loungers, and the RIU smartly employs a “no reservation” rule (i.e. No towels on the loungers before sunrise) which is mostly observed and respected. We didn’t use the pool as the ocean is so perfect. Also the pool is more noisy (they do have the nasty loud music blaring, if you like Mariah’s greatest hits then this is for you) and they yell “SHOTS!” all afternoon. So if this is your scene then you will have fun. It is not for us, but there are lots of alternatives so it’s all good. There is something for everyone I think.
Conclusion
But other than that it was a great holiday. We probably won’t return to the Bahamas, but would return to a RIU in Mexico or the Dominican Republic without so much as a second thought. If you like the convenience of a 3 hour flight, English language, where you can get a big-mac then Bahamas for you. If you like something a little more unique and fun try Punta Cana, especially the Gran Flemenco by Occidental. It comes highly recommended!

Any questions please feel free to email me: bhagon@contextcreative.com

Food
The food at the RIU is very good. There is a great selection for people. From (bizarrely) Pizza, hot-dogs, burgers, and fries right through to lovely grilled grouper and seafood pasta. We were shocked at how many people go down here and then pile up on awful junk food! As well as the lovely buffet food, we also tried the “Gourmet” and Steakhouse. The steaks were very nice, and the Gourmet served the most delicious Snapper I have ever tasted. My wife had the seafood pasta there too, and it contained delicious Caribbean lobster (which is different to our Canadian lobster BTW) Crab, Shrimp. All delicious and cooked to perfection.

If food is important to you on holiday then you won’t be disappointed with the RIU.

Now onto the not so good points…
First off let me say from now on we are going to stick to Spanish speaking Islands. We visited Punta Cana (The Gran Flemenco) last year and it seemed absolutely magical. Compared to Paradise Island, Punta Cana was romantic, luxurious, and less Americanised. While we had a lovely time, it seemed almost like we were in an American state in the Caribbean. There are McDonalds, KFC’s, they serve Miller lite at the bar and the Island is mostly made up of American tourists. The reason we like Punta Cana was that there was a mix of tourists: American, Canadian, Mexican, European, etc. Here it didn’t feel removed enough from our regular lives. We find Spanish speaking people much warmer and friendlier than the Bahamans for the most part. My wife and I love trying to speak to the locals in Spanish too. It adds an element of play that we enjoyed. As a previous review says, the American tourists in our resort didn’t really travel that well. Living in Toronto I come into contact with Americans all the time and they are great people, but maybe in the Bahamas they let their hair down a bit too much. Plus living in Toronto we are spoiled by no smoking anywhere and their overly smelly cigarettes really bothered me. So much so that I couldn’t really enjoy sitting at the bar for long. As for other negatives, I didn’t much care for the bar. The bar-staff for the most part were very “cool” (even after being tipped) and the drinks list was short and uninspired. The majority of the cocktails were simply Bacardi gold rum poured into the bottom with frozen mix poured on top. They didn’t stir them or anything. In fact most times they don’t even give you a straw. Also the drinks were inconsistent, made completely differently (with different ingredients!) by different bartenders. Also the wine is “box-wine”, served from a jug in the fridge at the bar and in self-serve dispensers in the buffet restaurants. VERY disappointing to a couple of wine drinkers. We only made our reservation in the Steakhouse so we could have a couple of glasses of wine from a bottle. In Punta Cana we were served very tasty Spanish wine by the bottle in all bars and restaurants. So this was a big disappointment. It was so romantic in Punta Cana to sit on the beach under the stars with a bottle of wine, here you are given a plastic cup of weak slushy drink whilst mildly drunk teenagers splash around in the surf; not quite the same. I realise there are reasons for all this, but if you enjoy the simple life like us, it may be well noted. The rooms were also kind of ugly. I don’t want a swanky downtown feel when I go to the Caribbean, but they are very dated in décor. Though very clean, with a King size bed, and everything was in perfect working order. Ask for a pool/ocean view room (Odd numbers I believe, we had 818) as our balcony overlooked the heating and duct system (and the ocean) which was so hot and noisy we couldn’t sit out on it.

The Bahaman government simply must do something about Nassau airport, it is a disgrace. I am British and have visited most of central and western Europe, as well as North America and the Caribbean. And this airport was far and away the worst airport I have been in. First and lasting impressions count. The airport is small, with no facilities or even decent shops. It must modernise soon.

Scuba Diving
We also did the Bahama divers excursion, and snorkelled at an Angel fish reef. We had a blast and the staff put on an amazing acrobatics show off the back of the boat when we were going full speed. A job well done to those fellas. I would recommend this trip to everyone.
Spa
There is also a beautiful yet seemingly secret Jacuzzi and Sauna, Crystal and I spent a good hour everyday with it to ourselves, only to have to share it once for about 15 minutes. For all Debbie’s readers now you know, head to the spa it is free when everything else there costs…
To start with
I think it is best to start off with the good first and then touch upon the less good points after. RIU is listed as a five star and while we are not convinced that it is worthy, they try very hard to keep up to their rating. The front-desk, restaurant servers, and maids are unbelievably polite. To the point where we were a little uncomfortable “You don’t have to call us Sir and Ma’am!” but it is their way. Also the animacion staff try very hard to get everyone going (especially T.J.) but the only thing that floated our boat was the live band on Bahaman night.
Staff at all the restaurants and bars were not friendly
Hotel Almond Morgan Bay Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Martha >  3 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2009
Restaurants and Bars: Wait staff at all the restaurants and bars were not friendly. At "The Palms" where you could get mostly snacks, they had no pizza left for our lunch, when we asked if they were going to make any more, the answer was – MAYBE? and looked away. There were 5 waiters/waitresses and not one of them were doing anything. Do they not realize we have access to the Reviews and that 2009 is most likely going to be a bad year? Guess not!

Other Comments:

The people behind the bars just need to smile more and remember that we are their customers!

Our Stay at Bavaro Princess
Hotel Bavaro Princess
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Jim & Leslie from Ottawa, Canada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2009
Arrival: September 26th – October 3rd 2009 Very efficient moving through the Punta Cana Airport now. We travelled out of Toronto via Sunwing and the Rep., located in the Airport lobby quickly directed us to our Bus, the bags were loaded and we only waited about 15 minutes for the rest of the Bus to fill up and leave for the resort. Arrival at the Princess Bavaro and transport to the Platinum Lounge for check-in was not as good as the 2 previous times we have been to this resort but we had Champagne one we were checked in, approx. 12:00 noon. The room was ready but the bags took a while to arrive from the front.

Rooms:

The rooms are still in fairly good condition and you should take advantage of the Platinum upgrade at this Resort. While we were there approximately 200 rooms were undergoing renovation / upgrade. We saw 1 room at the front of the resort which was complete as was being shown to guests on request and the New Upgraded rooms will be very nice when complete – which we understand is supposed to be by the end of 2009.

Restaurants and Bars:

Some of the restaurants were closed while we were here but they were rotating the closures for variety. The number of guests would not have required all to be open at all times although I heard some people had trouble getting reservations. When you book with Platinum you have access to all the restaurants at the 4 Princess Resorts along this section of the Punta Cana strip and never have reservation issues. Bars are good, Lobby Bar can be Hot, and especially nice is access to the Platinum Lounge and International Brand Drinks. Had an issue with one of the young Bartenders on the Beach, but I understand they had a discussion with him and it looked like it as he was in a foul mood afterwards.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

The Beach is the main thing bringing us back to Puta Cana – 6 times now – fantastic. One day the waves were approx. 8 feet high. The Pool was closed for repairs most of the time, but we don’t go there anyway, and the grounds are always well kept up.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

Watersports are slipping somewhat and they are starting to charge for things that were included before. The staff at the watersports station is also getting quite lazy. Be careful if you want to Parasail in Punta Cana – we saw 1 couple get dunked in the water and subsequently dragged in the water. Also when they brought them back to the beach they were not helpful at all and the woman banged her leg on the aluminium boat. Looked like she was quite stressed.

Went sailing but the catamarans are getting run down.

Other Comments
This was our 3rd visit to the Princess Bavaro and 6th visit to Punta Cana. Service in some areas of the resort is slipping. We had some problems with Transportation, 1 Bar tender and with the Dress Code being enforced at 1 Restaurant. I believe once the room upgrades are done this will still be a good resort to go to, would say a 4 or 4+ resort. But PLEASE book the Platinum upgrade, the Lounge, the extra service and room location near the beach that you get with that are very much worth it for very liitle extra cost. The tourist industry looks like it has taken a hit in Punta Cana due to the recession, the beach was quiet. After 3 times here I believe we may try another Punta Cana resort next time. ENJOY !!!!
Lovely view, great snorkeling
Hotel Captain Don’s Habitat
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Annies >  1 contribution(s) The Netherlands
Jan, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Bonaire itself is such a cute unspoiled island. I wish I could live there, sun, nice temperature, great dining options, far away from the rushed western life
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Bonaire is famous because of the best snorkeling and diving opportunities in the Caribbean. We rented two scooters and drove the whole island, visted the donkey sanctuary, Sorobon Beach, Slagbaai with its flamingos, took a boat to klein Bonaire to see where the turtles lay their eggs, had delicious lunches and dinners … what ese do you need on vacation?
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool is kind of small, but who needs a pool with such a beautiful giant sea in front? 🙂
Other Comments
Again Bonaire is lovely and unspoiled. You do not need a huge resort with lots of amenities because Bonaire IS a resort itself.
Restaurants and Bars
Captain Don’s Habitat rent its restaurant to Rum Runners, a very nice open air restaurant with a big variaty to choose from. They offer from delecious pizzas to filet mignon, a nice wine menu and all for a good price. Besides dinner they also offer breakfast and lunch. At night the bar is open to have a drink before you go to sleep after a long and tiresome diving/snorkeling day.
Rooms
We had a nice complete seaview room with a big terrace looking at the deep blue-turqoise sea. Room was spacious with two queen size beds, minibar, big bathroom and all very clean.
Your Arrival
Arrival went smooth, customs at Flamingo airport is like the rest of Bonaire kinda cute.
Nice natural setting…relaxing vacation.
Hotel Blau Natura Park Eco-Resort
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Rob >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Just got back from Blau Natura Park in Punta Cana. It was a pretty good trip. Natura Park has some really nice features as well as a few negatives PROS Grounds – Very nice natural setting which appeared very well kept. Our room overlooked the pink flamingos which were very entertaining. Also lots of ponds with fish & ducks etc Rooms – Nice spacious clean rooms, each with private balcony or patio, walk-in closet and separate vanity (outside the washroom), which was handy. Our air conditioning worked as did our toilet (most of the time) Beach – Quite a nice beach with white powder sand and lots of palm trees. Be advised, you need to get out at 6AM to claim a hut or you’ll be out of luck. We got one every day and really enjoyed it Food – If you want amazing food, go on a cruise. For an all-inclusive, the food wasn’t bad…I’ve had much worse. The buffet was decent and The Italian a-la-carte was pretty good. I saw a number of other reviews mentioning people getting sick, but my wife and I were healthy the whole time Good snorkeling at the reef. They will shuttle you out for $20 (be aware some operators will try to charge you more). Although, you can probably borrow one of the sea kayaks or peddle boats and go out to the good snorkeling on your own. Lots of colourful fish to see – particularly if you bring bread/buns to feed them! CONS Hard to communicate. Most staff (while friendly for the most part) speak NO English. In the early part of the trip, this was particularly annoying as you are trying to get your bearings and understand where everything is and the general routine of the place. As the week went on and we got into a groove, the language barrier became less of an issue as we no longer needed info from staff Beds were ROCK HARD, making it tough to get a good night sleep. Couldn’t wait to get home to my own bed Beach. There is a lot of sea weed floating in the water so the swimming isn’t great. Also, personally, I enjoy a beach with surf and waves rolling in. This beach did not have that since there is a natural break-water a little off shore which made the water pretty calm However, this may be a good thing if you have kids $24/week charge for a room safe. TACKY, when you market yourself as a 4-5 star resort. We grudgingly paid it and felt much more comfortable keeping our passports and valuables locked up WIFI – expensive. $100/week Luna Steak House – This a-la-carte is awful. Don’t waste your time. Go to the Italian instead, or even the buffet

All in all, not a bad place if you get a decent deal. While I enjoyed the natural setting and wildlife, I probably won’t go back simply because I really prefer a beach with surf and waves (like Cancun, Mayan or Cuba) and there isn’t much if anything to do off the

As much as I’d like to say otherwise, but most of the reviews about the food are correct… It’s terrible. As in REALLY bad- read below
Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana
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Adam >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The resort itself didn’t have that much of a night life. They had a Dominican band most nights but they stopped around 9. There was a broadway-type show at the theater which was amusing. Only one or 2 bars in the place were open past 10. The water activities are amazing- Scuba diving is great even with a stronger than average underwater current. I really enjoyed it.

We also did a zip-line canopy tour, I’d highly recommend! It was fantastic and the guys there know how to have a good time. If you choose to do any of the off or on-site activities, do NOT book online as you can negotiage for far less once you’re down there.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Great beach! Water was perfect and the sand was white and soft. There is a reef off the coast a bit which really cut the hieght of the waves, which is good for kids and relaxing near the shore.
The pool was great too. Very warm water. But, tile was missing allover as well as some stool-tops on the swim up bar. The pool needed a bit of renovation as well as a filter change but didn’t stop us from enjoying the festivities. You’ll have to turn a blind eye to the taste of suntan lotion in the water. No resort in the world gets rid of this.
Restaurants and Bars
Disappointing… We expected the cuisine at a 5 star resort to be a highlight in our vacation. We were ready to leave after 7 days to eat some "people food". Due to the nature of all-inclusive, we were held captive and subjected to some of the worst meals I’ve had the displeasure of enduring. (Some worse than my time in the Marines) In speaking with patrons of other resorts, the island has a problem sourcing quality meats and other foods. Combine that with the fact that yesterday’s custodian is cooking tonight’s main course and you get the picture. Although the buffet looked presentable, I had to stick to about 3-4 things that seemed edible. The breads and desserts must have been professionally prepared and shipped in from off-site as they were good. Not great, but pretty good. The breakfast was a disappointment. I was hoping to satisfy my hunger with an omelet that looked amazing on the outside, only to be disappointed with raw egg on the inside. Great way to start your day… No option for other, non-buffet restaurants for Breakfast and Lunch. You’re stuck with a buffet. Enjoy… The dinner restaurants were just OK. Some were more edible than others. Japanese menu seemed to be the most palatable of the 5. Skip the Crystal room- the chef couldn’t burn toast to save his life. The Brazilian steakhouse was interesting: you get a diverse menu with plenty of options, but it’s purely for decoration as they don’t take an order. In Fogo-de-chao fashion, they bring a skewer of meats around to each guest; I can only assume its cat, rat, stray dog or other exotic mammals as it didn’t taste at all familiar. Even the chicken didn’t taste like chicken… The meats were dry, bland, cooked too slowly and weren’t trimmed and cut properly. Skip it. The other restaurants weren’t better or much worse and completely forgettable. A quick note about the bars: The barkeepers are friendly, but almost uninterested in mixing up a watered down excuse for a drink without a tip. If you slip them a couple bucks early on, the service is quite good. But, the choice of booze is on par with the spring break resorts in Mexico; bad booze with an aftertaste similar to that of rubbing alcohol. I’m sure this does the trick for somebody in thier late teens/early 20’s, but if you appreciate a good drink with top-shelf liquour, you’re barking up the wrong tree. If your palate can’t discriminate between Kibbles-N-Bits and a Filet Mignon, please disregard the above rant. You’ll enjoy the cuisine experience.
Rooms
Not quite 5 star in my opinion but didn’t experience the musty atmosphere as others have. It was adequate and room service staff was OK. No theft, which is nice. We locked everything up in the safe. I would give it a 3+ star rating.
Your Arrival
Un eventful. We took a taxi as the bus from our booking service (Apple Vacations) was slow and packed. Got to the resort VERY quick thanks to the Dominican version of Mario Andretti. Ended up paying $35 and well work the $$$ for the fast service and adrenaline rush of a white knuckled ride.
Not too bad, but not as good as most other resorts.
Hotel Breezes Resort Spa & Casino Curacao
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Steve >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Willemstaad is a beautiful little city and we ventured there a few times for shopping and sightseeing and enjoyed it tremendously.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beaches were not bad but people should definitely bring surf shoes due to the rocks and coral. The pools were good but small. More umbrellas both pool side and beachside would be a huge improvement. Most afternoons the poolside was barren of people, possibly due to the fact that there were only 3 umbrellas for shade. With temperatures approaching 30+ celsius, more shade would have been appreciated. Overall the grounds were fairly clean.
Other Comments
The biggest disappointment was the construction just east of the resort that started every morning at 7:00am when the manager assured us the first day that it wouldn’t start before 9:00. Rather than lie to us it would have been nicer if he said he had no control over it.
Overall, not a bad resort, just little things that need improving to make it a great resort.
Restaurants and Bars
This is where breezes really needs to improve. Jimmys buffet had a very poor and limited selection of food at every meal. Most times the food was luke warm at best, cold at worst. The wait staff didn’t look well organized and just a half hour into service they were short on cutlery, plates, glasses etc. The bar staff most often than not didn’t know how to make simple drinks without instructions and the bars should have a master list of specialty drinks they serve.

The Italian restaurant was pretty good but again service was slow. The Japanese was much better.

Rooms
The rooms were the one pleasant surprise. They were larger than some resorts I stayed at and very clean. The only downside to the rooms was the lack of a refrigerator.
Your Arrival
No real organization. Almost a figure it out for yourself setup.
Multi -Cultural
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
User Rating:  
Jane >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
The Blau Costa Verde in Holguin is a great place to snorkell. There is a coral reef right there along the shore with all kinds of fish species. This beats having to travel out to sea to snorkell! The hotel rooms are spotlessly clean, large and comfortable. The air conditioning is centrally controlled and they often turn it down in the afternoon and through the night. This is a pain but a phone call to the front desk will quickly correct it.

The hotel staff are all very polite and accommodating. They all encourage tipping. The coffee with milk at the Snack Bar is delicious. The steaks at the Cuban Restaurant are cooked to your liking and grilled to perfection. The water activity crew at the beach are all excellent. Make sure you go for a Hobbie Cat ride with "Ray"! He is very handsome, charming and extremely good at what he does! This place is a great Family vacation resort!

Cheaper than hotels, but a fairly poor location and so-so maintenance and quality.
Hotel Villa Tropical
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Maurice >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
First off some facts: 1) This is a place you go to with a family or larger group. 2) One needs to rent a car for your stay, or this location is totally useless. It is several blocks to the closest grocery store, and a few kilometers to any beaches. Punta (Downtown Willemstad tourist area) is over 5km away. There are few or no cabs, and bus transit is fairly minimal. The closest beaches are at the Sea Aquarium and Jan Thiel, both of which are about 4km away. 3) This is not so good for larger group of adults, as 4 of the 5 bedrooms are very small. Only the master bedroom is an "adult" bedroom. If you are traveling as 2 adults with 2 to 4 children or teens this could be a good choice. I suppose if the group was all adults who are into partying it might be a pretty good place, as one basically never sees the neighbours. 4) The electrical power usage allowance and damage deposit ( as has been reported by others) WILL be a problem. Being aware in advance we watched this closely. There is no way one may stay within the allocation if you use ANY air conditioning. More detail on this follows. 5) For those who are trying to find this place on a map, it is the Salina district, on a corner lot, on the intersection of Anasaweg and Carawaraweg, 3 blocks south of Caracasbaaiweg. The address is 14 Anasaweg. 6) Privacy is better than hotels or other more commercial accomodation. Yard maintenance: Almost non-existent. There are fallen branches and foliage everywhere, and it is very messy. As the island is quite dry, watering is needed to maintain a garden, and as that costs money, one may easily surmise that is not happening! The garden here is dying. It’s a pity, as it must have been very nice at one time.

Towards the end of our stay it rained for a couple of days, and one could then begin to see what it might look like if properly watered, as we finally saw some flowers on the plants.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There is one supermarket a few blocks away, and it is fairly good. There are pharmacies, gasoline/petrol stations and other similar amenities stores within a few blocks.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Swimming Pool This is one bright spot in the picture. Clean, well maintained and very kid-friendly. Just out the gate from the converted car park. There are several lounge chairs, a picnic table, and a Weber charcoal barbeque. There is also a big comfy hammock, but as birds perch and nest in the tree over it, this is covered in bird droppings.. Pity. The car parking area is accessed through powered double gates. There is a remote control provided for this. Unfortunately, while we were there one of the 2 gates broke down, so we had to manually get out and push it each time we came and went. Privacy: The neighbours are very unobtrusive. We did not see or hear them during our stay. The yard is fenced and quite private. Noise: The property is on a fairly busy street and there is quite a bit of traffic noise. The neighbours have dogs, and these tend to bark frequently and loudly. They are big dogs. Insects and pests: When we first arrived we were greeted by many singing birds, and in the yard friendly geckos and lizards. We also had many very large cockroaches in the house. Over a couple of days I was able to hunt them all down. However, within those couple of days the children were a bit scared to use a bathroom! The one thing that was sorely missed is screens on the windows. Curacao is blessed with some really nice steady breezes, and it should have been really a pleasure to open all the windows and let the wind cool the house. Unfortunately you will see I said "should have". In reality the mosquitos are quite aggressive, and if one is to pass a night without waking up covered in bites and welts, it pays to keep the windows and doors all closed and make sure the mosquitos do not enter. So much for the breezes. You see, there are no screens anywhere on windows and doors. And there are no mosquito nets in the bedrooms. Bed bugs – One of the smaller bedrooms had the beds infested with bed bugs. When our 9 year old woke one morning, she was covered in itchy, red, swollen bites. I inspected her bedding and found bed bugs on the folds of the mattress seams. I went to a local pet store, and purchased some pet insect spray, and stripped the beds and everything else in that room. After that, and freshly washed bedding, the bugs no longer bit our little girl. When I brought it up with the property manager, he informed me he had never heard of bedbugs (and you could tell he thought I was making this up!). ♠ Water supply There is very little water pressure. As a result things like washing dishes, for example, is a bit tricky. Hot water only worked sporadically. The water supply failed for most of a day. The maintenance trucks were to be seen fixing this.

When the water worked again it was rusty and dirty for a day.

Other Comments
In summary: This is a reasonably comfortable house, in a decent, but not luxurious neighbourhood. Noise is an issue, due to it being on a fairly busy street. The management do a fairly good job, but tend to respond more to complaints than to pro-actively deal with problems.

If one is travelling with 4 to 8 people, it may be a better or more economical solution that resort hotel rooms.

Restaurants and Bars
There are very few restaurants or bars close by. Those that are around are mostly local Papiementu places, and not so "family friendly". The closest thing to a family restaurant we found was a bar and grill called Larrys Place. It is about 2 km from the house. While it looks much like the typical American restaurant, we went there for lunch once, and the staff were totally clueless. One meal was supposed to come with corn on the cob: No corn. One diner asked for a side salad. When the meal was served there was no salad, and when we inquired we were told they had no salad. One meal was a pasta and shrimp dish. It was ordered by our young teenage girl. She complained, and, at first, my wife and I thought she was just being fussy, which is not terribly unusual. When my wife looked at it, she noticed a smell: The shrimp were completely bad, and smelled rotten! We left rather immediately, and after my family was out of the door, I brought this to the attention of the staff, who basically did not really care about it.
Rooms
Amenities: The kitchen and rooms are reasonably well equipped. While there is a decent set of cookware, and items for eating, one must also be prepared to buy any and all consumables. That means toilet paper, food, cooking staples, cleaning substances, etc. The kitchen has a fairly good gas top and a 2 element electric top. There is a dishwasher that is broken down, a microwave and coffee maker that works, and the usual things such as a toaster, etc. There is a clothes washer and dryer, and they are fairy decent quality. However we did not use the dryer as that would certainly have driven our electricity bill out of sight. Luckily there is a great clothesline tree in the back yard, so drying was no problem, except for when it rains, of course. If one wants to lounge in the evenings, there is very limited furniture, nothing in the way of comfortable couches or recliners. However there are 3 separate dining tables! One that is in a converted car parking space, that seats 10! But no couches or comfortable chairs.. Basically it looks like they furnished this place with the remnants of a couple of auctions. Internet: There is a DSL connection and modem provided. No WIFI. I brought my own WIFI router as I had heard this in advance. The DSL modem died 4 times. They were quite good about replacing it, generally within a day. The speed of the service is VERY slow. Do not plan on watching your favorite TV shows from the internet! Even Skype calls were noticeably choppy. Speaking of TV, there is a satellite receiver and a 29" tube TV and a DVD player. the channels available are mostly US and S.American networks for the central and S. american market. Many are in English, with Spanish subtitles. Some of the more common channels are available, such as CNN, Fox, etc. No BBC, US networks, European, or other stations. Several specialty cable/satellite channels such as Cartoon Network are there. It is a bit of a mixed bag, but overall not too bad. Do not expect to keep up with your favorite series and you should likely be fine.

It is suitable for keeping some kids entertained in the evenings when there is little else to do.

Your Arrival
When we arrived it was quite clean, except for some cockraches , which were easy to catch and remove. Cleaning and maintenance was Minimal. We stayed for 2 weeks. They came and cleaned once, after were there for 4 days. Over the next 10 days there was no cleaning and no change of sheets , towels, or bedding.

We asked them to pick us up a few groceries for our arrival, which they did.

Not what I expected
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
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Karen >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My husband and I stayed at the Blau Costa Verde from March 24-31, 2010. I was dissapointed with the buffet selection. The resstaurants were great and always found something good to eat. Our rooms were neat and comfy. I took a foam mattress pad with me because the beds are pretty hard. If you are not a VIP guest, ask to be put in building 5 block, it is very quiet and away from the stage. Building 4 gets all the noise from the pool and lobby bars. As far as the cleanliness around the pools, I never saw anyone, through the day, cleaning up cups etc but this is not saying that the 1 person who is responsible for cleaning around the pool does not work hard. My theory is, they need more staff during the day to work on the cup clean up. We never stayed at the beach. It states the beach is great for scuba diving etc, and I do agree. If you are looking for a beautiful rockless, shell-less beach, do not go to this resort. The bugs get pretty bad at night as well. As far as the staff, there are some of the waitresses that are awesome and always give a smile. The Italian and restaurant down by the beach were excellent and the staff were great. We did meet a great bunch of Canadians from our hometown Province, NS and the weather is awesome. The bathrooms off the lobby had a very bad smell even though they seemed to be pretty clean. I will say that the entertainment at night was excellent and highly recommend it.

My advise, if you are looking for sun and warmth on a cheap budget, this is a place for you. I will try another resort on my next trip to Cuba.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Not a lot of entertainment for children it seems
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool was a good size but the pool area seemed to be pretty dirty at times.
Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants had great food and staff
Rooms
Clean
Your Arrival
Arrival was fast and easy!!!
Cheap but not too bad
Hotel Playa Sanssouci
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Rich >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Solo
I love Cabrette because its not too crowded during the day. Its a little bit touristy but not so much as to not exspose you to some of the real culture of DR. This hotel was a good choice for me because I was traveling alone and wanted fewer distractions. I wouldn’t take a family here because there there’s not much more to do than sleep, eat and lay on the beach.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There’s not a whole lot to do at the hotel itself. Its basically a place to rest after running around all day.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
This area of the beach is frequented by locals, mainly because there is a small apartment building you pass on the way into the hotel. Everyone that I met was frendly and helpful but they essentially keep to themselves and their families. The beach itself was clean albeit unkept. The hotel didn’t provide beach chairs. At night there is and armed guard who stops and identifies EVERYONE coming near the hotel.
Other Comments
I went here to get some R+R and study for an exam in relative quite . The rooms are a little old and run down, but they’re clean. All in all, this place doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles but it covers the basics and it is cheap (~$55 US per day) You get what you pay for. I’d actually give it a 3.5 if I could.
Restaurants and Bars
This hotel is at the east end of Kite Beach. Its a 10 minute walk on the beach to get to the bars and restaurants. Although I never had any problems, it gets pretty dark and deserted on this end of the beach so you should travel with a group. (I didn’t travel east on the main street but I hear tell of a bakery that serves a good breakfast Anot too far in that direction)
Rooms
The first room I had was on the first floor and had a patio right on the beach. Unfortunately, it was on the corner of the building that got a lot of foot traffic so it was fairly noisy late into the evening. The air conditioner wasn’t working in that room either so I moved to a slightly smaller room on the top floor with a balcony overlooking the beach. Both rooms had kitchenettes, minifridge and 13 inch cable televisions.
Your Arrival
The entrance is off the main street, down an alley of sorts. The taxi pulled up right in front of the glass sliding doors of the office. The manager was helpful but not particularly friendly.
Pretty good for the money
Hotel Gran Ventana Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Justin >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
The rooms were a bit outdated, but the problems encountered were fixed almost right away. one problem never fixed was with the plumbing in two of the three rooms we had, we put towels pon the floor, that was never fixed. The maids were really nice, gave you double of everything if you asked. The pools were great, we found out right away to put your towel in a shady spot early on, its mostly taken by 10 am. The floor gets really hot, i saw a child burned with blisters in his feet due to the hot floor by the pool. The restaurants are better than the buffet for dinner, so make those reservations. the beach was nice, if you find a gazebo, the sun is really a killer. The staff was amazing, everyone from the entertaining staff to the workers, always greeted you with a smile. No attitudes. I don’t think i would go back to any Playa Dorada resort but if you want to try something different (from punta Cana0 which is what we did, you’ll soon realize that there is nothing better that those resorts there.

All and all we had a good time.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
good
Arrival
quick and painless
Beach/Pools/Grounds
pools and beach are good
Restaurants and Bars
pretty good
Rooms
average-could get remodeled, outdated.
make sure you don’t go during the week they are making new brochure
Hotel Sandals Negril
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kay >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
first room – no air cond. in bathroom – Holiday Inn has better rooms – no room service-very nice staff-new brochure being made so pools not available at all times, had to work around photo bunch-wanted to close entire complex for aerial photo on wed but cancelled-rooms weren’t real clean-box springs nasty – could view from mattress that didn’t fit well-ac not real cool – don’t go without a butler b/c they will move your beach towels for "their" guests – chairs in pictures on beach are never there except for photo session-what guests use daily are plastic chairs.
Third visit better then expected!
Hotel Casa Marina Reef
User Rating:  
Brad >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This was my third time at this resort since 2007. I really did not plan on ever going back to this resort. My decision to go was based on the excellent deal I got through Sunquest $580 per person for a week taxes in!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There were always activities at the main reef pool throughout the day. There are shows every night also. We did watch most of one once but it’s so late I could barely stay up. The shows do not start until 9:45.
We did no excursions this time due to my illness but have in the past. Jeep Safari, Paradise Island and Jungle Tour??? All good.
Arrival
We flew out of Toronto with Thomas Cook/Air Jazz. Nice plane, 757, loads of leg room very impressed. Not like the airbuses we usually fly on. Flight uneventful. Went through immigration and customs quickly since we were the only flight in at this time of the evening. Check in was quick and painless. Remember to get your safe key when you check in ($15/week) otherwise you will have to go back once you get to your room. Found our room on our own since we were familiar with the layout of the resort from previous visits.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
All the pools are open and cleaned every morning. The jacuzzi’s (bubble tubs as we like to call them) were closed most of the trip mostly at the beginning of the week due to surf conditions (waves so big and crashing up against the coral very cool to watch!)They had to close them to clean them also. They were open periodically near the end of the week. Both beaches were closed and red flagged for the first few days due to weather and surf conditions also. Finally on day 4 the Reef beach opened. The surf was wavy and fun the sun was hot!!! The surf can be rough at times and probably not safe for small kids or older people. If you can get passed the breaking point you can just bob in the water.
Grounds are nice too with lots of palms and trees.
Other Comments
We had on orange bands this time and found out what the different colours meant. Purple are firt timers, orange have been before and silver is VIP. One of the waiters told us that if you come there 4-5 times you get a silver band but I also believe that they are time share owners with silver bands. They do have some Royal timeshares there but I have never been approached.
All in all it was a way better trip then what I have expected. Had I had a better bed and not feeling so sick the week would have been perfect.
Restaurants and Bars
There is only one Buffet restaurant open right now near the reception area. The food was better then before with more selection and quality. I do believe they are trying to improve. Yes there are a lot of repetative things but there are always other things to try. I was sick a lot during this week and actually enjoyed the soups offered. I had never tried them before and was glad I did. The house wine is good also. The specialty restaurants are all in one. They have Seafood every night, Mexican Mon, Wed and Fri and Italian on the other nights. Tried Mexican and Italian both good. Do not eat seafood so did not try the other but everyone said it was good. FYI if you get Lobster it’s extra $$.
There were two bars open not sure what time they close but they open really early! Drinks are typical all inclusive fruity drinks. They do taste different depending on who makes them.
Rooms
They are in the process of renovating the rooms at this hotel. The Beach side was still closed and being renovated while we were there. The left side of the Reef section rooms are all renovated and open. The right side is now is one third closed now and they were starting renovations the last week. We stayed on the right side in an un-renovated room which I did expect because of the super saver price we paid. I have stayed on this side before and the room was pretty bad but I have to say our room was pretty good compared to when I was here last. The beds on the other hand are really bad! Hard as rocks, my back killed every day. There are two water bottles in the room when you arrive and you have to fill them up yourself they are not replaced. You can do this in the restaurants or at the bottom of stairs leading up to the rooms. Rooms cleaned daily with new towels. The renovated rooms have new pillow top matresses and furniture, flat screen TVetc. Someone we met there said their room was so bad (mold etc) he offered the front desk $50 and got a renovated room on his second day there. I wish I new that I would have tried it just for the new beds.
Something seemed to be missing – Change is not always good
Hotel Breezes Jibacoa
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Swaava >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This was my sixth stay at Breezes Jibacoa and there seemed to be some changes, particularly with the buffet and the food that were not always positive. The staff seemed to be working very hard to please the guests yet at times it was baffling as to understand why there appeared to be problems with food replenishment and tables not being reset. It appeared to me that bussing staff had been cut and the wait staff had to go into the kitchen with the dirty dish carts and bring out clean dishes. I thought that bussing staff had been used for this in the past, so wait staff were now unable to do the bussing and keep the tables set for the guests, causing delays sometimes as to available seating. The toaster disappeared and trays of cold, often burnt, toast appeared from the kitchen. The warming trays have been replaced by pans and the food has tendancy to dry out in these. Please change things back the way they were. The replenishment staff were also kept hustling but at times there was no carvery as we had experienced in the past, food had been depleted to completely empty trays and two nights the dessert bar (oh my suffering waistline) was bare while I was there. I can only assume that staff had been cut in the kitchen/dining area, and this being the commencement of the peak season, was a disappointment. The beach bar restaurant was as pleasant as ever, especially the staff there who went out of their way to ensure guests were served promptly and politely. The hamburgers had been changed to preformed patties perhaps to ensure consistency but now some ingredient had been added at source that my system does not tolerate (likewise with Harveys and Burger King). This is unfortunate as I had always enjoyed the burgers in the past. The piano bar was as enjoyable as ever, however with the low ceiling there should be sound baffles of some type to enable people to converse when it is crowded. The bar also ran out of a few items on two nights. Reception ran efficiently but the money exchange on ocassion seemed to thik that you don’t want your small change and does not offer it. Changing to 52.07 CUCs netted me 50 CUC until I insisted on full redemption. I do tip generously so I don’t think that that staff should self-tip. Staff generally are gracious in accepting tips and o appreciate them even though the official policy is "no tipping".

Entertainment staff were tired from 4 weeks of Octoberfest but that is not an excuse for diminished activities for those guests who arrived just following. A few days there was little in the way of activities and no alternative in the event of inclement weather. A card tournament can be quickly formed, a billiards tournament can take place over a few days, and the disco transformed into an indoor entertainment area.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Security did an admirable job and was always on hand for any needs.

Guest services is commended on their receptions and being attentive to guest’s needs.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Most grounds staff were hard working. One or two appeared to be more interested in guests, on the presumption of "gifting". Staff at this resort are extremely well taken care of by the guests and gifted in many ways with presents, money, and clothing. We weighed in at the same weight returning to Canada as when we went and we were over limit on alcohol (declared at Customs) on our return so you know what was left behind (wink). The pool was clean and enjoyable as were the hot tubs that were well used.

The beach cleaning crew did an excellent job in spite of a few days of stormy weather that brough debris down from the trees and in from the ocean.

Other Comments
My review reflects my personal experience. Four years ago I would have given this resort a 4 to 4.5 star rating. This time I would have to rate it a 3.5 due to the dining experience issues that can easily be rectified through staff enhancement and ensuring food replenishment and table resetting are prompt. Last year was the "good old days" for food quality and quantity. Please, no preformed patties for the hamburgers or "Dougie burgers".

Finally, if the staff are working hard (with noted exceptions)then I must assume that management changes have caused concerns and only they can rectify them.

Restaurants and Bars
Disco – I am afraid the same lament from prior visits. The DJ’s need to realize that the Disco is for the guest’s entertainment and not themselves. Because the resort has such a large number of repeat guests means that the guest demographic is aging and music appropriate to the crowd is needed to inspire them to dance. Only when requested specifically did the DJ’s play contemporary classics that the guests could dance to (that is what the disco is for – dancing, okay maybe drinking also) otherwise the music was mostly quick step Cuban pop/rock. When the former was played, the disco filled up and many people were dancing. When the latter Cubano music was played, the disco quickly emptied.

The disco should be for the guests enjoyment and if you want to entertain the guests, it is obvious to play music appropriate for the guests. I hope this is the last time I have to emphasize this.

Rooms
The rooms were as usual well taken care of and the staff generally attentive except for one day when we did not get a towel exchange (don’t know why) but a call to reception had new towels in our room within 30 minutes. I know housekeepers have to hustle so an oversight is possible. Ants on the ground floor can be a problem if you are intolerant of them. If you keep food in your room it must stay in the fridge or else you will have unwanted visitors. Ants follow their senses and will find you out!
Everyone was friendly and the rooms were very clean.
Hotel Capitan Suizo
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John and family of 4 from Wilmington, NC >  2 contribution(s) United States of America
Aug, 2005
We stayed at the Capitan Suizo for 5 days during our 9 day visit to Costa Rica. We did find the hotel to be a garden setting with a large pool and short walk to the beach. Everyone was friendly and the rooms were very clean. There is internet service, but only one terminal, so its hit or miss getting air time. The second level rooms have a nice balcony, but do not have air conditioning or a TV. We found this to be a real problem for us as it gets very hot and humid in the afternoon and evenings plus not having a TV can create some boring moments, especially with kids. The first floor units do have AC, so I would demand one of them if you want to stay there. The ceiling fans just don’t cut it. We also had a few bug visits, but nothing that shocked us, as we came with warnings about that. The walk into Tamarindo is about 15 minutes over dirt roads. There are some good restaurants (Geicko’s, Happy Days, Taco Stop). The town itself is not really for a family vacation. It is full of dirty, muddy roads with little to do. The Beach at Capitan Suizo is not good at all for snorkeling and there are a lot of rocks just below the water surface. Be sure to locate them at low tide for your safety. We found a lovely beach at Playa Conchal for both snorkeling and swimming. We also chartered a boat for 5 hours for $250 which was a highlight as we love to snorkel. We also did a horseback ride trip, prepared by a local by the name of Mario (your hotel staff will know of him), which was terrific. I would not go back to this hotel due to location (wanted snorkeling beach…go to Conchal), Town (not for family) and lack of AC. I would rate it 2 star.
This is more a 3 star hotel
Hotel Palma Real Beach Resort & Villas
User Rating:  
Melanie, Edmonton >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2009
Arrival: Dec. 26 to Jan 2/09 The arrival was efficient and fairly quick. Hotel staff were on the outside steps of the airport to give out room keys, t.v. remote, towel cards, and wrist bands.

Rooms:

We stayed in the main section of the resort and I would recommend paying the extra cost for this. It’s closer to most of the hotel amenities and buffet. Rooms were clean but in need of upgrading. Lots of marks on the walls, rust on the tub, bugs in the bathroom. No shelves in closet but there was a small 2 drawer dresser as part of the tv armoire. No fridge. Bath towels were small and sometimes thin and worn. Some days you had quite a bit of white fuzz after toweling off. Beds were comfortable. Our room overlooked the pool area. We didn’t notice much noise from pool activities as we were up and gone early. There was some noise from the disco at night but we didn’t hear it as much as some of our group.

Restaurants and Bars:

Really just the one buffet that we ended up timing our arrival to 7 PM for supper to miss the long line. Breakfast and lunches were less crowded (except for the fresh omelet grill). I wouldn’t bother with the a la cartes. The food wasn’t that special, everyone was booked at 7 so a huge crowd all trying to get seated. They were overbooked so some people didn’t even get in and those that did often waited lengthy periods to get served. This was our experience for both Italian and Asian. The buffet was as good as some others I’ve been to. Nice selection of salads. The meat was generally overcooked and tough. The fish dishes were generally tasty. There is really just one bar on each side of this resort and the lines could get long as it was small and understaffed. Staff in the restaurants and bars were fine – generally courteous but not overly friendly. We used as much Spanish as we could. The snack bar had the basics in it manned by staff who couldn’t care less if you need them to grill you something. The chicken wings were good.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: There were two nice small pool just behind the main hotel area. There were few loungers to be had around the pools so not always easy to sit there. The grounds were well kept. The beach was nice – long for walks (be careful as some at the resort had a bad experience walking in the direction of less houses), lots of loungers to sit on, plenty of shade, and washrooms not too far away. The water was rough but many enjoyed the bogey boarding. There was one day when the sand levels in the water were less and you could see to the bottom. It is shallow and sandy for quite a ways out. Marco put the flags out every day. Very nice fellow.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

I would give a high rating to the off resort excursions. I would recommend the city tour for $10.00. It’s the same cost as taking the hotel bus into town and back. That one drops you off at Appleby’s and you are on your own. The city tour gives a drive around the city to the more famous landmarks and then to a artisans souvenir shop and then to the mall. Lot’s of security!! We did the whitewater rafting trip which was excellent – very professional, very safety oriented. You had to do a water rescue practice before you even go in the raft. Excellent guides with an excellent sense of fun and skill. We also did the Canopy Tour with the hot springs. Again, skilled guides, professional, and safety conscious. It was a lot of fun to be in the tops of trees and to experience the natural hot springs pools. The other excursion we did was to Pico Bonito Lodge hiking tour. We were able to see lots of flora and some fauna in the hike to Mermaid Falls. Our guide was very experienced and knowledgeable about the plants and animals. He was able to disturb the ant nest so we could see the soldier ants. Lunch at the Lodge was delicious. I would recommend any of these tours.

Other Comments:

I would agree with some other reviews that this is more a 3 star hotel. A number of our group had intestinal problems and a few of us, myself included also had a rash on arms and legs. I don’t know why and antihistamines helped mine but didn’t get rid of it. The night life was the useful stuff that I’ve seen at higher rated hotels and I only bothered to go once. The New Year’s Eve night was nice with a live band on the beach. I wouldn’t go to this hotel again but I would recommend the experience of this area of Honduras – maybe a combination of Pico Bonito Lodge and Roatan.

Don’t pay too much for this one!
Hotel Sandals Royal Hicacos
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Betty Ann >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
April 17-24 2005 Wife (35) and I (36) Canadian Previously have stayed at Sandals Negril Jamaica, Barcelo Maya Mayan Rivera Mexico, Occidental Grand Flamenco Puerto Plata Dominican Republic, Sheraton Buganvillas Puerto Vallarta Mexico My rating: 3 ½ stars Paid: $1520 CAD tax included from Toronto Signiture/Skyservice booked 20 days in advance Would I go back? Probably not, better resorts out there with better price points. This resort is not typical of a Sandals resort. The Barceló Maya is a better deal than this one which I paid $1285 CAD tax included. Don’t pay too much for this one!

Regular room #314 far right hand side of resort, overlooking adjacent resort and bare dirt field, nicely appointed room with large king, good ac, fridge, large tub made for two, lots of hot water and water pressure, no sign of small ants in sink or other bugs. The sewer smell is overpowering at times especially in the morning and just noticeable during the day. The large doomed sewer-holding tank is nicely disguised with flowers and bushes and located adjacent to the walkway on the way to the 300 block of rooms.

Beach is really picturesque. Water is Caribbean blue, warm and wavy. This is a great beach! I snorkeled 700 meters off shore and saw nothing but sand. No fish, weeds, or rocks. Super soft sand which was great for walking. We walked lots! There are lots of huts and chairs facing the ocean. It was really wavy for most of our stay, which cancels all use of cats, boats, sunfish, snorkeling, or dives. We did enjoy the waves and it did calm down for a couple of days. An external company owns all of the equipment not the resort. The beach staff that runs the equipment is nice enough but not the typical Sandals experience you might be used too.

Food: Average. Selection was limited and very repetitive. Just did not compare to any of our previous vacations. Restaurant service is really inconsistent and really slow. Tips might help but only if you locate the same waiter each day. I observed dirty plates and tables all over the place at breakfast buffet. The food was acceptable as I didn’t go hungry and tried almost everything. There is no lettuce on this resort. No sickness or craps throughout vacation.

Resort Layout: poor. I am not sure whom to blame. The resort builder or the resort architect. The winding “mirror” river is such a waste. It could be the largest lazy river run ever, if modified just a bit. The huge fake SMELLY rock just before you start on the wooden bridge to the beach is ridiculous. Why any builder would place a powered forced air sewer vent in a fake rock at this location is beyond my understanding. Wait for it, Wait for it…UGH it hits you everytime you go the beach grill and bar. Our bathroom flooded the night we used the Jacuzzi when we tried to drain the tub. Oh well it happens. The room safe is excellent.

Tips: 1. Bring your large insulated mug…bar service can be slow and drinks melt fast 2. Bring pants as men must wear them in the buffet restaurant for dinner 3. Put towel under door when sleeping small geckos everywhere 4. Change money at hotel, easier, quicker, just 3% difference than Varadero bank 5. Flea market at Varadero is ½ price of beach vendors 6. Cigars best price Varadero, look for log home on 31st street and ocean side 7. Ask for bottled water at front desk if going on trips or tours 8. Bring change for the toilet, women need to buy toilet paper (airport, tours) 9. Bring Canadian money, they do not want American, not even for tips 10. Even if it looks cloudy put lotion on your feet, mine burned, so stupid! 11. Get cappuccino at Pizzeria before breakfast or anytime much better than coffee 12. Don’t wear yellow shirts they really attract the bugs “death flower” 13. Don’t walk through bush to get to beach, saw 4 foot snake, scarred wife to death 14. East side of resort very quiet at night but birds are noisy in the morning 15. Open your tub blind from outside patio door, lets a lot of light in 16. Walked to Beaches (20 min) and Princess del mar (1 hr, 20min). Wear your water shoes as there are lots of broken sea shells, coral, and other sharp edges on the way. Go in and have a look at the other Sandals, have a drink as they cannot tell which resort you’re from. No wristbands! Don’t tell them or out you will go. 17. Friday Buffet is rib night..good 18. Tuesday Buffet is seafood night 19. Crystal beer and Buccaneer beer is excellent, $1/beer in Varadero outdoor bar. 20. Eat dinner early at beach grill as mosquitoes due come out once sun sets 21. Take the Havana day tour thru Cubacan $67 cuc, good tour guide, and pack a lunch from breakfast buffet 22. Get on the Varadero tour bus early as it gets packed by early afternoon and ride it the full circle to see all the resorts 23. Don’t get on the Varadero tour bus after 7pm, as you will be stranded in downtown Varadero. Learned that the hard way. $15 cab ride home (set price) 24. Get your ice early out the machines. It goes fast. 25. 11.5% fee on all Visa, M/C transactions, bring cash! 26. Snorkel for free at resort and bring a few small bananas, lots of fish! 27. Bring key ring or tether for safe key. 28. Bring hats, pens for kids, shampoo, old earrings, sample perfumes and give away 29. Watch your luggage weight as they will charge you upon departure

These are my perceptions of the resort. Whether a review is negative or positive its just information, don’t get hung up if its different. Take from it what you want.

We were greeted with a Bahama Mama!
Hotel Breezes Bahamas
User Rating:  
PaulOntario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2008 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
November 20 – 27 We arrived in the Bahamas to wonderful weather, the airport is very nice, the transfer was quick and professional. When we arrived at the hotel, our room was not ready which is understandable since it was 10:30AM. They told us to check back at 3PM. Our bags were tucked away safe. We were greeted with a Bahama Mama!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The activity staff was missing for the first few days, but after that they appeared and it was fun to be around them. The Circus school is quite difficult for a larger guy, but most people were quite successful on the trapeze and many had fun. We love Scuba. We decided to do a two tank dive on the Tuesday. First dive was a ship wreck. Saw lots of Lion Fish. Beyond that, probably the worst dive we have ever done. Second dive was a shallow reef dive. This one was excellent, schools upon schools of fish. A nice dive.

We were considering swimming with the dolphins. Two options were given too us. $165 pp USD at some dolphin experience place or $190 pp USD at Atlanis. A group of 10 people with a total of 30 minutes shared in a pool for nearly $500CAD when the exchange is done. Not gonna happen. Kind of disappointing.

Arrival
We arrived in the Bahamas to wonderful weather, the airport is very nice, the transfer was quick and professional. When we arrived at the hotel, our room was not ready which is understandable since it was 10:30AM. They told us to check back at 3PM. Our bags were tucked away safe. We were greeted with a Bahama Mama!
Bars
I was unimpressed with the bars with the exception of the Piano Bar which we unfortunately didnt use as much as we should have. The bars lacked a few things: 1. Service – You want a drink, get it yourself. I ask for Pina Colada, they point me to a slushy machine and there is a bottle of rum on the counter. Not a big deal. 2. Blenders – They didnt mix or make drinks as far as I saw. Ask for a Bahama Mama, it comes from a jug, ask for a daqurie it comes from a slushy machine. Ask for something requiring a mix and they look at your funny. The bars just werent all that fun compared to other resorts. It isnt bad, just different.

3. Bar staff who looked like they wanted to be there. The pool bar and main bar staff always had a look of "Why are you bothering me?"

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The Pool is my biggest and only real legitimate complaint about the Hotel. No one could swim in the pool all week. The staff did a good job cleaning the pools every morning. The problem is by 6:30 the seaguls had moved in. The pool quickly obtained a film of seagul defication and feathers. The gulls swam and bathed in the pool, used it as their bathroom, and caused the biggest disappointment in the hotel as I really enjoy swimming on vacation.

The beach on the other hand is really nice. Sand is very fine. It is fun to play in the waves. The grounds were fairly well kept although I felt bad sometimes for the staff as keeping up with the bird poo was definitly a challenge I wouldnt want to take on.

In conclusion
The Bahamas was nice, the weather was nice, the people were nice. It is a very expensive place to go and we are glad we made the trip. Unfortunately we will not return to the Bahamas as it just didnt offer us what we are after in a vacation.

For others, it represents the perfect place to go. If you like food like you get at home. Stores, products, experiences like you get at home. and basically a vacation at home but warmer, go for it. Check to see if they have done anything about the seagull issue first.

Other Comment
Overall for the price we paid (under $900 pp) we cannot complain. Had we paid the usual rate for this hotel ($1200+)we would have been very disappointed. It is a very "American" holiday. Meaning the food is very American, the tours very American, the culture is more American than otherwise in my opinion. I like to take trips to places where I can imerse myself in the local culture and I found it difficult to do this here. The market was full of knock off designer handbags, watches, sunglasses instead of Bahamian crafts. If you want Bahamian stuff, go to the Festival Place. There is some neat stuff there and it is from what I can tell a unique place in the area as you are either in a really expensive jewelery store, looking at knockoff designer things, or yet another rack of bead necklaces the same as every other island in the caribbean or the local ontario flea market.
Restaurants
Three restaurants – The Buffet was good, although it was the same thing every night it seemed. Food was good, nothing too exotic. The Garden of Eden – The best restaurant in my opinion here. The atmosphere was great outdoors. The food was good. Try the Salmon, it was excellent. Pastafari – A decent restaurant. The food once again was good. A little strange getting cheeze sticks like you would find out of a box, but cool nevertheless.

A picky eater will have no problems finding food to eat here.

Rooms
The rooms in the small tower were being renovated while we were there. Our room looked fairly recently renovated. The bed was comfortable. The bathroom was nice. We were on the first floor so I believe our room was wheelchair accessable. The room is very basic with a 32" LCD TV Mounted on the wall, a dresser and a bed. Nothing special. It was clean.
There is also a poker night.
Hotel Club Med Columbus Isle
User Rating:  
Fred05 >  1 contribution(s) 
Nov, 2005 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
I just return from 2 weeks ( nov 2005 ) in Club med Columbus island in Bahamas. The club is very nice and very clean. Wheather :

We had 2 days of rain but they arrange poker table so we have something to do. For the rest of the time it was almost always sunny with some clouds. The temperature was very hot, 30 and more in the day and 24 and more at night. But they told us that it was usually colder than that for that time of the year.

Activity
There is a lot of activity: scuba, snorkeling, tennis, beach volleyball, soccer, sailing, windsurfing, fitness, danse lesson, archery, Bounce ball. We arrived oct 30 and we were told that there is no water-ski in the winter season. The winter season start oct 30 $#%@#$%@. I was disappointed because I thought it would be open. If you look on the web site there is water ski. If you look in the WINTER brochure there is water ski. There is not a lot of people in the activity since most of the people go there just to relax.
Ambiance
The staff is very good. Always smily, nice, interesting and professional. The beginning of November is the turn over for the GO. The new Go were shyer and we saw the best one leave.
Animation
There is no animation team and no “fou du village”. I was told that people just want to relax. Allooooooooooooooo is it club med
Conclusion
We had a very nice trip. We met a lot of fun people, GO and GM.

If you have more question superfred at rolmfg point com All the picture are on superfred Canada 3w point superfred point ca

Crazy sign
Crazy sign are kept to a minimum and there is not much participation from the GM. There was a day with no crazy sign because none of the GM came to the pool. ( I was in snorkeling ). At night there is usually 1 or 2 before the show and 1 or 2 after the show. Allooooooooooooooo is it club med
Food
It is club med. Very good bread and cake. There was always something good in the buffet. Your only concern is what should you choose there is so many thing to taste.
Party
The disco is not always open. When it is close you can still go to the lounge to dance or to drink. Good thing there is GO to put a good ambiance at the disco. There is also a poker night. There is one bar outside of the club ask the go if they plan to go.
Room
Very clean, big bed, TV, phone, air blower, ironing, refrigerator.
Scuba
I did two very nice dive. It was some of the best dive of my life. I saw nice coral, a lot a fish, merou, mureine, rays, gray shark, nurse shark, big angel fish, crabs, barracuda. Name it, it was there. The snorkeling is nice but you can not start from the beach. You really need to take the boat.
Show
There is some night with no show. The shows are very nice. The dancer are very good. Mamdoo, Yvany, Anick, Michelle, Nara, Judith, karine, Marie-Eve, Audrey. The best one is the Jannet and Michael Jackson show. But Yvany and Mamdoo are leaving the club. I think we saw the last show when we were there. The GM show was also nice.
Wheather
We had 2 days of rain but they arrange poker table so we have something to do. For the rest of the time it was almost always sunny with some clouds. The temperature was very hot, 30 and more in the day and 24 and more at night. But they told us that it was usually colder than that for that time of the year.
Take the package that includes the night dive
Hotel Club Med Columbus Isle
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Sandi03 >  1 contribution(s) 
May, 2003 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Columbus Isle is a key of the Bahamas for those of you wondering. My 12 yr old son and I, left from JFK at 8am Easter Sunday, and arrived at Columbus Isle at about 11:30am. We were welcomed by the staff at the airport (about 2 people), and were quickly ushered into Club Med Mini Vans and driven the 1 minute commute to Club Med..Yes 1 minute, it was at the end of the runway!!! The resort was quite nice, nothing like other Club Med’s I’ve been to. The rooms were well decorated, clean, not dorm room at all. The food was quite good, and the service pleasant. The best part of the vacation was the diving. This is where the resort excelled. The boats were new, clean, state of the art. The scuba equipment was well taken care of, and the reefs were amazing. There were caves and wrecks to explore, and pleanty of surprises. Definately take the package that includes the night dive. The night life was almost non existent, but we definately made do, especially my 12 year old, who made friends with other kids, and they had their own fun at the ping-pong table.

Hope this helps

The service at the restaraunts for dinner was great
Hotel RIU Paradise Island
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LizMike >  1 contribution(s) 
Mar, 2006 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My boyfriend and I recently got back from a stay at the RIU, paradise island resort in the bahamas. The reviews on this page helped us out a lot on our vacation, so I wanted to give some input. Weather:

Beautiful…it was sunny every day with a light breeze. However, it did not get hot enough for me. It was 75-80 degrees each day we were there, but the pool was cold so I did not go in even once! The ocean was warm enough for me though! I bet it will really warm up in a couple weeks

Food
To me, food is a huge deal. I was so impressed at the RIU. They have everything. There are buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, for dinner you can make reservations at 1 of 3 restaraunts. If you wish to make a reservation, you may do so by waiting in line (from 9-10 am) in the lobby. There was a huge line from 9-9:15, so I just went at like 9:30 each morning and it was a breeze. The gourmet restaraunt was the only one that you have to wait in line for if you want to go to it (its a very small place and fills up fast). I really liked the gourmet and the japanese, I wasn’t hot on the steakhouse…it was kind of smokey. The buffets for breakfat and lunch are impressive…the fruit is great! Off the resort food is very expensive, like $15 appetizers and $50 entrees.
Hotel/Service
We got booked into a room with double beds for the first night…and since there were no extra rooms we had to stay there until they could move us into a room with a king size bed. We had to spend two nights in the double beds…but then we were moved up to the penthouse level where we had one huge bed so it was alright.The lobby at the RIU is very impressive…the rooms are alright, I wouldn’t say five star quality, but they were clean. Who goes to the bahamas to hang out in the hotel room anyways? The views from both of our rooms were fantastic…we hung out on the balcony alot. I was 100 % satisfied with the service at the RIU. Everyone was super friendly…drinks did sometimes take a little while to get, but its not a big deal to wait 5 minutes sometimes. The service at the restaraunts for dinner was great.
Some other things
~You cant drink the water from the tap…but the hotel provides you with gallons in your room, so I would recommend bringing a small travel sized bottle to fill up and take with you daily. ~The bar gives you drinks in small plastic cups if you are going to go outside with them, but if you bring large ones from home, you can take these out on the beach with you. ~People have said that they were stingy with the towels…I didn’t think so. Heres the deal: They give you a card to trade in for a towel. Whenever you want a new towel, you have to trade in the old one. THen you have to give the towel back before you check out. ~If you go into downtown Nassau, you can take a cab there for $10 and get car sick, or a ferry for $3 each way. The ferry is nice because you get a boat ride, but you do have a 10 minute walk back to the hotel. If you are downtown, the ferry is located by the cruise ships. ~there is a hot tub in the resort that almost no one knows about (not even some of the staff). It was really nice, mike and I had it to ourselves most of the time. The first thing you should do when you get there is find it!

I though this hotel was great overall. If you are really into going out clubbing and stuff it may not be the right place for you though. There is not much nightlife at RIU, but plenty of options closeby, so you just have to venture off the resort. Hope this helped! ENJOY!!

Things we did
We did the snorkel at Stuarts Cove. Cost was $52 a person and included the bus ride there. The bus ride was very long, RIU is always the first to get picked up and the last to get dropped off because of its locattion. Snorkeling was AWESOME! We had a great tour guide. This tour was snorkeling with sharks, which was optional (Mike did it and I didn’t). Buy a waterproof camera either before you get on the plane down there, or before you go on the snorkeling trip. They were $22 at Stuarts cove and only $17 at the hotel…the pics came out great too! Also, BUY FISH FOOD! Dolphin Encounters: This was a lot of fun too. The whole trip was about 3 hours. The encounter was $85 a person and the swim with the dolphins was $160 a person. We did the encounter, but I would honestly recommend the swim if you are going to do it. They charge an arm and a leg for the pictures, but we brought a camera down with us and traded taking pictures with another couple and their camera.

Atlantis: There are so many awesome things to do at atlantis. "the dig" is a huge aquarium and its amazing. During the day there is a charge, but if you go after 8 pm you can walk through for free. The casino is good…I think, but Mike tells me that there aren’t enough tables and the minimum is too high! We went to the comedy show (the one at 9:30 is the dirty one) It was something fun to do. $20 a person for admission, but the drinks are like $200 each, so I would recommend getting liquored up for free at the hotel bar first.

The hotel is literally on the beach sand.
Hotel Small Hope Bay Lodge
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KateVirginia >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Oct, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Arrival: 2008 Small Hope Bay Lodge is the perfect place to stay if you wish your family had a rustic cottage right on the beach on a tropical island. It is family owned and operated and before you leave you will be on island time and part of the family. There is an eco-theme but everyone is pretty relaxed about it all. Rooms: The rooms are in small stone cottages right on the beach under palm trees, with island fabrics and simple decoration. Some are air-conditioned (costs extra) but except in summer you may not miss it. Baths are island style, simple but workable. Navy-style showers are encouraged, as water is conserved in the dry season, but you will not be pressured and you can shower as much as you want. Restaurants and Bars: All meals and drinks are included. There is an inside dining room where staff share tables with guests, and both an inside and a beach bar. The food is competently cooked, a choice of meat and local fish or seafood about every night, buffet style. One night a week is Bahamian night with native dishes. Beach/Pools/Grounds: The hotel is literally on the beach sand. There are two long, quiet, soft white sand beaches with shallow water to wade in and a hot tub, but no pool. (Who needs it with the warm ocean right there.) If you want to snorkel you can do it right under the dive boat dock. Or be lazy in the hammock at the end of the dock out over the blue water. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: The hotel emphasizes diving and has several very, very special dives each day on the Andros Barrier Reef. led by skilled and experience dive masters, some of the best in the business. You can dive "the Wall" or an ocean blue hole. If the sea is rough you may also go inland for another kind of blue hole dive. You can also get a massage on the beach, go cycling around the island, see island crafts or appreciate nature. Most entertainment is very unstructured, do-it-yourself. Other Comments:

This is a hotel for those who do not need to be entertained with action, lights, and noise. The ocean right at your door, wind in the palm trees and the sound of the surf on the reef are the only steady accompaniments. You will meet lots of divers, sophisticated world travelers and maybe a celebrity or two, but everyone is there for a quiet getaway.

Intro
Hotel Kontiki Beach Club and Lac Bay Apartments
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MikeUSA >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jan, 2004 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Anyone who has read my previous trip reports knows that Susan and I tend to like to to go to Club Med resorts for sailing and windsurfing. But we also like to break out of the mold occasionally and try something (and some place) different. This time we decided we wanted to work on our windsurfing skills a little and go some place different. Since this was January, it also had to be WARM!. We had overheard some other travlers talking about Bonaire and we knew that Bonaire was supposed to have a great windsurfing area (good enough that some say it is better than Aruba’s "Fisherman’s Huts" area). It also has a reputation for good (excellent!?) snorkeling, which is another of our preferred activities. But, there are none of our normal ‘resorts’ on Bonaire and air travel is limited, so it was a bit of a challange (on a budget, anyway).
A little geography
Bonaire is one of the "ABC islands": Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao. Bonaire is the middle sized island of the three, and has the smallest population (about 16,000). It is about 50 miles north of Venezuela and the weather (and surrounding water) is always warm. It is mostly a dry desert-like island with lots of cactus growing in the open areas. However, we were there during the rainy season and we got some rain every day, but it didn’t really get in our way very much. Besides tourism, the main industry is sea salt; there are large salt evaporation ponds on the eastern end of the island. There are some hills on the northern and western sections of the island and they offer some nice views. The island is mostly volcanic in nature (none active now) and the soil is rocky and hard. As in Aruba, most of the population speak english, spanish, dutch, and the native papimento so there are seldom any language issues. US dollars are welcome, but you will probably get change in N.A. Florins (also referred to as Guilders).
Accomodations
After some research we settled on the Kon Tiki (Lac Bay) apartments. This is a small (probably 10-12 units) facility on the edge of Lac bay, where the Windsurfing is. It is truely out by itself, more than we had expected it to be. The only other facilities anywhere close by (within about 7 or 8 miles) are the windsurfing ‘outfitters’ and the Sonora Beach resort (a "naturalist" resort, which we decided against). The Kon Tiki arranged for the windsurfing rentals (at a slight discount) and a rental car (which is needed).

The Kon Tiki provides apartments, with a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath. Lots of room to spread out. While we did not miss a TV, we would have liked to have screens across the sliding door to keep out the relatively small and non-aggressive mosquitoes. Then again, chasing the mosquitoes that did get in provided some entertainment during the otherwise very quiet evenings. We had a 2nd floor apartment with a view out across the flat part of Bonaire and out over the bay where the windsurfing took place. The Kon Tiki has a small restaurant as part of the resort and during the winter season the Kon Tiki includes breakfast with the cost of the room. They served a very good and complete european style breakfast, although it was starting to get a bit boring by the end of the week. There was so much breakfast that we took some of it to make small sandwiches that we used for lunch. We ate dinner there three evenings and they served very good meals. The chef obviously took pride in the preparation and presentation of the food.

General comments
For anyone doing a lot of windsurfing, or anyone just wanting to relax in a very quiet and peaceful area, I would certainly recommend the KonTiki. Anyone with a primary interest in diving or snorkeling would probably be happier in town at one of the more centrally located resorts. Anyone wanting to learn to windsurf should consider Bonaire, but perhaps during a season with slightly less robust winds. Lighter winds are better for beginners and also means that there will not be as many advanced windsurfers zipping around. There was a definite difference betwen Aruba and Bonaire. Although Aruba is marketed as "The Happy Island" (and it is), Aruba is much more developed and commercialized than Bonaire. Bonaire is still very relaxed, definitely friendly, with few of the Americanized restaurants and such. Bonaire is more like a European community (in a warm climate) compared to Aruba which is more like an American city. A few cruise ships stop at Bonaire, probably two or three a week. On days where there was ship in port there were many vendors around the dock and much more activity in town. Something to either see or avoid, depening on your preferences. If you stay in a centrally located resort in town and use the in-town dive operations, you may not need a rental car. Most people, however, will probably end up renting a car for at least part of the time.
Getting there (and back)
I wanted to use Delta frequent flyer miles to get us to Bonaire, but could only get ‘close’. By using Delta "Sky Choice" award tickets, we were able to get to Aruba. (Don’t get me started on what I think of Delta’s FF seat allocations…) So we took Delta to Aruba and then a new airline, Bonaire Excel, from Aruba to Bonaire. Although I had heard some bad stories about Bonaire Excel’s startup, our flights were on time and comfortable using modern equipment (ATRs). On the return trip on saturday via Aurba, the Aruba airport was a true madhouse. Looonnnggg lines everywhere. It seemed that everyone in Aruba was trying to leave that day. The only good thing is that Delta did upgrade us to first class on the way back. I guess they felt a little guilty about how many FF miles the trip costs us.
Snorkeling
Bonaire is known mostly for its’ diving and snorkeling spots. Unlike most islands with diving spots, almost all of the Bonaire dive (and snorkeling) locations can be reached from the shore; no boat required. Dive and snorkel locations are marked with yellow rocks along the road and there are several maps available that list all the dive locations, their characteristics, and their name (which is painted on the yellow rocks). Once you understand how it works, you can easily locate any of the eighty-some dive spots. However, the same characteristics that make shore dives possible also mean that there are essentially no soft sandy beaches. All beaches we saw are really hard rocks and coral. Getting into the water was sometimes a challange. But once in the water, there were very nice reefs and coral areas. The sea floor seemed to drop off very close to shore, so the transition from shallow to deep was within easy snorkeling distance.

For SCUBA divers there are a large number of dive shops and outfitters. If you don’t have (or take) your own snorkle gear, there are numerous snorkle tours available which will provide the equipment. The only real ‘caution’ is that there appears to be a problem with locals breaking into cars parked at the more remote dive spots. The general suggestion os to not take anything valuable and leave the car unlocked so it is not "broken" into.

The Windsurfing
We went mainly for the windsurfing, so how was it?? In a word, great…. People who had been there for a while said that there had been virtually no wind for the previous two weeks. The week we were there, there was reasonable to good wind every day, for at least part of the day. Lac Bay is on the eastern end of the island and gets the full force of the trade winds with nothing to get in their way. There is a good reef to cut the swells/waves down to ripples. Much of the bay is shallow, ranging from about 1 ft. to 3 ft, depending on the tide. The water was clear and warm with good areas to start from. There are two outfitters and we used Jibe City, but the other facility looked good also. They offer lessons, but really didn’t seem to have their heart in that activity. The equipment was good, with excellent sail/mast/boom kits and OK, but not great, boards. (I’m just a beginner/intermediate windsurfer, so take this with a grain of salt.) When the wind got good some of the areas got rather busy, with the more experienced windsurfers tending to (unintentionally, I’m sure) intimidate the less experienced with their speed and maneuvers. My impression was that the bay was slightly better for windsurfing than Aruba. The facilities are not quite as nice, but the natural characteristics are better. The only thing that occasionally stopped us (other than lack of wind) was low tide: when the tide was low, some of the bay was just too shallow to sail across without dragging your fin. 90% of the time, though, it was great.
Time to eat
As previously mentioned, we ate breakfast at the Kon Tiki and that also provided much of our lunch. We stopped at a local food store and got some crackers and fruit and didn’t buy a normal ‘lunch’ any day. We ate dinner at the KonTiki three nights and it was very good. Other nights we went into the main town, Kralendijk, and found places to eat. We never had a ‘bad’ meal, and they ranged from ‘respectable’ (at a Mexican food place) to very good (at an Italian restaurant). Prices were reasonable; certainly not ‘cheap’, but very little more than we would pay at comparable restaurants in the US, and much less than, for example, Grand Cayman. Most meals for two, with a glass of wine or a beer apiece, ran around $40 to $50. The emphasis is naturally on fresh fish. One evening while eating at the City Grill a truck stopped in front and the guys got out and pulled three large, very(!) fresh, fish (Wahoo?) out of the back of the truck and carried them into the kitchen.
Excellent snorkeling from the shore
Hotel The Reef Resort
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FrancoisManonCanada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2007 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Here is the report from our latest trip to Grand Cayman, long and detailed as those I like to read and rely on before booking anything. My wife and I are now avid snorkelers and the main purpose of the trip was relaxation with a focus on snorkeling from the shore as much as possible. This was a first for us in the Carribean islands, that is after over 15 trips,this was not booked as an all-inclusive. The airline tickets and hotel/resort booking was done through Travelocity.ca . Last year we used Expedia .ca and had good service but we preferred the Travelocity experience of this year, sort of a feeling of " being well cared for" . We flew, without any problems, with American Airlines from Montreal(6:30 am) to Miami(10:00am) with a connection to Grand Cayman, arriving at 2:00pm. After clearing Customs we hustled to the car rental(AVIS) agency close by the airport to get a Daihatsu Charade(sub-compact), that was reserved through the concierge service of the Reef Resort(very reliable and problem free). The cost was a total of $347US(everything included-taxes, insurance, driving license) for the whole week, plus about $25US for gas. Although the car was small, it was all we needed and would recommend using AVIS as the return of the car was one of the easiest I have known. So after packing the luggage in that car, off we go but… Grand Cayman is a British island and the steering wheel is on the right side, and you drive on the left side of the road and the moment we left the parking lot it started to rain, no, it started to pour down so hard that the water accumulated 6 inches deep in most of the streets . It makes for a pretty hectic start, especially when, even with maps, you are not too sure where you are heading… Luckily this hard downpour lasted only 15 minutes, and by the time we got to the Reef Resort , everything was dry with the sun shining.
Babylon Reef/Queen’s Monument
We tried to snorkel this area but had a hard time to find the right entry spot. We were back from Rum Point and stopped at what I thought was the location just east of Old Man Bay (no signs here…) but there was not a lot to see except lots of fan corals(green) and a mostly sandy bottom with just a few fish species. I’m sure that we didn’t have the right entry point or didn’t head out in the right direction. Better luck next time..(or get better directions…).
Beaches
The beach at the Reef Resort is made of nice white powdered sand and is very clean and well kept. Lost of chairs and not many people, and no music or noise of any kind. Very relaxing. If you want to swim into the ocean, there is a lot of rocks and see grass but there is two spots of about 30 or 40 feet wide where it is mostly sand but good water shoes are recommended. Other beaches we were at : Seven Mile Beach( where there is parking and a nice playground for young kids near the Harbour Heights condos), Cemetary Beach, Rum Point, Kaibo Beach, Ivory Kai. The first three are very nice, with nice white powder sand nice blue waters. The last two, are still nice for relaxing on the beach but not so nice for swimmimg into the ocean. At Ivory Kai there is just about only seegrass in the water but if you get in with water shoes waist deep you can find numerous starfish. Nice experience in a remote area. I have to mentionned that we were in GC for snorkeling and although the beaches seemed nice, we didn’t go swimming at any of these beaches. We would put on our fins and mask and go out snorkeling, so we didn’t pay any attention to rocks or grass in the shallow waters of these beaches….
Cemetary Reef
Coming back from the Cracked Conch, we stopped at the Cemetary Beach(yes, right by a nice cemetary nicely decorated with flowers on all tombs). The beach is very nice with fabulous views of Seven Mile Beach but we immediately got the fins on and swam out a bit(maybe 500 to 1000 feet) from shore and got to very nice coral formations and stangely found out after a while that numerous fishes were following us( mostly Bermuda chubs) in our snorkeling trek… probably because these fishes are used to be fed by the snorkelers. A strange feeling as when you were going about the different coral heads and you would suddenly look back and you could see all these fishes following you….
Compass Point/Ocean Frontiers
This is a boat outing that we booked with Ocean Frontiers, a well trusted dive shop operating out of Compass Point located approx. a 10 minute drive from the Reef Resort. This outing was $35US per person and consisted of a three stop snorkeling excursion on Sunset Reef and two other reefs (I don’t recall the exact names) that were located inside the barrier reef close by the Wreck of the Ten Sails. We got onto a pontoon type boat with 8 snorkelers on board, with an excellent guide. The first two sites had views of a huge anchor from the Wreck of the Ten Sails, a more recent sailboat wreck and all that in about 20-30 feet deep water with the nice coral heads getting at about 5-6 feet from the surface. Saw lots of parrotfishes, stingrays, french angelfishes , queen angelfish etc… The third stop was along the barrier reef in very shallow waters(2-4 feet at times) with nice "swiss cheese"like coral formations with nice schools of blue tangs, french angel fishes. My wife saw a green moray but I didn’t get to see it… In between snorkeling sites they would provide cold water bottles and freshly cutted oranges to everyone, a nice touch. Also, when you get on a boat outing like this one, you will notice that the people onboard are a lot more serious at snorkeling/diving than say an outing to Stingray Sandbar. Very good dive shop to deal with, I would recommend them strongly.
Conclusion
Grand Cayman was a very nice place with excellent snorkeling from the shore. We did, at times, snorkeled or swam out quite a bit from the shore. This type of snorkeling is defenitely not for beginners and you need to be a decent swimmer and boost your courage a little bit. If the surf had been rougher, we probalby would not have ventured out that much… People are very friendly all around the island and please do rent a car to explore the numerous beaches even if you are not snorkeling. It does take time to get use to driving on the left(and yes you will activate the wipers instead of the flashers). The Reef Resort itself is very nice, quiet, well maintained with excellent staff and service(except for dinner service on Valentine’s Day..) It is in a remote area, so you will even like it better if you rent a car. If we had to go again, we would probably try to find a place closer to Rum Point(within walking distance if possible) but we would still rent a car for exploring the other spots of the island. Restaurants on the island are expensive but if you do your homework and check out info before you head out, you can manage . The island itself is very clean, but the vegetation is scarce, (do not expect lush tropical rain forest type vegetation) and we did notice damages to shores and houses from the last hurricane. But it made for a really nice week, easy to drive roads(especially out of town) to some of the best snorkeling we have experienced so far.
Cracked Conch:(near Turle Farm)
We left out stuff on the chairs at the Macabuca Bar, adjacent to the Cracked Conch restaurant, and got in the water easily from the ladder close by. We snorkeled alond the rock formations along the water’s edge and swam out a bit to the vertical drop. Nice views with lots of fishes. We met with a couple from Long Island, New York(in their seventies) that snorkeled the same area. We chatted about their snorkeling experience in GC and they directed us to Cemetary Reef and mentionned not to hesitate to swim out a bit before you hit the better coral formations…
Eden Rock
Right into Georgetown before getting to the cruise ship piers. You will notice the dive shop with the "diving apple" sign. You can get easily in the water directly from the ladder and go to the buoys. Nice big coral formation with vertical drops and quickly get to over 60 feet deep of water. Lots of fish, hung around with a turtle for about 10 minutes(very nice) and saw stingrays. A few small jellyfishes but didn’t bother us.
Hotel/Resort
The Reef Resort is located in the East End of the island in the area of Colliers Bay and it takes about 50 minutes for the drive, which is mostly along the southern and eastern coastline. The Reef Resort is a condo/timeshare type of hotel with all of the units or suites being oceanfront. Registration at the reception area was quick and simple. We booked for the simple ocean studio suite, which was on the third floor of the farthest of the buildings, but just a minute walk to the lobby/reception area. The suite was new, spotlessly clean and well furnished with a small kitchenette(small refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, toaster and dinerware/ustensils/glasses/wine glasses etc.. for two persons). Our first batch of coffee took over 2 hours but the coffee maker was replaced promptly as soon we asked for a replacement. The view form the balcony was fabulous , especially for watching the sunrises. Exceptional. The decor of the room was modern and minimalist. The balcony was shared with the adjacent unit, but luckily the unit was not occupied during our stay. If the unit had been occupied, it would have made it a lot less private and we surely would not have appreciated. In fact, the resort was probably half full at the most. Definitely no crowds at this place. The Resort consists of three large buildings for the suites, one large buidling for the reception, restaurant, stores , all directly along the beach within 75 feet from the water’s edge. There is two restaurants, the Castro’s Hideaway Restaurant and the Beach Bar. The grounds are very well kept although the palm trees and flowers are still small. As mentionned before, it is very quiet all around the resort. In daytime, there was maybe 15 to 20 people max on the beach. There is two swimming pools , a bigger one close by the neighboring Morritt’s Resort, and a smaller one with Jacuzzi near our suite. Just about nobody in the pools. In the evening there would be more people in the upstairs restaurant and at the bar, but except for Valentine’s day, no real crowds. No real activities of any kind or even noise or music (no volley-ball, aerobics etc…) although we saw a few people play tennis. Near the reception area there is a well equippped dive shop runned by Ocean Frontiers and a small liquor store/internet café, the Thirsty Surfer. Also in the lobby, are usually two concierge desk ready to help you with any thing you would want to do, book, try, etc… on the island. Excellent service with very good advices on everything you want to know around the island.
Note
Wherever we got to snorkel out of a dive shop(Eden Rock, Sunset House, Cracked Conch, Rum Point, etc..) we didn’t hesitate to ask about snorkeling pointers and safety tips to the young dudes at the counter and all of these were very gentle and talkative about their snorkeling or dive spot. That was very nice. Also, we felt maybe a bit lucky throughout our snorkeling week as The Ocean Frontiers guide mentionned that the wind was unusually down for this time of the year. A lot of times in winter, GC has what they call a Norwester(I think), a prevailing wind from the North West that makes a lot of places in the East End of the island subject to much bigger waves, therefore making snorkeling more difficult. But for us, all of the places we snorkeled the water were very calm to calm, with minimal waves. The only place we really felt a current was in front of the Reef Resort!
Other
We didn’t hang out much in Georgetown except for a few stops for souvenir shopping. We did stop at Butterfly Farm, near the Marquee Cinema. This farm is an enclosed area with nets and is setted up like a botanical garden with lots of beautiful butterflies wandering around you and landing on different flowers or feeding stands installed. Yo can watch Blue Morphos, Monarchs, and other types of butterflies from around the world. It makes for a very nice and relaxing stop between snorkeling outings. The fee is about $15US per person but you get a good 3/4 hour briefing on butterflies, chrysalids, moths and cocoons with explanations and numerous specimens of all of these. You can easily spend over an hour watching all the butterflies going aroung. They even give you water as it can get a little hot in the middle of the day… We also stopped over at the Antica Gelateria(near the Marquee cinema) for a gelatto( sort of italian ice cream). A very nice treat after lenghthy snorkeling.
Restaurants & Bars
As I mentionned earlier, this was not an all inclusive, and we were a little apprehensive as we knew restaurants could be expensive on the island. We had our first breakfast at the Reef restaurant, on the balcony and the food was very good with excellent service. Still we decided to make our own little breakfast, each morning, on our own balcony. There is a well stocked IGA/Foster’s Grocery store, just across the street from the Reef Resort, where you can buy anything you want to feed you. The suites being oceanfront, we found that having a breakfast consisting of toasts with fresh fruits coupled with lots of coffee and juices right on the balcony watching the sun rising up over the ocean to gentle sound of small waves was a cherished moment as we were also planning the snorkeling for the day… But when we are on vacation, we don’t like to cook at all so we had all of our lunches and dinners at restaurants all around over the island depending on where we were snorkeling. We had lunches at Over the Edge(12 minutes drive from the Reef ), Kaibo Beach Bar, EATS( in Georgetown), Macabuca Bar( adjacent to Cracked Conch near the Turtle Farm), Vivine’s Kitchen(10 minutes from the Reef). For dinner, we had a few directly at the Reef Resort Beach Bar Restaurant, but we also tried Over the Edge, Portofino’s Wreck View( 5 minutes from the Reef). At the Reef we preferred having dinner at the Beach Bar outside where you could order from the lunch menu. At the inside restaurant upstairs, you had to order from the dinner menu which was more expensive. Food at the Reef was very good with good service except on Valentine’s day where we had almost a 3 hours wait for our order. The Resort is staffed for being half booked. This Valentine’s evening was full pack and there were understaffed and it was not very pleasant. At the Inside restaurant, the Barefoot Man is playing on tuesdays and was there at Valentine’s day. We didn’t see BFM as we didn’t care for any nightly entertainment. The food and service were very good at any place we ate, but our favorite was definitely Over The Edge, where the fish and shrimps were excellent. Portofino’s was also very good(I tried the turtle steak) but a bit pricier. In general, we could always find a good meal with drinks for two for$20-$30US(breakfast) and $30 to $40 US(lunch or dinner), but you can easily get to $150US if you get a little fancier…(especially at dinner). It happened twice at restaurants( i.e Over the Edge) to be greated at the door by a drunk man that we initially thought was the owner but don’t be scared, go through the bar at entrance and you will reach the terrace restaurant that’s "over the edge" of water…

One evening, coming back from Georgetown after a day of snorkeling, we stopped over at Hurley’s grocery store in Grand Harbour. This grocery store is even better than Foster’s as they have a custom sandwich station, cooked meals and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We came back with a rotisserie chicken with rice&beans, plantain, greek salad and had a very nice candlelight dinner on our balcony. If you are thinking about stocking heavily or preparing more meals, definitely go at Hurley’s. As for bars , the drinks and cocktails are on the expensive side at most bars around the island, including the Castro’s beach bar at the Reef, you can expect to pay around $6.00 US for a beer and about $11.00US for a drink like margarita or tequila sunrise. We had brought from home, tequila and gin to fix our own drinks to sip on our balcony, and we bought beer and soft drinks/mix at Thirsty Surfer that we packed with water and soft drinks and ice in a foldable cooler for taking out in our snorkeling adventures around the island.

Rum Point
A well groomed beach with beach chairs, hammocks, picnic tables, restaurants, bars, souvenir shop and dive shop, with lots of trees for shade. No fees for use of the chairs or hammocks but they ask you not to bring any outside food or beverages. We walked about 5 minutes to the right (when facing the pier) and swam out quite a bit (about 1000-1500 feet) to the coral formations and we swam in what would be a big quadrant around the pier and then back to the pier. And we had a blast. Very colorful coral formations with many queen angelfishes, french angelfishes, grey angelfishes, huge parrotfishes, squirrelfishes, spiny lobsters, sort of a never ending display of sea life. We would be going out snorkeling for about one to one and a half hour at a time. Getting back to the beach we would reward ourselves with a nice cocktail from the bar(at $10US apiece..ouch..) but they were very tasty with high content of the "hard stuff". We would usually get to Rum Point Beach at about 9:00 am and we were just about the first ones on site. As the day progresses, cruise ship people and island tourists start to arrive, making the place a lot more lively(there are activities available), but we never felt any real crowding and the place was always relaxing(no loud music). We spent another half day at Rum Point to repeat the snorkeling as this turned out to be our favorite spot on the island.
Snorkeling
This was the main reason for this trip and boy did we get what we were looking for. I had gathered a lot of info about snorkeling locations in GC from various web sites( as GC is just about surrounded by coral reefs) and it helped immensely in selecting the sites to snorkel. We started out directly on the beach of the Reef Resort. The reef is a little bit out and the currents can be relatively strong even on a non-windy day. So we stayed close to shore, not a lot of coral, but a lot of rock formations and a few fishes like peacock flounder, bar jacks, blue tangs, french grunts, palometas, sergeant majors, puffy fish,etc… Most of the fishes will gather just underneath the Reef Resort pier and you can usually see a 4 feet barracuda hanging around as well as many tarpons. Water is not that clear because of the waves but you can get real close to all of these fish species.
Stingray Sandbar
We did Stingray Sandbar with Captain Marvin outlet located in the Cayman Falls (small stripped mall). We wanted to do the Stingray thing on Sunday as there is not a lot of people, only certain operators are allowed(locals I think) to go to the Stingray Sandbar or Stingray City. We boarded a comfortable boat and were about 24 people aboard but never felt crowded. We started by doing stops at Coral Gardens and the Barrier Reef for snorkeling before hitting the sandbar. Both places had nice snorkeling. Coral Gardens had nice coral heads and numerous fishes in about 15 -20 feet deep water but we preferred the Barrier Reef as it was shallower and had more colorful sights and fishes( saw a nice trumpet fish standing still vertically imitating a soft coral…). When you reach the Sandbar, you get in the water without fins in waist deep and immediately the stingrays starts circling you and then rub your legs in search for food. You can pet them, touch their backs and bellys but do not worry they will not hurt you and the guides tell you everything you want to know about the Stingrays. They even will handle a few Stingrays and show them up close(their mouth, thier tail with the sting…yes…) and even make you kiss the Stingray as it is supposed to bring you good luck! Although we are just crazy about snorkeling and seeing as much sealife as we can, we didn’t like the feeling of being touched by the stingrays but it did made for wonderful uderwater pics and video shots. Definitely a must do and the Capt. Marvin team was very good, except for reef protection. They didn’t advise about reef protection and there were a lot of people new to snorkeling and it was just horrifying to see the damages caused by the inexperienced snorkelers hitting the reefs with their fins, standing on the coral heads and so on . Just a note to tell you that Stingray Sandbar is the snorkeling version of Stingray City, which is the scuba diving version. The Sandbar, Coral Gardens and Barrier Reef is located just off the Rum Point area so if I was to repeat the excursion, I would prefer going out from the Rum Point or Kaibo Beach area as you don’t have to cross the whole North Sound to get to the snorkeling areas and the stingrays…
Sunset House
A diver’s resort, a little bit before you get into Georgetown coming from the East End. We wanted to see the mermaid, a bronze sculptur fixed to the bottom of the sea. Easy access as you get into the water from a ladder and an easy swim to the buoys. The mermaid is in about 50-60 feet deep of water so for snorkelers it is not easy to find(ask the dive shop for directions) and if you find it, the views are deceiving as your as too far above. The rest of the snorkeling is average, again because the bottom gets deep rapidly and limits your views of the coral formations…
Snorkeling was awesome
Hotel Breezes Resort Spa & Casino Curacao
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Brenda >  8 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2009
I had been to Curacao once before and stayed at Sunset Waters. We enjoyed Sunset Waters at the time, but in recent years the price had gone up there out of range and we’d heard it wasn’t as good as when we were there. The Sunquest package for Breezes was affordable so we decided to go there this trip. To sum up before I start giving details, the resort was much better than I’d anticipated. Better food, nicer rooms, nicer beach and better snorkeling than I’d expected. Now for the details.

Rooms – we had a room in Flamingo wing. It’s the building furthest from the main pool. It was very quiet, not crowded (tons of empty loungers on the beach even when it was busy), nicest pool. Drawbacks to Flamingo wing were longer walk to restaurants and lobby and no pool bar for refreshments. However, closest bar was in Pelican wing, right next door. The rooms themselves were reasonably spacious, much better than other rooms I’ve been in. The room had just been updated with new paint. Bathroom, while not spacious, was beautiful, marble countertops with bowl basin on top of counter. Glass walk-in shower. Our room had a large flat screen tv on the wall, but can’t say channel selection was great. Not a biggie after all, you have the Caribbean and beach right out your doorstep!

Beach and pools – Pools were immaculate. Main pool is more like a river – very narrow and broken up by various "things" – islands, pool table, fountains, tables, stools etc. Pool at Pelican wing also broken up into smaller sections. Pool at Flamingo wing is the most open and quiet. Beach had reportedly just gotten new sand and it was very nice. Beach was clean – never saw any litter at the Flamingo end. Beach was a bit crowded near the main pool and the snack bar.

Buffet – well, let me just say anyone who complains about the food at the buffet restaurant is out of their cotton picking mind!! The food was great. My only complaint – and its minor – is not a lot of vegetables. Lots of meat dishes – almost every meal had selections of chicken, beef, fish and pork. Sometimes lamb, sometimes goat stew (which is the national dish by the way). Often prawns and calamari. Always rice, pasta and potatoes of some sort. Desserts were plentiful – cheesecake, layer cakes, cookies, and ice cream (best I’ve ever had to be truthful!). Cappuccino machine was always on at breakfast and dinner and I used it a lot. Service was almost always fantastic. There were a few nights where there were glitches in the service – one night when a large group of women came in for a conference, and then just a couple of nights when the wait staff couldn’t get their act together. However, that being said, the service was much, much better than most other buffets I’d been to and it was always pleasant with genuine smiles and greetings.

Ala carte – we did the Munasan Japanese restaurant. The food was good, however the night we went the service was very slow. No desserts there and we were still a bit hungry when we were finished, so we went to the buffet afterwards for coffee and dessert. Pastafari – food was very good, service a bit slow, but nothing to complain about. Only problem there was huge line-up at the salad bar – too many people trying to go through it all at once. We didn’t bother with the BBQ ala carte because by then we were just pleased with the buffet food.

Entertainment – for the most part was good, albeit spotty, time-wise. The three sax players (on different nights) were all good. The second sax player was the best musician, but all were good entertainers. The steel pan player was barely audible over the congo drums, but was also good. Nothing ever seemed to happen with guest/staff talent night. There was one night, I think Wednesdays, that all the ala cartes are open and the pool deck is loaded with people. The entertainment on that night was great and it was like a big party atmosphere.

Snorkeling – was awesome. There is no reef as some people had said – unless you go outside the breakwaters. The days that we were there were a little too rough for our comfort to go outside the lagoon. If you do want to venture out, it’s advised to check with the dive shop as to currents for that day as there can be rip currents in the area. The breakwater has an abundance of sea life to view. We saw thousands of tangs, grunts, goatfish, yellow-tailed snappers and tetras. We also saw at least 3 puffer fish, 4 morays, an octopus, a barracuda, schools of halfbeaks (some people call them needlefish) and zillions of red-lipped blennies.

Children and activities – the resort is definitely family friendly. There were tons of kids there. The climbing wall never seemed to be used and the skating rink wasn’t really useable (and who wants to go skating anyway?). There were lots of pool activities, a giant chess board, shuttle boards, bikes, a game room (with the arcade type games), ping pong tables, water bikes, kayaks, hobie rides and more. Lots for kids to do. There is a spa and a gym as well. Also a small library to leave/take books in the TV room in the lobby. The gift shop is okay. More expensive than town, which is usual and didn’t seem to be restocked very often, but did have a few choices and necessities.

Minor glitches

– our toilet plugged the first night but maintenance people were there within a few minutes to unplug. – security guards at the flamingo end were often not attentive enough and we frequently had local invaders in the pool that would sneak around the wall – minor workmanship issues with the room, but nothing that was a problem – check-in was not very efficient, but not time consuming

Impressive extras – twice had supervisor types knock on our door and check that everything was okay

– a personal letter from the hotel manager asking if our room was satisfactory – iced tea on request in the buffet restaurant – servers around the main pool deck after dinner to get drinks – cappuccino machine was an unexpected bonus

Food was great
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
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Wes from Calgary >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2009
Rooms: Rooms were very clean, a bit out dated and the beds were a little hard but I guess thats normal for Cuba, Very pleased with the cleanleness of the rooms. House keeping made the room up in diff. ways all week.

Restaurants and Bars:v Food was great always a meal or snack at all times of day or night. Iam a very pickey eater and I had no prob. finding something I liked buffet was diff. every time/day

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

Beach was perfect,great snorkeling right of the beach, brought buns and bread from buffet to feed the fish they loved it they come right up to your hands to eat. spectacular sand and crystal clean waters….

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

We went on the Holguin tour including tour of cigar factory mountain lunch and hour of free time in downtown Holguin. Very interesting and worth every penny, We also did the swimming with the dolphins now that is a must do… it also included a great peace of coral for an awesome snoreling adventure, very much worth the money..

The swimming and snorkeling is excellent
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
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Raine from Nova Scotia >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
Arrival: April 18-26 We had the VIP package so our check in was quick and easy. There was a minor wait with the regular line, but nothing worth talking about.

Rooms:

Rooms were spotless, the hotel is a little tired but the rooms are very clean. The beds are hard and the pillows are tiny, but we slept anyway because we were busy all day.

Restaurants and Bars:

The beach restaurant and pool bar had great hamburgers and fries. The buffet has lots to eat, with a turkey or ham or pork roast freshly carved every evening and a pasta bar. On Cuba night, try the Cuba soup…very yummy! Their breads are to die for…very fresh and tastey. Breakfast is the usual, bacon, eggs, cereal, breads, pancakes, salad, fruit, yogurt, cheeze. Always found something to eat.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

Sat at the pool for about an hour in the evening but didn’t swim in it. Looked very clean. The ocean beach is the nicest we have been to. Minimal waves and a spot to snorkel. Lots of fish to watch. There is a little coral and rocks on the beach so wear beach shoes in the water. No seaweed whatsoever. The hotel grounds are also kept very clean and plants are manicured. There is a problem with shade on the beach. The hotel is trying to make some palapas for shade but are having trouble getting palms for the roof (or thats what I was told). The little shades at the pool, are too small. They don’t provide much shade but there are trees to sit under for shade.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

There is a team of entertainers on the resort, they have beach volleyball, archery, shooting, pool volleyball, aquafit classes which we watched but didn’t participate in. There are kayaks on the beach as well as paddle boats, but you must reserve them early and they are booked for an hour so they aren’t available all the time. The catamaran rides are included but are hit and miss. The person with the jug of beer and pocket full of money gets a ride first, even if you booked. I should add that we didn’t use the catamarans because we have a boat at home and we were there to relax, so it didn’t matter if we got on the hobie cats or not, so this is an unbiased report.

Other Comments:

This was our second time at the BCV, and we found the first trip much better. Service was slow, and we tipped. The lack of shade on the beach is a problem for us. We don’t like to bake, and if you didn’t get to the beach before 7am, you didn’t get shade. The swimming and snorkeling is excellent. There is security everywhere, and we left our bags with cameras etc on the beach and they weren’t touched. Food is average. Rooms are clean. We had a good time but probably won’t go back to the Blau.

We also went ‘snorkeling! That was great fun!
Hotel Sol Río de Luna y Mares Resort
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Lorie >  1 contribution(s) 
Apr, 2009
You had me at ‘Hola’… Arrived back to a really damp and rainy Nova Scotia after a week at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares at noon today, so before I completely slide into a two day crash, I’ll relay my experience and hopefully it will be useful. We were trying to decide where to spend a week. That was all we had. I’ve only been to Cuba once, spending much more time in Mexico and South America. I knew Guadalavaca was a beautiful area and not quite as ‘slick’ as Veradero and after some resort research, I decided on Luna y Mares. For one thing, it seemed like the resort had huge personality and I really liked what travellers from my area were saying about the staff and management. As an aside, somebody in another review mentioned a ‘cookie cutter’ vacation, and in my opinion that’s a good representation of the experience you’ll have in Orlando or Las Vegas, or even Cancun, which is sort of like Miami. You’ll rarely see a bug, and essentially enjoy completely sterile and pristine accommodations. Staff will be efficient and professional and friendly, and you’ll be blown away by Hollywood and Broadway style stage shows… and what’s not to like about that? If that’s what you want. For us, it’s about the experience. Because, on a ‘cookie cutter holiday’ you’ll rarely find a housekeeping staffer who throws her arms around you after the second day of cleaning your room, telling you tales about life in her country and displaying genuine interest in life in yours, nor will you often find a bartender making impassioned salient points about why Che Guevera is a hero and ‘descamisado’ and will never die in the eyes of many Cuban people.

So, ahem… after that fairly lengthy prelude, I’ll give you the goods, as I saw them!

Mr. Barcelona (we learned his name was Ferran, an hour before we left!) cropped up everywhere too. I’d see him conferring in the early morning hours with his manager, while walking the property, and later clearing glasses from a table if the wait staff were swamped and once high fiving a bartender on the way through the bar. It really made me happy to see “Mr. B” high fiving his staff, because after a day or two in dealing with the front line staff, it’s evident that life for them in Cuba is not the same as life for us. For example, we have no problem buying aspirin, buying a pound of hamburger, and many things we take for granted are just beyond their reach, economically. That’s one reason, I think it assuaged my conscience to see that their managers treated them with respect. I went so far as to ask Rosa, the ‘housecleaning diplomat’ if the General Manager was a good boss. If she had been disparaging, I naturally wouldn’t have given her up- but she wasn’t. She said he had very high standards and wanted the hotel to be excellent. A worthy answer I thought. Last evening, we had grilled lobster at a table by ourselves outside the international restaurant. It overlooked Playa Esmerelda; there was no wind, and the moon was almost full. The lobster was grilled, and served with a pepper mayonnaise, ceasar salad and a French onion soup that was as delicious as any I’ve had anywhere. For dessert, I had flan with coconut ice cream, and then we watched the water ballet show. I can’t see how our last evening could have been better. I am grateful I don’t have ready access to that coconut ice cream here in NS. I don’t want to be mistaken for the rare Albino Northern Porpoise on my next trip!! Three last things

1. Second morning out, I got sunstroke. We were on the beach for two hours and I had a hat on. No booze. Really, violently ill and dizzy.l Had to go back to our room, and lay down for almost 24 hours. Be really careful of the sun.

2. We bought some beautiful end tables from a vendor at the hotel. Very nice man. They had fish swimming through sea grass and customs confiscated them because he used seeds for the fish eyes that are poisonous. Apparently it permeates the wood. There’s no way he would know we’d have an issue, but make sure you check because we could easily have taken them out and replaced them with something here.

3. If anyone wants more details or has questions, we’d be delighted to try and answer them. princessfubar@hotmail.com

As for a return visit, bring it!

Hasta luego…

We flew Transat Holidays and arrived at the ungodly hour of 4 am last Sunday, April 5. I was far too excited to sleep and after getting our room ( more later) prowled around the resort for an hour to check out the lay of the land. My excuse for this pre dawn explorative quest, was that I was hungry and wanted a burger- a blatant lie—I was waaay to excited to eat it, but we did get one on the Luna all night snack bar. We were served by an amiable if somewhat sleepy bartender. I didn’t have any tip money so I gave him some sun glasses, which I felt was good and proper. Anyone I ask to cook for me at 5 am deserves something, don’t you think? The hamburger was good. It tasted a lot like my mother’s to tell the truth, and the fries were delicious! After the burger, I had no more excuse not to retire for the remainder of the night, so off we went to room 4009 on the Mares side, overlooking the pool and the ocean. It was big and it was spotless, and it was COLOURFUL! To me, it embodied the Caribbean in a blend of turquoise, pale orange, burgundy and white—a combination that I wouldn’t have thought stunning, but was. The beds were two singles pushed together. Very comfortable. There were extra blankets in the closet, and water in the small fridge. The bathroom was large with a tub and shower, toilet and bidet; sort of a cool European touch, I thought. Everything worked perfectly. The room fixtures were not brand new. It was not the Hilton or the Hampton Inn. I thought it was better. Sunday am, we staggered off to the Transat Orientation before 10. The Transat Rep was informative knowledgeable, and remained extremely accessible all week. During orientation, the hotel’s food and beverage manager introduced himself, welcomed us, but we didn’t catch his name; only that he was from Spain, so we nicknamed him Mr. Barcelona!

Tromping back to our room on the way to the beach, we met our housekeeper. Her name was Rosa Carmina- and we completely fell in love. She told me with complete sincerity, that the most important thing for her was that my holiday be happy and stress free. I gaped. I couldn’t help it, but she meant it, and though I’m not sure I deserve it, such was the level of her professionalism. She was incredibly funny and, intelligent- and a way of connecting with people instantly. I don’t mean that housekeeping staff shouldn’t be / aren’t intelligent, but it occurred to me after several conversations with her that the country would be better served with Rosa in a diplomatic capacity. She hopes to finish up her degree in the fall, and I can’t help but think her talents are a bit wasted making ducks out of towels, sporting sunglasses and scarves (although the one she did for me looked uncannily like a great aunt I had that died last year!)

We had opportunity to speak with Carlos Freeman, the Maitre’De, and he told us, he had spent the last several months preparing for the opening of the restaurant, ensuring that the ambiance be perfect, his staff highly trained in both food and wine pairings as well. While the other a la cartes were excellent within the resort, Carlos and his staff’s culinary efforts, I believe will make his restaurant many guests first choice. Plus, Carlos is a great conversationalist and host. We felt really privileged to attend the opening. The Colon Buffet is large and varied. The name still cracks me up, even if it is Columbus in Spanish—no doubt that show’s my level of maturity. Seriously, if you can’t find something to eat there, you’re not hungry. It has a huge selection and the food is very good. It’s been covered in many reviews. My biggest regret is that I saw a pig roasted on a spit and it looked delicious! We went to the French Restaurant that night, so I missed Porky Pig- much to my dismay! This is getting lengthy, so I’ll try and summarize a bit. We took a horse and buggy to the mini zoo. Our driver’s name began with a G, I believe, but his horse was named Hurricane. He was a lot of fun! He talked in broken English; I in broken Spanish and once in a while we understood each other. Once we got to the Mini Zoo- Rob, the handler took us around to all of the animals, and ‘G’ was so interested, he decided to come with us. We got up close and personal with an African Turtle named Paca, and went in an iguana’s cage named Marisa and scratched her under the chin. ‘I mention G and Hurricane in particular, because we took a horse and buggy into Guadalavaca the day before and our driver was dour and incommunicative and wouldn’t even try to converse with me in my horrible Spanish. I know it must be frustrating but it’s a bit deflating. I’d much rather take another trip with G and Hurricane. The mini zoo doesn’t seem to publicized well, and it’s really worth the trip. You could walk it or take a bike. It’s not far at all. We also went ‘snorkeling! That was great fun! Close to the Rio D’Oro, we even saw what we think was a tuna. If you have your own gear, that might be good as it’s very popular and might not be available when you want it. The hotel entertainment was also great fun! Very talented entertainment staff were able to engage a large range of ages and cultural tastes effectively. I also loved the music. I’m really glad not to hear hip hop blaring through the speakers by the pool. It’s not that I mind hip hop (although I’d prefer Nickelback- I’d just really rather hear local music) and that was phenomenal. The bar staff at 1492 was excellent! Dania (daytime) is very charismatic, and is able to make each patron feel like they were the most important in the world. That’s a gift when you’re not always respected by vacationers. It’s likely evident, that we, like many people grew very attached to people in a very short time. My partner gave away his ipod. No coercion, or manipulation by anyone. I was proud that he did it.

I had read that Mohamed Fawzi, the General Manager of the hotel was extremely competent, as well as customer oriented, and that was evident quickly. I had the pleasure of speaking to him briefly. I’ve never seen management as visible or conscientious about performance and quality control in a resort. It appeared that at least several managers put in at least a 16 hour day in the trenches interacting with their guests, and there seemed little Mohamed wasn’t on top of.

We were extremely fortunate to receive an invitation to the new French Restaurant (Bistrau ) on it’s opening night, and it was one of the most delicious meals we’ve ever had anywhere in the world. No joke. There were a group of Health Care Workers from NS at the next table, and we overheard them trying to estimate how much the meal would have cost in Halifax. Possibly $300 a couple with wine; at least that was our guess. I was able to snag a copy of the menu, so here it is, although it will no doubt vary.

Appetizers

Nicoise Salad with Tuna Duet of Asparagus with Citrus Cream Smoked Salmon Plate Champagne Pate with Cognac

Soups

French Onion Soup Lobster Bisque with Armagnac

Entrees

Salmon Steak, with Creamed Dill and Fried Vegetables Sauteed Caribbean Prawns with Garlic and Butter Rice Crown Pork Medalions with Matignon Sauce and Potatoes Beef Entrecote with Pepper Sauce and Stuffed Potatoes Chateau Brilliant and their Classic Garnish

Deserts

Lemon Pie Pears Cooked with Red Wine and Vanilla Ice Cream Carmelized Banana Pie Chocolate Mousse There you have it! We had Smoked Salmon Plate and the Lobster Bisque to start. The smoked salmon tasted exactly like home to us (NS) but it was from Chile. Good on the Chileans, I say! The bisque was also delicious! We then had the pork medallions and the beef- both of which were fork tender. For dessert, we had the banana pie and the pears. It was a toss up- but I think I’d choose the pears next time—amazing.

The restaurant is very small, and there were a group of very celebratory French Canadians there as well. They were having a lot of fun, and slightly boisterous, and on the way out, a gentleman with their party congratulated the Maitre’De on the opening and whispered humbly that he hoped he “wasn’t too loud.” I snickered to myself, wondering if he’d ever seen a bunch of Nova Scotians on a rant- Here on the South Shore, we drink Cuba Libras; just without the lime—we call them ‘Dark and Dirtys’! Between the two provinces, no doubt we’d be a force to be reckoned with!

I did a shore dive to a wreck
Hotel Brisas Sierra Mar & Los Galeones
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Kathy from Toronto >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2009
Arrival: March 19 to 26 It was a small group, check in was effortless.

Rooms

OK nothing fancy. Ask for an ocean view. They might upgrade you for free.

Beach/Pools/Grounds

Beach is ok…a little steep and rocky. Dependent on the weather that has gone through. There is one pool, nice, not very deep. It has a swim up pool bar.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

Went horse back riding. Enjoyed it. Went to dive, wasn’t disappointed.

Other Comments

Brisas Sierra Mar, Santiago de Cuba area. March 19 to the 26. I was looking for a cheap/cheerful dive vacation. I paid $745, all in. Booked approx. 4 weeks in advance through the Flight Centre. The attraction for me was that this hotel has a fully operational dive shop. The hotel was operating at approx. 25% occupancy, approx. 100 people were there during my stay, the hotel accommodates 400+. The smaller number suited me. I heard stories of people having to line up to get into the dining room in times past. Crowd tended to be a little older but generally interesting and friendly people. Note to man who worked at nuclear power plant…you really shouldn’t get drunk and talk in a loud voice about the security measures in place at a nuclear power plant…sort of defeats the purpose.

I loved the music at this hotel. Various artists performed nightly in the lobby bar and the show was generally well done. A syncro swimming group performed one night too, what a treat. Tip the artists, they deserve it. Go horseback riding to the falls. It is a good way to spend 2 hours. Take used tack if you have it, one guest did and made a friend for life. I got an ocean view room upgrade, nice. Ask, all they can do is say no. Book a dinner at the Ecological al la carte restaurant. Nice setting. We took the Catamaran tour over to an island and did a dive followed by a nice lobster/seafood lunch. Another nice way to spend a day. My friend got a massage and enjoyed it. I would have but massages get booked up quickly and only seem to happen Mon. Wed. and Fri.

The dive master to diver ratio could have been better. I didn’t like that one dive master took down a family of 4 for their first open water dive. I think a 2/1 ratio was called for. The seasoned divers could largely do their own thing. I did a shore dive to a wreck, the Cristobal Colan from the Spanish American civil war with a another diver staying at the hotel. We paid 40 Cuban pesos for the taxi and extra for the dive. It’s about 80 min. by taxi up the coast. Take fruit, juice etc. from the restaurant, you’ll appreciate having it after the dive. The view was spectacular, the road was horrific. The wreck is an easy swim from shore though the surf can be a challenge. Thank you to Edgar the dive master for good advice, strong arms and for knowing exactly where the wreck was. It was almost freaky!!!

I saw several black lion fish, a large caribbean blue lobster, a large green moray eel, a large grouper and assorted schools of fish. I could identify them with some effort but I’m lazy. Generally I’d say it’s easy, relaxed diving. The reefs have been beat up by recent hurricanes, Mitch hit this area very hard and the people fish close to shore. I’d return happily but not necessarily as a first choice. There are so many other places to visit in this world. Got questions try me at waterwoman2002@hotmail.com I’ll try my best to answer them.

You can snorkel around the rocks in front of the resort
Hotel Coconut Court Beach Hotel
User Rating:  
Donna from Canada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Rooms: The rooms were very basic but clean. All rooms had an ocean view. We stayed on the top floor which had a fabulous view of the ocean. Hot water is heated by solar power so there were some mornings where the water was lukewarm but by the afternoon it was hot. Restaurants and Bars: We ate at the resort twice and the food was excellent. If you don’t want to eat at the resort there are many restaurants and bars around the area that are within walking distance. Breakfast is included but the choice of food is limited. The french toast is great. Beach/Pools/Grounds: The pool is small but it was well maintained. The staff cleaned the beach every day so there was no seaweed on the beach. The beach is well treed so there is always a place in the shade to lounge if you don’t want to sit in the sun. There is a breakwall in front of the resort so the swimming is good. You can snorkel around the rocks in front of the resort and see a number of different fish. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We went on an island tour with Ted’s Tours. It was fantastic. Ted has a wonderful sense of humour and is very knowledgeable about the island. If you don’t want to go on a guided tour, you can take the local bus to anywhere on the island for $1.50 barbados dollars. Other Comments: The resort is on a busy street so there is traffic noise but it isn’t too bad. There are numerous stairs at this resort so if you have mobility problems this is not the resort for you. There is a beautiful boardwalk close to the resort that takes you to the St. Lawrence Gap.

If you want luxury this is not the resort for you, but if you want a clean place to stay that is close to everything this is the place.

My stay at Villa Telamar
Hotel Villas Telamar
User Rating:  
Denis, Ontario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2009
Arrival: Feb 9th to 16 uneventful but no coffee on the plane

Rooms

large room with a king size bed very clean

Restaurants and Bars

very good buffet my wife is a vegetarian and she found food to eat Rolando and Belinda are very nice servers and every one always smiled. the specialty restaurants were ok nothing special but lots of food on your plate.

Beach/Pools/Grounds

my wife enjoyed the water eventhough it was quite rough with the waves I enjoyed a good book.We golfed the 9 hole course the greens were under repair but it will be a nice course when all is done.Dania from Conquest was very helpful and always smiled the poolbar seemed to be the meeting place the bar man Walter was a lot of fun.I would return to this resort in a few years as it matures so much to see and so little time

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

we did do any tours Dania told us of an orphanage down the road and we spent or money in town buying clothes for the kids I needed to relax and rest so thats what we did.

Good value for what we paid
Hotel Holiday Inn Sunspree
User Rating:  
Lee and Mike >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2009
Arrival: July 11-18, 2009 This is a good choice for the budget traveler who does not expect a 5 star resort from a 3 star with 3 star pricing. Our criteria are a clean room with clean linens, good food and friendly staff and the Sunspree met all of these. The hotel is older and is under new ownership and renovations are underway. We stayed in Block #6 (5, 6, and 7 have been renovated or are in the process). It was close to the adult only pool and the quieter section of the beach. Blocks 1-4 are closer to the activities pool, restaurants, etc. Our room was nicely redecorated, but the bathroom was worn and in need of some attention. However, the room was cleaned daily and fresh towels were always provided (even washcloths which are sometimes hard to find in the Caribbean). Shampoo, lotion and soap were provided and replaced as necessary. There was also an iron and ironing board, coffee maker, clock radio and flat screen TV; nice touches for a 3 star hotel.

We enjoyed the variety of Jamaican foods offered at the main buffet restaurant, but if you are not the adventurous type, there was always pasta, pizza, etc at the buffet and lots of other choices (hot dogs, burgers, fries, nachos, etc) at the poolside and oceanfront snack bars. We found the food to be very good and had good service from the staff. There was good jerk chicken, pork, fish, etc available at various times in the main buffet and daily at the Just Kiddn hut across from the watersports booth. We ate once at the Jamaican a la carte and enjoyed the food and service there. The only complaints were the blaring Michael Bolton music played there and the dribbling of basketballs on the adjacent court during dinner. If you are eating here, ask for an oceanfront table to avoid the basketball court. We did not have the opportunity to try the two other a la cartes (Italian and International) because they were booked for the nights that we were interested in.

We had a couples massage on the beach at sunset which was very relaxing. We also had a pedicure and reflexology treatment which were both nice, although a little costly compared to North American prices. We did not do any day trips while we were there, but there is a tour desk at the hotel providing a variety of options. The only disappointment to us at this resort was the lack of good snorkeling available off shore. There were a few fish, but for the experienced snorkeler, it was not exciting. There is a reef close to shore, but we were advised that we were not to swim there because of the danger of injury. They did have snorkeling trips available for $35 US each for 1 hour, but they went out to the same reef we could have swam to !!!

We felt that we got good value for what we paid and would return to this resort again on a sell-off. If you go with realistic expectations and can overlook the “bumps and bruises” of the resort, this is a good choice, in our opinion, for a budget vacation

We met some awesome people who went for fun and got it
Hotel Palma Real Beach Resort & Villas
User Rating:  
Pat & Diane, Ontario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
Well our trip to the Palma Real in Honduras has come to an end and it’s my turn to help people make an informed decision as to whether or not this would be the place for them to vacation. I liked how one reviewer described themselves as "we are folks that like a different flavor when it comes to holidays" and my husband and myself fit that description also. We are experienced travellers, mostly sticking to 3/4 star resorts so we travel with little expectations as long as the beach is lovely and the weather is hot and sunny – which we definitely got. We were extremely happy to get off that Skyservice plane – I will avoid using that charter if possible in the future. The flight was uneventful but the leg room is intolerable – they need to check out Air Transat planes and perhaps take some lessons from them (not that they’re that much better, but a step up). The resort is quite stunning with beautiful shrubbery and flowers everywhere. Very well maintained and workers were cleaning up and raking daily. It has quite a nice layout with the pool, bar and the ocean just steps away from the main building. Did we have problems? Ohhhh we sure did – daily and several issues we had to deal with. I dont know who is responsible, Conquest or the resort itself? Everyday we had to request repeatedly toilet paper and towels. Our room was musty and we were the unlucky ones whose bathroom ceiling fell in. We did have the opinion that these were minor inconveniences, not going to ruin our vacation – and we made sure these inconveniences didn’t.. Figure service here in Canada sometimes suck at high end places, so why should it be different in another country. Things did mount and come to a head when showering became impossible because the light was going to fall down, so they relocated us into a gorgeous room – full of t paper and towels, I might add. Nothing like swinging in the hammocks and listening to the sounds of the ocean.

We didn’t find alot of employees that spoke English but with what little we know of Spanish and alot of hand motions, we got along just fine. I really think that their lack of English makes them a bit on the shy side, not cold like some people think. Then again, there were alot of miserable tourists this past week. Then came the sickness. Yep, unfortunately I was hit (as well as one other in our group of 4) also for a full day. For some people, their total vacation was ruined by this and people fueled into each other’s anger – attitudes grew and grew. For the most part, the people we encountered were fun, fully enjoying themselves and someone wrote the "atmosphere was one of fright and depression for some"……..what?????

We didn’t encounter one person who was frightened or depressed – just a great party atmosphere at the bar was what we saw and took part in. Once we felt better, we had a blast and even though not 100% healthy, we managed to have fun. It’s all what you make of it. The beaches were wonderful – golden brown sand (yes, some ocean debris was washed up) and you could walk far either way and enjoy the scenery. The resort beach was not littered with garbage and if there was garbage, the tourists are the ones littering…expecting that someone will pick it up for them i guess. It was quite wavey most days, but that made for great playing in the waves – no jellyfish at all. The food, we found for the most part was ok, didn’t like everything but there is no way someone could walk away hungry. My husband enjoyed most meat dishes, I enjoyed the pasta and other dishes that were served – some more saltier than others, but not bad at all. Desserts looked pretty good, but too rich for me. Fruit galore and wonderful. Like any buffet, some food is good – some crap. We had the good fortune to wander down the beach and found a delightful B&B, Run by a retired cop from Boston named Richard who welcomed us and invited us to visit. What a nice fellow, who serves the most amazing food dishes (very reasonable). Definitely if you are not afraid to walk off the resort, do go visit with him, he loves drop in visitors and it’s a nice change off the resort.

No bug issues which surprised me that there weren’t any (or very little) mosquitoes especially that the previous week had rained. Even on the zipline, which is an absolutely amazing adventure, there weren’t any bugs in the forest. We went down loaded with fly dope. With the issue of sickness here, I don’t know who you could point a finger at and place blame on – there are so many sources for viruses to come from. People carry in all sorts of bugs starting right on the plane – we heard that staff were ill and brought it in – a couple of people brought down a gastro that they had day before travelling – maybe it was a food product that shouldn’t have been put out too often – it happens here in Canada also. Who knows? I felt bad for Sandra the Conquest Rep….that girl really had a tough week putting up with all our complaints, and I won’t minimize the complaints – many were legit. She could only do what she could and pass on to folks only what she is told. Many people were quite verbal to her (husband included) but fortunately she has broad shoulders and could take what was dished out and I think, handled things very well. People wanted answers and there were none to be had. All in all I think the resort could really use a few lessons on people management and helping out tourists with their needs – front desk did seem to ignore many peoples’ requests but (again playing devil’s advocate) many times it’s in the presentation of ourselves to the workers and how we speak with regards to our demands. I know squeaky wheel gets the grease, but more often a little kindness goes alot further. Our vacation is all about the sun & beach so we’ll just roll off the negatives and go with it. I think Conquest needs to step up to the plate and admit they should have done something to help alleviate our concerns . However, we met some awesome people who went for fun and got it

I’d have no trouble recommending it at all
Hotel  Dunes Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Lesli >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
FLIGHT Air Transat was on time, staff were attentive and pleasant. No issues.

ARRIVAL & TRANSPORT

Nolitours gathered everyone quickly and we were taken to the Dunes by air conditioned bus. Took 30-40 mins… lost track of time enjoying the breathtaking scenery along the way.

RECEPTION

moved quickly. we were a quartet of girls travelling together and asked for adjoining rooms or to be very close. they put us in separate buildings. we asked to be relocated and had to approach our tours rep to get anything done. the 2nd day we were moved to an adjoining room and were happy with our new locale. generally reception was luke warm when it came to giving assistance and were sometimes rather dismissive. it was best to go directly to the tour rep or the fellow in charge of guest services

ROOMS

yes. they’re small. but, they’re also clean. the beds are quite firm. i alleviated this by getting a couple extra blankets and folding them under the sheet and had no issues after that. the sheets were crisp and clean. no insects at all. we were in the new section, building 51 so we had the nice new showers. initially we were in bldg 53 and our room smelled somewhat musty, but it could have been a combination of the high humidity and the cedar closets that created an unfamiliar odour.

*NOTE* be sure you put your security bar in place on your door. when in bldg 53 we woke up to find our door had been opened in the night. another guest in that same bldg had the same thing happen. the hotel paid attention when we told them and there was an obvious increase in security the following night. *** not all rooms had clocks and the wake up call was rather hit and miss. our friends ordered one for 0700 and it came at 0230! another time we requested it for 0900 and the phone rang at 0820. you’ll also find that you get a 2nd call – a snooze alarm i guess – 10 mins later.

FOOD

we were seriously impressed with the food. not greasy. a great deal of variety and fresh fresh fresh! for breakfast there was: cereal, yoghurt, croissants, toast, various sweet breads, waffles, pancakes, empanadas (with cheese or fish), omelettes, hard boiled eggs, veggie quiche, bacon/sausage, potato, steamed veggies, beans, juices, fresh fruit, cafe con leche… and i’m sure i’m forgetting some things! i am mostly vegetarian and considered a fairly serious foodie and i never had a problem finding something to eat. they have a full buffet in the main building, a snack bar at the pool, tea time with croissants, sweets and coffee at the lobby bar late afternoon, and a restaurant down on the beach with buffet or table service. each restaurant had pasta available for lunch and supper with a variety of sauces to select from.

BARS we eventually discovered the music bar which is just off the main pool not far from the lobby bar. it was a hidden delight! rarely had other guests in there so our rowdy group quite enjoyed the quick service and all the room we wanted to rearrange furniture. hector, the bartender, was a real sweetie too! lobby bar.. karaoke nightly. we didn’t hang there cause of the smokers. there is one bartender there, name unknown, who is a real fire cracker! great sense of humour and really keeps things moving tomas at the pool bar is a serious smooth talker who proposed marriage to one of our girls on a daily basis! fun to watch him spin the bottles while he mixed his drinks. we didn’t spend any time at the disco – the one night we went up it was super packed and very very loud and hot. we were there during a major island holiday so there were alot of locals enjoying the resort for a long weekend.

BEACH/POOLS/GROUNDS

Grounds were beautifully maintained. very very clean. 1 childrens pool. another 3 pools overall. breathtaking scenery all around.

EXCURSIONS

we only went on the Discover Margarita tour. 2 of our group had booked the snorkelling tour for our last day but, unfortunately, it was cancelled due to waves in excess of 3 metres! the daily hike to the lighthouse was also cancelled a couple times due to muddy conditions. i did hear that the mozzies were horrendous on that walk so if you go, repellent is required. also were told that bandits like to hang in that area and watch for tourists going it solo, so caution is advised. excellent things were said about the jeep tour. one couple we met went on the 1 day trip to angel falls (was about $300USD per person) and they thoroughly enjoyed it, although the falls were a mere trickle that day. they went on a 12 seater plane and visited another falls, did some hiking and rock climbing – said the trip did involve a certain level of fitness but they thoroughly enjoyed the day. *** Marisol that handled the excursions for Nolitours was a true GEM!! Each night they had the usual shows but the quality was actually pretty good. just sometimes went on a little too long was all. the activities group around the pool were fun without being overbearing. lots of folks took party in their games and water aerobics.

SHOPPING

we didn’t do alot of shopping but you’ll find pearl items available at incredible prices. i paid about $12.50USD for a pair of pearl & corral earrings and my girlfriends each found stunning pearl rings for about $50USD each at a little pearl shop we were taken to on the Discover Margarita tour ($40USD for the day). coffee is, indeed, difficult to find. i ended up buying it at the resort ($40BF/pound… which was $10USD) but our excursion rep brought us some 200g packages of ground espresso for $1 USD/each at the end of the trip, so it’s definitely out there. prices at the malls are high – just like back home. also, the little shop at the resort is crazy pricey… a can of pringles is $15BF which is as much as $7USD depending on how you exchanged your funds! and the prices seemed to change from day to day depending on who was at the til.

MONEY *** wait til you’re there to exchange your US dollars!** and speak to your rep about where to go for the best rate. if you deal with a bank or currency exchange you’ll only get just over 2:1 but there are many places to get 4 or 5:1 exchange. if you do that, then you’ll find the trip is FAR less costly while you’re there.

DEPARTURE TAX

it’s currently 157 Bolivares Fuerte /adult and breaks down to $111BF and $46BF (it’s 2 separate taxes and must be paid separately, with exact change). if you get a 4-1 exchange you’re only paying about $40USD rather than $73 USD. it’s a bit challenging to get small denominations of the BF so i’d suggest you work on trying to do so early on and tucking what you need aside in your room safe.

OVERALL….. no major complaints about the Dunes. I’d have no trouble recommending it at all and would even consider returning. i tend to visit new places on each trip as there are so many places in the world to see i dont often entertain "do overs". next time i may try Laguna Mar, just for the experience. some of the service staff were a bit lacking in attention but this wasn’t a 5star either. you get what you pay for, to a degree. the weather was great… yes, we had some rain, but it was a welcome respite from the heat for awhile and rarely lasted very long. temps were over 30C daily and humidity ran about 90% so be prepared for that if you go, find yourself a couple of brits and settle in for some relaxation and laughs! your holiday will be what you make it. i’m more than happy to answer any questions that i may have neglected to cover here. cheers!

quinner5277@yahoo.ca

We like it
Hotel Almond Morgan Bay Beach Resort
User Rating:  
David >  22 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
Arrival Was arranged with our travel agent and the hotel. We took the scenic route and stopped for photo’s and a beer over looking Dennery. The driver was a very helpful tour guide and the long ride was worth it. Even the kids enjoyed.

Rooms

The room was clean and a nice size for the four of us with a view of the ocean and tow bathrooms.

Restaurants and Bars

Reading some other reviews I am not sure I was at the same place. The staff stood back some until they found out what we were looking for, then they were great. The food was fantastic and the variety was good. The staff ensured we had enough and gave suggestions for activities for the day when we asked.

Beach/Pools/Grounds

The Beach was clean and the water sport staff were excellent about sailing and helping us when we needed it. The pools were clean and at one point one was drained for cleaning but there were still others to use so it was fine. In fact the kid pool put me closer to snacks and the bar.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

We did the Brig Unicorn and it was well worth the money for both myself and the kids. I did a dive with Dive Fair Helen and then With Rainbow divers on the Beach. I preferred Marie and Judy (The Mermaid) the trip was more relaxed and it was me and my family so I got to see more then on the crowded boat dive. Both dives were good but next time I would just use Marie’s services.

Other Comments

When you go on holiday If you look cranky the staff are likely to stay away. Remember you are on holiday and the staff are still working a little respect can make your holiday excellent.

Varadero has a great beach but it isn’t good for snorkeling
Hotel Sandals Royal Hicacos
User Rating:  
James >  6 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009
Arrival: Nov 2009 Executive Summary Good hotel, great food, good value, great sandy beach, comfortable room on lower level. Bit of a walk to the beach 2 smaller pools in each wing c/w hot tub and a large one in the centre of the resort. 4 bars; beach, piano, main and swim up. Didn’t make use of the spa or the a la carte dining. Slow wifi.

Review:

General impressions: Arrived late at the hotel and was met by one of the staff he wasn’t the most pleasant people that I’ve ever meet but I didn’t know what sort of day he had but every time I wanted something from the front desk he just seemed out of sorts. We arrived on the heals of tropical storm Ida and a lot of the resort was in storm mode but not so that it would disturb the tourists. The guy at the front desk said that we could leave our bags there and get some dinner before the buffet closes. All in all I found the staff very friendly except for that one guy. I would recommend that a friend stay there

Rooms:

We had a lower room in the 800 block. It was nicely appointed with a VERY large king size bed. The room was divided into a sitting area and a sunken bedroom area. In the sitting area there was a bar that was stocked with wine and hard liqueur and a mini fridge with beer and soft drinks. The bathroom was large with a double tub & shower only down side was that the toilet was in another smaller room off the bathroom and this is where the exhaust fan for the bath room was. Therefore the bathroom steamed up quite easily. The TV was a bit of a problem we didn’t have a remote for the TV and had to use the buttons on the front that became a large hassle at the end of the trip because they were becoming flakie. Also there were only a couple of English channels it would have been nice if they had of grouped the languages together; German, English, Chinese and Russian. But you don’t go there to watch TV so I guess it can be a moot point but I didn’t want to kill my liver wai! ting for the nightly entertainment to start.

Our room had a little musty smell when we opened the door but that soon cleared out. The air conditioning had a lot to be desired and once the room cooled down it was OK. There is a place next to the door for a key card or other card (fold the do not disturb in half length wise or use a timmies card) for the power to the room. Keep that card in there all the time to keep the power on (THIS IS IMPORTANT NO POWER NO AIR CON).

Restaurants and Bars: The main restaurant’s serving areas were divided into; Pasta/Italian, Sea food, and Meat, there was also a desert station and two salad stations. I used the pasta & meat stations the most during my stay and the food was excellent. I would recommend for breakfast having the omelet and for desert at lunch and dinner having the crepes. We didn’t try the a la carte restaurants because on holidays we like to eat when we want to and not at a set time because reservations were required for these. We also tried the beach bar for lunch and snacks its OK and does have a lunch and supper menu also you can get snacks there (burgers, dogs, fries) Our fav was the piano bar because it was usually the quietest but we also sat around the outside of the main bar near a small waterfall.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

Clean wet and warm we mostly splashed in the ocean

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

We recommend the Seafari tour to Cayo Blanko, we also took the tour to Trinidad, that one is a LONG day not for someone traveling with kids. When there DO buy some linen there because you won’t get it anywhere else. There is also an eco park and bat caves near the resort worth giving it a go when you have a red flag day.

Other Comments:

The resort does have wifi but it is slow and you have to register your device with the tech on site. He wants the MAC address of your device to authorise it on the network. With my PSP I was only getting a marginal signal (best 60%), I suggest sitting at the tables near the little waterfall fountain in the main bar. Get a drink and wait for your page to load, it beats sitting in the lobby. Varadero has a great beach but it isn’t good for snorkeling. Pick up a beach towel at Walmart before you go and leave it there that way you know your lounger from everyone elses. Bring little gifts for the staff things YOU can get at the dollar store that they can’t.

The music can be a bit loud near the pool area
Hotel GC Villa Trópico (Cameleon Villa Jibacoa)
User Rating:  
John and Pat from Victoria, B.C. >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2009
We spent 7 nights at the Cameleon Villas Jibacoa from January 19th to January 26th, 2009. We had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful beach, great snorkling, fabulously friendly staff and fellow travellers! First of all the beach is very large (much bigger than the resort next door) with lots of room to spread out. The grounds at the resort were very well kept up with daily pick-up of the palm and coconut tree leaves, trimming of the bushes and picking up of any litter. The grounds were spacious with plenty of room between the units. The units themselves were kept very clean with daily maid service. We had read some questionable reviews regarding the food but were very pleased overall with the food. The breakfasts included made to order omelettes, bacon, fresh orange juice, excellent yogurt, excellent bread and very well made coffee. My wife is especially particular about her coffee and she loved the coffee!. Lunch and dinner consistently had about 3 meats such as (turkey, beef, pork, fish, liver, chicken and hamburger). The usual combination of meat consisted of pork, fish and chicken. There was usually two rice dishes to go with the meat, croquettes, salad bar, pasta and other food items. The ice cream and some of the little cakes were also excellent. There was a lot of variety and I am sure something for everyone. The snorkling was excellent with a reef just a short distance off shore. We saw a great variety of fish, one school of thousands and an octopus. The fish could be seen in waist deep water but certainly there was a great variety once we got out to the reef. Just around the corner away from our resort was another sheltered beach, with less wind and wave action and very quiet for just relaxing or going in for a swim. The music can be a bit loud near the pool area, but things would quiet down by around midnight. The nightly show would run from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and we would mingle with others for awhile, so most nights we weren’t ready for bed until midnight anyway. The nightly shows featured dance, singing, comedy, fashion and skits. They were very entertaining and put on by a very enthusiastic friendly group of performers.

My wife and I thought this resort was excellent value. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a five star resort, but then again it has a five star beach and reef outside of it. The grounds are beautiful, the staff friendly and the overall ambience is wonderful.

Choose this resort if you love snorkeling and a quiet social life
Hotel Breezes Jibacoa
User Rating:  
Alex from Toronto >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2009
Arrival: August 2009 – everything happened on time; – we took off from the Toronto Airport at 7:05 AM, landed at the Varadero Airport at 10:30 AM and arrived at the resort in time to have lunch;

Rooms:

– air conditioning, toilet, sink, shower — everything worked well; – the king-size bed was comfortable and firm; – the television had 5-6 English language channels, including CNN and HBO.

Restaurants and Bars:

– water was drinkable (the resort has its own water treatment plant); – food was tasty and plentiful; – the selection of fruit at the buffet restaurant was surprisingly limited; – the best part of breakfast was omelets at the buffet restaurant; – the best part of lunch was hamburgers and pizza at the Beach Bar; – the best part of dinner was Martino’s Italian "a la carte" restaurant; – the best part of after-hours was socializing and drinking at the Piano Bar;

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

– all facilities were clean and well maintained; – the beach had some stones in the sand and there were no sea shells at all; – the bottom of the ocean off the beach is covered in stones and weeds; – the resort felt safe (there were two armed guards at the front and three on the beach);

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

– Spanish and English are the main languages used at the resort; – the disco at the resort was always empty at night; – the overnight trip to Havana for 155 CUC per person was the best deal; – during the trip we stayed at 5-star Melia Habana hotel;

– the Tropicana show was included in the trip and it was entertaining;

Other Comments: – "low season" meant nothing was crowded; – "low season" meant there were only about 100 out of the potential 500 guests; – "low season" meant only 6 out of 18 two-floor blocks of hotel rooms were being used; – "super-inclusive" meant all drinks and food, without exceptions, were included; – "adults only" meant no noisy kids running around; – the breakdown of tourists was about 30% English-speaking Canadian, 30% French-speaking Canadian (mostly bilingual), 30% English-speaking British, 10% from other countries (USA, Germany, Denmark); – I wish there were more people to socialize with, especially people from countries other than Canada; – 1.00 Cuban convertible peso (CUC) = about $1.23 Canadian dollars (CAD); – the front desk staff doing the currency exchange "kept the change" unless I specifically asked for my CUC coins; – calling home was very expensive (1.90 CUC per minute to Canada, 2.30 CUC to USA) from the hotel room; – Internet access was very expensive (4.00 CUC for 30 minutes) from 3 desktop computers in the Internet Cafe at the resort; – Skype calls were impossible to make.

Recommendations:

– choose this resort if you love snorkeling and a quiet social life; – choose a different resort in Varadero if you love the beach and swimming in the ocean, if you want to meet tourists from other hotels and locals on the beach, if you prefer to be close to various off-the-resort trips and activities; – bring Canadian dollars (CAD) with you, not US dollars (USD), because the exchange rate to Cuban convertible peso (CUC) for CAD at the hotel is much better than for USD; – bring a small battery-powered alarm clock for your room and a wrist watch, because there’s no way to tell time at the resort; – you can buy all the same souvenirs, cigars and rum everywhere, including at the airport duty-free shops just before departure; – the goods at the duty-free shops at the airport are about 10% cheaper than at all the other shops; – the cheapest bottle of alcohol is 1.80 CUC for 350 mL mickey of white rum (and twice that for dark rum); – don’t worry about your passport – Cuba does not stamp your passport, only the travel card upon arrival and the boarding pass upon departure; – the currency exchange kiosk at the airport does not take CUC coins back upon departure, only CUC bills, so spend your CUC coins before you get to the airport or at the airport.

Email: alex_levitsky@hotmail.com

We found Breezes Montego Bay to be a nice small resort with everything you needed
Hotel Breezes Montego Bay
User Rating:  
Lucille >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2009
Arrival: January 2009 Great – 5 minutes from the airport, unlike Negril or Ocho Rios

Restaurants and Bars:

OK for a small resort

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

The best part of our trip was our tour guide/driver, Ken Gracey. Ken, a Jamaican-born Canadian owns and operates Hummingbird Tours (1-876-476-0818, email: kjgracey@yahoo.ca). Ken is respectful, courteous, friendly and enjoys showing Jamaica to tourists. Ken customized a tour for us that included a full day of sightseeing not offered by any other tour company. He also showed us some out-of-the-way places that only a local resident would know about. He takes pictures of the entire tour and burns a CD for you for free. His price is lower than tours offered by the hotel while offering added value (i.e. CD and customized tours). We went on 5 tours with Ken, so I can say with confidence that Ken is an awesome host. Thank you Ken.

Other Comments:

We found Breezes Montego Bay to be a nice small resort with everything you needed, although this property could use a little TLC. The cabin rooms are very small. So small you have to store your clothes in drawers under the bed. If you want one of the bigger rooms, pay extra for a deluxe room. Breezes has a great location, the best beach I saw while in Jamaica for 2 weeks. The surf is gentle, great for kayaking, snorkeling and swimming.

We did have a very relaxing vacation and did enjoy ourselves
Hotel Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana (Moon Palace Before)
User Rating:  
Debbie S >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2009
Arrival Good transfer from airport. The first impression is the massive piles of sand where the golf course will be someday.

Rooms

Nice large room with a patio or balcony. The large double shower head is awesome!

Restaurants and Bars

Excellent service! Very pleasant and attentive.

Beach/Pools/Grounds

The white sand beach is beautiful! What an unpleasant surpise to find that the riptides here are very strong so there is no swimming in the ocean! The pools are plentiful and pretty.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

2 excellent tours were offered (a safari and snorkeling) at no charge due to the delay in completion of the resort and the lack of being able to swim in the ocean…

Other Comments

Due to the recent opening of the resort there are many management and structural issues that need to be addressed. There is an electical problem in the rooms and the lights just turn off. The light switches are confusing and turn on and off a different light everytime you use it. The entire resort had no electricity for 4 hours one day. The toilets frequently backed up, the door fell off the safe twice and maintenance is VERY SLOW to respond. There is a strong language barrier. The resort is going to be huge. We got lost one night and security couldn’t help us as they did not speak or understand English.

We did have a very relaxing vacation and did enjoy ourselves even with the snags.

Great value for the price you pay
Hotel Bavaro Princess
User Rating:  
Daniela from Edmonton >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009
Arrival: November 9-16, 2009 Smooth check in with a welcome drink.

Rooms:

Rooms are very spacious and clean, however very dated but renos are being done all over the property

Restaurants and Bars:

A la carte Restaurants are great, however very hard to get a reservations as they are small and not open everyday. Another challenge is that you can only make reservations at 8:00am for the next day, as oppose to making dining arrangements for the week. We tried the Steakkhouse, Italian, Seafood, Chinese and Japanese and all were fantastic with great service.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

The beach is amazing, the pool is a little small for the amount of rooms and guests, but kept very clean and tidy.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

We did the Jeep safari and the Sting Ray snorkleing trip, both were fantastic and very informative about the country.

Other Comments:

Overall this is a great resort with amazing grounds and staff, great value for the price you pay. Please do not take any of the bad reviews seriously as these people are abviousy looking to get somehting for free, have no patience and should stay home. I am a hospitality professional and promise this is a great place to spend a week to relax and spoil yourself. If you are looking to truly have a 5* North American Hotel Experience, you will have to spend more than $2000 all inclusive as oppose to around $1000……just saying….

we had a great vacation
Hotel Riu Ocho Rios
User Rating:  
Dawn >  6 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
Arrival: Our trip to the hotel was not pleasant. Our flight from Toronto to Montego Bay was delayed by 5 hours due to flooding that had occurred in the Dominican Republic a few days earlier. Apparently the closure of the airport in the Dominican caused a back-up of other flights to the Caribbean. SkyService really needs to realize that they cannot continue to cram people into the minute space they consider to be a seat. When we arrived in Montego Bay at 2AM, there were only two customs officials on duty and we had to wait in line for one hour. Once we made it through customs, we had to wait on the bus for another hour of those who were behind us in line to clear customs. The trip to the resort was uneventful (we were sleeping for a lot of the ride) and we finally arrived at the Riu after 5AM. Once there, we found the staff to be highly organized and were checked in quickly.

Rooms:

We had booked an oceanview room, and had a partial view of the ocean from our balcony. The room was very nice and housekeeping kept it spotless. The bathroom was a fair size with twin sinks and an adequate shower/tub. As noted in others reviews, the bed was quite firm (which I liked) but I found the pillows to be uncomfortable. If you have the space in your luggage, I would suggest that you take your own fave pillow from home. Satellite TV worked the majority of the time, however we did experience a couple of outages where certain channels were unavailable for a while, but this was not really a problem. If you want to make calls home to Canada, buy a $20USD hotel calling card. There is a $2USD additional connection fee for each call, but if you are making multiple calls in one ‘sitting’, press the # key and you will only be charged one $2 connection fee.

Restaurants and Bars:

The food was amazing. I have never eaten so much in my life. The hotel has really improved the process for booking the a la carte restaurants. We waited in line a couple of times for a max of 15 minutes and ate a Sir John and the Steakhouse. Both were nice and the service was exceptional at both. The buffet and the Italian restaurant were my faves. As a vegetarian I had a wide selection of hot and cold foods to choose from and the desserts were quite delicious as well.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: We spent a lot of our time at the pool. We were able to reserve our chairs by putting our towels on them each morning and never had any hotel staff remove them. There were activities around the pool and the events staff did their best to get those who wished to, to participate. Service at the pool bar was great, The beach was large with lots of chairs. We spent more time at the beach towards the end of our vacation because the water was more calm and therefore there was no seaweed washed up on the beach. If you are not a strong swimmer, you should be aware that the water gets fairly deep (even within the roped off area)soon after you wade into it (unlike Varadero where you can walk out quite far before the water becomes deep). There are some unauthorized ‘vendors’ on the beach trying to sell people jet-ski rides and parasailing. We were also asked if we would like to buy some weed, but if you politely decline, they don’t continue to hassle you.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

Dunn’s River Falls: We took a cab there and back. The park and Falls were very pretty, and though we didn’t climb the Falls, we were able to walk along them on a boardwalk (all the way from the top of the Falls to the beach) as well as being able to walk into a section of the Falls for some photos (just be careful because the rocks are slippery). If you go on your own, guys outside the park with try to get you to purchase their services as guides. I would suggest that you wait till you get into the park and get an "authorized" Dunn’s River Falls guide (they have shirts that identify them).

Downtown Ocho Rios:

We took a cab downtown. It was quite an experience but I am happy that we saw the sites off the resort. Went to the crafts market where the vendors are very aggressive. I wouldn’t suggest that you visit it if you are easily aggravated. There were some finds there, but keep in mind that the hotel also brings in crafts vendors in on certain nights, so if you don’t want to deal with pushy salespeople, skip the crafts market downtown and opt for the hotel one instead. Also, people will try to hustle you for various things downtown (women kept wanting to braid my hair), but you need to keep in mind that Jamaica has a large unemployment rate. If you are able to approach these situations keeping in mind you are in a country with a different cultural norms, you will be fine.

Other Comments:

Ironically enough, the negative aspect of our vacation was our Sunquest rep at the hotel (not the rep who held the orientation session). She was rude and not helpful at all and whenever we went to speak with her, she would take personal phone calls in the midst of our conversations or ignore us altogether. We found this to be totally unacceptable considering Sunquest is a major tour operator and should take more care in choosing who is representing them.

All in all, we had a great vacation. The weather was good (except for about a day and a half of rain) and the Riu Ocho Rios is a beautiful hotel with beautiful grounds and amazing staff. I would recommend it and would stay there again.

Photos: http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a179/eeeefarm/Akumal%20Beach%20Resort%202009/
"As Advertised!" great snorkelling!
Hotel Akumal Beach Resort
User Rating:  
eeeefarm >  5 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009 | Leisure | With friend
Akumal Beach Resort
eeeefarm November 30/09
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Most of this vacation was spent in the water, snorkelling. We didn’t bother with any other activities except for a couple of shopping excursions locally.

A couple of nights local artists came and entertained by painting as we watched. Very interesting, and nice to be able to purchase art one has seen produced.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Never used the pool, but it looked nice and was cleaned every morning. The beach was wonderful soft white sand. If you walked into town (5 minutes) it was great. Walking the other direction the sand became coarse and going around the point there were rocks and other debris. Despite this, we wandered a couple of bays over to the nearest other resorts. After having a look we agreed that we preferred the ABR. The grounds were well maintained and pleasant to walk through…..the resort is built right along the beach, and does not extend back far from it as some do. You are never more than a short walk to the water.
Other Comments
I was very satisfied with my vacation. I went for the snorkelling and was not disappointed. The resort staff were wonderful, as good as any I have encountered on my many trips to Cuba. The resort itself needs some refurbishing, which it will likely get since the management has now reverted to the owners and they are committed to bringing it back to its former glory. A few years of indifferent management have cause some problems, but the location can’t be beat and I would return even if conditions remained the same. Most problems are cosmetic…..and did not affect my enjoyment.
Restaurants and Bars
The buffet restaurant was literally right on the beach, and it was very enjoyable to sit next to the window and have a wonderful view while you were eating. Food was fine, but coffee in the buffet was abysmal. However, it was easy to pick up a cup at the bar (excellent coffee!) and bring it into the restaurant with you. Food selection and quality were fine for me. The "lobby bar" or however you want to designate it was right next to the buffet and service was very good. I don’t do mixed drinks much, so can’t comment on that. A La Carte alternated between Italian and Mexican. We found them both excellent…..and the staff were absolutely first rate. The snack bar was handy to the beach and had pizza, burgers, etc. The beach bar had self serve cerveza, but the bartender would serve you when he was there. The "swing bar" a little further along the beach was also handy and fun.
Rooms
I was in room 402, in the old section. My friends had a room on the top (3rd) floor of building 6, one of the "new" buildings, so we were able to compare. My room was relatively small, basic, and quite adequate for my needs. So close to the beach I could throw a rock and hit it. The air conditioner was a bit loud and the room could use updating, but it was otherwise fine. There were screens on the patio door, so it was possible to turn the A/C off an listen to the surf at night…..very enjoyable. The mattress was a bit hard for my liking, but that is my only complaint. The location was also great…..very close to everything, and yet quiet. My friends had a slightly bigger room with a wonderful view. They did have some issues with a lack of hot water on occasion. Other than that, no complaints.
Your Arrival
Travelled with Sunwing. Good flight, got a red light at customs (they hand check your luggage) but otherwise uneventful arrival. Quick transfer to resort via minibus. Only a few of us to check in, so it went very quickly. As it was evening I didn’t see much of the resort until morning.
Kids loved the lazy river and water-slide
Hotel Beaches Negril
User Rating:  
Cameron from Minesing, Ontario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Just got back from resort and having reviewed the comments posted would add the following, the food does need to be improved but is OK, we had Conrad as butler and he was amazing, if your going with the family and want your wife to enjoy holiday spend the extra money and get the butler service. Rooms: Rooms are clean, large and well stocked, no complaints…. Restaurants and Bars: The Seville is overrated, Kimonos Japanese restaurant was by far the best, breakfast was average, the wild cats in the dining room are cute but also scary if they ever decided to bite one of the kids. My oldest daughter was giving them food and did not have any problems, events are first rate and the marching band was excellent Beach/Pools/Grounds: Pools are are amazing, kids loved the lazy river and water-slide. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: SCUBA is well run and very safe, the guys and girls who run the shop are very nice once they get to know you. Other Comments:

Conrad our butler was amazing, our 3 kids loved all the activities, women staff need to learn how to smile, security is first rate, if your a diver most of the dives are less than 60ft but you will see turtles, stingrays, large schools of fish and crabs and the equipmet is OK I dived 6 days and did not have any problems, the beach is safe at night, bus ride from airport and back is a great way to see what life on the island is all about, overall its a great holiday.

Good service, Staff are super friendly
Hotel Grand Papagayo by Occidental
User Rating:  
Nina II >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
The arrival to Costa Rica was like any other Carribean country – You have to wait in long lines in the heat to get through customs, pick up your luggage and then head off to your resort. I recommend bringing a change of clothes either before you arrive or while you wait in line to get through customs. Air Canada Vacations had a bus waiting to pick everyone up and take you to the Grand Papagaya. The whole process takes about an hour. Once there you have a cocktail waiting for you as you wait in line to check in. Overall a smooth process and as I said before no different from any other all inclusive set up.

Costa Rica though is an extremely beautiful country and I highly recommend people to explore the countryside as much as you can. The best tour company bar none to go with is Avispa Adventures to book all your excursions. They are an excellent tour company. You can book in advance by emailing or calling the owner, Amy and she will see to your every need. She provides not only the tours but any other things your would need to know about in Costa Rica. She is an US expat who fell in love with Costa Rica and stayed.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
On the resort, we did some diving with the Dive Company situated at the Resort. The visibility was poor when diving. You would be lucky to have 25 ft of visibility. I am not sure if it is because of the location in the Pacific or the time of year we came. But it was not as good as what I have seen on the Carribean side. But you do see some great sealife (white tipped reef sharkes, lots of eagle rays, manta rays if you are lucky). It is just too bad that you can’t spot them until they are up close and even then it still isn’t nice and clear. Th resort dive company could have been better. They aren’t very accomodating (their dives leave late as far as dives go – 9 am and they weren’t very happy to move it to an earlier time so that you could do some other tours in the afternoon). Also their boat is old and needs repair. The dive master and boat captain were very good though and helpful.

For off the resort activities, I went on tours with Avispa Adventure and as I had mentioned above, they were excellent. I would go with no one else and when I go back I will book everything I want to do next time with them. What was really nice with them is they are quite flexibile with your schedule. As I mentioned above, the dive company wasn’t very flexible and so we would come back later than I wanted from the dives but Amy made sure to be ready for us once we got back so that we could do other things with her to maximize the day. Very excellent with that. Again, I can’t say enough good things with this company. Avispa and Amy are the best. The Miravelles Tour is absolutely great with Amy. Fun and lots to see and do. Whitewater rafting is a lot of fun. Palo Verde is great to see especially if you are into nature and wildlife. Hidden Treasures takes you to the Llanos de Cortez Waterfall and it is beautiful. If I had more time, I would see more of the region but that will be for another time with Amy.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool was nice to swim in to cool off from the heat. The grounds were well kept and the view from the hotel is gorgeous. The hotel is situated on a hill so from the main building to the beach it is quite an elevation difference so be aware that at this resort there are a lot of stairs to climb. But it is a good way to build up an appetite for dinner. The beach isn’t like the carribean beaches with their white sands – darker volcanic sand. And with the tide in there isn’t much beach but that is usually late in the day. The water is warm and nice to swim in.
Other Comments
Overall, we enjoyed the hotel. Good service, Staff are super friendly there and everyone has a smile there. My best recommendation is where ever you are staying go with Avispa for your activities.
Restaurants and Bars
The Oriental and Italian restuarants are very good. The meals we had there very good. It is a la carte but you can order as much as you want. No issues with that. If you are a large party (greater than 6) the Oriental restaurant puts you in your own separate room where you sit close to the floor and it is excellent. The Buffet was good for buffet. However they don’t have as much of a selection as some other places I’ve been. But the food overall was fine. This is the Carribean so you shouldn’t be expecting five star here.
Rooms
The rooms were fine. Clean and spacious with good beds. Though not all the rooms have a safe as advertised. Air conditioning works so that really is the most important thing for when you are in the room. Otherwise we didn’t spend much time in the room except to get ready and sleep. The rooms are set up in about a dozen buildings spread out throughout the grounds of the resort. So depending on where your room is, you could have a bit of a hike to get to the main building where the restaurants are. But they do have a shuttle to drive people around. Our room was in building 1 so nothing was far away.
Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=139553&id=143616623808
Top location for your stay in Bonaire
Hotel Eden Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Debbie >  33 contribution(s) 
Jan, 2010 | Business | With Spouse/Partner
Here we go ….
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Scuba Diving: The diving school Wannadive is at the same location as Eden Beach and have their facilities and a small dock in front of the beach, very relaxed for divers. It might be handy to rent a scooter or car when you visit Bonaire. When you do not dive and don’t have to carry a lot of stuff a scooter is enough since Bonaire is a small island.

Visit Sorobon beach, the donkey sanctuary, Slagbaai natural area, Klein Bonaire, snorkle, dive, dine … to much to mention in this review. I will write about all things to do, tours and excursions in Bonaire at other pages at Debbie’s website

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool: Small and could be improved, first things first because Eden Beach Resort is still busy with reconstruction of the last apartments/hotelrooms. Beach: Bonaire does not have many beach options and Eden Beach has one of the best. Not too big but big enough and a lovely view on Klein Bonaire. For snorkle addicts, you can walk right off the beach into the sea and you are in the middle of the aquarium of a Chinees restaurant, unbelievable colored and so many fish. They have enough sunbeds which costs for non-hotel guests 5 USD per day but free when you stay at Eden Beach Resort.

Kralendijk, the center of Bonaire, has a few times per week visitors from cruiseships, some of these tourists who want to go to the beach are dropped of by taxi’s at Eden Beach, nothing to be worry about, it is just a little bussier and at 4:00 pm they are all gone again back to the ship.

Other Comments
Eden Beach Resort in the past had some bad reviews, I must say honestly, I was keeping my breath when we arrived at the hotel because of these reviews, and expected nothing … I was pleasently surprised and find Eden Beach a nice, good, three star hotel with honest, hard working, enthousiast personel, who just had some rough years and have made some wrong dicisions who they now regret. Soon people will fight for a night at The Eden Beach Resort … if I may believe the manager 😉

Four Debbie-Flowers from me, next time five ok? Because I love Bonaire and will be back

Restaurants and Bars
Well … this was at the moment we were here a bit of a problem, that will say, the restaurant was. First the bar: The (beach)bar was fine, hardworking funny girls who might need a manager to teach them some details on how to treat your guests but still, good girls. We thought some drinks were expensive, I find a smoothy coming from a package for 5 USD is too much, a hamburger for 10 USD is rediculous. But it did not keep us from drinking a capuchino in the morning nice cold beer and some white wine. Restaurant: This is the only negative point of Eden Beach, but what I have understand from the charming Venezoelan owner not for long, since they are in negotiating with one of the best restaurants on the island to lease the catering from the hotel. If this will be true then Eden Beach will be THE place to stay at Bonaire. For now … the manager from the catering just don’t get it, he offers one kind of breakfast, there is no a la carte, he just tells what he has which is not much. It’s a shame because the restaurant is an open two-story ranchon/palapa with a stunning seaview. Lets not talk about it any further because soon it will be better as promissed

All was solved soon enough because Bonaire has so many really outstanding restaurants like It Rains Fishes, Unbelievable, la Barca, Bambu, Sense, La Guernica … too much to handle 🙂

Rooms
The one bedroom apartments at Eden Beach Resort have been nicely refurbished. It has a seperated kitchen with cooker, fridge, coffeemaker, a small bar to have you meal if you want eating inside but who cares because outside it is 30C degrees. The bedroom, which was big enough, has a huge kingsize bed, new airconditioning, closet, satelite TV, telephone. The bathroom also from a good normal size has a big walk-in shower. Now the best … a spacious balcony with beach and ocean view with 2 sunbeds, 2 chairs and a table. Nothing to complain about. Daily the maid cleaned our room and even did our dishes, perfect

… oh … wireless internet for free … and FAST!

Your Arrival
We arrived by KLM flight at 4:30 am, check in was fast and easy, a very nice Spanish talking Dominican man at the open air reception helped us with our suitecases to the top floor (second) of the accommodations building. We booked the 1 bedroom apartment. Since it was still dark and we were tired because of the long flight we took a nap until 7:00 am … the sun came up 🙂
The snorkelling was GREAT
Hotel Riu Mambo
User Rating:  
Kathy II >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | With Group
No real difficulties here. There seemed to be a lot more bureaucracy to get through than I recall. The bus ride was approximately 1 hour as we entered Playa Dorada on the way to let some people out at their hotel. The check-in was a breeze and our rooms were ready when we arrived before noon. Our rooms were in the 18 block, and my 82 year old father in the 14 block (farther away). I didn’t realize that I could have requested for safety sake that he be closer to us and the main part of the hotel. Staff in general were friendly and courteous, and particularly so at the reception desk.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
My son went on the horse back riding and it was not as advertised. It was drizzing, and I had asked our rep if they needed rain ponchos, which I would have purchased for them on Caribbean Street. I was told that, no, if required, they would be supplied. What in fact was true was that they would be supplied for $5 US. They also weren’t told that there would be a lengthy stop at a bar/ gift shop. It’s good to know that one might need or want to take money ahead of time. The reviews on this tour are mixed. They enjoyed themselves despite the few issues, but I would say it was not worth $52 US pp. Snorkelling:

Four years ago we went on the trip to Paradise Island. The snorkelling was GREAT; there is a 40′ wall that forms the reef just off the island, and it was alive and colourful. We wanted to go again. What we learned was that you can no longer snorkel the reef! They have restricted access to just the break in the reef due to the heavy traffic, so if you’re at all an experienced snorkeller/diver; don’t go. There is a live reef just offshore at the resort, but if there is any surf crashing over it, it’s too dangerous to get over the fire coral and urchins to get to the good side where the visibility suddenly improved, and the reef opened up. We were able to one day, and it was well worth it for the forest of sea fans and I saw a couple of lion fish, along with the usual reef life.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
A little too small for my liking. Despite the previous writer’s comments, chairs were reserved quite early and it was at times quite difficult to find seating. Perhaps, it was busier when we went (over Christmas) and we did have 6 people in our group, but this posed a small problem.
Other Comments:
Shopping: We did not go into the town to do any shopping; I don’t think that’s necessary. There is shopping at Caribbean Street on the Riu Bochata resort, a few minutes walk along the walkway. There is also a row of local vendors at the extreme right end of the beach. WATCH OUT, though, they are all sharks. They have a line for every occasion and every kind of sales resistance you may have. It is impossible to explain just how brutally professional they are at selling you anything and everything for the most inflated prices. They will even offer you credit; letting you take your purchase without paying on the promise of returning. Make sure they write down the agreed-upon price, and make sure you take the exact change, because they will say they don’t have change and try to upsell you yet again. I suggest if they tell you something is one thousand pesos, lie to them and tell them you can get it for half that on Caribbean street, and then negotiate down from there. If you’re looking for anything in particular, look at Caribbean Street first to get an idea of prices, which are actually pretty good.
Restaurants and Bars:
I have no complaint with the food. The buffet at both the Mambo and the Merengue were quite good. We never went to the A La Carte because it was the pool bar turned into ‘fancy’ restaurant and you were served the same meal as you could get all day, except in a different way. My son went once and had a rather negative experience, so we never bothered booking.
The ALCOHOL is awful. The wine is terribly vinegary. It doesn’t matter what drink you ordered, the alcohol came out of these generic bottles which weren’t much more than watered down. BUT…. here’s a tip: at the very nice Plaza Bar at the Merenge resort right next door, they actually have Gordon’s Gin and Smirnoff’s Vodka. You need to ask for the good stuff or you get the crap. If you want something with rum, ask for with Brugal which is the very good local rum, otherwise you get the absolutely horrible generic cheap stuff. The beer is limited to Brahma, although I heard of others that could bribe the guy who stocked their fridge to get them the much better Presidente brand.
Rooms:
The rooms were clean and were kept clean. There was no musty smell except from my pillows, which were rock hard and in horrible shape. I did ask for new pillows and the maid brought pillow covers until I had her smell the pillows. She instantly pitched them onto the floor and brought new ones. At least these didn’t smell like body odour. The air conditioner did not work on our arrival, and was fixed within hours. Our fridge was cold and re-stocked daily. My son, whose room was next door wasn’t so lucky. Despite repeated phone calls to reception, his fridge was never fixed, nor was it stocked. By the way, the alcohol dispensers in the room are neat, except for the fact that the contents are indiscernible from each other except for perhaps colour. I have to admit, the alcohol was terrible, and watered down. Never tasted anything quite so bad. The shower was hit and miss for hot water and the shower curtains were the kind that would strangle you as you showered, which was a nuisance to me, but very dangerous for my elderly father.
Jibacoa snorkling at its best, laidedback spacious resort
Hotel GC Villa Trópico (Cameleon Villa Jibacoa)
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mark >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
march 4th – 12th 2nd trip to cuba(cayo coca 2007) 1st day was cold….it was all great after that!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
take the jeep safarie!!! its great,you get to see Mantanza (quite a large town) driving your own jeep,lunch at a coffee plantation,snorkling on the reef,a boat ride on a river (lobster 10 pesos great deal beer 2 pesos)snorkling in a cave,and a tour of the caves (cuban national monument) cost you 5 pesos if you want to take pic in the caves or buy the cd 25 pesos it includes your journey through the caves(yes you are in the video) and about 150 mp3s of cuban music and other interesting sights in cuba

every night they would have a show for about an hour or so…dancing girls,music,comedy fashion,traditional music…a differant show every night…a nice show to wind down the day

Beach/Pools/Grounds
beach is big,you feel like you have your own piece of paradise,never crowded and no lounge chair wars!! security on the beach because you are next to a cuban camping area and beach security is mainly there to keep the cubans from begging on the resort..we never experianced any begging,just friendly informative people we had several red flag days on the beach…jellyfish (man of wars) you could stilll use paddle boats,kyacks,hobbi cat but no snorkling or swimming. beach is clean and we did get to go snorkling about 4 times….AWESOME REEF & FISH!! pools….clean and large…they did have scuba classes in the pool and some games

they do not try to force you to play the games or learn to dance….i very laidback resort

Other Comments
a very laided back and relaxing resort…a great place all guest are canadian lots of things to do if you so desire….one hour from havana if you are on the beach at the cuban camp ground….find edmond (the artist) great man to talk to and to learn from they have a BBQ on thursday which is very nice…traditional dance,music if they red flag the beach for jellies…obey it …don’t be an idiot people we know got stung and it can be deadly if not treated. THE SNORKLING IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! take a drink or a sandwich to the security guys on the beach,they work hard with little rewards
Restaurants and Bars
one ala carte….great leasurily dinner…we had snapper,lobster,squid the wines are surprisingly good caferteria style for all other meals….pork,fish,chicken and some beef always great pasta dishes…the lasagna was excellant breakfast great omeletts start your toast early…you have to run it through a couple of times to get it right, NO PEANUTBUTTER,my new french friends from moncton were so kind to give me a couple of packets!!!!(they don’t like man of wars…..ouch!!

ok the bars….what can i say..they even cut the fruit in the shape of a canadian flag…awesome bar staff

Rooms
very clean,large shower (hand held shower head or fixed) very small pillow but the bed was very comfy…air conditioned worked well extra blankets…nice towel art from Yowanda our maid we tipped her 10 pesos at first and left her alot of things at the end,she took great care of us.

safe in the room for 2 pesos a day,very quiet rooms,tv even had golbal winnepeg and a vancouver station

Your Arrival
fast and smooth,although I was surprised to see all the Cubans wearing mask at the arrival….just useless dust masks
bus to resort was great with a very well informed guide and cold crystal beer 2 for $5…time to relax….you are on cuba time
Friendly fun group at Caracol
Hotel Club Amigo Caracol
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kate >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
My girlfriend and I just came back from the Caracol in Santa Lucia. We found the hotel rooms clean. The staff very friendly. The service to be great. The meals were a little lacking. Not much to chose from. But other than that everything went just excellent. They have an excellent massage person there! The beach is nice. There is security so no need to feel afraid. You are not bothered on the beach by beggars or persons trying to sell too many trinkets. There are no time share pitches. So overall… I’d say Cuba is WAY more fun than Mexico!

If you do decide to travel to Cuba. Do the people of Cuba a favor and bring along extra old clothes that are in good shape that you may have outgrown or decided to discard. Take along a whole spare suitcase full if you can. They especially would love used shoes, baby clothes, shampoos, lotions, medicines like tylenol or advil, makeup, essentially anything you are willing to bring is fair game for a well appreciated tip.

Relaxing – Beautiful
Hotel Be Live Canoa (formerly Oasis)
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Miranda >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Relaxing – Beautiful
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Many activities excellent animation group to keep everyone participating. Off resort tours can be purchased at the beach for a much lower cost than from the tour companies. Saona Island was beautiful but for a full day trip only about three hours allotted for exploring. I would recommend Catalina if you are interested in snorkeling.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful long white sandy beach with turquoise water. Tons of beach chairs not many teaky tents for shade. The ocean is roped off, alonf the rope is a man made reef, snorkling is FANTASTIC along this reef. A MUST SEE! Pool is huge and pool bar is beautiful. Again not many teaky huts but lots of chairs. Grounds were well kept as well. Very serene.
Restaurants and Bars
Buffet served breakfast, lunch, dinner and all night snacks. Dinner buffet was the only one that I didnt really care to attend. Lunch and Breakfast were good. Snack bar by pool and ocean served excellent burgers, chicken wings, pizza and french fries. This snack bar alternates the seafood and Mexican dinners. Mexican was tradition and good (but I made the mistake and had the shrimp brochette and it was not good at all) We did not attend the Seafood but I heard the steak there was excellent. No crab or lobster. The Japanese did require reservations and you had to be at the guest service booth by 830 am to get a reservation. Surely worth it! Sushi starter, chicken, steak, shrimp and fish accompanied by grilled veggies and rice. Lastly the Italian restaurant was AMAZING!! Excellent apps and antipasto bar. The entrees were very traditional and delicious.
Rooms
Room was beautiful…Bed was soft and had a slope, bathroom needed improvements(faucet was off the shower wall a bit) There was an iron board/iron, fridge, television, hairdryer and large make up mirror. The fridge is stocked daily with 2 pop and 2 beer and 2 water. Safe lock fee is 4 dollars a day. Maid service was phenomenal. There were sand flies on the furniture but was to be expected. We stayed in block 12 which was right by the ocean and pool. Excellent view very clean and quite.
Your Arrival
Flew Skyservice when checking in baggage was said to be way over weight however in bringing more stuff back it was way underweight. In the future if this happened I would request my bags weighed at another station as I believe the Toronto Airport did not get the correct reading on our luggage. Landed in Punta Cana rather than La Romana airport. Could be anywhere from 1.5-3 hour bus ride which is nice to see the surrounding area and towns. Check in was smooth, had to wait for our room but were able to enjoy the facilities while we waited. Bell boy holds your luggage while you tour the resort. Bring swimsuit/light clothing in carry on so you can enjoy the resort while you wait.
Tranquil, quiet, restful.
Hotel Sosua by the Sea
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robin >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Solo
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
AN ABSOLUTE MUST is to find Chiquito on the beach and sign up for his horseback riding excursion. The most fun I’ve had on a trip so far and I’m not one to leave the beach. Very local experience through the mountains and galloping in the river then home cooked meal for lunch by his sister in her village. His number is 809-977-4619. Tell him Robin sent you!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Private secluded cove and beach around bend in walking distance from busier resort beach. Small waves and crystal clear water.
Restaurants and Bars
Town is walking distance and busy enough for those looking for night life but also quiet enough for those that aren’t.
Can see why people return.
Hotel Breezes Jibacoa
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Nova Scotia >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Shows We thought they were quite entertaining, some really funny nights. Enjoyed the magician. The dancers looked quite young and I thought the clothes they wore sometimes were a bit risque for such young girls. I think that thinking comes from having young daughters myself. Shows were very well attended, an indication of the entertainment value, I think. Tours Take the free hike up the hill and farm tour, it’s a nice walk and very interesting with a few chuckles thrown in. We took the Havana Tour including the rum museum and cigar factory. Enjoyed the cigar factory tour but really, we should have saved a few bucks and taken a private cab tour. It would have been less rushed. In any event, Havana is a must when you are that close. Robberies There was only one robbery at the resort while we were there… that we knew of. A couple had their room entered while they were sleeping and had some stuff stolen. Hard to believe… until you see how the second floor sliding doors do not lock. From what we heard, staff handled the situation very professionally as did the police.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Grounds This is where this resort really shines. Immaculate, well groomed and simply beautiful. Nothing too far apart, easy walking. Beach Yep, snorkeling is good. Beach is a little rocky for waders and swimmers though. Two red flag days out of eight due to man-o-wars. Lots of shade if you need it, long stretch of beach to walk. There are some beggers around but they are not aggressive. Pool Good size, refreshingly cool but shallow. I don’t get it, an adult only resort with a shallow pool. It’s a 24 hour pool and I am guessing it uses a saltwater chlorine generator system. No awful chlorine smell, no burning eyes. There are two types of tile around the pool, the darker tile is very slippery when wet, or when your feet are wet. Shade can be tough to secure on red flag days. There are 2 hot tubs in the vicinity that folks seemed to like.
Other Comments
Other tips -We found the prices for things you might need were cheaper at the shop near the CVJ. -Locate the Italian restaurant well before your reservation, it’s sort of hidden behind the buffet and above the Cuban restaurant. -Take an insulated travel mug!! -Wouldn’t hurt to take a can of bugspray, the little no-seeums pack a mean bite for some people. Spray it around the door and behind the curtains. -Staff appreciated tips, but really didn’t seem to demand them. -There’s a good resort map near the lobby desk, find your room before heading out with your luggage. We saw some folks wandering aimlessly dragging bags. -If you have a late departure, you have to turn your towel in. You can make a deposit of $15cuc to keep it until 5pm. -There is a hospitality room provided for you to clean up for a late flight, they use a 20 minute per person guideline for it’s use. A queue seems to form around 5pm for its use and grows quickly. -Try on all clothing before you buy it, it seems sized very small… or I gained a lot of weight while there. -Don’t let the atmosphere at the resort lull you into a false sense of security, remain as vigilant in protecting yourself and your belongings as anywhere else you may go. Overall I can see while so many people return to this place. Once you figure out a few little things, you can get into a routine of pure comfort, relaxation, good eating and as much fun as you care to have, all in a beautiful setting. I would return.

Questions? tomaz61@yahoo.ca

Restaurants and Bars
Bars Favorite is definately the beach bar, All workers here are fantastic. Least favorite was the pool bar where a couple of the guys working there during the day needed a swift kick in the butt for complacency, so sorry to inconvenience them. Lobby bar could get slow with lineups, but thems the breaks. Piano bar was a nice atmosphere… sans piano player most times. All bars had most popular drinks and seemed well stocked. Disco was, well, what you made it. We had a few laughs there. Restaurants Buffet was ok, as most reviews state the food is often on the cool side. I didn’t eat as much as I usually do. Omelets, pastas and desserts were nice. Lobster night was suprisingly good. It’s tough to get a glass of water at the buffet, seems they don’t stock it at the server’s stations. I’d say maybe half of the time I asked for water, I didn’t get it. No problem getting wine, juice or coffee though. Italian ala carte was the best of the two, the steak was done very nicely. The Cuban ala carte, well, not bad but not great. I had the chicken dish which was a bit bland. The beach restaurant was great for snacks. We all liked the burgers, chicken and fries they served there.
Rooms
Rooms We had an ocean view room on the ground floor. Problems here with locking patio and balcony doors. Bottom floor rooms had flimsy pins that were used to secure the sliding doors, second floor rooms were somewhat less secure. Rooms had all the expected amenities, plus a voltage converter which seemed to need an adapter of some sort. I think that’s what it was, I didn’t need it. Lots of hot water and good pressure. Soap, shampoo and conditioner is provided. We arrived to two twin beds, followed the next day by a 3rd twin bed… why? I dunno. Asked to have it removed, it was still there when we left. Want the towels changed, place them in the tub, want the sheets changed, place a provided card on the bed. Beds were firm but I like them that way, pillows were fine. Mini fridge with 2 small bottles of water provided and you have to refill them at a bar. I preferred to fill mine at the beach bar where you can fill them yourself. No clock provided, but there is a cd player. Small ants crawling around which is typical of a ground floor room, also no-seeums that seemed to hover down low and around behind the curtains. I think they left the confines of the curtains at night to attack my wife as she slept, fortunately I was not to their liking. Spoke to other guests who experienced similar bites. Mistook them for bedbugs, which is a common mistake I think.
Your Arrival
Getting there. Sunwing – slight delays on both ends, otherwise not a bad trip, food was typical airline fare. Beer at the airport was selling for a whopping $4 cuc each. Bus ride from Airport about an hour long and included a stop at a Pina Colada stand along the way, a nice treat. Check in Arrived around noon, not surprisingly rooms not ready until 2:30 (there is a 3 pm check in), left luggage in lobby, headed to beach. Front desk staff were outstanding in comparison to other resorts I have been to. Friendly and helpful. Pick up your towel cards, safe lock and key, make your 2 ala carte reservations and grab your room keys. There is thankfully no wrist bracelet in use at this resort.
Great people
Hotel Be Live Brisas Santa Lucia
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Tony >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Room was OK, Food was plentiful, the entertainers and hotel employee’s were great. We are intending to go back just because of the people there.
Just like going to the cottage
Hotel GC Villa Trópico (Cameleon Villa Jibacoa)
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Rob >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Business | Family
We are a couple in our 50s. When the kids were young, we used to rent a cottage every year in a place called Sandy Lane on Hall’s Lake in Haliburton. We did it for a few years and as time went by, everyone got to know everyone and it was a wonderful, friendly experience that we all remember to this day. We found the same feeling at JVC. The place is not perfect, but the friendliness of the staff and guests make it a wonderful place to be.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
I was going to go scuba diving. I am certified, but the dive boat is actually a pedal boat. You get into your gear on shore and then the divemaster padels out to the reef where you go. I decided it did not appeal to me, and the snorkeling was so go I took a pass. They have a hobbi cat, and pedal boats, and kayaks, but they close up the use of them at 4 in the afternoon. There did not seem to be a problem ever getting to use them though, no line ups or anything. We took the hike up the mountain, it is a good hike and you come down the back side into a farm. We toured the farmer’s house and were told you could have lunch or dinner with the family for 15 pesos each. We did not as time was short, but talked to people that did and they quite enjoyed it. They have shows every night but we never made any but people said they were good if ameture.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds were good, well maintained and clean. They are always working on them, raking pruning etc.There is a lot of wild life. Great birdwatching, a family of little gecko’s living under the sidewalk, and a little mother cat with her kittens. These had to be the most looked after cats in Cuba, everyone was passing by giving them food and petting them. The beach itself is quite nice although water shoes are a good idea. We arrived on Monday and went to Havana on Tuesday. The wind was very high and the beach was closed both Tuesday and Wednesday due to jelly fish. I got up early on Wednesday before they had raked the beach (which they do every day) and could not believe the amount of garbage washed up on shore. It had been extremely windy and we wondered where it all came from……washed down from Varadero perhaps? Maybe the do like the do in NYC and just take it out on barges and dump the garbage in the water. There had to be at least 1000 jellyfish mixed in with it, but they raked it and it was never seen again. Probably what this area offers most is the reef and snorkeling chances that are hard to beat. Just offshore there are reefs that are teaming with fish. The water is warm, but I used a 2mm shorty suit as the coral is sharp and I am a suck about cold water. The pools are clean and cool and refreshing. There is never, ever a problem getting a good lounge either on the beach or at the pool and there is lots of shade if you want it. My wife was bitten by some insects we could never see. They didn’t touch me. Other guests had the same experence with one getting eaten alive and the other not touched. Take bug spray and maybe Benydril ointment if you react to misquitos in a big way.
Other Comments
As I said at the opening of this review it was lot like going to that cottage compound. It is not perfect and at 40 years old, some of the buildings are showing their age a bit, but it under new management and they are upgrading as time and money permit. The thing that is probably the most amaizing is how quickly you become friends with just about everyone on the resort. We are not joiners and prefer to just chill when we are away, but still we met many wonderful people from all over Canada. We will return again sometime, maybe next year although we like to try different spots. We felt considering what we paid, the place was great. We paid a total of $1280 for both of us but someone who waited until the last minute paid under $1000, which makes it the deal of the century. If you go to this resort, I can assure you you will enjoy yourself. It is important, in my opinion, to realize that you are in the tropics, and on an island where there is a shortage of goods. Saying that, the food is fine, the ocean is great and the people that work there are friendly.
Restaurants and Bars
The food, as most people know, is simple. Breakfast is good with cereal, yummy yogurt, nice fruit, lots and lots of fresh sqeezed orange juice, eggs cooked for you, some cheese all sorts of nice things. Lunch was usually a couple of types of pasta, fish, chicken and or port, pizza, really nice salads (no salad dressings, just oil and vinegar) always beans or rice, always something to eat, but plain. I used tabasco which they have to liven things up a bit. Ice Cream at lunch but only at lunch. Dinner was much like lunch in there was alway something good to eat, but never anything to really rave about. Good, honest, clean food simply prepared. The bars are never crowded, we felt the lobby bar was the best. They do not have wine at the bar, but we were able to buy a bottle at the store on property to have in the afternoon . The wine in the buffet at lunch and dinner was Spanish and quite good. The drinks we all nice made. You can get olives at the store for a martini, but you have to bring your own glasses if you don’t want a little plastic one. The al la carte was fine, had mahi mahi with shrimps.
Rooms
We had requested a single bed but ended up with two doubles. They offered to move us but we were ok with it so we just pushed the beds together. The rooms are big, nice walk in shower, no bath tub. The pillows are small, or at least not thick so I think if room permits we will bring out own next time. We had a little lizard living in the room, but they eat bugs so he was our friend and pet. The rooms themselves are comprised of quads and little rows of 6, and honestly there did not seem to be any bad ones, although as I say 70 is central to everything.
Your Arrival
We had an early flight with Skyservice ( just dodged a bullet there) and we on the bus headed for the resort by 1130 in the morning. The host on the bus did not speak any English, only French, which we thought odd, but…est Cuba! Tried to check in but our room was not ready. Had lunch, walked around the grounds and we were starting to worry when by 3 the room still was not ready. It was all good though, as we wound up with room 70, which I can tell you is a good room, nice view and close to everything. The front desk staff seemed a little overwhelmed as the place was completely booked.
Complain
Hotel Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort
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Mark >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Just came from Sirenis.Nice resort.Good food and beach,only problem Premium Travelers club.Stay away from this people.
Wonderful vaction,with great people at Brisas Guardalava
Hotel Brisas Guardalavaca
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Betty from Winnipeg >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This was to be our 5th time here at Brisas Guardalavaca We were booked in Sept this trip because it was for one month. As most canadians know most of the west had to travel via Toronto. We are from Winnipeg.Most charters only hold so many seats for 3 and 4 week travels.Also Westjet was the only carrier to Holguin Cuba.

Was very happy with the service I might add. Great luggage allowance.1 hundred pounds each plus 2 carry ons each at 10kg.Had it packed to the max

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Always something to do/ The animation team really try to get you involved with volleyball, dancing games in the games room. They have archery with pelet gun ,Bachi ball and more.
The evening entertainment good. Modeling show my favorite :)Aquadic show, Christopher Columbus show Really funny 🙂 and more.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Love the beach. Just pristine. My hubby loves to snorkel and has gone fishing way out front of resort and caught alot of fish on occasion.
Pool at hotel is more lively as they have a grill bar there. Great pizzas and hotdogs and the like.Villa is nice for small kids. Little bar close by.
Other Comments
We rented a car for 5 days and toured around. Town of Banes to see friends. Holguin to visit and stay with friends. Seaside town called Gibara. 2 hours from Guardalavaca. Really nice drive. Stopped at a home that served lobster there.Couldn;t have had a grander day. Stopped and played ball with some kids that were playing.My friend and I gave away alot of shoes and clothes on this journey.Fantastic My husband and I wish to go back and do it all over again Get out and meet Cuba Bettyboop
Restaurants and Bars
Two buffets to eat at. You can have your choice in the morning for fresh made eggs however you like them.Lots of fruits and veggies and more. There are 2 alacarts Italian in the hotel and Seafood down by the villas.Have yourself a drink at the cappachino bar next to Italian before dinner . Nice place for a coffee afterwards. Great service.Seafood, they sometimes have the servers entertaining you with sing or guitar. Very good.
You can also get breakfast served to you at 1o till ii.30 at the seafood if you miss buffet which closes at 10.
Your Arrival
On time and good ckeck in.We stayed in the villas as much more room and in most places quite.Our room building 6000 you walk right out to thebeach. Awsome
coffee maker and small fridge with water everyday. Maid service has always been good.
Wanna Bang for the Peso ! ( Kinda Short but Sweet ) — > SuperClubs-Breezes-Jibacoa CUBA
Hotel Breezes Jibacoa
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The Derry’s >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Travelled from Gander, NL., Canada on the 31st of March 2010 and flew out of Cuba on the 7th of April 2010. I used a very good agent at a.buckle@tpi.ca who was patient and found us a very good deal & resort combination. Sunwing was beyond our expectations. Flights ahead of schedule both south and northbound, great onboard staff, meals, ammenities and on the ground resort personel available 6 days a week to address any concerns. Takes a private airline to set the benchmark eh? Super resort 4.5 / 5 and very good value for the $$ money. No kids under 14 years of age permitted. It only has 250 rooms thus no line ups or crush of people for a beach chair, meals, drink, etc. This resort is not on the Varadaro peninsula. In fact, it is west of Varadaro in "Jibacoa Bay" (on north side of Cuba aprox 80 miles south of Miami. Also known for some of the best coral reef snokeling)about 1 hr by comfortable air conditioned full size charter bus from the airport. That suited us just fine, a resort ~ with privacy. The captial of Cuba – Havana – is only 1 hr away, again west, from this resort which we found convenient for excursions. One gets to see the country side enroute to exploring Cuba! * If you want to party like stray dog or cat ~ this place is not for you * Relax to the max or pedal to your own speed ~ and hit the bunk by 11PM or 2 AM (if you enjoy the disco)then you’ve found it ~

Good food, clean rooms, beverages of ones’ choice, safe enviroment, and varied clientele.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We, as a family or four with two teenage boys 18&16, had a grand time at this resort. They boys bumped into some Albertan male buddies, were maintenance free and us secure in them being safe / well-behaved for our stay. They attended the nightly outdoors theatre shows with us that were put off by the resort @ 9:10 PM to 10:30 PM, and then slinked into the disco to socialize, sans parents,afterward. As parent were never concerned about thier safety on the resort or swimming. Most here are Canucks and look out for each other I must say! #1 two boys did resort scuba diving x2 $30 each for 1.5 hours , #2 my wife and I had a massage $20 each for 1/2 hour each, and #3 did a hike up a mountain (free by from resort), the base of which the resort is situated upon. #4 We all did an excursion to Havana by taxi vs a bus and the driver walked us around old/new Havana/huge flea market, spoke good English and had an exceptional knowledge of his countries history. Regretably, I’ve got my doubts most Canadians could recite a similar history lesson. He could also press the flesh to get us bumped up in a lineup in this busy city. It cost 4 of us $70 peso’s total or about $100 bucks CDN – we left at 8:30 AM and home at 5:30 PM ~ awesome. Just enquire around. #5 I rented one 2-seater scooter on the resort for about $15 for three hours and booted around at my own speed. Went to St. Cruz nearby and took photo’s of that small town about 20 km west of the resort. A photographers ~ mecca. #6 We did the Costa Blanca catamaran excursion, the only excursion we went through the Sunwing representative to book. We did the $69 dollar tour to just "watch a dolphin show" (don’t pay double to swim with dolphin’s unless you choose) At 7:45 AM the bus departed from our resort to the Varadaro peninsula, a nice air conditioned drive to get there, only 1 hr, but scenic . At 9:00 AM we left Varadero peninsula on the catarman and steamed to set anchor at 10:45 AM and did some group snorkeling. All equipment provided but if you have your snorkeling gear bring it will save you "water time" ! Lots of room for gear/kit bags on board. How big ? we are talking a 64′ boat here folks ~ no slouch of a craft. All drinks, free. At about 1:30 PM we arrived at Waterworld, an island, where we docked and swam in the whitest, warmest of beaches, shopped at a market set up for the day and had lunch; lobster, crab, chicken, favorite beverage, ~ again fill your boots. A very good tour and good value.

Again, you could do all of the above, some of it or, none of it ~ tasters choice 🙂

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Clean, large pool and two jacuzzi tubs on the same deck.

Grounds are tended to daily by ground personnel so no coconuts fall on YOUR ‘coconut’. No issues.

Other Comments
Bring stuff for the kids and adults…….. Cubans love baseball hats, esp., the one with the ProFit head band. These folks (from walking to the gereatric ward) practice baseball with everything from a junk of palm tree and a rock, to a bat and ball, if fortunate enough. Also medicine (and oddly disposable diapers) are very expensive or not attainable. I regret not bringing more "stuff", giving money is one thing but despite that Cubans often cannot attain what they "need" My suggestion, when you have your next visit with your family physician, ask for few/bag full of the sample pharmacutical products that medical pracitioners get from drug representatives and take them to Cuba. Check the visitor site, one is only allowed 10, get this, "kilograms" per person. Since our stay was over the Easter break, and Cubans are Catholic, my wife brought down Easter Bunnies and on the moped tour we went to the hardest spots (not crime ridden – very little crime/drugs in Cuba)stopped and gave out items to the kids. Not one melted ! The DERRY’s – NFLD
Restaurants and Bars
Buffet – great. Most evening there is musical entertainment. These groups could easliy be cover bands in Canada and amass a small fortune. The breakfast egg omelettes are remarkable (with or without the yolk). Full variety of hot/cold food, soup, fruit, if you can’t get it here ~ stay home and eat TV dinners. Beach bar – wicked fries (I like them crispy, cheese burgers x2 or x3 patties, chicken & pizza – fill your boots – justifies the selection of no egg yolk at breakfast, see ? ) Both the Italian and Cuban restaurants are good and formal in the sense of a dining experience. With two teenage boys, or big eaters, don’t expect to "dine and dash" You are entitled to visit each only once in your 7 day stay.

If I had to pay out of pocket what my two ‘seagull’ sons ate during the week at this resort ~ I would be a pauper.

Rooms
Cleaned daily. Again are clean, modern, comforable (for the time spent in them) and a good night sleep after a day in the hot Cuban sun. Rooms have a key locking safe, small fridge 2’x2’x2′, a hairdryer, and a converter from 220Volts to CDN voltage, all provided free. TV’s are on satelitte 20+ channels.

NFLD’ers even get NTV news on channel #36 ~ daily.

Your Arrival
I made 2 boo boo’s … #1 I failed to heed the previous posts and did not bring a thermal mug for beverages. A MUST have, for both hot and esp., cold beverages. Saves repeated trips back and forth to the bar. Beer / hard drinks come in a 6 oz plastic cup on each endless serving. Oh, and for smokers (I am not) cigarettes are .60 cents a pack. No tax on anything, the sticker is what you pay. #2 Take a hoodie/fleece or 3 season jacket and long pants/sweats for the nightly outdoor stage performances on the resort. You won’t want to miss them ! Evenings, despite being a low of 18C, with the wind and your sun burn can feel cool. Ironically enough ~ have a fall outfit at the ready and in your suitcase if you want to be comfortable and enjoy a cold beverage at the same time. Nice to know :

If you are a ‘face cloth’ person (we were not) you will need to bring your own, only towels of the standard size (ample) are provided.

Over all a Great Vacation
Hotel Occidental Allegro Varadero (Formerly Playa Varadero 1920)
User Rating:  
Leah >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
The weather was nothing less than amazing. We were blessed with sunshine every day of our stay with temps of 28 to 36 degrees C. The only complaints would be the little plastic cups that they served the drinks in and the fact that certain drinks were not available as they ran out later in the day. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE A TRAVEL MUG. To sum it up if you go to the Allegro Varadero and don’t enjoy yourself, Then it would be your own fault….. Loosen up ….. You only live once ….. Enjoy Life!!!!

This is our honest opinion on the Allegro Varadero.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Our evenings consisted of taking in the nightly shows that for the most part were entertaining and well performed. Then we would be off to the disco for more drinks, Dancing and watching the peformances of the less than sober partiers as they let loose after a day in the Sun. We did one excursion which was the Jeep safari Amazingly Great Time!!!! Well worth the money. Our tour guide Victor lead us through the tourist free areas of Varadero. With stops for Speed boat drive up a beautiful river, Snorkeling over a Coral reef, A tour of a old coffee plantaion including lunch and horse back riding [Thank you Peter for the tour and history lesson] and then to the cave for a swim in the underground lake. The double decker bus trip is a must. Great way to see Varadero resort area and go down town to enjoy a few hours of shopping, entertainment and dining. If you like old cars as we do this is a dream come true beautiful classic cars everywhere.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
We had our own pool with bar and a Jacuzzi in our section. Felix our best Bartender was always willing to do what he could to make our days filled with drink, music and chit chat. There was another bartender who worked with him who was not friendly, But we simply avoided her when possible. The BEACH "WOW!!" the beach Breathtaking to say the least. Very beautiful. Cleaned everyday with a tractor and manually raked. The sand is very white and very fine, a few shells but it is a beach after all. Two evenigs during our stay the beach became the sight of BEACH PARTYS, live music, dancing and even a limbo contest. With a bar set up right on the beach.
Other Comments
The staff for the most part were very friendly and willing to help, there were a few, as everywhere else in the world, that were not so nice but we didn’t let that bother us. The staff worked very hard and there was not always enough staff to accommodate the volume of guests expecting service.
Restaurants and Bars
Now for the FOOD, I don’t have any idea what people were complaining about. The food was not bland, very good actually. We always found a good variety of food and enjoyed most of it. We found the food to be very much like we are used to in Canada. We ate at only one A la carte which was the Palma Real. The food was ok, The service was great. We had most meals at the buffet restaurant the best advise here is be early this is a huge resort with many people and the Quality and variety gets less & less the later you arrive. We ate in the same section each meal and received super service from our waitress. Also for lunches the BBQ at the beach bar was always very good. We were not real impressed with the pizza but there was lots of other good food.
Rooms
We were escorted to our absolutly gorgeous room on the corner, second floor of the second building from the beach room # 6220. We had a King size bed, coffee maker, fridge, Dresser, two large closets [safe in each one], large clean full bath with private toilet and then there was a balcony with a view of the ocean that wrapped around the side of the building streching nearly 40 feet from end to end.Our room was cleaned daily by Daylin who was without a doubt the best maid either of us could have ever hoped for. And for those who complained that they did not get proper supplies, I tell you all, We recieved everything we asked for and more. A friendly note and a good tip goes a long way.
Your Arrival
We stayed at the Allegro Varadero from Mar 29/10 to April 6/10.
We Arrived mid afternoon. Staff at the front desk very friendly and helpful very short wait then we were on our way driven to our room in the Cayo Largo section of the resort by Louis [great guy].
Great as usual
Hotel Gran Ventana Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Alec >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Booked through itravel2000, price was fair to good. Flight was with Nolitour / Skyservice. They changed our flight from Fri 06:20 AM to Sat 3:40 PM, I was given the option to cancel with refund, I did and a good thing as Skyservice went under. I had re booked with Air Canada, flight was good, however, nothing free on the flight except a glass of juice.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Night Entertainment is good, however, I’ve seen better. Snorkeling very good in front of the resort.

Lots of Tour’s and plenty to choose from.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Great
Other Comments
Great all around resort. Very good experince and will recommend to others and will return.
Restaurants and Bars
Food has to be the best I’ve tasted in 8 trips to the D.R. All the A la Carte’s are good; Octopus – Caribbean Ocean Grill – Everything on the grill

Sapore di mare – Italian

Rooms
No problem with rooms. Maid service was good and room cleaned daily. Everything in the room worked. Water is in large bottles so bring a smaller one to top as required.
Your Arrival
Arrived at 8:30 PM, check in was fast and rooms were ready.
wonderful wonderful place
Hotel GC Villa Trópico (Cameleon Villa Jibacoa)
User Rating:  
Barb >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Wonderful place, will go back again next year. The staff are all lovely, would recommend this place to anyone.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Took a trip by bus toHavanna, next year we will go by taxi, so we can pick and choose where we want to go.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach, pools and grounds were immaculate.
Other Comments
The shows at night were very entertaining, and we didn’t miss one. Just want to say again, the people there are wonderful and make you feel very welcome and will do anything to make your stay the best it can be
Restaurants and Bars
The poolside bar was lots of fun and always willing to let you try different drinks. The dining room was large and open, food nothing special but lots of it, breakfast was the best, but for the other two meals you certainly wouldn’t go away hungry. Next year when I go there I will certainly bring some soya sauce, cause one of their staples is rice.
Rooms
The rooms were large and very very clean, nothing special, but who needs that when you are at the beach or by the pool all day
Your Arrival
Arrival was very late to Cuba, could not change our money, it was closed, and our luggage was misplaced, but all in all we got to the resort unscathed
best vacation ever
Hotel VIK hotel Arena Blanca (LTI Beach Resort Punta Cana)
User Rating:  
tammy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
my husband and i stayed there for a second honeymoon. i am handicaped and they all just rolled out the red carpet for me rented me a wheelchair for 10 dolloars a day. i wanted another room so the manager there for no extra cost put us in a beautiful room right on the ocean in building 5 this is the best rooms and beautiful. in short they where the nicest people you can meet. now its april 2010 and we are booked to go back with six of my family. i think all of these bad reviews are from very hard to please people, i have been to sandles this is a six star and i will tell you we had just as good as a time and the entertainment was even better. i am a very fussy person and i couldnt ask for better.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
there is a fleamarket every thursday evening stay away from it. they just hound you to buy buy buy. they say "something is better than nothing ", they drive you nuts so beware of shopping anywhere.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
be aware that some vacationers come from different cultures and only a few will go topless. best beach i have ever seen.
Other Comments
what a beautiful experience and like i said i am comming back with my family a 93 year old and my 12 yr old my mother and farther and my husband, i cant wait to see all of them again at the vic blanca hotel i love it.
Restaurants and Bars
give a one dollor tip and they will do anything for you they appreciate it so much. make sure you book your ala carte soon as you check in.
Rooms
like i mentioned building 5 oceanfront rooms, this is beside the pool and infront of the beach and best rooms.
Your Arrival
book building 5 and bring proper clothing for the ala carte-no open toe sandles and no shorts of any kind for men they have to wear pants and women can wear skirts or anything aslong as it is not beach wear.
better than expected
Hotel Sunset Beach Resort & Spa
User Rating:  
alain >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Second time in Jamaica, first time at Sunset Beach Resort. Will definitely come hear again.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We walked a couple of times off the resort and down the road. About a twenty minutes walk you will see a shopping centre to your left hand side of the road. Souvenir shops with good prices. Cruise ships disembark nearby. Taxis come by steady to see if you need a ride. We also went into Montego Bay(Hip Strip). With AirCanada we booked a tour into the city for 10$ U.S. each. there was four of us. Our driver was very friendly gentleman. He drove us to three different areas. One was up on the hill overlooking the bay, the other was at the Hip Strip(shops and restaurants also the Margaritaville.) There is a free shuttle from the resort to Margaritaville, but it is in the evening. Good for the Bar seen and late shopping. And the last spot was like a small village of shops. Our drive was in no rush and let us make the schedule.

All four of us just wanted to do a little shopping and then back to the Beach. Our driver was very informative and a Joy to talk with.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Lets start with the Beaches; The beach was very good for snorkelling, lots to see, specially in the morning. The sea was very calm. Make sure to see the sun set and get your pictures taken. If you like long walks on the beach, not the place for it, limited. We walked also off the resort and down the road, past some good shopping near the port for cruise ships. Now the pools: Lots of room at the different pools. We spent a lot of time at the ‘themed water park’ that features water slides and lazy river. (be prepared for lots of Sun)

The Grounds; very nice with many plants and different trees, Banana trees and see if you can find the Ackee Tree but do not touch its fruit, could make you sick. Lots of free space on this resort, nice. Grounds are very well keep, and a joy to the eye.

Other Comments
We have traveled much over the years and try to enjoy the differences a Country has to offer. Jamaica has a very calming effect for us. The Sunset Beach Resort is an all around excellent place for a vacation, couples, families, singles, Young and old will all find a special spot to enjoy at this resort. Take the time to talk with the Jamaicans you meet, they will bless you. Oh yes, on your walks near the shops in the city they will ask you to "take a look in my shop", if you have the time take a fast look and say Thanks, they will be blest. And if you don’t have the time a simple "not today" works.
If you like a little Jamaican History and information go to tea time. The piano player will bless you.
Restaurants and Bars
Main buffet; excellent choice of food and lots of tables(resort was full capacity). Friendly servers, always willing to help and chit-chat. Italian restaurant; Very good, again the servers went out of there way to see that we were having a good vacation. Asian restaurant: very good Sunset Grill; Snacks, Chicken, burgers… Very good

All Bars easy to get yourself served.

Rooms
We were to have a lagoon view room in one of the towers, at the check in we were told that we have a guest room suit. I did not know of the two guest room areas(Beach Inn) near the water park and Italian restaurant. Nice surprise. Room was very comfortable. Staff excellent.
Your Arrival
Modern Airport. Arrival to the resort was very fast, only two other couples in the shuttle bus. Check in and out very simple.
Family owned and managed hotel.
Hotel Boutique Don Emilio
User Rating:  
William >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
The hotel is off the beaten path with a lovely beach. This is not an all inclusive resort with planned activities. Smaller hotel with the best rooms facing the beach (shown on literature). Three floors and no elevators. Clean rooms and breakfast/lunch area including bar.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Walking distance to everything.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Very nice and not crowded.
Other Comments
Have stayed here twice before.
Restaurants and Bars
Cozing and relaxing especially at sunset or sunrise.
Rooms
Clean
Fabulous Wedding !
Hotel Barcelo Maya Beach
User Rating:  
Louise >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
We were 22 people at the Barcelo Maya Beach from March 6 to March 13 2010. We got married on the beach on March 11. Resort: The rooms are spacious; they are nice and very clean. They always fill up the fridge with beer, water and pop. The beach: Best beach of the 5 resorts, it was well groomed and the water was warm and blue. Food: The buffets were average. The lunch buffet was excellent but at dinner it was bland and everything tasted the same. The restaurants: The Mexican was very good and we paid extra to go to the Palace, La Brasserie and it worth every penny. It was delicious. We were told by some friends that the Steak house and Spanish was also very good. The Wedding: The Wedding coordinator Xhail & Karen were fantastic, everything was perfect. They were professional and really make sure that this day was a special day. We took a package (mint), it was very affordable and we had a private dinner reception where there was 7 servers taking care of us (for 22 guests), we were spoiled. There was a nice bar, we had brought our own music and they provide us a music system, it was fun. The food was excellent and the cake also. Thank you very much to Xhail, Karen and Roberto at the reception. Overall, we would recommend strongly this resort to get married and to spend a wonderful time on the beach.

Louise & Derek

Fantastic, relaxing holiday. Would definitely recommend this hotel.
Hotel Melia Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Janet >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t go to any shows or participate in any animation as we were there to relax and enjoy the quiet. We did go on the speedboat excursion which takes you to a lagoon for snorkelling. It was worth the $45 US/person. It takes a half day. We were picked up at noon and dropped off just after 4:00 p.m.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
It was cloudy the following day and we had quite the downpour around 5:00 p.m. After that, it was nothing but sunshine for the remainder of the week. The beach is beautiful and the only other resort on it is the Sol next door. We walked through it and it looked like it could use a coat of fresh paint as well. We did not rise very early to play the towel game, but there never was an issue with getting chairs. Plenty of chairs and shade on the beach and the pool area. I don’t think the resort was at full capacity. There are attendants on the beach who clean off your lounger which is a very nice touch. We spent time at both the pool and the beach. One of the best views of the resort is when you’re in the pool just floating around. The grounds are superb! The gardeners do a wonderful job with the upkeep. That’s the upside of staying in an older resort.
Other Comments
The resort is adults-only and we were very grateful for this, especially after all the loud whining on the plane trip down. Why don’t they have a kids’ section on the plane? I would say the clientele at the resort was about 75% English, 15% South American and 5% Canadian and the average age was over 50.

We came back 45 minutes earlier the following Friday evening and the flight. All in all, I would recommend the Melia Cayo Coco in a heartbeat and look forward to going back.

Restaurants and Bars
We ate at all three à-la-cart restaurants. The best ones were the Italian and the Lagoon. The steakhouse left a lot to be desired. The buffet was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The snack bar had pizzas, burgers, etc. and were open 24 hours a day. The beach restaurant was open for lunch and had great bbq chicken, calamari, etc. It becomes the steakhouse at night. The staff at all of the restaurants were excellent, warm and friendly. There are 4 bars on site. The lobby bar and snackbar, which are open 24 hours, the beach restaurant/steakhouse which is open from lunch to about 5:00 p.m., and the sports bar which is open from late afternoon to midnight. There was no beach bar, but we did see a clearing where there used to be and apparently they will be rebuilding it soon. Again, the staff at all bars was incredible.

As far as food and drinks are concerned, we have no complaints as there is always something available at any time of the day or night. I can’t fathom how much complaining goes on on these reviews. As far as I’m concerned, these people should stay home.

Rooms
We dropped off our bags, turned on the a/c and went to the lobby bar. The first impression of the room was that it was very, very clean with no musty smell, however, it could use a fresh coat of paint as can most of the resort, but this is very minor. Other than that, the fridge was well stocked, the lights, a/c and safe all worked. The lobby was virtually empty and we got some drinks and were welcomed by the bar staff. Our a/c died on day 4 and we reported it to the front desk that evening. He immediately sent someone up to check it. We went back to see him after dinner and he told us there was nothing he could do for the a/c that night. However, he gave us a key to a vacant room and the a/c worked just fine. We requested he move us there for the rest of our stay and all our stuff was moved the next morning. Yay! Quite the efficient staff! An all around well-run hotel.
Your Arrival
We travelled with another couple and flew Air Transat out of Montreal on April 16 and our flight was one hour late leaving. Typical for Air Transat. We hadn’t flown with them in quite some time and couldn’t believe how much advertising goes on during the flight. They must have interrupted the movie at least 1/2 dozen times to sell drinks, blankets at a $7 cost (they claim selling blankets is better for the environment-I call it another money-grab) duty-free, duty-free and duty-free. Enough with the duty-free! We arrived in Cuba around 9:30 p.m. and customs and luggage was quick. We arrived at the hotel around 10:00 and only six of us got off the bus so check-in was quick. We immediately noticed how quiet and laid back the atmosphere in the lobby bar was. A porter showed up and piled us and our luggage in a golf cart and drove us to our rooms.
Great spot, to get away from commercial resorts, 3 star rating does not do it justice.
Hotel Cubanacan Club Amigo Marea del Portillo
User Rating:  
Ron >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Liked it a lot. Prior info & some repeat tourists, had negatives like prostitutes, expensive beach towel. Both BS, funny, 2 young cuban ladies with Canadian gents were married to them!!! Beach towel free/fresh one anytime, but pay $25 IF you lose it. Excellent tours. No food issues. Lots freebies. VIP really worth the slightly higher cost.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Take the jeep tour, worth $55PP. Much cheaper tours also good. Lots other stuff, IF you want to be busy.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
No complaints, scenery beautiful, loved ocean there
Other Comments
My only gripe, too much Latin Music at bar, so they fixed it, with a little mixing. Tourists could be rude occasionally, but Not the Cubans, even outside the resort. Dont pity them, they are basically poor, but cared for. They are very proud & graciously accept our gifts. Bring lots of practical every day things–their economy is poor.
Restaurants and Bars
Very neat. No complaints anything
Rooms
Excellent. Had everything.
Your Arrival
I was the problem, brought an old Playboy book -cuban customs wrote me up & delayed bus. It’s considered pornography. I learned something. While meeting locals, I further learned the word alone "drugs" could get you in jail FAST. We should be thankful, they dont have a drug problem, and lowest crime rate on the continent.
Great place to stay surounding area excelent and the people frendly
Hotel Las Brisas Huatulco
User Rating:  
dave >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
No problems with this resort at all lots of walking and stairs but not a problem actualy me and my wife lost weight even though the food was good lots to do in the area and the tours to the remote bays should be experianced we will be going back in 2011.
Excellent
Hotel GC Villa Trópico (Cameleon Villa Jibacoa)
User Rating:  
Susan >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Second time to this resort. Flew from Moncton, NB with Nolitours via Canjet. Uneventful flight – ham & cheese sandwich for lunch and small glass of champagne. Customs at Varadero airport uneventful. Changed money at Cadeca in Departure lounge. Renovations underway at airport. Six CUCs for 3 beer. Bus ride to hotel was good but as we arrived at midnight (thereabouts) not much to see.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Did not partake in any activities. I was disappointed that there was live musical entertainment only one evening while we were there and this was a four piece band. They were very good but compared to the entertainment that was offered in 2008; no comparison! No singers in the restaraunt either and the shows with the dancers were done to recorded music whereas in the past it had been a live 10 piece band with percussion, guitars, trumpets, and excellent vocals. Not sure if this was due to the time of our visit (first week of May as opposed to first of March in 2008) or just the way it is now. Our main interest in this resort was and is the snorkeling. We were very fortunate in being able to snorkel all six days of our stay and any time of the day was good. The ocean was calm, no wind, and no PMOWs! It was absolutely beautiful. The only downside was seeing the brokne coral where people had walked on the reef. Please try to educate yourself a little before snorkelling and please do not walk on the reef. If you don’t think you can handle mask adjustments whithout standing, wear a lifejacket and practice in shallow water before going out to the reef. We absolutley loved the snorkelling.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach was fantastic. Lots of chairs and shade available. Grounds were very well kept; people always raking, snipping, and generally cleaning up. Noticed many, many more dogs at the resort this time and as stated previously, as long as people keep feeding the animals they will continue to congregate and then be removed not at all pleasantly. I love animals but I am also a realist. Did not use the pool at all but it looked clean and there were activities around it.
Other Comments
All in all an excellent vacation – a week is much too short but certainly better than nothing. Love this resort and it is getting quite popular! We will be back again.
Restaurants and Bars
Buffet restaraunt was fine although very warm as the week went on (temperatures were in the low 30s all week). They had air conditioners on but all the windows and doors open. Breakfast was OK, but lunch and dinner were sweaty affairs unless you were sitting in front of the air conditioner with the fan turned on you. Food was plain and good as other reviewers have stated. No complaints here. Our travelling companions found the fish quite salty and we were surprised that there were no whole fish served as on the previous occasion we had been there. We ate at the a la carte and it was OK. Had a ham & cheese sandwich one day at lunch time from the snack bar (snack bar during day and a la carte at night) and it was excellent. Done on a panini press till golden brown and toasty; MMMmmmmmm. The bars at this resort are some of the best in Cuba I think (in my limited experience) and certainly the best of any resort I have been to. The bartenders go above and beyond to make the perfect drink. Just thinking of a perfectly refreshing purple rain…… and the coffee is excellent also.
Rooms
Requested a queen bed and got two twins but just pushed them together. Room was clean and air conditioner and fridge worked fine. Lots of hot water and clean towels every day. The only strange thing was no towel art???? This was a first for me in Cuba. The room was kept very clean. We were in villa 58 wich was a little far from the lobby and restaraunt (far being relative as the resort is certainly not huge), but was very quiet. Got flowers from the gardener each morning.
Your Arrival
Arrival and check-in at hotel was smooth. Only one bellboy for luggage so we found room on our own. Was raining on arrival. Sandwiches in room fridge and bottle of rum and water on desk. Deposited luggage and went to pool bar for drinks. It was lovely and warm despite the rain and the drinks were excellent as usual.
Exceedingly Abundantly above ALL I could ever have Hoped for… AWESOME- WOW – FABULOUS
Hotel Be Live Grand Marien (formerly Oasis)
User Rating:  
Mary Anne >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This resort was More than I could dreamed it would be even after seeing photos on line, it was Beyond… our dreams… all the way,.,,,,, 4+ star
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There is always something to see & do, the Pool games were lots of fun for us for an afternoon laugh… dancing lessons everyday at 5 pm, spanish also is taught pool side.
there is a nice pool bar & a resteraunt above it is airconditioned Italian cusine
Beach/Pools/Grounds
lovey, soft light gold/ beige sand… easy to walk on, and CLEAN beach
water was warm & lovely, lots of places to sun & also hide in the shade… mango trees all around provided a wonderful canopy over us on a day we so needed to rest & enjoy the breezes
Other Comments
I’d HIGHLY reccomend this resort , I cant say anything bad about it at all the only thing we found hard to deal with was the number of peddlers, selling their wares, and they hound you on the beach, or while on tour/ excursion in Puerto Plata, the people there need to make a living & so many are selling art, jewllery, carved wooden boxes, or in town square, a lilttle boy came and gave me a yellow flower tip tip tip – they ask if you dont… that was the only part of hte trip which made us feel like they could ruin a lovely time. yet knwoing they need so much.. be careful, and go with your gutt instink when you talk with them… I bouight some nice jewllery from a boy at the beach, and he was very easy to talk with… no pressure; then there are some who will tell you $250 US… for items we canget here at home at dollar store.. and pay a total of $10

they insist you wear this or that & they fill a bowl with things they want you to buy,… i certainly learned much and how to say NO.. and walk away.. strong & OK with not being taken.

Restaurants and Bars
WE loved the SANTA Fe- (mexican bar& grill) – had the Chicken Fahita’s and the portions were large, enjoyed also the 3 mix plate with shrimp and steak and chicken breast. this was our favoritw resteraurt a la carte; next ws the BUFFET, always good & more than plentiful, with fruits, and salads, and choice from the grill. such as porkloin, chicken breasts, fish, shrimp, pork roast, salmon, huge beef roasts, the display & garnishses were amazing… the staff -excellent & polite & always wanting to serve you more lots of servers, friendly warm, and obliging There is a Great resteraunt overlooking the, and it is air conditioned- serves Italian cusine, dress is nice shirts, shorts, but ladies take a sweater, or shawl… it teends to be tooo cool up there.

we had pork tenderloin, and beef tenderloin… was very good, as was the desserts….we were WOW’d again

Rooms
WE were surprized when we got an OCEAN VIEW ROOM, in Bldg 3
Kingsize bed… and warobe with lots of rooom to put away clohes, larege closet, and safe, bathroom was also a good size & the maids kept our rooom clean & adorned with fresh flowers & towel art each day; we made sure to tip here veryday & Ileft gifts for her ( perfume, soaps, candies, etc.)
Your Arrival
we arrived early in the morning around 10:30 am, such a warm wlecome & very efficient, our bags were kept secure by the front lobby watchman, and we could used the hotels resteraunts& bars, and pool while we waited for our rooms to be fully ready. WE were greated with pineapple & Coconut drinks, and BIG WARM friendly smiles and HOLA’s….
Had an unforgettable trip! Need help from past guests”
Hotel Occidental Grand Punta Cana
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Corey >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
I will just write a short blurb about our trip to occidental since this is more about finding out about drink ingredients 🙂 This was my wife and I’s second trip to the Dominican, but first to Punta Cana. We had a group of 20 friends (all between 22-35) going down for a once in a lifetime trip. Reading the negatives on this place (in trip advisor)had me trying to scramble with the travel agent to find other accomodations, but we went here. Let me tell you, if you are planning a trip to the Dominican and you have already selected your resort, stay away from the negative reviews. It is nothing more than stress and probably is 90% false. No one will ever be happy with everything. Our biggest repsonsibility all week was do we drink at the pool, the beach, do we go on an excursion, do we eat, take a nap etc. It was exactly what we wanted! The week was great, the staff was great (tried very hard), the weather was awesome, the beach was amazing! I will post more but my main reason for this post is to get some help from previous travellers. I am looking for the ingredients that go into 3 drinks that I fell in love with while I was there and forgot to ask. I was at the Occidental Grand Flamenco Punta Cana from April 25th to May 2nd this year. I really enjoyed my stay and the resort, its staff, grounds, entertainment, food were excellent. During my stay I fell in love with 3 particular drinks there called the Flamenco Especial, Matai, and Tiki Tiki I am wrtiing this email looking for some help in identifying the ingredients that were in these drinks so that I can make them myself at my home to enjoy. In the FLAMENCO ESPECIAL I know there was Ron Barcelo rum, (which I bought 2 gold and 2 white down there) but beyond that I am uncertain. It had a banana flavour as well as coconut. I dont know if that taste came from the juice or other liquors. My guess Ron Barcelo white rum Banana Liquer either coconut cream or coconut rum or the juice was a coconut flavour (It was somewhat pink in color and the mix was a juice turned into slush (no prob just blend with ice here) In the MAITAI I am pretty sure I know all the ingredients but to make sure: My guess Ron Barcelo White Amaretto almond liqueur grenadine syrop Orange Juice In the TIKI TIKI I have no idea other than the juice was some type of mango. If you could help me out by listing what types of liquors were in these drinks as well as what type of juice was used (for the FLAMENCO the juice was frozen into slush) that would be extremely appreciated. I have been craving a Flamenco Especial for 3 weeks now and would love to be able to make them at home. Thanks and I hope to hear from someone
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The best excursion you can go on while you are there is the Tropical Storm party catamaran. Drinks, music, sunken ship, snorkelling, natural pool laggon in ocean, drinking games, huge inflatable slide, dancing etc. Ask for Sam he is from Autsria and the best guide.
Your Arrival
We were all from Moncton NB we travelled Air transat preference club (do this if its an option for you, great upgrade!)
We Got their early (10am) out of our group about 4 of the 9 rooms were already ready, so we lugged our stuff to their rooms and went to the pool bar.
dining out in Mazatlan
Hotel El Cid Castilla Beach
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Gary >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Don’t carry a tab outside the resort pay as you go, we went to Joe’s oyster bar after carrying a tab for drinks for a party of 4 from about 7.30 to 10 15 pm the bill was just under $200 US. We were being charged $15 US for a rum and coke in contrast we payed $20 US at senor frogs for all you can drink from 9.00 to closing and its right next to the El Cid
Great beaches and dive shop and boats on site!!!
Hotel Wyndham Cozumel Resort & Spa (formerly Reef Club)
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peter >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Solo
I went to this resort right after being seperated and went with the purpose of diving and putting my past behind me. It was a great place with a dive shop and dock right on property . The drinks were always cold and the food hot and good. what else could someone ask for while on vacation. Staff were accommadating and the rooms were nice(not amazing ,but not just clean)
I Love the workers at this resort, second time there and would defiently stay again.
Hotel NH Krystal Laguna Villas & Resort
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Shannon >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My sister and I have just gotten back from a week at the N.H. Krystal Lagoon, this is our second time here at this resort and can’t wait to go back. From the Bartenders to the Gardeners to the entertaiment staff and the maids it was a wonderful stay, the only complaint that I would have is the bathrooms on the pool side had very limited of toilet paper and wern’t very clean, but over the week it had gotten better, we had just gotten back so it is very slow this time of year so there was not much to choose from at the buffet, but always somthing to eat. Alexander the bartender at the main pool we meet our last stay there two years ago and soon as he saw us remenbered us right away he is a amazing guy, very friendly and prompt at trying to help with anything you need, there was always a drink in our hands. The garderners also great and friendly people, would do anything to assist you, weather it was to give you a coconut or make you something handmade they would do it tip or not they were just happy to give you something.the weather was amazing, very warm this time of year, alittle to warm, but the pool was there to cool of anytime you got hot, which was often. you had no problems to find a lawn bed due to low season, out of 690 room there might have been 200 guests, which was great for service if you wanted a drink or anything for that matter. Check in when we arrived was very slow due to low staff this time of year, it was a hour wait to check in, they served coctails while waiting in line which was very nice. The room were very clean and spacious, the maids kept it very clean and if you run out of something she will always go out of her way to try to assist you. There was 3 out of the 7 la carts open for service, the Steakhouse, seafood and Italian, you book them the next day apon arrival, from 9am to 5pm, they take ahour for luch.there is a bank on site and you can also get cash at the front desk but better to change at the bank, there is also a gift shop and hair salon open daily. During the day for luch you can visit the buffet resturant or snack bar which is located by the main pool, which serves from 10am in the morning sanwiches and fries and 12 noon pizza, chicken, pork, salads this is open until 5pm. the buffet resurant opens for supper at 630 and is open until 10. So if you are looking for a great place to visit for the price I would recommed this to you. If you are looking for a 5star resort this is not the place to go, but like I said this is cuba and for the price I would stay a month or longer if I had to, I hope my review was a help to you, CHEERS and have a great stay if you deside to make this your destination,I would call the people here my family and my home.
Warm and friendly staff with delightful gourmet offerings
Hotel Iberostar Bavaro
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wellington >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Traveled with West Jet from Toronto because of their humane departure time. Accompanied by my wife and 3 year old son. In spite of the chaotic check in process, we departed smoothly and arrived uneventfully. Baggage clearance and bus ride to Iberostar Bavaro was comfortable in an air conditioned bus. We were the only arrivals for that resort. The resort was very busy.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
On the resort, lots of activities. Pool exercises, Latino dancing lessons, Spanish classes and endless activity. A small Casino next door and a small commercial center with Disco. We did not partake in any off resort activities.
Arrival
Check in was smooth and quick. The weather was very humid and hot. No wet towels or cold drinks greeted us. But on request, the drinks came. The staff spoke comprehensible English and answered all our questions. Room Safety boxes were available at $2 US/dy. We were given a map and directions to our Suite (#1248). It was a bit of a walk but the room was ready and very very cool to our delight. Eight suites were housed in a two level structure. Very few had an ocean view.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Bavaro beach need no description. Nice sand and water. No Sea weed was noted and the beach was clean. There is one large pool on site and a smaller adjacent kiddie’s pool. Beach towels here required a ticket provided on arrival and requested on departure. The resort is mature and has lots of shade. Beach chairs were abundant and thankfully there is no need to grab and secure a chair early before sunrise. The grounds were well kept as with other Iberostar properties. The only set back is mosquitoes. After a rainfall, they are out. Repellant is advised.
Other Comments
In total, Iberostar Bavaro was a great choice for a vacation. Unfortunately humidity is a factor. Our only misgiving was the Airport. It is not Air Conditioned and HOT..hot.
Restaurants and Bars
Let me preface by indicating that we select resorts by choice of dining facilities. Iberostar Bavaro succeeded to our delight. On site there are 5 alacarte restaurants requiring reservations. For a one week stay you are allowed 3 bookings. They were nice and gave us six. Four were air conditioned. We ate at the Japanese,Cajun and Mediterranean. The Gourmet was for couples only and the Steak House was open air (BeachSide) as was the Buffet. The menus were very interesting and food, good as was service. The Japanese was a set back when compared to that in Toronto, but still interesting. What was outstanding was the Buffet. Dinner was great. The menu changed a bit each evening. On Fridays it’s Lobster night..delightful fresh grilled lobsters. There was a fresh coconut stall with staff opening up the nuts. There was also a fruit stall. Lunch was available at the Buffet site and also at the Beach Site(At nights this became the Steak House). Lunch at the Beach Site…excellent. On Thursdays there is a seafood lobster Jambalaya..huge pots with rice topped with half lobsters. A must for pics and dining. There is also an all day ice cream hut near by. At the Italian food station on alternating days roasted suckling pig was served. At the grill station some traditional Dominican food was available as were grilled chicken, steaks and other meats. Lots of vegetables and deserts. There was also a health juice station available all day serving fresh melon and papaya juices next to the towel exchange station.

Food was delightful and remarkable. As usual, dining choices were also available with the adjacent Iberostar Punta Cana and Dominican Resorts.

Rooms
We requested an upper floor and this was provided. The rooms were very comfortable and clean. The Air Condition was central and with out noise. We had a walk out balcony with an area to hand wet clothes provided. All electrical outlets did not need adapters. A few minutes after arrival, a phone call came advising our baggages were on the way. Subsequently a baby crib arrived also, which we had not even requested. Unfortunately we did not need it, but it was very thoughtful.
A trip to remember
Hotel Barcelo Maya Beach
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Cathi >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We arrived later than we wanted to due to airline problems. The first room we had was hot we went to the desk and went to dinner. When we returned to our room the problem was not fixed. They moved us to a temporary room for the night. The next day we were moved to a cool and comfortable room. We went to the pool which is very nice. I got out of the pool to go to the restroom and fell on the slick tile around the bathroom area. I broke my left arm and dislocated my shoulder. I had surgery and spent 2 nights in the hospital. The hotal I believe did not show any compassion, concern or care that I had fallen at their hotel. The manager told my husband they were not responsible because I did not have shoes on. Be very very careful around the pool we saw people fall with and without shoes.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
many things to do without leaving the hotel
Arrival
1 hour 25minutes from the Airport!!!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Be very very careful There is SLICK tile in some areas!!!!
Restaurants and Bars
The was very good!!
Rooms
cool and comfortable
beautiful swimming beach/well maintained restaurants/lovely staff
Hotel Gaviota Playa Pesquero
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kenneth >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Business | Solo
I have been returning to this hotel every year since it opened in 2004,it is almost my home away from home, the staff are lovely people, respectful and pleasant, always willing to satisfy. Especially beautiful is the swimming beach with almost no wave action, almost a lagoon with transparent water 100 ft off the surf line 10 to 15 ft deep. (There is also a small sheltered bay near the river, but sand flies can sometimes be a problem there.Don’t lie on bare sand!!!!).
Arrival
There is usually a cocktail reception on arrival, but as the bar is also in the very large and beautiful reception area, there are many varieties of cocktail that the barmen will be happy to make for you!!!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
beatiful large pool with swim-up bar, comfortable lounge chairs and sun shelters. An exercise gym also contains a jacouzi pool.Lots of pool activities.
The vegetation is beautiful once again,(3 yrs after the hurricane Ike passed through),many palms have been replanted.
Other Comments
The hotel is especially popular for marriage ceremonys, and welcoming parents with small children with open arms.There are organised baby-sitting/playing to give the parents a rest!!!!, and private baby sitting can be obtaines too I believe.
Restaurants and Bars
Very good variety in the restaurants, for the ladies who like to dress-up at least once for a special night the Romantica restaurant is a favourite. The buffet resto is very good too, as is also the pool resto for lunch which is very clean.Five "a la carte" restos are on the grounds with wine service.
Rooms
The rooms are large and spacious with a well equipped bathroom, (bidet and hair dryer and 110v plug-in). Repeat clients also receive an upgrade from a standard to a superior room. There is a TV, a dial-in security box and a small refrigerator in the room, plus coffee machine and ironing board with iron. The bar is refreshed every day with bottled water, beer and soft drinks at no charge.
Your holiday is what you make of it!!
Hotel Be Live Playa Coco
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Danny >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
Cuba will always be a favourite. Whoever has visited more than once, will understand what I mean!!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t do much. We just rented a car one day ($80 CUC) – I prefer doing my own excursions in Cuba since I know the place and trust the people – We drove to Moron (the Cayo Coco highway over the ocean is a wonderful experience by itself – they charge 2 pesos each way to use the Autopista, and bring your passport) then we came back and drove to Playa Pilar in Cayo Guillermo then went to an old resort we had stayed at back in January to visit some friends
Arrival
Sunwing, as usual, always a great flight with all the extra inclusions that other airlines have decided not to offer anymore. Once at the Cayo Coco airport, it was a breeze…we were the only landing flight, immigration and luggage within 25-30 minutes and then on the bus… One mishap though is that a family had a person without a Canadian passport so we unfortunatly got delayed for an hour and a hald almost..which was unfortunate, but hey we were 10 minutes away from the hotel and we all survived!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach – I mean it’s Cuba…do you really need me to say anything…It’s Cuba people, the pearl of the caribbean..I’ve been to many beaches, Cuba does have the best sand and water on this planet Grounds – Kinda lush, but beautifully kept. The hotel layout is very nice

Pool – Very nice freestyle pool. Nice for the afternoons because of the activities (if you wanna have some fun) but not too busy while we were there, it was low-season

Other Comments
If I have anything negative to say about this resort it is the buffet food, then again we were there off-season and I do not know how it is during high-season. But still you will find something to eat, and you will not die of hinger.

Great vacation, great people….and remember, you and your crew make up your holiday. We’ve been to a 5 star Bahia Principe in the Dominican and had the worst time of our life (even though the food was great), because we had people that "suck" with us on holiday, so we’re never taking them again…lol!!!

Restaurants and Bars
Bars are great, the beach one had lemon juice that tasted great. My favourite though was the 24 hour snack bar by the Teatro, Pedro and Angel (the chef) are the best staff boys I’ve ever met on holiday (and I go to Cuba twice a year)…Angel makes the best Tuna sandwich you can ever have and is the nicest man you can ever meet. Buffet – mehhhhhhhh is all I have to say. the pasta bar and the grill had always something good. But the rest of the stuff that you choose from didn’t have much choice, but, do not worry, you are still eating better than the rest of Cuba, so do not take this for granted. Japanese – A MUSTTTT…simply amazing Italian – Excellent

Seafood – DIdi not try it, our reservation was too early so we decided not to go.

Rooms
All our group had Oceanview rooms in block 4 (the pink one on your left). They were spacious nice and very clean. Beach towels were there and none of us mentioned any kind of bad smell in the rooms. The women with us loved the rooms, and that tells that they were nice…us men just wanna shower and sleep!!!
A relaxing vacation at a beautiful resort.
Hotel Be Live Canoa (formerly Oasis)
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Jeffrey >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Prior to our trip I was concerned about Oasis Canoa because of negative reviews I read. Maybe my expectations were less than those who wrote negative reviews or perhaps they are people who expect too much.

For the price we paid for 8 nights, roughly $900 for two people, I feel we more than obtained our money’s worth.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Didn’t attend many of the activities but there were numerous available.
Arrival
Check in/out staff: Checked us in quickly and directed us to our room. Our luggage was delivered to our room within 20 minutes.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Grounds: Well maintained and kept in immaculate condition. What you might expect of a tropical paradise. Pool: Large with ample room for guests. Cleaned every morning. Good supply of lounge chairs. Could use more cabanas to escape the sun and ocassional rain. Beach: Nice, kept clean by staff. Again an ample supply of lounge chairs. More cabanas would have been nice but there were numerous palm trees that shade could be found in.
Restaurants and Bars
Drinks: We enjoy the forzen drinks and that is one area that was a problem. I suppose it is due to the tropical heat and perhaps the turn over rate of these drinks, but the frozen drinks never seemed to have time to get frozen. Rather than using ice and a blender the resort usese machines that keep turning and I suppose should have been freezing the mixture. Many of our pina colada’s were nothing more than syrup, rum, and water. Beer and wine, the few times that I had any, were good. Food: Breakfast- Great buffet selection of typical western breakfast foods and foods not so typical of western breakfasts. Good made to order omlets and eggs. Wide variety of juice and pastries. Lunch- Main buffet had a good daily selection that varied each day. The snack bar, with the exception of a few items, had the same offering daily, hamburges, hotdogs, french fries, salad, and either chicken or fish. Dinner- The main buffet has a theme each evening which included, Mexican, Oriental, and Caribbean. As with breakfast and lunch there was a great variety of items to choose from. Japanese Restaurant- I was hoping this was like a true Japanese restaurant that offer traditional Japanese food. It was more like a westernized chop and dice place in which you sit around the cooking surface and watch the chef prepair the food, entertaining yes, but the food was nothing more than grilled chicken, steak, fish, and shrimp. The miso soup and mock sushi were OK. Italian Restaurant (VeraClub)- The night we made a reservation was Mexican night. I was hoping for a wide variety of Italian food but saw little more than a few pasta offerings. The Mexican food offered was very good it just wasn’t what I was anticipating from an Italian restaurant. Food Service: The bussing service was typcially very prompt and dirty plates didn’t stay on the table long. Beverage service was a little less than ideal. We often had to flag someone down to obtain beverages or refills. I found this to be annoying.
Rooms
Room: Clean and spacious. My wife would have liked a dresser to put clothes in but this was not a big inconvenience. I missed not having a clock in our room so I didn’t need to find my watch to tell the time and to set for wake up rather than using a wake up call service, which did work very well.
One very hot week (sometimes too hot actually!)
Hotel Sirenis Playa Turquesa (formerly Occidental Grand Playa Turquesa)
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Pierre >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went to swim with the dolphins; well, actually, our 2 daughters went. My wife and I didn’t have any interest in doing the swimming part so our daughters took our "20 minutes swim" coupons and went again for a total of 40 minutes. They had a blast. One of our daughter was selected to be thrown out of the water by 2 dolphins which made unbelievable memories. Glossy picture from the so-called "expert photograph" (a regular guy with a above average camera) is 10 pesos but not really worth it. We were right next to him while he was taking pictures and we barely see any difference when we compare our pictures with his. But even if we didn’t swim with the dolphins, my wife and I were still allowed to go on the platform to have our picture taken with a dolphin between us. There is a different show every evening at the theater. On our second evening, we sat behind two guys who had too much to drink and they really ruined it for everyone around them. Remember that seeing a live show is no different than seeing a movie: Shut up! It’s even worse as the performers are there to see the lack of respect compared to a movie. One guy stood up and asked them to shut up to which the other reply "We have the right to speak". When the pissed spectator loudly yelled "You’re a f—–g idiot", we thought "Ding! Round one", but no, he just left now that his show was completely ruined. The two drunk idiots kept taking. Please, people, if you’re not there to see the show, just leave.

They cancel katamaran and pedalos reservations as soon as it’s too windy, so better go make your reservations very early in the morning. Katamaran was quite boring anyway as they just go straight toward the ocean for 10 minutes then just come straight back. Pedalos were most pleasant for that.

Arrival
We were greeted at 20h30 with a cold towel and a drink they simply call the "Welcome Drink". My wife got hooked on these and didn’t drink much else during out 7 days stay!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool with bar is the most popular but also has the most kids who play more with the plastic glasses than anything else (like others have said, where are the parents?!). The barman at pool is called Ivan and he’s impossible to hate. Like I told him the last day I saw him, he’s part of our best memories.
Other Comments
General rules: You can tip everything, you can bargain any homemade stuff (my 16 years old single-handedly bargained a 30 pesos item for 22 pesos!) and there’s rum in everything. Everybody expects a tip although they will not frown if you don’t give any. The only "I really don’t wanna work" face I’ve seen was from the cook on the beach. Some people told us it was the raining period, some others said it wasn’t so. Verdict: We had rain for a total of about 3 hours during our 7 days stay.

When it came time to leave, I found out the cashier had no canadian coins meaning no less that $5 bills. When I went to exchange my pesos for canadian money, I was offered $35 for my 37 pesos, which didn’t make any sense. The cashier told me that if I could manage to find 1 more peso, he could give me $40 instead. This means the initial amount was somewhere in $39 but he had to round it down to $35. That’s so bad!

Restaurants and Bars
Buffet is the same everyday although slightly different between lunch and supper. It’s not fine cuisine, but hey, you’re in Cuba; you have to expect the food to be different.

Restaurants à-la-carte are not on the map provided by the reception and it wasn’t obvious to find them on our own, so we had to call reception who did their best to explain it in this huge resort. By the way, the stuffed chicken at the Italian restaurant is just awesome!

Rooms
Rooms are grouped in individual blocks of rooms making it harder to have connecting rooms. We were 3 groups of 2 people and our daughters had to stay in a separate block (at least close) which didn’t make us a bit worried. We had room 504 which was better than the other 2 rooms (506 and 512) because it had an additional sofa, table, bar stand and 3 stools. The rooms wasn’t physically bigger, but more places to sit which was useful for the 6 of us when we wanted to relax in an air conditioned room. The resort is huge, but it doesn’t take long to learn its layout. Beds are a bit too hard for me but still acceptable. The pillow is thin but wide (like 1’x3′), so you can easily fold it to make it the thickness you want. The fridge is filled daily with at least two 1500ml water bottles and 2 pops (flavor randomly vary). It seems we had a small problem with our shower as the water was only warm, but my brother-in-law said he had plenty. We didn’t complain because it was enough to make it refreshing anyway. I had to kill only 2 bugs in my room during my stay. You might want to bring tape to block the gap under the room door because it’s quite big allowing most bugs to easily get it. My daughter (who’s terrified of bugs) used a little flashlight we initially bought as a gift for room service. She couldn’t leave without it in the evening because this is when crabs come out.

The curtains are not thick enough and light brightens the room at 7am.

Paradise in the Playa
Hotel Allegro Playa Grande
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steven faraher-amidon >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Wonderfully relaxing golf holiday was had at the Allegro Playa grande. Perfect location for a wonderful golf resort, replete with friendly and hard working service attendants. Albeit it helps if one can speak, or at least attempts, a bit of Espanol. We found the grounds immaculate, the people friendly, the drinks especially fondly, and the overall experience wonderful. The place lacks on variety, so that those interested in comlaining will find things to complain about, but the locals who work there were genuine and very friendly, and did their jobs well. The food may lack for some a bit in variety, but for us, so used to North American faire, it was exquisite. But the beach and the accompanying golf course, playa grande, were beyond exaquisite. The winds are rough and somewhat demanding, so few white flag days, but the beauty and the size of the beach are extraordinaire. As well, the Dominican people are to die for, very hard do they work at making your stay top notch. Especially if one makes a modicum of effort and respect for the locals and their language.

We have been there 2 times and will go again, god willing.

Arrival
Well acaquanited, especially as I made an effort in my (lo Siento…I am sorry) attempt at spanish. Thewy appreciate the effort. They are most appreciateive of the time one spends to mak an effort at communicating. The check in went smoothly, especially since it was at the evening time. When, often,

things can be more hectic.

Rooms
We had a room overlooking the golf course, and out onto the ocean. Spectacular is all I can say.

Our first room was not that great, so we requested a new room and they were very accommodating.

A week of relaxation
Hotel Sandals Royal Hicacos
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Tanya >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
It was great to have scuba diving included. Highly recommended for beginner divers. This is not a place for snorkelling off of the beach. Nothing to see as there is no reef. Water sports – operated by Marlin not by Sandals. If you are an avid windsurfer, bring your own equipment. Sports centre will shut down if winds are greater than 25 km per hour. Winds pick up late afternoon once the centre is shut down. Lots of beach space for kiting. Waterskiing, banana boat were included though runs were very short in length.

Tennis courts were in good condition.

Arrival
Easy…picked up at Varadero airport by private taxi. Half hour ride to the resort. Though no welcoming drinks, check in was simple. Bags were delivered to the rooms by the bell boy.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful beach at this resort. Other adjacent resorts were not so lucky with their span of beach. Restoration work was being done on the shoreline at other resorts. Beats the beach at Santa Maria and Holguin. Main pool was nice.

Grounds were well maintained and pretty though not spectacular. Insects keep to a minimum due to overhead ariel spraying twice per day. Bring bug repellent anyways.

Other Comments
A very enjoyable vacation. Do not buy alcohol or cigars at the resort as souvenirs. Much cheaper at Varadero airport.

If you are a beach loving person, this is the resort for you.

Restaurants and Bars
The biggest surprise was the breads and pastries – they rivaled what we haven eaten in Paris…fresh & tasty. Crepes at the buffet were masterpiece. Osvany was extremely talented in making these tasty treats. Buffet – okay…it’s Cuba! A la cartes – very good Chilean house wines. No need to buy other brands. Food was good. Big improvements on quality of beef over previous visits to Cuba. Vegetable selection was limited…canned or pickled vegetables for the most part.

Coffee quality was inconsistent depending on the bartender and the espresso machine. Beach and pool bars were good. No lack of drink variety.

Rooms
Premium gardenview room. Very nice and comfortable to stay in. Bar fridge was topped up daily with pop, water, beer. Large bathroom. Air conditioning worked well. Bed comfort was okay.
Awesome!
Hotel Cubanacan Brisas del Caribe
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Simonne >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Just returned from Oasis Brisas del Caribe. It was great! We paid $500.00 each all in and we were pleasantly surprised with everything! If you are looking for a great deal and a very laid back and relaxing place, dont hesitate to book it. If you are looking for t-bone and baked potatoes, pay your $1500.00 per person and stay at a 5 star!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Rented a moped and toured the town and fishing villages. Had a typical Cuban lunch which was amazing! Lobster, fish, avocado salad, yams and brown rice with beans! Cost – 4 pesos each with a Corona!!! Pedal boats, banana boats, catamarans all included! Dont have any hesitation about going into town. We parked our moped and walked everywhere! There is never any danger!
Arrival
Arrival was uneventful. Took less than 15 minutes and the ladies at the reception were exceptional. Very friendly and helpful.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach was awesome. Pools were very clean. Grounds were lovely, very clean and Mango trees everywhere.
Other Comments
If you are thinking of going to Cuba, please remember that these people are are very poor, and they are very grateful for little things that we take for granted. Toothpaste, candy, pantyhose, clothing, etc are much appreciated. The hospitality that they show in return is remarkable. As well, the resort bartenders make $10.00 a MONTH – Yes, you heard that right – a MONTH!!! Their tips are shared amongst them, so please offer a peso every so often! You will be amazed at how grateful they are.
Restaurants and Bars
A la cartes were great! Italian had the best canneloni, small portions but you can ask for 2. International restaurant had lamb that melts in your mouth! Pig roast on the beach was amazing! Beach grill had great fish!
Bar service on the beach – how can you beat that???
Rooms
Stayed in block 2 – HUGE room and spotless! Never saw one bug. A/C was amazing and the shower was like a mini-massage! Plenty of hot water!
We will Return
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Ann >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We visited Tryp Cayo Coco for the first time last year and we were very pleased with this resort. The long streach of beach was the key to our enjoyment. The silver sands, the glistening water and the blue skys made our days enjoyable. We found the staff friendly and helpful. There was plenty of good food and the speciality restaurants added variety. Our clean room was large, the beds comfortable and we were overlooking the ocean. The evening entertainment certainly brought out the guests. We are early risers so would have liked an earier start time for main program. I would rate the resort 4.5

We hope to return next winter

Amigo Caracol reopening Nov 1, 2010
Hotel Club Amigo Caracol
User Rating:  
Marty >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Great News. The new renamed Club Amigo Caracol will reopen November 1st 2010. Received an email from then hotel outlining all the new upgrades. The Pool Bar/entertainment area has been rebuilt and completed along with the new second snack bar on the beach. All the rooms have been brought up to speed at the hotel during the 4 month closure. A new manager will be replacing the outgoing Spanish Manager and this should improve our lot. The friendly staff are one reason I would recomment this hotel plus a 24 hour bar/coffee availability. Unfortunately the next door Mayanabo has cut off coffee to visitors from 10 pm to 7pm taking a step backwards in the world ‘All inclusive’. Between this hotel and the next door Grand Club Santa Lucia one can have a very nice vacation with a very low cost compared with the rest of the area
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Horseback riding, scooters etc
Arrival
Never line up on arrival. Go and relax at the bar until everyone checks in..
Beach/Pools/Grounds
White beach and a very clean pool thanks to Pancho..
Other Comments
I would highly recommend the Amigo Caracol. You will not be sorry.
Restaurants and Bars
Great food with something for everyone.
Rooms
Excellent rooms with outstanding bathrooms. Hint. Bring you own universal plug for the bathtub as these disappear in Cuba
Great Experience!
Hotel Melia Caribe Tropical
User Rating:  
Scherer >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
All of you who complain about feeling ill are ridiculous.. DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! They tell you that everywhere. Those who complain about service, well yeah there might be a language barrier, well HELLO!! you are in their country! be patient and explain what you want. When I was there with my family two years in a row, we loved it! Both times we had a great time. The beach is a beach don’t complain about seaweed each resort doesn’t have a different ocean!!!! The trip was relaxing but so much fun. There were activities to participate in and quite areas to rest in. The food was good at all the restaurants. The rooms were great and this year when I return for a third year my family is staying in the royal rooms. Really looking forward to my trip!
GREAT VACATION
Hotel Barcelo Dominican Beach
User Rating:  
chris >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Oct, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
this was our 3rd time at the barcelo dominican and it was great.We enjoy the resort great ppl great place.the staff couldn’t be bettter and the bartenders are the best,very friendly……………and we’re going back in 4 weeks resort is beautiful grounds and beach maintained……………
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
wonderful enterntainment staff plenty to do if thats wat u want
Arrival
No problem checking in check in at 3 but if early you’re banded as a guest and the fun begins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
always enough chairs for everyone by the pools and beach never too crowded
Other Comments
Love this resort 4 time returner should tell you something
Restaurants and Bars
good food and great service.plenty of each around entire resort
Rooms
no problem with rooms clean and kept clean the entire stay
The Perfect Family Getaway
Hotel Occidental Grand Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Erin >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Absolutely stunning resort. I don’t know where all the bad reviews were coming from. I traveled there in April 2010, with a group of 13 family members. We were delighted with the entire trip and would return!
Arrival
The flight was a little discouraging at first. Our flight was delayed by just over an hour, but we were all still excited. When we were about mid-flight, the pilot announced that we would have to take the long way (adding an extra 2 hours to the flight) to bypass a storm. Upon arrival to the airport, we were greeted by many people ready to help us. We got a cool, air conditioned bus to our resort. At the front desk at the resort, the staff were very organized and had our keys and room numbers waiting for us, it took only a matter of minutes to get up to our rooms and get settled away.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Clean, clean clean!!!!! Everything was great.
Other Comments
A great time had by all!! Choose this resort and you won’t be sorry!!
Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants were DELICIOUS. I am still raving about the food on this resort. Something there for everyone to eat, and the cooking areas seemed very clean. I can’t recall how many bars there were, but no matter which part of the resort you were on, you were close to one! The swim up bar was a huge hit. The a la cartes were very nice, but the buffet was excellent too.
Rooms
Very clean!!!!!! Huge, comfortable beds, nice view, hot showers, and great air conditioning. The only complaint I had about the room was the service. The cleaners would sometimes not be by until after 5pm, which made it difficult to get showered and ready to go out to eat. But hey, you’re in Dominican to relax!! So we didn’t let that bother us too much. Talked to a staff member, and the problem was fixed.
Hot Hot Hot
Hotel Viva Wyndham Tangerine
User Rating:  
peter >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Our first time in the dominican, we had a pleasant surprise when we arrived at our hotel,after along flight we were in need of some refreshments, we were greeted with a complimentary cocktail at reception which was welcomed very much. We were pleased with what we saw with the hotel.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The activities in the hotel was varied every day and night The animation team did everything possible to get everyone involved, they worked very hard from early morning till late at night and that was every day and night they liked nothing better than giving everyone a good time and a great laugh.
Arrival
The reception area was very clean and bright,the receptionists were very helpful and good mannered.The bellboy took our cases to the room and was very polite he asked us if the room was to our satisfaction and was we happy with the room.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds were lovely and well looked after.The pool was a good size and allways cleaned every day.The beach was nice but you were plagued with the looky looky people in the begining,but they became very friendly as the weeks went by
Other Comments
will definately be going back in a few years GREAT PLACE
Restaurants and Bars
The restaurants and bars were very good, you did have to queue a bit on weekends when there seemed to a lot of locals came for a few days, but overall was pleased with them
Rooms
The room we were shown first of all had no view at all,i went see if we could be moved to a room with a view,they showed us another room overlooking the pool and beach, which we accepted.There was no problem for the staff to do this for us without any fuss.
Awesome place
Hotel Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  
Lorrie >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This is was our first trip to the Dominican and the Iberostar Costa Dorada did not disappoint us, other than the food was not great. We didn’t starve, but the 6 of us basically lived on chicken, potatoes, and bread. The Breakfast Buffet was good and probably the best meal of the day. The rooms are spectacular, the grounds immaculately kept, the beach fabulous and the staff are wonderful and very entertaining! We will definitely consider going back to this hotel in the future. There are Iberostars all over the world and will consider choosing one of these if we travel anywhere else.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
immaculate!
Other Comments
We went on a shopping/sightseeing trip, but we were disappointed in the vendors constantly after you to spend your money. Became very annoying.
Restaurants and Bars
Service in the bars and restaurants superb!
Rooms
Beautiful rooms!
Nov Vaca
Hotel Gran Bahia Principe Runaway Bay
User Rating:  
Teresa >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Arrival
Stayed at the Gran Bahia Principe between Nov 5 and Nov 12.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
My only disappointment was the beach or lack thereof, we are beach people and this was more suited to snorkling. Rocks and seaweed gallor.

The staff would rake up the seaweed and leave them in clumps along the shore.

Other Comments
Would definately return to Jamaica, but maybe next time Negril so that I can sit on the beach all day and not near the pool.
Restaurants and Bars
Food was great especially the Grille and don Pablo – gourmet, Italian was so so. The buffet had lots of choices every single meal. Great staff – lounge bar – hats off to Antonio & Ric, restaurant servers – Gordon and Dexton.
Rooms
Hotel is fantastic. Room spacious and clean as was the rest of the resort.
Grand Paradise in Punta Cana
Hotel Grand Paradise Bavaro Resorts
User Rating:  
Ronnie Sue >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
I just returned from a week at the Grand Paradise Resort in Punta Cana and it was terrific. I have been to Punta Cana many times and I know what to expect and what not to expect so reading reviews doesn’t always mean much to me. The flight was perfect. the check in was perfect the check out perfect and flight home perfect, there all the boring parts taken care of. Rooms were nice, they were remodeling other rooms while we were there and I wish I could hire these guys to do my house they were fast, quiet and good. I guess I could "comment" but not complain that if you want a "hot" shower and not just a warm shower you need to get it by 5pm. that was not gonna make or break my vacation so its just a comment and not a complaint, haha. The weather the first 3 days were not so great but what are ya gonna do? we made the best of it. The beach was of course the same in all of punta cana, beautiful. I was alittle surprised at the roughness of the waves, I’ve never seen punta canas waves so high and rough, then again I’ve never gone in November and never just 2 days after a tropical storm (tomas). It was amazing to sit and watch. We went in the water but were very careful not to go out too deep. The resort itself was really very nice and they treated us like royalty (we really do think it was because we were wearing red wrist bands, which I think meant we were apple vacation tourist) but what do I know!! Grand Paradise is a large resort but we got very lucky and were in the building closest to the beach. The food was very good, plenty of variety for anyone. We had one picky eater with us and she did just fine. by the way there were 7 of us ranging from 25 yrs old to 62 yrs old. my son (25) had a great time at the bars and disco. So anyone out there thinking its hasn’t got a night life…..wrong, it really has a great night life. me, haha I made sure I went into the disco one night just to say I was there, but I’m a beach person so I was on the beach by 8:30 am everyday. Pools were alittle cold (time of year or the previous storm I guess) but clean and we went in anyway. I guess it could be I’m picky about warm water in my pool, haha. hmmm what else….I guess thats it, I would absolutely go back to this resort. escursions… my husband and my girlfriend went on the deep sea fishing boat and my son caught a blue fin tuna, my husband snagged a marlin but it got away……they loved it and would do it again, in fact that was my husbands 2nd time. my self, my brother in law and 2 other girlfriends went on the tropical storm trip, it was really nice and fun. yes I would do that again too.

any questions….JRK5758@AOL.COM

Park Avenue Villas and the town of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Hotel Park Avenue Villas
User Rating:  
William >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
After staying at all-inclusive resorts for the last 4 or 6 vacations I was a little worried about staying at a condo-style villa, but from the moment that we arrived I fell in love with Park Avenue Hotel / Villas. As soon as you arrive you are greeted by the owners and staff and given a tour of the hotel. Ralph and Renda Hewitt, the owners, make you feel so comfortable and you feel like you are staying at their home. The hotel is small and has a very nice courtyard pool in the center, but the best spot is on the second floor balcony where you can look down on the beach, and in the evening you can watch the most beautiful sunset. Any type of restaurant that you might want is easily a block or two down the street.

San Juan del Sur is a very casual little surf/fishing village type of town. Not intended for the dress-ups.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Most daytime activities are just a block away along the beach road. One of the nicest ways to end the day is to sit on the veranda with a rum & coke and watch the sunset over the beautiful harbor.
Arrival
Arrived in Managua, Nicaragua and had a private minivan and driver take us to San Juan del Sur — about a 1 1/2 hour drive.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
A very nice intimate courtyard pool is available.
Other Comments
This was a very memorable vacation. My wife and I plan on vacationing here again.
Restaurants and Bars
The hotel does not have a bar or restaurant but restaurants are very plentiful and reasonably priced just a few blocks away. Markets are available to stock up on beer and sodas and snacks for the room.
Rooms
The rooms were very adequate. Each villa has a small kitchen and refigerator, air conditioned — but not really necessary at the time that we were there.
Wow what a wonderful week
Hotel Catalonia Gran Dominicus
User Rating:  
Maureen >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We stayed at the Catalonia Gran Dominicus from November 8th to 15th and had a wonderful week. We are not strangers to Dominican Republic and have stayed at the following resorts… Puerta Plata – Oasis Marien and Iberostar Punta Cana – Catalonia, Princess and Gran Bahia Principe The Gran Dominicus is a very personable resort. The staff are all top notch and we felt pampered with their care. From the entertainment staff, our wonderful waitress, the dive staff, staff at the front desk,the medic and even the telephone operator; all spoke english and were more that accommodating. The layout of the resort makes you feel a part of everything that is going on because nothing is too far away. The large bar is where everyone gathers and like a clock all the other amenities are located around it; the pool, the buffet, the theatre, shops and a la carte restaurants. The food in the buffet was very good and there is a wide selection and every night there is a different theme. As written by all other reviews; the pizzeria is fabulous. I don’t even like pizza but everyday I had to try another piece. It is cooked in a wood burning oven and is very tasty. The rooms need some renovating and you can upgrade your room for as little as $15 per person per night but we found our room clean and comfortable. There are lots of channels on the TV but bring a digital clock, there isn’t one in the room. The prices in the gift shop are competitive and they have a full compliment of liquour, medication and snacks. Everything was clean and there is always staff working on keeping it that way. There are many different people at this resort and many languages being spoken but we always got by with a little help from the staff. The beach was so calm especially since a hurricane Tomas had just left. There is some erosion on the beach which makes it hard to walk along. The fish are so beautiful. The snorkelling is great right off shore or you can book a great trip to Soana or Catalina island. To book any dive tour see the resort dive guys on the beach. No need to drive to the boat there is a large dock on the resort. We were always entertained by the animation staff which kept us busy.

We would like to go back tomorrow back it’s back to work.

Great time
Hotel Wyndham Cozumel Resort & Spa (formerly Reef Club)
User Rating:  
craig >  2 contribution(s) United States of America
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | Family
It makes me laugh to read some of the comments. This in NOT the states, you are on Mexican/Caribbean time and pace, kick back and relax!!. You can pick the rookies out a mile away! I have stayed all over Mexico and the Caribbean (from 6 star to 1 star properties) and have returned to Cozumel because of it’s laid back slower pace. We were here for 10 days this time in mid August. Biggest decision every day was what color swimming suit to put on and whether to go diving!!
Resort was about 1/2 full. economy…
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Nice long beach, excellent snorkeling is literally right off the beach. Saw rays, eels, and tons of fish. Bring your water shoes and a fold up floaty. Rented a car one day and went into to town and had a great time walking and shopping. (Check to see how many cruise ships are that day). Afterward we drove around the island and saw thousands of turtle nests on the east side. Couple of good bars and places to eat over there. Lots of other things to do and see around the island or catch a ferry over to Playa del Carmen.

Sailboats, cayaks, snorkel equipment, etc. Just walked up and picked out one. Had beach and other activities going all the time

Arrival
Prepaid transportation, walked out terminal door, got into van and was at resort in a few minutes. Checked right in and went got something to eat/drink and sat on the beach to have lunch. No line when departing, got to airport too early, had to kill 90 minutes. Planes come in, empty out/load up head back to US.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
They were busy working on the empty rooms, looked into several after they were finished and they were spotless from top to bottom. Grounds were spotlessly groomed. Talked to the Management about paint on the outside of some of the building and they said it had been a very wet summer were working as fast as weather permitted. Pools were clean and warm.
Other Comments
We (3) dove with Sand Dollar for 8 days in August 2010 and could not have asked for better service. Went on both day and night dives. Sand Dollar diving is an excellent operation, small groups, never more than 6 in any of the groups, several boats. Dive Masters and crew work to ensure you are comfortable with everything before you go off the boat. Slow easy dives at all depths. Turtles, eel, lobster and tons of fish every dive. They let you dive at your own pace and keep a sharp eye on the less experienced people. Laid back, no hurry diving.
Restaurants and Bars
Had no problem with any of the food selection. Hint: Don’t go to Mexico and order Lasagna. Had cieviche everyday and lots of excellent guacamole. Still had the salad, soup, bread and desert bar in the main restaurant which I loved. Waiters and staff were efficient and never had any bad food. (some just better than other depending on your taste.) Fish was incredible!! Came in from a night dive and got to the restaurant couple of minutes after they had closed, the manager still seated and took good care of us. The snack bar had a good variety of items that were freshly prepared to order.
Rooms
I don’t go on vacation to stay in my room. It was clean, plenty of hot water, a/c worked too good almost!! The the maids did an excellent job everyday.
Great hotel, lovely people and superb beach
Hotel Brisas Trinidad del Mar
User Rating:  
Alexandra Shtychno >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This was a great experience. The hotel staff was wonderful and allowed me to change rooms to get a better view. The three pools were always quiet and clean. The beach had lots of chairs and the 4km length was a good walk. The water was clear, calm and a beuatiful turquoise color. The food was quite good..ie. as good as a master chef from Mexico City could make it, given the limitations of supply! Some rooms I hear didn’t have hot water, but the reception will gladly, move you if need be. The train-shuttle goes into the town of Trinidad for a very reasonable price. It’s a lovely colonial town not to be missed. There are great crafts, museums and bars to visit. Beyond Trinidad, one can take a hike excursion to the mts. to a waterfall.

I would recommend this hotel over the Costa Sur, also on Ancon Beach, because you have a beach, and over the Ancon, because it has better food selection.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
show every night at 9:45pm
Arrival
Off season the flight from Montreal is to Santa Clara in Cuban’s interior, and then a 3 hr. busride. Starting in Dec., the flight is into Cienfuegos, and only a one hour busride.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
4km stretch of sandy beach 3 small pools in gardens

gorgeous botanical grounds

Other Comments
very reasonably priced
Restaurants and Bars
one other resto-reservations necessary, but no extra charge
Room Block
6000
Room Number
6209
Rooms
8000’s give onto the lagoon and the mts…beautiful view of Trinidad in the distance and landing birds. 6000’s are oceanview

700’s are pool view

Great Resort
Hotel Grand Palladium Colonial
User Rating:  
Colleen >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We’ve been to Mexico a few times before so we didn’t need to leave the resort, plus there was so much to see and do that we didn’t need to leave the resort. We took a pontoon boat ride on the resort. There is a train that will take you from one resort to the other. There is a wonderful spa that is all free as long as they don’t put there hands on you.
Arrival
The drive from the airport took about 1 hour and a half, but once we got to the resort we were checked in immediately. Our room wasn’t ready till 3 and we were there around 11:30, so it gave us time to go eat and check out the resort.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds are kept amazingly clean, and maintenance is always being done to keep things looking spotless, pool is Huge, but it wasn’t being used much while we were there due to the cool nights not being able to heat it. The beach is huge and we never had an issue getting a lounge chair, we stayed more to the Kantenah side, there was more of a sandy bottom and a reef there that we snorkeled at every day, the fish are amazing to see. There is also a sea fed saltwater pool, that you must try.

They have flamingos and crocodiles, it’s just a beautiful resort.

Other Comments
My only off comment would be they should have more better quality alcohol and the outdoor wait staff should be given warmer clothing for the off nights when it gets cold. Other than that we had an amazing time and would recommend this resort.
Restaurants and Bars
The restaurants are fantastic, fun is probably the best I have had anywhere in the Caribbean, all the ala cartes were fabulous, we never had to make a reservation, the service is amazing.
Room Block
2
Rooms
The rooms were cleaned daily, and the mini fridge was restocked daily, we never had an issue with towels or facecloths. The rooms are a little dated but we only slept there so no need for anything fancy. We were on the ground floor with a nice balcony and had no issues with bugs at all.
great vacation
Hotel Melia Las Dunas
User Rating:  
Louise >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We had a great stay at this hotel. For us it was our seventh times over there. Always a pleasure to go back home and to see our friend. For us we are visiting our Cuban family over there. The hotel is nice, the staff over there is always smiling and trying to help you make the most of your stay over there. The restaurants a la carte are good. Specially the Italian one who is our favorite. The entertainment at the central place is a must for real Cuban music and for dancing . The beach is great for long walk.. Because we have found a place were we are well treated and we’ve never been deceived. We would really recommend this place to all of our friend and family. In fact we are planning to get married over there next year for our 25th anniversary.
this place is not a 5 star to large not enough varity of restarants
Hotel Grand Sirenis Mayan Beach
User Rating:  
maurice >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
First off arrival was good,3rd floor room was great,elevator did not work all the time,3days in, real large spider runs agross the floor, about the size of your wifes fist,it runs up behind the head board, 10 minutes later we kill it,they sprayed the room next day,
Arrival
good
Beach/Pools/Grounds
beach needs to be cleaned up from to many rocks,pool water was cool all the time,about 70 degrees
Restaurants and Bars
the food was never hot, just worm at the fancy rest, buffet was the best at all times,bars did not carry up scale spirits all the time, had to ask to many times
Room Number
2041
Rooms
great
Place to relax
Hotel Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  
Jeane >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We arrived at night and was wondering where we were going for an hour through the mountain, but interesting ride. When we did arrive we received our room quickly. The room was very clean and cleaned daily. Of all of the 12 resorts I have been to this is the quietest one. The beach area was clean, quiet and soothing. I felt safe and very happy with our choice. If you are a Pool area person they only have on and it is way too small and very echo..too busy for me, but then again we don’t do Pools. The grounds are beautified with vegitation and continuously manicured..not much flowers but still gorgeous grenery. Our only regret is we did not bring snorkeling gear but will for sure next time. We tipped when we wanted and was still well served without it. I also found the wine and the food very tasty and such a variety. Due to the fact I do not eat much meat I ususally eat bland foods but it was great compared to Mexico, Punta Cana and Cuba. We only ate from the buffet. What is really nice is you can eat all meals outside. There are ramps everywhere for wheelchairs and strollers.

We did not go off the resort so I cannot comment on the surrounding towns but I can say we will gladly, return with Air Canada….

Room Block
4
Room Number
4102
All of our experiences were good
Hotel Melia Las Dunas
User Rating:  
Brain from Toronto >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009
Arrival: 13 to 27 November 2009 These are the comments I just sent to the resort … My wife and I just left your wonderful resort and I am writing to tell you about our stay there. For the past 8 years we have stayed at Sol Melia resorts in Cuba. We stayed at Melia Las Dunas from 13 to 27 November, 2009, and were assigned to a wonderful room which met our needs in every way. Everything was in a good state in the room and any repairs that were needed during our stay were made quickly and in a very friendly manner. The state of the entire resort is being kept to a very high standard and we congratulate you on how well the buildings and groundskeeping are being maintained and presented each day – always very clean and tidy. The quality of the plants and flowers you have planted made our visit very pleasant indeed.

We much enjoyed the quality and huge variety of food and beverages you have available – including the wine lists your have prepared for the specialty restaurants.

And as we have come to love about Cuba, your staff are simply excellent: friendly, efficient, courteous and always wanting to make our stay better. As usual there are a few people who stood out, and whose name we remember, and many many whose name we do not. Before we arrived we had many questions about your resort and the e-mail responses were outstanding in the attention given to our questions and comments. At the 4 (of 5)specialty restaurants we dined at (especially the Italian one), the senior staff made us feel welcome whenever we ate there and went out of their way to ensure we were satisfied and having an wonderful experience. Also at the Italian restaurant, the waiters/waitresses were always very cheerful, efficient and being sure we had everything we could want. The waitresses/waiters at the pool-bars were very attentive and spoke good English too. From the groundskeepers we said ‘Hola’ to each day, the pool maintenance staff, the towel shack staff, the bar staff, the snack bar staff, the reservations clerk, customer service and the front desk staff – all of our experiences were good, and most were much better than good. Also, we should tell you that the scuba diving centre (separate company) also worked very very hard to be sure we had a wonderful time while we were diving with them – they are a great compliment to your operations. — in summary we very much enjoyed and appreciated this resort and will return, likely next November. * My ratings for this hotel o 5 of 5 stars Value o 5 of 5 stars Rooms o 4 of 5 stars Location o 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness o 4 of 5 stars Service * Date of stay November 2009 * Visit was for Leisure * Traveled with With Spouse/Partner * Member since January 28, 2003

* Would you recommend this hotel to a friend? Yes

This place was amazing
Hotel Adventure Inn
User Rating:  
Sharkbait98 >  1 contribution(s) 
Nov, 2008
Flew Continental arriving a couple of days early because I had concerns of my dive gear not making it. We stayed at Adventure Inn, San Jose until we cabbed over to the Marriot Courtyard for our pick up to be taken to Puntarenas to board the Okeanos Aggressor liveaboard going to Cocos Island. The Aggressor only picks up at the Marriot or the Alta but I didn’t like the price tag that came with these hotels so we decided to stay at the Adventure in. The Adventure Inn was amazing and inexpensive. The cab ride to the Marriot was a mere 12 US so it more than made up for the cost of the Marriot. For 79.99 US per night (10% discount if paying cash) got you a nice BIG room, clean, great staff, and a full breakfast. This place was amazing. It was probably one of the best hotels I have stayed in. For every day you stay there you get free entrance to a water park that is about a 10 minutes walk. This hotel is owned by a Canadian who went there in 1994 and never came back. Nancy, who worked the front desk was very personable and did everything in her power to make our stay memorable. If you go to San Jose I suggest you stay at this hotel. Anyway, we board the Okeanos and the trip out was rocky. There were four divers who got pretty seasick. I was lucky as I took Bonamine and it worked great for me. We get to the island 35 hrs later and anchor in a bay. We do our check out dive and it was awesome. White tip reef sharks everywhere, not to mention guinea puffers, lobsters, eels, plus a multitude of fish that I can’t name. We do our "real" dive and hammerheads everywhere. All I can do is stare in awe. The week of diving was all hammerhead, white tip sharks, marble rays, eagle rays and a many fishes. I did four night dives and one was amazing. I got to watch about 50 white tip reef sharks go into a feeding frenzy about 3ft below me. WOW…. what else can I say. Now about the liveaboard. The food was ok. Nothing special per say. Don’t get me wrong. It must be hard to feed 22 divers all that food when you are 36hrs away from everything, but it was nothing to write home about. The boat staff (and that I mean non-divemasters or skiff captains) were amazing. There english wasn’t the best but they did their best to accommodate everybody.

Now for the divemasters. In my opinion, I may as well have been diving on my own. I only saw them on two-three occations. It appeared they cared more about getting their personal underwater photos and videos than they did the clientel. There was one man who was on his fourth Okeanos trip and they didn’t seem to mind showing him around personally. In fact, this man was apparantly so special that when two women on our skiff got hit with jelly-fish after our dive, the divemaster and captain thought it would be beneficial for this man to go and get footage of the island for 10 minutes before returning to the Okeanos where these women could get some vinegar to sooth the sting.

Another incident happened on our skiff. We were on our way to Alcyone (dive site) and the motor crapped out. No biggy. It happens. They tried and tried to get it going for about 10 minutes. So, as we are floating about in the skiff the boat captain calls the Okeanos. He called for approximately 5-10 minutes and NOBODY was responding. The other liveaboard was responding to us, but not ours. They did eventually get the boat going, but it was a bit unnerving knowing that if there had been a medical emergency then the Okeanos would not have responded. Overall my diving was amazing. In my opinion it could have been better if the divemasters would have paid half the attention to the clientel as opposed to their cameras. There were certain fish I did not see because only the divemasters knew where they lived and they were never around to show me, even after I had specifically asked to see them. If I return to that magical place, I think I will probably pick "the other liveaboard". On the way back from the island we had smooth sailing and sunsets and dolphins. Definately life altering. We got off of the boat and was transferred back to the Adventure Inn (which was nice because they really didn’t have to transfer us back to our hotel, seeing as they only pick up at the Marriott Courtyard and the Alta ). The staff at the Adventure Inn was all happy to see us again and treated us great AGAIN….. Not only that, they gave us free transfers to and from the airport included in that price at the top… GREAT PLACE !! If you go to San Jose, make sure you stay there.

This of course is all in my humble opinion,

The free shuttle into Willemstad was a nice extra
Hotel Breezes Resort Spa & Casino Curacao
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Joan from Alberta >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2009
I’ve travelled for 30 years, a lot of stays at all inclusive resorts throughout the Caribbean, so after reading the mixed reviews on this site, thought I had a pretty good idea what to expect. I was very happy to find the resort far outweighed my expectations! We were there for two weeks from Apr.5, and enjoyed every minute. I had contacted Valerie and requested a ground floor room in a quiet location, which we received in the Flamingo building. It was wonderful to have the pool, never crowded, right outside our patio door, and incredible snorkeling just steps away off the beach! Never had to fight for loungers, and often had the pool to ourselves for long periods throughout the day. Our room was fine – the toilet ‘howled" a bit when flushed, and we did have mosquitoes in our room most nights to some degree, but nothing major, and hey, that can happen at home too! I also made the suggestion to the resort that a mirror be provided in the main living area so if the bathroom is occupied, the other person can carry on with doing hair, make-up or whatever – small thing, but would be a nice convenience. The grounds are lovely, with lots of palms and other vegetation, and were well maintained. Liked the fairy lights along the walkways at night – attractive and provided extra lighting when moving round the resort. We found the property to be kept fairly clean, and it would help if guests had the courtesy to return glasses, etc. to the bars. We also made the suggestion that the resort provide drop-off areas (bins, baskets, whatever) near the pools and along the beach for this purpose – could encourage people to do their share. Enjoyed the macaws housed along the walkwaysand chatted with them in passing. They appear well cared for. Also enjoyed the local birds – bananaquits, yellow/green finches, troupials, tropical mockingbirds, and the various lizards scooting around.

We were happy with the buffet restaurant, breakfast, dinner and lunch. Typical all-inclusive buffet with a good variety of meats prepared in a variety of ways – chicken, turkey, fish (generally very good!), goat, lamb, steak, roast beef (surprisingly good, and we’re from Alberta!). Mashed or roasted potatoes, rice, veggies, variety of salads, fajitas, tacos, cheeses, cold cuts, breads. Desserts ranged from various cakes, cheesecake, flan, cookies, and the most wonderful ice cream you’ll ever eat! Breakfasts were typical AI – pancakes, eggs, omelete bar, bacon, sausage (link or patties), fruit bar (pineapple, papaya, watermelon, cantelope), pastries, croissants, toast, cereals.

The two snack bars at main pool and at Pelican building had hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, cheese sandwiches, grilled chicken on buns, fries, potato fritters . And popcorn or nachos for snack attacks. Top shelf booze – Canadian Club, Seagrams, Johnny Walker, Drambuie, Grand Mariner, Galliano, Bailey’s etc. as well as lovely frozen pina colada and strawberry daiquiris (and others) – delightful either virgin or hard. And of course rum, vodka, etc, domestic and imported. Never tried the beer on tap, but seemed to be popular! Soft dirnks (soda) for kids or those who preferred them. We did the Japanese and Italian a la cartes once – preferred the Italian, but both were good. We passed on the Starlight dinner around the pool (or on the beach). The entertainment we saw was good – loved both sax players. But found after a day snorkeling and around/in the pool we never made it to the later shows which started at 10 p.m. There was a circus performance one evening, and wanted to hear the reggae band but just couldn’t make it that late after a day in the sun! 🙂 Most staff were friendly, helpful and polite – just remember that they live a slower life style than we do, so practice patience if things don’t happen "right NOW!". The beach was lovely with the new addition of sand, and we managed to find entry into the water at "our" end where we didn’t have much dead coral to cross barefoot before putting on fins . It was wonderful to be able to snorkel in calm water whenever we wanted, regardless if the sea was a bit choppy! Snorkeling off the beach is a priority when we’re chosing a destination, and Breezes provided that in spades! The variey of fish and sea creatures we saw was wonderful – sergent majors, varieties of parrot fish, surgeon fish, grunts, squirrel fish, schools of tangs, one large fire worm, one small octopus, 3 different moray eels – two swimming freely along the sand! – puffers and various sized trunk fish, schools of tetras, wrasses, blennies, flounders – you name it, it was likely there! Oh, and one barracuda. A few days the water was a bit cloudy, but other days crystal clear. The fish are so habituated to humans they don’t even seem to be aware of you! A bit of coral and anemones here and there – good to see!

The free shuttle into Willemstad was a nice extra, and the alloted time was perfect for us. We also took the local bus (van) to the Seaquarium (too hot to walk!) and to a nearby supermarket for $1.00 each way.

We did the Seaquarium snorkel encounter ($49 includes admission to the Seaquarium) , which we’d done 4 years ago and enjoyed. On our previous visit we were given rubber pouches of sardines to feed the fish, sharks, turtles, but they no longer do that since they have dolphins in an adjoining pool and the quality of fish isn’t high enough for them. You can still see the sea turtles and lemon and nurse sharks through the chain fence or plexiglass viewing area, swim above rays, encounter large tarpon (?) and other fish, including a large puffer, and watch and interact with the dolphins through a plexiglass area (if they’re willing!) . Other than those creatures, not a lot to see – we saw more varieties of colorful fish in the resort lagoon. Were it not for the dolphin and shark "close encounters", this wouldn’t be worth the cost, but that just my opinion from this year, and I did enjoy being close-up to these incredible creatures!. We also took a snorkel trip with the resident dive boat – to Tugboat site about 20 minutes along the coast. ($44 plus tax, plus $15 if you use their equipment). We didn’t see a large number of fish there, but swimming along the drop-off to deep water and watching the divers and their bubbles was fun, but again, saw more sea life in our "home" lagoon! There was more coral in that area, but not a large amount, and seeing the tugboat wreck was kinda neat., but not sure it was worth the cost – again, just MY opinion! Breezes gave us everything and more than we wanted and expected for this vacation. I wouldn’t hesitate to return or recommend this resort to anyone. Just be aware and realistic of what your expectations are – don’t expect more than what you’re paying for. I would compare Breezes Curacao to Sunscape Casa del Mar in Bayahibe D.R., for anyone who’s been there (prior to it becoming a Dreams resort this year). Snorkeling was better at Breezes. Both these resorts are on my "will return some day" list.

Our previous Curacao trip was to Sunset Waters (2005). We were pleased with our stay there, albeit , it wasn’t on par with our usual AI experiences, although we did enjoy the food there at the time. But it compares in no way to Breezes, in all aspects, including snorkeling. More corals there, yes, but I enjoyed the larger numbers and variety of species of fish at Breezes more.

Certainly been one of the best times we’ve ever had
Hotel Breezes Resort Spa & Casino Curacao
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mvl >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009
December 4 2009

Arrival: Nov 21-29,2009

Just returned Nov 29 from Breezes and had another great vacation snorkeling, diving, golfing, celebrating, shopping and relaxing. We have been to this hotel several times but in the past 2 years have seen improvements to the quality of food, more sand added to the beach and a more helpful attitude from buffet and bar staff. The weather was hot and sunny, shady areas on the beach, lounges and towels always available and the hotel rooms were cool and clean. Overall this place is absolutely fantastic and is a great value for us out of Toronto.

Every vacation will have some glitches but who wants to spend their vacation time focused on what to complain about? We think that at this Breezes there is nothing major that would hold anyone back from having a great time. You’ll have a fantastic time if you enjoy snorkeling off the beach, seeing thousands of fish and can relax in a casual setting. Go really wild and bring some friends and have an unforgettable vacation you’ll be talking about for years. It has certainly been one of the best times we’ve ever had.

Greeted with a smile!!!!
Hotel Sandals Royal Hicacos
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Fran from Toronto >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Sep, 2009
Arrival: Sept 26 – Oct 3, 2009 Arrival was awesome! Baggage taken to the room! Greeted with a smile!!!!

Rooms:

nice and clean, loved the towel art … every morning we had something different! cant tell because that would ruin the surprise! we had a balcony room! was nice bc it was not to hot and of course it was NOT as noisy as the ground rooms were!

Restaurants and Bars:

this one is hard because the staff went beyond what u could imagine! there was a mix of food … not to my liking … we lived off the pizza and bread and butter …. there was something different most times. but i would have to say i was not to into the food. although to them it was good food – they did the best they could with what they had to work with. very bland … a lot of the deserts were different shaped but the same taste. the restaurants i found were just as good as the buffet. i would def. eat at the grill for lunch … FRIES!!!! and sandwiches! lol … and the breakfast at the grill go early! actually if u were to go for breakfast lunch and dinner at the buffet go as soon as the doors open … it is fresh and warm … the food sits out for 4 hours! and there were lots of flies! but there were flies in all the restaurants … did not matter where u ate! most people it never bothered! i always took the bread at the bottom!! they had one bar it was nice! and air conditioned! loved the music!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

breath taking … very very very clean! it was beautiful! lots of scenery!!!! speechless!!!!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

we did the catamaran excursion with the dolphins and snorkeling … and the private beach for lunch … i would do it over again! it was amazing! and the crew were a blast! lots of drinks and music! u must do it! u will love it!

Other Comments: overall – i would go again! because of the people and the staff! they were amazing! anything u needed u got! the staff were the best part about the trip! it was expensive in the stores! very expensive! u can ask for water and pop they will give it to u for ur room! dont pay extra for the conceirge! we got wine, and other drinks for free and were allowed to take to our rooms! YES – bring bug spray! bring medicine for your stomach. bring sun screen bring shampoo bring presents for the maid! they love everything! and it helps them out! tip as much as u can – even one dollar! it all counts! remember they free poor! bring tylenol! the entertainment was awesome! they really show u their dancing etc. make sure u see the beach games and participate in all activities! u win a prize! dont listen to any negativity about this place – although the food was not the greatest i would still go back! it was a great time and vacation!

if u have to call canada no worries it is NOT expensive … we made 4 or 5 call and it was $8.00 we did go to the american mall – very expensive! it was impossible to talk anyone down in price — the lower i went the higher they went! lol … all in all it was fun! had great weather and met some lovely people that i will stay in touch with!

The snorkeling is very accessible
Hotel GC Villa Trópico (Cameleon Villa Jibacoa)
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Ginette from Winnipeg, Manitoba >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2009
Arrival: March 29th to April 5th We were well received at the resort. The reception was friendly and efficient.

Rooms:

Villas were comfortable and well kept.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

The pool is a necessary addition as the ocean is more suitable to snorkeling than swimming. The snorkeling is very accessible and the reefs and fish are quite beautiful.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

We rented a mini-van for our family of five and spent a day at Varadero. We went to see the dolpin show and the kids swam with the dolphins, then we spent some time at a beautiful beach, and shopped in the most popular market. It was a great day!

Other Comments:

During our stay, we fell in love and "adopted" George, a little, black and tan "stray" dog. He lives on the resort, but doesn’t really belong to anybody. The tourists take care of him. We were wondering if any recent visitors "met" George and if they could tell us how he is doing. Also, have any readers ever taken a dog back home from Cuba and, if so, would you have information about how to go about that and how long the process takes…. If anybody would like to provide such info, please contact me at my provided e-mail address. Thanks!

gpaille@mts.net

Overwhelmed by the excellent service we received.
Hotel Belize Jungle Dome, Belmopan
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Rick from Sparta, Ontario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
My wife and I were overwhelmed by the excellent service we received from the manager of the Jungle Dome Karen Cruz, as well as David, and the rest of the staff. The Jungle Dome was one of our destinations as we travelled throughout Belize in early March. From the moment we were picked up at the bus depot in Belmopan by David, to the many little extras like fresh flower arrangements on our bed and in the bathroom, we were made to feel very special throughout our stay (the meals were terrific!). On the second day of our stay I put my back out. This is when Karen, David, and the rest of the staff at the Jungle Dome showed their true colours. Karen took the time to drive my wife into Belmopan to get some medication for my back, and on our day of departure arranged for David to drive us to Belize City to for treatment from a chiropractor. I can’t say enough about the care and compassion we were shown during a very difficult and uncomfortable time for my wife and I. We were truly blessed.
Resort offers many different day trips at a cost
Hotel Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
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PeterCanada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2008 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Arrival: Nov 29-Dec 13 The airport is small and it takes about 1 hour to get through customs and get your luggage. Shuttles pick you up and take you to the resort which is about 20 minutes away. Departure is another story. They go through all of your luggage at the airport so don’t lock it up until they are done! Very little seating so you could be standing for hours before you flight takes off.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Spent most of the days going SCUBA Diving as the day dives are included in the price (nights dives are $80.00 US per dive). The dive shop has older equipment you get free (you only rent a wet suit for $10.00). If you have your own I suggest to bring it. The staff at the shop are excellent! Peter, Dean, Angie, Jason, Jason _(Woff – Woff) and Chris where excellent to deal with). Sometimes the tanks on the boat were low so before you put your BCD on hook up your regulator and check first. Keep this in mind that if you answer "no" to any of the questions on the medical form that you should come down with a doctors note as they will not allow you to dive unless you have it.

Resort offers many different day trips at a cost. I suggest take a cat trip around the Island which cost $120.00 and lasted 6 hours. You go to a nice beach and have lunch and drinks on board (basically just a rum runner).

Arrival
The airport is small and it takes about 1 hour to get through customs and get your luggage. Shuttles pick you up and take you to the resort which is about 20 minutes away. Departure is another story. They go through all of your luggage at the airport so don’t lock it up until they are done! Very little seating so you could be standing for hours before you flight takes off.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is beautiful! The sand is soft (don’t need water shoes in or out of the water). There are venders trying to sell you things but they do not hound you. There are a couple stores to buy things at on the beach that the locals take care of with many different things to buy. The pools are well taken care of. Most of the activity through the day takes place at the main big pool. If your not out by 9:00 AM you could have a tough time finding a lawn chair. The grounds were taken care well especially in the Crib side which has all the trees, bushes and lawns. Very clean resort overall.
Other Comments
I do a lot of traveling in the Caribbean (been to almost every Island) and this one is top notch compared to many I have been to. The people that say they did not like it are the type who usually complain about everything in their daily life. THIS IS A 4.5 TO 5 STAR RESORT!

Side note – still love answering questions for that hand full of Americans who ask those classic questions "do you use dog sleds in Canada", "are your doctors licensed in Canada" "can you get chocolate in Canada" Keep them coming!!!

Restaurants and Bars
Eight restaurants over all. I liked the OK Corral the best (excellent ribs). Monday night they host a beach BBQ (don’t miss it!) also enjoyed the sushy bar. The only bad place was the British Pub. The food was good but service compared to the other restaurants was terrible (many complaints from the people staying and me included). I counted 12 waitress standing in a corner talking and laughing while people were waiting to get served, many just walked out and when they did finally take your order it was either somehow lost or they forgot to order it or they bring you something totally different. This was the only excepting as the rest of the restaurants were excellent both in food and service. The bar service was good never had to wait very long for a drink. With 95% of the resort being made up of Canadians, Brits and Americans no one tried to just butt in to be served first and many would say "he was here first" which is a really change from what I’m used to when you go to a resort with Europeans who tend to push their way in to bar and food lines.
Rooms
I stayed in the Carb side. It is cheaper then the newer side and comes with a big balcony (comes in handy for putting clothes out to dry) much bigger balcony then the newer side. These are set in an area with palm trees and lots of green where the new building is not and each section has it’s own pool and lawn chairs. Very glad we did not spend the extra money on the newer side! The one bad thing about the Crib side is that every night around 15:30 they spray this thick smoke/mist into the trees to kill misqutoes (they say it does not affect humans but if I grow a second head I know they were wrong *L*)
The visibility was over 150 feet
Hotel Riding Rock Inn Resort and Marina
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NikkiTampaFl >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2005 | Leisure | With Group
As a fairly avid diver, the Bahamas has never truly impressed me (Nassau, Andros, Exumas) until, that is, I discovered San Salvador. A small group of us stayed at the Riding Rock Inn. We were a varied group of divers, from freshly certified to experienced tech divers. Everyone’s expectations were exceeded. The visibility was over 150 feet. Creatures ranged from schools of hammerheads and eagle rays to a large variety of macro subjects as well. The dive staff was exceedingly professional, lots of fun and service was top rate. The inn is small, friendly and local. We are already planning our next trip back!
Our dive experience was a pleasure.
Hotel Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island
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WayneUnitedStates >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Sep, 2009
My wife and I stayed at Sandals Royal Bahamian from 9-19-09 to 9-26-09. Before you read on, some information about us so you can judge the validity of this review. First, we travel a lot and are always unbiased when we do decide to write a review. Secondly, we are in our early 40’s and have done enough traveling to recognize the good from the bad. Lastly, we’re experienced divers who can accurately assess the scenery and the dive operation.
Arrival
My wife and I stayed at Sandals Royal Bahamian from 9-19-09 to 9-26-09. Before you read on, some information about us so you can judge the validity of this review. First, we travel a lot and are always unbiased when we do decide to write a review. Secondly, we are in our early 40’s and have done enough traveling to recognize the good from the bad. Lastly, we’re experienced divers who can accurately assess the scenery and the dive operation.
Conclusion
Again, we had a great time at Royal Bahamian and certainly got our money’s worth out of it! We would rate them a solid A- based on our travel experience and plan to return sometime in the future!
Food & service
In general, the service at the resort was very high on the grounds and in the restaurants. Not once did we walk by any employee during our stay who failed to say ‘Hello’ with a big smile as they passed. The service in the restaurants was very good during our stay as was the service at the pools and on the beach. There were always servers asking us if we needed anything from a drink to fresh towels. I’ve read many reviews on Sandals Resorts and the one common thread across all is the food. We’ve found that Sandals will always give you a great vacation (we’ve been to 5 of their properties) but the food is probably 4 out 5 stars. Again, it’s good, but if you want 5 Star, be prepared to add $$$ to your vacation destination wherever it is you choose to go.
Our experience
Up front, I’ll say that our 8 night stay Royal Bahamian was fantastic! This was our second trip to The Bahamas (first to Sandals RB) in the last few years. Our experience has been that the Bahamians are some of the nicest in the Caribbean and this trip was no exception. We upgraded our room to receive butler service and highly recommend you do the same if possible. Melissa and Shanequewa were wonderful! They were never overbearing, but always there if we needed or wanted anything.
Scuba diving
Our dive experience was a pleasure. I did 12 dives during my stay and every one was handled professionally (and I watch the operators carefully). Ryan and Donathan on the dive boat took great care to make sure the less experienced divers were safe and had a nice time. They were also quick to realize the more experienced divers and although had control of the group, allowed the experienced divers a little latitude to explore. Some who read this may not understand, but if you’re those guys and have a group of 12 to 15 divers (half I would consider inexperienced) you almost have to tailor to the diver with the lowest skill level. If you’ve got a lot of dives and years under your belt and are used to heading out on your own, be forewarned of the situation.
The grounds
The grounds were maintained very well I’d put the resort condition up against just about any other Caribbean property we’ve seen. The gardens, lawns and beaches were in impeccable condition. This resort is probably 12 years old, but maintained very well.
Arrival
Hotel Sunset House
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StephanieVA >  1 contribution(s) 
May, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
The hotel staff was very efficient and quick to tell us our room was ready. We arrived several hours before check-in and were concerned we would have to wait-we were glad we didn’t have to wait. The front desk staff were extremely friendly, giving us a quick run-down of the resort and directed us to our room.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
As I mentioned, we were there to dive, so that’s what we did. We did 2 tank boat dives for four days. The dive staff made the trip. They were very experienced, offered us several pointers, built up our confidence (we were new at the time), never went to the same dive site, pointed out different fish, and were simply the best. I would not recommend the resort for non-divers, but we met several people that did not dive, but enjoyed the pool and location of the resort. Georgetown is a 15 minute walk, so it was easy to meander into town for shopping and going to other restaraunts.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
There is no beach at Sunset House, but is very close to Smith’s Cove. We walked to Smith’s Cove in 10 minutes. Nice beach, great snorkelling, public restrooms were very basic with an outdoor shower. Sunset House is for divers and diving was fantastic. Easy access in/out of the water. There is a sea pool to practice in, which we used on Day 1. Otherwise, the reef is an easy dive. The grounds of the property were well kept and the rooster was a great way to be woken up to for early morning dives.
Other Comments
Sunset House is a great place to go, if you are going to dive. It offers some of the best diving in the Caribbean with some of the friendliest/best dive staff. It is clearly not the Ritz, but is clean and well-kept for a 50 year old resort. We will not hesitate to return on a future dive trip.
Restaurants and Bars
"My Bar"-what a great menu. It has all of the usual (grouper sandwiches, burgers, fries, salads) and then the suprise was the Indian food. The curries were outstanding. The Naan bread was homemade and definitely, the best I have ever had eaten. My husband had the blackened grouper sandwich three times during our stay, only because it was so good. The stir fry chicken was way too much food-we could have easily shared it. The made to order breakfast was good-bacon or sausage with eggs, Western omelet, fruit salad were a few items we ate during our stay. A hearty breakfast prior to diving. The alcoholic mixed drinks were strong (cheers!)and the beers cold.
Rooms
Comfortable. The room was clean, air conditioned, and had all the basic amenities. The rooms do not have a hair dryer, but we were told you could ask the front desk for one. Also, there is not an iron-the resort is a dive resort and really, you don’t need one. We had ordered a refridgerator ahead of time to have sodas, water, etc available and it worked well. I had read on-line that the "towels were small and scratchy", so we brought our own-not needed, the towels were fine. Also, for being in the Caribbean, we did not see any bugs in the room, which was a nice surprise.
Arrival
Hotel Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa
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KellyBurlingtonOntarioCanada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
April 19-26. Our family of four, including two teenagers 14 & 16, arrived via Air Canada from Toronto in the early afternoon of Sunday, April 19th and were greeted by a lovely warm sun and a short lineup at the immigration booths directly inside the airport entrance. After approximately ten minutes we were directed through to the luggage area where all the luggage had already been stacked in a corner. Following collection of our luggage then had a second line up with the customs dept; showing our passports and paperwork again so don’t put it away until you actually exit the airport. Once outside the airport it was a 60 second walk across the parking lot to our car rental agency called Andy’s. There was no one in line and we were quickly assigned our compact vehicle for the week. What some reviews have said about Andy’s is correct, the vehicles are a tad beat up but in good running order. You won’t win any beauty contests driving them but they did the job of taking us around the island so we were pleased. Grand Cayman Islands has a very British feel to it and indeed the driving is on the opposite side of the road. This did take some getting used to for my husband but within minutes he was fine. It takes approximately 15 minutes to drive from the airport to The Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa along a relatively busy stretch of road. The Westin is located just after the Ritz on the left hand side and directly across the street from the Eats Cafe, Legendz Bar and Grill and Yoshi Sushi Restaurants. There is plenty of free parking and you will be met at the front entrance by two doormen who are more than willing to assist you with your luggage.

Inside the hotel you will find a conceirge desk and an excursion desk to the right of the entrance that is manned the entire day and very helpful and also the check in desk to the left that had three very friendly clerks on duty. BY this time it was 3:00pm and our rooms were ready for us. They have the swipe card system for the doors, much easier than carrying around keys and as well you are assigned a mini bar key and instructions about using the safe.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
At the resort there is a company called Red Sail that operates on the property at the entrance to the right at the beach. They offer a number of rentals that you pay for my charging it to your room or paying via cash or credit card on site. We rented the wave runners ($75.00 US per half hour for a single rider or $95.00 US per half hour for a double rider). As well we rented a hobie cat for sailling and it cost $50.00 for one hour. There is a very active snorkelling site directly in front of the Governor’s House just next door to The Westin and within swimming distance. It is marked for anyone interested in going out there. I suggest you bring snorkelling equipment, nothing expensive, just the mask and snorkel from Walmart or Target will do. If you forget it though, you can rent the equipment at Red Sail and it costs $15.00 US for 24 hours. In addition to the above mentioned rentals there are also snorkelling trips that include wave runners, there are catamarran cruises off the beach, windsurfing equipment and banana boat rides. The banana boat rides cost $15.00 US for a 15 minute ride along the coast line. We did take three excursions while we were on the island and I would recommend each of them! The first excursion we took was the Stingray Tour with Captain Marvin’s Tours who are located in the same plaza as Eats Cafe. We met the group at that location and were bused ten minutes down the road to Marvin’s dock. If you get sea sick or suspect you might, I HIGHLY recommend you take a couple gravol before departure. We brought it along and are grateful we did because there were those on board who didn’t and suffered on the trip. Once boarded on the boat, we rode out to the first of three sights, two of them were snorkelling sites and the last being the sand bar where the delightful stingrays are located. I highly recommend you spend time with these creatures as they are simply amazing to watch and feel and experience. It was one of the highlights of our vacation and something we’ll always remember. The second excursion was the Atlantis Submarine located in the downtown core next to the cruise ship loading area. Once again I HIGHLY recommend you take a couple gravol before departure because prior to getting on the submarine, you will have a 15 minute ride from the dock to the vessel. The submarine takes you down approximately 110 feet and allows those of us who don’t scuba dive to experience the life that is taking place below the water. We loved this excursion and we wouldn’t hesitate to go again the next time we’re on the island.

The final excursion we did was the Boatswain Turte Farm. It is a hands on facility that has turtles ranging in size from the size of your palm to enormous and they appear to be well cared for and well feed. With an all day pass you are also granted access to a refreshing swimming lagoon that is quite deep so be warned about that, as well as a reef swimming area stocked with fish, iguanas and turtles to swim along with and a nice little beach area to relax following a walk around the park. If you do wish to swim in the reef part, the snorkel and mask is free of charge to use. In addition there is an aviary to walk through and a shark feeding that takes place with the handlers on site to answer questions. This excursion was the favourite for our teenagers and allowed us some fantastic photos of the turtles being held by them. Boatswain is located approximately 15 minutes down the road from The Westin and provides lots of free parking directly across the street from the main building with a spectacular view of the bay. I’d have to say that this is a must see in your vacation plans.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Seven Mile Beach directly in front of the Westin is the most amazing stretch of beach we have ever experienced on vacation in the caribbean. It is the whitest sand, the clearest water, and the prettiest area we could have asked for. The beach never seemed crowded with lots of room to roam and if you love the beach but can’t sit in direct sunlight, there are no umbrellas but there are many large Casuarina trees lining the area directly to the right and left of the pool bar. Our routine was mornings at the pool and when the sun came out full force we would head to the beach shade for a relaxing afternoon of reading. I love the sun but members of my family can’t have full sunshine so we got the best of both worlds. There are no complaints about this beach!!! The pool is considered the largest resort pool on the island and I really can’t understand those who complain about it. There were days where my family was the only one in the pool! When there were others in it, it didn’t seem crowded and the wait at the swim up bar never seemed to take more than just a few moments. We went to the resort the third week of April so perhaps that is the difference between us and others who complained about the population in the pool. The pool was refreshing; never too cool or too warm, it was cleaned early each morning and the landscaping around it was very tropical and upkept. The lounge chairs at the pool had cushions and Westin lounge covers on them and there was never any problem finding a place to sit. We didn’t rush down at 6:00am every morning to save a spot like we’ve had to at some Dominican resorts.

On the grounds you will find a number of lizards and iguanas ranging in size from the size of your pinky finger, to the size of your palm to a beautiful mid sized iguana. They are all vegetarian, more scared of you than you should ever be of them and they are simply fun to watch. One day while we were sitting at the pool a very big iguana wandered by slowly, stopped at a fountain for a drink and casually planted himself by a lounge chair. The pool attendant heard people talking about it, came over and shooed him up a tree. Don’t be concerned in the least, it is quite an experience to see them living wild when we only see them caged here in Canada.

Other Comments
My husband and I had visited Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands on two seperate occasions 10 and 12 years ago while on cruises in the caribbean but never more than just a few hours anchored in port. This vacation allowed us to experience the island for 7 nights and 8 days, and is a vacation that was truly memorable and perfect. The beach is second to none, the Westin Casuarina Resort and Spa was our perfect home base and the excursions fit our family dynamic to a tee. I read reviews prior to going on this vacation and have read reviews since that complain about the Westin as being "shabby", tired, or "less than the Ritz", and I simply don’t understand what kind of standards these people are comparing to. The Westin is a fantastic option for families or couples. The landscaping around the resort is lovely, the rooms are great, the service is top notch and the staff was friendly and helpful. Special thanks to Nathalie in reservations for answering so many of my questions prior to arrival and seeing that our adjoining rooms were looked after. Her friendliness and personal welcome was customer service at it’s best! We strolled by the Ritz beach area acouple times just down the shore line and found the chairs stacked and crowded. As well, we walked around their hotel one evening and found it very lovely looking but also very cold….not welcoming like the Westin. I highly recommend the Westin for your next vacation and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at kcponce at hotmail.com. I’ll be happy to help with anything you need to know. This was a 10 out of 10 on the vacation scale and the only complaint is that we only had a week.
Restaurants and Bars
There is a pool bar, lobby bar and two restaurants on the premises. The pool bar is divided into the beach side and the swim up bar with atleast two bartenders working this bar at all times. As well there are 5-6 friendly and helpful female servers who take your drink and food orders at your chairs at the pool and beach from 11am until approximately 6pm. They are all dressed in the same clothes and were helpful in suggesting new drink options during our week. The lobby bar is the busiest in the evenings from Tuesday till Saturday when they have the professional piano player performing from 8:30pm – 11:30pm. He is not the piano bar guy you might be expecting; the type who sings and plays along to Billy Joel or Elton John tunes. He is classically trained and is very impressive, playing scores from films you might recognize along with the classics. He has a tip jar but I rarely saw anyone stepping forward to leave anything in it. We did not eat at either of the restaurants during our stay. We looked at the menu but like so many of the things on the island, they seemed very expensive when converted into the Cayman C.I. currency. Instead I suggest that if you are going to be staying at the Westin as a family, eat your breakfast at Eats Cafe, your lunch at Legendz Bar and Grill and your dinner at either of them. These restaurants are directly across the street from the Westin, no more than a one minute walk from the front entrance of the hotel, and it has something on the menu for everyone at prices that were reasonable. If you are from Canada, the restaurant Legendz is very similar to the fare you’d find at a Kelsey’s Restaurant and if you are from the US, I’d compare to an Applebees or TGIF. Our teens never had an issue finding meals that interested them and these restaurants allowed us to stick to our budget. In eight days, seven nights we spent $1200 US for our food. That includes soda, no alcoholic beverages during these meals (saved the drinking for the beach and pool:-) Eats and Legendz is owned by the same person and managed by the same group of people along with the sushi restaurant next to it called Yoshi Sushi. My husband and I enjoyed Yoshi but the teens didn’t so I’d suggest sticking to the first two options with your kids and save the sushi place for a date night.

The servers and management at this group of restaurants was top notch, incredibly friendly and helpful in suggesting things to do and places to go on the island. Krista at Eats in the morning, Jessica at Legendz for lunch and dinner were fantastic!!!! They made our vacation even more enjoyable with their super service, remembering us each day with our arrival.

Rooms
Prior to our arrival we had requested adjoining rooms on a higher floor with a view of the ocean and the pool and we were not disappointed. Our rooms were 546 & 548, and they did not disappoint. Inside the room you will find an electronic room safe on the floor of the closet, plenty of hangers, an ironing board and iron and a stand for your luggage case. As well, we requested a king size bed and the kids had two doubles, with both sets being the Westin Heavenly beds. They were indeed very heavenly! The washroom is divided into two sections, one being the average size tub, a vanity sink with large mirror and a shelf under the vanity for storing supplies. Next to this area is a water closet, just a small space with a door for the toilet. The entrance to the bathroom is french doors opening inward. I have read reviews from people who had issues with the washrooms, but they seems just fine to me. There was also a small table and two chairs inside the room but we didn’t really find a use for them as we were never in the room long enough to sit down for a drink or a meal. As well there was a dresser with 5 drawers for your clothes which also held the flat screen television on top and the mini bar fridge down below and hidden by a door. If you are not planning on buying anything from the mini bar but you want to store your own beverages inside, there is room for that, it just takes a bit of reorganizing. Be warned though that the hotel asks that you not take out their mini bar supplies because it makes it difficult for the staff to keep track that way and you’ll be charged. We had 12 canned beer from the duty free and our kids had a bunch of sodas in theirs and there was still room to be had.

The biggest selling point for this room though is the spectacular view of the beautiful blue ocean and the pretty pool directly below. It is not a huge balcony but it does have two rod iron chairs for a sit down in the evening as the sun sets over the palm trees. Paradise.

It felt cosy and personal
Hotel Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
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CatherineHuguesQuébec >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2006 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We were at the Blau Colonial Cayo Coco from dec. 10 to the 17 2006. Booked via our travel agent for a super saver room: one week for 815$ each, all taxes included. I used to think that the tour operator or the air carrier did not matter much… that they were just accessory to get you there. After flying with Sunwing, we got spoiled and I now realise that when it’s done well, it does matter. From now on, if the price difference is not that big, I would pay a bit more to fly Sunwing… their service was just outstanding! We were offered a warm face cloth to refresh ourselves, drinks were easily offered, food was a warm plate (2 choices, cannot remember what were the options, but both turned out good)… we were even given a complementary glass of champagne to start off our holyday (not on the way back to ease the pain of leaving however 😉 ). There was also a bit more leg room, free headphones and a movie with choice of language … worth mentioning as that option was not available on a more recent fly with Cubana (there were no headphones available on the way back and on the way there, the movie was available only in Spanish or English… not much fun for the French speaking kids). Landing in Cayo Coco is a blessing, small airport, one plane at the time, not much waiting around and a very short bus ride to the hotel.
Excursions
There are many excursions offered by the tour operators (jeep safari, 69 CUC; Moron spectacular, 75 CUC; Moron colourful, 65 CUC; Havana by plane, 195 CUC; Trinidad, 70 CUC; swim with the dolphins in Cienfuegos, 169 CUC; catamaran full day, 72 CUC; deep sea fishing, 250 CUC; jungle boat tour, 39 CUC) and others offered by Cubanacan (Ciego spectacular, 75 CUC; ½ day in Moron, 30 CUC; other catamaran + Pilar beach, 49 CUC; Baga nature Park, 25 CUC). We choosed to hire a cab to visit Moron on our own terms and did not regret it for one centavo (cost for the cab was 75 CUC split 3 ways + we offered him his lunch). We had the chance to go by a Dutch style village, 2 lakes, one crocodile farm, one sugar mill turned museum and the Moron train station that is spectacular… a trip back in time. We also ate in a restaurant in town that was really nice. The visit of the Baga nature park was also very interesting… and cheap! We ended up with a guide just for the two of us, saw a reconstruction of a farmer’s house, some traditional dancing, natives rituals, crocodiles, lizards, some kind of Cuban beaver, sea turtles (we got to feed them), and more! This tour not being advertised, the visit was very private. We also rented scooters for an afternoon and explored a bit of the surroundings. We went by a cave and ended up on the Flamenco beach which was a nice spot to just relax and enjoy a beer before we returned (20 CUC for 3 hours). We were too tired to make it to the shows but were told we did not miss much. We also have no idea what the disco is like… besides being roomy! We would return to this resort.
Food
The food at this resort was more than adequate. Beef, pork, chicken, fish, pasta… always something to choose from. For those of you that are not big fish eater, be aware that the fish at the grill might be served with its head and tail still there. Doesn’t change the taste really but does come as a surprise. There were bananas flambées every night as well as fresh doughnuts made on the spot right outside in a stand by the buffet. Let’s just say this is not the hotel where we lost weight! We really enjoyed both the Cuban and the Italian à la carte… we skipped on the Sea food one as it is by the water and I was itching enough as it was!
Scuba diving & snorkeling
Scuba diving is provided by the Tryp resort next door…so they have you walk there by the beach… nice once you gear is already there… a bit tedious the first and last time. Due to the windy conditions the visibility was not the best. As for the equipment and dives instructor, it was decent. You always have to trust yourself first (I did see them offer beer during one surface interval, and one of the dive master bragged about going far beyond sporting limits…) but if you are responsible enough for yourself, they will provide you with a nice diving experience although not out of the ordinary.
There is not much snorkelling… Yes, if you go out, you will find living creatures but there are no reef to speak of in a swimming distance.
The resort
The Blau Colonial was the first to be built on Cayo Coco in 1993, 13 years is quite old in the tropics… so there are sign of used. On the other hand, the vegetation is at full maturity. This complex is advertised as offering 458 rooms. Now I don’t know if that’s including all of the rooms or if it is just the ones available at this time. If you go exploring a bit, you will notice that basically half of the resort is fenced off for renovations. That does not affect at all the other side of the resort… the biggest inconvenient (if you want to call it that) is that there is no swim-up bar (it would be in the closed section) and the Cuban à la carte is relocated in the grill… If you look in the Caribesol / Holasun brochure, you will see a picture of the pool made to look like a stream by some of the rooms… don’t expect that … it’s now a work in progress! Our room was in the furthest building (#18) which suited us just fine. Very spacious, in the bathroom there is a divider so that one could be taking a bath / shower or using the toilet while the other was using the sink. Another nice touch was the mirrored door of the closet in the bathroom that could be turned to give you a back view of yourself when getting ready. Our room had to ¾ beds (a bit bigger than a twin but a bit smaller than a double). Having a Supersaver deal, we could not be switched to a room with a double bed. That room had not been renovated (some were in this section) so our bathtub was a bit chipped and the air conditioning was a bit noisy. Other than that, we could not have told. We had completed privacy, never heard the neighbours. The balcony was large enough and wrapped around the corner. We also had a nice ocean view.
The layout of the resort is its biggest assets in our eyes, it felt cosy and personal. It has the feeling of a small village with curvy streets, buildings with wooden staircases and balconies, different decorative touches on each building… very Spanish style.
Weather
The weather was very surprising. Upon our arrival there was a lot of wind… strong enough to slam doors! That translated in tremendous waves! We had a blast with that for the first tree days. There were no jelly fish to speak of this year (last year you could not count them as soon as you stepped in the water because they were too numerous). So we made the best of it and took that opportunity to open up all the windows in our room, go visit a national park right on Cayo Coco and took a cab to visit Moron… Opening up all the windows was a big mistake! Doing so, we allowed very small bugs to join us and I was eaten alive! Apparently, it is a small spider that we did not even see… but I can tell you they sure bit and are not repulsed by DEET (I was wearing the Watkins cream). These spiders are also at home in the parks as well as by the beach.
The entertainment here was of a consistantly high quality
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
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Jenn from NS >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2009
Travel: We Travelled with Air Canada. All I can say is that I will take ANY and I do mean ANY means to avoid using Air Canada in the future. Travelling with this airline was a nightmare, from having 2 severly drunk person in the emergency exit row ( the aircrews only concern was that one of them was blocking the drink cart with their foot while they were passed out in their seat), to no meals, to no service reps in Holguin, to sending half the luggage on our return flight to Toronto. To say the experience sucked out loud would be a ‘mild’ understatment.

Arrival: April 25 – May 9, 2009

We arrived in the early evening. They served us wine and orange juice while we waited in line to check in which was a nice touch. The check in process was efficient and seamless.

Rooms

Our room was in the #1 block as requested but we were unable to get a room with 1 bed. While this was disappointing it was not so huge a deal that we were willing to pay the 26CUC a day for the VIP upgrade. The room was dated but clean. The beds are very hard as others have noted but we used the wall hangings over the beds as a mattress pad which solved the problem. There was never any shortage of hot water or water pressure. The air conditioner worked but was only able to just barely keep the room cool. Again not a deal breaker and acceptable by Cuban standards. The maid kept the room adequately clean and supplied the usual towel / blanket art.

Restaurants and Bars

The food at this resort was very very good, especially by Cuban standards. We were very impressed by the quality and selection, which was notable given the hotel was less than half full during our stay. We ate mostly at the buffet with occasion lunch forays to the snack bar or beach restaurant. Both A La Carte’s were good with the Italian being our favourite. They even did a pool side dinner theatre event one night which was amazing. All in all the food at this resort far exceeded our expectations.

Beach/Pools/Grounds

The beach is nice with fine sand and good snorkeling. The snorkeling is not as good as Jibacoa but perhaps that is an unfair comparision. The pool while small is nice. The grounds are quite nice and well kept.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

We did the ‘discovery’ excursion which took us to a fishing village, mini zoo and the Gurardlavaca market. It was a nice half day tour and a bargain at 15CUC. Other than that we cycled a few times along the road to Holguin which was nice and gave us a chance to distribute gifts to some locals.

Other Comments
If one is looking for a quiet room be sure to request the #1 or #6 block as the other blocks overlook the pll / snack bar/ stage area which can be quite noisy. The staff at this resort are very friendly which really add to our vacation. The entertainment here was of a consistantly high quality and included a varied selection of local talent from water ballet to opera, local cuban bands, rock band, etc. If I were to return to the Holguin area I would most definately stay at this resort again.
The staff is awsome!
Hotel Gaviota Playa Pesquero
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User name ald1 from Ottawa >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
Arrival: Feb 8 – 15 Sunwing airline, we were to have a direct flight Ottawa – Holguin, however 1 week before departure we were advised that we would be making a quick stop to Montreal to pick some passengers. No big deal, for us. some passengers were pretty upset! On arrival at Holguin airport, customs was very quick and we were through with our lugguage in less than 1/2 hour. We boarded our bus with beer in hand. They have some vendors who sell Cristal (very cold) cans for 1.15 CUC. We arrived to our hotel in less than 1 hour. Reception was quick and efficient, we had reserved the Superior room. Not sure if that made a difference at check in time!

Rooms

As mentioned earlier we booked the superior room. The price was 60.00 each for the week. It included a bottle of dark rum (26oz), robes(house coats), incense sticks, and ocean front. We were on the main floor in block Naranjo Agrio bldg room 3404. Rooms were very clean air conditioned and very large. We had a King size bed. the bathroom had all the little extras;Body wash, shampoo, toothbrush and paste with floss, bubble bath, nail files. it included a hair dryer. there was also a bidet located next to the tub and toilet. The sink is separate from the bath area. the closet had a safe were you create your own PIN. (no charge!) It had a fridge that was stocked daily with 2 beer coke and water. we had a coffee maker but did not use it!

Restaurants and Bars

our superior room included a pre reserved spot to one of the restaurants. they had reserved the seafood for us. we tried the Italian, and the Asian. in our opinion they were good to average. the rest of the week we ate at the buffet or at the beer garden for dinner. for lunch we ate at the chicken restaurant( I forget the name) the breaded chicken is awsome! there is also a great coffee bar in the lobby!

Beach/Pools/Grounds

the grounds definietely need a a little Tender love and care as the resort is showing it’s age. A little paint job and cleaning would definatly make it some good!

POOL: it’s HUGE! we elected to stay near the pool bar as we like to watch people go crazy about 4 pm from sitting there from noon to closing. Some pretty good "action" one late afternoon after the dj put on some ACDC. we had a great laugh!

BEACH: Spectacular. by far the PP end of the beach is the best from all the 3 resorts located on the beach. Because of Huricane IKE they had a temporary bar set up away from the main blg. the building and facilities , I was told is schedualed to reopen in a couple of weeks.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel My only outings were 3 dives with Blue World Diving Centre. the Boat picked us up at 9am every morning for a 2 minute boat ride to the dive Centre. I walked it the first morning and the walk takes about 15 minutes. 1st dive was the Taza Azul; this is great wall and cave dive. we were lucky to see 2 lion fish. the dive master is Michael. Nice guy with Gold capped teeth! 2nd dive was Pasquero Sponge; dive master Michael brought some baitfish (maqueral??) and broke it up as we swam. it attracted a school of Rusty parrotfish and one huge grouper as well as other smaller tropical fish. 3rd dive was the Grand Canyon; this was a great dive were there are multiple walls that run from more 100 feet to the surface at about 20 feet. we also went through some tunnels. note that the coral is slowly coming back to life. I did see one octopus while snorkling in front of the dive shop.

Other Comments

HUGE resort that needs some work. the staff is awsome! would I return. Probably not, as there are way too many other places to visit in the caribbean. We However had a great time and would still recomend it thanks for giving us the opportunity to write up a review Oh! we had the pleasure of being at the resort with our very own Lyndon Slewidge the official anthem singer for the Ottawa Senators.

We will come back
Hotel Henry Morgan Resort
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Edith, Calgary >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2009
Arrival: April 10-17 We arrived late afternoon after a schedule change that had us stopping in Varadero for an hour. Conquest had changed the flight twice in the weeks before departure – that should have been a tip off to us! Some of those on our flight had a chance to buy rum and cigars but as we had been there just the month before we chilled out and enjoyed a Cappuccino. Our arrival at the Roatan airport was efficient and we were met by the Conquest rep who quickly assigned our room numbers, processed our baggage and directed us to one of a couple of mini-buses waiting to take us to the resort. As we arrived Good Friday we caught the end of Semana Santa – the huge Easter vacation/celebration. The beach in front of the resort was as busy as a New York street with constant groups of people moving up and down the beach and live music blaring from Bananarama beach stage further down. It was very entertaining to grab a drink at the Henry Morgan Beach bar and plunk down on one of beach chairs and people watch. Saturday was also very busy but by Sunday it was back to normal. The rest of the week was very quiet – so we got the best of both worlds. I’d really think twice about being there the entire pre- Easter week though – just too busy.

Rooms

Our room was on the main floor – corner unit – very spacious and clean. Although others have commented on the noise of the wooden walkways and footsteps from above we didn’t find this to be a problem. Partway through the week a single bed was delivered to the room and set up – housekeeping must have got the message mixed up and when we tried to tell the maid in our broken Spanish she nodded her head and then delivered more towels 😉 It wasn’t a problem – there was lots of room and it remained with us all week. The bathroom was clean but a little tired looking with mold on the wall around the shower head and a temperamental sliding door. Always had lots of hot water and pressure.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We chose Roatan and the Henry Morgan on the strength of it’s dive reputation and opportunities for snorkelling and it certainly didn’t disappoint. My husband is the diver and was very impressed with the operation that TGI Diving runs – all the Dive Masters are very good at what they do and the dive briefings were always thorough and professionally presented. He always felt prepared and safe. There are 3 different dives each day. TGI also has a class room on site for the PADI courses and my husband opted to take his advanced open water course while there and so did the required night,wreck,deep and advanced navigation dives. My husband would not hesitate to return to Roatan to dive with this operation. There prices are excellent. The snorkelling from the beach is great and is best at the far end of the beach against the coral wall – no need to go out by boat to see a variety of sea life!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The Beach is amazing – beautiful clear water, white sugary sand and sun, sun, sun. We go away once or twice every winter and this is one of the few spots I would return to. There are lots of beach chairs – no need to get up early and play the towel game – shade is at a premium in the afternoon but with a bit of moving of chairs it’s always available. The security guards are very vigilant and there is no problem leaving things at your chair as you swim and grab lunch at the beach bar. There are a couple of fellows who keep busy moving chairs and fetching chair pads as well as picking up empty glasses etc. The beach is very clean! We are definately beach people and didn’t even put a toe in the pool – but it looked lovely – lots of shade available there!
Other Comments
We were caught up in the Conquest Vacations collapse! On Wednesday the Conquest Rep at the Hotel came and found us on the Beach and said there was a meeting for all Conquest guests at 5pm. We arrived at the meeting to find security guards at the door which seemed a bit odd. We were soon to find out that Conquest had gone out of buisness, that there would be no problem with our flight home as that was going ahead as scheduled (although those that were there for two weeks would have to return with us a week early)and that we all would be receiving an invoice from the Hotel for our week’s stay as the Hotel hadn’t been paid by Conquest for our trip (or for any of the Conquest guests that they had had in the last month). Understandably the guests were fairly hot under the collar – the Manager was professionaly stern but not threatening. One of the guests was very familiar with the protection for travellers under the TICO insurance and volunteered to help the Manager contact TICO to see what our options were. The next day we found out that TICO had assured the Hotel, in writing, that they would cover the bills of the TICO insured guests and that they would not have to collect from us directly. Five couples at our resort had not booked through a TICO registered agency and they had to pay the invoice before leaving the hotel. The invoice initially was at the "rack" rate of $1,700.00 US per couple per week (as much as some people had paid for the flight and the vacation combined!), but it did get adjusted down to $1,050.00 US per week. One of the uninsured couples were there for two weeks but opted to go home rather than pay that rate for a second week with no assurances of getting the money they had already paid back. A few couples had booked for two weeks and TICO covered their second week so they opted to stay and make their own arrangements to fly home (via Houston). It was a bit unsettling but for us it all worked out in the end and certainly was not the horror story we are hearing from those that were in Cancun and some hotels in Cuba where they had to come up with the funds right away.

The manager at Henry Morgan was very cool under pressure and was completely accomodating which I’m sure was very difficult given the spot he was in as well. We are planning on returning to the Henry Morgan next winter and hope that one of the other Canadian tour operators will offer it and if it were offered out of Calgary (rather than Toronto) we would be in heaven!

Restaurants and Bars
The buffet restaurant is the only restaurant and serves all three meals. The food is good to very good, lots of variety and of a good quality and quantity. My only complaint was that things were not always hot – but I often chose from the made to order stations to get around this (especially at breakfast). The dress at the restaurant is casual – with things a little dressier at dinner but certainly not required. The service is excellent and all the restaurant staff go above and beyond to make sure you have everything you need. We began the week tipping but quickly realized that we received great service from many people each meal and so decided to tip an amount at the end of the week to go into the tip pool. I gave this tip to Jorge (in charge of the buffet) and he said he would distribute it for us. In addition there is a snack bar/beach bar that serves lunch and snacks. We always had lunch at the beach bar – grilled meats and fish, salads, bread/buns, a couple of hot vegetables and a pasta were usually offered. Also huge amounts of fresh fruit. There was fruit offered all day and off and on trays of sanwiches and pizza squares. The beach bar makes a great pina colada!

On Thursday night we treated ourselves to dinner off the resort at the Island Pearl ( a little ways down the beach) and really enjoyed the meal, the atmosphere and the service. We had made a reservation but it wasn’t really necessary as only about half the tables were occupied. They have a great wine selection and people did stop in for drinks only. There was live entertainment that night – a singer and guitar – he was great. We felt quite safe walking along the beach at night to get to the restaurant but a flash light is probably a good idea as it is DARK.

Atmosphere was PERFECT
Hotel Henry Morgan Resort
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Liza, Toronto >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2009
Arrival: Jan.2 – Jan.9, 2009 Upon arrival in Roatan, several mini buses were at the airport to bring us to the Resort. Our room numbers were pre-assigned, and the bus ride to the property was only about 20 minutes. Once at the hotel, we simply filled in some paperwork for check-in, while snacks and welcome drinks were served, and proceded to our room. The luggage arrived about 10 minutes later. The whole arrival experience was quick and painless – in fact, the plane arrived in Roatan around 10:15am and we were on the resort’s beach by 11:45am!!

Rooms:

The rooms at the Henry Morgan are very functional and comfortable. Although some of the fixtures are a bit tired as some people have previously mentioned, the rooms are clean, airy and in everything was in good working condition. The housekeeping staff do a great job!

Restaurants and Bars:

There is one main restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is also a snack bar at the beach where they serve a small spread for lunch. The dining room is very casual. You don’t have to get dressed up for dinner each night. Some of the ladies wear dresses, but for the most part, this is a very low-key place. Men do not need to wear long pants in the dining room. If you are the type of traveller who is looking for "a la carte" options, and gourmet meals – this is probably not the right resort for you! For us, this atmosphere was perfect. The food was always plentiful, tasty and traditional. The service staff are extremely pleasant and they greeted us by name at every meal. They even went so far as to buy some local "hot sauce" for us at the grocercy store in Coxen Hole when they found out that my husband loved spicy food! Thank you Jorge and Lenny! There are two bars – one on the beach, and the lobby bar. The all-inclusive drinks were limited to house wines, local beer, and the local bar rail.

We rather enjoy venturing out from the resort. We found a fabulous little bar, just down the beach, at the Los Rocas Resort. During happy hour, from 3pm to 5pm, they served "two for one" drinks – including daquaries, mojitos, pina coladas, and many other fancy drinks. Drink prices are extremely inexpensive here and for a change in atmosphere, and the fun we had with the bartenders (Mike and Winston were the best!!), we thought it was well worth it! By the way, you can catch a great sunset from there as well as from the resort’s beach.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: The Henry Morgan’s beach at West Bay is truly the nicest on island – the sand is soft and white; the ocean is warm and turquoise! We walked along the beach as far south as "the wall" and as far north as we could. It is possible to walk all the way to West End, but you’d need shoes for this. West End is the closest town – by water taxi it’s about a five minute ride and only $3 USD. We found a great litle rotisserie chicken, and fish restaurant in town. They had the best "fixin’s" I’ve ever tasted – and the best coconut rice and beans!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

Roatan is well known for scuba diving and snorkeling. Although we didn’t do any diving on this trip, we did enjoy the snorkelling that was best just down the beach towards "the wall". Here, we saw many varieties of colorful fish and reef life. We also rented a car to tour the island for a day. It was a great way to see all of the towns and get a feel for the local way of life. We visited Coxen Hole, where the cruise ships come in, and French Harbour, where we ate a great lunch at Gio’s. We did venture off the main roads, but after experiencing a flat tire on the dirt roads, we’ll make sure to rent a truck or jeep next time!!! Another good restaurant just down the beach from the Henry Morgan was Foster’s. We had heard from a local that they’d be serving a "lobster special" the night before we left. We walked over, with a few other people from the resort, and found that happy hour was in full swing! We ordered appetizers first, and discovered the best "ceviche" we’ve ever tasted! For the experience of enjoying a lobster dinner on the beach, we thought this was a great deal.

Other Comments: We thoroughly enjoyed our week at the Henry Morgan resort. We loved the relaxed atmoshere, and found the staff to be wonderfully friendly. Raphael, our Conquest Rep was proffessional, and was always available to anwer all of our questions. We would, and have recommended this resort to our friends, and would love to return ourselves!

This is probably the best snorkelling beach in Cuba
Hotel GC Villa Trópico (Cameleon Villa Jibacoa)
User Rating:  
eeeefarm from Ontario >  9 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
Arrival: April 11 – 18 My third time at this resort. I arrived in the evening. Check in was quick, my bags were brought immediately to my room, and there were sandwiches and a fruit plate in the mini fridge to greet me.

Rooms:

Very clean, lots of storage, comfortable if aging furniture. There is a 2 CUC/day charge for the safe. The air conditioning worked well and is controlled by remote so is convenient to use. There is a mini fridge and T.V. and the electrical outlets are 110 volts. The washroom has a large stall shower, no bath. There is a hair dryer supplied. Outside the sliding patio doors there is a nice patio with 2 chairs and a table . I found the accommodations comfortable, although esthetically there are some details that need attention: e.g. peeling paint. The resort is scheduled to close for renovations, so I’m sure this will be attended to. As far as I am concerned, such superficial flaws have no impact on my enjoyment of my vacation.

Restaurants and Bars:

One buffet restaurant and one a la carte restaurant, plus a snack bar, a pool bar, and a lobby bar. Food at the buffet is quite adequate. I never had a problem finding enough to eat. Breakfast features the usual omelets made to order, pancakes, french toast and many other items. Some mornings there was fresh orange juice, but other times there was a disappointing substitute that tasted like Tang. Pizza is available at lunch and often at dinner. Ice cream seems to only make an appearance at lunch, but is very good. Desserts are a bit lacking in variety, and fresh fruit was good but not an extensive selection. The grapefruit was particularly tasty when available. Lots of salads and fresh breads at every meal. I don’t eat meat, so can’t comment on that, although those who did seemed happy with their meals. I found the selection of cooked vegetables was a bit limited. A couple of nights the house band entertained at dinner, which was enjoyable. The a la carte restaurant includes choices of beef, chicken and fish. The soup was very nice. I found the snack bar willing to make me a grilled cheese & tomato sandwich, instead of the usual burgers and dogs. The Lobby bar still makes excellent Spanish coffee!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

This is probably the best snorkelling beach in Cuba, and the reason I came. I was lucky with the weather and able to snorkel every day. The beach has lots of shade and there was never a problem finding a lounger and a spot to sit. I didn’t spend any time at the pools, but they appeared to be very clean. The grounds are like a park…..well kept, with a very spacious feel to them. Wonderful bird life everywhere. The staff work very hard to keep this place looking fabulous!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Didn’t bother with tours or many activities…..too busy snorkelling and sailing on the Hobie Cat. There were many options available for those who wanted them.
Other Comments:
This was my fourth time at Jibacoa, third time to Cameleon with one visit to Breezes. I find quite a different atmosphere between the two hotels. Cameleon has less amenities and is smaller, quieter, and more laid back. Walking the beach between snorkelling sessions, I noted that it was much busier in front of Breezes, and since that resort is adults only, I was surprised to see so many children in the water there. A closer look made me aware these were local kids, probably from the Cuban campgrounds. I was also approached by locals wanting to sell shells and other items, or just for a handout. This didn’t happen in front of Cameleon while I was there….
Our room was a beachfront room. We loved it!
Hotel Breezes Jibacoa
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Rose >  3 contribution(s) Canada
Sep, 2009
Arrival: When we arrived we were given forms to fill out to be brought back to the desk. A bunch of us showed up at the same time so it took a little while to get fully checked in.

Rooms:

Our room was a beachfront room. We loved it! We enjoyed our balcony a lot as the ocean breeze was so nice. The room was larger than expected and as we were on the second floor…very tall ceiling! We did notice right away that out balcony door did not lock..but the luggage stand fit quite nicely on it side to lock the door, until it was fixed the next day. The fridge is hiding in the tv stand and only had 2 bottles of water in it(no food)…very important…Those are the only 2 bottles you get, the fridge does not get refilled at all. We read the reviews before so we expected this. We brought 3 stainless steel water bottles as well as our insulated coffee mugs(which were quite useful to keep our icy drinks cool when on the beach!).

Restaurants and Bars:

We enjoyed all the restaurants. The food was great and we never went hungry! We were surprised at how some people did not follow dress code. Not cool people! The bar staff were amazing as long as you tipped them. Which we did as we had brought bigger mugs for them to mix our drinks in.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

Beach was great! Snorkeling is a must! But you do need to go far to see the best of it! If you just want to swim or wade in the water this beach may not be for you. The pool didn’t interest us(we came for the beach) It is shallow…but great for the person who wishes just to float around and relax. The grounds were beautiful…we took many evening walks. They have many friendly stray kitties and dogs. We didn’t mind them at all. They are all tame. They just want food and water.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

We visited Mantanzas…we shared a cab it was a total of 60cuc. We were away for about 3hrs and the cab driver stays with you and waits as you sight see. Also stopped at The Bridge of Bacunayagua so we could take pictures from the look out. We took the Havana day tour. But would not do again as we have found we are not tour people. We would take a cab next time….cheaper as well you can go to the places you want to see and stay as long as you like.

Other Comments:

To Pack -water bottles…you can get drinking water from any of the bars. -large insulated coffee mugs for drinks…if not you get tiny plastic cups. -small gifts and extra money for tips -very light clothes, fancy clothes for Matinos -walking shoes -sunscreen, hat, umbrella

-Toilet paper (we never ran out in the room but you will need if you go off the resort)

If we come back to the DR we will surely stay there again
Hotel Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana (Moon Palace Before)
User Rating:  
Alec from Washington DC >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jul, 2009
Checkout – very smooth. The bellboy was there immediately and had our bags waiting when we arrived to meet the bus. I errored in that I waited until the last night to change my transfer back the next morning. You should confirm your return transfer soon after arriving. The room charges were clearly shown. The process was fairly quick and pleasant.

Satisfaction – We had not stayed at a Palace Resort but always wanted to. We chose them because all the other Palace resorts get such good ratings. While we enjoyed Iberostar and Bahia Principe before, we wanted to experience something more. We looked at almost every resort in Bavaro and decided to trust the Palace reputation more and commit to a resort that was opening the day we booked Jan 10th (not like us at all!) I was never worried for a moment that by June they would have it all great and I trusted we would have a great time. We had the time of our lives. If we come back to the DR we will surely stay there again.

Food – Outstanding! We enjoyed breakfast the most at Marina Grill close to the beach – it was nice and open. The food always was fresh and sufficiently varied. We ate at the Marina Grill for Breakfast and Lunch several times, but not dinner (when it is the seafood restaurant) so I cannot comment on that. We did not go to the Steakhouse. Spaggo (Italian) was outstanding. Besides Tao (Tepenyaki) it was our favorite dining experience. Everyone was so nice and served us so well and so elegantly. We went twice. We went to Gallos (Spanish) once – it was excellent. The guacamole was so fresh and the girls had all kinds of appetizers to munch on. The kabobs were so good. We went to Tao twice – it was also outstanding. Once we had a to wait a bit at the bar which was perfectly fine, the bartender was very nice and made great drinks. He even taught us a little Spanish. Pizzetta (sp?) was fine. It is so open that we noticed it was not very occupied most of the time. We tried it to see anyways. The food was good. I think we were encouraged to order too much food! We only ate about half of what was suggested. Cafettos was great. One does not appreciate all it has to offer until you see the menu or sit down. For a few days we thought it was a bar and coffee lounge. The breakfast is so excellent, we ate there 3 times. It was like a hidden gem. Nice to be served at breakfast sometimes. We went for dessert once. Lucca’s (main international buffet) was perfectly fine for breakfast and we enjoyed the Asian, Spanish, and Dominican nights. The Spanish night was our favorite, it was perfect. Overall we thought the food quality and variety was excellent everywhere we went. I like the way the buffet items are replentished even when the older pan is half full yet. The banana bread is perhaps the best I have ever had. Ice cream shop – a great idea! It’s texture and flavor was different than what we are used to in the States, but it was good. My daughters loved the donut and cake shop – every night we stopped for goodies for the morning. The cookies in the other bakery across from the ice cream were a bit stale when we got them twice, but it was late in the day so maybe that was why. We saw someone order a sandwich and then she made it fresh at the donut/deli shop in the lobby. We did not order room service. It was very good to know it was there, essential for the high class status, but it is not a novelty for us and we only use it when we are simply unable to go out and dine (which was never the case). We saw a lot of people had as we walked the hall. I just cannot comment as we did not use it. The made to order grill next to building 4 was a God-send on many an afternoon. Those folks work so hard all day in all that heat. The food was always fresh and hot. The burgers are oustanding, especially the BBQ and French Onion ones. I believe the only restaurant not yet open was ‘Samba’. Bars – Outstanding!!! Top shelf liquors all the way. You see it, you call it, they make it. Plenty of bars all around the lobby and pools. Really liked the drink of the day thing and glad they opened not too early (we were ready by 10am for a ‘refreshment’). I cannot stress enough how impressed I was with the quality of the spirits and beer. The quality of the drinks was excellent, never weak at all and always tasty. We did not use the 2 large bars at the lobby. Having the self serve soda/ice station was really nice. And the never ending supply of Dasani bottled water was top-class. For a barfly like me, I was totally impressed and delighted with the bars, service and drinks.

Safety – we always felt very safe and secure in the hotel. We did not worry a bit about anything being stolen from the room. The security guards around the resort and beach are a nice feature.

Grounds – we understand they are still completing the resort so nothing bothered us about any unfinished items – only the far east section is really still under construction. The casino was not yet completed but this was perfect in our book. Overall the resort was gorgeous. Where we stayed and walked was excellent. It will be great when the map and info stands around the resort are completed. They were very clean. The landscaping is outstanding. The lighting so beautiful at night. It is such a gorgeous resort. Staff – overall everyone was so friendly! No matter what their role/job was everyone we passed and met was very nice. The service at all of the dining areas was essentially perfect. It was very nice that most everyone spoke enough English to make us comfortable. We tried to speak as much basic Spanish as possible. The way you are training your staff to treat your guests could not be better it is the most successful! 5-star service. I could say that at every meal, every person who served us was so friendly and nice. We were really impressed by how well the staff spoke English, how much they cared and how professional they were. Other Guests – unlike some other Bavaro beach resorts, this place really caters well to North Americans. I would say 80-85% of the people were such. The rest from Central or South America (lots of Colombians!). Not once in 11 days did I see anyone get beligerant, overtly drunk, etc. People were very friendly and we met some great people from all over the Western Hemishpere. The atmosphere there sort of breeds that happiness too. We did not see any topless sun bathers. Lots of honeymoon couples. We did not see any groups of ‘spring breakers’ (You know what I mean). It was essentially all families and couples. Again, the staff spoke English really well. I suspect in July and August the European guest population might go up quite a bit. Our girls met lots of friends and were never bored or without other kids to splash around with. Beach – The resort was not crowded (friends and family who saw our pictures commented we had the resort to ourselves) and there were plenty of palapas and longers but I suspect that when they really start to pack the resort in they will need more at the beach (was incredibly clean and beautiful). Having the lifeguard towers was awesome – not all resorts have them and this was great. The net is great, and the beach activities were sufficient. Gorgeous beach.

Pools – Outstanding! We loved the way each pool had a different shape, amount of shade, different loungers, yes/no swim-up bar at different pools, jets, etc. The pools at the very center of the resort seemed quite vacant. We would move between the 3 pools between Marina Grill and building 4. The pool in front of building 4 seemed the most popular since it had the swim up bar, jets, and live music. We enjoyed most the pool next to it, next to the wedding gazeebo in front of the made to order grill. It was perfect. Really liked the shelf around the inside of the pools where we could put our loungers. Having small short tables spaced amongst the loungers would be so excellent – we had no-where to put our drinks or food when not holding them. The pools and the beach all had service. Unlike other resorts we’ve stayed at such as Bahia, you DO NOT need to play the save-lounger game here. Always plenty of loungers free all day and in prime spots too.

Tours – it is quite a plus that they offer some complimentary spaces on those 3 tours (safari, snorkeling, animal park). We did discuss the safari tour with an agent there, only the zipline and ATV were extra (which was ok, understandable). We booked a full day safari trip from a fellow on the beach, that was similar to what they offered (school, typical house, typical town, plantation, cigar, gift shop, lunch, beach and pool) only it included horseback riding and ATV as well. We paid $75 pp. I think if I added zipline and ATV to their it would have been about that pp, but the girls wanted horseback riding instead so we chose the other. Hindsight is 20/20 and I would have gone with their tour! We were not satisfied/pleased with the quality of that tour other (Rancho Mar Taina). The ‘truck’ was quite shoddy (we had to stop at a garage on the way home), the horseback rides and ATV excursion were too short, and the gift shop they took us to was occupied by a very ill-mannered seller. The ranch and beach was outstanding though. We make the most of everything and had a great time, but I would stick to the resort-approved tours. Gym – Outstanding! We could not believe how nice and complete the gym is. People will universally be really impressed. The guys there (we were always there 7-8AM) were very nice and took care of us. The equipment is outstanding. The bathrooms adjacent to the gym were not complete though which was less than ideal. Gift Shop – Outstanding! Great selection, very nice and open, very nice staff, and surprisingly good prices. We were perfectly pleased with what we bought and how much we paid. A lot of items were cheaper than the village/town shop. And everything goes on the card on deposit for your room – you need no cash handy. We did not use the beauty salon, spa, or the two lotion/bathing suit shops. If you did the sales presentation (we already own vacation packages) I think you got $400 in vouchers for the spa. The ATM worked very well and it was simple to use. I needed cash only for the extra tour we booked on the beach. It dispenses $DR in 500s. $5 ATM fee. Operator – always courteous and spoke excellent English. She even called back to make sure our bathroom got unlocked (kids). It was excellent service. Activities – The painting on the beach was so cool, the kids loved it. They liked the sand castles and water volleyball. My wife liked the beach volleyball and painting. The activities staff were very friendly. The band that would come and play in the afternoon was great and we really enjoyed listening to them. My girls (10 and 12) only visited the Space Kids once to see a friend in it. Space Kids is a place where you can bring your children from morning to night (it seemed) for structured and supervised activities. They put on a talent show that was awesome!

Shows – For the most part outstanding. The talent show was great! We enjoyed the Michael Jackson show although the circumstances were somber (we saw it June 25th), the MC handled it respectfully and very well. We really enjoyed the magic and circus shows – they were so excellent! The Starz show left a bit to be desired. There should be something somewhere suggesting that that show may not be appropriate for children. At one point a rap ‘star’ hops on stage and briefly mimics sex with a bent-over scantily clad dancer. That’s when we got up and left along with several other parents with younger children. Maybe there was some indication that it was meant for adult audiences and we missed it. Aside from that, the other shows were awesome and we enjoyed them.

Excellent value and top notch service
Hotel Ocean Turquesa & Ocean Coral
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Prince George from BC >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009 | Leisure | Solo
Arrival: Our arrival was very smooth and we were welcomed with a smile. As we came to see, everyone at this hotel has a friendly hola with a smile. Everyday! Rooms: The rooms are furnished nicely. Bed is OK. Service from chambermaids was excellent. It would be nice to get rid of the slight musty smell. Restaurants and Bars: Bars were always stocked well and service was great. Smiles all the way around. The food in the buffet was good but fairly bland for me. This is an area where they could kick it up a notch with more flavourful food . The three themed restaurants, Mexican, Italian & Japanese were good. Service was excellent. Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach was fantastic. Always well groomed, lots of beach chairs & palapas and the beach bar service was always welcome. Pools were clean and always had some sort of activity going on. The grounds were impeccably maintained. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: I took my PADI Open water course with the hotel dive centre. Alvaro Gonzales was the Dive Master and was awesome. Excellent guy who made me feel very comfortable and safe. Thanks! We toured the countryside in a rented vehicle from Dollar rental car inside the hotel. Very reasonable and easy to deal with. We also used Traffic Tours (Hugo, excellent!) from inside the hotel and went to Excaret. This was a fantastic trip. Go for as long as you can because the day slips away from you very fast there. One of the best Theatre productions I have seen. Other Comments:

Can’t wait to go back. Excellent value and top notch service.

Beautiful soft white sand beaches with warm, blue water
Hotel Sandals Grande Ocho Rios
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Jessica from Cambridge, Ontario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Arrival was smooth and welcoming. We were met at the airport by staff and directed into the Sandals lounge for refreshments while we waited to board the bus. My only complaint was that once we were checked in and dropped off at our rooms, we had no idea where to find anything on the resort or where to go for dinner. We had no map or guide for the resort and had to go back to the front desk to request one. Rooms: Clean and nicely furnished. Some water damage on the wall near the balcony door but nothing that bothered us. Restaurants and Bars: Excellent food and drinks! And lots of choices. No reservations required for a la carte, and we ate at a different restaurant every night. Beach/Pools/Grounds: Beautiful soft white sand beaches with warm, blue water. I snorkeled from the beach and we also took the boat out to the reef offshore (all included). Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We recommend the Catamaran Party Cruise to Dunns River Falls and snorkeling. We also did an ATV tour. Other Comments:

Great resort and we are looking forward to going back!

Resort is small so any room will be close to the amenities.
Hotel Breezes Jibacoa
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David from Toronto >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Flew to Breezes Jibacao which is about 1 hour from Varaderro airport and about 1 hour from Havana. We flew with Sunwing which was on time and a good flight, one of the better chartered carriers.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
There is a hiking tour a few times a week where you climb one of the hills that surround the resort, this is a decent hike where you will need running shoes as the climb is quite steep and will take you about 15 minutes. The view you get from the top of the hill is excellent as you can see all the resort and where the reef is located, be carefull as there are no safety barriers where you stand to take pictures and there is quite a drop. The hike back to the resort is on a more gradual path and is via a farm house where you get to interact with the locals.
We also rented a cab for the day to take us to Havana ($90) to see the sites there. We first stopped at the old fort which was very interesting and a great place to take pictures of Havana. The cab driver dropped us off in old Havana where we took some pictures and wandered around the stores. There is lots to see in Havana and I would recommend buying a map and highlighting the sites you would like to see as we did not see as much as we would have liked too.
Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Beach is very nice with some stones at the shore but there are places to enter the water where there are no stones. Snorkelling here is excellent is you are willing to swim out about 100 metres where the coral is about 10 feet below the surface and then drops off to about 40-50 feet. I have snorkelled in other places like Cozumel and this was just as good and very convenient. Pool is very nice and not usually very busy.

Grounds are well maintained with gardeners constantly attending to the gardens.

Other Comments:
Resort is small so any room will be close to the amenities. Service was excellent.

I would highly recommend this resort and will definetly go back to it as I loved the snorkelling there and its close proximity to Havana.

Restaurants and Bars:
The buffet is smaller compared to othere resorts we have stayed at but the food is more than adequate with the usual omelette bar in the morning. The pizza we had at the beach bar was good but that was all we had there one day as we had a late dinner. The Cuban restaurant was good and the Italian was very good with the service at both being very proffessional.

You should never go hungry at this resort unless you are a very very fussy eater.

Rooms:
We stayed in block 13 which was right beside the pool. The rooms are clean and well maintained. There is a card you hand on the door for any items you may need fixed and these were deals with in a very timely manner. This is an older hotel so you still require keys for the door and the safe, you also need to lock the door from the inside. These rooms are not fancy but are more than sufficient.
Special Thanks to the best Dive Team I was ever a part of
Hotel Club Med Turkoise
User Rating:  
Peter from Ontario >  3 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Solo
Flew in from Toronto (3 hrs 45 minutes direct). Shuttle picked me up at the airport. The resort is about 20 minutes away. Arrived at Club Med and the staff did not waist anytime giving me my room and information then they walking me to it. My luggage was brought in 15 minutes. First resort I have been too where I was not told to attend a meeting so they could try to sell me a condo or something else! Resort is organized and it is easy to learn the layout. Staff (GEOS) are very friendly and work very hard. I have no doubt that the staff is picked on their personality as much as what they can do work wise as all seemed to be very friendly and would stop to talk regardless if you know them or not. Most do multiple jobs in a day. On the last day many came out to see the travellers off (many hugs and handshakes and a few tears shed too). Most of the staff seem to be French Canadian (many from Montreal). Most of the travellers are Canadian and American.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
I went SCUBA Diving almost everyday. This is the best run and most organized Dive Resort I have ever been too (and I have been to a lot in the Islands). Juanita (From Newfoundland) great gal who runs a tight ship and is very well respected by her team. The divers loved her as she had a good sense of humour (after all she is a Newfie *L*). Modern dive boats! Nobody leaves the boat until all your equipment is checked 100%. There were a few divers who were in wheelchairs and that was not an issue to this staff as they did an excellent job assisting everyone! The staff (Julian, Sam "Bam", Kevin, Mike, John, etc all did an great job. The diving its self was fantastic. On my 3rd dive our dive seem saw a Whale Shark (30 feet at least but depending on how many drinks we had later that day it grew *L*) very rare to see (sorry Juanita I had to put it in *L*). When not diving the dive staff would eat with the divers and spend time with them having a drink and just hanging out. In short I know I speak for a lot of divers when I say THE DIVE STAFF MADE THIS TRIP GREAT!!!!!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Beach is beautiful the water looks like it does in the travel books. 1 pool always kept clean. Afternoon dive clinics that do not get in the way of the swimmers. Lifeguard on duty (a girl named Dawson from Montreal). Grounds kept in great shape. Grounds crew work very hard everyday keeping the grass, bushes and trees well taken care of. This is a very nice resort in all aspects!
Other Comments:
Don’t listen to any of the negative reviews as these are the type of people who complain about everything in their daily lives (or it’s travel companies who do not deal with Club Med or The Turks & Caicos doing the slamming) THIS RESORT IS FANTASTIC! This is my first time I have been to a Club Med and it will not be my last. Make sure if you are a SCUBA Diver to have a dive (even just a couple) as this is one of the best dive sites in the world! Leave things like toothpaste, shampoo etc for the staff as they do not get payed a lot of money and can use it. Don’t forget about the grounds keepers they work very hard also!
Special Thanks to the best Dive Team I was ever a part of (Luke, Brian and Shannon "Flap Jack Fins") see you guys on our trip in 2010 and to Julian, Amy and Ruben who went out of their way to make my trip great!
Restaurants and Bars:
Most days I ate at the main restaurant food was always good. Head Chief (Ruben) great guy who always came around shaking hands and taking to the people at each table. Sharkies Bar is a nice place to spend the later afternoon as the sun is going down. There is always a musician playing. My only complaint is the slow bar service at the main bar (male staff will basically serve females and men will wait) A few times I waited more then 15 minutes to get a drink as the women would just walk up and get served right away (very common complaint among men while I was there). Amy (Montreal) was the best bartender (very beautiful, always happy and friendly) and Cerro and Justin also did a great job and always work much faster then most of the other bartenders (and serve everyone not just women). The alcohol is pretty cheap but you can buy top shelf if you get sick of the low grade they serve (might want to pick up a couple bottles at Duty Free and bring it with you). The beer is fine (Turks Head) and they have both dark and light.
Rooms:
Very clean, electronic safe, modern showers which always had hot water. They supply shampoo and body wash (not high end stuff so you might want to bring your own) Lots of drawers and places to hang shirts/paints etc. Small Flatscreen TV’s in each room which get most American stations, CBC and CTV Canada and few British stations also. Maids do an excellent job!
Nice room on 3rd floor overlooking swim ups
Hotel Grand Sunset Princess
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village >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Flew on sunwing and enjoyed both flights and service. trip to resort on nice bus took about an hour. Check in was smooth but after arriving at 1.pm rooms not available till 3. Lunch and drinks at buffet put in the time nicely. Bellmen looked after bags and delivered in no time Rooms: Nice room on 3rd floor overlooking swim ups.Partial view of the ocean and deep balcony to sit and have a drink. Maids were great and mini bar stock daily. Restaurants and Bars: Buffets were nice with a decent assortment of hot and cold items. we found service pleasant and staff very friendly. we tipped and this seemed genuinley appreciated. the theme restaurants were good esp the italian and international. Beach/Pools/Grounds: we used the beach to go for long walks. swimming was a little rough and the bottom had some stones. we didn’t try snorkeling here at beach as the visibility was not great Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: went snorkeling for half day through sunwing reps and this was great. edwardo and his crew were entertaining and informative for a boat load of beginners. you see some amazing thigs in the ocean Other Comments:

lots of walking at resort so take a pair of comfortable shoes to get to and from meals very beaitiful resort and friendly staff. we have been a smaller resorts so a big one was interesting to try. overall we enjoyed our trip and would go with sunwing again

This is a divers resort but even non divers will love it
Hotel Captain Don’s Habitat
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Carter >  1 contribution(s) SWEDEN
Jul, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Don’s Habitat was started by the legendary Captain Don Steward. The captain not only started the hotel but is responsible for making Bonaire a diver’s island and convincing the authorities to declare all the waters a national park. The Captain still frequents the hotel on Mondays. You’ll find him at the outdoor bar. The outdoor bar is also where you can listen to Moogies island music and watch the slide show. You will probably end up as part of the slide show since the DMs and others seem to love taking pictures. The motto of the hotel is "diving freedom". Diving is indeed available 24hrs. The dive pier is large with two staircases and a rope leading to depth to make night diving a breeze. Truck rental(car) is on the property making shore diving easily accessible. If you tire of shore diving and house reef diving, Don’s has three dive boats going out daily. The DMs are among the best. Likewise, dive education including photo courses, are of very high quality and are located in new buildings, as is the dive shop and spa. Even if you are not a diver it is still a great resort. This is not a luxurious hotel but it has everything you need and it is clean and well managed. There is no real luxury resort on Bonaire although Harbour Village tries to fit into this category. Don’s Habitat IMHO is a little less luxurious than HV but still I prefer Don’s for other reasons. There are many great dive resorts on Bonaire. Some of these resorts are too large for my taste, like the Plaza and likewise some are too small for my taste. Carib Inn is one of the smaller resorts and it is an excellent dive hotel but it lacks some of the activities and facilities that Don’s has. Don’s has everything I want in a resort but is still small enough to allow me to become friends with everyone.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
I think I mentioned most but not all
Beach/Pools/Grounds
beach; what beach?
Pool; Clean, very well maintained and a good enough size in my opinion. Grounds- Very good. Many of the plantings were the result of the Cap’t landscaping skills
Restaurants and Bars
Rum Runners IMHO can easily compete with the best restaurants on the island. That said the food quality does vary. This is however, even true of some of the well known restaurants. We have for example eaten at Will’s and thought the food was worth a Michelin star but than the last time we were there we were very disappointed. OK I’ll admit I never thought Rum Runners was worthy of a Michelin star but still the food is usually of high quality. It is delicious. You won’t go wrong ordering the daily special or whatever fish is fresh. The breakfasts are great too! The restaurant by the way is at the water’s edge so you will be able to look down and see the fish, but do watch out for the iguanas who are waiting to hop up and steal your food if you let them (same thing for the gulls).
Rooms
There is a wide variety of rooms with new rooms being build 2010. We always stay at the Oasis Cottages. They have two bedooms/bathrooms and are very spacious. A/C throughout. Unfortunately they do not have any ocean views. The cottages vary since they are owned by different people. One of the Oasis cottages is quite luxurious, most are not. The staff does a great job keeping this area clean and well maintained.
Your Arrival
Try to do your paperwork at home. Dive liability release forms etc can all be downloaded beforehand
We had a wonderful diving trip.
Hotel Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach
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Brett >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Sep, 2009
Arrival: Sept/08 Felt safe and secure, friendly staff, lots of entertainment, beautiful beaches + pools, big resort but not too huge.

Rooms:

We stayed in the bunglalows and loved it! Very clean, lots of space for myself and my gf.

Restaurants and Bars:

Delicious food, good selection of restaurants in the resort but we also found our favortite place OUTSIDE of the resort. El Cafecito de la Cubana; located on the beach in Bayahibe. We ended up eating there about 3 times in one week:) Highly recommend anyone that goes to Dominicus or Bayahibe to leave the resort and go for lunch or dinner there atleast ONCE!

Other Comments:

I was looking for a dive operatation on the south coast for our annual vacation trip. I found Diving Dominican Republic, contacted them and we had a great experience. I’ve gone diving in La Romana twice before so I really did not expect much but I was pleasantly surprise. The reef was alive with fish and beautiful corals. I realized that on our previous trips the dive shops didn’t care much about showing people around; they just took them to the usual dive spots and that was it. Vladi runs a small family operation, PADI certified dive boat(which is very imporant to me) he named his boat Sharky. His wife Denise takes care of all the emailing. She was very patient with me and continually kept up with all emails I sent her. She explained all details, suggested dive packages for me and my gf and she kept emailing till we were comfortable with the plan. Everything was catered to us and what we wanted:) Vladi is an excellent scuba diving instructor who takes his time to set up the dives at the locations he knows are interesting, looking for dive spots where other dives shops don’t go. Him or Denise picked us up each day at the hotel and took us to the bay where the boat with all diving equipment was ready for us. After the dives, they took our equipment to their shop, rinsed it and had it ready for the next day diving. On the boat Vlad explained the details of the dive before hand, and then he spent time showing the corals and critters on the reefs that we would have never seen. The dives were not limited at all; we had as much time under water as our air consumption and depth allowed us. He kept us laughing the entire time, there was never rush anywhere, everything was going at our pace. My gf was extremely nervous about diving and Vladi gave her just the attention she needed to keep her calm and enjoy diving again.

There are few places that you can have a qualified, friendly, personal dive guide (along with a nice and comfortable boat), who will discuss your interests and make a dive itinerary just for you. And all this for almost the same price as packing like sardines and going on one of the cattle boats to dive the over used sites.

Conclusion:
We had a wonderful diving trip. It’s always fun to go diving, but Diving Dominican Republic made it the perfect experience. It felt like we were diving with old friends instead of hiring a boat and guide. The insights into the local area were spot on and made the experience that much richer. I can’t imagine going to the Dominican Republic and diving with anyone else.
3 time back
Hotel VIK hotel Arena Blanca (LTI Beach Resort Punta Cana)
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Denise >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This is our 3 year and every year we have stay at the Vic Arena Blanca and we love it the staff is wonderful and friendly when we got there we were on the 2 floor my husband just had knee surgery so this was not good i went to the front and with no problems they moved us to the first floor. People say why do you go to the same resort well first the resort is so clean and the staff are so friendly and we love the food breakfast is awesome and at lunch the burgers and fries and hot dogs are so good and there-always fresh fruit and cookies and cakes and dinner is fantastic especial our pasta maker i had garlic and butter with there amazing meat sauce also a red with no meat and Alfredo our rooms were cleaned every day and we came back to swans made from towels and always fresh flowers,I go to the Vic because of the food,staff,and how clean it is the T.v works the ceiling fan is great the AC works the rooms are wonderful remember if you want all the leisureliness of home then stay home also i feel so safe I work for Tim Horton and i start at 5 so i am always up at 3 so i would get the towels and go to the beach to get our spot the security guy Gabriel always walk with me to the beach watch me place my towels as we walk back we have a smoke he saw me back to my room.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We have swam with the dolphin at Maniti Park which is beautiful they put on water show with sea lions and dolphin’s we did the Eco tour which is done on Segways and the one I recommend if your only going to do one is the boat they take you to coral ref’s and you swim with the sharks and sting rays we dance on the boat they had a wonderful lunch and drinks we had a blast they have a gym,spa night club a little every thing for everyone.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
always clean the guys every day raked the beach and cleaned up what ever the ocean sent in. also threw out the day staff pick up all cups and garbage you had they always ask do u mined we had games threw out the day and fun beach exerciser at night the had show for the little one and at 10 for the grown up the show witch usually are musicals are so good the staff puts on the show and they do a dam good job
Other Comments
Well when we return next year it will be at the Vic we had a wonderful week as always it a lay back quiet resorted and that is what i look for because I am there to relax and the Vic lets you do that You have to remember it’s not home and if that is what your looking for then stay home
Restaurants and Bars
Fantastic and wonderful food night after night
Rooms
We had 2 rooms that were always cleaned and the cleaning staff went out of there way to see that we had everything we need it
Your Arrival
When you get off the plain they move you threw quick and on to your bus and on your way check in is a snap and the bell boys are quick your not waiting a hour for your bag
I just loved it.
Hotel Occidental Grand Aruba
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Desii Pattinson >  1 contribution(s) Panama
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Since i’m not much of a talker, I’m just gonna say I loved it. Unless I have something to say.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Since we didn’t do a lot in the resort.. Well, we did go to a show, which was in English, and since we are a Spanish speaking family, we didn’t understand a lot of things. I’m writing this in English because I have studied more. Besides that, we didn’t do much more than swimming in the beach, the pool, and going to restaurants when necesary. Off the resort, since Aruba is a very beautiful and small island, everything is close to everything. We met the Natural Bridge, California Lighthouse and went shopping. Absolutely dazzling and colorful. Everything.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is absolutely gorgeous, the sand is cool, the water clistal-clear, the pool was very clean, but the jacuzzis were a little too hot for the weather. I liked the pool bar as well, but I didn’t like their piñas coladas as much as in the lobby.
Other Comments
I’d definitely go again. When I grow up and get a job.
Restaurants and Bars
In all the restaurants the food was just delicious. And for the bars, I couldn’t stop drinking piñas coladas.
Rooms
Well, I stayed in one of those rooms for couples. I slept in the bed for once, and it’s like sleeping in clouds. Even the couch. Well, not really. I absolutely loved the decoration and the bathtub.
Your Arrival
Arrived at 6:30 p.m. The view: stunning. It was beautiful. I didn’t mind waiting in the lobby at all. I liked all the decoration, the fountain was a great detail. A guide gave us a tour arround the hotel, and led us to the buffet, which name I forgot. But I could see the little waterfall in the swimming pool, and it was beautiful with the dim lights.
Wonderful Resort
Hotel Paradisus Río de Oro
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Patricia >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We were a family party of three generations ( 78, 52, 18) that travelled to this resort in November 2009 for 1 week. We all loved it. The flights were good – we flew on Sunwing in their Elite Plus section – we thought it was worth the extra money to have the extra legroom seats prebooked both directions, as well as the seperate check-in. We waited in a line of about 8 people instead of the line with about 150 people. We could also board early if we liked.
Sunwing gives you a glass of champagne and a snack soon after take off, then free headsets, choice of hot meal and free wine with the meal. Our flights were on time. Overall a good experience.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool- large, clean. Has a swim-up bar. You can see the ocean from the pool. Lots of lounges. People get up early to save the best spots. Beach was nice, but very rough wtaer when we were there. There was a hurricane that was at the far west end of Cuba and Mexico while we were there. We got torrential rain one day, and the ocean was rough the whole week, so we were not in it very much. Grounds are well looked after. Nice plantings.

Nice bonsaii around the Asian restaurant.

Other Comments
Staff in the resort were very good. Professional, eager to please, welcoming, friendly. They always had a smile and a "Hola" for you.

Over all we had a great holiday and would reccommend it to anyone. As a matter of fact I am returning there in less than 2 weeks, this time with my husband and another couple.

Restaurants and Bars
Food was amazing! The main buffet has endless choices, beautifully presented. We ate every breakfast here, some lunchs and a few dinners. Staff was attentive, professional,friendly, welcoming, eager to please. If you couldn’t find many things to your liking at this buffet, there is something wrong with you!!! The a la cartes were all good. (least favourite was the Cuban, but still fine) The service was always good. They try very hard to make your meal pleasant. The restaurant by the beach had wonderful food at lunch – fabulous seafood. The pool area restaurant was great as well. Casual. Bars- good.
Rooms
Large, very clean and comfortable. A little bit dated decor-wise, but still nice. On 2 levels. Bathroom and bedroom on upper level, then 3 stairs down to sitting area. Sink area seperate from tub area. In area with tub/shower is toilet and bidet. Great water pressure in shower. Always lots of hot water. Lots of towels. Nice soap, shower gel, shampoo etc. Air conditioning was adequate. Room was fresh smelling, not damp or musty, (2nd floor room), kept spotless by maid. Mini bar always replenished.
Your Arrival
You are greeted at the resort with a glass of sparkling wine and a cool towel. They have you sit in the lobby, and come to you to check in. Wasn’t the fastest check in I have had, but definitely not the worst. We were driven to our room by a bellboy in a golf cart and he carried our bags up to the room. The room keys didn’t work so he took them back to the front desk to re-program them, and returned with-in a few minutes.

We changed, then went to buffet for late dinner.

The brightest gem in Sandals crown jewels
Hotel Sandals Whitehouse Spa and Beach Resort
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Ivan >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My wife (29) and I (33) just spent the most relaxing and romantic week at Sandals Whitehouse from March 5th to 12th. I have been reading reviews here for so many months so I think I knew everything about this resort before we arrived. The positive reviews motivated me to go and the negative ones moderated my expectations but in the end they didn’t need to be moderated as Sandals Whitehouse exceeded all of high hopes. Getting a room upgrade at check-in without asking for it probably helped. We have stayed at other 5 star AI resorts in the Dominican Republic and the Riviera Maya but this was our favourite vacation yet. After 7 days we came home (unwillingly) feeling refreshed physically and reinvigorated romantically. Everybody else will describe the rooms, food, pools, bars, beach, airport transfer etc so I won’t rehash everything they already have said. For me a great vacation is all about the experience and our experience was fantastic. A major contributing factor to that experience was the staff who are so friendly, helpful and fun we found this great attitude rubbed off on the guests as well. This was the first resort we have ever visited where all the guests say hello to each other, chat openly and have fun in the bars, restaurants, pools and beach. This incredible atmosphere made us great every day, so much so that after only 3 days we booked our next vacation at Sandals Whitehouse next year. One other noteworthy point (as Sandals virgins) is the included water sports. We are used to paying for lots of extras but with Sandals we went reef snorkelling and sailing in the Hobiecats almost every day. For medical reasons I was unable to take the opportunity to go scuba diving which was also included and that blew my mind. For anybody going to Sandals Whitehouse these are my tips: 1. The aim of your vacation is to have fun and relax. Don’t get caught up on silly little details as you will be the one that loses out. 2. Have fun with the Jamaican staff. Learn a few words or phrases in Jamaican patois. Just ask them and they will give you a few. You will have fun and the look of surprise on their faces when you use the phrases unexpectedly is priceless.

3. You know the old phrase “no pain no gain”. When it comes to the airport transfer the pain is minor and brief but the gain is so well worth it.

Unforgettable!!!
Hotel Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort
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Sandra >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
This is the second time I stayed at this resort and I will definitely be returning. We departed Ottawa on March 7 for 2 weeks and we all had the time of our lives, I know you can give 5 stars but if it were possible I would give the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya 10 stars for excellence.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t do any excursions out of the resort but there were many to choose from. They also have a beautiful spa and gym. You can take a nice walk there (about 5min) or you can have your concierge call the shuttle for you. The gym is state of the art, we went everyday around 3pm and there was always something available to use. They also provide you with water and towels. The spa is without a doubt beautiful and the staff is very nice. The shows in the evening were by far the best entertainment I have seen in Mexico and the animation team is fantastic. Always getting everyone involved.

The Disco at this resort is also very nice. You need to take a shuttle to ge there but it is a 5 minute ride an well worth it!

Beach/Pools/Grounds
We spent most of our 2 weeks at the beach, however the pools were equally beautiful. The beach can be a little bit rocky but not enough to need shoes although we saw some people wearing shoes. The pools and the grounds at this resort were imaculate, there wasn’t one minute of the day that we didn’t see someone cleaning it, very well kept.

There is also a lazy river at this resort, very very fun and a perfect place to get a beautiful tan. They provide you with a floatation device and it takes you through the river very nice touch.

Other Comments
I would have to say that the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya excels in every way. A special THANK YOU to the Managment of the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya you have created a world class resort. We thouroughly enjoyed our vacation and will be returning without a doubt next year. THANK YOU again and see you in 2011. Adios!
Restaurants and Bars
There are 8 a la carte restaurants to choose from: Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean, French, Japanese, Steak House, Cajun and Brazilian. We manageg to go to all of them because we were there for 2 weeks and they are all VERY VERY GOOD! My favourites would have to be the Steak House and the French restaurants. The Buffets are equally good. I never had a problem finding something to eat and everything I ate was very good. Excellent!!!! The staff at the bars are very nice they go out of their way to make everyones experience enjoyable. Look for Gabriel and Joakin these guys know how to mix a drink!!!!

There is also a coffee bar at this resort and you can go for a coffee at any time of the day, very yummy!

Rooms
The rooms are spacious, beautiful and very clean, nothing to complain about.
Your Arrival
We arrived in Mexico around 12:30pm and went through customs security very smoothly. We had to wait awhile after we got our luggage to go through security but we were in paradise so we didn’t mind. We took a bus to the hotel that takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check-in at the hotel was seamless. The bell boys were very friendly and assited us with our luggage. We were then greeted with a glass of chamapgne and guided to reception to check-in. The reception staff were very accomodating answering our questions and helping us fill out all the necessary paper work. We were then given our bracelets and our rooms keys. We then went back to the bell boys and we were driven to our rooms and our luggage quickly followed.
What an awesome vacation
Hotel Sandals Grande Ocho Rios
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Deb >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
After reading some of the reviews for Sandal Ocho Rios I was a bit leary on picking the resort…but all of our fears were set aside the moment we arrived.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went on three off resort excursions and had an absolute grand time. From Dunns River Falls to zip line/bobled at Mystic Mountain to tubing down the river……fun was had by all of us.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds were spotless….the gardeners were at work everyday cleaning up any of the fallen leaves and when any work was being done they covered up stuff so that it did not look too messy.

The beach was a bit on the small size but very clean and as a rule we did not have a problem finding a place to sit when we went down there. The beach was split into three sections and the middle one by Jamie’s Sports bar was our favorite.

Other Comments
The only draw back of this resort is that it is quite large in size and there are two sides to the resort divided by the highway. But with the shuttles back and forth from the Manor side to the Riveria side transfer went quite smoothly.
Restaurants and Bars
Most of the restauants were fabulous…especially the Orchid. Their Filet minion was to die for. The only restraunt that I did not care for was the Valentinos but that is only because I have a cheese allergy and most of the food was prepared with cheese but I am sure that any Italian lover would really like this restraunt. Otherwise we can not complain about any of the food and there was always someplace to eat no matter what the time of day. From the beach grills to the buffet at breakfast we ate and ate and ate! All of the bars were great….you sure did not have to wait long before you got a drink. We loved the swim up pool bars and spent a lot of time in the water. Try the swim up bar on the Riveria side….say hello to Sharon….she is a great bartender and never let my glass get empty!
Rooms
Our room was fabulous. It was in one of the fourplex units with a pool right outside our balcony door. We had a seperate bedroom with a sitting room and a little kitchen….although we did not use the kitchen the full size fridge was kept stocked with all the beverages that we wanted. Our room was cleaned on a daily basis and we were always welcomed with a little treat of some kind on our bed when we got back from our daily excursions.
Your Arrival
We were greeted by friendly staff and check in was smooth and easy. Our bags were wisked away from us and sent directly to our little villa (which we were upgraded into).
Forget you troubles
Hotel Emerald Palms by the Sea
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Andrew >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Solo
Emerald Palms Resort is just what the doctor ordered when looking for the perfect escape! It’s worth the Trip:)
Awesome!!!
Hotel Fun Royale Beach Resort
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Shiela >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
My second trip to the island and first to this resort. 14 wonderful days! Met some wonderful people who were on holiday as well, had our daily happy hour with Hector. He was willing to keep my Bubba jug full. The staff was some of the nicest people I have ever met. Smiling, dancing. They always appeared happy doing their job. Found it a shame that, they are fighting to get their rating back up. West Jet has them listed at a 3star resort, and Sun wing at a 2.5, but with the service and food, and the cleanliness of the rooms…this rating should be upped to at least a 4 star. Will I return to the Island…Yes…Will it be this Resort. Absolutely!!!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The hotel offered nightly trips to the clubs, we however did not partake. We did go off on our own to the casino one night, which the hotel made sure we had a free cab there. We booked a cab along with some other people and went into Puerto Plata for a day trip and toured the Rum Factory among others sites. We also took in a day to Paradise Island, Wow! is all I can say on that. A trip up into the mountains to visit a school, see the water falls. Another great day! Last trip was out on the Catamaran. A day at Sousa Bay, snorkeling and a 2 1/2 sail back. Wonderful! The animation team was a great group. High energy! Have to say I lost weight due to the water activities. Fun! Drawback – Same activities everyday…would like to see new for next year
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was nice, and was raked daily. The only draw back was all the coral right in front, but it was no problem to walk down the beach a bit. There you could wade right in, and swim with no problems. Spent most of our time at the main pool. Kept clean by the guys, who used the net a couple of times a day. The grounds were raked and swept daily. Very neat! Beach towels were big…NO…holes in them! Note: We did decide to sit at the quiet pool one day, about 10 days into our trip. We were there only a short time before getting our first bites on the legs. Mind you it had rained the night before, but we got up and returned to our spot at the main pool and all was good again.
Other Comments
One of the things that impressed me the most was the many loyal customers they had. Pretty much everyone that I met and spoke too, have been coming to this resort for 5yrs up to 12 years, some even said they came more then 3 times a year. These were people from Canada, England, Germany, and Sweden.
Restaurants and Bars
We had two great bartenders Rocco during the day and Hector in the evenings. Sorry to say I didn’t get the young lads name at the swim up pool bar, but he sure could mix a great drink and do a slam dunk from his station to the net! We pretty much had the same waitress in the mornings and same waiter in the evenings. Both were awesome at their jobs. Wish I could remember their names, but they each greeted us with a hug and kiss. The food was good and varied. We did not feel like it was the same every day. The extra pieces of chocolate cake were very much appreciated. Best pancakes ever! Going the extra mile for wine for us, who could ask for better service. Pizza as a snack by the pool was a daily event, would let you build it yourself if you asked.
Rooms
Our room was very spacious, lots of drawers and closet space. Our cleaning girl was very sweet; she left us flowers every day. The balcony was quite big and gave us privacy. The bed was comfortable and so were the pillows! Lots of hot water, but who needs that much when all you want to do is cool off. There were hairdryers in the bathrooms. A small fridge with a counter and cupboards.
Your Arrival
We arrived around 5pm. Checked in and had our bags taken to the room. They were kind and showed us the way to the dining room. Made sure we had a lock and key for the safe. Lucy (the spitfire) was there with a big hug and welcome. She was ready willing and able to answer any question that one may have. Go Lucy! The reception area was a very nice place to sit and relax; one could always feel a nice breeze
An amazing B&B!
Hotel Blue Belize
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Corissa >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2009 | Leisure | Family
My teen-aged son and I came to Belize to do some exploration…flew into Cancun, bussed it to Chetumal, then rented a vehicle in Corozal and drove all the way down to Punta Gorda. (Note: unless you rent a vehicle in Belize City, you just might get "stuck" with an older-model, high-mileage vehicle – and it was not cheap – $75 USD/day!) I found BlueBelize when I searched online for places to stay in PG, so I really didn’t know what to expect – just the reviews that others had left. But whatever I DID expect, those expectations where met – and exceeded! We didn’t get to meet Rachel, but Dan, his sons, and his friendly canines made us feel right at home. (My son missed his dog, so Mrs. Pips and Maxine helped fill that spot!) The flat was large, bright, and airy – and even in the PG heat and humidity, we were pleasantly surprised that we actually didn’t need A/C! The flat was outfitted with a fridge, microwave, hot plate, coffee maker (and coffee), kettle (and tea), plus dishes, pots, and utensils – and a Brita water filter jug (we didn’t have to go out and buy bottled water). And the high-speed internet was always on – making it easy to let people back in Canada know what they were missing! The breakfasts consisted of homemade zucchini loaf, banana muffins, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, fresh OJ, tea and coffee…perfect start for a day of exploration! The view was spectacular – right on the water front. BlueBelize’s location in the town was perfect – a bit removed from the main area, which cut down on noise and traffic, but everything was still in walking distance. It was nice to take daytime walks in the quiet and friendly neighbourhood. The tree out front was a haven for birds – and that friendly igauna. Who needs an alarm clock when birds can do the same thing!? One morning, my rented 1995 ford explorer didn’t start. Dan went out of his way to get it going – my son and him spent over an hour working on it. He didn’t want payment for his services, so I left him (and his sons) some gifts.

Would I recommend this place to a friend? MOST DEFINITELY! BlueBelize was a home away from home – hmmm…but my home back in Canada was under freezing conditions – so BlueBelize was BETTER than home!! Can’t wait to come back!

Wonderful Experience
Hotel Grand Palladium Royal Suites Yucatan
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James >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We had the most wonderful experience in Mexico imaginable. THe service was excellent as well as the facilities. We had a small complaint and it was handled immediately. We have stayed at the Royal Suites 3 times and each time it seems to get better. So good that we bought 420 nights at the Palladium Travel Club. It’s a bit like buying a car with the saleman but all went well. Sice we had been there 3 times, given the cost of these vacations, we should have bought years ago. We look forward to the future stays for us and for our friends and family.
This resort was fantastic
Hotel Bahia Principe Punta Cana
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CJ >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Several friends and family went to the Bahai Principe Bavaro in Puna Cana for a wedding. The resort was amazing, people were friendly and all of us would return their again. I would highly recommend this resort – it was fantastic.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Lots to do if you had the time.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Our room was just outside the pool, which was beautiful. However we spent most of our time at the beach, which was lovely.
Other Comments
The other problem we had was stamps. Bought some post cards and could notlocate one stamp at the entire resort. However, that was the only blemish on a perfect holiday weekend.
Restaurants and Bars
Such variety and the food was amazing.
Rooms
Very clean, well stocked and beautiful. Staff was so friendly.
Your Arrival
No problem with the arrival at the airport or at the hotel.
Just what the doctor ordered!
Hotel Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
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Carleen >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My husband surprised us at Christmas time with a trip to the Domincan Republic; it was a much needed respite for March break especially after volunteering at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver for 16 days. So the rest, relaxation, wonderful resort and overall ambiance of the Gran Bahia Principe in Samana was just what the doctor ordered!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There were four tours that Joel, our rep from Air Canada told us about – we went on the boat ride to the national park where you can go into a cave and see some cave drawings from the original Indians, as well as going through some mangroves and then off to a private beach for a Domican lunch. It was a full day excursion and well worth it. Other excursions were a jeep tour which took you to a coffee plant, a horse back riding tour to Limone Falls and a catamaran tour. As we only planned to take the one tour we wanted to see the national park. Samana is just becoming a tourist resort and it is an ecologically protected area. One thing to be careful of – we wanted to go whale watching but Joel advised us it was not worth it because the whales are done mating in March and the males have left; the females are waiting with the babies until they are old enough to migrate. One family we met did go whale watching and said it was a big waste of money as they saw nothing – so make sure it really is whale season if you want to watch whales.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool is quite big and even though there were a lot of families and kids, there were still plenty of chairs with umbrellas and room to swim; you do have to get out early though to nab your spot. The beach is beautiful and there is a huge coral reef for snorkeling which we did a lot of. You can walk quite a bit and go off grounds although you are advised to do so in a group. My youngest and I walked quite a bit on the beach and really enjoyed the beautiful sand and vistas. The beach is very clean, there are a lot of lounges and umbrellas with hooks to hang up your beach bags. My son said he was bitten a bit by either sand flies or something – but I was never bothered. You really need to be conscious of using lots of sunscreen because it is extremely hot; especially when you are snorkelling and not thinking of the sun on your back. There are some vendors who will come by while you are on the beach but they don’t pester you. You can just say no thanks and they will leave you alone. There is no topless bathing at the pool and I saw very little of it on the beach (a bit of a relief with a 15 year old boy).
Other Comments
The staff are great; the resort is very clean. You can take a quick trip into town to buy cigars, rum, vanilla, and coffee which the area is known for – Domincan coffee is excellent and they drink it con leche (half hot milk, half coffee). The Gran Bahia Principe is a very relaxing resort – you can take part in what the animation group offers (salsa dancing, sports, spanish lessons,etc) or you can thoroughly relax with a book. This resort is not party central -there are no Americans (American airlines do not go to that area), there weren’t any university students acting unruly, and there was lot of older people or families – my two boys made tons of friends who they still speak with on MSN. You may see a few too many speedos but hey, relax, you’re in the Domincan.
Restaurants and Bars
You can eat and drink almost 24-7. The pool bar is very busy and there is a bar out by the grill which is excellent – and the beer is colder than at the pool bar. There is also a beach bar and a bar near the hot tub. Food was excellent – lots of choice at the main buffet and the grill; I loved the rice and beans – could not get enough, and fresh tomatoes in March -fabulous. There are four a la carte restaurants and you can make reservations at each one, once. We only went to three, the Italian, the fish restaurant (pescadoro) and the gourmet. I wouldn’t recommend the Italian (and why you would even eat Italian in the Dominican is beyond me – but my kids wanted it). However, the fish and gourmet were outstanding – anything with fish is great as its local. However, my husband had steak at the gourmet and it was outstanding. No complaints at all about either of these restaurants – the room ambiance is lovely, the service very attentive and overall just a really nice meal. At an all inclusive the meals make it or break it for me so this was truly delightful. Service at the large buffet restaurant can be a bit inattentive, however, it was March break and very, very busy. House wines are very nice. At nice, in addition to the main lobby bar there would be several stations – one had any kind of coffee you might like (Irish, Spanish, cappucino, etc), another station would have exotic cocktails like Kir Royale, Mimosa, etc; One night in the main buffet they also had a rum tasting – it was terrific!
Rooms
Our room was quite large; it is very modern – jet tub, separate shower. Bed were very comfortable; everything was extremely clean. Your room key turns on the air conditioning but as the hotel is trying to be as green as possible you can’t use your second room key to keep the air running all day – the staff will take it to ensure the air is turned off. However, it’s not a big deal – the room gets cool quite quickly. Towel service was excellent and there is turn down service for Air Canada guests but we were missed a few times – out of six days we had turn down on half. There are nice bath robes and slippers in the room, lots of supplies (shampoo, etc); and a mini bar – which has two beers in it and some pop. Although we tipped the staff, only once did we get more than two beers in the fridge.
Your Arrival
Arrival could not have been more perfect. Our luggage arrived promptly and we were escorted to the bus where we met the Air Canada representative Joel. The 90 minute bus ride was very scenic and Joel kept up a running and amusing commentary orienting us to the DR and Samana. At the hotel, our bags were brought to our rooms and the beach towels were already in the room, so what else could we do but head right out to the pool and beach! This was the smoothest arrival I’ve had at any resort in the Caribbean.
Terrific Vacation By Far
Hotel Melia Caribe Tropical
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RICK AND LINDA >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My wife and I departed from Ottawa,Canada on March 20th,2010 and stayed at the Melia Caribe for 2 weeks. Our flight was very good with Canjet and we arrived at the resort at 11:30 in the morning.

No problems checking in as everone was very friendly and very helpful.Our room was indeed ready by 3 p.m. and our luggage was brought to the room before we could get in.We ended up at the Market Place restaurant for lunch and they had a very good assortment of food for everyone’s taste.Food was excellent,well cooked and presented in a very distinctive fashion.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Golf course near by was very good.I was picked up every morning at 6:35 for my 7:00 tee-off time.
Worth the 37 dollars american for the power cart,very nice and challenging 27 hole course.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool was cleaned daily,grounds are very nice and tidy.beach was cleaned every morning from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Other Comments
This resort is definitely a 4 and 3 quarter star in our books.
We will more than likely go back in the near future.
Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants are very nice and have a good assortment for everyone including families with young children. We met Julio and Johnny at the Avenue bar and they treated us like royalty. of the best bartenders that I have encountered on all of our trips.They both make GREAT mohitos.
Rooms
Rooms were very clean with lots of hot running water for the shower.
Safe in the room is a nice added touch But should be included in the price.It was worth the 28 dollar charge though for the 2 weeks.
Your Arrival
Well greeted at the airport,no problems finding our transportation to the hotel.
Check in was a breeze,people were very helpful and friendly
It was a 6 STAR"dream" come true.
Hotel Dreams Punta Cana Resort & SPA
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MARY >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We have been to punta cana 4 times before this trip to Dreams resort & spa punta cana. My husband & I both said this vacation was magnificant! I read the reviews of this resort after it was booked and I was ready to cancel. I am not sure if it is other resorts that write in bad reviews so you don’t go there but Im glad I decided to keep my first choice or we would have missed out on the very best trip of our life! The resort had 9 units with 3 or 4 floors to each unit. We were placed in unit 1 with a ocean view, balcony and the most beautiful room imaginable. Everynite our bed was turned down. We had chocolate on our pillows and red flower pedals sprinkled on our bed. We were not honeymooners, this was for everyone and the maid would turn on our radio with beautiful music to set the mood! We never came back until 2 a.m. every morning because we danced the night away in the great disco!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We go to relax at the beach and pool. We dont leave the resort. there are many things to do off the resort though. The pool activities are soooo fun because of the staff. The staff cannot do enough for you. Your glass is never empty and your face never without a smile because of the staff. Many thanks to Julio, Bernardo, Wilbur, 2Pak, maritza(one of our pool & beach waitress’)Isabell and all the others who made our stay unforgetable! I mean that sincerely!! You literally "want for nothing". Its all there for you and more. Wait till you see the gounds! I will not even try to explain it. You so need to see it for yourself. All I will say is that it is BREATH TAKING!!!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was beautiful. If you are a beach walker go to the left not the right. You can only go about half a mile to the right. To the left you can walk 3 miles out to the next resort(solice). The pool is one lazy river starting at the begining of the hotels to the end at the ocean. 3 feet deep all the way with rafts available. Just beautiful and very well maintained. Water bars right there. Great!
Other Comments
I cannot wait to return to this resort again next year! The weather on March 22-29 was in the 90’s everday. Their rainy season is in may. dont book then!!!
Restaurants and Bars
What wonderful food! 5 resturants and a full buffet dinning room with about 14 different stations with unbelievable foods. If you leave hungry its your own fault. There are no reservations needed for the resturants. There is an Italian, mexican, japaneese, chineese & french. Unbelievable and most delicous. You can order anything and as much as you want. I thought the beef was of a better texture and taste than US beef. No joke. Dress is casual but nice. Men must wear long pants for french and mexican and japaneesse. Dress shoes for men, no sandels. ITs WORTH IT!!!
Rooms
The rooms are spotless,lite and airy. Beautiful open canapy bed(king size),plenty of clothing space in closet and drawers. Terrycloth ropes for your use for the week. chocolate on pillows and flower pedals on top of your rolled down bedding every nite. Hairdryer in bathroom and iron(planga) and board in closet. Balcony with table & chairs looking out on the carribean. WOW!
Your Arrival
I always love flying into punta cana because I love the thatch roof airport all open with a mariache band playing for you as you arrive. The girls at the airport are dressed in native red & white dresses taking your picture as you arrive. You can purchase this picture when you are sadly departing! And I mean sadly! Entry is smooth with lines moving smartly. No problems. Have passport & papers ready in hand.
Awesome !!!
Hotel NH Krystal Laguna Villas & Resort
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Gordon >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Sep, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
For a third world country we were very impressed , Hotel was clean , the food was good ( not as much choice as some other all inclusive hotels , but very good )the staff were friendly and polite .
Other Comments
people need to give this place a break , it is good value for money
Perfect resort for someone who loves the beach, great service and great food!!!
Hotel Ocean Turquesa & Ocean Coral
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Laurie >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Stayed at this resort March 25th-April 1st. We have stayed at several all-inclusives in many countries(our 4th in Mexico) and it is by far the best yet! The people were all so very nice the resort was very modern, yet had the carribean flare. It was clean the beach was never ending, the food was the best yet. Mike’s coffee shop was the great,there was a sport’s bar that opened at 10p.m. with great wings, malts, fries, etc. I liked it because it wasn’t so big you had to ride a tram or golf cart to get back to your room. Of course a couple of things they could improve on was more chairs at the beach, more help at the bars. It was also spring break one of the busiest times. They had so many comfy places to just sit and relax. Nothing is perfect but as far as I’m concerned this was the closest your going to get!!!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Snorkeling is good they offer a couple of parks both are good. Swimming with the dolphins is a good experience. Going into Playa Del Carmen or Cancun to shop and club is fun and very safe. Cocoa Bongo so fun!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool was great never crowded, beach was nice clean, there is a reef out in front and seaweed washes up early morning, we were up by 6:a.m. each morning to walk, but a tractor takes care of that problem. Grounds were very nice we also walked around the grounds. Another thing it’s only about 20" from the airport a huge plus!!!! We are going back in Nov. and will probably stay here again we liked it so much!! You will always read negative reviews, but you are never going to please everyone especially with today’s spoiled population!!!
Other Comments
I always have people say to me you shouldn’t go to Mexico it’s dangerous, with everything going on. To be honest if you aren’t looking for drugs and are responsible and pleasant it’s the best experience. Iv’e had more close calls in New York City at night and during the day just being at the wrong place at the wrong time yes very scarey never ever in Mexico. I love the people in Mexico!!!!!! My daughter has been going there since she’s been 4 she is now 18 and traveled near and far, she loves it. One more thing very important learn a few spanish words they realy love to hear us speak there language.:) That’s about it. Good luck and have fun.
Restaurants and Bars
Realy liked the restaurants, the steak and seafood the steaks where top of the line. We haven’t experienced that in the past in Mexico. the sea bass was also very very good. Food was fresh and good everywhere we went. We were just there in Oct. and stayed at the Iberostar the food wasn’t that good there, it was a much bigger resort and I think that the quality goes down at that point.
Rooms
Very modern and spacious with a your own deck. Be prepared most of the rooms in Mexico are a bit musty smelling because of the humidity, small price to pay for the great weather. The refrigerators didn’t get cold a minus we only drank the bottled water, the drinks at the bars were way better!!!
Your Arrival
Cooler cups keep your drinks colder. I always bring my own towel I don’t like to be responsible for there towels which they charge 35.00 if you loose them and they are all the same color. Dollar bills, it says all tips included, but we love to give to the people they realy appreciate it!!!! And work very hard to please everyone!!!!
Melia…Heaven on Earth
Hotel Melia Caribe Tropical
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LINDA >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Lots to choose from, but we did not do any, not enough time! Wanted to soak up the sun and drink good drinks!!!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
You will feel as if you died and went to heaven. No pictures can describe how gorgeous this place is. The grounds are heavenly, all manicured so perfectly. So many huge pools. The Gabi pool was great and very private and laid back. Beach was beautiful beyond belief. Lots of chairs, beds, ect everywhere. Never had to rush to get anywhere to save a seat.
Other Comments
I cannot stress how amazing this property is. Before I went I read alot of bad reviews and all I can say to them now, is NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!!! You would have to be crazy or a total snob to not like this place and think it is one of the most amazing resorts on earth. I would definitly without a doubt upgrade to Royal Service. They make you feel special and are there for your every need. It is worth every penny. We had the most amazing time, the staff catered to our every need. Interent service was free in the VIP lounge and we were happy to be able to communicate with home as the calling cards were a real hassle. All I can say is HEAVEN ON EARTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Restaurants and Bars
The restauants and bar areas were all just gorgeous. There were so many to choose from it was crazy! No problem getting reservations and you do need them. The Marketplace buffet was fabulous, all fresh cooking, something for everyone. Always good. The seafood rest. was great too, one night we had lobster and maui-maui, soooo good! Staff was incrediable. The Gabi rest was good. Buffet by the beach awful, did not go back. All in all, food was good, not great. Did not matter, the place itself was so amazing we did not care!
Rooms
We were in Villa 50 in the Royal Service section. Room was unreal! Gorgeous. We were upgraded at no charge to a one bedroom master suite. All marble. We had a kitchen, living room, dining rooom, huge bathroom, dressing area, jazcuzzi, huge bedroom and beautiful patio which looked onto the most gorgeous gardens. The fridge was stocked with all beverages, water, ect. We also had a free bottle of rum, which was wonderful. Room was spotless. So clean you could eat off the floor. Two LCD tv’s. We had a pillow menu to choose from each night, I choose a lavander pillow. The butler would come and infuse your jazcuzzi each night with coconut oil and fresh flowers. Maid would also pick fresh flowers daily for the room.
Your Arrival
The ride from the airport was a very short one. We were the first hotel, so we got to our hotel in less than 20-25 minutes. Upon arrival we were literally "whisked” away to the VIP lounge where Royal Service guests registar. The staff were so incredibly nice, warm, and welcoming. So professional. We were given a briefing on everything we would need to know and we were brought three gorgeous drinks on a platter which were amazing. We met our "butlers” who told us to call for anything we needed. We were so impressed by the welcome we recieved. Great first impression!
We loved this resort!!!
Hotel Barcelo Punta Cana
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Kirinda >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We loved this resort. Just big enough, not too big. Loved that it was right on the beach (BEAUTIFUL beach). The food was great. Didn’t really get to know the staff, not like in Cuba.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Did the sharks & rays snorkling tour-absolutely fantastic!!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Fantastic beach-very big and clean! Lots of chairs and shade if you wanted it. Pools were great, big, clean and not too crowded. Loved the lounge chairs that were built right in the pool. Grounds were clean and well kept.
Other Comments
This was the first time in Punta Cana for us. We are going back next year!!!
Restaurants and Bars
Great food at all restaurants. Bars were plentiful! The bars were busy- it was spring break for college students too-aughhhhh!
We were very pleased to discover that our a-la-carte restaurants were already booked for us-very convenient!
Rooms
We were told that most people choose to upgrade to the prestige class rooms for an additional fee-we didn’t feel the need to. Our room was great. We had a 4th floor room which had a vaulted ceiling-nice and roomy feeling.
Your Arrival
We arrived late-after midnight. Check in was quick and easy. We were happy to find that snacks and drinks were still available-fried chicken and chips!YUMMY!
Spoiled for Life
Hotel Secrets Maroma Beach
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Leslie >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Sep, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My husband and I have been to Secrets Maroma Beach twice. The first time the resort was not finished. Unhappy you ask? Yes a little. However, on our second visit all the bells and whistles were finally finished and boy was it worth it!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities! Well you could never get bored. There is tequila tasting, wine tasting, salsa making, volleyball, water polo, kayaking, snorkeling, game room, etc. If you want to pay a little money there is excursions that can be booked and when you arrive they will let you know where and when to book. You can go shopping in Playa del Carmen, although you can grab a cab and do it yourself and its cheaper! You can go to Xel-ha, which is a ecological tourist trap…but I have to say it is fun! Worth the money? Nah but still fun! Tulum is awesome..I would say its a must if for nothing else but the view of the beach and the swimming. There are booze cruises and bar hopping tours. Trust me there is a ton to do on and off the resort. If you do nothing else check out playa del carmen..no matter how you get there!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
What would a mexican getaway be without beaches and pools. If you don’t know Secrets Maroma is situated on one of the 50 most beautiful beaches in the world. I for one believe every word of that! The sand is soft and white and the water is so so blue! Nothing is better than getting a kayak and paddling out first thing in the morning! By the way the Kayaks are included and they can be found on the beach under a tiki hut. The beach is calming and soothing to one’s soul. Magical!
As for the pools. I loved the pools. Sometimes the beach gets really hot so being able to hop into the pool is a great feeling. There are two pools. There is an infinity pool and the regular pool. The only complaint I have about that is that the pools are divided by a walkway and I would have preferred to have a bridge or something you could swim under to get to it. Other than that they were awesome! However, during the day at certain times they play pool polo and volleyball. if you don’t want to get hit by a ball or don’t feel like being pestered about playing I would stay away from that area during that time.
Other Comments
Amazing trip and I intend to take a third!!! OlaH!!!!!!
Restaurants and Bars
Ahhh my favorite part..eating and drinking! The swim up bar..seriously how can that be bad? A lot of my afternoon was spent drinking margaritas at the swim up bar! All of the restaurants are good. Some are better than others of course. My favorite was the italian and french restaurants, Bordeaux and portofino! The fiesta night is good too its all authentic mexican food and a pretty much a big party. The international cafe’, I believe its called, has different themes on differents nights. You will be left the " Sundial " each night for turndown. The "Sundial" is a piece of paper that will tell you what resturants are open each night, the drink of the day, and what activites are going on and at what times. Check that little piece of paper otherwise you probably wont know what is going on at the international cafe’ … and it is definatly not something to miss!! All the meals I had there were great! If you are a sushi fan the Asian restaurant is GREAT! The best I’ve ever had! As for the lobby bar, the drinks were good and it was very relaxing!
Rooms
The room! Whats not to like? It was very modern and old school charming as well. The bed is HUGE and so comfortable. The shower in the bathroom area is small but very conveinent for us ladies who need to shave our legs before going out to beach, due to its bench seating! The vanity is huge and perfect for applying makeup before dinner! The mini bar has everything you could ever want, beer, soda, and juice. All of which you are able to have. Whatever you use they replace the next day. Plus, if you don’t want a certain item just leave a note and they will replace it with what you want. For example, we don’t drink Diet Coke so we asked them to only bring regular and they did! We had a Garden view room. We had a swim up room. A swim up room means that you have a private, well semi private pool outside your room. That was a great feature especially first thing in the morning before getting breakfast. You can just hop in the minute you get up..its very refreshing. However, although your little cove is private you are sharing the stretch of the pool with the other people who have the same types of rooms. All in all the rooms are the best!!!
Your Arrival
Upon our second arrival we were greeted by the same bellman we had been greeted by before and get this he recognized us! Although, we had been there twice in one year. We were also greeted by a wonderful cocktail and nice cool towels…ahhh home, at least for the next 7 days. The bellman whisked away our luggage and then we were escorted to our room!
awakening
Hotel Brisas Guardalavaca
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joe >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This place was truly heaven for my familt and me the people are amazing that was most important. As well i found that the people visiting this resort were amazing i look forward to seeing my friends there again soon VIVA Cuba lol
we LOVED the Grand Sirenis
Hotel Grand Sirenis Mayan Beach
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Melanie >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did quite a lot while on our vacation – Xel-Ha, we booked online though their website before we left and paid $71US/person. We also went to Tulum for ½ day (entrance at Tulum was $5US/person if I remember correctly.) We went to Playa Del Carmen to shop and have dinner. Our AT rep recommended the restaurant Ajua, on 4th between 5th & 10th and we had one of the best meals there!! There was a live band playing, and they made our entire meal tableside with made to order Caesar salad, flambéed chicken & snapper. From there we went over to the Blue Parrot beach club and caught the fire show/drinks/dancing. We enjoyed PDC so much that we took a second trip there the next day. Everywhere we went, we took the collectivos and the most we paid was to go into PDC and even then I think it was only $3US/person. Of course the night we were out a bit late, we took a taxi back to the resort and it was only $20US. On a side note, we heard that Wal-Mart was the place to go for cheaper booze purchases but really I found the duty free in the Mexico airport quite reasonable as well.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
I previously read in many reviews that there were many beach palapas/chairs available at this resort, and I’m afraid that was not my experience. Both at the beach and at the pool if you were not out first thing in the a.m. all of the chairs were gone. People definitely were reserving them with the GS towels and some were left for hours at a time. This may be as a result that the hotel was at full capacity when we were there, (and we were always up early) but the few times that we wanted to go to the beach in the afternoon we just never bothered because it was too much of a hassle getting chairs altogether. When we were at the beach, even though crowded, again the service was great! We really liked the ‘design’ of the beach I thought it was very aesthetic, but not the type of sprawling white sand that you can walk for miles though – just VERY picturesque. Pools were great too, very large and refreshing, not cold, but not warm.
Other Comments
Overall and by far, the very best service I have received on any a.i. vacation – on & off the resort. From the staff in the restaurant to the activities staff to the bartenders to the grounds keepers…all very efficient, and extremely friendly. You didn’t pass one that didn’t have a smile and a ‘hola’ for you, and they always asked you if they could “do anything to make your stay more enjoyable” and I believed it.
Restaurants and Bars
All I can say is that if anyone has a problem with the food at this hotel, I’d love to know where you have travelled before because the buffets were well stocked and I couldn’t imagine someone not finding something they could eat. We always tried to sit in either Alejandro, or Miguel’s section (on the Mayan Beach side) because right from the first day we were talking with them and they always wanted to know where we had been/what we had done/if we like our trip, and so on. They really went out of their way to greet us at every meal and it was nice to see them. I also noted quite often that the temperature of the food on the buffet was being monitored and taken on a very regular basis – which btw, I don’t think I’ve ever seen previously at a resort so it’s good to know that they are taking these measures. For a la cartes, we ate at the Japanese where Victor served up the most amazing fried rice, and yes the fried ice cream is good too. We also ate at the Mexican restaurant where Benjamin was our server. At the end of the meal he came around with some tequila poppers (shots) for us and put sombreros on us while we drank them, hilariously pics from that dinner!! Lastly we ate at the Brazilian, where Angel served up the most amazing meat EVER. Yes, like everyone says this restaurant is a lot of meat. They bring around 7 different skewers of meat, white & red sausage, chicken, pork, beef tenderloin, beef ribs, and NY steak. We weren’t too fond of the beef, but surprisingly were HUGE fans of the sausage, and the pork was to die for. At the end of the meal they even grilled whole pineapple brushed with some sort of cinnamon/sugar concoction that I’m dying to try myself on our BBQ this summer. My mom & husband thought the Japanese was their fav (I think just because of the novelty) but I feel the food at the Brazilian was WAY better – YUM – just pace yourself through the skewers – that’s the key
Rooms
One week prior to departure I emailed the resort as suggested and requested by priority, building 27, ocean view, 3rd floor – we received building 23, garden view, and 1st floor. So pretty much the complete opposite of everything we were hoping for. We were asked to stay in the room for the night and if we weren’t happy we could try to move the next day, and so on but with the resort at capacity there wasn’t much of a chance. Of course we didn’t bother doing this, but much regretted it as the days went on for 2 reasons: 1) it is the furthest building from the lobby (and pretty much everything) so we had quite the hike to breakfast every morning, and 2) our room was located right at the end of the path that led to the disco so we had to deal with obnoxious, drunkies walking by our room each night. My mother has some minor mobility issues and the shuttle was not available to hop on/off as mentioned. Every time we tried to flag it down they would not stop – the concierge suggested that we call ahead to arrange pick up but even when we did they asked why we needed it, blah, blah, blah…it was too much of a hassle so instead mom took her meds & we walked ; ) which in the end, likely saved us 5lbs of extra weight so really it all worked out for the best
Your Arrival
We were late departing because the airport traffic was heavier than usual in Cancun (said the pilot). Upon arrival that was evident as the customs line up at the Cancun airport was RIDICULOUSLY long – I’ve travelled a bit so I expected this, but this by far was the worst airport experience. Bus was easily located outside of airport (and thankfully still waiting) and beer/water was available for purchase ($3/beer if I remember correctly.) There was no washroom on board so we did not partake.
Heaven  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My wife and another couple visited this resort recently and it met all our expectations. The resort was beautiful and very friendly. We are going to book again for next year.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The spa was great too. My wife has a massage and pedicure and said it was the best she had had.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
There are two beach areas that were amazing and both were great for snokeling. One has a sunken barge to explore and the other has a reef to explore. we spent several hours at both seeing many species of beautiful fish.
Other Comments
Believe it or not, we had no complaints at all about the resort. It was everything we were looking for. On a side note the only complaint was the French-Canadians that were there. Everyone there was so friendly and would say hi except them unless you spoke french to them. It wasn’t just us, others made this observation too.
Restaurants and Bars
There are 4 restaurants and we tried three of them. We very quickly made friends with several waiters/waitresses and had excellant service. They couldn’t do enough for you. I been to Cuba in the past and I wasn’t expecting much in the way of food, however the food was excellant. And the bars were fully stocked.
Rooms
The rooms were very spacious and clean. Maids visited twice a day and even left poems and notes.
Most Beautiful Resort …What More Can I Say !!!
Hotel Gran Bahía Príncipe Cayo Levantado
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Sharon >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
My Husband & I along with two other Couples spent a week at the Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado. It is one of the most Beautiful Resorts we have been to. A 5* for sure. No complaints!! Great Food ..Great Service and a beautiful Island. I read all of the reviews before leaving and have no idea where some of the complaints came from . We couldn’t have been treated better.Would love to return again soon
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The Best !!!
Other Comments
Overall Very Satisfactory!!!
Restaurants and Bars
We only did the Don Pablo …It was lovely !!…Loved the Buffets!
Rooms
Beautiful Rooms ….4 poster beds !!! Keep very clean !
Your Arrival
We arrived April 8th ..2010
Wonderful and relaxing
Hotel Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort
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Lorraine >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I stayed at the Grand Sirenis for 1 week with my daughter who is 6 and we had such a wonderful time. The pools were amazing and were we spent majority of the time in the pool swimmming and playing. I was able to sit on the side and read a book while she swam and jumped off the waterfalls. We spent a fair time on the beach and what was nice is that there were lot’s of kids making sand castles and collecting shells from the coral that came in from the tide. Snorkling was fantastic and the fish were a sight to behold. Feed them bananas and bread- the schools come ten fold right up to you. They were brilliant colours and shapes. You could be in the water for hours. (if you don’t have your own gear rental is available) Drinks were plentiful and eating at the buffet had variety everyday. Children are well taken care of with all types of food- the coffee was so delicious!!!! rooms are spacious and the bathrooms very desirable. Our Room was used for sleeping and changing!! Need to have some down time…go paint pottery- $10-$40US to create a masterpiece that has memories forever-(he will glaze your piece and make it magical-just try it and you will see…!)

I would go back again-no children and only adults and my vacation would be 1000 different!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did 2 tours and it rained all day. Do tours that are close and rent a car for advenuture.
We went to Coba to climb a Temple and it was cool and a very neat experience. We also went to Xel Ha and that was nice. PS. there is no coral reefs here-lot’s of fish and you cannot swim in a "centote" advise- wear your bathing suite and water shoes all day- PS they may ask you to buy their own sunscreen-$15 US..we chose not to.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Clean, fresh and paradise like. Not a complaint. Nice to swim up to the bar for drinks!
Fresh flowers made my day!
Other Comments
Want to and will go back! sold!
Restaurants and Bars
Yummy great good food. Healthy choices and variety and the best guacomle ever-my plate was always green!
Very kid friendly the buffett and service was fast and very efficient.
Rooms
clean, nice and spacious- would not choose a room by the pool again- no privacy and noisey
Your Arrival
Nice plane ride and landing into Cancun-waiting to go through customs on a Sunday-2 people working and 5 flights that had arrived around the same time-hours waiting…………..not soo cool, but we had a nice ride on the bus and to the resort in 90 minutes
Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/prolab/CayoLargo?authkey=Gv1sRgCLTUkYaJm5rjdg#
Much more than expected
Hotel Playa Blanca (Formerly Barceló Cayo Largo)
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Spunky >  3 contribution(s) 
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We booked this resort back in October when Air Canada Vacations didn’t have a rating, description or Star rating. Sounded like a Barcelo we had checked out before and the price was good so we checked it out and booked for 2 weeks 13-27 March.

Our flight from Fredericton to Montreal was good. A small Jazz turboprop plane. We checked our luggage, 100 pounds each was allowed, through to Cayo Largo and stayed in the security section once in Montreal. A short wait and then a full AirBus to Cuba. Traveling the night before Daylight Savings we arrived just after dusk.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We had planned to go to Havana for a couple of days but the weather was so nice we didn’t. Took a tour of the village by Rosie and a fellow animation team member, saw the Turtle Hatchery and wandered around the Marina and shops. Did a private trip a few days later and had a whole 24 passenger bus and Carlos to ourselves for 10CUC; stopped and took photos for other resorts and checked out the lobbies. Took the Choo choo train twice to the big beaches and had a blast. The ride is pretty rough but if you imagine an amusement ride through all the other resorts that take 30 minutes and is free, what the heck.
There are small 4WD jeeps for rent, scooters and plenty of taxis and mini vans. Everything is so close, the taxis are only 2-3CUC’s/person.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
What can we say about Cayo Largo beaches? Just believe the hype about white powdery sand spits that go on for miles and miles; it’s all true. So is the fact that some of the beaches can disappear overnight, then reappear 2 days later. We had great weather but the main beach had been eroded the week before so we picked a cloudy day and visited the "Big" beaches Sirena and Paraiso. Wow! But the hotel beach was back in a day or two and went in and out for two weeks. Playa Blanca had the better hotel beach and those "backup" beaches are gorgeous. The almost 6′ deep upper pool was nice and you could get a palapa all day there or at the crescent, 4′, lower pool. Plenty of chairs, no wars. Both are seawater pools and very clean. Lots of activities all day but the loud speakers aren’t cranked too high. Grounds are mature with beautiful plantings and the most amazing "Shaving Brush Tree". All are patrolled by birds, cats and the odd iguana including a big guy who lives under bldg 28 and likes boiled eggs. There’s a medical/gym/hairdresser building, tennis courts, B-Ball hoops and an archery range too. Walkways are even and mostly safe except some smooth tiles. Like all over the south, they are slippery when wet .. especially when wearing those cheap sneakers with hard plastic soles.

While we were there the waterfalls and the fountains were restored and are beautiful. Gardeners constantly worked their plots and handed fresh cut blooms to morning walkers.

Other Comments
Sirena beach is huge and there are lots of palapas and chairs. Bar service is a wandering waiter who will bring the best pina coladas on earth for 3CUC. Paraiso is my favorite of the two because it isn’t as commercial and the beach-combing is better. The resort Tienda has plenty of choices, rum, cigars and cold cans of beer and pop for excursions. The airport stores have about the same inventory but the hotel prices were better. As said before, the staff is fantastic and the management work very hard at making this place shine. Besides the website that the staff manage http://www.playablanca.cu they also run a Facebook page and do their best to answer questions quickly. I could go on for ever .. oops maybe I did. We booked a 3.5* and got much more than we paid for.

We’ll be back.

Restaurants and Bars
The buffet is enclosed and air conditioned; capable of seating 300 guests it’s a huge room that has the food areas at one end and 3 room divisions for seating. Double cotton tablecloths, heavy cutlery and good china and glassware plus super service. Breakfast omelette stations and smoothie bar. Plenty of choices and the best grapefruit ever. Dinner had carving stations, flambe desert bar lots of variety and themed nights where the staff dressed in special outfits and hats. As mentioned by all, the service was top notch. There aren’t a lot of resources on Cayo largo but the staff do their best to make everything special. The Ranchon restaurant sits at the top of the main beach,seats about 100, has blinds for wind screens and offers great service. By day it’s the beach restaurant and at night it is an a la carte. The Opalino restaurant seat about 200, is open air and has a late breakfast at 10:30, then a BBQ lunch from noon to 3:30 or so. At night it is an a la carte and has very good service. Rafael is a great waiter. Bars at the Ranchon and Opalino have a good selection and the usual frozen mixes. The Opalino had the very best frozen lemonade. The 24 hr bar, Daiquairi, had the best coffee and espresso and the best frozen Pina Coladas; lots of drink choices and Cristal on tap and by the can. Alexis, Boris, Roberto and the gang are pro’s in every way. Start your day with a double espresso and finish your evenings at the "Show", all served from this bar. The other bar is a small beachside hut to the left of the main beach. Right at the end of the boardwalk starting between bldgs 28 and 29. This is where the lifeguards hang out and Maceau runs it with a big smile and a song. Basic Bucanaro and fruit punches here so bring your Bubba.

There’s also a special hut that’s used for repeat visitor a la cartes and special occasions. We were treated to a lovely romantic meal to celebrate our anniversary, complete with a floral arrangement and candles, our own waiter and visits by Eddour and Livan from management. Did we feel special? Sure did!

Rooms
We booked a bungalow room, typical Cuban decor, super clean and quite large. We were oceanside and the views were terrific. Corner decks having a 270 degree view is nicer than other resorts. All 2nd floor oceanfront bungalows had some ocean view.
The room had a small fridge, a good TV with 4 or so English stations including CTV from Alberta. A nice desk, king size bed and a couple of nice rocking chairs as well as deck furniture. A large dressing area, safe that opened with our room card, lots of closet and drawer/trunk space and a big bathroom with plenty of hot water at any hour of the day. Central air was quiet and not on all the time.
Your Arrival
It’s a small airport so a little jammed when a couple of hundred people are there. Aduna and security were quick and nurses were on hand to check for ill passengers. A few mosquitoes but not bad. A very quick bus ride to the resort.

Check in was a little slow but as others have remarked, go and get a drink and have a look around while others stand in line. The luggage is secure and attended and is delivered quickly.

Home Away from Home
Hotel Melia Cayo Santa Maria
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kelsey >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I’m 19 years old and i just returned from the Melia Cayo Santa Maria, in Santa Clara! My family and I went for a week and found it marevllous. Our flight came in really early in the morning of our second day (i think it was around 3 am?). Air transat was picking up dropped flights from sky service….i hope thats not a normal flight time! Anyways, when we got to the airport in Santa Clara, it was time to go through customs and stuff. I mean it when i say, i would would rather go through the Customs in Cuba than the ones in Canada any day. Though it is a little bit on the slow side (a solid half an hour until we found our baggage) everyone was very pleasant and suprisingly good at communicating with us cranky Canadians.

I dont know where someone was getting 10 km from the airport, cause our bus ride was a solid 9 minutes or so. Shockingly, i can’t complain about the bus ride. Im someone that gets car sick often but the ride to the airport was spectacular. You got a deep inside look at the town of Caibairien (sp?) which was a real eye opener into Cuban culture, as well as getting to learn the History of the infamous causeway as you ride on it.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Generally after luncht we’d go and have a little siesta in our room for a couple of hours (the sun wears you out, ye know?). However there were some days when i just wasnt sleepy and would look for things to do instad. I didnt have to look far! I met a guy named Yoelkis, who was basically the resident sports guy! He showed me where the volleyball net was, started a gane of water polo, ping pong tables, archery, beach soccer, tai chi in the mornings, dance lessons , and MORE. Honestly, you are NEVER bored. But if you are the kind that likes to chill in your room for a couple hours, be not afraid, you do get american/canadian channels. I must have watched ESPN and the Disney Channel every night before bed.

Also, there’s buses to and from the market every two hours! Frequent and flexible!

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is also marvellous. It’s wide, first of all, and DEEP. i had friends stay at the Barcelo and few weeks earlier and they said their beach was HALF as deep as the Melia’s was. The Man who worked on the beach….never got his name (we called him Dawn of the Chairs) was extremely friendly. He would offer to find you a Pilapila (cabana) as well as brush the sand off your chairs and lay your twoels out for you. It was unnecessary, but lovely none the less. The water was absolutely stunning as well. Beautiful turquoise and clear as crystal. The waves get pretty rough at night but there will always be a red flag if the staff thinks its unsafe to swim.

The pools are great too. Big enough so that you rarely run into someone, and alot safer than most because there’s a ramp into the water instead of stairs, and it gets deeper GRADUALLY. There’s also a killer swim up bar:)

Restaurants and Bars
The breakfast buffet was also wonderful, there’s a seperate fresh fruit buffet in the middle of the dining room that serves fruit, juice, smoothies and yogurt and stuff, where the buffet that serves the hot food was in the kitchen at the back of the room. One of the cooks, his name is Daniel, soon became one of my favourite people ever. He was polite, had eloquent enlgish, and made the best french toast i have ever had.

For lunch we generally went to the Pool side restaurant. We could have gone to the buffet again, or the Beach retaurant, but the one on pool side served the BEST chicken sandwiches i have EVER had, along with all the cervexa you could ask for 🙂

Rooms
Our room (all rooms, because they all look the same) was absolutely STUNNING. There were three beds: 2 doubles (Which felt more like queens) and a day bed. Luxurous curtains hung from the doorways, and the bathroom was huge. The toilet, badet, and tub were in a separate room off the side of the sink and linnen closet. The safe was digital and we had excellent water pressure.
Your Arrival
When we got to the hotel, we were greeted by VERY pleasant….bellboys i guess you’d call them. Since the flight me and my mother took was later than the one the rest of the family was on, we met them in the front lobby. The "Bellboys" (who i called the multitasking team) loaded our personal luggage onto the little car thing and took it to our room for us so that me and my mother could go have a dinrk with the family in the lobby bar.
The bar is 24 hrs thank god, and is a good center for entertainment. Every night, the activities coordinator (one of the most pleasant people i have ever met, and a downright cool guy) would organise a little show for who ever was in there for drinks. At one point there was a 4 piece saxophone band….thing. It was marevllous. There were also fashion shows, dancing, billiards, and more! Not to mention that bar tenders there were wonderful.
A Beautiful Golf Resort with there own Private Beach Club!
Hotel Embassy Suites
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Isabel >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We stayed here in March of 2010 with some family members. I have been throughout the D.Rep and have never stayed at such a clean,safe and friendly resort! If your looking for 24 entertainment this is not your place. They are in a gated community with huge homes surrounded by an 18 hole golf course. They have a huge outdoor pool and can always find lounge chairs! A kids pool, 2 tennis courts, mini golf, putting green and driving range. The hotel is very clean and the staff are so friendly. They have a private beach about 5 mins from the golf course and offer free transportation. There is a restaurant there with hammacks and chairs right on the water. Great food!

There is a Spa adjacent to the Hotel and they have many types of massages and a salon for guests. There are many good restaurants in the area and taxis are cheap to go to and from They offer various types of excursions.We went on a day tour of Santo Domingo and Catalina Island. There is something for everyone and its close to everything! I give it a 5 star rating for families,business travelers and golfers..

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Golf ,Tennis, mini golf , kids playground , kids pool , mini golf , scuba diving and excursions available off the grounds
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Big lagoon shaped pool Private Beach club and restaurant
18 hole golf course
Other Comments
They also have an all inclusive plan for those wanting to stay at the Hotel. We went to several restaurants in the town of Juan Dolio and were very pleased
Restaurants and Bars
2 restaurants and 2 bars The bar in there Atrium is like being in a jungle but air conditioned!
Rooms
Huge! They are all suites with a separate living room, bedroom, bathroom, microwave, refidgerator coffee maker iron blow dryer and balcony
Your Arrival
Very friendly welcome and quick check in
Elegant, serene, classy place. plus world class snorkeling right off the beach
Hotel Akumal Beach Resort
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Carolyn >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
May, 2010 | Leisure | Family
A lush tropical oasis-like having your own private resort. High staff to guest ratio. Quiet, elegant & very classy. But, the best-not pricey! This sleeper dream of a place is in the middle of world class snorkeling in calm lagoon-like Akumal Bay- fantastic colorful coral groupings, loads of fish & huge tortugas.
Superb night snorkeling-bring your light. Food is pure and fresh. Not big on things like cream sauces, but rather the likes of perfect roast prime rib, carved turkey, mexican specialties, fresh grilled fish. Excellent salad bar. No pretension here- just perfection. Can’t wait to return! Just loved it.
Totally Awesome, Well worth every cent
Hotel Iberostar Dominicana
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Mike >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
May, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
The Iberostar Dominicana exceeded both mine and my wifes expectations. We traveled there for our five year anniversary, and were completely blown away at everything, especially the staff. The people work from sun up to early morning hours, and all day long are singing and dancing, while smiling the entire time. They make you feel like there is no communication or cultural barrier. They make you feel like you are at home. From the time that we showed up, to the time we left, we were joking around and laughing with the staff and other visitors. Jonny P. and his fellow staff members at the bar are probably the best in the world. He was awesome, and weather you leave a tip or not, you will get the royal treatment. I have read many reviews before we went that said you get better service if you tip. I would say that you get the same whether you do or not. These people treat everyone the same, and I just cant say enough good things about them. Don’t get me wrong, we left tips because they definetly deserve them, but I don’t want people to miss out on this experience because they think they will get poor service without tipping, you won’t. Overall, this will be the only place I ever travel in the Dominican Republic. The only problem that we had was with our local travel agent, which was our fault for booking through cheapcarribean.com. This guy was a real ass! He scheduled an appointment for our first full day there, to go over what was available to us, and offer the excursions, and stood us up, and then did it again the next day. But that has nothing to do with the hotel.

All in all, I was very impressed, and am usually not with anything.

Excellent all the Way , this Resort exceeded our expectations, we had a marvelous time
Hotel Be Live Grand Marien (formerly Oasis)
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Barrie >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
The Resort was not only clean, and grounds well kept it was beautiful beyond description. Behind the resort is Mt Issobel Torres, which overlooks Puerto Plata. The days temperatures were around 30- 40 degrees incl. humidity sunny days for teh most part of our stay- we had a few rain showers, and one evening of "torrential" downpour" unlike anything I had ever experienced, the staff took it all in stride, and provided umbrella’s , and an extra glass of wine & beer while we waited for the rains to cease.
The view is breath taking, and the lay out of the resort is very walkalbe, and makes the most of all its ammenities. We always had fine service, and great food at all the resteruants. The staff was very gracious, and polite, alwasy keeping things in order. They were friendly & plesant, our room was well maintained, and each day we where graced with towel art, swans& hearts with flwoers. We left a ti0p and gifts for our maid each day ( fellow travelers had told us to bring small perfumes, and lipstick, and pantyhose, childrens vitamins, toothpaste, soaps, things that she might not be able to afford on her her meager wages.) Our miad was delighted to recieve the gifts we had brough _ i was also prpared with gits for children, toys & blow up balls… with smilie faces, and little girls jewllery, and things for their hair,.. Next time we will bring more school supplies, and ask the airline about bringing items down to give as gifts & to help families there
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We were only there 7 days. and we had 5 day trips 1) OUTBACK SAFARI – was most excellent, intersting, informative & fun- our guide KENNY ( ask for Him) was a fountain of knowledge- and also great fun. we toured sugard cane feilds, saw farms, visited a small school (where we took school supplies) & tasted fresh ground and brewed domincan coffee, we also visited the rural community that this OUTBACK supports, 1/2 of your fare goes to the school ! we had a great lunch at the outback headquateres, and then off to do some BOGGIE Boarding, body surfing on a very secluded beach; we also went to a mountain stream, and found a fresh water pool to swim in. that was perfect to get off the salt water. drinsk flowed freely all day & they took great care to see we were all happy & having a good time….. 5 stars!!!!!! ya ps- your travel group wont give you this partifular tour option… I booked all mine here online… from HOME and saved $$ and loved the freedom to choose OUR OWN TOURS 2) FREE STYLE Catamaran – what a glorious Day of Sailing and SNorkleing in Sosua Bay.. it cost us about $84 US each but well worth it for the experince of seeing thsoe incredible coloured fish.. amd corals. under the sea.again… go to the REAL DR online and book this EXCURSION. ( link provided below) you will NOT regret it 3) Puerto Plata Tours with HOLA – WE had GERMAN for our guide- excellent very knowledgeable about the history and area….. what an excellent value $37US each, the tour included: Brugal Rum Facotry, Jewllery Factory & Store ( Bring money), then a Cigar Factory & Store; next stop Fort San Filpe, then AMber Museum, then off to the Cable Car & UP Mt Isbobel Torres. to see a great view of Puerto Plata. there was cloud up there when we arrived at the top 300 feet up, but it did clear & I got some fabulous photos. http://www.therealdr.com/store/puerto-plata-excursions-80/ 4) DEEP Sea FSIHING — STAY AWAY FROM **GONE FISHING** NOT a good value & no fish or service….

5) We made our own Tour on Sunday- as we hired a taxi & went to church, and sight seeing.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Clean and lovely, very nice layout. always kept, each day grounds men were working, mowing lawns, weeding,.. keeping things beautiful. Beach sand was a light golden brown, soft, and free from stones, or cutting shells. it was nice to walk on. the ocean was also clean & warm nice to swim in. We enjoyed the pool, after our excursion days, to cool off & get refreshed. We also joined in some of those 4:00 O’clock pool side games.. was fun, the staff really get you to join and feel a part of a fun holiday comminity,..sometimes they dress up like caats, sharks, palm trees… and otehr tribal get ups… supperman also plays volleyball!

was fun, youthfull, and refreshing.

Restaurants and Bars
There are 4 a la cartes & 1 buffet which helps to keep variety the spice of life THe display of choices is beautiful, and a wonderful and tastey selection greeets you each day. Sunday there is a GALA Buffet dinner, all other reseraunts are closed, one night a week tehre is also a BBQ and Beach Party for all to enjoy. ( Unfortunately we missed that- as we were so tired from a days excursion we went to bed very early; but heard this LLUD party.. for hours… the next day I found out just who was making that racket outside OUR bedroom balcony it was the entire resort, all guests partied on the beach… oh well we still had a good nights rest, next time we will join them!
Rooms
The Room was spacious, and overlooked teh ocean, which was lovely, we could here the birds in the mornings, and thought the open air concept of the hallways was quite unique. The furniture was all wood & spanish with the Oasis, palms with the theme. clean rooms, with orange/ rust coloured cermanic tiled floors, bright yellow walls, and nice linens, and curtains.

We also appreciated teh safe provided, (you have to pay extra to get the lock & key)- but peace of mind is worth it- to keep vauables safe.

Your Arrival
Our arrival was smooth- we noticed jsut how small the airport was, it can recieve only one plane at a time, however the staff are helpful, and going through customs was noneventful, we all boarded small buses to take us to our hotels (quaint, small, bumpy little buses, with some airconditioning) and a very friendly & welcoming guide- takes you to your hotel. We enjoyed his descriptive tguided tour to our hotel which was only 20 minutes away. Upon arrival at our hotel, the porters greeted us & helped us with our bags, which nede to stay in a secure area until our offical check in time. WE had about 5 hours to enjoy the the resort, before our rooms were ready for occupancy. We learned alter from others to give a tip $10-$20 US and presto you WILL have a room… ( so we will keep that in mind for next time) the POOL was lovely as was the beach, clean and free from litter. WE were also greeted by a young gentleman in WHITE- we learned alter on that these "folks" are hired to bring you to the VIP area, where you are given the opportunity to sign and pay into a resort vacation program, and get better room rates & deals.

Our friendly "pal" met us almost daily…. and called us his borhter & sista from a differnt mother – how cute!… he made us feel warmly welcomed, and he wanted us to have a plesant stay.

Amazing vacation, can’t wait to go back!
Hotel Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
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Jen >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
May, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Group My husband and myself (mid – late 20s), my parents and my aunt & uncle (late 50s)

We had a great time and would go back in a heartbeat. My husband and I are already talking about next year’s trip!! I would recommend the ME to anyone looking for a nice, relaxing vacation with a little sun and a little fun.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The Michael Jackson show was awesome, it really is an amazing show and I highly recommend it. We also saw the circus act too, it wasn’t bad, something to kill the time. We would usually hang out at the lobby bar or over at the sports bar at the MC. The bartender at the sports bar was obsessed with the Red Sox so it was funny to watch her reaction to the games. We did have some issues with one of the bartenders at the lobby bar, he would continually ignore us, didn’t matter what night it was or who in the group went up to order. We have no idea what his issue was.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The place is gorgeous, I was absolutely amazed when I walked in to the lobby and saw everything. The place blew me away. It was exactly what I expected and more; marble floors, huge chandeliers, nice comfy chairs in the lobby. The grounds were just as beautiful. The pool and beach were fantastic, no problems getting chairs at either. I noticed a lot of people from the Club at the regular pool though, not sure why they wouldn’t use their own pool. The pool and beach bars were great.
Restaurants and Bars
The food is what I expected for an all-inclusive. The buffet for breakfast and lunch was good, by the end of the week I was a little sick of it but there was nothing to complain about. We absolutely loved Asadito, 9 Doors and the See and Sea, good food, good service. The Gourmand was rather mediocre, food bland and service not so good. We wanted to order a bottle of wine so the waitress said the Sommelier would come over. He finally came over to take our order when our second course came out. The Italian was pretty good, nothing fantastic but nothing bad either. Overall we liked the food and really had no complaints.
Rooms
We stayed in the standard room not in the Club section. The room was great, marble floors, king size four post bed, Jacuzzi in the room, the square toilette was a little strange as was it being separated from the rest of the room by a glass door. I do wish there was a dresser of some sort and not just shelves in the closet but it wasn’t a big deal.
Your Arrival
We had no issues getting the hotel, were greeted with a cold face cloth and a drink. We were there 2 hours before check in so we knew the rooms wouldn’t be ready but we were able to check in and get our bracelets, had some issues with the room though. When we booked with a travel agent we requested that our rooms be together and we also sent an email 2 weeks before left asking again to have rooms together. They give us our rooms and my parents are no where near the rest of us, so they ask for a closer room and are given one down the hall from my husband and me. We all go to our rooms after killing time at lunch and having a drink in the lobby. My parents go into their room and there are twin beds! Needless to say they were not happy. The front desk tells them there aren’t any rooms left, my dad finally talks to a manager later that night and she gets them a room the next day with a king bed and close to the rest of us. Luckily everything else for the week went smoothly.
The best trip I’ve ever had!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
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Laura >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2002 | Leisure | With friend
I just returned from the best resort Blau Costa Verde. Flew Air Transat. Arrived April 28/10 and left at midnight on May 5/10. Flew first class definitely worth the extra 55.00. I am 24 years old and traveled with my mother this year. We had an amazing time. The hotel is beautiful with lots to do for any ages. The food was amazing. Some of it even tasted like home. They don’t have ketchup very often so I would suggest bringing your own. The staff was so helpful and very friendly. Some things that they really need are sunscreen, deodorant, soap, shampoo and conditioner. The things we take for granted. So if you can take some of these essentials to give to the staff. Trust me they really appreciate it. The beach is awesome but make sure you take your water shoes because there is some corral. You can feed the fish right out of your hand. Barbara does hair and nails. She is awesome so make sure to book an appointment with her. And if you do go by the fitness center please tell Barbara, Deni and the nurse Joa that Laura from Nova Scotia sends big hugs and lots of love. I had a blast with them. I wish they had of played more Cuban music at the restaurants but that is my only complaint. The Cuban restaurant was my absolute favorite. The Italian was amazing too. If you go to the Cuban restaurant get a banana split for dessert. I swear it was better than dairy queen. We stayed in room 3307 had an amazing view of the mountains and water. Maid was great. Hot water everyday. Needless to say I hope to be returning to this resort very soon. I would recommend it to anyone. Please remember to keep an open mind when traveling anywhere in Cuba they do not have the same things that we have. They are the sweetest people. And please remember to tip. They depend so much on this. If anyone is traveling to this resort and you live in or around Halifax if you could contact me at lauraj212010@hotmail.com if you would be willing to take a letter down for me that would be so appreciated. If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me by email.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful. Well kept at all times.
Other Comments
Worth every penny to go this beautiful resort. Hope to be going back next month for my birthday!!!!
Restaurants and Bars
Food was very good at this resort. Cuban restaurant was the best.
Rooms
Great for the amount of time you spend in them. The beds are a little bit in the hard side but take the cushion art off the wall and use that. Always clean. Great shower. No complaints at all.
Your Arrival
Excellent very fast service
Photos: http://community.webshots.com/user/pullupsman
Videos: http://www.worldisround.com/home/pullupsman/index.html
La Romana is still the best place I’ve stayed in 10 Years of traveling
Hotel Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa
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Albert >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
I traveled to Dreams La Romana for my nieces wedding March 12-19th. My sister (48) joined me(54)for this trip. She has never been in the Dominican Republic and seemed very impressed with this hotel and the people of the country itself. A couple of weeks prior to the trip, I contacted the resort by email and requested an upgrade to a Preferred Club room. I was told by the manager they couldn’t make a promise, but that they would try. I also requested an upper room, two beds and if possible ocean view. Again, they said they would try.

I took my wife and kids to this resort in 2006 when it was Sunscape Casa Del Mar. We loved the place then and I was worried about all the extra new rooms that the restaurants would be crowded, the bars too busy to get a drink and that the premium liqueurs would disappear. I was wrong and the service everywhere was better than before.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
I spent most of my time on the beach. I can go swimming in and around a pool anytime, but beach, I can’t always get. I even stayed on the Preferred Beach a few times. There are always enough chairs, someone to get you a drink, etc. I could find shade when I needed it and sunlight too. Our group wanted to play volleyball and the group was set up. There were water aerobics offered every morning. There were always people going out to the bounce raft in front of the resort. I saw many people snorkeling in front of the resort out by a reef and much more swimming with the fish around the pier. The grounds are immaculate. The wedding took place in the gazebo by the ocean and was decorated perfectly. the had cocktails set up on the pier after wards and then dinner at the Seaside grill. They also had a DJ set up in back of the grill for the wedding party to dance.
Other Comments
Again, this is one of the best resorts I have ever been. The people are all friendly and will do everything they can to please you. I can’t wait to back here again in a few years and I promise I will.
Restaurants and Bars
We ate at the Mexican restaurant twice because another of my nieces had a small child and they seemed to serve us the fastest. We ate at the Himitsu, World Cafe, Portofino, Oceana, Seaside Grill and as I said El Patio. I can honestly tell you that we never had bad service or a meal. We rarely waited very long to sit down. Partly because we eat as early as possible and the restaurants tend to get busy later in the evening. at Portofino’s we were waiting for 15 minutes for the rest of our group of 10 and they came out the door to try to get us to sit early. We had a delicious meal at the Seaside Grill after the wedding. The World Cafe Buffet had more than enough choices. Of course you can’t eat a little bit of everything each meal or else you will get bored with the menu. We even went to the cafe one night after the disco closed and ha pasta, hamburgers and hot dogs. Again, no complaints. The Pizza at the pools is still the greatest after 4 years away and the fruit boat at the beach was always busy. I did enjoy that there was now a swim up bar at the new pool (that wasn’t there before) and I never waited for a drink very ofter. The bartenders tended to remember me by the Jim Beam hat I wore and came running whenever I showed up for a drink. I always give 1-2 dollars when getting a drink. They earn the money.

We spent many nights at the lobby bar. Always busy and always good drinks and service. We had to contend with about 70 girls from the University of Kentucky, but we had no problems. There were 40 of us there for the wedding and we all seemed to get along just fine. After the lobby bar closed we would go to the Disco.

Rooms
The room was 5244 I think. Anyway if faced the Preferred Club Pool, Bar, etc. and had a very nice view of the ocean. The room was fantastic. clean, large and had everything I have come to expect in this type of resort. We had special Gold beach towels to show that we were preferred club members. There was plenty of room in the free safe and the closets and drawers. There is even an iPOD docking station in the room. We always had fresh towels twice a day and the room was spotless every day. We always leave some sort of makeup and/or candy and money for the maids.
Your Arrival
We arrived after a long and hot bus ride on too small of a bus for the group. When we arrived after almost 2 hours. I went to the front check in desk and was told they couldn’t find my papers. I told them that I might have been upgraded to Preferred Club. The gentleman came running around the desk and escorted me to the front entrance and said Preferred to the man there and we were swept away to the Preferred Club check in building. There we were seated with Romy Martes who got us checked in and collected the $70 per day per person. They made sure we had drinks in this air conditioned building. I think we were in there for no more than 5 minutes and I had to explain that the lady with me was not my wife, but my sister and that I paid for her to come to my nieces wedding and that she was the reason for the upgrade. Romy said "Can I be your Sister too" We were in the room and changed into suits and left the bags sit right where they were. We would unpack later.
Best holiday i hav eva bin on in mi life !!! 🙂
Hotel Celuisma Tropical Playa Dorada
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Danielle >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
May, 2010 | Leisure | Family
it was brilliant, i neva wanted 2 leave, the staff were the funniest people i hav eva met and the kindedest. the food was exceptional every nite and there is a wide variety too. the swimming pool was really refreshin n clear !! sensational !! it is gorgous weather every day, the beach was the whitest, softest, best sand you had ever walked along. the sea was as clear as glass and stretched as far as the eye can see.The rooms were cleaned thurally every day and were spotless, the beds where the comfiest i had ever slept on, the flour was clean and crisp. the tv was quite large, lots of wardrobe space and the bathrooms were spotless.the entertainment was excellent and every nite was different shows and performances and the last nite show was exceptional. i would recoment this hotel to everyone and i would go again in a minute.

the only thing i would say is that dont go there just for a week because it is 2 far to travel for just 7 days so i recomend goin for 2 weeks insted, but overall it is the BEST EVA !!!!!!!!!!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
the day trips were exceptional and i would advise you to go on them all, also there is a wide range of acitvities to do in the grounds including a spa, golf, tinnis, gym and many more.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
the pool was cleaned every nite and was cool and calm, they hav a seprate bit in the pool incase you want to have a game of vollyball and the staff regualy hosted games during the day. there is also a mini pool where your youngsters can go and make friends. also round the bak of the tennis courts there is a jaquzzi where you can chill. the beache was raked every morning so it looked clean and inviting every day, the sea was as clear as glass and relaxing. the grounds were simple to find your way around and spacious.
Other Comments
all i can say is that i would recomend this hotel to everyone and i would deffintly go bak there agen !!!x big thumbs up 🙂 xx
Restaurants and Bars
food was exceptional every nite and there was a choice of quite alot of bars to attend, otherwise go to the buffay witch was top standed every nite. the bar staff and waiters are very friendly and helpfull and the drinks were chilled and refreshing.
Rooms
everything about the rooms were top class !! do i need 2 say any more ?!!! x
Your Arrival
arrival was teriffic, you get the blast from the heat as soon as you get off the plane but you soon get used to it. the baggs came quite quick and the trollies were free so that was good. it is very easy to find your was around and the staff tell exactally were 2 go and reach your coach, it is very straight forward.
Loved our stay at the Natura Park Resort.
Hotel Blau Natura Park Eco-Resort
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Gary >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
May, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My husband and I stayed at Natura Park Resort for 7 nights. We have nothing bad to say about this resort. Everyone was very helpful and attended to our every need. Even though we speak or understand very little spanish we had no problem with a language barrier. We will go back to this resort in the future.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went on the Marinarium reef tour where we snorkled an swam with the stingrays and nurse sharks. We were able to hold and have a picture taken with a very large stingray. The entertainment crew on the boat were great. It was well worth the money and time, very entertaining. We would and did recommend this tour to other people.

There was always something to do day or night. The hotel entertainers were great and worked very hard to keep every age group busy. The best show at night in the resort was the Michael Jackson show. Karoke night was a lot of fun for all ages.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool and the area around the pool was very clean and beautiful. We never had a problem getting chairs at the beach or pool. The beach was just beautiful and pick up and very clean every morning. Plenty of towels available.
Restaurants and Bars
There was plenty of food to choose from for every meal at the buffet. The specialy restaurant was great (seafood). Everyone was always smiling and trying to help you if you needed it. Plenty of bars never had to wait very long to get a drink. We got to know about three bar tenders and one very specail waitress that just kept the drinks coming.
Rooms
Our room was great very clean, the air conditioning worked great and the room was very spacus. The maids very polite and did a beautiful job of cleaning the room.
Your Arrival
We flew in from Ohio on USA 3000 and had no problem with the flight. They only problem was the airline should have had the forms to fill out on the plane for getting into the country. It was very crowded at the counters with everyone trying to fill out the forms at one time.
Fabulous Family Resort
Hotel Iberostar Cozumel
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Shannon >  2 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Our family enjoyed our stay here at Iberostar! We especially enjoyed he staffs friendliness and willing to help. The resort is a beautiful paradise with beautiful flamingos, peacocks & big iguanas! The swim up bar was a plus with our son as well as his father 🙂 We enjoyed most of our time in Cozumel at the resort, the daily games, shows and other activities were fun & entertaining!

Thanks for a memorable vacation!

Phenomenal
Hotel The Sands at Grace Bay
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Pieter >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Laid back resort where relaxation is paramount. Staff is extremely friendly and gracious. Rooms are gorgeous, very nice facilities. Hemingway’s is great, casual elegant, open air ocean front dining…the filet mignon is top notch ! The sand on the beach is like powder. Remember that this is the Carribean and you are on vacation so relax as things do happen at island time pace. bring books as there is not too much to do on the island other than swim, scuba, fish, golf, bicycle, sail, eat and tan.

awesome time had at the Sands…very family oriented….lots of young families but not packed together. No structured events for kids….its play with your own kids which is great !

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Not too sure…there is a casino and a theater and some bars but we stay at the resort. no real cultural activities in the evenings
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach is absolutely exquisite…powdery white sand you can really dig into and make some great castles . Lots of space to throw a football or play paddle ball ( bring that with you ) there is a nice little service hut that offers kayaks, floaties, snorkel gear and windsurfer at no extra cost.
Other Comments
this is a place where you want to go if you want privacy, do not want to be talking to anyone if you do not want to. it is very relaxing and quiet. hot days , nice evenings always a nice breeze.
Restaurants and Bars
Hemingways is really good. most of the restaurants are pretty comparable in price and quality. Avoid the pizza joint on the second floor above Mama’s gift shop. they do not know good service.
Rooms
Very nice and welll appointed. The whole resort apparently just recently got updated. very nice.
Your Arrival
just ask for a taxi to the Sands as they do not provide air transfers normally.
BEYOND OUR EXPECTATIONS!
Hotel Ocean Blue Golf & Beach Resort
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ivelisse >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I have traveled many times to Dominican Republic, i was born there 😉 This was my first time in Punta Cana. I was very pleased with this resort, mostly with the service. WOW i have never seen so many people smile and look like they enjoy what they do everyday. Most important to me is cleanliness, we were part of the hotel that has privilige attention through their vacation club and I have to tell you my suite was cleaned TWICE a day, just like the cruise ships, they had a turn down service. AWSOME. I had to tell her not to keep replenishing all the alcohol in my room, the outside bars were enough for us. Our bldg was #10 and right next to it we had a separate area for VIP breakfast which turned into the beach restaurant for @ lunchtime for the rest of the guests. We also have a roped off area at the beach. I have to tell you that even the places that were not for VIP guests were also clean, we had some friends in other bldgs yes there is a difference in the liquor in the room, the ammeneties in the bathroom and the outside furniture is wicker not plastic BUT THE SERVICE is the same for everyone regardless your status.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
we did a catamaran excursion with VIVA COLONIA TROPICAL its right at the hotel, ask for valentinno..check them at vivacoloniatropical.com
we also did dune buggy through dirt & beach…great!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool is very active with music and dancing & some contests BUT thats only at one end, the other end is a little quieter for those who want to rela & read a book….
Other Comments
I am very nervous & anxious when i go somewhere unknown to me, even though this is my homeland, punta cana was new to me and this resort was the best pick. We never saw anyone harrasing us for the time share but then again my daughter bought one the last time she was there 🙂 thats why we are now PRIVILIGE GUESTS…so you never now, if you have the time give them a try
Restaurants and Bars
we had dinner at all the restaurants, the mexican was our favorite because JONATHAN (our waiter) was the best. also the food was very very good and the mamajuana shots are the best. Tequila shots do not compare to this.
Rooms
amazing! is the only word to describe it…clean, beautiful,coMfortable…I DIDNT SEE ONE SINGLE BUG!!! BUT then again it may not be the season for them …i think is more into the july/aug months
Your Arrival
Check in was very quick but then again we also have a private check in lounge.
Great Honeymoon
Hotel NH Real Arena
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Kyle >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Ill try and write a short and to the point review. We both were very satisfied with the resort it was great and we had a lot of fun. It was also our first carribean vacation. There were some things we could critique about the hotel but nothing to complain about. They did an outstanding job.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went to the marinarium and the dolphin explorer. We had a great experience with the marinareum and a bad one with the dolphin explorer. The dolphin explorer was over priced, we missed a lot of the event because our driver kept us in the van for an hour while trying to find another couple at another resort. Then they wouldnt allow us to take pictures and charged an arm and a leg for thier own pictures. I implore you to not go on the dolphin explorer. The marinarium however was great. It was priced very well. We swam with sharks stingrays and in the coral with the fish and it was great. The people were extremely nice as well, we had a great time in this excursion.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds were very nice and there was an army on people keeping them clean. Id just look at pictures. What I liked was you could windsurf kayak and katamaran all for free. The people who rent them out are quite rude though. The only people in the hotel I thought were. Beach chairs were quite packed, but beach wasnt. they had security guards keeping away the local peddlers so that was very nice to not be bothered by them. The water was nice. Prabably not the best ive seen in the whole of the carribean but just as good as any other in punta cana.
Other Comments
We had a great time and would go back again. All the staff were extremely courteous and they went out of thier way for you. I could critique some things, but nothing bothered me and we are both fairly picky customers.
Restaurants and Bars
The bars were great. Never had to walk more than 100 feet to have a drink put in your hand. My wife thought Roberto at the beach bar was amazing. If you didnt get the paradise club you might have to wait for drinks at some bars. They didnt have a good top shelf selection though….just some nice gin, disarrono and nice vodka. No high end tequila and only dominican rum. I Read a lot of reviews saying the food was bad. I think this was prolly a little black and white. There was food that was very very good and there was also food that wasnt very good.
Rooms
The rooms have marble like floors and are very fancy with nice showers. The beds prabably wernt the comfiest but they wernt terrible either. Ours was near the beach, but i was noticing some of the rooms were near the dance club and if you go to bed before 2 those rooms would be awful.
Your Arrival
We arrived at the airport. The airport is very hot and busy. The apple vacation people were nice, they took us to the hotel. I was a bit apprehensive before we actually got into the lobby because of the area. You could see like poor carribean villagers and some piles of rubble and garbage piles then every so often you will pass some nicer resorts but can only see the gates. Once you get through the gates and get into the lobby, the lobby is very nice with fountains and….just nice. We booked the paradise club and for the little bit extra its really worth it….atleast to us. They seem to go out of thier way for you more and theres some extra amenities that are nice.
had the best time
Hotel Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa
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karen >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
I hear all the bad things about royal elite but in really life. My husband and myself went they in early 2009, after a 6 week trip to jamaica that end witha friend getting hurt. We had a great time and did buy a one bedroom, since then we have had a couple hickups but all has been worked out. We returned to sandos caracol in december and had no problems. no problems booking or with are stay. the have changed thing and are working hard to make it all right. we love the staff and the staff loves us no are money. like we found in jamaica they love your money not you.

cant wait to get back there

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
lots
Beach/Pools/Grounds
clean and nice
Restaurants and Bars
fast, good and clean
Rooms
nice clean and cleaned everyday with towel animals on the bed
Great vacation
Hotel Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe
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Rod >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
I loved this place – we got upgraded to the palace and enjoyed everything about it. The food was great, the snorkelling with sea turtles was fun and the adult bar and bartender made one rainy day the best day at the beach. The only thing I can say that was not the best was that our room was the furthest away from everything and it was a walk to get to the main area. But It was great in the sense that we can take the trolley to any other locations! Great place and is what you expect from an all inclusive!!!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Go to Chichenitza! It is a wonder of the world!
Arrival
Easy as pie – we took a privte USA trashfer and they were amazing. check in was easy and fast.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool was great and always found a seat, beach was also great and not over crowded. Sea turtles are friendly and right at the beach. Often they swam around the swimmers without them knowing they were there.
Other Comments
We got 2 extra days there due to a hurricane in the gulf – no problems no worries – we were taken care of and got two more sunny days!!!
Restaurants and Bars
The adult pool bar was the best! Rainly day becasme the beast day. The resturants were good – but I really loved the grill and buffet!
Rooms
Very very nice – the junior suits were amazing and it was large clean and the bar was stocked daily with what I requested. I tried to tip for the whole week but they dont have the same staff look after the rooms.
Wonderful….Once again.
Hotel Riu Palace Aruba
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Emily09 >  2 contribution(s) United States of America
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This was our second time ot this resort. We had such a good time the first time, we decided to take our 8 year old this time. He really liked it and had a blast. We had no issues or complaints. The staff is wonderful. We received 3 phone calls through-out the week from the director of the resort to make sure our stay was good and we had everything we needed, Very nice!!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We booked all of our excursions with DePalm tours, they have a rep in the lobby. We went on the baby beach tour, which I would highly recommend especially if you have young kids, our 8 yr old loved it. We went on a 4 hour snorkle trip which was great, food, drink and fun! We also went to DePalm Island which was a blast, we went on the half day, which was perfect, pay the admission and everything is included: drinks, food, water park, snorkle, basketball, volley ball. Very very nice for the price and everything that comes with it.
Arrival
Upon arrival we were welcomed by the staff with a welcom drink. Quick check in, but the room was not ready, she told us to go eat and then come back and the room should be ready, which it was. The lobby was clean and smoking in NOT allowed, outside only, which was great. The front staff was very friendly and effecient.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is pefect, white sand, clear water and hardly any waves, what more would you want. Shade is hard to come by, as people do wake up at 5am to grab a spot under the shadey area, but grab a spot under a palm tree its nice, provides protection from the sun and plus you didn’t have to get up at 5 to get it. Pool chairs are the same, but you wait till 1:30 the chairs are easier to come by. Pool area very clean, and nice.
Other Comments
We went to dinner one night off the resort, We ate at Moby Dick. Which was very very good. The atmosphere was very nice and elegant. Pricey but worth it. The staff was excellent!!!
Restaurants and Bars
We tried 3 out of the 4 reservation restaurants, The Italian, The steakhouse and The Gourmet. The steakhouse and the gourmet were excellent, very very good. The Italian was good also, I just liked the other 2 a little better. Reservationa are required at the 4 Ala carte restaurants, you need to make these between 9-12 every day for that night’s seating, 6:30 or 9:00. Its not hard to make reservations, we always got our first choice, one morning we forgot to make reservations and went to the lobby at 1145 and we were given a reservation for the gourmet. The buffet was very good for breakfast every day, we ate dinner a few times also, which was once again very good, something for everyone!! Miss the food already. The pool bar was quick and entertaining, staff wonderful. We went to the outside bar everynight, very nice and laid back, perfect way to end the day. The lobby bar has nightly shows, which were either good or comical, but still stayed to watch.
Rooms
Our room was in building A, right in the center of the resort, great view of the pool and beach, wonderful sun sets from the balcony. Of course our room had the double beds pushed together, which did not bother us, it was ok for a vacation, they are not that hard and we slept fine every night. The bathroom was big with a stand up shower and tub combo, 2 double sinks. The balcony was average size, enough for 2 chairs and a small table, very private. Yes, the TV is outdated, but who comes to a place like this to watch TV???? No musty smell or smoke smell in the rooms. AC was good, kept the room nice and cold. Never heard our neighbors next door or loud noise in the hallway.
Loving Cayena Beach Club!
Hotel VIK hotel Arena Blanca (LTI Beach Resort Punta Cana)
User Rating:  
Skye >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went to visit the kids at an orphanage with Melanie from the office. She was a great guide. We learned more about the island and saw things that many tourists do not see. Definitely worth learning about.
Arrival
Very quick through the airport since they are looking for tips. Check-in at Cayena Beach was very smooth and bags were delivered to our room in a timely manner.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach was cleaned daily by a cleaning crew who cleaned up the seaweed early each morning. The beaches were beautiful white sand with palm trees. There were plenty of watersports and activities daily. The pools were very clean and I saw a man putting chemicals in at least twice that week. The grounds were taken care of well and were always clean. We saw a guy with a machete knife trimmming the bushes. That was kind of fun.
Other Comments
If DR was closer, we would make this an every 2 year event, but we’re on the west coast and it’s much too long to make this trip too often.
Restaurants and Bars
Buffet was okay. The food at all restaurants doesn’t have a lot of flavor, but it was still good. El Cano lunch specials were really good, especially the crab stuffed chicken. Look for Pazqual when you go there. He’s a character and will make sure your meal is good. He’s the restaurant manager, I believe.
Rooms
The rooms were in good condition and we had no problem with them. Staff was very helpful if we had issues. The cleaning people decorated our room with flowers one day and put our bedspread into neatly decorated ways each day as well. There were small fruitflies that are all over the Caribbean that were sprayed for at least once during the week, but they didn’t bother us.
iberostar bavaro…3rd time
Hotel Iberostar Bavaro
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rich >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | Family
just back from iberostar bavaro for our third time….place hasn’t changed. thats a good thing! we arrived from chicago, as usaul getting thru customs smooth. off to hotel, quick! check in a bit shaky this time as there was confusion on our room. while we waoited, off to lunch and some grilled lobster in the buffet. all in all everything went smooth. only one problem the whole time…arriving in our room the tv remote was broke. notified the front desk that day and the next. was never fixed….totaly not like the the usual iberostar way of doing things. last day there we got to relax on the beach and enjoy tropocal storm bonnie roll by. was pretty cool. this was the the first time we had to contend with rain. duhhh it’s the tropics….. took a tour of the new grand hotel…wasn’t impressed. will probably go back a forth time. feel free tocontact with questions

rich and gayle

Perfect
Hotel Barcelo Arenas Blancas
User Rating:  
Anne >  1 contribution(s) DENMARK
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I Love it!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Good
Arrival
Very good
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Very good
Other Comments
A very nice place!
Restaurants and Bars
Good
Rooms
Good
Splendid resort….
Hotel Iberostar Paraiso Beach
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Yvan >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
What a delightfull pleasure to have chosen this resort. We have travelled to many Iberostar resorts, this one being one of the best we stayed at.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went shopping to Playa del Carmen with the shuttle from the plaza of the hotel, 4$ each way for a 20Km trip very reasonable I would say, found the presents we needed on 5th avenue. We took the visit to the ruins of Tulum, I was impressed with the place, ruins and by the knowledge of the guide we had for our trip. you must remember that it is very hot there, dont forget to bring water. They also gave us about 1hr to enjoy ourselves on the beach at the bottom of the hill. Since there are no secure place to leave your things, keep an eye open, I noticed many…. people looking for an occasion to pilfer.

All and all a very pleasant and instructive excursion.

Arrival
We arrived via Westjet airlines from Toronto, my spouse being somewhat apprehensive about flying, this trip was superb, smooth all the way, nice updated aircraft, exit row seating with tons of leg room, video display in every seat which gave us a choice of various tv or movies to choose from.
We arrived Cancun ahead of schedule, after baggage reception and clearance through customs, we proceeded to the chaos outside the terminal, IMHO, very poor service from Best Day travel as far as arrangement of transportation, we had to wait outside in suffocating heat, for our transport to be ready, even though the bus was in place and air conditioned, they made the group wait until complete before boarding.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is very nice, lots of huts and chairs for one and all, a few large rocks near the entrance of the beach, however, the water being so clear, it was easy to navigate around them and never did we have any problem with them. Unfortunately the first two days of our stay, the beach had a red flag waving, the water was quite agitated and not recommended, we still had the choice and I realy enjoyed the large waves/breakers comming to shore. Did not do the pool, as a general rule, since it is secluded and protected from the ocean by vegetation, way too hot for my liking and during the late afternoon much too noisy for us, the animation crew and pool bar were the culprits.
As all the IB resorts we have visited, the grounds were impeccable, an army of groundskeepers were at work everyday it seems everywhere to make the looks of this place so great.
Other Comments
I would greatly recommend this resort to anyone that wants a clean, well maintained and pretty quiet place to relax and enjoy a vacation. I would certainly return in a heartbeat.

We hope everyone enjoy the place as much as we did.

Restaurants and Bars
We were given 4 restaurant choices, we made the gourmet, japanese, italian and steak. All were excellent, the food always hot and cooked to order, if a complaint was to be made, the Italian restaurant is situated in one of the pool snacks, not air conditioned so a little uncomfortable but nevertheless, the food was very very good. The Buffet breakfasts were what we are accustomed to having in all the resorts, excellent choices of fruits, pastries and the omelet bar was manned by a lovely lady for our entire week, she made it a pleasure to see her smile every morning. Suppers at the buffet was always thematic, changed every night and the food was always good, the catch all was always there, if you did not appreciate anything being served, the pasta bar was excellent.

This was our 6th visit to an IB resort, we have never been let down anywhere by the food.

Rooms
We arrived the resort 20 mins later, to the friendly Iberostar reception, well organized, the check in took no more than 5 minutes, since we are many times guests of an Iberostar resort, they even gave us a free upgrade to a junior suite, the staff being polite, friendly and spoke english and french quite well. We even took time to go to the concierge desk to make our restaurant reservations for the week all in less that 15 minutes we were taken by cart to our room, building 31, very near the beach to a wonderfull room with good a/c, clean and well prepared, everything we have been accustomed to by the Iberostar chain. The maid service for the week was of all thing done by a male worker, what a pleasant surprise, superb service, the fridge always stocked full, and room decorations, figurines and flowers galore. My wife was in awe for the entire week. Of course, daily gifts and a couple dollars must surely have helped. Clean, well air conditioned, no bugs.
My home away from home
Hotel Cubanacan Club Amigo Marea del Portillo
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lois >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Just returned to Marea del Portillo after an absence of 20 years. There were still friends there who recognized me. THe arrival at the airport is well organized. The ride to hotel gives you an amazing insight into the way of life of Cuban people. THere is help at the hotel for your luggage. The rooms are adequate and have hairdryers and towels provided. Beach towels are provided as well. THe hotel is located in a rural setting which makes it a very relaxing quiet place for all ages to enjoy a safe and fun filled vacation. The hotel is clean, the food is plain but tasty. Lunch can be served at the beach bar. The staff are very friendly and helpful. There is a money exchange and internet access in the lobby. The beach is just delightful and uncrowed. Enjoy the excellent snorkeling in the lagoon. Take every opportunity to explore the surrounding country side, the locals are delighted to meet you. Take the planned excursions available, the horse riding is great. The evening entertainment is a colourful and musical introduction to the Cuban culture. Feel safe to explore the beach and surrounding area. Enjoy this very special place.
Chow
de sonhar voltar um dia
Hotel Catalonia Riviera Maya
User Rating:  
todinho_20056@hotmail.com >  1 contribution(s) PORTUGAL
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
este hotel e de 5 estrelas somos bem tratados sao amigaveis e tem uma ekipa de animacao espetacular com pessoal da pesada pra nos rirmos e divertirmos vale a pena irmos pra este hotel k e de 5 estrelas.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
ekipa de animacao espetacular paola jimenez 5 estrelas e a ekipa tbm.noite de tekila…futbol,danca,ping pong,byke…..etc nao paramos e nao percam nada com eles k sao demais
Arrival
fomos bem recebidos com um coktail e foram rapidos a acomodarnos pk eramos muitos mesmo e no estante o pessoal desapareceu da recepcao sao muito amaveis com os portugeses venham aeste hotel k e um espetaculo
Beach/Pools/Grounds
espetaculo de corais e peixes de todas as cores mergulhem com a mascara de mergulho e desfrutem da beleza k eles teem a frente do hotel nao percam esta oportunidade.
Other Comments
hei-de voltar a este hotel k vale a pena ir voces sao 5ESTRELAS

ABRACOS ….SAUDADES

Restaurants and Bars
comer ate fartar tudo de varios gostos nem sabes onde comecar ou acabar e graca e os passaros k tem a voar la dentro mesmo a moda tropical k ate da gosto de tar ali dentro
Rooms
sempre arrumados frescos e ainda por cima com enfeites k eles deixavam em cima da noxas camas muito bem feitos tudo a maneira
Pleasantly Surprised!
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
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Amy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t do anything outside of the resort (we’ve already been there, done that) but on the resort we did participate in the beach volleyball every morning as well as bocciball shortly after. The entertainment staff had activities throughout the day but that’s all we chose to participate in because it was located conveniently on the beach. At night, there were different shows every night. We never really saw a show because it started late (9:30pm) and by then we were already asleep.

They also have a games place where there is a pingpong table and a pool table. For pingpong, it’s best to bring your own ball and paddles as I’ve noticed the ball went missing at one point. The pool table has its own equipment always there.

Arrival
We travelled as a family which included my parents, myself(20) and my brother(14). Arrival was very speedy. The front desk had everything ready for us. We asked for 2 rooms and they had put them next to each other.

We were also pleasantly surprised to find that our beach towels were also waiting for us in our rooms. We did arrive after midnight, so it wasn’t really necessary to have them but it was nice not to have to find the club house the next morning while we still had no idea where everything was.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds were meticulously kept. The beach was always clean. The palm umbrellas (that’s not their correct name, but it doesn’t come to mind right now…) were maintained and plentiful.

The staff that dealt with the beach chairs were sometimes hard to take. This one guy in particular was incredibly lazy and would often attempt to ignore my request for chairs. I would’ve preferred a lack of staff for that on the beach. I’m quite capable of getting my own chair, but we had to put up with them for 2 weeks. They also collect the chairs at 5ish and if you want to stay longer they give you looks. Their shift ends officially at 5:30-6:00 I believe and they always want to be done earlier. I just ignored them when I wanted to stay longer which was just once or twice during my stay anyways.

Other Comments
The hotel’s gym/spa also offers manicures, pedicures, haircuts, etc. For the most part these are generally less expensive than at home. However, don’t expect the kind of manicure you get here. It’s very basic there: cut the nails, file, do the cuticles, put on the polish. The manicure and pedicures were each 5 CUC. The haircut was also 5 or 10 CUC (I can’t remember exactly at the moment). They also offered massages. Ranging from just foot massages to full body, whole hour massages. We didn’t try as we found these to be expensive in comparison to other resorts. The foot massage was 10 CUC and it went up from there to 25 CUC for a full body massage for half an hour I believe. Overall, we really enjoyed our stay. We would definitely recommend this resort and would go again if we didn’t want to try a new resort each year. The manager of this resort (tall, young and bald) is always walking around. He’s glad to talk to tourists and often comes up to people randomly and asks them how they’re enjoying their stay and if there’s anything that needs changing. Feel free to introduce yourself to him, he looks scary but he’s very friendly. If you have any kind of problem that you can’t resolve in other ways, he’s always happy to help.

Also, keep in mind that this is a very small and very, very quiet resort. I would definitely not choose it for a spring break vacation with my friends. But it’s perfect for R&R and families with small children (which by the way, they do have a daycare for).

Restaurants and Bars
The main buffet restaurant was where everyone ate generally. Since the resort was not even half-full, all the seating was outside though they also have inside tables which they set up if there are a lot of people. The food was good. Every night they had a different theme such as Asian night, Italian night, etc. The food was very varied from day to day. Breakfast was generally always the same thing, but lunch and dinner were always different from the day before and from each other (this is something that at other hotels bugged me because they used to have the same food 2 or even 3 days in a row at times). The waiters were all amazing. If you stayed long enough like we did (2 weeks) they had memorized our drink orders. They were always smiley and eager to get you whatever you needed. We didn’t try the pool bar, as we spent all our time at the beach but I’m sure the service there is exactly the same as on the beach. The beach bar was actually being extended while we were there. The service was good. The bartender was always at his post and made whatever drink you wanted. The only thing I personally disliked was the lack of martini just at the beach bar. It’s pretty much the only alcohol I drink and I had to find something else to enjoy while on the beach. In the end it wasn’t a huge deal but it would’ve been nice. I assume with the new, larger bar they’ll have all the drinks they have everywhere else in the resort.

There are cats in this resort and they enjoy strolling by while people eat as some insisted on feeding them. And yes, they’re fuzzy and adorable but they have fleas so I recommend you stay far away from them.

Rooms
The rooms were very nice. They appeared to have been renovated recently. Contrary to some of the reviews I read before we went, the safe in the room was free. There was plenty of room for clothes and the such. The closet was roomy (and the top shelf has blankets in case you need them) and there were drawers in and out of the closet. Each room also has a minifridge which is stocked daily with beer, soft drinks and water. The AC in all the rooms was centrally controlled which we have never encountered at another hotel (this was our 8th year in Cuba). This bothered me slightly because if you turn it off, you fry overnight but if you leave it on, it tends to get very chilly some nights, which is when I was very glad for the blankets. Also, contrary to many hotels, the card slot only controls the electricity and not the AC. The AC runs all day unless you turn it off. The maid came by everyday. We found that there was a different maid almost every day. Which didn’t concern us in the least. However, I noticed that some of them cleaned more thoroughly than others. Sometimes our floor was swept, other times it wasn’t. Some would wash the bathtub and others would not. Just little things. The room was by no means ever dirty, just not always as clean.
Amazing
Hotel Coconut Palms Resort
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S >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I loved this place!! Stayed there for 7 days and was thoroughly sad upon leaving. This place truly captures the warmth and comfort of the island while still providing an escape from the ordinary with just the right amount of luxury. My family and I stayed there and we all enjoyed the warmth of the entire staff and the authenticity of the entire resort. Smiling faces all around, eager to help truly goes a long way in having a great vacation stay.
Amazing resort, wonderful time!
Hotel NH Real Arena
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Renee >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My family – myself, my husband and our 5 year old daughter stayed at this wonderful resort from August 27 to Sep 3. This is our 2nd time with NH Real Arena. We came here in 2008 when it first opened, we said we want to come back again, and we did this year. We will definitely go back next year!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went for the nightly entertainment 3 times. They start a bit late to my liking – 9:45 pm. We went for the Circus, the Multiplicity show, and the White theme show. LOVE the Circus and the Multiplicity. On the night they were doing the Multiplicity show, it’s on the day when Hurricane Earl was the closest to PC. We have the show at the roof top bar, and it’s fun! They have an acrobat, magician and live music! The Circus has the Cirque de Sole feel to it; and their acts were awesome! My daughter has so much fun just staring at their costumes and make up! Not to mention their acrobatic moves and mesmerizing singing. You can see that the entertainment team put in a whole lot of effort to make sure everyone enjoy their shows. We definitely did!

They also have a hip and cool Spa – RAM. And their Gym is right beside the Spa with full equipments.

Arrival
We booked through Transat Holiday, and arrival was smooth and fast. A tour bus picked us up with tourists for other resorts. NH was the last resort to drop off tourists, so we have the opportunity to check out the other two – IFA and Melia. We end up thinking NH has the best resort groud. We emailed NH’s Room Manager – Roberto a few weeks before our arrival with our requests and inquiry about the cost for room upgrade. Roberto has been wonderfully prompt with his response and with the detail of his response! We arrived at the resort around 5:30 pm, and Ramon at the front desk was extremely helpful. We were pleasantly surprised that they have assigned the same room we stayed at in 2008. Apparently they have taken the time to check their record! We were even more pleased when Ramon presented us with the a la carte booking for the rest of the week! They have prebooked the 4 a la carte for us, which I didn’t ask for. We thought we will have to book them when we arrived. Of course there were welcome drinks waiting for us.

We were then promptly cart away to our room.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
What can I say about the pools and the beach of NH! Just one word – magnificent! They have 6-7 pools in total, all well kept and clean. I saw staff checking out the quiality of the water of each pool every morning and at dusk. Our daughter is learning to swim, so we ended up staying in the small pool (the farthest one from the beach) most of the time. It’s quiet and we have the pool to ourselves most of the time! We went to the beach several times over the week too. It’s what I recalled from last time – long, wide with clean soft white sands. The surf for the first couple of days was choppy, this might due to hurricane Earl approaching. But after a day of rain, it’s back to calm sea again. This year we found that they have put up a lot more "huts" on the beach, so no need to fight for a shade. The ground has been kept immeculate all the time. We saw staff cutting grasses, trimming the vegetation all the time.

NH is not a resort that would have Salsa music blaring all day long. Instead, it’s quiet and relaxing. At the buffets, both Festival and the shore one, they have very hip European music in the background.

Other Comments
I’ve already told Roberto we are going back next year. NH Real Arena is a marvelous resort, everyone work so hard to make sure all their guests are happy and satisfied. I have to say NH is great place for relaxing, not a partying resort. Maybe it’s my bias, but NH is the best resort in PC!
Restaurants and Bars
Roberto booked all 4 a la carte restaurants for us, but we ended up just going to the Asian and the Shore Grill since for the two other occassions our daughter decided to stay in the pool till almost night time. Both restuarants were good. The Asian restaurant has tapanyaki setting, and we were happy with the food and the dessert (fried ice cream). The Shore grill has good steaks and fishes. We ate most of our dinner at the Festival Buffet. My husband actually said the food there was much better than 2 years ago! I’m a vegetarian, and I also found their selection of vegetable and fruit expanded. There were so many selections for you to choose from. Their dessert section definitely is a must visit! For lunch, we always go to the buffet near the beach. They have charcoal grill pork chops, chickens, and seafood rice/noodles, with a selction of pizzas, grilled sandwiches, vegetables to choose from. They also have soft icecream too!

We mostly get our drinks from the pool bar, and we went to the lobby bar – Alisio twice too. The staff were so friendly and always have a smile on their face.

Rooms
We stayed at room 2347, which is the regular room. We thought of upgrading before we arrive to the Paradise Club, but once we found out we were given the same room as last time, we decided to keep it. The room has a king size bed (we requested it), and they opened the sofa bed for us so our daughter can sleep in it. It’s clean, bright and everything is functional. With hot water in the tub and shower, no problem with flushing and the air condition was cold and in full blast. There was no musky smell at all. The mini fridge was well stocked. I wrote a notes asking for more diet coke, and for the rest of the week, we got at least 2 bottles stocked up in the fridge. The regular room has an opening between the bathroom and the room. I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with this setting; however, we actaully love it! They have a LCD TV, with tons of channels, both English and Spanish.

Our room is facing the pool, with partial view of the ocean, on 3rd floor of building 2. very close to the elevators.

A True Paradise
Hotel Grand Paradise Playa Dorada
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Allison >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Whatever you do DO NOT BOOK EXCURSIONS FROM HOTEL STAFF WITH BLUE SHIRTS!!! These guys are only at the hotel to try and get you to buy time shares. They convince you they are your consierge and befriend you. They are selling trips to make extra money on the side. Their trip quality isn’t nearly as high as with Carlos (from the beach). Carlos is a great person who my husband and I befriended. He gave us the best deal and is just all around a really nice guy. We made sure to get a pic with him before we left. We booked the waterfall excursion with him and it was WELL worth it. Most unforgettable adventure of my life!!!! If you see him PLEASE tell him Allison and Bruce say hello!!!
Arrival
Arrival was so simple. We booked a van to pick us up at the airport through Viator (Coco tours). He was on time and friendly. We were checked in within minutes when we arrived even though it was a few hours before check in time.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
the beach was breathtaking. Yes vendors will try and get you to buy things but tell them no thanks and they give up quick. HOwever, many have great items which are worth bargaining for.
Other Comments
All around a great experience. The perfect destination for my honeymoon!!!
Restaurants and Bars
Buffet: EXCELLENT. Great variety and good hot food. They THOROUGHLY clean the buffet between meals. Edens: I prefered Eden’s over Michaelangelos but we only went once. I had the kabobs. Mine were delicious. My husbands were undercooked. Michealangelos: My husband preferred this restaurant over Edens. I thought it was good but I wasn’t a fan at the sauce.

Service is excellent at all of these restaurants. Tipping a dollar or two at each meal basically guarantees you are treated like gold.

Rooms
Beautiful design. I loved the blue and turquoise color scheme. Bed was a little firmer than I prefer but certainly not hard. Had a balcony with a view of the beach which was wonderful. AC worked great. Nice bathrooms. Always had hot water and good water pressure. HAd a kitchenette that the maid kept stocked with Coca Cola Sprite and water.
amazing
Hotel Gran Ventana Beach Resort
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kirsty >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | Family
my first holiday in the dominican republic was in july 2008 me and me family loved it the foods great the staff are really friendly and the interior is really nice . we retured to dominican gran ventana in july this year to be greeted once again by the friendly staff i would recommend you ask to stay in the catilina or saona block the bueta block is right next to the plaza mall and the bars with meens it’s quite noisey at night . but i would go back again any day.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
ok
Arrival
very friendly greeting
Beach/Pools/Grounds
pool and grounds are clean and safe
Restaurants and Bars
great range of food
Rooms
perfect cool rooms nice to cool down after the heat
total pleasure and relaxation for me
Hotel Gaviota Playa Costa Verde
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pierre >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | Solo
going in decembre for the fifth time.needles to say hotel enviroment ,staff food ,drinks,and hawsome excursions .most of all staff becomes family ,hugs when you arrive and leave.the natural smile and warmth these people have cannot be described in words.making friends with people from around the world confirms my sentiments for this resort"ultimate we all agree".a must is an hour with a dolphin ,jeep tour,the beach and snorkell in corals ,visit of city of holguin and more everytime i return .i give this 5 stars .
Arrival
unforgettable
Beach/Pools/Grounds
animation staff "love em"
Restaurants and Bars
got to try it
Rooms
5 stars
lovely holiday
Hotel Grand Palladium White Sands Resort & Spa
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linda >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | Family
we have just returned from this wonderfull resort we were in bdg 59 which was very close to the beach but far from the lobby area which didnt matter as we took the little train that takes you around the resort we had no problems at all, we went horseriding and would recommend that beautifull beach and scenery, we saw racoons that were around the complex and lots of interesting wildlife and the place has been left pretty much as natural as it can be without spoiling the landscape everyone works so hard to keep it looking beautifull cant wait to go back
casa calexico : your home in the caribbean
Hotel Casa Calexico
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marian >  1 contribution(s) The Netherlands
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
we really had a perfect holiday on the beautiful island of Bonaire. Due to our stay at the casa calexico house we immediately had a nice and homely feeling and it sure made our holiday even more perfect. Beautiful house and garden, nice swimmingpool with a very special, carefully choosen tropical atmosphere, outside shower at the pool. At night we slept on perfect comfortly beds, breakfast on our own terras. We went sightseeing during the day or just relaxed on the beach, my husband went diving several times. At night, after nice meals in good restaurants, sometimes we went for a drink in one of pubs. All is nearby, even in walking distance.

Overall we enjoyed our stay so much that we are planning to go back more

Annual Golf Trip
Hotel Stanza Mare
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Lisa >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
We stayed at a private condo in a project called Stanza Mare. I found this condo project through the Golf Reservation Center. This place is awesome. It is right on the ocean, close to several restaurants, bars and — the reason we came to the DR — golf courses. We had 12 people and used 4 apartments. We had breakfast every morning. We had a maid in each condo (awesome) for serving drinks. We had options for dinner including Italian, Tai, various American restaurants (Hard Rock Cafe / Tony Romas) — what was interesting is the food is really good. We were in Punta Cana for 7 days and had 4 rounds of golf in our package. We 1. played Punta Espada (AWESOME), Iberostate, Roco Ki, La Cana. Punta Espada — Just play it. If you play golf you will love this course. Plus they had a deal that included food and drinks. 2. Roco Ki — Difficult, take a lot of balls. There are narrow fairways and it is very difficult. Number 17 and 18 are really cool golf holes. 3. Iberostate — Awesome — Drinks are included which was a lot of fun for our group. 4. La Cana — It looked like they were fixing the golf course when we played. The course is a challenge to play so definately consider it but ask if it is under construction. The beach at Stanza Mare is huge. I found a link to it through google earth.

Good luck with your golf trip ours was a lot of fun.

One Love!
Hotel Sandals Grande Ocho Rios
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Donna >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Sep, 2010 | Wedding | With Group
This was our 10th stay at Sandals. We were hosted once again by the most splendid folks on the planet who made our 10th anniversary wedding renewal nothing short of perfection. We travelled with a group of 13 to the hotel for one week. Upgrades galore and the Royal treatment around every corner.

The wedding department deserves an honourable mention as they made our special day incredibly memorable. Some strings were pulled to make very special arrangements for us. The cost of the services is nominal in comparison to the exceptional service and very personal touches received.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities were limited due to weather, however I strongly suggest the Dunn’s River Falls tour, shopping at Island Village and the Taj Mahal as well as the Helicopter tours courtesy of Island Hoppers.
Arrival
As a number of our guests are return guests, check in was very quick. All of our guests, new and return received upgrades as we had requested.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Impeccable. Even in rainy season, the grounds and amenities are spotless.
Other Comments
Soon Come Back!
Restaurants and Bars
Excellent food as always. It has a gourmet flare. Some folks feel that the portions are not big enough at the ala cartes. To which I suggest the buffet.
Rooms
What can I say, we all received ocean view rooms in the Riviera Building.
Spectacular!
wonderful relaxing vacation
Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana
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denise >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Oct, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
I have one question for the person who told us rui palace punta cana is not worth your money – stayed april 2010. Did you write up the review you did to ensure they would always be able to accommodate you? I have stayed at this resort four times in the past three years. I have gone to the Domincian 7 times total in the past six years. While there are issues at the rui palace they are not specific to the rui but to be expected at any resort in the Caribbean.
Arrival
The staff at the Rui Palace Punta Cana is very willing to accommodate people’s individual needs. The is a large amount of staff at the front desk, so if you have to wait it is not long.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
GREAT – could not ask for more. plenty of chairs, clean, shade with trees and umbrellas. as much sun as you want. drink servers are always available.
Restaurants and Bars
Staff is very willing to meet your needs and are willing to help with special requests. restaurants are clean and comfortable. tables are spaced nicely apart from each other. staff is very willing to pull things together to accommodate large parties.
Rooms
Rooms are large with everything you could expect. wet bar, safe, iron, jet tub, hair dryer, laundry service. maid service twice a day. wet bar service once a day and by calling.
Good times at Casa-Calexico
Hotel Casa Calexico
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Susan & Tim >  1 contribution(s) The Netherlands
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
On our holiday to the caribean, we visited the island Bonaire for two days. We stayed in Casa-Calexico. This guesthouse has different rooms and cabins available. We stayed in a cabin which was nicely fixed up with colourfull outside looks and a calm serene set up on the inside. There was a small swimming pool where you could relax on one of the deck chairs or you could take a nap in your hammock. The atmosphere was very laidback. The hosts, Joop and Audrey, helped us to plan our sight seeing tour around the island and gave us very usefull tips for great diving/snorkel spots.

We certainly coming back to Bonaire for another visit and we shall again choose for Casa-Calexico.

Loved Breezes, Curacao
Hotel Breezes Resort Spa & Casino Curacao
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Gail >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Ostrich Farm and Hato Caves: Paid quite a bit for this excursion, then to find out when we arrived at each location that we still had to pay an entrance fee, didn’t know about that one so watch out ! Ostrich Farm was OK, lots of ostriches (really!) loved the crocs and the turtles in the pond. Didn’t get any time to try any of the delicacies at the restaurant, checked out the African gift shop but we found it was very overpriced. Hato Caves was OK as well, extremely hot in the caves (as expected) we were told we could not take pictures in certain areas which was unfortunate. Saw plenty of cute fruit bats and staligmites and stalactities ! Don’t get me wrong, they were each unique in their own way but I wouldn’t go back again. Klein Curacao Catamaran with Bounty Adventures: This excursion was amazing but too long for us. A very long day if you have kids with you, even though they were older, it was soooooo hot. Bus arrived and took us to the Catamaran, an interesting drive through the local areas of Curacao. They served "breakfast" which was a bun with a very thin slice of very salty ham and that was breakfast. They had plenty of beverages – coffee, pop, juice and after lunch the alcohol came out. Klein Curacao is beautiful, the beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, miles of powder white sand, the water is clear and warm….. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven :). Snorkeling was amazing, we swam with a family of turtles and they didn’t care one bit about us, we shared our adventure with them and felt blessed to have been able to do so. Dolphin Swim: At Seaquarium, a short but very hot walk from Breezes. Very neat place except one of the reasons we decided to go to Curacao was the Animal Adventure where you feed the sharks, turtles and mantas, and it was Closed. Yes, imagine how disappointed the four of us were after hyping ourselves out to feed these incredible creatures to find out they were closed, and expanding. Waaaaaaa. But, the two girls had the Dolphin Swim of a lifetime, the adventure was about 45 minutes long and the smiles on the girls faces told the whole story. One of the girls said it was better than the adventure we had in Orlando….. and that one was amazing.
Arrival
Arrived at the airport, a Breezes rep was there waiting for everyone, filled out the paperwork and onto the bus for the short and interesting ride to the hotel. Once there, check in was quick and efficient, got the two rooms in the Flamingo wing as requested and the folks at the front desk couldn’t have been more helpful. Lugged our luggage down to the end of the complex, up the 3 flights of stairs and arrived at our room(s).
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was incredible. We were right at the end of the beach, opposite to the Dive Shop, the sand was soft, no rocks, water was shallow for a bit and then it got deeper. Just right ! No need for water shoes if you’re at this end of the complex! The water was warm, the odd time we’d find a cool spot but not for long ! The snorkeling was absolutely amazing, on the beach side of the barrier we saw a Moray eel, tons of Tangs, and fish I have no idea what they were. Friendly little things too, they weren’t afraid of the big human fish with fake fins ! On a calm day make sure you go around the barrier and snorkle – man what a different world that was…. the coral and the fish, it was like swimming in your fish tank !
The pool at the Flamingo wing was excellent, water was always clean and warm. Grounds were kept in immaculate condition. Beautiful.
Other Comments
We can’t say enough about the customer service at Breezes. Customer Service is #1. We got to experience that first hand, every day. It’s nice to see and experience genuine concern for their customers. From the folks at the Front Desk to the Gardeners, customer service is what Breezes personnel live and breathe.
Restaurants and Bars
Didn’t have any issues with the food at all, oh maybe one….. too much and too good ! Jimmy’s Buffet’s were great – there was always something different to try both for lunches and dinner. Breakfast was great, they had pancakes every day (banana, pumpkin, strawberry), french toast, bacon, sausage, Johnny Cakes, made to order omelettes, cold cereal, yoghurt, fresh fruit, make your own toast or toasted bagles, and on and on. Excellent orange juice and endless coffee, latte’s, and cappachino’s. Oh and Jimmy’s caters to those who get hungry after hours, they serve food up until 1:00 am and my girls said the burgers were great ! Pastafari: Because we were there two weeks we got to visit twice and enjoyed ourselves and the food both times. Excellent service (with smiles!) excellent food and chose to sit inside in the A/C – but only twice ! Munasan: Only visited twice, but the food was excellent, they do a good job cooking Japanese food. We all had plenty to eat, the atmosphere was great and the service was too. Carousel Beach Bar: Had great cheeseburgers and fries, they also serve grilled chicken and fish, hot dots, nachos and popcorn. Service with a smile and had some great conversations with the lady there. Beach Side Restaurant: Went twice and both times had incredible meals, the grilled fish and chicken were excellent, right on the beach, waves crashing, moon dancing on the water….aaahhhhhh ~!

Bar Service was great as well, loved the frozen Pina Colada’s and the Strawberry Daquiri’s, with and/or without alcohol. Tried most of the "drinks of the day", didn’t care for the beer but we didn’t go for the beer now, did we?

Rooms
They were just like we thought they’d be. Lots of room, lots of storage, very clean, bright, and surprisingly soundproof. Loved the view (pool and ocean) from the balcony! We really liked the Flamingo Wing, a nice walk to the rest of the resort, but far enough away from all the "action" at the main pool in the evenings.
Yuh jus cant please them
Hotel Riu Ocho Rios
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Blessing >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | Family
For all the very negative comments that are posted. You need to remember that hotels are not your home…. so do not expect perfection. If you can get a comfortable enough room, adequate food and great beaches, then give thanks. As for the miss who complained about being stalk, why didn’t you complain to the supervisor or someone in charge. As bad as you want us Jamaican to look, we are not going to put or jobs on the line, when there are many other women out there to pursue. So go ahead and tell the world not to go to RIU, because there are alot of us who have been there, enjoy it and will be going back. The root of it all is, STOP BEING NEGATIVE, and the only perfect place to aim to go is HEAVEN.
Absolutely a wonderful resort !!
Hotel Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
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Alice >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
I have been to the Dominican on 3 other occassions and this is the only resort that I want to return to. The buildings are quite new and updated. The service was absolutely wonderful and the food in the a- la carte was excellent. The room was the nicest I have ever had from the comfortable bed with a pillow top mattress to the pillow selection ( obus form as well) .. an inroom spa tub and liquor included in the room for free. The shower stall … well.. amazing doesn’t even come close. It had a rain shower as well as a hand wand and 3 body sprays… completely relaxing. A special thanks to a few of those that made our stay outstanding: Keyla at the front desk, Francis at the main Bar and last but not least our wonderful beach waitress.. Yolanda. Thank you all… we’ll be back!! a definate 5 star
Beach/Pools/Grounds
the Grounds were beautifully maintained and we saw weddings there everyday. It was a stunning background for a wedding!
Other Comments
One really nice touch that I have never seen is they welcome special events with a ribbon across your door saying… happy anniversary or happy wedding… etc… so nice !
Restaurants and Bars
Loved the Italian and Seafood a la carte restaurants. The food and service at the Steak house wasn’t up to par but didn’t ruin the night either. Unfortunately the only way into the French restaurant is if the man has complete dress pants, dress shirt and closed dress shoes… no sandals, runners or exceptions….
Our Perfect Honeymoon
Hotel The Grand Palladium Bávaro Resort & Spa
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Toni >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Absolutely will be going back to this resort! Loved everything about it, the people, the beach, the activities, the food, cant complain about one thing! The hotel gave us some champagne and a bottle of rum for our honeymoon and also hosted a nice dinner for everyone on their honeymoon. We’ve never experienced a Mariachi band before but we have now!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
So much fun! The people there were SO energetic and friendly, they were VERY entertaining and the activities were cool, I’ve always wanted to learn the Merengue on the beach and my husband had a blast playing water polo!
Arrival
Very easy, my husband and I dont speak much spanish but the people there were more than willing to try their english for us! Not much of a wait at all for the bus to take us to the hotel, once at the hotel they got us right to our room!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Wonderful. the pool was clean, I didnt see any garbage anywhere, saw a lot of maintenance men around cleaning and making sure everything was good. We saw one taking a rest eating a coconut by a tree and he offered us one, very cool experience to have a man cut a perfect hole in a coconut for you so you can drink the juice!
Other Comments
I would recommend doing some of the activities off the resort so you can have an appreciation for how these people live, we did the ziplining and it was quite an eyeopener for us not to drive through the town but to drive through the country side and see the hard work these people put in just to get by. An absolutely beautiful country!
Restaurants and Bars
The food was saltier than we are used to but I certainly cant complain because there was more than enough of a selection! I would highly recommend the Japanese restaraunt, yummy!!!
Rooms
Beautiful. Ours was very basic but we saw another couples room and it was Amazing!! They upgraded and got a big cornerjacuzzi tub with a big standing shower, I think there bathroom was as big as our entire room!! Our air conditioning failed one night but we called the front desk and they sent someone right away and he stayed until it was fixed!
Feels like home
Hotel Barcelo Punta Cana
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Alex >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Business | Family
We are headed back for the 5th time this year 2010 for Christmas and New Year. We can’t say enough good about this place. We went the first time eyes wide open and it exceeded our expectations. The staff was great, food was great, everything was great! People who write bad reviews about Barcelo must be really high maintenance. What do you expect? This is a paradise and we call it our home away from home. We had a minor medical thing with a sprained ankle and the staff doctor and the hospital were fantastic. The Dominican people are warm, friendly and know everything about the world. We love it!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Fantastic!
Arrival
Arrival was perfect!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach was like a Hollywood set.
Other Comments
We don’t expect perfection but the Barcelo Punta Cana was as close as you can get. Give these people some slack, they work their fingers to the bone trying to keep us happy. We love them.
Restaurants and Bars
Fabulous! All of them.
Rooms
Room was perfect!
Can it get any better
Hotel Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
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Joe >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Nov, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Never have I experienced a more relaxed, and catered to vacation. The people are always smiling and seem disappointed it they cannot do something to serve you. I plan on returning next year with more of my family. Here in Alabama we consider the gulf beaches the best in the USA, but even they cannot compare with you beautiful beaches. The snorkeling was much better than I had expected and I have been to some of the best. What else can I say? Just can’t wait to get back. Joe Scanlan MD
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Good selection of activities
Arrival
Good transportation by Hotelbeds, but had to visit other hotels and had some delay on return
Beach/Pools/Grounds
couldn’t be better
Restaurants and Bars
good choice of exotic style restaurants, but they almost drowned me with a great tasting wine or beer.
Room Number
2120
Rooms
Clean and well cared for, with a big Hot Tub that was filled daily by the maid service.
The Majestic Elegance is exactly that, Pure Elegance and Excellence
Hotel Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
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Patrick >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Wedding | With Spouse/Partner
My wife and I travelled there April 2-9, 2009 and February 2-9. 2010 for weddings for family members. The Majestic was good to great the first time as it had just opened up 5 months previously November 2008. there were a few minor hiccups but nothing major and it was not taken of immediately. The second trip can only be classified as excellent to fantastic. Everyhtign was perfect. The food, the beach, the staff, the weather, the accomodations were fantastic. The Bavaro Beach is beyond compare and second to none anywhere else in the Cariabbean-spelling?? The wedding party thanked my wife greatly for recommending the Majestic Elegance to them.

My wife and I will be going back for aproximately 9 to 12 days in March 2011.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Always activities to keep you busy if you do not want to stay on the beachor by the pools
Arrival
This was great. We were greeted by staff who took our bags to our rooms. Chech in was wery speedy.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach is fantastic-42 km’s of fine white sand
Restaurants and Bars
They were great and highly recommend the Flavours Buffet, Italian restaurant and Steak House.

Lots of bars on site with different liquors and one national bear – El Presidente

Rooms
A great room that overlooked the courtyard where the nighlty enteraintment was held.
This resort is second to none
Hotel Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
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Kenneth >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We stayed the week of Dec 04 to Dec 11 2010
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Lots of activities for all ages
Arrival
Very fast check in,and butler takes you on a resort tour while your luggage is delivered to your room.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds and the beach are beautiful.There is a winding pool hundreds of meters long lined with anything from swim up bar,lounge areas, bridges, kids area and theraputic areas and washrooms.
Other Comments
We booked the adults only area for a very small fee of $59.00 for the week and was it worth it.Priority check in,late checkout(up to 4 hours) past reg checkout at noon,newspaper,priority reservations for the French,Japanese,and Italian restaurants,also we can use the Italian Restaurant for breakfast,lunch,and dinner verus just dinner without adults only.There is the use of 4 extra bars on the beach that cater to your every need from premium drinks delivered to your beach lounge,to many types of fresh finger food 24-7.At these locations free internet also awaits you.If this isn’t enough how about Bali beds just for you.
Restaurants and Bars
Vast choice of restaurants and bars so numerous there is never a lineup
Room Block
4
Room Number
3416
Rooms
Large and well laid out.There is a large king canopy bed,plasma tv,dvd player and a jacuzzi.The room bar includes bottled water,various soft drinks,beer,champagne and four bottles of your choice of liquor.
Beside your door there is a secure cupboard that the butler accesses from the hallway and you access from inside for your room service.Thus no trays to trip on.,The shower has 4 shower heads(3 on the wall).Fun for all
riupalace macao
Hotel Riu Palace Macao
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elaine >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
we arrived on the 2nd of december the hotel was very nice a realy good standared the room was nice and big and clean you have rocking chairs on the balcony. the surroundings are very well maintained and the staff are very friendly.It is the first time we have been in a 5 star and we would do it again it is a proper grown up hotel there were kids there but not many.they have good shows every night and they play bingo at 8.30 every night and it is free to play and there are some prizes which are ok for nothing. the beaches are lovley they go on for miles and the sea is lovley and warm there are some big waves.
the waether was good for the first week but the second week we had rain every day and it started about 3 in the afternoon and went on for a few hours i know you carnt garentee the weather but i think we were very unlucky.We went on a jeep safari trip and what a good day it cost us 89 dollars each but well worth the money and the food was very good as well i would recomend this hotel
Arrival
Restaurants and Bars
there was one lobby bar where you could get a drink and one just before where you got the towels from there was plenty of entertainment in the day as well the pool is only small but there was never antone in it i dont know if it was cold because we used to go in the sea which was nice and warm even though there were some big waves. the only thing is there is always a wind there so the temperature was not to hot the beach it lovley and clean and there is also a beach bar on the beach where you could have some dinner and a drink all in all it was very good and i hope this will help you decide
Room Block
on the side
Room Number
3329
The best time ever!!
Hotel Barcelo Dominican Beach
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Alvin >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
wow people who write bad reviews are incredibly bitter! seriously what else do people want? it is amazing, people are great, alejandro was the best waiter in the world. no one was ever rude and no one harrased us( we were a group of 16 17 and 18 year olds) in any way. poeple leart quickly your name and were very kind and full of life. the food was amazing and i never got sick once, and i have a very upseting stomach. the beach was clean i don’t know why people said it was dirty. Don’t listen to bad reviews about this hotel, they are not true at all, the service is the best i got to eat pizza at 5 am and sometimes at 3 am.

I really advise people to go and stay there, it’s the best!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
i didnt have time to do any of the activities exept for the snorquel but some of my friends that went to the other ones had blast
Arrival
The arrival was pretty quick, we got checked in in about 10 minutes and a very nice employee drove us to our room.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Everything was very clean, pools were amazing spetially the pool with the bar.
Restaurants and Bars
the people in the bars are amazing and full of life, the restaurants were cool too, the japanese restaurant was the best.
Room Block
96
Room Number
9633
Rooms
rooms were cool and the mini bars were refilled dayly
We had high expectations and those expectations were exceeded.
Hotel Pelican Reef Villas Resort
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Linda >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
After extensive research, our destination for a week beginning 12/11/10 was Pelican Reef Villas. My spouse and I had high expectations and those expectations were exceeded. PRV is a small quiet property located a couple of miles south of town. Seems to me that the Belizean people know hospitality; however, the staff at PRV has hospitality perfected. Our needs seem to have been anticipated and eagerly met. The PRV driver promptly met us at the airport as arranged. We took an earlier flight that arrived an hour early. We have yet to find out how the driver knew of our early arrival, but it did set the tone for what was to come. The management has fine tuned an extremely well run team effort so that each guest is sure to experience a very positive visit. Everyone we encountered possessed a genuine desire to please. Our endless questions were answered with knowledge and care. The resort’s exceptional accommodations provide comfort, breathtaking scenery, gorgeous and continually maintained landscaping, kayaks, snorkeling gear, bikes, delicious morning and afternoon meals, awesome beverages (accompained with E’s radiant smile and warm laugh), sugar sand beach, lounging chairs with cushions, long pier with snorkeling/swimming area at the end, (my husband told me of a man he met that was actually cleaning the pelican poop off the pier) and a beautiful pool and terrace with tables, chairs, and loungers. Our 2 BR, 2 bath garden villa had an unexpected fabulous view, and was tastefully decorated with quality furnishings designed for comfort and pleasing to the eye. I loved sitting on the porch having coffee or just reading—just so serene. The kitchen was equipped with all the necessities that I needed to prepare and present a meal. The microwave, stove, dishwasher and side by side refrigerator with filtered water and ice dispenser were all full size and spotless. The nicely decorated and furnished BRs had plenty of storage, room and the most comfortable queen size beds. The linens were soft, fresh, clean, and spotless. The baths were a delight. The master bath had a whirlpool and shower. The second bath had a large shower. There was always plenty of hot water and pressure for long showers. The linens were plentiful, soft, fresh, clean, and spotless. I love the Eco Pure bath & body soap, shampoo, and lotion. We miss the delicious PRV breakfasts that we enjoyed on the terrace or were delivered to our villa. I was partial to the fresh fruit, muffins, and yogurt, while my husband enjoyed the fried or scrambled eggs, omelets, Belizean potatoes, and toast. For lunch, the fish tacos were wonderful. A cold Belikin and Lighthouse Beer was always available.

There is just so much more to PRV. Check out their website. It is very representative of what is offered. What is understated is the hospitality warmly and graciously given. There is an awewome atmosphere that is amazing. We ca

Heaven within paradise
Hotel Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
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David >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This resort was so special and the staff are fantastic, from Andrea and pedro at La brisa to Rossi at the palace bar. the reception crew and the management team. Big smiles friendly service. The food was great and the room was made up so nice everyday and the minifridge fellow filled you up with what you wanted if you left him a note in spanish. Spreading a few dollares around to the staff made the smiles bigger, after two days thanks to my Canada tattoo the bar staff knew my drinks orders before I made it to the counter. They called me Captain and or Mr Canada! We loved it so much 8 of us are going March 2011!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Tons of things to do or just lay back and relax your choices are limited only by your imagination.
Arrival
Met at Airport by shuttle bus great tour guide stopped of and got us ice cold beer. Realy helped get us the mood to lay back and relax.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Best beach in the world cleaned daily and the tree trimmer climbed up and got coconuts for the ladies and trimme dthem up so you could put drinks in them!
Other Comments
For ebery positive review you read there are hundreds of satisfied people who just dont feel the need to spread the joy. for the negativve revies read them carefully and you will see why these folks did not enjoy themselves! In the Dominican you have to become Dominican chill out relax smile laugh dance and sing and don’t be in a hurry or in a rush and drop a few dollars here and there it brightens up their smile and your heart!
Restaurants and Bars
clean well run excellent staff and great management team. These folks work long long days so we can relax!
Rooms
Spacious new and clean
What can you say WOW awesome place to stay
Hotel Majestic Colonial Punta Cana
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Betty Ann >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Wedding | Family
Hotel is really clean the food is great Japanese I think was my best choice but don’t take it wrong since all the restaurant and buffet was great.
Employees are always smiling and giving a good service I would definitely recommend this hotel to anybody

Old Reviews – Scuba diving

The coastline of Anguilla is surrounded by coral reefs. Anguilla has cave diving and a chance to explore a Spanish ship that sank in the 1700s. The government of Anguilla has enlarged some of the reefs artificially ….bravo!!…. by sinking old ships. (ships are emptied of all pollutants first)
Antigua is on a shallow bank, therefore most of the diving is shallow. There are some interesting wreck dives on the western part of the island, though sometimes visibility is limited.
Aruba is well known for shipwrecks and interesting coral formations. The wreckage of a German freighter,
Antilla, is Aruba’s best known wreck and is the largest in the Caribbean. Aruba now has a brand new and most up to date facility for hyperbaric medicine located at Punta Brabo 3 Oranjestad. Contact info is: Dr Israel A. Posner MD +297 7307246 e-mail: iaposner@gmail.com
Pelican Water Sports
Barbara from Canada
May 2006
On the wharf in front of the hotel is Pelican Water sports. I went diving with them. They are efficient and the dive leader was knowledgeable and made sure you saw every aspect of the site. There are 18 dive sites around Aruba with 5 being a 10 minute or less boat ride from the hotel. This means you can go for a single tank dive and be back on the beach within 1 ½ to 2 hours. I went to a site called the Antilla Wreck which, according to a number of people I spoke with, is one of the three most popular sites in Aruba. It is a 63 year old German freighter (400 feet long) that was sunk intentionally by its captain when it ran out of fuel so that it would not fall into the hands of the Dutch navy, during WWII.
Bahamian reefs and clear waters are a divers dream. Types of dives include wall dives and shark feeding.
Bahamas Links
Andros Island
Small Hope Bay Lodge
Rest, Relaxation, Rediscovery, and Great Diving. 21 rooms in cottages on the beach w/easy all-inclusive rates.
Small Hope Bay Lodge
I visited Small Hope in April 2004 with my best friend. I am a scuba diver and she is not, but we both found tons to do at Small Hope Bay Lodge. I had always wanted to visit Small Hope since I got certified 4 years ago. They have a reputation for having wonderful diving and they definately lived up to that reputation. Every dive was a totally different experience. One day we did a wreck dive, one day a cavern, several days we did wall dives in the morning, the coral garden dives were beautiful, especially Brad’s Mountain, the Ocean Blue Hole was "out of this world" and I did their shark dive one afternoon and that was GREAT fun! I even did my first night dive while I was there, now that was very cool. I was there for a week and I never did the same dive twice. They offer at least 3 dives per day, but I usually did only 2 because there were so many other things to do.
From The Barbados Tourism Authority
The barrier reefs, located 1/2 – 2 miles from shore contain large coral heads which form the habitat for thousands of beautiful fish. Larger organisms are also found on these reefs, feeding on the smaller fish. The Hawksbill turtle can also be found on these reefs. Fringes and patching reefs are found closer to shore and have smaller coral formations and more abundant plant life then the barrier reefs. These reefs are home to Sea Horses, Frog Fish, Giant Sand Eels and many other marine creatures. Wrecks form fascinating habitats for marine life and Barbados has several excellent sites for wreck diving. Carlisle Bay, with 200 reported wrecks, and the Stavronikita, located at Folkestone Marine Park, are two of the most popular sites.
Lonely Planet Diving & Snorkeling Belize
Belize offers all types of diving from the Great Blue Hole (200ft depth) to shallow barrier reef diving. (Hol Chan Marine Park).
The Nautical Inn – Placencia
Kelley & Tucker from Colorado
July 2006
The dive operation that CJV recommended, The Nautical Inn, was a completely unsafe, sketchy operation. The divemaster lost everyone on our first dive and we had to resurface after burning 1/2 a tank of air. They never once mentioned safety stops or sticking with your dive buddy (2 very basic things). We also saw next to nothing on both dives. Unbelievable that CJV would recommend them. After we described our experience, they did nothing, but charged us the full $220 U.S. for the dives.
Over 300 wrecks and 200 square miles reef surround Bermuda. wrecks. The waters of Bermuda contain the farthest northern coral reef in the world.
The waters around Bonaire are designated as an official marine park and are exceptionally calm and diveable year round. (an underwater photographers dream).
Sand Dollar
Jennifer from Fayetteville, AR
October 2008
Great dive masters, boat captains, efficient boat loading/unloading; great sites! As a diver with physical limitations, I found the entire dive team great to accommodate my needs!
General Info
Snorkeling:
Bonaire is known mostly for its’ diving and snorkeling spots. Unlike most islands with diving spots, almost all of the Bonaire dive (and snorkeling) locations can be reached from the shore; no boat required. Dive and snorkel locations are marked with yellow rocks along the road and there are several maps available that list all the dive locations, their characteristics, and their name (which is painted on the yellow rocks). Once you understand how it works, you can easily locate any of the eighty-some dive spots. However, the same characteristics that make shore dives possible also mean that there are essentially no soft sandy beaches. All beaches we saw are really hard rocks and coral. Getting into the water was sometimes a challange. But once in the water, there were very nice reefs and coral areas. The sea floor seemed to drop off very close to shore, so the transition from shallow to deep was within easy snorkeling distance.
For SCUBA divers there are a large number of dive shops and outfitters. If you don’t have (or take) your own snorkle gear, there are numerous snorkle tours available which will provide the equipment. The only real ‘caution’ is that there appears to be a problem with locals breaking into cars parked at the more remote dive spots. The general suggestion os to not take anything valuable and leave the car unlocked so it is not "broken" into.
Buddy Dive Resort
Buddy Dive Resort is THE most organized non-all-inclusive dive resort that I have been to. It is set up with divers in mind. The hotel and dive staff are extremely hospitable. The rooms are like condos. You have a living area and kitchen. A/C is generally in the bedrooms only. The hotel always had something going on and there was always a board that would list the upcoming activities. The restaurant was excellent and the staff was extremely courteous. The diving was set up where divers could pick and choose when they wanted to dive. You did not have to ‘worry’ about being stuck at a set time each day. Our package contained six boat dives and we could divvy those up any way we chose to. There were boards set up and it was a first come, first serve basis for the trips. The dives were great. The guides were excellent at pointing out creatures (ex: seahorses and frogfish). You could either follow them or you could dive your own plan, as long as you were back at the boat within the time allotted. It was best to follow them, as they knew the area and could point out the various creatures. There were separate water bins where you could rinse: Cameras / Dive Gear / Regulators. As soon as the water got the slightest bit murky, the dive staff would drain and refill the bins with fresh water. There was a room on the premises where you could hang and leave your gear to dry. This area was locked nightly. VERY CONVENIENT. Our ‘package’ included unlimited tank usage and a truck to get around the island with for shore dives. Buddy Dive has a drive thru facility where you can pick up and drop off your tanks easily.

I would definitely recommend Buddy Dive to anyone who is going to Bonaire!!!

From the BVI Dive Operators Association Web Site Scuba divers and snorkelers will enjoy clear waters with abundant marine life. Other activities include sailing, windsurfing, shopping, and beach combing the long, sandy beaches. A special attraction in Virgin Gorda is the Baths, a collection of giant boulders that form sea pools for swimming and snorkeling. The most famous dive site is the Wreck of the Rhone, considered a World Class underwater destination.

The British Virgin Islands are best known for perfect sailing conditions, and they also have more than 100 dive sites for underwater explorations. While the BVI may not have walls or drift diving, it does have sites full of stunning coral gardens, canyons, tunnels, caverns, grottos, and wrecks teaming with underwater life of every size and kind. It also has dive operators who like to pamper and satisfy their guests, from newly certified to advanced.

From Dive Cayman Our warm, calm waters, 100 ft. plus visibility and breath-taking variety of marine life offer a world of exciting logbook entries. Each island offers very different diving adventures for divers of all levels – from novice to Nitrox and technical diving. At Little Cayman’s Bloody Bay Marine Park, the wall starts at 20 ft.! On all three islands, great boat dives are minutes from shore, like the Caribbean’s only diveable Russian shipwreck, the 330 ft. M/V Captain Keith Tibbetts on Cayman Brac. Easy shore dives are also only a giant stride away.

Scuba Review Index

Snorkeling – Grand Cayman – 1

The Southern Cross Club – Little Cayman – 1

Snorkeling – Grand Cayman
Francois & Manon from Canada
March 2007
Snorkeling:
– This was the main reason for this trip and boy did we get what we were looking for. I had gathered a lot of info about snorkeling locations in GC from various web sites( as GC is just about surrounded by coral reefs) and it helped immensely in selecting the sites to snorkel. We started out directly on the beach of the Reef Resort. The reef is a little bit out and the currents can be relatively strong even on a non-windy day. So we stayed close to shore, not a lot of coral, but a lot of rock formations and a few fishes like peacock flounder, bar jacks, blue tangs, french grunts, palometas, sergeant majors, puffy fish,etc… Most of the fishes will gather just underneath the Reef Resort pier and you can usually see a 4 feet barracuda hanging around as well as many tarpons. Water is not that clear because of the waves but you can get real close to all of these fish species.
Eden Rock:
Right into Georgetown before getting to the cruise ship piers. You will notice the dive shop with the "diving apple" sign. You can get easily in the water directly from the ladder and go to the buoys. Nice big coral formation with vertical drops and quickly get to over 60 feet deep of water. Lots of fish, hung around with a turtle for about 10 minutes(very nice) and saw stingrays. A few small jellyfishes but didn’t bother us.
Stingray Sandbar:
We did Stingray Sandbar with Captain Marvin outlet located in the Cayman Falls (small stripped mall). We wanted to do the Stingray thing on Sunday as there is not a lot of people, only certain operators are allowed(locals I think) to go to the Stingray Sandbar or Stingray City. We boarded a comfortable boat and were about 24 people aboard but never felt crowded. We started by doing stops at Coral Gardens and the Barrier Reef for snorkeling before hitting the sandbar. Both places had nice snorkeling. Coral Gardens had nice coral heads and numerous fishes in about 15 -20 feet deep water but we preferred the Barrier Reef as it was shallower and had more colorful sights and fishes( saw a nice trumpet fish standing still vertically imitating a soft coral…). When you reach the Sandbar, you get in the water without fins in waist deep and immediately the stingrays starts circling you and then rub your legs in search for food. You can pet them, touch their backs and bellys but do not worry they will not hurt you and the guides tell you everything you want to know about the Stingrays. They even will handle a few Stingrays and show them up close(their mouth, thier tail with the sting…yes…) and even make you kiss the Stingray as it is supposed to bring you good luck! Although we are just crazy about snorkeling and seeing as much sealife as we can, we didn’t like the feeling of being touched by the stingrays but it did made for wonderful uderwater pics and video shots. Definitely a must do and the Capt. Marvin team was very good, except for reef protection. They didn’t advise about reef protection and there were a lot of people new to snorkeling and it was just horrifying to see the damages caused by the inexperienced snorkelers hitting the reefs with their fins, standing on the coral heads and so on . Just a note to tell you that Stingray Sandbar is the snorkeling version of Stingray City, which is the scuba diving version. The Sandbar, Coral Gardens and Barrier Reef is located just off the Rum Point area so if I was to repeat the excursion, I would prefer going out from the Rum Point or Kaibo Beach area as you don’t have to cross the whole North Sound to get to the snorkeling areas and the stingrays…
Sunset House:
A diver’s resort, a little bit before you get into Georgetown coming from the East End. We wanted to see the mermaid, a bronze sculptur fixed to the bottom of the sea. Easy access as you get into the water from a ladder and an easy swim to the buoys. The mermaid is in about 50-60 feet deep of water so for snorkelers it is not easy to find(ask the dive shop for directions) and if you find it, the views are deceiving as your as too far above. The rest of the snorkeling is average, again because the bottom gets deep rapidly and limits your views of the coral formations…
Cracked Conch:(near Turle Farm):
We left out stuff on the chairs at the Macabuca Bar, adjacent to the Cracked Conch restaurant, and got in the water easily from the ladder close by. We snorkeled alond the rock formations along the water’s edge and swam out a bit to the vertical drop. Nice views with lots of fishes. We met with a couple from Long Island, New York(in their seventies) that snorkeled the same area. We chatted about their snorkeling experience in GC and they directed us to Cemetary Reef and mentionned not to hesitate to swim out a bit before you hit the better coral formations…
Cemetary Reef:
Coming back from the Cracked Conch, we stopped at the Cemetary Beach(yes, right by a nice cemetary nicely decorated with flowers on all tombs). The beach is very nice with fabulous views of Seven Mile Beach but we immediately got the fins on and swam out a bit(maybe 500 to 1000 feet) from shore and got to very nice coral formations and stangely found out after a while that numerous fishes were following us( mostly Bermuda chubs) in our snorkeling trek… probably because these fishes are used to be fed by the snorkelers. A strange feeling as when you were going about the different coral heads and you would suddenly look back and you could see all these fishes following you….
Rum Point:
A well groomed beach with beach chairs, hammocks, picnic tables, restaurants, bars, souvenir shop and dive shop, with lots of trees for shade. No fees for use of the chairs or hammocks but they ask you not to bring any outside food or beverages. We walked about 5 minutes to the right (when facing the pier) and swam out quite a bit (about 1000-1500 feet) to the coral formations and we swam in what would be a big quadrant around the pier and then back to the pier. And we had a blast. Very colorful coral formations with many queen angelfishes, french angelfishes, grey angelfishes, huge parrotfishes, squirrelfishes, spiny lobsters, sort of a never ending display of sea life. We would be going out snorkeling for about one to one and a half hour at a time. Getting back to the beach we would reward ourselves with a nice cocktail from the bar(at $10US apiece..ouch..) but they were very tasty with high content of the "hard stuff". We would usually get to Rum Point Beach at about 9:00 am and we were just about the first ones on site. As the day progresses, cruise ship people and island tourists start to arrive, making the place a lot more lively(there are activities available), but we never felt any real crowding and the place was always relaxing(no loud music). We spent another half day at Rum Point to repeat the snorkeling as this turned out to be our favorite spot on the island.
Babylon Reef/Queen’s Monument:
We tried to snorkel this area but had a hard time to find the right entry spot. We were back from Rum Point and stopped at what I thought was the location just east of Old Man Bay (no signs here…) but there was not a lot to see except lots of fan corals(green) and a mostly sandy bottom with just a few fish species. I’m sure that we didn’t have the right entry point or didn’t head out in the right direction. Better luck next time..(or get better directions…).
Compass Point/Ocean Frontiers::
This is a boat outing that we booked with Ocean Frontiers, a well trusted dive shop operating out of Compass Point located approx. a 10 minute drive from the Reef Resort. This outing was $35US per person and consisted of a three stop snorkeling excursion on Sunset Reef and two other reefs (I don’t recall the exact names) that were located inside the barrier reef close by the Wreck of the Ten Sails. We got onto a pontoon type boat with 8 snorkelers on board, with an excellent guide. The first two sites had views of a huge anchor from the Wreck of the Ten Sails, a more recent sailboat wreck and all that in about 20-30 feet deep water with the nice coral heads getting at about 5-6 feet from the surface. Saw lots of parrotfishes, stingrays, french angelfishes , queen angelfish etc… The third stop was along the barrier reef in very shallow waters(2-4 feet at times) with nice "swiss cheese"like coral formations with nice schools of blue tangs, french angel fishes. My wife saw a green moray but I didn’t get to see it… In between snorkeling sites they would provide cold water bottles and freshly cutted oranges to everyone, a nice touch. Also, when you get on a boat outing like this one, you will notice that the people onboard are a lot more serious at snorkeling/diving than say an outing to Stingray Sandbar. Very good dive shop to deal with, I would recommend them strongly.
Note:
Wherever we got to snorkel out of a dive shop(Eden Rock, Sunset House, Cracked Conch, Rum Point, etc..) we didn’t hesitate to ask about snorkeling pointers and safety tips to the young dudes at the counter and all of these were very gentle and talkative about their snorkeling or dive spot. That was very nice. Also, we felt maybe a bit lucky throughout our snorkeling week as The Ocean Frontiers guide mentionned that the wind was unusually down for this time of the year. A lot of times in winter, GC has what they call a Norwester(I think), a prevailing wind from the North West that makes a lot of places in the East End of the island subject to much bigger waves, therefore making snorkeling more difficult. But for us, all of the places we snorkeled the water were very calm to calm, with minimal waves. The only place we really felt a current was in front of the Reef Resort!
The Southern Cross Club
Michele from USA
April 2005
It was exactly what we dream of…900 feet of secluded private white sand beach, just 13 airy and well appointed ocean-front bungalows with air conditioning, and superb diving and dining. The clubs kitchen offers wonderfully fresh and tropical dining alfresco. The club specializes in scuba diving and deep sea fishing. My husband and I are not experienced divers, in fact this was his first dive trip~ but the dive team and facilities at the club were so exceptional that we had a great time. The club has its own pier and boats right in front… so everything is easy. The staff only allow 12 guests per dive, so you are always VERY well attended. And Bloody Bay wall, one of the most famous dive sites in the world, is just a short trip away. The magic starts just a few feet down, which is great for the novice diver.
Costa Rica is known to have some of the most spectacular diving spots in the world. Hammerhead, manta rays, white-tip sharks, moray eels, turtles, stingrays, sea horses, starfish as well as whale sharks & dolphins can all be encountered. Some of the well known dive spots are the Bat, Catalina and Caño Islands. A must visit is Bajo del Diablo, so named because of the large schools of Devil Rays.

Scuba Review Index

Sol Playa Hermosa – snorkelling

Cocos Island
Guanacaste Region – Resort Divers

Cocos Island
Sharkbait98
November 2008
Anyway, we board the Okeanos and the trip out was rocky. There were four divers who got pretty seasick. I was lucky as I took Bonamine and it worked great for me. We get to the island 35 hrs later and anchor in a bay. We do our check out dive and it was awesome. White tip reef sharks everywhere, not to mention guinea puffers, lobsters, eels, plus a multitude of fish that I can’t name. We do our "real" dive and hammerheads everywhere. All I can do is stare in awe. The week of diving was all hammerhead, white tip sharks, marble rays, eagle rays and a many fishes. I did four night dives and one was amazing. I got to watch about 50 white tip reef sharks go into a feeding frenzy about 3ft below me. WOW…. what else can I say. Now about the liveaboard. The food was ok. Nothing special per say. Don’t get me wrong. It must be hard to feed 22 divers all that food when you are 36hrs away from everything, but it was nothing to write home about. The boat staff (and that I mean non-divemasters or skiff captains) were amazing. There english wasn’t the best but they did their best to accommodate everybody. Now for the divemasters. In my opinion, I may as well have been diving on my own. I only saw them on two-three occations. It appeared they cared more about getting their personal underwater photos and videos than they did the clientel. There was one man who was on his fourth Okeanos trip and they didn’t seem to mind showing him around personally. In fact, this man was apparantly so special that when two women on our skiff got hit with jelly-fish after our dive, the divemaster and captain thought it would be beneficial for this man to go and get footage of the island for 10 minutes before returning to the Okeanos where these women could get some vinegar to sooth the sting. Another incident happened on our skiff. We were on our way to Alcyone (dive site) and the motor crapped out. No biggy. It happens. They tried and tried to get it going for about 10 minutes. So, as we are floating about in the skiff the boat captain calls the Okeanos. He called for approximately 5-10 minutes and NOBODY was responding. The other liveaboard was responding to us, but not ours. They did eventually get the boat going, but it was a bit unnerving knowing that if there had been a medical emergency then the Okeanos would not have responded. Overall my diving was amazing. In my opinion it could have been better if the divemasters would have paid half the attention to the clientel as opposed to their cameras. There were certain fish I did not see because only the divemasters knew where they lived and they were never around to show me, even after I had specifically asked to see them.

If I return to that magical place, I think I will probably pick "the other liveaboard".

The Sol Playa Hermosa – snorkelling
My wife and I took a snorkeling trip with "Aldolpho" who is located on the beach. Aldolpho has a little stand on the beach about 50m to the left of the entrance Sol Playa Hermosa. He will take you out for $20 U.S. per person for a 1.5-2.0 hour trip which includes snorkeling and time at a white sand beach. Aldolpho was fantastic. He took my wife and I out by ourselves. He snorkeled with us, and showed us numerous fish, including holding blow fish, star fish etc in our hands. We even saw a sea turtle. Aldolpho’s tour was so good that we hired him to take us snorkeling 3 times during the week. He is a very friendly and knowledgeable guy. I highly recommend that you take his snorkeling tour. He won’t rip you off and makes it a great time -especially since my wife was nervous about snorkeling the first time.
Guanacaste Region – Resort Divers
Diving in Guanacaste area is spectacular and when I say this I’m referring to the marine life less to the water visibility which is around 30ft – 45ft. I’ve seen humpback whales, dolphins, white tip sharks, several varieties of eels, hard and soft corals, starfish, jewelfish, turtles, octopus, hundreds of rays of all types.

Water temperature was most of the time around 78-84F with few thermoclines here and there specially in deep water. Dive Masters are ok, they sometimes go fast on the safety part of the briefing, and sometimes go for the deeper dive after the shallower one but they’re pretty good and knowledgeable. Bottom is mostly dark sand spotted with rocks or coral, sometimes rock formations with channels in between give divers the option to do a drift dive. You’ll need a shortly for protection mostly, jelly fish tentacles are abundant in the water. I’ve seen some rented equipment and it looked pretty good for a resort diveshop. Once you’re in the boat your gear is assembled and ready for you. I went with Resort Divers (www.resortdivers-cr.com) across the bay from us; the personnel is very friendly and they know how to make you enjoy the day. I arranged everything trough email days before arriving in Costa Rica. Once we’ve got to the hotel, I’ve called Resort Divers and the next morning they picked me up, I paid for the package deal and that was it. Every morning at 8:15 the boat was waiting for me at the beach to go diving. There are few pinnacles in the water, rock formation corridors, monkey heads so you’ll not have the chance to go twice in the same place. About two hours by boat from the Gulf of Papagayo you can find Catalina Island and Bat Island -popular places for diving where you can spot giant mantas, sharks of all types (bull, tiger sharks, and sometimes whale shark), Moorish idols, nudibranchs.

Blue World Diving Centre – Playa Pesquero
My only outings were 3 dives with Blue World Diving Centre. the Boat picked us up at 9am every morning for a 2 minute boat ride to the dive Centre. I walked it the first morning and the walk takes about 15 minutes. 1st dive was the Taza Azul; this is great wall and cave dive. we were lucky to see 2 lion fish. the dive master is Michael. Nice guy with Gold capped teeth! 2nd dive was Pasquero Sponge; dive master Michael brought some baitfish (maqueral??) and broke it up as we swam. it attracted a school of Rusty parrotfish and one huge grouper as well as other smaller tropical fish. 3rd dive was the Grand Canyon; this was a great dive were there are multiple walls that run from more 100 feet to the surface at about 20 feet. we also went through some tunnels. note that the coral is slowly coming back to life.

I did see one octopus while snorkling in front of the dive shop.

Villa Oasis – Cayo Coco
Theresa and Brad
March 2008
The main purpose of our trip to Cayo Coco (in addition to relaxing) was to do some scuba diving. We have taken the NAUI open water course, but could not schedule our open water dive and so we are not certified divers. We decided to try to rectify this, and so we took the ACUC “scuba diver” course that takes two days to complete versus four days for the open water course. This was primarily for reasons of time and weather conditions (see my earlier diatribe about why it’s nice to get to see a rep on the first day of your vacation). It cost $180CUC each for this course and it included a written test as well as two dives. In fact, we managed to get three dives out of this because my partner developed a sinus condition and was unable to dive on our second outing. The first dive, at Las Coloradas, was about 12 meters and would have been spectacular, but the visibility was poor due to the previous two days of windy conditions. We did see sandfishes though. On the second dive at about 18 meters I had the great pleasure of seeing a green moray eel up close, as well as a king mackerel, a queen angelfish, French and gray angelfish, many large stoplight and rainbow parrot fish of both genders, a whole school of bluestriped grunts, black and Nassau groupers, squirrelfish, porkfish, rock beautys, butterflyfish as well as the typical wrasses, sergeant majors, yellow tail and Cubera snappers. On the third dive (about 15 meters) we also saw hogfish, a few rock hinds, royal grammas, dusky and yellow tail damselfish, blue chromis, and a school of blue tangs along with a small wreck that we explored. Overall the coral was in good condition and we didn’t see any debris or obvious signs of abuse. The dive shop is located at the Tryp hotel and they arranged and paid for our round trip cabs on all the days we were diving. The dive shop was very professional and seemed to have just received new gear. They had brand new shorty wetsuits, BC’s and regulators. The only problem I observed with gear was that the wetsuits seemed to all be for men, and the two women we dived with were both quite petite and the wetsuits didn’t fit them at all in the shoulders; they were freezing the whole time. Also, if you are like me, and a bit arthritic, you will have trouble getting on and off the dive boat. Be prepared that there is no ladder, which isn’t such a big problem at shore, but getting back onto the boat after diving involves much yanking on the part of the boat crew! Dives seemed to cost $40CUC including gear and transportation, but the rates went down if you did repeated dives, stayed at the Tryp or had full gear. Two dives in the same day were $70CUC.

The only other excursion we took was to Pilar beach and Media Luna Island for snorkeling. The bus was meant to pick us up around 8:30am and brought us back around 4-4:30pm. It cost $49CUC each and included transportation to Cayo Guillermo, time on the beach, a speedboat ride to Media Luna, a short snorkeling excursion (20 minutes or so) and then a lobster lunch, followed by a return boat ride and more time at Playa Pilar. There was little instruction from the guide prior to entering the water and there were way too many people on the reef at once, most of whom didn’t have a clue that they were standing on delicate living structures. The island itself requires water shoes because of the thistles underfoot and many people cut themselves at the rough entry to the water, so be careful! There was also no ladder to get on and off the speedboat and people bigger and more arthritic than I am had a pretty tough time getting on and off the boat. You also have to be able to carry your gear above your head so it doesn’t get wet. The beach at Pilar was beautiful and I would have happily spent a day there just hanging out.

Brisas Sierra Mar – Santiago de Cuba
Kathy from Toronto, Canada
April 2009
I liked that they went diving every day. There were some certified divers ready and willing to go on a daily basis. The schedule, such as it was, be there at 9:30 hit the water…anytime up to about 10:30 or 11. Gather again at 1 hit the water around 2 or 2:30. I prefer more of a schedule. I like to dive, then relax which includes a beer or two. I can’t drink or eat much before or between dives so by 3 I was famished and thirsty. I think if a group went down you could likely try and organize a schedule…if the bus that delivers the staff arrives on time which sometimes doesn’t happen. I wouldn’t go with a large group, they might be stretched to accommodate everyone. There were some long stay guys who dove frequently. The shop offered pool courses and solicited resort course divers. The two boats were ok, comfortable for 10 plus gear. Staff brought them into shore and willing loaded tanks and gear. There was a ladder for entry into the boat. They staff were very considerate. On a few occasions when there was more surf around the reef they stopped in calmer water, people got suited up and then hit the water close to the reef without delay. I like this as I am somewhat prone to getting sick on the surface. They do not offer a price discount if you bring your own equipment. The equipment looked to be in fairly good shape. I didn’t hear too many complaints. They have short wetsuits. I appreciated having my long 3mm, temperatures were around 78 in the water. They use steel tanks so be prepared to adjust your weights. Fills were generally good. Most of the sites are within a 15 min. max. boat ride. They take VISA but pay in cash and you get a better deal. I offered alternatives but they wanted Cuban convertible pesos. I expect they lose on the exchange if you tip or pay in Canadian dollars. Dives work out to about $40 per dive. The staff were excellent. Nice guys and they can’t do enough for you. Make sure that you get them a lunch and a drink from the beach bar between and after diving. If you are so inclined people ask for items for their children and shoes, every one wants and needs good shoes. Make a trip to Value Village before you go and you will be much loved. Medicine is also vey much appreciated. Ask your GP for samples. If you want to leave behind any dive equipment know that it will be well used and much appreciated. Some clever soul at the hotel took a printer and paper. Cubans really appreciated having photos of their children and families. Nice touch that. The dive master to diver ratio could have been better. I didn’t like that one dive master took down a family of 4 for their first open water dive. I think a 2/1 ratio was called for. The seasoned divers could largely do their own thing. I did a shore dive to a wreck, the Cristobal Colan from the Spanish American civil war with a another diver staying at the hotel. We paid 40 Cuban pesos for the taxi and extra for the dive. It’s about 80 min. by taxi up the coast. Take fruit, juice etc. from the restaurant, you’ll appreciate having it after the dive. The view was spectacular, the road was horrific. The wreck is an easy swim from shore though the surf can be a challenge. Thank you to Edgar the dive master for good advice, strong arms and for knowing exactly where the wreck was. It was almost freaky!!!

I saw several black lion fish, a large caribbean blue lobster, a large green moray eel, a large grouper and assorted schools of fish. I could identify them with some effort but I’m lazy. Generally I’d say it’s easy, relaxed diving. The reefs have been beat up by recent hurricanes, Mitch hit this area very hard and the people fish close to shore. I’d return happily but not necessarily as a first choice. There are so many other places to visit in this world. Got questions try me at waterwoman2002@hotmail.com I’ll try my best to answer them.

Brisas Sierra Mar – Santiago de Cuba
As a scuba diver, I love this resort. The dive shop is on site, and I leave my gear there all week, a clean wash tank, drying racks and a secure lock up for the evening awaiting the next day’s excursion. Their rental equipment is Mares and the air tanks are newer models. The airfill is housed in its own building. There are so many wonderful dive sites within minutes boat trip. The dive masters and instructors are well trained and professional and at a cost of $30 CUC for a dive, with multiple dive packages at reduced rates a good deal. They do offer a free intro to scuba in the pool so you can try out and also a monitored shallow dive in the ocean!
Sol Cayo Santa Maria – Snorkelling
To those that are interested. There is an area to the west of the Sol resort, just past the naturists beach area, in front of where the last palapa is located (the police post). This is about a five minute walk from the beach restaurant. Paralleling the shoreline in the water, varying from about 10 to 20 feet from shore is a series of very large rocks that run a couple of hundred feet along the shore. I am interested in identifying fish and over the two week period that I was there, I saw at least 45 to 50 species of fish species. (am still working on identifying a few of the similar looking ones). There is a very large barracuda that patrols the area most of the day. I got up close and personal with him on a daily basis. He is very curious and will approach you closely if your quiet but if you approach him he will slip back into the shadows. he is always in the vicinity. He scared the c–p out of many people who were not expecting to see something that big. Do not wear jewelry, rings or anything that will cause a reflection with the sun in the water. Barracudas mistake the flash of light for fish and may strike by mistake, otherwise they appear harmless. I saw in large numbers, Palomitas, Chub, several types of Snappers, Jacks, Porgies, Grunts, Surgeonfish, etc. It was quite a surprise to see the diversity of species, as very little has been said about the snorkeling here on travel web sites. It was a big surprise to everyone who took the opportunity to snorkel here. People were quite amazed. Also saw Flounder, Sergeant Majors, Tomtates, Damselfish, Night Sergeants, Parrotfish and on and on. I spent several hours everyday at this location. Further west of this area are many more areas with snorkeling opportunities. There is a sandy point that juts out from the beach where you can enter the water and also see several types of butterfly fish as well as barracudas and other types of fish. It is shallow to start and the ground is mostly comprised of volcanic rock, so it is very sharp on the feet. Not to mention the sea urchins with their spikes protruding out of every crack. Walk down to the end of the beach to the west are more opportunities, but much further out from shore.

I wouldn’t make this a destination based on the snorkeling alone, BUT, it was a very pleasant surprise considering that I didn’t have high expectations for anything this close to shore. Very close!

Cameleon Villas Jibacoa – Snorkelling
For good reason, Jibacoa has a reputation as fantastic place for snorkelling. This is because, in the front of the two resorts are a wide stretch of coral reefs that start relatively close to shore. there are shallow areas, and some dramatic drop offs, with walls of corals. Lots and lots of diversity to be found here, in relation to species of fish, coral, plant and other types of flora and fauna. The following is a partial list of what I observed over the two weeks I was there: Yellow Stingrays, Goldentail Moray Eels, Sharksuckers, Glassy Sweepers, Highhats,Yellow Goatfish, Balloonfish, Porcupine Fish, Trumpetfish, Spotted Scorpionfish, Peacock Flounder, Redlip Blenny, Glasseye Snapper, Blackbar Soldierfish, Squirrelfish, Blueheads, Puddingwife, Spanish Hogfish, Yellowtail Parrotfish, Stoplight parrotfish. Rock Hind, Blue Chromis, Yellowtail Damselfish, Sergeant Majors, Dusky Damselfish, Yellowtail Snapper, Schoolmaster, Lane Snapper, Porkfish, Sailors Choice, Chub, Flagfin Mojarra, Barracuda, Ballyhoos, all types of butterfly fish, and on and on and on. Probably the best sighting for myself on this trip was an Octopus within my first hour in the water. I was able to look at for quite a while. Never saw it again afterwards. The snorkelling directly in front of Cameleon is as good as that of Breezes. Two good reference points are the orange markers that are tied up off shore to indicate where the reefs are for the diving boat when it enters and leaves shore. Swim out a bit to the left of the first orange (red) balloon in the water. There are drop offs of about twenty feet at that point. Go out further to the second balloon and swim to the right. the water is much deeper, and the underwater landscape is very dramatic. The reefs have long drop-offs, its hard to estimate, but possibly 40 to 60 feet deep. Bring your own snorkelling equipment. The resort has very little equipment, and for the most part is in poor condition. There are alot of fish that disguise them selves extremely well against the backdrop of sand, rocK, and coral. The more relaxed you are the more this becomes apparent. many fish hide in holes, crevices and under ledges. If you just float a few feet away and are calm, they start emerging, especailly the moray eels.

We had quite a few afternoons when the red flags went up due to Portuguese man of war bring blown onto shore. So I would advise that when you see that the water is calm, do not hesitate, and get in the water, the sea can change within a few hours. And great opportunities will be lost. Out of 14 days only about seven days in total were suitable for snorkelling. There was a rather strong storm that lasted almost two days, huge downpours and strong winds. The variety of corals and other aquatic life is equally diverse as the fish. On a sunny day the reefs sparkle underneath the water. Such an incredible variety of colors, shapes, and movement.

Cameleon Villas Jibacoa – Snorkelling
Brenda from Canada
December 2005
Not much can be said. Most of the avid snorkellers we talked to, including ourselves, thought it was one of the best places they’d been. There is a large amount of seagrass before you hit the main coral areas, but the seagrass is not to be overlooked. Schools of parrotfish and surgeonfish frequented there. Also spotted was a barracuda, trumpetfish, ballyhoos and more, over the seagrass. Close to the shore is a small strip of rock/coral that was often overlooked by snorkellers but which contained many, many fish. Spotted there were juveniles of many varieties, a hairy blenny, an octopus (2 feet from shore!), and several baby scorpionfish. Further out, in the coral shallows, many many fish could be spotted. Some of the snorkellers poo-pooed this area, preferring to hit only the wall, but actually the biggest variety of fish was in the shallows. We saw another octopus here, 3 moray eels, scorpiofish, cowfish, tangs, surgeonfish, snapper and many many more. The wall WAS spectacular. The eastern edge of the wall is marked by the red buoy. If you want to see the wall the first time, the easiest is to snorkel out from the lobby bar and around the buoy. The wall will head straight out to sea for a bit and then it will curve left. Eventually, after several nooks and crannies, you will follow a channel (wall on both sides) into a bowl formation. There are several exits from the drop off in or near the bowl, that will take you back into the shallows. In the deeper wall area, we saw french angel fish, puffers, scorpionfish, barracuda, schools of tang, and some of the neatest coral formations we’d seen to this point. At low tide, entry to the deeper channel from the shallows can be tricky at the east end (always doable, but please be careful not to break any coral trying).

You can also snorkel in front of Breezes. I wasn’t as familiar with the wall layout over there, but we investigated one day and saw a few bigger fish over there. People that snorkelled it more than we did, thought it was better over there, while we thought it was better in front of Cameleon. Meaning that the two areas were likely very comparable.

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Daniel from Canada
December 2005
My girlfriend and I are both certified divers, we were not there for diving and that is a good thing as the diving is disorganized to say the least. Turns out we could only go diving on every other day because the dive master was doing the introductory class in the pool the rest of the time. We got one pleasant double dive on Tuesday and our Thursday dive was winded out. The cost was 55 convertible pesos per person, not cheap but OK. The boat was very nice and comfortable. The sites were as expected in this area…excellent. Also we had to take a short bus ride to get to the marina. If you still want to dive there bring your own regs at least, the rentals that others in the boat were using were pretty scary.
Trinidad del Mar
Deep Diver from Canada
December 2005
This is where our trip fell off the tracks. We go south because we want to dive. Diving is not cheap but is a luxury we can afford by denying ourselves other perks in life that many do not do without. I was told by a friend that the diving was excellent on the south coast and there would be less wind at Trinidad than on the North Coast. He got one part correct…there was less wind. Firstly…the dive shop is not affiliated with the Brisas Resort nor is it affiliated with the Ancon resort. It is a separate facility located on the beach in front of the Ancon Resort about a quarter mile to the left of Brisas, if one is facing the ocean at Brisas. The building consists of a compressor room, a make believe office, and a gear room. Ample storage for personal gear and the room would be locked at night. There is a large rinse tank in front and a ten food board walk to the soft sand beach. The boat dock is gone, it was destroyed in one of the hurricanes. The day after we arrived we walked down to the dive shop to check the set-up and see what the rates would be. We talked with a fellow. Perhaps he was the manager but he was not too interested in us being there. I explained that we wanted to do about 10-15 dives each and he became very interested. A bit of background is required here. I am retired and have long past the 30ish age as has my wife of 41 years. I dove as a youngster but took another course about 8 years ago and convinced my wife to do so as well. She loves the water and is a natural in, and below the water. We have all our own gear and pride ourselves in maintaining it in excellent condition. At our age I think it is fair to say that one should not expect us to put on a 50lb steel tank,(no aluminum tanks), trek through the soft sand, wade into the surge and climb into a boat. I made it abundantly clear that I expected the staff to get my wife’s gear into and out of the boat. I also advised that I would certainly make it worth their while for their assistance. They were more than agreeable to help. It was agreed upon that we would commence diving the next day…two dives each morning, one deep and one shallow. They confirmed that it would be a large boat, a 29 foot fiberglass fishing trawler that they use for diving…sounded good. As we left the shop I noticed there was no water in the rinse tank. I went back in and asked if they would have fresh water the next day, I was told that they had no fresh water for a week now, apparently a dispute with the hotel and the dive shop. It was suggested we walk up to the ANCON resort and use their outdoor shower near their pool until we got caught and then we would have to take our gear a quarter mile back to the Brisas, rinse it in our room and then bring it back the next day. I cancelled all our diving. A day or so later the Brisas PR fellow saw me in the lobby of the hotel and asked why we were not out diving as I had previously told him we would probably be diving everyday. I explained my position and he nodded wisely. About 3 days later he tracked me down by the pool and advised me that the dive shop now had fresh water. An hour later we got a call from a Dive Master that they had fresh water. That afternoon we hauled our gear in the 30C degree heat down to the dive shop in preparation for the next day. Two of the staff were sitting in the doorway and it appeared they were very inconvenienced that they had to move so we could get in the gear room. No offer to “help the lady” with her gear was made. I checked the long concrete rinse tank..it had 4 inches of water in it. At the end of the rinse tank were two large plastic containers of fresh water that would probably hold two BCDs max per container. They were full of fresh water. I thought that we may as well give it a try the next day. The next day we put the gear together and no one moved a muscle to take my wife’s gear down to the boat. To make a long story short …..of the 12 dives we did, I hauled all the tanks to and from the boat with the exception of 3 tanks which were done by the boat Captain. The DMs were extremely poor, never even introduced themselves and never even conversed with the divers. One young DM got on the dive boat, cranked up the radio to max output and air guitared or air drummed all the while he was on the boat. At the dive site he just fell into the water swam to the anchor line, waited until all the divers were in and went down. Underwater the DMs’ seemed to care less about the divers. I saw the DM turn around once in our first two dives and just give an OK sign, No one asked for air quantity and on the second dive we had beginner divers who ran through their air quickly. All dives started out as 35 min max until I said we would not be coming up with 1500-2000 lbs of air so they could bloody well wait until we had at least a 45-55 minute dive in. After 3 days of this “diving” the rinse tanks had not been recharged with fresh water, were dirty and each had about 10 lbs of sand in the bottom. This was on a Friday afternoon and I said I would be back Monday to dive again but if there was no fresh water we would cancel. Fresh water arrived Monday morning, just prior to us putting on our gear. While my comments may appear to be of a whining nature rest assured that I have enough dives under my belt to know good service from a poorly run organization . It seemed that it was inconvenient for the staff to have divers to contend with and their interest certainly reflected a liaise- faire attitude. All in all, this was the worst service I have ever encountered in Cuba and probably the worst service I have had anywhere. This was the first dive trip that I have ever been on where we walked away without so much as a tip to any of the staff and believe me I tip really well for good service. Sad to say but my comments to the manager, as we progressed through the dives seem to fall on deaf ears. A lot of promises but nothing ever happened and I was not alone with my feelings. A few experienced divers who did dive with us felt the same way. We managed, but we were pretty much on our own. What were the dives like ????? They were not that bad, there was a bit of life underwater but nothing compared to Cozumel, Caymans, Roatan etc. The viz was about 50 feet and if the tide was going out it was down to 30 feet. I have never encountered so many thermo clines as we did one day when the tide was ebbing. We did one dive where we bottomed out at 116 feet and went through tunnel that ended on the edge of a wall with nothing below you but a black abyss, apparently 300 meters to the bottom, so said the boat Captain…was an interesting dive.

Summary…

The service, in my opinion, was poor. Was this an isolated incident? I hope so. Would you recommend diving there? It would be OK as long as you feel comfortable being pretty much on your own. The undersea life is probably acceptable if one has not done a lot of diving and the ocean is pretty calm on that side of the island. The cost for a single dive, (one tank), was 30.00CUC or about $39.00CDN . The price goes down a bit if you do more dives but you must commit to the number you want to do at the onset, You can not do two dives and then decide to do two more and expect to get a 4 tank rate…you have to go back to the two tank rate. You must pay before diving. No refunds other than for no boat, poor weather etc. You get sick or don’t want to complete your dives…you loose. No credit cards, cash only.

If you have any further questions feel free to email me at kidi@sympatico.ca

Camaguey Region, Santa Lucia – Shark’s Friend
Kim from New Brunswick
February 2008
I visited Santa Lucia specifically with the intent to dive on the world’s 2nd longest barrier reef (right after Australia). I expected great dives and was not disappointed. However, my camera chose not to work on a couple of the dives and high winds and hangovers cancelled approximately half of my scheduled dives. Photos are few, but the memories will live on. You can see photos at http://caracoluw.notlong.com The dives are deeper than I expected – anywhere from 75 to 120 feet in average depth. The one dive shop in the area (Shark’s Friends) offers 2 1-tank dives each day and will make a day trip (3 dives + lunch) ocassionally (not when I was diving). They have good looking rental gear and steel tanks in 12, 15 and 18L sizes (80, 100 and 120 cu. ft.) with both DIN and yoke valves. The divemasters are very professional – they saved more than one idiot diver while I was there. Cost is about $30 per dive, but the price goes down as you do more dives.

This area is well known for the bull shark population. However, what is not well known is that the bull sharks are seasonal!! They disappear each year around the start of January and won’t be back until mid-May. So I didn’t get to play with them at all!!

Camaguey Region, Santa Lucia – Shark’s Friend
Naomi & Fiachri ~ Dublin, Ireland
December 2005
We had an amazing scuba diving trip in Santa Lucia in Cuba – 1st week of November. We stayed at the Hotel Gran Club Santa Lucia – a very nice hotel on the beach. The dive centre, Shark’s Friend, is right next to the hotel beach. It was badly damaged by hurricane Katrina but they had almost finished re-building it when we were there. We were a group of 7 experienced divers and we had the same guide, Lasaro, each day. Each morning, we’d have a quick briefing and then everyone kitted up, as the boat was too small to move around in. It held about 10 people and there was enough room for 2 tanks each. We had to carry our own tanks to and from the boat – approx 50m from the dive centre and lift them into the boat. There is no pier there, so you wade out to the boat and climb in using the ladder at the side. We did 12 dives in total over 5 days. We did 3 dives on two days, so we came back and picked up more tanks and off-loaded the first tank after the first dive. So, when you have a little too much sunburn on your shoulders and you have to put your BCD and the tank on your shoulders and walk the 50m – it feels like a long distance ! Most of the other divers wore a 3mm suit or a shortie, but my friend and I wore 5mm suits – we get quite cold, even though the water temperature was always 29C. ! Most of us didn’t bring much equipment as our package included rental of gear – this kept the suitcases a bit lighter too. The equipment mostly worked fine – there were a few problems with air leaking out of the first stage, but not much. I think they have a few O Ring problems. Their tanks are very difficult to open ! They are very stiff. Lasaro was always able to do it for us though ! We’d like to have done a night dive, but there was a problem with the bus, and I don’t think the authorities allow boats to be on the water after dark ! The captain would head off from the beach for about 10-15 mins and suddenly stop in the middle of nowhere and in we’d get. I was amazed at the captain’s accuracy. Only once did he leave us in the wrong spot and we had to swim for 8 mins in the big blue until we suddenly saw the outline of a massive wreck ! We’d usually drop down to about 25m and there was always something to see or explore! This area boasts the second largest coral reef in the world, and they are truly amazing to see. There is a lot of soft coral and there are a lot of ship wrecks – There are also a lot of swim throughs, canyons, caves .. not too deep though ! We also saw quite a few huge lobsters and crabs that would take a week to eat! Each dive lasted approximately 45 mins. In between dives we’d always head to Coco Beach, a deserted spot with just an open sided seating area with a bar, and cold drinks, where we would have a snack – they organised a lunch for us one of the days, but on the other days we brought our own food and just bought drinks from them. We would relax there while we off-loaded the residual nitrogen before the next dive. The beach there has the whitest sand and the water was just delightful to relax in.. aqua-marine colour. If you go there.. bring some sandwiches with you from breakfast, and one for the captain and the dive instructor was always appreciated ! While every dive was great….the most interesting ones were the two shark dives we did ! These are not just any sharks .. they are BULL SHARKS, extremely dangerous ! This is apparently one of the only places in the world where they feed them in the wild – right out of the hand of the dive instructor ! The only protection he has is a harpoon. No chainmail suit, no gloves, nothing ! The dive site is called Shark’s Point. There’s a channel a few minutes from Coco Beach that’s about 300m wide and the tide changes at about 1pm each day. Up to then there are very strong currents, so the dive has to be done at exactly a specific moment. We dropped down to about 15m, passed by Magdalena, a massive moray that they sometimes feed, and then at about 25m, as planned, we all lay on a sandy area about 5-6 higher than the area where the sharks would come to, while Lasaro placed himself about 5m from us. He gently shook the thing that he uses to catch our attention when we stray … and the next thing there were 7 huge sharks coming for a feed !! It was amazing …!! He hand fed them the fish he had just killed, and gave their fins a stroke as they went by !! We watched in amazement at all of this for about 20 mins, and then all of a sudden Lasaro shot the harpoon out into the sand, and was prodding the sharks gently as they came by him – to keep them back. I found out later that the sharks had gone into a feeding frenzy !! Lasaro stopped feeding them then, and we left ! We were exhilarated when we came up .. it was an amazing dive .. probably the best I had ever done .. until we went back for more punishment two days later ! We found out in the meantime that one of the sharks had almost taken the arm off a diver last year when he went down and was feeding them and trying to video the whole thing at the same time ! (A local guy).

If you want to do some great diving, and have the thrill of a lifetime on the shark feeding dive, I highly recommend Shark’s Friend dive centre on the beach there next to Hotel Gran Club Santa Lucia. They even have a DVD of the "show" for sale, so you can relive the moment over and over ! (Filmed on a previous dive)

SuperClubs Breezes Jibacoa
I went on five dives while there. One free dive is included and subsequent dives are CUC25 per dive if you have your own equipment. The rental equipment available looked pretty decent. The o-rings in a few of the tanks were rather worn and had slow leaks, not enough to affect bottom time by more than a minute. The water temp was quite warm, 82F each day I was there. There are typically two dives per day (closed Sundays, no night dives), the first dive at about 20m and the second about 15m. The dive masters are excellent, lots of experience and do everything by the book. We had a 5m safety stop on each dive of about 3-5minutes. They have a small 20’ boat at the resort and don’t overbook it, a maximum of eight divers plus DM and safety diver. The coral reef isn’t a wall like Cozumel, but it is almost as pretty and I think there are even more species of fish. We also saw quite a few morays, yellow stingrays, lobsters, and one very large crab. I would go back to this resort just for the snorkelling and diving.
SuperClubs Breezes Jibacoa
fishfanatic 123 from Quebec
October 2007
Snorkeling:
This is the reason why I booked this resort. It has a well deserved reputation for easy access to coral reefs from the shore. I always bring my own snorkel, mask, flippers and life vest. The main area in front of the Beach grill is quite shallow (3 to 4 feet deep) A few hundred feet from shore the depth drops and there is a very large circle surrounded by corals, the depth dropping at some places to about 40 or 50 feet . I identified a minimum of 50 different species of fish and countless others that I didn’t see well or long enough. The best technique when snorkelling is to relax and just float, the fish will be less nervous and many interesting species will come out from underneath the ledges and rocks for brief appearances. There are also some species that camouflage themselves very well, such as the Peacock flounder and Scorpion Fish. If your just thrashing about, you’ll miss them for sure. There is bit of a current that seems to pull you west, especially on yellow flag days. I spoke with another avid snorkeller who had seen a small octopus in the grassy area near shore. I was extremely jealous of her. Anyways what can I say, The corals are beautiful, the underwater landscape changes all the time while you’re moving about. Lots to explore. I was in heaven and spent many, many hours in the water on the days that were not red flagged. On a bitter note, There were too many people actually walking through the small corals, kicking them off the sea floor with their feet. I could see this while I was under the water. Not only is this bad for the eco system, it is also dangerous for the person walking out there. They could step on some very sharp rocks, sea urchins, cone shells and Scorpion fish, all guaranteed to bite, sting or cut you in some way. I also would recommend to not feed the fish, some are becoming a bit aggressive, especially the Chubs. The tour reps should be explaining how fragile the reef is, as part of the orientation for the tourists. An amazing experience. Some of the more interesting species for me, were Rock Hinds, Porcupine Fish, Spotted Scorpion Fish, two types of eels, Puddinwife.

If you are someone who likes to snorkel, it is strongly advised that you bring your own equipment. The aqua center was constantly running out of equipment. You could make reservations, but when people went for the equipment, it hadn’t come back yet or was handed out. Also you can only reserve the equipment for short periods of time. The best time to snorkel seemed to be in the morning, the water appeared calmer than in the afternoon and early in the morning certain species were not as shy.

SuperClubs Breezes Jibacoa
Bart & Caroline – Edmonton, Canada
December 2004
Probably the main reason for picking SBJ was the reports on the excellent snorkeling in front of the resort. Our last holiday at the Casa del Mar (Bayahibe, Dom. Rep.) had fantastic snorkeling right from the beach and I doubted if SBJ could match that. It did and it even surpassed it in the variety of ecosystems and a more dramatic reef structure if you don’t fear venturing out some 150 meters from shore. But even close to shore there is reasonable snorkeling with about a dozen fish species including small barracuda. The best place is on the left end of the beach in front of buildings 1 and 2 where a rocky ridge runs parallel to and just 5 meters off shore in hip deep water. You will see many wrasse, some butterflyfish and grunts. If you look under ledges in the rocks you can find many more odd fellows, baby angelfish, drums, snapper, tangs, flamefish, and I even spotted a scorpionfish (poisonous!). Beyond this ridge, as well as on the right end of the beach, there is a mix of sea grass and sandy patches. This area has a different collection of inhabitants but in general has less diversity. Beyond the sea grass to the left of the beach bar area lies a limestone plateau with corals, sea fans and sponges growing on top of it. You can spot this from the beach by its olive color (the sea grass is darker) and extends out all the way until where the waves break (~150m). Here you will again find different fish including goldentail and purplemouth moray eels. The plateau remains at only about 1m depth so its quite save. If you want to stand up, watch were you place your feet so you don’t damage any corals or sponges. Some of the coral is fire coral so it is also in your best interest not to touch anything. The most exciting part is at the edge of the plateau where deep cracks and holes start to appear, after which the floor drops away leaving you hovering over a vertical wall bordering a sand plateau at 6-8m depth. Caves and crevasses in the wall give abundant shelter for fish and you will see many types that you would also find on the scuba dives. Squirrelfish, big porcupinefish, French angels, many grunts, and glasseye snapper are some of the eye catchers. The final area to explore is at the far right of the beach where the shore turns into limestone rock. Along this shoreline you’ll find a very shallow area full of coral debris. The landscape isn’t attractive and it is so shallow that you have to watch out not to bump into the bottom with its many urchins. The attractions here are blennies, funny small fish that hop between the rocks, and night sergeants which are the largest damsel fishes. Some of the fish you find here you won’t find anywhere else in this area. In total I spotted 104 species right in front of the resort, just to give you an idea of the biodiversity of this shore reef. SBJ also has its own dive operation. In the past, diving was part of the all-inclusive. Now you get one free dive per week and can pay for extra dives. If you bring your own equipment (except tanks and weight) and book a package of 5 or more dives then you pay only US$21 per dive which is the best price we have ever seen. It is about $5 per dive more without your own equipment. Wetsuits were in short supply so if you have one it’s worth bringing. They have one boat and normally make two dives, a deep dive starting at 8:30 and a shallow dive at 10:30. The boat returns to the resort for the second dive and since all sites are close by that is no problem. When done for the day you can rinse your equipment in a fresh water tank and store it in a locked and covered area. They accept up to 10 divers per trip but by then the boat is uncomfortably full. On the deep dives we never had more than 6 divers and if you avoid the shallow dives for novices, see below, then they weren’t too full either. They don’t operate on Sundays and on three days during our stay it was too windy to go out in the boat or even to swim or snorkel. There are no night dives per Cuban regulations (you are only 90 miles from the US). On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the shallow dive will have a lot of first-time divers who took the pool class. We did two of those but tried to avoid them most of the time. An earlier review commented on the poorly organized pool class. We can’t comment as we didn’t take it, but the pre-dive briefing on the boat for the pool-class divers was very well done. We have also seen them decline a diver to take a deep dive due to lack of experience. Finally, at the end of one dive the dive master spent time removing a plastic bag stuck inside the reef. They care about the divers as well as the reef. Kudos! On most dives, and specially those with novices, there are two dive masters, one to lead the way at the front and one (the safety diver) on the back to keep a constant eye on all divers. We never had problems with tanks not being full. In fact our tanks were typically slightly over-filled to 3200 psi. All dives were announced as 40-45 minutes maximum bottom time but in reality we got 50 to 68 minutes on all dives, including 54 minutes on a 117 foot dive. Pretty good. Since they knew we were efficient air users we almost always ended up having a private 5 minutes with the dive master after the safety diver had guided the others that ran out of air earlier to the surface. They were very good at making the most out of every dive for us. On the whole the dive operation is a bit more basic than what we have experienced elsewhere but it was safe, convenient, and at a very good price. The dive sites come in two varieties. Shallow dives maxing out at around 60 foot and deep multi-level dives bottoming out in the 100 to 120 foot range. Both have their attractions. Since we like to search for small fish and take pictures we often find the shallower dives more rewarding. In this case, the deep dives actually had our preference. The reefs are higher, with sand-bottomed canyons between rock/coral walls, which made for an impressive landscape. These sites (the trenches, white rock, and catalinetas) were also ideal for multi-level diving allowing you to experience the deeper parts and still get a nice long dive. There are many corals, gorgonians and especially a good variety of sponges. Fish life is dominated by smaller fish as the big groupers etc have all been caught for food. We had the same experience in Bayahibe (Dom. Rep.). Among the larger fish there is an abundance of chub, several snappers including big mutton, dog and schoolmaster snapper, and porkfish (catalinetas means porkfish). I only saw one large grouper, but there are some red hinds and the smaller graysby and coney groupers are abundant (again mimicking Bayahibe). The greatest variety is in the smaller fish. If you are after the “big game” you may be disappointed but all the other people we dove with were pleased. I take underwater surveys for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF; http://www.reef.org/) to help catalog marine diversity in the Caribbean. In total I counted some 140 different kinds of fish (including snorkeling) which is a record for me and the greatest diversity of any dive site in Cuba in the current REEF data base. Although the big fish may have been caught, the fact that SBJ is the only dive operation in the area means that there is little damage to the reefs and it is never crowded.

Our thanks to Adolfo, Arturo, and May for giving us 9 memorable dives to look back on and all SBJ staff for their hospitality and care.

Cayo Largo – Sol Club Cayo Largo
Cayo Largo is an island that runs basically in an west to east direction. The marina is on the western end and if one leaves the marina, the first facility one sees would be the airport. The first resort after the airport is SOL CLUB, next would be PELICANO and then EDEN and last would be BARCELO. I mention only these resorts as these are the most popular and the DIVE bus only stopped at these resorts. EVERYDAY of the week, the DIVE BUS stops at the SOL CLUB at 8:30am and from there proceeds to each of the other resorts and I would estimate that it is at the BARCELO at about 8:45am. The bus then reverses course and goes directly to the marina. Normally the bus is at the DIVE SHOP/Marina just before 9:00am. One must check in at the small office and produce their "C" card in order to purchase unrestricted diving privileges. One can then decide what kind of a dive package to purchase. The cost to do a single dive is 35.00Pesos, (equivalent to 35.00USD) and may only be paid in PESOS, or you may use a recognized credit card but one that is NOT affiliated with a US bank. The rate drops the more dives you do. For example a package of 8 dives drops the rate to 25.00Pesos a tank. Caution….once you sign for, and pay for a package, you may not add dives in an effort to do more dives at a lesser rate. Example ——. You pay for 8 dives and decide to do one more. You will have paid for the 8 dive package and then will have to pay for a one dive package (the rate goes back up to 35.00 for that one additional dive) so make sure you know how many dives you are going to do. Renting gear is an additional cost. If you have your own gear, there is lockable storage available. So lets say you buy an 8 dive package……you will get 8 little tickets and one is collected for each dive you are going to do on that boat trip, by an employee on the boat prior to leaving the harbor…..don’t lose the tickets. There were two dive boats when we were there. There is a large boat, (slow) that carries about 15-20 divers with adequate room. There is also a small boat, (faster), that would carry about 10 divers max. There are times when a boat will break down so be prepared to be flexible if you have to switch boats. Normally the boat goes out for ONE dive, (30 meters) in the morning and gets back to the dock at about 11:30am. The bus then takes everyone back to their hotels, one gets lunch and the bus re-picks the divers up at 2:00pm and back to the marina for a shallow dive, (15meters). If all goes well it can take you almost a full day to do two dives…or so it would seem. There was enough of us that wanted to do a double tank dive in the morning so we convinced the man in charge, (CARLOS) to allow us to do a deep and shallow dive on one boat trip. This allowed us to get back to the resorts by about 1:30pm and not waste an entire day doing two dives. Is this option available to everyone??? It is entirely up to the staff…ask if you want to do a double tank dive and see if they will accommodate you. Normally the boat takes about 20-30 minutes to get to the inner side of the main reef and then everyone gears up. Once all the gear is on, the boat goes outside the reef for the deep dive. It can be a bit rough if the wind is out of the east or the south…be prepared. The shallow dive is normally done inside the reef unless the wind is from the north then it is done just outside the reef in the protection of the reef. The diving was great. On one dive, in a space of 15 minutes we encountered 7 Eagle Rays that flew past us at about 10 feet. The largest Ray had a span of about 8 feet. We were at a depth of 106 feet. Then we saw a 4 foot sea turtle, within about 8 feet. Shortly after that we saw two sharks, one a 10 foot nurse shark at 85 feet and the other was a 10 foot reef shark at 65 feet. Our group of 5 divers including the DM were the only ones to see all of that within 15 minutes and it was great to have a camera and get all the shots.

The staff are very good and the DMs very knowledgeable. We enjoyed our time with all of them and appreciated that after the diving, we merely rinsed our gear, hung it up to dry, and the staff put it away later and locked it up. If you have any questions about the diving at Cayo Largo feel free to email me at kidi@sympatico.ca.

Coco Diving – Club Tryp Cayo Coco
The main purpose of our trip to Cayo Coco (in addition to relaxing) was to do some scuba diving. We have taken the NAUI open water course, but could not schedule our open water dive and so we are not certified divers. We decided to try to rectify this, and so we took the ACUC “scuba diver” course that takes two days to complete versus four days for the open water course. This was primarily for reasons of time and weather conditions (see my earlier diatribe about why it’s nice to get to see a rep on the first day of your vacation). It cost $180CUC each for this course and it included a written test as well as two dives. In fact, we managed to get three dives out of this because my partner developed a sinus condition and was unable to dive on our second outing. The first dive, at Las Coloradas, was about 12 meters and would have been spectacular, but the visibility was poor due to the previous two days of windy conditions. We did see sandfishes though. On the second dive at about 18 meters I had the great pleasure of seeing a green moray eel up close, as well as a king mackerel, a queen angelfish, French and gray angelfish, many large stoplight and rainbow parrot fish of both genders, a whole school of bluestriped grunts, black and Nassau groupers, squirrelfish, porkfish, rock beautys, butterflyfish as well as the typical wrasses, sergeant majors, yellow tail and Cubera snappers. On the third dive (about 15 meters) we also saw hogfish, a few rock hinds, royal grammas, dusky and yellow tail damselfish, blue chromis, and a school of blue tangs along with a small wreck that we explored. Overall the coral was in good condition and we didn’t see any debris or obvious signs of abuse. The dive shop is located at the Tryp hotel and they arranged and paid for our round trip cabs on all the days we were diving. The dive shop was very professional and seemed to have just received new gear. They had brand new shorty wetsuits, BC’s and regulators. The only problem I observed with gear was that the wetsuits seemed to all be for men, and the two women we dived with were both quite petite and the wetsuits didn’t fit them at all in the shoulders; they were freezing the whole time. Also, if you are like me, and a bit arthritic, you will have trouble getting on and off the dive boat. Be prepared that there is no ladder, which isn’t such a big problem at shore, but getting back onto the boat after diving involves much yanking on the part of the boat crew! Dives seemed to cost $40CUC including gear and transportation, but the rates went down if you did repeated dives, stayed at the Tryp or had full gear. Two dives in the same day were $70CUC.

The only other excursion we took was to Pilar beach and Media Luna Island for snorkeling. The bus was meant to pick us up around 8:30am and brought us back around 4-4:30pm. It cost $49CUC each and included transportation to Cayo Guillermo, time on the beach, a speedboat ride to Media Luna, a short snorkeling excursion (20 minutes or so) and then a lobster lunch, followed by a return boat ride and more time at Playa Pilar. There was little instruction from the guide prior to entering the water and there were way too many people on the reef at once, most of whom didn’t have a clue that they were standing on delicate living structures. The island itself requires water shoes because of the thistles underfoot and many people cut themselves at the rough entry to the water, so be careful! There was also no ladder to get on and off the speedboat and people bigger and more arthritic than I am had a pretty tough time getting on and off the boat. You also have to be able to carry your gear above your head so it doesn’t get wet. The beach at Pilar was beautiful and I would have happily spent a day there just hanging out.

Blue Diving – Melia Cayo Coco
Things must really have changed a lot since the review that this dive centre received in 2005 and we are compelled to put the record straight. My wife and I booked our honeymoon at the Melia, Cayo Coco knowing that Cuba boasts the second largest coral reef in the world but with very little information about the diving facilities on offer. I have been ‘holiday diving’ several times since completing my Padi course in Hurghada in 1999 and the wife has had a couple of ‘try’ dives over the last three years. Within three days at the hotel we’d pretty much decided that this was going to be a diving holiday! We found Blue Diving to be very safe compared to everywhere else that I’ve been (including Egypt) and really good value for money at around £25 per dive, including all of the equipment (although this was a bit cheaper for honeymooners). My wife spent two days doing the ‘Easy Diver’ course at a cost of just £85 which included four qualifying dives. The instructors were excellent at their jobs as well as very entertaining. We also went on a day trip, organised by Blue Diving, to Trinidad after being told that there would be no diving at the resort for a couple of days because of the weather conditions. It was a long trip to Trinidad, but easily worth it for the diving alone not to mention a great lunch in an amazing setting and a really good tour of Trinidad. The dives were off the side of an 80M sheer coral wall with a visibility of 40M – and we were the only divers there that day. It was indescribable. Blue Diving had three scheduled dives a day catering for different types of dive (deeper in the morning) and they were quite busy because divers came from other hotels in Cayo Coco every day saying that Blue Diving was better than the facilities at their resort.

In case you haven’t guessed yet, we thoroughly recommend Blue Diving and hope to go back again soon.

Blue Diving – Melia Cayo Coco
Chrissy from UK
November 2005
We were on Cayo Coco in Oct/Nov 2005. Enquiries were made from the UK regarding diving and we were given a price of $252 for a dive package. We went to the dive centre and was told the 10 dive package would be $310 (around GBP £17) with all our own kit, we queried this but ‘the boss’ wouldn’t like it if the staff stuck to the original price given. The staff were very friendly and we were told we had to pay in advance – which we have never been asked to do in numerous countries, settlement at the end of the diving usually suffices. We were hoping to do 10+ dives throughout the duration of our holiday. We were given the terms and conditions which indicated that if we couldn’t dive due to bad weather or ill health we would be penalised. The weather had settled down and we were both fit so thought it would not be a problem. We did our first two dives – the visibility was quite poor but it was good to get back into the water again especially at 28 degrees. We had booked to do a couple of trips – Speedboats (this is a must) and an overnight trip to Havana and visit to the Tropicana. So we wouldn’t be diving for the next two days. We found out that had we been available to dive we wouldn’t have due to problems the arose. On the next morning we were due to dive we had a telephone call from the dive centre advising there would be no diving as the boat was ‘broken’! They would be in touch later that day to let us know if we would be diving tomorrow – later we were told the boat was not fixed as the part hadn’t turned up, maybe the next day and it went on…. To cut a long story short we didn’t do anymore diving during our stay as the boat was not repaired. On our last day we had to go back to the dive centre to sort out the payment. We were then charged for two dives each which worked out at GBP £23!!

Through no fault of our own we were charged a price that was not agreed. We both feel as though we have been cheated. I wouldn’t recommend the diving in Cayo Coco – we were offered a trip to Trinidad on the day we were leaving but this would have cost us an extra GBP £50 in transport costs and we would have ended up with a case of the bends. Hopefully this review will prepare other divers who visit the dive centre – whatever price you agree you may end up paying much more !! It maybe worth going to Mexico or the Dominican Republic if you are looking for good diving.

SuperClubs Breezes
Tim & Tracey from Canada
December 2006
We stayed at Superclubs Breezes from Dec 3rd till the 10th. This is our third time back at this resort. We just love it there. Its a good home base to do all the shore diving that Curacao has to offer, not to mention its the only all-inclusive there. We did 17 dives in all. 3 night dives. We rented a 4 wheel drive vehicle from Micheals and drove to each of the sites. One of my favorite dive sites is Porto Marie. It costs $3 to get in each, but you get a pop while doing your surface interval. They have a dive shop where you can rent tanks, a fresh water dunk tank, a bathroom, shower, and a place to get food and drinks. It is a nature preserve so the money goes to help keep this place pristine. They even have what they call reef balls. They are cement domes with holes in them for juvenile fish to grow in safety before they head out on the reef. It’s part of the snorkeling thing there. The swim to the reef was interesting as you can watch all the baby fish. Now, the diving. Just to hit the highlights, we saw a VERY BIG spotted eagle ray, 4 loggerhead turtles, 3 octopus, porcupine fish, trumpet fish, triggers, parrots, spotted drums, juvenile drums, juvenile angles, queen angels, french angels, green morays, spotted morays, gold morays, etc… Too many to name… and the coral,,,,, and the sponges…. WOW !! One last thing, if you want to do Mushroom Forest, and don’t want to pay the outrageous amounts the dive operators are charging, and you are adventurous, go to Santa Cruz and look for the water taxi. Dive boat wanted 120US each , we paid "Captain Goodlife" 15US each. He dropped us off at the buoy, told us to meet him at the other buoy in 1 hour. When we surfaced, he was there. I now know why they call Mushroom Forest the signature dive spot of Curacao. All I can say was that it was remarkable. We saw hundreds and hundreds offish balling as jacks were hunting them ,, very cool.. I have been to Bonaire, Cozumel, Turks and Caicos, even Costa Rica, but I have to say that I am more impressed with the diving at Curacao than I was at the other places. But then again, that is just my opinion :o)..

Any questions, feel free to email me at shark_bait_98@yahoo.com

Good Diving.

Sunset Waters
Brenda – Canada
September 2005
We were at Sunset Waters in April 2005 and were treated to the best snorkeling we had experienced. My travel mates had snorkeled all over the Caribbean and we had also been to Bali and Mayan Riviera and nothing compared to the snorkeling we had at Sunset Waters. The first few days, the water was a tad rough with winds, so we stuck to the lagoon. Plenty of underwater life in the lagoon itself. Barracuda, scorpionfish, parrot fish, tangs, blennies, puffers, lots more and even a moray. Once the seas had calmed and we could venture out of the lagoon, the snorkeling was amazing. There is a marked snorkel trail – recommended, but if the seas are choppy, you must be a strong swimmer because the trail is in deeper water (15-35 ft before the drop off) and may be disconcerting to a greenhorn. There are large elkhorn coral heads, fire coral, brain coral, feather and fan coral. The airplane wreck sits straight out and slightly west of the lagoon opening. Though the wreck itself is not impressive – just a few tube sponges – we witnessed a large bait ball of fish out there one day, reminding us of a lava lamp. The breakwaters are populated with lots of life and a few corals. One must be patient and snorkel quietly and you will see fish popping out from between the rocks. Just east of the lagoon is a very large elkhorn coral head populated with hundreds of fish. The coral head is only a few feet from shore and we saw morays, puffers and many more there. The snorkeling is good all the way down the beach if you have the stamina to swim that far. Heading west out of the lagoon mouth, the snorkeling is good as well. We didn’t venture across the bay mouth – apparently the snorkeling over there is good as well – but with some wind and jet ski traffic, we preferred staying around the lagoon area. List of critters we saw? Goldentail moray, chain moray (about 12-15 morays in total), sharptail eel, smooth trunkfish, scorpionfish, fireworms, flamingo tongues, reef squid, scrawled cowfish, honeycomb cowfish, peacock flounders, all sorts of parrotfish, blue tang, hairy blenny, barracuda, gar, black jack, balloonfish, porcupine fish, yellowtail snapper, damselfish, sergeant major, graysby, soapfish, bluehead and yellowhead wrasse, nudibranchs, crabs, squirrelfish, sand diver, trumpetfish, octopus, lobster, glassy sweepers, sharpnose puffer, orangespotted filefish, goatfish, and tons more that we weren’t able to identify. We spent most of our day on the beach and I spent probably close to 5 hours (in 1-3 jaunts) out snorkeling each day, seeing something new each day. Water entry can be a bit tricky as the edge of the water was lined with coral rocks. Because of that, and because of the numerous fireworms and scorpionfish in the lagoon, and many potholes dug by fish, aqua shoes are recommended. Once in the water, there is a large sandy area in the lagoon to swim in. The resort has a dive shop that takes dives out 2X a day as well as leading shore dives for beginners. Shore dives are free for guests and many divers when we were there chose to shore dive at night. Entry for dives was through the beach and lagoon. Another bonus when we were there was that the whale sharks were feeding. Though we didn’t actually see a whale shark breech we saw several (6-7) tuna boils right off the beach and we did see the white belly of one whale shark churning in the water. Staff also reported that a pod of dolphis headed through each morning, but to be truthful, we didn’t see them while we were there. For those not staying at Sunset Waters, you can still use the beach and snorkel and dive off the beach for a small fee. On an Island tour we stopped at Groot Knip and snorkeled for a short time there, but nothing like the snorkeling at Sunset Waters. We felt absolutely no need to go anywhere else to snorkel.

I have a few pictures of the snorkeling, but quality is not the greatest since I just used a dispo underwater camera. To view them, please feel free to visit: http://community.webshots.com/album/345217862MNzEzD

If you have any questions regarding the snorkeling or regarding Sunset Waters Resort, please feel free to contact me…bmpink@shaw.ca

Ocean Encounters – Breezes
Tracy – Ontario
March 2005
Best I’ve done, other than west coast of Australia. (Though I’m told that Cozumel is even better) Ocean Encounters staff are great, they remember your name after your first dive. Family run, I was invited to a BBQ at the end of the week down at Lions Dive hotel (their main shop – be sure to check it out). Daily guided shore dives at 2:30pm, good for me since I was alone, and spent my dives taking pictures, not paying attention to where I was headed! Divemasters pointed out lots of stuff for me, and there’s LOTS to see right in front of the resort, like a big school of cuddlefish/squid. Car Pile is a must see, with a crane at 100′. Unfortunately, I was stung by some almost microscopic things once or twice, right near the breakwall. I did 2 boat dive days. One to Klein Curacao, an uninhabited island (but lots of lizards). It was $100US for 2 dives, plus $25 for gear (with my own mask), and it left at 6:30am -which meant signing out the gear the night before and lugging it all the way to my room. A 2 hour ride on the tourist boat The Mermaid – a bit of a clunker – lots of people were ill over the sides! Diving was done out of a Zodiac. This is the place to see turtles – but I only saw a small one. HUGE green moray followed the group. Walk over to the lighthouse and shipwreck – good photo ops. Great lunch included – but they made WAY too much food!!! Also did Mushroom Forest/Watamula ($85+ equip). Super!! Amazing endless coral formations. Saw lobster, eels, baracuda, and a ‘lizardfish’? Bus broke down on the way, the new driver made up lost time with breakneck speeds! Went on another companies boat, really nice. The ‘camera rinse bucket’ ended up being used for masks 🙁 Refreshments included, but was good to have the extra that I’d brought.

Oc. Enc. are the ‘cadillac’ of dive ops on the island, a bit pricy, but worth it!

The dramatic topography in Dominica is something that all divers will remember. From 1000 foot vertical walls to the the submerged volcano at the Soufriere Marine Reserve and underwater hot springs to caves filled with lobsters, your dive log entires will be marked with many!!!!!!!!.
While the Dominican Republic is a great place to begin diving, it is also a haven for serious divers. The country’s undersea world has excellent reef diving, good visibility, warm waters, wrecks, caverns and marine life offering a wealth of diving experiences around the island.

Dominican Republic Diving Reviews

El Salvador is famous for volcano crater diving, the most popular being Ilopango.
Royal Decameron – Alvaro Pazos
I went to El Salvador in November 2006. I stayed at the Royal Decameron. I contacted Alvaro Pazos via email prior to going. He was great, he came and picked me up at the resort in the a.m. and drove me to his dive shop and to Lake Illapongo were I did my PADI open water certificate. It was great and the price was right. I can only compare the diving to San Andres Island, the only other place I went. Lake Illapongo was not as nice, not much fish/wildlife to see, pretty grey and not a lot of visibility. Again though this is in comparison to San Andres Island which was amazing water.

Alvaro was great, very knowledgeable and helpful. I would reccommend him.

The best diving is on the south coast of Grenada. For the advanced divers there is the Bianca C. This 600 foot wreck met its end in the 1960’s and sank in 165 feet of water. Excellent snorkeling can be found at Moliniere Point where the reef comes within 6 feet of the surface.
La Source
San Jose, California
June 2003
CJ and Adriane and the rest of the staff are great. Very safe, skilled and fun. They go above and beyond to get you good dives. Many times I thought to myself "man, they are working hard to make sure we have a good dive." That is great thing. Dive boat is ok but rumor has it they are getting a big new dive boat. If so, it will make La Source a 10 in my book. The scuba diving was so good, it’s hard to know where to start. Drift diving, deep, reef diving, wreck diving (multiple wrecks, not just Bianca) — it is all there. The only thing missing was a night dive. Saw many many nurse sharks. Turtles, baracuda, lobster, crabs, shrimp, eels, and schools and schools of fish are all in abundance. This place is NOT over fished and the coral is healthy. One very big note: If you are not PADI advanced, they will not let you go on any of the deep/advanced dives (and you don’t want to miss these). They will try to sell you the advanced for 250.00 US. You can get around this by having a log book that proves you are an advanced diver. Else, you will be stuck getting a cert if you want to do the dives. They will not negotiate on this. Probably a bit of safety and of salesmanship. I can’t blame them. Bring your log book.
The top diving site is the Réserve Cousteau at Pigeon Island. To those who would rather snorkle, be sure to try Ilet du Gosier.
At Amani, divers descend the famous Zombie Hole, a 450 footdeep hole. Reefs in Haiti are largely undamaged and disease free. Giant anemones and sponges are common. Dive sites located in the channel formed by the barrier island of Gonave have very diverse and healthy eco-systems.
Henry Morgan Resort
Freedom Ryder & Wossa.
March 2008
The on-site dive operators TGI Diving run a smooth and slick show. The Dive Masters are very good at what they do and the dive briefing is always detailed and professional prior to every dive. You will need to register with TGI (Tropical Gangsters Inc) on arrival, fill out the required paperwork and medical questionnaire, provide them with a log book and your diving qualifications. They then tended to split everyone up into regular diving groups depending on experience and nationality. TGI visit 3 different dive sites each day. The boat leaves at approx 8.30am for a two cylinder dive, and then again at approx 2.30pm for a single afternoon dive. You need to get kitted up as much as possible prior to walking the short distance to the boat as they do not use a dry dock, and have to wade into the sea, sometimes chest height carrying your fins, regs and everything else…..so be warned. You can store your kit with TGI for the week, and they will provide you with a secure personal little area, and hangers for your suits, that is also locked up at night. TGI also offer a night dive, wreck and deep dive which there is an additional cost, and also a minimum entry of Advanced Diver qualification. They also offer a morning diving at Cara-a-Cara with the huge reef sharks that frequent this area. This is really is a once in a life time chance to shark dive without a cage, and see these animals up close. We took the PADI Shark Speciality course for $250 each, which includes 2 x class room sessions and also 2 x shark dives at Cara-a-Cara. We really enjoyed this course and would recommend it if you had the time. There is a great dive shop on site that is a Mares dealership, and the prices are probably the best you will ever see, way cheaper then in England and Canada. TGI also has a class room on site for anyone wanting to take the majority of PADI courses which are normally available back home. We would really recommend TGI, and would dive with them again without a second thought. The only negatives are that the dive boat can get incredibly packed. I have never seen so many divers on a single boat, sometimes 35 plus and space is very tight. I also thought that some groups where a little big for a single Dive Master, sometimes as many as a dozen divers to one DM, so you need to be pretty confident in your abilities and your dive buddy.

There is a lot of Italian guests at the hotel and they tended to keep the English speaking and Italian speaking groups separated, which sometimes made for a ‘them and us’ type situation. It would have been nice to be able to mix more.

Henry Morgan Resort
Russell & Sheryl from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
March 2008
TGI Diving, and Italian Company operates the Dive Shop. It is a Mares dealership too – incredible prices on the best and newest dive gear – there are no taxes or duty on their equipment. This is a very good dive operation – they have a huge white-board outside the shop – you just pick up a dry erase marker and sign up for whatever dives you want. The dives are fairly inexpensive too – the more you dive, the cheaper the dive package. We did 16 dives each over our two week stay and our final bill was only ~$24/dive. The diving was great! Right off the beach, running for miles in either direction is part of the second larges Barrier Reef in the world. People snorkelling on this reef (an easy swim from the beach) were seeing Eagle Rays, turtles, and hundreds of different fish. The crossing to the reef is frequented by water taxi’s so just keep a good eye out – they seem to be good at avoiding all the tourists floating along on the surface.

There is a lot of Italian guests at the hotel and they tended to keep the English speaking and Italian speaking groups separated, which sometimes made for a ‘them and us’ type situation. It would have been nice to be able to mix more.

Fantasy Island Beach Resort
Diane & Fred from Queensville, Ontario, Canada
February 2008
They have 5 very good dive boats; each can hold up to 25 divers and their gear. While with 25 it is somewhat “crowded” it is still manageable. Dive staff are trying to help. It is obvious that the dive operation is also “victim” to the apparent “cut backs” at the resort. The dive office handles the rental of equipment for both diving and snorkeling. However there is no “dive shop” where equipment could be obtained if you have a breakdown. There is a place for it, but it is locked up with nothing to offer. If you are into getting your dives recorded, Luis is VERY GOOD – his videos (DVD’s) are excellent. He is an excellent diver himself and knows how to ensure everyone gets the “15 minutes of fame” and the various sea life that is found on the dive site is included with excellent clarity. The Dive operation does provide both Air and Nitrox tanks, and all fills are very good. There was only once with a tank with a short fill, but that was due to a leaky valve. They have excellent compressors. The other very good point is that they have a medical doctor on site and their own chamber. They ask that divers support this with a $2/day fee – which is both reasonable and should be supported by all divers who go to the resort. There is shore diving, but I did both a night and day dive from the gazebo, and it is not very interesting. There is an old ship sunk to dive on, but not much sea life around it. Interesting to look at for one dive, but after that, not much else. Actually the snorkeling off the gazebo is much better – lots to see. You can either go to the left off the gazebo or across the way to the coco reef – which has lots to see. Just watch out for boat traffic. Diving on the reef ranges from good to very good depending upon the site. All sites are quite close and max boat ride was 15 minutes. Staff on the boat is very good, aiding divers very competently and providing good aid to divers upon return even in very high seas.
Fantasy Island Beach Resort
I’m a dive instructor who fell upon this wonderful little dive mecca by accident through Noli Tours. I am booked for my 3rd trip down there within a year as the diving is so fantastic. If you love the easy life for diving, it doesn’t get much better than this. Unless of course you’re talking Bonaire which is harder and more expensive to get to. Don’t get me wrong Bonaire is fantastic diving too! I took my wife and kids along with a neighbour and his family for their Open Water Course on this trip. It was for Christmas 2006 and although they were worried about what they were going to do on land for activities, it quickly turned out they did not have much time to do anything anyway. The diving is made so easy that they actually surprised themselves how easy it was to get an average 16 dives each in 6 days. The dive staff make it so easy to dive with the 3 dives a day off the boats. The boats are very nice heavy boats with lots of room and uncrowded. It makes it easy to get in and out of the boat after your dives if the sea is a little rough. I strongly recommend the 2 dive package for divers. The boat departs at 0900 and then for the 1100 dive, have the Divemaster put an extra tank on for the trip back. When you get into the lagoon they will drop you off on top of the wreck and you can have a nice easy 3rd dive before lunch. Then if you want you can go back out on the afternoon dive at 1430. We were located right beside the dive shack where it was nice and quiet. Took a few beers down and sat on the dock to do our Apres Dive routine debriefing on the days dives and do up the log books. The wife enjoyed the diving so much she is going back with me and our neighbours fo another week in February 2007.

If you have any questions, mail me nawtical@yahoo.com

Fantasy Island Beach Resort
Kevin and Emilie from Canada
February 2005
The coral and sponges were amongst the best I have ever seen. The barrel sponges were large and colorful. We did 11 dives during the week and all of the dives with the exception of the shore diving location were all wall dives. We pre-purchased 5 day, 2 tank boat dives which ran from Sunday through Thursday and the boat dive times were 9am, 11am and 2:30pm.The boats are all cattle boats and held our entire group of 19 divers. I did find it a little crowded in the water and there was only one dive master and one boat captain for the group. The dive master would lead everyone along the dive and it was good that we were diving with experienced divers who were careful not to kick your regulator out of your mouth or knock your mask off. The shore diving was unlimited and the dives took place off a gazebo where you followed a cable out to a plane wreck and a shipwreck. We saw turtles, green moray eels and sea horses. The water temperature was 79degrees in most locations. At the dive shop there are lockers (open/no doors) that you can hang your gear in but I would recommend that any expensive gear should go back to your room. I made the mistake of leaving my signaling device (quacker) on my B.C. and overnight it disappeared. I know of some clips, hats and a mask that also went missing. The locker room is locked at night time and it is impossible to tell who was doing the stealing.
from the The Jamaica Tourist Board
Negril Underwater terrain has excellent patches of spur-and-groove corals including caves and overhangs, as well as "coral cottages" in depths of 60-plus feet. There are several close-to-shore wrecks to explore including two coral-encrusted Cessna planes and a 50-foot tugboat known as the Pete Wreck.

Montego Bay

Montego Bay is famous for its wall dives. The Airport Reef located at the southwestern edge of the airport is considered by many to be the best site on the island, known for its mass of coral caves, tunnels and canyons.

Kingston

Some of the best reef development is found in this area, with small cays separated by clear blue water no deeper than 50 feet, surrounded by an outer reef with an 80 feet drop off.Special attractions include the wreck of the lumber ship "Kim & Trader" – plus an actual sunken wall from the pirate city of Port Royal.

Ocho Rios to Runaway Bay

At Runaway Bay the reef is alive with brightly colored schools of tropical fish, grouper, snapper and stingrays. Large green morays, barracuda, sharks and turtles also hang out. An outstanding site here is the Canyon, where two walls start parallel, 20 feet apart in 40 feet of water, and maintains a 30 foot depth, while the bottom slopes down to beyond 130 feet.

Scuba Review Index

Scuba Jamaica Divers at Pebbles Resort

Scuba Jamaica Divers at FDR (Runaway Bay)

Scuba Jamaica Divers at FDR (Runaway Bay)
My sixteen year old and I spent several great diving days with the folks at Scuba Jamaica. The PADI 5-Star shop is owned by Christian Rance. The have three locations and we dove with the shop located at the FDR resort. You do not need to be a guest at the FDR in order to dive with Christian’s group of professionals. These folks led us on excellent dives and were some of the friendliest and safety minded folks I have had the pleasure to dive with.

Cameron, Craig, and Stephanie were excellent people. My son achieved his Advanced Diver status while we were at Jamaica. You can reach Christian at Jamaica Cell: 876-381-1113 or USA Tel: 305-677-2224 after 6pm Central Time.

Scuba Jamaica Divers at Pebbles Resort
Harry from Alberta Canada
March 2005
I planned my trip to include diving; however, Starfish resort would not answer my many requests for information via email. I went on line and found Scuba Jamaica Divers had a dive op in the area and they responded immediately with answers and contact information. I like to have things arranged before I get there, I have found from experience that getting there and then trying to find operators and make arrangements costs you a couple of valuable days of a too short a stay as it is. I contacted and made all arrangements before departing, with Scuba Jamaica Divers at the Pebbles Resort next door. I can highly recommend them; they responded quickly with information and proved to be a top notch dive operation. They went every day at 9am, 11am, and 1pm. It takes about 5 min to walk west down the beach past Bamboo Village, it is the next Resort down the beach. Troy was the dive master/Instructor, and Norman is the boat captain. They are a small operation so it would be wise to contact them and arrange ahead of time to schedule your dives as they serve Pebbles guests first unless you have made a booking. They have one dive boat that can take 12-14 divers at a time but they like to keep the groups smaller. They use 80cu ft alum.tanks @ 3000psi, and they check each tank with a pressure gauge before setting it up with bcd and reg’s. They are PADI certified and run discover scuba as well as full open water certification and advanced courses. They are friendly and skilled and I felt relaxed and at ease with them. They put safety first, and willing do little extras to make your experience better. The first dive of the day is for certified divers, and then 2nd and 3rd dive is dependent on skill level of the group. The second instructor often brings the discover or open water certification group out on the 3rd dive after doing the in pool session in the mourning. So there may be 2 different groups and 2 dive masters. There are lots of different sites, with walls, coral heads, and valleys, drift and anchored sites. They are on the edge of the Cayman Trench, I didn’t get to see the sharks or turtles that they frequently see but others in the group that I was diving with during the week did. I did see lots of other species and fauna that make diving so incredible, rays, eels, flounder, starfish, conch, lobster, crab, Nassau grouper, Cuda, parrot, wrasse, I noted the absence of sgt majors and yellow tail snappers but there are lots of others that I have yet to identify from my books. There are some beautiful fan corals and barrel and vase sponges as well. The wind was blowing strong all week and the visibility was considerably reduced by the end of the week with silt from the beaches working its way off shore, but they went out 3 times a day even with the rough seas, it doesn’t make any difference to getting in or once in the water but getting back on board was a little more interesting. Ever tried to hold the ladder on a boat in rough water, it is always pitching in the opposite direction to you They have a slick system devised. They attach a line to the ladder and throw it out, the group grabs a hold, you remove your fins and pull yourself up to the ladder, hand your fins aboard position yourself in front of the ladder and when the ladder pitches down get your feet on the rung and hang on and up you go. The captain grabs the top of your tank and lifts to take some of the weight off and to steady you when you step on deck. For those that are weaker, just wait for the next pitch down and use your buoyancy to take the next step up. Scuba Jamaica’s pricing was also better than Starfish resort. Christain and Kelly Rance are the owner/operators and they can be contacted at divejamaica@yahoo.com or fax 876-381-1113, phone 876-973-4910.

There is an operator on site at Starfish, and I only found out once I arrived there, they go out once a day, 9am, cost $45US/ dive. Boat diving, loading right there at the pier if they decide to go, it seemed to be haphazard if they dove on a particular day or not. Once I arrived at Starfish I was not impressed with their operation and extremely glad I had found Scuba Jamaica Divers and was diving with them instead. It appeared that they only deal with certified divers, as I did not see any indication of in pool clinics or certification training or any recognized affiliation. I did not even find out their name, and the only thing posted was their dive rate along with the other water sports listings.

The best areas to dive in are:Cap Saloman, Ste. Anne, St. Pierre and Ilet Ramier. and are the best snorkeling is at Anse-Mitan beach.
Lonely Planet Diving & Snorkeling Cozumel (3rd ed) Mexico, particularly certain parts of the Caribbean and Pacific, is a paradise for those who are intrigued by the underwater world. In the far east of the country, along the Caribbean coast, the waters are transparent and the richness of the Mayan Coral Reef, the second longest in the world, lets divers explore an endlessly fascinating world. Major scuba diving sites include Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Punta Allen, Banco Chinchorro, Akumal, Puerto Morelos and Paamual. The main snorkeling sites are Xel-Ha, Cozumel and X-Caret. In the Pacific Ocean, there are excellent scuba diving conditions in Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco and Huatulco, as well as in Mulegé and Cabo San Lucas in the Baja California peninsula.

Scuba Review Index

Cancun

Riu Palace Las Americas Resort

Cozumel

Deep Blue
Hotel Cozumael – Papa Hogs
Iberostar Cozumel – Dressel Divers
Occidental Grand Cozumel – Dive Palancar
Scuba with Alison

Huatulco

Crown Pacific – Buceo Sotavento
Hurricane Divers

Mayan Riviera

Akumal Beach Resort – Venta Diving
Akumal Dive Center
Grand Occidental Flamingo Xcaret
Grand Sirenis Maya Beach
SeaLife Divers – Playa Del Carmen

Akumal Dive Center
DON’T TAKE THE AKUMAL DIVE CENTER SNORKELLING TRIP. You can see everything we saw just by snorkelling from the beach. We paid AKUMAL DIVE CENTER $20US per person for 5 people (so $100) to take us "out" to the snorkeling spots in a boat. The boat first stopped about 50 feet off shore – we could have swam there in about the same amount of time. We said we wanted to go to the spots that you couldn’t swim to from shore. The captain did not understand much english but realized we were not happy. He took us another 100 feet out and dropped all of us off – again we could have swam there from the shore. The boat stayed there for about 5 minutes then, the next time I looked up, it was gone. Basically, he dropped us off to swim in to shore with no regard to anyone’s abilities or the thought that someone might get tired. When we returned to shore, I spoke with the manager of the dive shop. He said I did not make the reservation, the person in our group who made the reservation "agreed to the map" he was shown and he was not giving us ANY REFUND. They already had our money. What could we do? (I also got the impression that he did not like dealing with a woman.) They used about $1 worth of gas to bring us out and drop us off. They made a tidy sum off of us that afternoon.

Besides that, the snorkelling was excellent.

Deep Blue – Cozumel
visited Cozumel specifically with the intent to dive my butt off – and I did just that!! I had been to Cozumel previously and had not been totally impressed with the dive shops that I dealt with. Last year I did my research while on the island and chose my shop for this year. Deep Blue (http://www.deepbluecozumel.com/) was professional, on time, and safety conscious. And most importantly, they are busy enough to break up their customers into groups according to skill level – advanced divers in one group, beginners in another group – so I got to dive the reefs I wanted, with divers I knew to be competent. Excellent!! Currents were strong, visibility was lower than during winter months, and turtles were everywhere!! I was not disappointed in the least.

Deep Blue picks up at the Hotel Cozumel wharf at 915am and 215pm daily. I did 14 dives in 6 days and was quite waterlogged at the end of the week, yet sad to leave this wonderful island and wonderful dive shop. Deep Blue offers package pricing depending on the number of dives you do with them. In the end, I paid $60 for a 2tank dive, which included tanks, weights, water and fruit between dives. We would dive one site, head to the beach for a surface interval and then be off to the next dive site – no sitting in a small cramped boat slowly chugging along to the next site as Deep Blue has very fast sun-covered boats.

Hotel Cozumel – Papa Hogs
At the beach there are dive lockers but you have to get the key from the front desk. Do it when you check in and then your all set. They had dunk tanks there and fresh water showers. The dive shop on-site was Dive Paradise. We were going to dive with them, but upon asking questions regarding bottom time, I opted to walk 15 minutes down the road and dive with Papa Hogs http://www.papahogs.com/site/index2.php . They were amazing. They picked us up at our dock at 8 AM. We got to pick where we went, and we ALWAYS got back to the hotel at least 1 hour before anybody else. The dive masters are safe but let you dive your profile. I can say nothing bad about this dive op. They were VERY accomodating.
Grand Sirenis Maya Beach
Aaron from Canada
August 2007
The dive shack is a great place for people that like water sports. From the Dive centre we SCUBA dove 2 times (we did the resort Discover Scuba Course) It was my girlfriends first dive ever and the instructor was GREAT with her and helped her extensively to insure that she had a enjoyable dive. The first dive was just off the resort in about 40 feet of water. The water was exteremely warm and very warm. The second dive we did took us to Akumel bay where the sea turtles eat and we were able to see not only sea turtles, but many other types of fish and amazing coral formations. This is a great place to dive! We also did the Turtle Tour from the Dive shop. It was $35 per person and was about 1.5 hours long. They take you by boat to Akumel Bay to snorkel with the Turtles and this was quite the experience as well. We dropped into the water into a school of Sardines and the water was a flash of silver and black with these thousands of fish. In the middle of these fish were two huge barracuda which had to be 5-6 feet in length, what a sight that was. And if you like turtles you are sure to see loads of these graceful creatures swimming with you but remember DON’T touch them they are endangered. They offer a turtle tour in the lobby at the excursions desk and it was much more expensive for what sounded like a similar experience but the one that we went on was booked and paid for at the dive shop.

They also offer Jet Ski rentals I believe they were $69 per 30 min. Parasailing, wind surfing, banana boating

Iberostar Cozumel – Dressel Divers
Deb from Tamworth England
July 2007
We were a group of 9 divers staying at the iberostar cozumel and dived with dressel divers who are based at the hotel. The service was excellent and we payed up front for the gorilla package which is 11 dives and by doing this you get 15% off. Go to the website www.dresseldivers.com and you can see what they can offer you.The best dive was the cenotes which I was a little nervous of as its a cave dive but it was wonderfull you can see the light streaming in at different points and they filmed us and we just had to buy it you can not explain how good it is.Any questions please ask.
Grand Occidental Flamingo Xcaret
David from Canada
July 2007
At the resort they wanted $90 US for 2 tank dive. I checked out Playa the day before and arranged a 2 tank dive for $55 including equip at beach divers near the ferry plaza. Problem was the transportation cost. The resort is set in 2km from the highway so it’s not as easy as other resort along the Riveria to catch a collectivo to do excursion get into town. At $10 each way by cab it wouldn’t be worth it. I had an ingenious idea. A cab may take you to the highway from the lobby for about $3. Then you take a collectivo for $2US. Saving $15. I couldn’t get the cab but did manage to hitch a ride from a worker on his motorbike the highway. Even better. So it only cost me $2 to get into town. On my way back took a $2 collectivo but couldn’t manage to hitch a ride back from the highway. Ended up walking in the heat for 20 min. Still spent $55+2+2 vs $90. Did 2 drift dives – almost back to resort from Playa. Could see X Caret.

Tagl Reef

– not a lot of coral but amazing sea turtle. Giant and spotted about 10 during the dive. There were morays and the best was a school of 20 giant tarpon fish (15 ft each). This was a deeper dive at about 80ft.

Baraccuda Reef

– Nice shallow dive approx 45 ft. Very good marine life and coral. Saw more turtles, rays, stone fish, giant green moray, crabs, tons of grunts, snappers, squid, trigger, etc…..

Dive Palancar – Occidental Grand Cozumel
Freedom Ryder & Wossa
June 2007
One of the main reasons we wanted to come to Cozumel was to dive. The resort has a dive operator on site called ‘Dive Palancar’. We had booked 10 dives prior to arriving, as we had managed to secure a good dive package back in Canada. Dive Palancar where ok. I guess you pay your money and they take you diving. However, there are some awesome sites in Cozumel, and we found that if they could, Dive Palancar would take you to the nearest reef, and drop you in for 40 – 45 minutes at the most. Most dives you would be back on the boat with 1750 PSI, or, 125 Bar of air still in your cylinder. The divemasters where a little lazy, and seemed to be just going through the motions of leading a dive. Cost is 1 x dive = $ 32 U.S. 10 x dives = $290 U.S. They do return after each dive to either The Grand or the sister resort, The Allegro, so that you can use the bathroom, and so they can exchange empty cylinders.

However, we have dived with other operators in Cozumel, and would recommend walking a short distance up the beach to the left, locating Dressels at the Iberostar, which is next door to The Grand. I am sure Dressels would pick you up each morning from the dock at The Grand, the divemasters where awesome with Dressels, wide range of locations, and they offer free Nitrox if certified.

SeaLife Divers
Pat from Tampa, FL
November 2006
My girlfriend and I just got back from a Carnival cruise that took us from Tampa to Grand Cayman and Calica. I researched a dive shop in Playa as we wanted to do some shopping as well as get in a dive. I looked at every dive shop on the internet and settled on Sealife Divers. I decided on Sealife due to their great prices. A 2 tank dive is just $65! Little did I know that it would turn out to be the best dive value in the Caribbean! When we arrived, we were greeted by Martin who is super friendly and accommodating. He helped us put together equipment and arranged for our trip. While we were waiting, we enjoyed Momitas beach which is spectacular. Tiki style umbrellas are setup in front of a beach bar with pristine sand and beautiful turquoise water. After a short wait, we boarded the boat and headed out for our first dive. Aboard we met our guide Claire who turned out to be very knowledgeable of the area and sealife. Claire also was the best diver I have ever dove with. She could drift 6 inches above the floor and I never saw her kick once. She pointed out sealife that I would have most certainly missed if it hadn’t been for her alerts. I certainly learned a lot. On our two tank dive we saw: A Loggerhead Turtle, Puffers, Lobster, Huge Angel Fish, Stingray, Barracuda, at least a dozen Moray and spotted eel, Ledges with hundreds of fish, swim throughs, etc. After our dives, we hung out at Momita’s Beach Club, had a Margarita, and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery.

Sealife is a great dive operator and an incredible experience. If your ever in Playa, I highly recommend!

Crown Pacific – Buceo Sotavento
We had 2 wonderful dives with Buceo Sotavento. Hector Lara was an excellent guide and I feel with someone else we wouldn’t have seen near as much as we did. We dove in an area of volcanic rock and on a coral reef. We spent our surface interval on a beautiful beach eating an assortment of fresh fruit(including delicious mangoes) and having soft drinks and water provided by Hector. We also followed flying rays on our way to the beach. There was an amazing variety of sea life that we saw: turtles,eels, rays, pufferfish, butterflyfish, damselfish, grouper, sea stars, sea cucumbers, urchin, lobsters, jellyfish, nudibranchs, and lots more. Hector’s skills and enthusiasm got my husband back into diving with a positive experience. He had only dove about 12 times when he had a bad experience two years ago in Cuba and refused to dive again until this experience. We had most of our own gear(dive gear flys free and is not included in your weight allowance) and what we did rent from Hector functioned adequately. I have logged over 150 dives and dove in 6 different countries and felt totally pampered on this dive. Hector and the dive captain William both saw all our needs were met. I totally reccomend Hector Lara as a dive guide.
Hurricane Divers
Neil from Canada
March 2006
My wife and I went with another couple to Huatulco, Mexico from Feb 1st to 15th, 2006. We stayed at the Barcelo located in the resort area of Tangolunda. This is a gorgeous area and we highly recommend the area but I will just concentrate on the diving in this review. My friend and I are both certified seasoned divers. We dived with Hurricane Divers (www.hurricanedivers.com), which is a Gold PADI Instruction and 5 Star PADI dive operation and was worth every penny. It is owned and run by Robert and his wife. They are located in Santa Cruz which is a 5 min taxi ride for 25pesos from the Barcelo (Santa Cruz and Tangolunda are all part of the Huatulco area). They are truly a professional dive shop and the only one we seen that followed PADI standards. From the outset they were prompt with e-mail replies and have modern Scuba Pro equipment. Their shop staff, dive masters/instructors and deck hands are very helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. They did small groups of no more than 6 divers and we would highly recommend them to any diver. You will not be disappointed with their service. Refer to their web site for their equipment, etc. The costs worked out to $68.00 per two tank day because we took the package and booked ahead. I had some concerns about putting a deposit down on a shop that I really didn’t know much about and there wasn’t any independent reviews that I could find. My concerns were unfounded and one can be confident with this dive shops integrity. The cost included all equipment if you didn’t feel like taking your own. There is no further discount for using your own equipment. We brought down with us almost everything except for our BCD’s, tanks and weights. If one wanted to leave their equipment at home I think you would be quite satisfied and comfortable in using theirs. We left our equipment at the shop between our dive days. One of the deck hands lives there and so there is no problem with it going missing. We did 8 dives over 4 days. The Pacific Ocean isn’t as clear as the Caribbean but it had lots to offer. There were many types of Rays (in some locations too many to count) along with the regular tropical fish some in large schools. We seen many types of eels (Zebra, Green Moray, snake eels) along with Octopus, Guitar Sharks, sea horses, lobsters, etc. The average visibility was 50ft or so. We did mostly surge diving with a couple of calmer dives within the bays. The dives are generally shallow as the deeper you go the less visibility there is. 70ft appeared to be about as deep as one would want to go and still have adequate visibility. The upside is you had lots of down time. We spoke with other divers who had seen several turtles (this area has 7 of the 8 species) but we had no luck with running into them. Others had also seen dolphins. The water temperature was 75F and a 3mm suit was adequate. The air temp is in the high 80’s to low 90’s. We do have plans to return to Huatulco and probably rent a room or what ever in town and eat at the local establishments, etc. They have good food and reasonable prices. We would also be diving again with Hurricane Divers.

Just a side note about Buceo Sotavento dive operation. We had researched his operation prior to our holiday and came up with some serious concerns that was raised in another review. While in Huatulco we did some further investigations and confirmed that they are no longer a PADI operation after PADI cancelled them. A couple we had met down there were originally going to dive with them but after they saw their operation and lack of customer service they decided to dive with Hurricane. I observed one of their boats at a location we were diving at. It was unmanned and did not appear to be in very good shape. Divers personal articles were left unattended and with no deck hand there would be some real concerns if surface help was needed or the boat came loose from its mooring. It was also noted to have only one outboard. Personally I like a boat with a back up motor in case the first konks out and you are now adrift.

Riu Palace Las Americas Resort
Lou & Pearl of Toronto
April 2005
There is an excellent dive site here call the C58 wreck. The wreck was split in half by the hurricane. The two pieces rest about 15 metres apart, a testament to the strength of the hurricane. According to the dive masters here this is the best local dive but can also be one of the most difficult due to the often strong prevailing current. For personal safety reasons only divers with a minimum of 40 dives with drift dive experience will be brought here. Once here you enter with the BCD deflated for rapid drift descent to the ship wreck about 50 metres downstream, 25 metres below. If you do not descend quickly enough the current will carry you past the wreck completely. Once you are there the prize is the 12 pristine eagle rays that hold their position against the relatively strong current. Gloves are highly recommended on this dive to secure yourself against the strong current. Peering above deck with only my head exposed to the current, my neck muscles started to feel sore after only a few minutes in the current watching the sting rays. There are also large schools of fish for viewing with the occasional turtle sighted. For turtle viewing the better dives are the Tortugas and Green Wall reef dives in Playa del Carmen. The ascent and safety stop are also a bit tricky due to the strong current. For these reasons the dives are usually one on one and last about 30 minutes. Expect to use air quickly even though they give you 3500 psi air to start with. My dive master was Aristides a friendly, handsome, young Mexican from Mexico City. He has traveled all over Mexico and is well informed on the best places to visit in Mexico.
Scuba with Alison – Cozumel
Amy and Rob – Canada
December 2004
We’re both divers and were not disappointed with Cozumel. You can go directly with the dive company offered by the resort (Dressel), but their boats look like they take out about 20 people at a time. We choose to go with Diving with Alison (www.scubawithalison.com). We e-mailed her in advance and she paired us up with others at about the same ability. She picked us up right at the resort. The boat was smaller, but the most we had was 7 divers. The price was cheaper ($70 US each for a 2 tank which included a reg and BCD) and she throws in a wetsuit if you pay with cash or travellers cheques. I’d highly recommend her to anyone. The Iberostar is located right in front of the reef, it didn’t take more than 5 minutes to get to any of our dive spots. We did 3 days of 2 tank dives (Santa Rosa wall and shallow, Palancar Horseshoe, Dehlia, and Cedral Pass). Note that Cozumel is all drift diving and there is no ropes to descend. Our stongest current was at Santa Rosa shallow (but this also had the best sea life including huge turtles, moray eels, eagle rays, and parrot fish). Alison keeps a close eye on you and if you let her know you’re not comfortable with the current, she can pick other spots.
Venta Diving – Akumal Beach Resort
Grant from Canada
March 2005
My wife and I, along with another couple just returned from a one week (February 18 – 25) holiday at the Akumal Beach Resort. We had a wonderful time. The food was good, the service very good, the beach was excellent (white crushed coral, groomed daily), weather awesome (mid-eighties F, mid-twenties C, bit windy) and the diving was superb. My wife and I snorkel though she is not keen to dive. The other couple were PADI [OWD] certified twenty years ago and but had not been diving for almost ten years. I was certified PADI [OWD] last year and have been diving every few months since then. There is adequate snorkeling off of the beach. Saw lots of small colorful fish and the local barracuda (a two-footer called ‘Barry’). The bottom is white sand covered with a bit of white silt which unfortunately is easily stirred up by the waves cutting visibility to about 30′. Still, the bottom is easily seen along with the colorful shallow flora and fauna. Apparently there are turtles in the area but we did not see any while snorkeling. We went to the on-site (Venta Diving) provider to see what was available via SCUBA in the area. We found the dive shack staff interesting and engaged. They spoke excellent English – I think one is Mexican and one is Italian. They were a bit concerned about my diving partners because of the length of time since they had last been diving and wanted them to meet the "manager." If we passed muster, they would consider taking us to the reefs without an orientation dive. We met "Alex" and he suggested a vanilla (local, shallow) orientation dive and since we are the kind of folk who follow good advice, we acquiesced. We signed up for 5 tanks (one local orientation dive, two tanks at Cozumel, and two tanks at a cenote). Sorry I didn’t save the price list but it went something like this. NOTE: With 3 tanks or more the masks, fins, wet suit and BCD are included in the costs – for fewer dives there is a modest charge. I recall we paid about $200.00 USD for the five tanks which of course includes local transportation (boat), tank, octopus, weights, and instructor/guide. There was a further $70.00 charge for transportation to Cozumel and I think $20.00 for the cenote dive. Here is a quick briefing on the dives. The first dive (Feb. 21) was to the reef just off of the resort. The trip out, while short, was a bit choppy due to the 6′ swells – as it was, we had to wait a day for the waves to settle down. There were seven divers in the twin outboard open boat – the three in our group plus an guide and two novices working on their certification plus their instructor. We dove to 45′ and cruised the bottom. Lots of reef stuff, multi-colored fish, brain, fan, staghorn coral, etc. We saw a 4′ manta ray, a 2′ turtle and a 6′ nurse shark – all within 10′. It was an entirely satisfactory dive though the wind had stirred up the bottom cutting the vis to about 60′. Apparently we behaved ourselves and Alex said he would take us to Cozumel. A word about Alex. He is Italian and speaks at least four languages (Italian, English, Spanish, French) and says he knows enough Arabic to get by on a dive. My wife says he looks like a bald-headed (he shaves his head) Brad Pitt but I must admit I didn’t see that much of a resemblance. He is personable, humorous and professional – pretty much what you want in a dive master. Clearly he knows his craft and local diving conditions and has excellent connections in the diving community. He seems to be well-known wherever he goes. He made excellent arrangements and we wanted for nothing – we felt safe and had a good time. On our second day of diving (Feb. 22) we went to Cozumel. Alex drove our group of eight to Playa del Carmen where we caught a ferry to the island. Our group comprised we four Calgarians (my wife came for the ride), a father and son (12 years old) and a husband and wife pair, the last four being from France. Alex paid for the parking, arranged for our equipment to be taken (bicycle courier) to the ferry, and led us to the docks. We took the 45 minute ferry ride across to the island. The crossing was a bit rough but, as promised, the water in the lea of the island was reasonably calm. Alex led us to a chartered dive boat (1/2 covered deck, open back, dive platform, inboard diesel engine) that had a crew of two. We headed up the coast for about 1/2 hour to a popular dive area. Alex said there are about 3000 dives a day booked in this area. We saw about 20 boats in the general area though we didn’t see any other divers below. We dove the Cedral Wall and cruised at a depth of about 80′ with about 100′ of vis. The wall is quite something, drops off to about 400′. There is a very strong current so we just went with the flow. Didn’t see a lot of large fish but lots of very colorful smaller species. We rested for an hour or so at anchor and ate a light lunch provided by the crew. We were invited to snorkel and while in the water I watched a 6′ ray fly beneath the boat. My dive partners on the boat saw its shadow against the white bottom. Our second dive was to Chan Kanaab (spelling?) and was a bit shallower, better vis and a lot of reef life including several huge lobster – made my mouth water. The ferry ride home was uneventful. The final two dives (Feb. 24) were to a cenote (pr. se no’ tay) which is an inland (freshwater) sink hole. The entire peninsula is situated on old carbonate reefs which have been eroded by underground rivers. When the rivers got too close to the surface, the ground collapses creating the cenote. A typical cenote is a hole in the ground (about 100′ in diameter) with a rubble pile in the middle surrounded by slowly flowing fresh water. The water courses through elaborate caves which at one time were above sea level. The water dripping from the roof caused traditional stalactites and stalagmites. During the last ice age, the sea levels rose and most of the caves are now underwater. We dove at Cenote Dos Ojos – the name means ‘two eyes’ for the two holes in the ground at this site. Alex is the only Akumal Beach Resort diver certified to take people cenote diving. It requires special training and the guide must carry twin tanks (just in case). Alex is experienced at this cenote and insisted we get an early start. We were there by 08:30 and in the water by 09:00. The dive is a fascinating excursion into the cave (never deeper than 40′ and mostly at 25′). The shallow depth means a long bottom time. I expect each dive lasted about 45 minutes. Alex explained that technically this was a ‘cavern’ dive because we were never more than 110 feet from an opening to the air vs. a ‘cave’ dive where God only knows how far you have to swim to get out. The route we followed was probably about 1/4 mile long and comprised a large circuit. The river system we were diving in has about 40 MILES of explored tunnels – don’t even think about diving here without a certified guide. We followed a route marked with a yellow rope which never left our sight. We were given high-powered flashlights to illuminate the rooms. The visibility is astounding – I bet it was more than 300′. The Akumal Beach Resort is the closest dive shop to the cenote and Alex wanted us to be the first divers in. There is a bit of silt on the bottom and the visibility drops during the day. By the time we exited the first cenote, the parking lot had filled with about 20 vehicles and there was probably 60 divers in the cave following the same rope we had been using. We exchanged our tanks and headed in for the second dive (to the Bat Cave). Again, wonderful sights, huge rooms, awesome vis. As we exited from the darkness, a professional diver/photographer was waiting to take our pictures. He has a 5 megapixel camera and flash and took pictures of us individually as well as a posed picture of our group (all at about 20′ depth). He also took a 20 second video of us swimming up from the depths. The cost is quite reasonable ($35.00 USD) for a CD with your pictures and video along with some other pictures (unremarkable) of the caves and local wild life. I asked if he would take VISA and he said, "No sir, I am afraid this is the jungle and we don’t offer that level of service" so we cobbled together enough pesos for the disc – take cash, you will be glad to have the vids to show your friends. Well, that is a quick summary of a thoroughly wonderful diving vacation. Can’t say enough about the Akumal Beach Resort and the Venta Diving group. Try to get Alex to take you out. I expect he is their top diver and he is the person they all call the Manager. By the way, the equipment is in good shape but don’t panic when they say the water is cold. It is about 72 F. I am from Saskatchewan – learning to swim in June at 62 F with only a Speedo – that’s cold. I found my 5 mil shorty wet suit more than adequate though my colleagues said they thought the longer suits were better for them in the cenote. Send me an email if you want to see some of the cenote pictures. Not much use using a disposable camera in the caves unless it comes with a flash. Mine didn’t have a flash so the only pictures we have were taken at the entrance by the professional. Cheers and great diving,

ghenneberg@shaw.ca

Puerto Rico offers diverse diving expereinces due to the continental shelf. All skill levels will enjoy coral reefs, sea walls, caves and trenches. Some areas not to miss are; Mona Island in western Puerto Rico with its walls, coral reefs and caverns (one should have a good set of sea legs as it is a 5 hour boat ride in sometimes rough water!); Fajardo & Cayo Diablo home to moray eels,barracudas, octupuses and if you are lucky you will see a manatee; Humacao You will find a plethora (nice word) of caves & tunnels. Drift diving is popular here.
St. Eustatius is a destination that caters almost exclusively to the diving market with one of the most bio diverse marine environments in the world. It is Caribbean diving at its best. Facilities for the divers include wall dives, reef dives, lava flows, old ship wrecks, and the 350ft long C/L Charles L. Brown artificial reef. Not to mention two decompression chambers, Marine Park, Professional dive operators, nice hotels, and good restaurants… information provided by Glenn of Golden Rock Dive Center.
from the St Kitts Tourism Authority St.Kitts offers exceptional dive sites for the novice and the die-hard diver as well. These include wrecks, reefs, walls and caves. Excursions can be arranged, through your hotel, with any of the dive operators on the island. All of the necessary gear can be purchased and/ or rented from the dive shops. Note, however, that there is no decompression chamber available.

Monkey Shoals:

Situated just off the western tip of St. Kitts’s peninsula, is home to lobsters, rays, lizard fish, and nurse sharks. Average depth is 50 feet.

Coconut Tree Reef:

This is one of the largest reefs in the area, beginning at a depth of 40 feet and plunging to nearly 200 feet. With its expanse, clear water, tremendous depth and abundant marine life, it is a good site for new and experienced divers alike.

Nags Head:

Located at the southern most tip of St. Kitts, where the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic meet. The current there is usually strong, making this a destination for experienced divers. The reef plunges into roughly 80 feet and is populated by rays, turtles, lobsters, and large reef fish.

Sandy Point:

This site has been designated a National Marine Park and offers truly world-class diving. Two of the most popular mooring sites (no anchors drooped) are Paradise Reef, a beautiful site of large coral heads with swim through canyons sloping to about 90 feet.

The Wreck of River Taw:

Taw is a 144 foot-long island freighter sunk intact in 50 feet of water. It was broken in half and the stern turned 180 degrees, providing easy swim-throughs and views directly into the hull. Skin Diver Magazine has called this, one of the twenty best wrecks in the Caribbean, but we think its one of the ten best.

Fair Helen Dive Centre – Coconut Bay
The resort will arrange for scuba diving if there are enough people interested. The dive centre is in Margot bay on the west side of the island and about 1 ¼ hrs away by cab. The cab costs $80 USD so they want at least 4 people to share the ride, it is also possible to call the dive centre (“Fair Helen Diving” ) to see if they are aware of any other divers or snorkelers in the area to share the cab with. Fair Helen Dive Centre is a very professional organization and take safety seriously. They have two large boats for diving and snorkeling and the diving is great, lots of corals and huge variety of reef fish. Cost is about $85 for two dives and includes lunch if you book through them; the resort charges $125 including the cab fare.

Because of the long cab rides diving fills up most of the day with a 8AM pickup and normally a 4PM return.

Scuba St. Lucia – Anse Chastenet
The dive facility was fine, much like many island dive shops I have visited. I listened in on some of the certification classes which seemed fairly well presented. The staff was great. They were very friendly. They filled my pony bottle without question. The first dive is always a check-out shore dive. to their credit, the staff requires all divers to demonstrate a mask clear and a regulator recovery. I ended up diving with the same few people every dive. They were good divers so I never got to see the true test of a dive facility, handling unskilled divers. The dive sites were decent, not great but still interesting. We saw a fair number of smallish eels and a few turtles but not much else. The coral was is decent condition. Note that like hiking the jungles, it is against the law to dive in St. Lucia without a local divemaster. The claim is that the currents are too strong so it is unsafe. Sorry. there was not a single dive with a current coming even close to many other popular places I have been. This makes it a bit of a challenge because it eliminates the open shore diving which I love so in Bonaire. Also, I dive alone a fair amount (yeah, I know). That was not possible in St. Lucia. Still, the divemasters allowed me to roam fairly freely once under water. Again, I want to commend the dive staff for being so friendly.
Scuba St. Lucia – Anse Chastenet
I dived with Scuba St. Lucia, affiliated with the resort Anse Chastenet. It was about two weeks ago. I was on a cruise. I was picked up at our ship and went by boat to the resort and the dive operation. The boat ride to and from the resort was delightful. The boat crew was courteous, knowledgeable, unpretentious and friendly. Scuba St. Lucia is a high-volume operation, and I was looking for a "cattle-boat" mentality. On the contrary, I was very impressed with the personal attention, the safety and the attitude. There is a real effort to provide fun in a safe situation. The first dive was a shore dive, and, that, too, was a red flag to me. But, it was a wonderful dive, on a very healthy reef, with numerous and varied fish and coral. My previous cruise was to Hawaii, and, with the exception of Cozumel, this was as good as any tropical dive I remember The second dive was a boat! dive, even better than the first dive. I am a North Atlantic diver, and I was never into photography. This time I had an underwater camera, and I took many pictures. Even with the help of my diving friends and excellent reference books and the Internet, there were many fish and creatures I could not identify. I emailed everyone I knew, but the one place that gave me simple, accurate, instant identifications was Scuba St. Lucia. It is a wonderful dive operation, and I recommend it without reservation. I give it five stars. If you have a maximum of four stars, I give it five stars anyway.

I have been diving thirty years, I held instructor’s certification for seventeen years, and I have over 1,200 dives.

Octopus Diving – St. Martin
Sean and Elizabeth
July 2008
My Wife and i recently spent a week on the French side of St.Martin and dived with a centre called Octopus Diving. We had such a great time that i think it is only fair we write a review for them. The diving was great, we have dived in the Red Sea but we found diving on the Local reefs extremely pleasing, the Dive guides were amazing, they pointed out some really cool turtles, stingrays, Eagle rays and on the way back from Tintamarre we even saw dolphins. When we booked we were told that we would recieve VIP service, that started from the minute we got to the shop. Chris and Sally, the owners, take real pride in offering the best service possible to thier customers. They provided drinks and fruit on the boat, assembled our equipment, made sure we buddy checked and even helped us out of the water so we climbed back on to the boat wearing just a wetsuit. safety was excellent and they still managed to make it a really fun experience, especially as they only take 6 people on thier really cool fast boat. We cannot thank them enough and will make sure that we tell our friends and Family back in New York what a wonderful experience we had at Octopus Diving. The website looks amazing too, this is what made us book the trip in the first place, take a look for yourself www.octopusdiving.com and you will see why.

We really hope this makes it on to your board as we strongly believe in recognizing great service.

Dive Adventures – Sint Maarten
Kel and Raf from Canada
February 2005
My girlfriend and I spent a week in St. Maarten (Sint Maarten in Dutch) with the intention of scuba diving. Before leaving, we checked out the websites of dive shops nearby. We decided to go with Dive Adventures because of it’s proximity to our hotel – we don’t like renting cars to get around even though St Maarten is well stocked with quality, affordable car rentals.

The staff were very helpful and knew the area well. Except Mike, the boat captain, was from New York and was newly hired. We did six dives and had brought our own equipment. Even though rental was only 5$ for a complete set of equipment, we had brought our own. I was surprised by the excellent quality of the rental equipment – even the wetsuits weren’t all torn up! One staff member was not very professional when he planned a dive to start with a strong current and swell leaving us with an extraneous and air depleting return. He should have spent one third of the tank going and two-thirds coming back. Several divers returned with a long surface dive, completely exhausted. The following dives were better. Visibility was not superb (as compared to the Pacific or Cuba) but quite acceptable (15-20m). The variety of fish was above average with several Rays, goatfish, langoustines, squirrel and Parrot fish to name a few. I would recommend Dive Adventures because it was not crowded (max 8 divers on a boat that holds 18), the price was fair (30-40USD), the staff fun and the shop and boat were well maintained.

Scuba Review Index

Karibik Divers

Karibik Divers
Patrick from Canada
February 2006
My first experience scuba diving, was staying at Decameron Marazul and met a guy who was there for his third trip and suggested Karibik Divers with Werner Koster located in town. It was about 10 minute taxi ride from Marazul resort, which was paid for by the dive shop. they had a place to hang your suit and store equipment and fresh water. I paid about $75 for 2 dives in a day plus small lunch and the taxi rides. I went and took a mini course one afternoon and dove at a spot called Le Pyramide on the east side of the island, followed by two more days with 2 days a day. Went to four spots on the west side of the island Reggae nest, Bajo Bonito, Velerito and El Padi. I knew I was hooked right away. Werner was a very good instructor and made me feel comfortable at all times, and pointed out lots ! of things to see. We dove as deep as 25 meters. The visibility was incredible, I felt like I could see forever. We saw many types of fish and wildlife most of which I don’t know, saw several small to medium size barracuda, a scorpion fish, a ray, and one man saw a small gray reef shark, an eel and on the way back from the dive some flying fish.

All in all a great time. I would highly recommend Werner and San Andres Island for diving and a vacation.

In Tobago drift diving is popular and divers of all skill levels will experience some great dives. The most popular are Crown Point, Speyside and St. Giles.
Lonely Planet Diving & Snorkeling Turks & Caicos
The Turk Islands: The best dive location on the Turk islands is wall diving on Grand Turk. 250 yards from shore the wall has excellent visibility with all sorts of marine life from manta rays to hawksbill turtles.
The Caicos Islands: Some of the best diving sites are around Provo and the West Caicos islands. There is some wreck diving here as well as marine life such as giant spider crabs, nurse sharks and giant elephant ear sponges.

Scuba Review Index

Flamingo Divers

Flamingo Divers
Kyle and Yvone – Annapolis, MD
June 2005
Have you ever been on dive boats with what seems like a hundred people? You are one of the crowd, just another dollar? Flamingo Divers might not have the newest, shiniest boats, but they offer so much more. Lynn, Wayne and Carol have enough knowledge of diving and the surrounding waters, they could make their own documentary. In fact, their pictures and writing have been published. That alone should speak volumes about their credibility. They offer a personalized service with safety at the top of the list. Their genuine care for the underwater environment is evident. The type of divers who maximize your experience while making certain you are truly cared for. When choosing a site, they consider all factors…..visibility, current, winds, skill level and most of all crowds or lack thereof rather. We were never pressured. We were able to go at our own pace and our numerous questions were always answered with patience. Plus, they did everything but breathe for us! Very accommodating. And the reef life was spectacular, the walls beautiful. We saw everything from flying gunnards to several reef sharks! Eagle rays, turtles, jacks, spades, grouper ….all in abundance. So many dives you “might-maybe-sort of” catch a glimpse of a larger animal. Here, they are common. All this in only 6 dives. Were we just lucky? Who knows? Four dives off West Caicos and two off French Cay and ALL were outstanding. And the fish seem less shy.

Maybe just the imagination, but after floating perfectly still for several seconds, even the most timid of creatures, a turtle, decided to investigate” up close and personal Truly humbling. You’ll realize soon enough that you’ve stumbled upon a bit of heaven. Enjoy!

Diving & Snorkeling U.S. Virgin Islands – Lonely Planet
St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas offer some of the best dive spots in the Caribbean. Cane Bay Reef, Davis Bay and Salt River Bay are popular diving spots on St. Croix, known for the 13,000-foot deep sub-sea canyon and steep diving walls. The waters of the Pillsbury Sound between St. Thomas and St. John offer several popular shipwrecks, encrusted with brightly colored sponges and coral. On the northwest point of St. John, large boulder and rock formations such as Carvel Rock and Congo Cay offer interesting dive opportunities through unusual coves at varying depths.

Scuba Review Index

Blue Island Divers – St. Thomas

Scubawest – Frederiksted, St. Croix

Scubawest – Frederiksted, St. Croix
My wife Sally and I spent a week diving with Scubawest, out of Frederiksted, St. Croix. They ran a first class dive operation, providing invaluable knowledge of the reefs, wrecks, walls, and fabulous Frederiksted Pier. They were very relaxed and flexible, allowing us to decide what type of sites we wanted to dive each day. We never went to the "scheduled" site, but were given several choices to choose from each day. We were never crowded on a boat full of divers, and were very impressed by the fact that of the divers that joined us, most were local divers who said they wouldn’t dive with anyone else on the island. The diving was fantastic! We spent over an hour every day, just diving the old pier, where we saw turtles, seahorses, spotted drums, French grunts, green moray and spotted eels, octopus, and many other species of fish. We also dove the wrecks, walls, and reefs, all within a single day of diving. On one of our last dives, a juvenile humpback whale surfaced within a boat length of our boat. It was an unforgettable experience.

Scubawest also arranged to have my defective regulator repaired, and loaned me a replacement regulator, all at no cost. I would highly recommend Scubawest for a relaxed, knowledgeable, flexible, and fun dive vacation on the island of St. Croix.

Blue Island Divers – St. Thomas
I obtained my PADI Open Water Certification with Blue Island Divers, and they couldn’t have been better instructors! There were only 3 of us in the group, we received all the personal attention that we needed to overcome any difficulties we each had. I have since dived with several other outfits on other Caribbean islands & on STT, & I’ve come back to dive with Blue Island again. Despite the fact that STT doesn’t necessarily have the most spectacular reefs, I always have the best experiences with BID – their divemasters know all the local reefs & wrecks inside out (just have a look at their website!), and with typically small groups we always get maximum bottom time on a dive. They also offer some excellent value packages with small hotels & B&B’s on STT.
Most of the local diving takes place in Mochima Park. From beginner to experienced, all skill levels will enjoy diving in this 32 island paradise called Mochimo Park. Wrecks and cave diving are just a couple of the attractive diving opportunities.

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