Travel with Kids in the Caribbean – Debbie's Caribbean resort reviews – Travel with Kids

The main feeling we returned with was "rip-off"
Hotel Atlantis Royal Towers
User Rating:  
KarenCNewJersey >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Apr, 2008 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My husband, 14-year old son and I recently returned from a one-week trip to the Atlantis. We were very excited about this trip, having extensively gone through their website. Unfortunately, the main feeling we returned with was "rip-off".
The ground are indeed spectacular, and I have never seen anything to compare with them. The walk-through aquariums are fascinating, as are the various lagoons with sharks, mantas and other large sea creatures. The pools are beautiful, and there are so many from which to choose. Each chaise lounge is equipped with a movable awning, so you can choose whether to sunbathe or stay in the shade. However, the beach is mediocre – it’s relatively small, and there is neither shade nor any pretty palapas, etc., as you find in Punta Cana. The water was rough (the red flags were up most of the days we were there).
Arrival
My husband, 14-year old son and I recently returned from a one-week trip to the Atlantis. We were very excited about this trip, having extensively gone through their website. Unfortunately, the main feeling we returned with was "rip-off". The ground are indeed spectacular, and I have never seen anything to compare with them. The walk-through aquariums are fascinating, as are the various lagoons with sharks, mantas and other large sea creatures. The pools are beautiful, and there are so many from which to choose. Each chaise lounge is equipped with a movable awning, so you can choose whether to sunbathe or stay in the shade. However, the beach is mediocre – it’s relatively small, and there is neither shade nor any pretty palapas, etc., as you find in Punta Cana. The water was rough (the red flags were up most of the days we were there). The resort has several different buildings, which are all connected. We stayed in the Coral Towers, which is a step down from the Royal Towers, but an upgrade from the Beach Tower, which is pretty far from everything. There’s also the Cove, which is the highest level, very, very expensive.

Check in was pretty efficient, although our room wasn’t available when we got there around 3 PM. So, we went to Murray’s Deli for some lunch. Our first glimpse of the high prices was here, where a modest lunch for the three of us ran about $75.

Casino
My husband gambled a lot, but he didn’t get comped – you have to bet $50/hand on average to get comped. The casino was very clean, and though they allowed smoking, it didn’t get smoky. One odd thing was that the high-bet tables ($500/hand) were out in the open (not that we were playing them!).
Food
The food was, in general, astronomically priced, and I heard many, many people complaining/ commenting on it. I understand food prices are up and they have to import everything, but this was ridiculous. For example, the breakfast buffets cost $86 for the three of us. We often went to some little shops across the street for breakfast, and a few dinners too. (Anthony’s and Gio something both had good food at more reasonable prices). We did have one fantastic meal at Carmines; we go to one of the New York City Carmines, and the one at the Atlantis was very similar to the original. A major disappointment was the Seafire Steakhouse. We have been in Ruths Chris, Mortons and Ben Benson’s steakhouses, so we have a basis of comparison. The Seafire not only cost about $70 more, but the steak quality was comparable to Outback. The mashed potatoes tasted like they were made from instant powdered potatoes. (The ambience at least was beautiful).
Overall
Overall, I would never go back to the Atlantis. You just don’t get your money’s worth. The best way to see it is to get a day pass from a cruise ship. I would much rather go back to the Sol Melina in Punta Cana, which has spacious rooms, good food, gorgeous beach and is all inclusive – a far better value for the money.
Room
OK. So, we get to our room. Our room was $670/night (no kidding; it may have been higher than usual because it was Easter week). The room was not large, and it had two double beds (not queen size), 2 chairs, a small round table, an armoire/TV/room minibar frig and a nightstand. I have been in Holiday Inns that provided larger, more comfortable rooms. There was a small balcony with 2 chairs, and the view was beautiful in one direction. The closet did have a lot of nice wooden hangars. The bathroom was pretty standard; it had a blow dryer, but did not have a magnifying mirror. Overall, the room was disappointing.
Water Park
The water park was good. They do have the Current, which is a mile-long lazy river, except it’s not lazy. Picture a lazy river combined with a Roaring Rapids ride and a wave pool, and that’s what you get – it was the best part of the whole hotel, and just so much fun! Although the place was mobbed, we never had a problem getting a tube, and the staff was wonderful and helpful. The slides are great if you don’t mind waiting; it took about an hour to get on one of the slides at Power Tower. It really was a great slide, but not worth the wait.
And after 2 days, I had had enough
Hotel Atlantis Royal Towers
User Rating:  
 >  1 contribution(s) 
Aug, 2005 | Leisure | With Group
Well, what can i say – if money is no object and you like thinking that you are one of the rich and famous, this resort is for you – but if like me, you want your moneys worth stay away!!!!! We travelled with our married son and grandchild, so we stayed at the Harborside (time share) part of the resort – which i highly recommend if you are with children – room for them to run around and there is transportation to the main resort. The place is beautiful and there is lots to see – however…. how many pools can you swim in at one time???? My advice – stay at the nearby comfort inn – they give you breakfast and you have priviledges at the atlantis, or stay at an even more reasonable resort and get a day pass for the atlantis. For the price of this vacation, we could have taken 2 at punta cana, or cancun I agree that the ocean water in the bahamas is the most beautiful – better than bermuda, dominican republic and hawaii BUT the beach itself is not

No matter which pool/beach you went to, unless you were up at 6am and/or "schmoozed" the pool boys, you did not get a chair and of all the chairs, only about 1/4 of them have shaded tops. As for the people being friendly and helpful, PLEASE there is a 15% gratuity tacked on to everything so there is no reason for them to be nice, friendly etc. Not that they were rude – just that no one went out of their way to be helpful. We went for a week, and after 2 days, i had had enough. I know people will say that i could have gone off premises but with an infant and a pregnant daughter in law it wasnt that easy. Unless you are prepared for a lot of walking and shelling out of money – find another place to visit. I for one will never go back here UNLESS, i can get a spectacular deal – they did have one but i found it too late – $99/night in the beach tower – which i personally think is the best place to stay – the pool is right there along with the beach and the buffet restaurant. Hope this helps – feel free to contact me at trtl29@yahoo.com

My father and husband got food poisoning
Hotel Atlantis Royal Towers
User Rating:  
JaimeCanada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2004 | Leisure | With Group
I have been to Atlantis twice before and loved it! Yes, our rooms were never ready and you could never check out late, but we rolled with the punches. Until this time. Time #3. My father and husband got food poisoning from Murry’s deli on our last night. We went to the resort Doctor, who diagnosed them with food poisoning and gave them prescriptions. We missed our flight and have a Dr note for insurance purposes. While they were at the DR and I was watching my 9 month old son, i received a phone call telling us they are over-booked and we need to check out. They had found us the last 2 rooms in Nassau at a 2 star hostel down the road. They wouldn’t even let us stay in our rooms. We faught. We got our rooms back (after over-hearing they were going to give 4 over-booked villa’s to the man beside me who was a high roller in the casino). Nobody called to check if we were well or even comfortable. We had to pay for our rooms FULL PRICE and any other expenses we had. We never recieved a cot we requested on day 1. BOTH our TV’s were broken and had to be replaced, our shower didn’t work and we were charged for stuff out of the mini bar and we didn’t use it. The book said internet was $.05 a minute, we got a 3 minute charge of $6.00. We were told they upped our prices to $.50. They said they would refund us and never did! My baby threw up all over the crib one night, so I asked for an extra sheet…I saw it 2 days later. When we filed our security report for the food posoning, we asked for a copy…we had to go down 2 days later and fight for it. The service SUCKS!! I would much rather go elsewhere. The pools were FREEZING and half of the slot machines didn’t work. Sounds fun huh? We are still in the process of fighting for our rooms.
We were in for quite a shock when we went poolside
Hotel Club Med Columbus Isle
User Rating:  
KennethUSA >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Feb, 2003 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
RE: Club Med San Salvador Island “NOT AS ADVERTISED” What a miserable vacation it turned out to be.

The beach is lovely, and the facilities are very good, the food barely passed for mediocre, and the atmosphere was just awful! This was our third Club Med, the last two in Mexico, and we will never go to another Club Med again.

This was a huge disappointment.
RE: Club Med San Salvador Island “NOT AS ADVERTISED” What a miserable vacation it turned out to be. The beach is lovely, and the facilities are very good, the food barely passed for mediocre, and the atmosphere was just awful! This was our third Club Med, the last two in Mexico, and we will never go to another Club Med again. We have two kids, 8 & 9 yrs old, and they did not get much use out of the Kids Clubs in the Mexico resorts, so it was no necessary we go to a Village with a Kid’s Club. The marketing material, along with representations made by their agents said that kids are welcome and Columbus Isle would be just great for families. To avoid the Christmas travel crowds, we pulled the kids from school for a week in February (both kids are great students). We were in for quite a shock when we went poolside; a good half of the women were topless. (While this may appeal to many people, it is not the kind of thing for kids from where we come from.) My wife was totally humiliated. I did complain while I was there, asked about getting off the island (not easy), and was shrugged off. Upon our return home I learned that nude bathing is against Club Med policy, (even the GO’s were going topless), as well as it is against the laws of the Bahamas. I really don’t care what they do at the Village; just don’t promote it for kids. They had plenty of opportunity to warn us (or the travel agent). Their response concerning my complaint ha been very unsatisfactory. The food. While the food in the Mexican Villages was excellent, the food at Columbus Isle varied fro standard buffet mush to inedible. A person in the buffet line in front of me had to kill a bug crawling out of a dish. Then the server tried to put the platter back! Some of the fish dishes were above average, and the bread was decent, but we did not put on any extra weight because the meals were so great. If you like fresh air, forget it! The theater (where it is clearly posted “No Smoking” was a fog. In fact we had to walk out of shows because our eyes and throats were burning because of the thick cigarette smoke. But the smoking is everywhere. It may be a cultural thing with the large French contingent, but at meals, the pool, even in the ocean plumes of smoke always seemed to be in one’s face. The bar bracelets are a good idea, but during popular times you had a good wait to get you drinks. They said they were short a bartender. Oh well.

This was a huge disappointment. In the future we will not be going to Club Med.

My way will be to never go to a Riu hotel again
Hotel RIU Paradise Island
User Rating:  
Lavonne06 >  1 contribution(s) 
Jan, 2006 | Leisure | With Group
We arrived Jan. 10,2006 for a 5 night all inclusive stay at the Riu Hotel . I was traveling with my daughter, and son-in-law and 2 grand children Their ages 1 1/2 and 3 1/2. They were anxious to go swimming in the pool. There is only one pool and it is not heated. For the 5 days at this hotel we saw only 4 people use the pool. It was ice cold. We had to go next door to Atlantis and pay a $200.00 day room rate to use their heated pools. The buffet food is good for an all inclusive and their specialty nights offer a variety of choices. However it is a bit repetitive. The rooms were clean and housekeeping does a fine job of daily room maintenance. There is no organized activity program for adults or children. This does nothing to create an atmosphere of friendliness and fun IT APPEARS TO ME THAT WITH ATLANTIS NEXT DOOR , THEY DON’T CARE WHETHER YOU ARE SATISFIED OR NOT.

I wrote to the main office of Riu and complained about the pool situation. They claim they contacted the manager and he stated that the heaters were on They thanked me for the correspondence and sent me on my way. My way will be to never go to a Riu hotel again.

Almond Beach Village: Shocking!!
Hotel Almond Beach Village
User Rating:  
DanUK >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Dec, 2004 | Leisure | Family
Just returned from a 2-week Xmas & New year break (December 2004) at ABV, which cost £12,500 for Mum & Dad and young twin girls. What a dreadful resort this is, I would strongly warn anyone away from this place.
After Xmas
In week two, after Xmas, the resort seemed to fill up with familes dressed head to toe in Burberry checked clothes, shiny football shirts, and wearing rather a lot of gold jewellery and tattooes. They, and their teenage children certainly did seem to be having a whale of a time, I must say, particularly later in the evening after a day on the free rum punches.
Arrival
We arrived on 18th December. Within 48 hours, our 2 yr 9mnth twin girls were running 40 degree temperatures, with fever, diahorreah, sickness (and so were we, to some extent). We called for the "24 hour, on call Doctor", only to find that this was another marketing fairytale. There is NO DOCTOR AVAILABLE on this resort. Think about that when you consider bringing your kids here. We had to call a Doctor in Fitts Village (a 40 minute cab drive away), and make our own arrangements. The doctor refused to visit the resort, so we spent the best part of a day (and about $400 BD) visiting the doctor and getting the children onto medication.
Bedbugs
Then I came up with an awful rash, covered in little red bites. We searched the bed and found it crawling with bedbugs. This was reported to the director of operations, who took two days to replace the bed. 10 days later I am still covered in the bites. The room was filthy, even he admitted that it fell far short of "acceptable standards". This resort is listed as 4-star, our room would not even rate 2 stars as a backpackers doss-house.
Conclusion
If you are a fan of Burberry and gold chains, and have a lot of teenage children, and are very interested in how much free booze the price includes, this is probably the place for you. If you are looking for a slighly more sophisticated family resort in Barbados, try the Virgin Escape Hotel down the road. We certainly won’t be coming back here. STEER CLEAR.

Danmurphyemail@aol.com

Diahorrea
They continued to suffer from diahorrea for the entire 2 weeks, and these children are not sickly petals. Both my wife and I had the same. about 80% of the people we spoke to by the pool, in the restaurants, etc were suffering, both children and adults alike. The management refused to discuss the matter saying the problem did not exist. We then discovered that there had been a case of salmonella, where a 12 year old boy from ABV had been in hospital for 4 days, this was the same week we arrived. The father of that child had to arrange for an external health inspector to come and test water, and arrange for his son to be diagnosed and taken to hospital. The resort management refused to admit the problem, and denied that anything was wrong. You want to bring your kids here? Think very carefully.
Disaster of a holiday
All in all, a complete disaster of a holiday. Sickness and filth, and immense disappointment at the huge difference between what these people promise on their website (it is still all there today if you look), and what you actually get when you arrive. We spent the first week of our holiday walking, and pushing two buggies through a muddy building site where they were building a new pool on the only thoroughfare between our room and the main reception areas. Unbelievable.
Staff
With the exception of some staff (special mention must go to the ladies in Enid’s restaurant), we found most of the staff surly and brimming with "attitude". Simple questions like "what time does the restaurant open" or "where should we sit", got either a blank wall, or a slowly raised stare which made it quite clear what a nuisance you were for bothering them. I’m sorry to say it, but the attitude and sloppiness of the staff made you very uncomfortable to ask anyone anything. 95% per cent of all questions are answered with a raised finger and a curt "just a minute". Broken lights in stairwells, problems with the aged TV, etc all took at least a day to get fixed. However, if you bought a bottle of wine in the restaurant at 10pm, it would be on your room account by 5 minutes past, so they are able to get some things right.
To quote
First off, pop along and read what the ABV says on their own website (http://www.almondresorts.com/vil_accommodation.asp) about the standard of their accommodation (and the beautiful photos of rooms!!)

To quote: "…Almond Resorts will have the final phase of its US$10 Million refurbishment and renovation project by the end of the 2004 summer season. Upgrades… include all rooms, suites, furniture, fixtures and recreation areas. All rooms and suites are being lavishly re-appointed and will feature lush Caribbean and Balinese style fabrics, new mahogany furniture and armoires as well as new refrigerators, television centers and air conditioning units. Bathrooms in every room will be elegantly upgraded with new mirrors, fixtures and sleek granite vanities. Every suite is being outfitted with luxurious new beds and fully stocked mini-bars…."

Absolute, total rubbish. The rooms have not been touched for 6-8 years (according to the Resort Director himself), and are in the last stages of dilapidation as many others have observed in these reviews. When I asked the resort Director why the website presents such a false impression, he told me that it is simply a matter of interpretation, "we had every intention of completing all the refurbishments during 2004". Shocking.

He was unable to let me see even ONE room (out of 300) which had seen the sort of refurbishment lavishly decribed on the website. How do these people get away with this?

We hired a full time driver
Three days from the end of our holiday we became so fed up that we hired a full time driver and had him take us and the kids out to various places, and restaurants for lunch, dinner, etc. Within 36 hours we had all pretty mucyh recovered our digestive operations, and this was purely down to the improved quality of the food. If you are a fan of pizza, burgers, and chips, or you have never eaten a decent meal in a restaurant, you would probably love the food at the ABV. Frankly, it is all mass catering, double cooked, tough as old boots school dinners and buffets with pretensions around dress code that are not justified by the standard of food on offer.
We were quite disappointed
Hotel Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
MirelaMontreal >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jun, 2006 | Leisure | Family
Our family (my husband, two daughters age 5 and 8 and myself) just spent a week at Blau Colonial, June 3-10 2006. We were quite disappointed. I understand it’s not peak season for the resort, but we have already been to Cuba, to a 4 star resort, this time of year (Iberostar – Cayo Guillermo, last year) and had a wonderful time, can’t even compare it to Blau, as if it were not at all the same category.
Arrival
Upon our arrival, at about 22:30, we were pretty much left alone trying in the dark to find out where the reception area was, nobody was there to greet us (at Iberostar they’d greet us with a welcome cocktail, non alcoholic, very refreshing for a tired traveler). Reception area was dark; gentleman there was not very helpful. We had requested a room on a superior level when we booked, but they gave us one on street level (and yes, it’s a street, we had cars and buses pass in front of our door at all times of day and night, couldn’t let the kids leave the room on their own, there was traffic, not to mention the noise) and refused to give us different room at that time. As well, we were not given beach towel voucher, or the key to the safe, I quote “Come back tomorrow, if I did that for everyone tonight, I’d have to be here till 1!”
Blau Colonial
First of all, let me get al the positive things out of the way. The beach is beautiful, clean, and wide, water clear and surprisingly deep close to the shore. On the other hand, the beach towels, chaises and cabanas are literally falling apart. All that’s left of the cabanas (the beach and the poolside as well) is the construction. There are no palm branches on top, so they’re pretty useless when it comes to shade (or protecting you in case of rain).
Conclusion
I’m sure young people enjoy that kind of atmosphere, most of them were drinking all day, walking around with half gallon mini kegs, and seemed quite happy. Overall, we would never return to Blau nor would we ever recommend it to anyone. For the same price you can get so much better service elsewhere.
Entertainment
The entertainment, especially during the day, was almost non-existent. Those few animators that were there completely lacked enthusiasm, you could see them hang out near pool bar, play table tennis, take a dip in the pool, watch TV, sometimes even drink or smoke on poolside chaises, as if they were on vacation. They didn’t even have uniforms, they wore swim trunks.
When I read one day there was going to be a beach party11:00-2:00, I was glad. At Iberostar, they would do that, bring music, organize games and dancing, set out a mini buffet and bar, used to be fun. Not at Blau, their beach party was at 11 at night. Obviously, the families were not as important guests as young partying bunch.
Food & drinks
The food was OK, not as many choices as we have seen elsewhere, but what was there was decent. A la carte restaurants were nice too. Piano bar was not open.
The drinks were really small, and they’d fill that already small cup halfway with ice. I had asked for a margarita, a daiquiri, a mai tai, and was told every time “We don’t make those” WTF?!
Kids Club
The kids’ club literally had no activities; it may have as well not been there. Zero, zip, nada.
The room
The room and the bathroom were very nice (we had booked a standard room), very spacious, clean, comfortable and in working order. However, the promised bathrobes, slippers, ironing table were not there (no big deal, who wants to iron on vacation anyway) and all “the fully stocked mini bar” really is three cans in your mini fridge, and if you wanted them replaced you had to call a certain phone number between 10:00 and 13:00 (when you normally wouldn’t be in the room).
We constantly had to ask questions
Generally, the information we’d find useful was really hard to get and was never volunteered. We constantly had to ask questions, and way too often the answer was “I don’t know”, “Go ask there” or “It’s written over there”. And then: – The operating hours for a lot of services mean nothing – The doors must be very thin, we’d often be awaken by guests returning to their rooms under influence – The advertised “15 min from the airport” is really a lot more when your bus goes to two different hotels first – We wanted to take a kayak and were asked for two pesos “deposit”

– Service got a lot worse when soccer championship started, you could stay at the bar for a long time before somebody would come to serve you, they’d be watching TV.

A very expensive waste of money
Hotel Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
JulieScotland >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Jul, 2006 | Leisure | Family
We booked this trip in January from the Thomas Cook website after studying all the available hotels in Cayo Coco. We picked this one as it seemed to tick all our boxes – 4*, Kids Club etc etc. By no means was it the cheapest so we expected a high standard.
Bars & Restaurants
The Piano Bar is nice and cool and was a haven from the humidity but even that became boring as the grand piano has been kitted out with an electrical device to play the same tune over and over and over….. Yoel the barman was great though! The Italian Restaurant was unlike any Italian I’ve ever had before. The traditional pasta dishes were worse than the budget frozen ready meals in a low end supermarket. The remaining dishes were all served with frozen veg and Smash (instant mash potato)!!! The head waitress was the grumpiest and most rude person we encountered the entire holiday.

The pool bar served lunches and there was salads and desserts left out for you to help yourself. You’d be insane to do so as there is flock of birds who hang about this area and at every opportunity swoop in to stand in the food as they pinch it. Nothing is done to prevent this and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the source of the illness everyone had whilst we were there.

Conclusion
Overall the holiday was a very expensive waste of money. Go to Europe and save yourself the 8.5 hour plane journey and jet lag!!
Entertainment
The entertainment is beyond a joke. You get the same old salsa trash every night by the same 6 teenage dancers. They come into the restaurants to interrupt your dinner to remind each and every one of you that the show begins at 9.30pm in the Disco – whatever you do don’t go. I’ve seen better shows at my son’s primary school.
Food
The food is atrocious! It was very difficult to create a recognisable meal with the choices at the buffet – sprouts & French fries for breakfast and sometimes the previous night’s leftover beef & carrots. Our 10 year old barely ate all fortnight as there was hardly anything there that would appeal to a child – he lived on burgers and spaghetti.
The staff in the buffet restaurant expect to be tipped so unless you tip them for your first drink, do not expect a refill.
Illness
Without exception, everyone from Britain we spoke to on both the Manchester & Gatwick flights had lost several days of their holiday to illness. This ranged from nausea, fever, the squits!! And vomiting and left you bed-ridden. When the rep was approached to ask why so many of us were ill – his response was "What do you expect, your in Cuba!" Nice one Fran Garcia!
Kids Club
There was no Kids Club there of the kind you would expect in European resorts. The Mini Club was run by one teenager and aimed at toddlers. Our 10 year old was bored out of his mind once the novelty of the pool had worn off. DON’T GO HERE WITH KIDS IT JUST ISN’T SUITABLE. The trips organised through your rep are run by the Cuban travel agent Cubacan. The "Colourful Cuba" trip was perhaps one of the worst experiences of our holiday. The first part was fine but then you get taken to Moron (the nearest town) for a sightseeing tour in a horse drawn carriage. Sounds lovely but is the beginning of your exploitation! At every opportunity, you are hounded by beggars. They are relentless and it is very unpleasant. The Cuban travel reps do nothing to warn you of this and nothing to protect you from it. Don’t waste your money it is so depressing as the deprivation is beyond expectations.
Trip
Another trip we paid for was the speedboats in Cayo Guillermo. The bus did not turn up for us so we were rebooked for another day – the trip was then cancelled but we were not told by any rep and only after standing outside in the blistering midday sun for over an hour did someone come to tell us. The tour operators had known about it since the morning but did not bother to let us know.
Food quality went down since 2006
Hotel Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Nabil09 >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009 | Leisure | Family
My 4-year old son and I were at Blau Colonial from Feb 10 to 17, 2009. The reasons I chose this resort over others in the Caribbean are mostly to accommodate my son’s needs, plus I prefer to be in Cuba than say Dominican Republic or Mexico (safety, culture, music, friendly people, no peddlers’ nuisance).
I speak fluent Spanish and so I had the opportunity to talk to staff and have conversations beyond the ‘hola’ and ‘buenos dias’.
Adult Show
poor and not interesting. I have been to at least few other resorts where shows and night programs are much more interesting and engaging.
Conclusion
In conclusion, would I go there again, the answer is NO. Would I recommend this resort to others, even qualified recommendation, the answer is NO.
Is this place suitable for some tourists? Perhaps, if they mainly care about the beach and the proximity to the airport and the relatively short flight time from major Canadian cities, and the general architecture of the resort, and not food, activities within the resort, bed comfort, kids’ program, and showers.
Food and Food Queues
the overall food quality went down since 2006, and this was confirmed by some of the Buffet staff. There were line ups taking more than 10 minutes to get some food items such as pasta, seafood, and waiting for orange juice and milk in the morning, while my son is sitting alone and waiting for me. At one time he panicked and started crying and was walking around looking for me. The grill by the beach had a line up with 30 to 40 minute waiting. I got tired of all that waiting. Other than the morning watered-down orange juice there was no juice of any kind anywhere or any other time. I was surprised to find Cubans think it is OK to give pop to a 4-year old. There was one type of white wine and one red, both are not better than “cooking wine”.
Hot Water
no hot water for 2 days. The staff did not know when the repair can be made to the hot water broken equipment. The courtesy rooms offered at the main building, where the lobby is, were all taken when I actually went to give my son a shower. The staff did not know when one will be available.
I felt disappointed
We were there in Feb 2006 the first time, and I remembered some of the good things about the resort, such as supervised daycare, availability of babysitting, great beach, and generally good food and service.

However, this time I felt disappointed, and this is not a reaction to one detail but my conclusion when I think of the shortcomings of the place. Here are real examples of what was wrong with the resort:

Mini-Club
kids show started at 8:30 pm. This is too late for most kids coming from outside Cuba, and my son would be getting ready to sleep by then. The music was very loud to the point he was scared of the noise (heavy base). Once I cajoled him to watch and plugged his ears with rolled tissue to reduce the sound level.
Room and Bed
the room was fine. The twin beds were not comfortable at all. They caved in and I am only 160 lbs. I have slept on much better beds at almost any other place including B&Bs, motels, hotels, other resorts. I would say the beds needed to be replaced, period.
Snack
kids eat snacks at different times that those when the Buffet is open. What was available at the 24-café did not come close to a fair choice for such a resort (this is a 5 star resort after all). Sometime only ham and cheese sandwiches were available, and on one occasion I had to wait 15 minutes for it.
Supervised daycare
was moved from the big thatched room beside the pool (under renovation) to a smaller room, which did not have much in terms of toys and things to do. The sandy playground at the back of the room had very little shade, so a parent would have to ensure the child is not spending all the time in the sun, one way or another. Staff did not totally stick to the printed schedule.
All 7 of us couldn’t wait to get back home!!!
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
KellyBrantford >  1 contribution(s) 
Dec, 2008 | Leisure | Family
late as the flight was delayed in toronto, the check in was quick but again it was 10:30 pm the bellboys were very friendly not like the some of the wait staff around the resort. Rooms: very old, outdated musty, the bedsheets were old and stained hated the thought we had to have our 2 year old daughter sleep in them. the bathrooms were just as bad the toilet ran all night long so we had decided not to flush it after a certain time so we could try to have some peace during the night..didn’t work. the bath tub was old and actually had spots where the enamel was worn off and rust was showing the water just tricked out of the shower. Restaurants and Bars: the buffet was the same everyday lunch and dinner were pretty much the same expect for maybe one or two different types of pasta. the a la cartes were not to bad better then the buffet that is for sure. I have been to cuba for the past 9 years all different places and this place really lacked in the food and service departments. Beach/Pools/Grounds: the beach was a let down compared to varadeo & holquin and actually the melia in cayo coco, it was kept up and was very crowded no shade to protect children who may want to have some beach time. The pools were run down and dirty my child actually picked up some virus probably from the lack of cleaning, they actually have tiles in the children’s pools that were broken my daughter had to wear water shoes in the pool to avoid accidents. Note as my friend did cut her finger in the buffet and could not even get a bandaid from the staff or at the medical center in the hotel even though it was clear as her hand was pouring blood that she needed something..she actually had to walk walk to her room and get her own bandaid ( part of the stuff she brought down to give to the cuban people) Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: very disappointing nothing for children, except a little chance to go on the stage at 8:45 Pm at night before the entertainment show. the playground pretty sad one swing in a sandbox and a old little tikes cottage with a slide don’t think they clean the sand box as there was straws and cigarette butts in it. Other Comments:

overall as you can probably tell by my comments this was one of the worse place’s I have been in cuba and I love cuba that it why for the last 9 years in a row I have travelled there and never have I complained on line I just want people to know do not waste your money as there far better places in cuba to spend your hard earned dollars on. this was suppose to be a wonderful family vacation and by the second day all 7 of us couldn’t wait to get back home!!!

They are soo slow!!!
Hotel Melia Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Jim05 >  1 contribution(s) 
Nov, 2005 | Leisure | Family
Well I will start at the beginning, on arriving at the airport all I can say is it is a good job there was only one flight in otherwise we would have been there all day. They are soo slow!!! Then on arriving at the Melia 5 star ( well that’s a laugh) There was no champagne left although my parents did get some. When it comes to finding your room you are left on your own wandering round it was other guests that told us where to go! The rooms in fairness where very clean but very tired. My parents had a couple of complaints ie the toilet did not flush, the air con did not work,they did nothing so next day they requested a move, which they got but had to do it themselves bearing in mind they are in their 70’s. in the brochure it says all rooms have garden, pool or lagoon views, well not ours it was of the back of a restaurant which stank of fish and what I can only describe as burning flesh. The beach was ok although a lot of seaweed but in fairness I think was due to hurricane. I must point out that the staff on the beach ie Luis and Victor and some others whos names I can’t remember where definitely 5 star. (such very pleasant people) The food well there is not one meal that we actually enjoyed. It was not even worthy of 3 stars it was dreadful, nothing was ever hot infact everything was cold!!! The breakfast was ok but then there is not much they can do to toast. We had cheese and biscuits a lot (when there was any) and the bread in fairness was good. I think this hotel if it wants to keep its 5 star rating needs to do some research into what British people expect for 5 star. But I must stress that the only thing that was 5 star about this hotel is the staff. Especially Yamil and Junior in the restaurant. Holiday from hell 6th Nov- 21st
This was the worst vacation ever.
Hotel Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  
Lydia >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Stayed at the Royal Decameron for 1 week (Dec. 7-14, 09)with nine family members. This was the worst vacation ever. The workers at this resort were all rude. We tipped everyone but got terrible service. The rooms were only cleaned on the first day, the other 6 days the maid just emptied the garbage and brought clean towels. The wait staff were the worst…just ignored us. We have travelled all over the Caribbean and central America but this was the worst resort we have ever stayed at and will never return.

Rooms:
Had to pay for Fridge, Safe, and water. No iron but was given one when requested and never worked. No coffee maker. No Conditioner. Rooms were only cleaned on first day.

Restaurants and Bars:
Bland or too salty.

Served the same dishes every day.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
OK!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Panama canal tour was good.

Other Comments:
Don’t stay at the Royal Decameron, you will only be dissapointed.

Prostitutes were everywhere
Hotel Be Live Hamaca (formerly Oasis)
User Rating:  
Wanda >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
My family and I recently took a five day trip to the Dominican Republic. We stayed at the Oasis Hamaca. We were terrorized. My medications were stolen from my luggage. We did not get the bedroom type that was requested 5 months in advance; however, we were told we could get a room change immediately the following day. The next day we were told we could not get the room change until after 3 pm. We got it after 4pm. The room was a horror. Bugs were everywhere. The ceiling leaked in the luggage room. The room smelled moldy and unclean. Outside the room the roof had fallen in. There was decay, holes and dirty leaky water running in. At 7:30 am construction began. This went on Friday Saturday and Sunday. Someone used a sledgehammer and began banging for hours, non-stop. I developed a headache that never went away. I screamed, I complained and I begged the construction workers to stop. On Saturday evening we were told they wanted our permission to fumigate the room (Leaflet regarding this is missing from my luggage). Prostitutes were everywhere. Activities advertised to be held in one room got held in another. No one was notified. The drinks were alcohol free. The excursions expensive. A taxi ride to the mall was $70 a person. We were discouraged from venturing outside the compound alone. Activities were geared towards those twenty five and younger. Spanish music, only, at the disco. Danger was said to be everywhere. Security walked about with shot-guns. T-shirts were $6-20. The sealed ones were dirty. The positives? The food wasn’t bad and there was plenty of hot water for the shower.

Rooms:

Unclean

Restaurants and Bars:

Numerous

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

Clean

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

Tours are expensive. Traveling alone is discouraged.

Other Comments:

I would like for this to reach the owner.

Poor Management Attitude – Disastrous Xmas Eve dinner experience
Hotel Bahia Principe Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Mike from Ottawa >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
I booked three families and arranged for another two families to join us for a week of vacation at this resort. Unfortunately, I found the service to be poor, staff had difficulty of communicating properly in English and at times giving wrong information. Despite our initial request, at the time of reservation to be placed close to each other, we were spread around the compound, not able to have breakfast or most dinners together. Worst of all, it was the Xmas Eve dinner. Having booked our dinner table to be together and promised to have this arranged, we were spread all around the restaurant at individual tables. The dinner menu was preselected and handed to us at the restaurant, consisting of: Lobster & prawn cocktail, Langoustine soup, spiral of sea bass Mornay (half cooked), lemon sorbet, stuffed turkey roll, creamy gem squash cheesecake, coffee/tea/liqueurs. No considerations were made for kids, people with sea food allergy or dislike, vegetarians, etc. When aske! d for an alternative to some menu courses, servers promised to bring something else, which never arrived. All the kids in our group went to bed hungry that night. Our reservation was for 9 pm, the turkey was served at 11:15!! Many left the restaurant before the turkey dish arrived. We were still waiting for the French Fries for our kids, so that they would not go to bed with empty stomach, which never arrived. TOTAL disaster. We managed to talk to the night manager, Daniel, after a lot of difficulty. He initially did not want to hear us, at the end apologized and promised to talk to the General Manager and get back to us; we are still waiting, but not holding our breath.
Keep in mind this family vacation cost us 15,000.00 plus
Hotel Villa Cuba
User Rating:  
Adell and Gord >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
My husband and I booked and paid in full this Christmas gift to our children and grandchildren from Dec. 19,2009-Dec. 26, 2009 all inclusive 4 bedroom Villa at Villa Cuba. Paid in full June 30, 2009. We received a confirmation number for the villa stating when we arrived on Dec. 19, we had this. Keep in mind this family vacation cost us 15,000.00 plus. We had to board the limo at 2:30 am Sat. morning for our fight to leave Toronto at 7:15 am we also arranged for the family to and from the Person airport. 10 people total,6 adults,children and spouses, 1 18 year old, 1 14 year old, and 1 5 year old grandchildren. Tired, we arrived at the Villa Cuba resort to only find out there is NO villa for us, this is the ONLY reason we booked here for the Villa which my husband and I knew they had because we and another couple were there 4 years before in a 2 bedroom.Now 10 people each 2 pc. of luggage and carry-ons standing in the lobby with nowhere to go. I asked the staff to check here is the confirmation number, they would not, I argued that we paid for a 4 bedroom villa and it was confirmed by them months ago, they didn’t care. I was told their responsility was to give us 4 rooms when clearly on my confirmation invoice which I showed them STATED complete 4 bedroom villa. We asked for the manager, they refused to let us speak to him/her, we were approached by the Hola Sun rep. only for them to side with the hotel.Now my first and wanting to be just perfect family vacation turned into a nightmare, I was tired of talking, my family was upset, hungry, and tired this went on for 4 hours in the lobby from our arrival at 11:30am till 4:20pm. Finally they said we can show you a villa but it only has 3 bedrooms right now because another couple is in the 4th room, and we have 1 other bedroom in the villa accross the way with 1 bedroom also occupied by other people. Take it or leave it. Come Monday the couple in the 3 bedroom villa will be leaving and the other family member can move in with you. Now this is a family vacation,living with other people, your family split up etc. etc. So 1 of my children and 1 of my grandsons spent 2 nights away from us with strangers.I am apolled at the customer service and I will not ever be returning to this resort again, no compensation for inconvienence they just did not care. So I will not be stopping here as I write to you, I will be writing to the head office of Hola Sun they were fast at demanding the money up front which they got, I will be writing the Travel boards all I can find, I will be writing the leader of the country to let him know how Canadians have been treated and I will be in touch with my travel agent so she is aware and sends no one else there. If you have any other suggestions please let me know they have not heard the end of this.This caused hard feelings where tempers and long waits got the better of us among my family upon arrival, mixed emotions and my family never wanting to return to Villa Cuba again.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Booked a day trip with the Hola Sun rep. Leighe (I think is spelt)another $727.32 over an above to go to Havana for the day tour. I paid for it on Monday for a Wednesday tour all was fine till I returned to her desk on Tuesday to see about another tour, I approached her desked and the first thing she said to me was your tour is tommorrow you leave at 8:00am, I looked at her and replied that is not why I am here. She didn’t know why I was their and after that rude comment I was not booking anything else with her. She was part of the problem on Saturday and I guess she felt I was a trouble maker why? I wanted what we paid for nothing more then what they confirmed months ago.
Other Comments:
I have been a few place, never before have I been insulted,or have I been disrespected the way I was at this Villa Cuba Resort customer service counter.
NH Krystal Laugna NOT EVEN 2 star as advertized 4 star
Hotel NH Krystal Laguna Villas & Resort
User Rating:  
Alex Mak >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
DONT waste tour time and Money on NH Krstal Laguna Creep, Rotten and Fithy Food with untidy rooms and rude staff. I stayed there with my family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
always need to book( God knows when your turn comes ) in advance for GYM, Cycling, Boating and even
Restaurants and Bars
charges extra for International Beer and Whiskey
Rooms
untidy rooms; Mosquitos; Bugs and above all no water in morning???
Your Arrival
No welcome drink! Disgusting and smelly rotten food.only when you tip the waiter they listen otherwise no service?
A Nightmare in the Dominican.
Hotel Casa Marina Beach
User Rating:  
Renee >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Business | Family
The hotel is lacking in a whole bunch of areas. The noise level is horrible. I think in 7 nights we may have got one night without being awoke by screaming guests. The rooms are dirty, they have no fridge, blowdriers, water isn’t provided and it isn’t easy to find after hours. They don’t have toilet paper roll holders in the bathrooms so if yours falls on the floor and gets wet good luck trying to get another. In the 2 rooms we were in cause the first had mold, both has gaps in the doors. Our first room had black mold on the ceiling and a 1 inch gap on the top and bottom of the patio door. Our second room had sliding doors and one of them had an inch gap. If you have kids we were told that you have to stay on ground level. My kids are 10 & 11. One family that we were with was worried thier daughter would go out the patio door in the middle of the night and go swimming in the pool that was less than 20 feet from the door. They do not have a gym. Or If it is raining they do not have a place to go with the exception of a spot about 200 – 300 feet big. We were not able to stay in the dining room when it was raining. So you had 2 choices your room or the other space. We had to spend 3 days there.

I would skip this hotel and try to find another.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Not much happening. we didn’t see the anamators till 3 days into our stay. They could be rude and mean. But were usually frendly enough especially if you were a single female. The city of Sosua was right outside the resort. They are pushy but frendly. The shows were not all family friendly in fact we had to leave one show because of the sexual content.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Were OK. They had 3 pools and 2 seperate beaches.
Other Comments
I would not go to this resort again. This was my 5th trip to Dominican and by far the worst I do not think this resort is a 3.5* I would give it a 2 maybe a 2.5* at best.
Restaurants and Bars
There is one bar that holds 98 (about) people and is very very small. It closes at 1am and there is no where to go after that. The restaurants are not the greatest. The food choice is non existant. and the food is not very good. The dessarts were on the most part awesome. They allow smoking in all the restaurants and for non smokers it can be very gross.
Rooms
Dirty, moldy, lacking in fridge, blowdriers, drinking water, hot water some days.
Your Arrival
Our Arrival was wonderful. We were treated very well. Every one was very nice to us.
Do not blow your money with rood and ignorant people!!!
Hotel Grand Paradise Bavaro Resorts
User Rating:  
Dean >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My wife and I have been traveling for more than 12 years to Dominican Republic, Mexico, USA or Europe for our vacations. This year we choose DR especially because we would like to be at beautiful Bavaro Beach. Let us share some points how was our vacation this time.
From December 29th, 2009 till January 12th 2010, Room Number: 7324
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful!
Other Comments
Overall: The Grand Paradise Bavaro resorts need strong leadership and big improvement at all levels. They need to change the attitude to the customers to be more polite and helpful. They need to do a better planning and generally improve organization skills.
Restaurants and Bars
Bar Co: unable to make “coco loco” because a coconut is too expensive and hard to find in D.R., at 4 and half star resort. They said:” if we pay $6 US they will purchase coconut for us and after they will make it”. Coconut drinks are not in all inclusive. A Bar attendant is drinking a bear in front of customer before he serviced him until he got drunk. Dirty pool with insect Pool Bar: Unpleasant staffs, plastic cups, paper tissues are not in style at this location. Waiting in line to get Tequila and got terrible smell water from a display bottle. This is happened two times and after complaining, no apology, and just loud laughter from bar attendants. This situation is hazard of customers’ health. La Palma Restaurant: Dirty dishes, unable to clean and prepare table for next customer, rood coffee service – pushing a clients in line to get position to be fist to fill up his large coffee container. For December 31st, 2009 we made reservation for 6:30 p.m.., chef was unable to prepare meals on time and serving staff had a discussion funny meeting in front of 40 people keep them waiting for another 40 minutes without any explanation. Unprofessional rood service, dirty clothes, very small a selection of vegetables or fruits. Asian Restaurant: Good and pleasant service, good choice of meals.

Sports Bar: we got in to this resort at 2:30 a.m. and we were very hungry. There were no meals or any snacks or fast food at his time. The bar attendant said:”wait 10 minutes I will find something for you”. After this time he went to back room and he brought 3 little bulks with cheese for us. Another people were hungry too and they wanted to get some food as well, but he had nothing for them.

Rooms
Hotel Room: entrance with a stairs needs repairs and much better maintenance. Cleaning service needs attention on daily basis. They were unable to supply 4 towels, paper tissue or clean up out room on time. We had to call two times to reception when our room was not clean up at 5 p.m. or some items missing.
Your Arrival
Reception: Unprofessional, always something they don’t have. Information, a map of resort, recipes, ribbons, 6 gentlemen behind a counter did not have rooms ready for 30 people came tired from Europe or Canada at 5 p.m…
It was the worst!
Hotel Rex St. Lucian Resort
User Rating:  
June >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We stayed at the St. Lucian Rex last week and it was the worst hotel we have ever stayed at. It was run down, dirty, the food was disgusting (although on all inclusive we ate at local restaurants the food was so poor). The staff for the most part are totally indifferent and very rude and sullen. The facilities are non existent. They rent the beach to the cruise ships so it is difficult even to get a chair on the beach. The location is beautiful so the view from the dining room made up for the rotten food. Supposed to be a gym but it was closed. If you want to go to St. Lucia, I suggest you stay at the Beach Garden Resort – much better hotel. Supposed to be transformers for the hydro but they ran out the first day and had no more to loan out.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Some entertainment at night but only 1 of our 7 nights was any good. One night no entertainment at all. Very cheap entertainment and not good.
Local bars and restaurants outside of hotel had lots going on.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach was beautiful but there were few chairs and no umbrellas or shade. Had to ask at office for umbrella and it was charged to credit card until returned so you had to carry it around all week. Pool was OK but very basic. Net across pool for volleyball was all falling apart. Hardly any shade near pool and few umbrellas.
Other Comments
Would not recommend this hotel to anyone. It is listed as a 3 star but I would barely list it as a 1 star. I have written to Sunwing to suggest they remove the hotel from their listings as it will do their company no good at all sending guests to this awful hotel. I was not the only guest complaining – everyone was!
Restaurants and Bars
Food dreadful – repetitive, poor selection and often ran out and did not replace. Always had to wait for plates, cups etc. as they were being washed up. The kitchen looked dirty – cracked floor tiles, grungy looking stove, burnt and chipped counter tops. Surly chefs. The bartenders were all surly and miserable. Had no interest in serving guests. We heard the hotel is up for sale so that could account for the indifference of staff to guests. No snacks available unless you bought them between meals.
Rooms
Old, run down, bed creaked and clanked. No tea/coffee facility as promised. Lack of towels. Had to ask for toilet rolls and soap. Old furniture, non matching curtains and bedspread. Floor tiles all loose. The TV worked. The shower was good – assume a new one had been recently installed.
Your Arrival
Arrived late at night – hungry – only thing to eat was a stale cheese sandwich in the lobby. The walk to our room was 1/2 a mile with no shuttle.
**Warning** This place is infested with bed bugs
Hotel Barceló Marina Palace
User Rating:  
Bryce >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My parents thought it would be a great stress reliever to visit the island of Cuba. They booked their trip through a local travel agent at the Barcelo Marina Palace in hopes that it would offer the 4.5 star quality rest and relaxation one might expect on a trip of this sort. Instead, my mother was badly infested with bed bugs. My father also contracted bed bugs from this place, but my mothers case was far worse. She went to the front desk to tell them what was going on and was told to relax and go back to bed, that it was only mosquito bites. She tried, but the bites were causing her pain so she went back to the front desk asking for a different room. They insisted it was mosquitos and even mocked her for thinking it wasn’t. Eventually through persistence they were able to secure another room. The bed bug infestation continued. She started developing sores that looked like welts and went back to the front desk where they told her they had an in house doctor. The doctor told her it was a reaction from MOSQUITOS, and when asked directly if it was bed bugs he said "no". The condition got worse, so she visited a different doctor. She got a different prescription (Benydryl) and was told to sleep it off. The condition worsened to the point where she couldnt walk around with out people pointing out the sores and locals were telling her it was clearly bed bugs. The hotel did nothing. Apon returning home they both tried sleeping but couldn’t, and made appointments with their family doctor the following day who immediately diagnosed the problem as…you guessed it…bed bugs. My fathers condition may clear up in a few days with proper medication instead of the idiotic presciption the "house doctor" provided, but my mother is requiring far more serious treatment. All of their clothes, luggage and bedding (from home) had to be destroyed because bed bugs are known to travel on personal belongings. They’ve contacted the travel agent they used who is asking if they want to use insurance to cover their lost clothing. You should consider yourself well warned, this just happened at the beggining of February 2010 and you can see on this site and many others that this place has had multiple reports of cockroaches and bed bugs since as early as 2008 and it’s still taking place 2 years later but this hotel is somehow able to continue doing business and calling itself 4-4.5 stars.

Stay at your own risk.

Other Comments
I can’t believe North American travel agencies could have the nerve to sell packages to this bug infested hole.
Rooms
INFESTED WITH BED BUGS!!! MORE THAN 1 ROOM and more than 1 bed in the room.
Biting Insects ruined my two weeks
Hotel Gran Bahia Principe Tulum
User Rating:  
abby >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
The place was way to spread out, the 24-hour bar/restaurant burned down the second day there and to get additional coffee meant walking forever – and getting bit by bugs – I would not recommend this place, I wasted my money and time
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Archie and friends are very snobbish
Beach/Pools/Grounds
beach is horrible because of the biting insects
Other Comments
would never ever go there again
Restaurants and Bars
nice, except for the burnt one
Rooms
nice
Your Arrival
nice fellow at the check-in,
Alex was his name
Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN3tlFm6KyI
You’ve got to be kidding!!!
Hotel Sam Lord’s Castle and Resort
User Rating:  
kathy >  2 contribution(s) United States of America
Feb, 2010 | Business | Family
This is not a resort any longer. We visited last week.It is in a state of severe decay (looks like about 15 to 20 years worth). Check out the U-Tube video. How can this actually still be up on the web as a destination????
Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN3tlFm6KyI
Avoid this hotel
Hotel Spa Montego Bay & Grand Palladium Jamaica
User Rating:  
Victoria >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We were one the 400 rooms that were NOT overbooked for President’s Week. I traveled with my husband and 11 year old daughter. We travel about 3 times a year to Mexico and the Caribbean.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did not go on any trips because we have been to Jamaica before. There is great scuba diving provided at an extra cost by Scuba Caribe.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds are beautiful. The pool is huge, but poorly planned out. All the shade huts are on one side. The bathroom, towels and bar are on the other side and it is quite a walk. The beaches are probably the worst I have seen. If you are looking for a great beach, you won’t find it here.
Other Comments
My recommendation is to avoid this hotel. The service is very poor and hotel management is rude. Spend your money elsewhere.
Restaurants and Bars
There was at least a one hour wait for all of the a la carte restaurants. Service was attentive, but very slow. The food was mediocre to ok. My favorites were the Asian and Indian. The buffet seating took about 10-15 minutes. Even when there were many empty tables. The service was very poor. Most mornings it was difficult to get coffee. They were either out of coffee or coffee cups. The bar at the pool was always packed and it was difficult to get a drink.
Rooms
We had booked a one bedroom suite. The rooms are spacious and beautiful. Just don’t go out on the balcony. Our room faced a very busy and noisy road. There were only 2 towels for 3 people. One remote to be shared by 2 televisions (which were fuzzy at best) and the safe was broke. We had an ironing board, but no iron.
Your Arrival
The trip from the airport takes about 35 minutes. We arrived around 3 PM and received our room right away. We received welcome drinks in the beautiful lobby.
Nightmare Vacation
Hotel Bahia Principe Punta Cana
User Rating:  
D >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
6th time in the Dominincan, 4th in Punta Cana. All of our other vacations to the Dominican were amazing…and we looked forward to returning before we even left. However after this stay we will not return to a Bahai resort, and we will probably not go back to Punta Cana. We will never deal with Transat!!!!! We hope all other vacationers have a great experience at this resort, and it was obvious the fun many people were having…but we feel we must share our experience.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Hardly saw the entertainment staff, which was dissapointing for our kids. They did do alot of activities but due to the size of the resort it was hard to know what was going on when. Staff didn’t cirulate as they did at the other resorts we visited and didn’t try to get the tourists involved. We did see the Lion King and Michael Jackson…3+ maybe. Not sure of the off resort activities since we missed the Transat Tour meeting, and when we asked our rep about it, she didn’t answer but told us to look around.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Grounds lovely. Always people working and quick to say Ola !!
Pools clear and warm. Beach clean with lots of chairs. Towel guy at main pool irritable always and refused to change towels at the end of the day. We didn’t have bath towels so we tried to get fresh beach towels before getting cleaned up for the night but he refused. We ended up keeping them and getting new ones in the morning..only to be yelled at daily for not handing them in for washing over the night. I explained every day our dillema…he simply did not care.
Other Comments
Our girls (18yrs)were coming home from the Karoke one night and took the trolly to our room. Upon exiting the trolly the driver summoned them to him, and they went. He then opened his phone and showed them a video of a Bull having sex with a woman, all the while talking Spanish to them. They were terrified and ran quickly to the room. Their vacation changed from that moment on…as did ours. We finally went on the long walk with determination to find the Transat Tour Lady the next morning and went through all of our concerns (even though we had discussed them to Golden Club earlier twice with no luck). She was vaguely interested in the room and getting lost issues…but jumped when told of the video stating he would be fired immediatley and wanted more info. We declined at that moment, fearing the girls would be targeted by other staff and agreed to give all info as we signed out. She agreed this would be best for the girls and agreed to meet…however never showed up at check out time and we could not find her…not surprised !! He is still lurking around…… Other concerns: No face clothes. No bath towels for all of us. Room never swept (big insect of some type was dead at the base of our patio doors all week) we left him there as our check. Bar fridge filled 2 times all week..we really only needed the water and had to get our own. Our rep actually told us to brush our teeth with tap water, which in the past was a huge NO. CHECK OUT: Again…no Transat Rep around. Quick and efficiant sign out at the Golden Club. We saw a group from our flight entering a bus at our designated time. I asked the Nolitours rep if it was our flight and he said yes to get the family and luggage. I told him we were Transat and he said no problem. Once on the bus they asked us to leave. We said ok but needed to get our luggage. They said no, our luggage would be at the airport for us when we got there. We refused to get off without it. Finally at his insistence we were leaving, and he quickly said "go sit back and stay" then came and explained numbers (no clue what he was saying, but realized other Transat people on the bus were looking quite concerned ). I wanted to speak with Transat Tours…but could not find anyone. We stayed on the bus…and cheered when we arrived at the airport and new we would soon be in Canada to celebrate our Gold medal wins !!!

It was the best feeling ever to be home…and that is a first for all of us. It is especially disappointing when you go through the propper channels with your concerns and no one cares…hence the reason I am writing this review.

Restaurants and Bars
You are pre-assigned your 4 a-la-cartes. Which is good and bad. Great to have the opportunity to actually get into 4 during your 7 day stay, but the times meant an early day from the beach in order to get cleaned up. We used 2 of them and enjoyed the atmosphere at both. The main buffet on alternate nights was always good, and very clean. We enjoyed breakfast over looking the Ocean every morning and it was beautiful. Snack bars by the pool and beach crowded and hard to find a table…but enjoyed by the kids several times a day.
The bar staff were wonderful and entertaining at the main pool bar (both swim up and walk up). The male bar staff at the Sports bar very accomodating and friendly. They went out of their way to get the Canada Hockey Game on every night and cheered along with us.
Rooms
Upon entering our room with the Bell Boy, we quickly noticed we had been put in a room that had yet to be cleaned. The family/group before us sure had a good time…the room was a disaster. We knew if we left, we probably were not getting another room and the Bell Boy told us not to worry and to get settled. Hot, sweaty and very irritable…we slipped into our bathing suits in disgust, locked our stuff in our suitcases in the corner (had not been told about a safe) and ventured to the beach…without towels !!!
Your Arrival
We flew Air Transat. First time with this company. Lots of leg room, but flight attendants refused to smile. They actually yelled at my daughter for not having her table up, when I told them it was due to the fact they had not collected her food or partially full juice, they snapped it up and walked away. Otherwise…good flight.
We were directed to the wrong bus at the Punta Cana airport with another couple. Drove for 1 hr before they simply just dropped us at the Bahai. They were not expecting us, and after a long debate drove us to the Esmeralda part of the resort. After another 30 min, alot of Spanish and tension we were told we were not staying there. Then we were taken back to the lobby (soaken wet with our Canadian clothes still on) and very thirsty (could not get a drink due to no wrist bands). Another 30 min or so and they found our room with the Golden Club. Keep in mind, I had my Hotel Voucher with me and let everyone read it several times. Finally got the package with wrist bands and we were taken to our room.
Bees, Bees, Bees…
Hotel Beaches Boscobel Ocho Rios
User Rating:  
Paul >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We arrived at Beached Boscobel very excited about our upcoming week of relaxation, waterslides and golf. What we found was thousands and thousands of bees which infested the resort. There were bees everywhere, at the bar, at the ice cream dispensor, at pop machines, on your food and pretty much everywhere you went. There was no escaping this nightmare. We tried to make the best of it but my wife is allergic and I just hate them so we asked to be moved to another beaches resort. They made room for us at Sandy Bay in Negril which we were told was 45 minutes away and that there would still be golf. Turns out it was three hours away and the golf was extra. We did manage to get them to pay for one round but needed to insist on this. The beach at Sandy Bay was great but we certainly felt like we downgraded by coming to this resort as the facilities were less, the restaurants not as nice and no water park. We were able to also use Beaches Negril which was less then 5 minutes away however the water park there was clsoed the last few days of our trip. There were also bees at both of these locations but not nearly as bad but still disturbing to someone who has an allergy or fear. And by the way what they call bees are in fact wasps in Canada. We have since tried to contact them numerous times since our return but they are not easy to deal with and continue to tell us by email that our problem was fixed to our satisfaction but te computer system they are using is wrong and we are not happy and will not return to a beaches resort in the future. Needless to say, the week was a big disappointment. We were paying for a "sandals" type experience but it was not there.
Do Not Stay Here
Hotel Viva Wyndham Playa Dorada
User Rating:  
annna >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We stay at the Viva Wyndham on Feb 6, 2010. They only had two rooms available on the ground floor. Do not stay on the ground floor we had a cockroche in our room and bed bugs in our bed. They were full when we got there at 10:30p.m. We brought our kids there as well did not sleep at all until they try to move us. The next day we talk to the front desk which we were promise the 3rd floor room side by side. But it never happen they gave my husband and son a key to the rooms on the second floor they told them they were empty. Well my husband and son went to open one room and there was a couple in bed. There was a lot of screeming for 3 hours or longer at the front desk. They do not care about you so please do your self a favour do not stay here there is nothing for the kids to do. My kids were bored.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
nothing bored
Beach/Pools/Grounds
beach to fare 10 minute walk. You could not go in the water to much sea weed
all over the beach
Other Comments
If you are even going to attempt this place watch out terrible resort not clean at all they do not care about you my kids were bored. 10 minute walk to the beach. bugs every where. Watch out for sell off vacation they will take your money and not care about you even nolitours. WATCH OUT
Restaurants and Bars
its o.k.
Rooms
cockroches and damp bed bugs dirty rooms do not stay here
Your Arrival
Do not care about you or were you sleep hotel over book thanks to nolitours and sell off vacation. They just take your money and do not care about you. When you get down to Puerto Plata watch out they may run out of rooms even if you book.
awful
Hotel Be Live Hamaca (formerly Oasis)
User Rating:  
jeff >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Apr, 2010 | Business | Family
after looking at six rooms, we were able to find one reasonably acceptable. the rooms had an odor, tv’s did not work and air conditioner was not working at capacity. shower was fantastic but toilet took several times to flush when anything was in the bowl
Wyndham big Mistake
Hotel Wyndham Cozumel Resort & Spa (formerly Reef Club)
User Rating:  
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!!
This hotel was the bottom of the barrel
Hotel Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca
User Rating:  
nelly >  1 contribution(s) SEYCHELLES
Mar, 2009 | Leisure | Family
The flight was great as I expected.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
What activities? You had to creae your own.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach was nice when the locals werent stealling the tourists cameras. The pools all catered to old people and they have no music at all, I suggest that you bring along a radio of some sort.
Other Comments
Save your money. This hotel was the bottom of the barrel. I wouldn’t go back even if it was FREE.
Restaurants and Bars
Food was all crap. Drinks were the routine tropical drinks. They have no concept how to cook food at all. Burgers and everyhing else was deep fryed. No fruit or vegetables that week we were there, perhaps the delivery truck got hijacked by some desperate locals, who knows.
Rooms
When we got there they placed our family of five in a room small enough to house only one person comfortably. When the door opened for the first time all you smell is mold. My daghter slept with tree mold spots on her blanket we dicovered in the morning. There was no fridge no hot water and no clean air to breathe, we had to place our socks in the air conditioning unit in order for it to work, what a joke, things had to change fast. We then transfered to a small suite which was like the Hilton hotel compared to where we came from.
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)
User Rating:  
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.
terrible… worst experience of my life
Hotel Be Live Playa Coco
User Rating:  
jj >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Dec, 2010 | Business | Family
I will be honest through the full review. The staff were a mix of some of the nicest people i ever met and the worst. Soe would make amn effort with you to see if you are a tipper and then if you werent would not bother with you. Prepare fro day 3 to get harrassed to leave money and clothing etc for tips. I gladly did this – but not to thoiuse who were brazan enough to ask. I cant comment on enetertainment as there wasn’t any. The disco bar was clo9sed the whole tgime anfd could not drink anything as they had no diet/ sugar free drinks. The breakfast was quite good to be honest thugh expect lots of ques. The rooms are a disgrace… take loo roll clean towels and blankets and a bath plug (and a bottle of bleach). If you havr children do not stay here there really is nothing for them. Kids club was shut rge whole time and there were pool tables etc but no good without the ques. Reception staff are no help and ignorant. Im sorry for the fe genuine nice staff. Please do not waste your money. Do npot use the safes. Ours was emptied and returned after 2 days and a day of polioce interviews. 🙁 waste of money …. luckily got a flight ho,e 3 days early 🙂
It was pathetic, but understandable……
Hotel Grand Pineapple Beach by Occidental
User Rating:  
Tina07 >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Nov, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Regarding Pineapple beach hotel. It was pathetic, but understandable…… arrived at this resort, 3 months pregnant with first child. Our bags didn’t arrive with us. Our rooms were not AC even though we were paying for beach front. The first day, after not sleeping the day we arrived due to lack of ac and my pregnancy, we were the first ones to breakfast. We were seated and then another couple was seated right next to us, despite that place being empty. He was smoking and I was tired, and pregnant, not happy to be breathing in his cig smoke. So we asked to be moved due to the smoke stream. What does the hostess do??????ah she tells the couple that is smoking that we are disturbed by their smoking and if they would move!!! The guy got irate and almost punched my quiet husband. It was horrible horrible horrible. It was right out of bizarre. The good news was later in the week, something happened and the smoker’s finger swelled up and had to taxi into town (FAR) and had to get the wedding ring sawed off! The clincher is that it was not necessary, my hub new how to get it off her finger with a technique used by EMTs. THe guy apologized after a week of us feeling threatened constantly. OH I forgot we had to be confined to our rooms for 2 days with only ham sands. because of a #3 hurricane. It was powerful enough to blow off one of the restaurants roof!

How fun was this week! Of course it was our first time away at an expensive all inclusive, stay at one place, resort!

Staff demanded a $75 cancellation fee…. ridiculous!!!
Hotel Grand Pineapple Beach by Occidental
User Rating:  
Danny07 >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2007 | Leisure
We (6 of us) had read numerous mostly poor reviews of this resort. Deciding to try a new place rather than return to the Dominican (which in hindsight was a mistake) we took the plunge!
Resumé
To sum up, we wrote a letter of complaint to Signature via our agent. After a month of us checking in and no responses, we then wrote another to Mr. Michael Price, President of Signature Vacations. To date, no response…

So, overall, while the beach and environment were truly stunning, the overall vacation was spoilt by many issues that made the vacation far less than what it should have been. Like others have written, your money is better spent elsewhere. Needless to say, we will not be going back and do not trust Signature Vacations to live up to their side of the bargain either!

The bad
The staff seemed unhappy and were mostly unhelpful. Our rooms (non-ocean views) were basic with the bare essentials (no fridge like the ocean view rooms) and very noisy air conditioners (think v8 engines). The washrooms are basic and the walls around the tub crack-filled probably to allow the insects a good in and out from the room. Our kettle broke on day 2 and although we asked for a replacement, this never happened… the doors are glass slats. One of our rooms had see-through slats and when we complained, the staff nailed some cloth on the inside of the door to act as a curtain. The food was mostly basic, bland and almost always the same… the first 3 days there was virtually no fruit until a truck arrived on the Wednesday and thankfully we enjoyed a day or two thereafter with some fresh food and fruit. If you have food restrictions (i.e. for religious reasons, etc.) chances are there will be evenings you will go hungry as they tend to serve pork, ham, seafood with crab or shell that restricts your choices). We had numerous other issues (cancellation of taxi within 5 minutes of asking for one resulted in an argument where the staff demanded a $75 cancellation fee…. ridiculous!!!).
The good:
Great location, beautiful beach and flora, very tranquil, not much motorized noise and wonderful swimming and sun tanning.
This was such a DISAPPOINTMENT!!
Hotel Rex Halcyon Cove
User Rating:  
AnaToronto >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2005
This review would be of interest to families with little ones. My husband and I have traveled to some very nice islands, and I will try to be non-judgmental when reviewing this resort, but it will be difficult. As a mom of a 4 year old, who happens to be a great traveller, we were disappointed with this resort, for it catered very little to small children.
Bars
The bartenders were nice, happy and jovial. Our favourite was Denton, who was by the beach bar. After a while, he knew what we were drinking and referred to my daughter as the "fruit punch" lady.
Beach, Pool, Chairs & Tikki Huts
The week that we traveled (from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7) the ocean was very rough. The water is a nice turquoise colour, but unfortunately, we only went to our knees. We were in Dickenson Bay, whereby the water is supposed to be calm, but not during our stay. After speaking to some locals, when the west side is rough, head east of the island. The pool is very small and not shallow at all for little ones (shallow end starts at 4 ft). I would highly recommend bringing arm floats or even a lifejacket as we did, independent but still safe. As in other islands, we learned that the chairs and tikki huts disappear rather quickly. Get up early, and reserve your chairs (and tikki huts) with your towels. The weather is quite comfortable – it was sunny around 9 am with a gentle breeze blowing. Around 3 pm, we would see some cloud cover and would cool down somewhat.
Children’s Club & Playground
This was such a DISAPPOINTMENT!! On our arrival, we were told that the kids club was closed on Tuesday – fine, no problem, my daughter waited patiently to the next day. On Wednesday, I approached the front desk to find out the hours of operation: opens at 10:15 am and closes during lunch and opens again in the afternoon. On several occasions, I personally walked over to the kids club which is by our building, the room was locked and dark. I went to ask the front desk, and they acted all surprised. After the 3rd day, I realized this resort did not cater to kids. As for the playground, there’s a frame for the swings, but no swings and the games room also non-existent. In comparison to other resorts, like Mexico, Turks and even Cuba, it really is disappointing. FYI…I spoke to people who stayed at the Pineapple Beach and St.James, everyone said the same thing – "it must be an island thing" was our conclusion. So, keeping this in mind, DON’T ADVERTISE THIS TO YOUR KIDS, BECAUSE IT IS NON-EXISTENT.
Excursions
We did the Wadali tour to Bird Island. The catamaran was nice, but the little island could be slightly more accommodating. There’s one building, not much to see, just snorkel. I would recommend that kids and adults too, wear sandals or water socks because it has a lot of coral and you can cut your feet easily. It can be quite busy as well, since you get many passengers from the cruise ships – we went on a Thursday.
Lobby & Rooms
We flew with Skyservice from Toronto and booked with Signature Vacations. When we arrived to Antigua, there was a shuttle bus/taxi awaiting us and promptly dropped us off at the hotel. The lobby is modest, but very clean. We were checked in immediately and offered a beverage. We had arranged for a superior room, and were taken to room 252, which apparently is known as the Gardens. Our room consisted of a king bed, a small cot/bed for our 4 year old, a full bathroom with tub, and a balcony overlooking the gardens (BE CAREFUL IF YOU HAVE A TODDLER – it’s quite a drop down). The resort mostly consists of 2 to 3 storey buildings, and everything is just steps away, which is convenient when travelling with small children. We could hear the waves from our room, and our building was behind the beach-front rooms. If your children take naps, I would highly recommend the poolside rooms, because many parents would be tanning outside while the kids napped inside.
Nightly Entertainment
There is no team like ANAMICON in Cuba – instead, one evening you have guests entertaining themselves with karaoke, there’s a steel drum band another evening and the most "entertaining" evening was the fire-eater man. Other than that, entertainment lacked and because the proximity of the buildings were very close to one another, the music was very loud. As for the island of Antigua, we didn’t do Shirley Heights, but everyone did rave about it (but I think its an adult-only thing). If you think its Mexico or Grand Cayman, there’s no clubs. Just little bars and some nice restaurants.
Restaurants
The buffet restaurant is located directly in front of the lobby in another building. My daughter’s best meal was probably breakfast. She enjoyed her morning cereal, and enjoyed her eggs and bacon. The meal consisted mostly of the traditional fare – eggs, bacon, sausage, french toast or pancakes, fruit and some traditional dishes from the island. For coffee drinkers, I would recommend the coffee machine – I would enjoy my cafe latte every morning in comparison to the coffee that the waitresses provide. Lunch was also available here, but somehow we seemed content with the food the Carib bar by the beach, that provided fries, hamburgers, hotdogs, salads, bbq chicken. At dinner, every night was represented by a different island. A warning to parents – try the food before placing it in your kids plates – some food tends to be very hot/spicy, even though it doesn’t look it. We were told at the end of the week, that there was a kids menu – but no one ever mentioned this to us, a common trait we found at this resort- information was never volunteered. Ask the waitress after your child’s meal for ice cream – they will bring it you, but again, they will not suggest. Overlooking the beach is Warri Pier – it looks runned down, with some shutters missing – the food consists mostly of seafood, and personally we didn’t eat there, but from those who did, said there was nothing to boast about. Many people who chose not to go all inclusive, raved about a little place up on a very STEEP hill, about a 5 minute walk from the resort, Paty’s Pizza and another little restaurant near Coconut Grove, the Beach, just after Sandals resort.
Resumé
So, to wrap this review: I would not return to Antigua, especially to the Halcyon Cove with children. After traveling to nice islands like Turks & Caicos, Barbados, Aruba, Grand Cayman, Mexico and even Cuba, I was really disappointed with Antigua. The fact that the resort could have done a lot more to cater to children was a real downer. However, they are not to blame entirely, but Signature vacations should do some major updating to their brochures.
They expect tips all the time.
Hotel RIU Paradise Island
User Rating:  
DenyCanada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Arrival: July 12 to July 26,2009 Myself and my wife along with my brother and his wife stayed at the Riu Paradise island for two weeks. The problems that we had were expired water,pop and empty liqure bottles in the rooms. Other problems were mold in the bathrooms with rust along the sink and cracked sinks which leaked also elevators broke down and we were forced to take services elevators.Mold in the swimming pool and another problem was the bartenders didn’t look at you if you didn’t give them a tip. When it rained the lobby was full of towels because the roof would leek. My wife’s sandals were stolen.They also were saying that they were closing down at the end of July for 4 months to renovate i heared they are still booking. I stayed at other Riu hotels I will never go here again. Don’t get married there it is a disaster. Restaurants and Bars: Ok other than they expect tips all the time. Beach/Pools/Grounds: Beaches are nice. Pool in terrible shape with mold Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: No good Other Comments:

Don’t go here until they renovate, apparently they will be amazing when complete.

You will be disappointed if you go.
Hotel Almond Beach Village
User Rating:  
EvaCanada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Arrival First off, when we arrived, we were eager to get checked in, because we traveled all day with our baby. The bus driver did a detour that took about an extra 30 mins to pick up another bus driver at his house. Rooms The rooms were very disappointing, dirty and not up to our standards. There was black hair on our floors and inside the bed sheets. The room was in a noisy area, we found it hard to sleep at night because of the nightly shows. Restaurants and Bars Same food every day… don’t stay too long or you will loose a lot of weight! Alcohol is all cheap brands you have never heard of, don’t expect to find liquor that you normally find at our liquor stores. Juice is all syrup and water mixes. There is NO real juice. All you get for fruit is watermelon, grapefruit, and pineapple. Beach/Pools/Grounds One of the pools was very nice but it was for adults only, and since we have a baby, we couldn’t hang out at it. The beach is beautiful! Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel We stayed at the resort. Other Comments

I advise people not to go there. We spent a lot of money and it wasn’t worth it. We could have had a lot of fun at other resorts that I’ve been to, that were great and a lot cheaper. This is over-priced and you will be disappointed if you go.

There are other better options
Hotel Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
MichelCanada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2006 | Leisure | Family
We just returned from a last minute trip to Blau Colonial and wanted to share our experience. I travelled with my wife and our 18 month old child.
For anyone considering coming here, I would recommend that you search elsewhere. If you’ve already booked, don’t worry because you’ll still have a good time but in my opinion there are other better options available.
Baby
We travelled with our 18 month old child so I had emailed the resort beforehand to verify that there were cribs available and was assured that there were so we were quite disapointed when the crib we were offered was not suitable at all and did not use it. There was also a kids club there which is advertised as 2-12 but we left our son with the attendant, Yojinda on several occasions and he loved and she was great.
Beach
The beach is actually very nice; very wide, super soft sand, water is very clear. Waves vary, when we first got there it was very calm and suitable for children but we had some storms for a few days and after that it was quite wavy – fun for adults but probably not suitable for kids under 10 without a lot of supervision. I didn’t look into it but there appears to be only very limited watersport availabilty – there are catamarans that you can go with the person, other than that, I did not see any sailboards, kayaks, pedal boats, etc. I didn’t try them but I was told that the snorking masks were very poor so you pretty much needed to have brought your own. As for snorklening, we didn’t do any (did not get nice weather) but I was told by others that it was actually pretty good just going past far out from the beach.
Booking
We booked it through TMR holidays in Canada and they rate it as a 4.5 star. We paid a bit extra because it was rated pretty high and we wanted a nicer place. Even by ‘loose’ Caribbean standards this is way too high – we’ve been other Cuban / Dominican resorts and it doesn’t compare favorably (we visited Trip Cayo Coco (4) on this trip, went to Melia Cayo Guillermo (4.5) last winter, and visited Gran Ventana (4.5) in Puerta Plata, DR and Coral Canoa (I think) (4) in La Romana, DR among others in the past).
Conclusion
Overall, while it wasn’t a bad experience and some parts where nice, I just fell that for the money there are much better options available. Unfortunately, I would not recommend this resort.
Entertainment / shows
The shows were ok but (the performers are all very talented) but overall, they were not as impressive as some that we’ve seen at other resorts. Part of the problem was that there wasn’t an outdoor stage and the shows were done in the discotheque.
Food
Although some people always complain about food at these resorts, we actually always think it’s fine. This was pretty typical with a pasta station and ‘grilling’ station and some ‘pre-cooked’ food however even here, it wasn’t as nice as other resorts we’ve been too; the selection was actually quite limited even for these buffets. However the biggest problem with it was that other than the food you have them cook for you (e.g. omelettes, pasta, stir-fry, etc), the ‘pre-cooked’ food was pretty much always cold – cold scrambled eggs, cold bacon, cold lasagna, cold meat, etc). The ‘a-la-carte’ restaurants where also not up to the standard of other resorts that we’ve been to.
Pool
Some of the resort profiles from travel companies will incorrectly say that there are 2 pools – this is true except that one is in the ‘permanently’ closed section so you only have access to one. There is no swim-up bar (also in the closed section), The pool is actually quite large and was nice. It has a shallow portion (maybe 1 or 2 feet deep) and a deeper portion. The only small drawback is that it didn’t have a ‘reef entrance’ which slowly goes deeper, it’s either really shallow (kids section) or deep.
Room
The room was very large and nice. However there were some problems: First, the AC was not hooked up to the thermostat so whether you set it to 15 to 30, if it was on, it was blowing cold. Too cold, we liked having it on (with the fan set to low) but that meant that at night the room was usually 17C (we have a travel clock with a thermostat on it). Because of this, we’d turn it on for a while, get up and turn it off, … The problem was that if you didn’t have it on, the room would get damp and muggy. There was also water issues. Every night around 3am, we’d lose ALL water to the room – no toilet, no sink, etc, usually by morning we’d get the cold water back but not the hot, not sure why but it usually wouldn’t be until we got back from breakfast (around 10:30ish that) we’d have hot water – this isn’t there was no hot water left (we’ve experienced this at other resorts (usually before diner when all guests are taking showers), here, you’d turn the tap and you’d get air sound in the pipes.
The resort
Some aspects were very nice; the beach was beautiful, the room was very nice, the resort is very charming and original (not just a big ‘block’ of rooms), interlocking stones pathways everywhere, nice landscapping, very friendly staff (didn’t expect to be tipped everytime they did something for you and were very appreciative when you did). Very quiet, not hard to get beach chair or chair by pool (more on this later)

Many aspects were not: It looks like 10 years ago, this was probably a very nice resort but now it’s been neglected and parts are not in good shape. A large section of the resort is permanently closed (chain link fence around it and brick wall closes off the road) (The official story is that this area is being renovated but it’s been closed since 2003 and speaking to the staff, it does not appear that there is any money to actually do these renovations so they will probably never be done). This includes the ‘salt water pool’, the swim-up bar and some of the restaurants and we were were told were the nicer rooms. There is also several blocks of rooms between the pool and the beach that were not used – we were told that this was simply because it was very quiet but I noticed that several rooms had a ‘official seal letter’ closing the door so I wonder if there is more to those rooms being closed. The resort is not good if you are in a wheelchair or have a baby stroller (steps / curbs all over the place, some ramps were at difficult to access areas, some ramps were very, very steep, etc. For anyone travelling with young children and needing a crib, you need to bring your own. They do have some and I was told I didn’t need to bring one but it was not suitable for use (the railing was maybe 1 foot above the mattress so any child that can stand could easily fall out). We asked several other parents and no one else was using the provided cribs either. Like many other resorts, on the last day, the checkout is early but you only leave the resort later. We were told that this was no problem because they provided a ‘hospitality suite’ where we could get changed and shower, etc. Turns out that they had ONE room for all guests to use (2 buses for us) so needless to say, a lot of people didn’t get to shower and/or change in the room. One major issue for some guests is that this resort is pretty much dead; there are very few guests here so if you are looking for a place to party, go elsewhere. If you go with kids and they want to play with other kids, go elsewhere. If you just want a very quiet place to sit by the pool or by the beach, this isn’t actually too bad. My biggest complaint was probably the lack and condition of the public bathrooms – when I eat at these buffets, I often have to go to the bathroom and it’s not always convenient to return to the room. Here, there were very few public bathrooms (only 1 male and 1 female bathroom by the pool so there was often a lineup and it was often not particularly clean.

Don’t plan to take a shower for the week
Hotel Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Alexandre >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Traveled to Blau Colonial with my husband and 7 year old daughter last week in March 2007. In sum, it is a pretty looking hotel – Colonial style buildings. As for the room – don’t plan to take a shower for the week because honestly there is no water pressure at all and the water is cold.. There is a mini club – but no activities planned so not sure why it is there. The most annoying thing about the hotel is the way the BUFFET IS SET UP. No matter what time we went there was a very long line up in order to get food. Everyone had to wait in this line up in order to reach the tray food and the 2 tiny grill areas. Even if you did not want something from the grill area you still had to wait in the line-up in order to reach the tray food – so no seconds – unless you wanted to wait again. The reason for line-up was that they only began to grill food when you asked for it which in theory is nice but did nothing to help the line up move faster. Not fun waiting and watching for someone else’s food to be grilled…. If you tip at the Buffet the waiters will remember you and you will get INSTANCE service. If you didn’t tip you were practically invisible and would have to try very hard to make eye contact with any waiter for a drink or coffee. CAYO COCO is windy pretty much all the time – so always red or yellow flag. So if you do not like waves and wind you will not like the beach.

So I would rate this hotel a 2 star only and not a 4.

Airport & Flight
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
CrystalKevin >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2007 | Leisure | Family
Flight was good plane on the way there the TV wasn’t working this was not an issue for us as we left early in the morning and therefore slept most of the way. Check in, in Cayo Coco went rather quickly we had heard that we should take a taxi to the resort in order to make check in quicker. Our taxi cost us $15 CUC and was well worth it. (Let your travel rep know if you are going by taxi)
Beach and Pool
Beach: Was beautiful as always in Cuba! If you go down really early in the morning you will find a gentlemen by the name of Victor he would book us a shady area for the day. This ensured that we always had shade for the baby. Water was exceptionally warm starting at about 11 or 12. You do have to walk out quite far to get in deep.
Pool: Very nice, disappointing to see the tourists leave their plastic glasses etc in the water and have to fish them out. Their is a good area for the children to swim as well. The temperature was good and the service around the pool area was also good. Can be difficult to find shade.
Check in
There were 4 of us along with our friends 7 month old daughter upon check in we were told our block was #14 (I believe, either way, way out there) my friends explained to the front desk that this was way too far with a little one. They moved us up to 4th block which is very close. We were to be there for one night only. Our friends were utilizing this trip to renew their vows and therefore we would both be upgraded to ocean front on Saturday.
Excursions
We primarily came to relax as this would be our trip before the baby arrives therefore we didn’t take any excursions. My husband went out on the catamaran to snorkel for about 1hr and did some snorkeling I choose not to go as this was a very small boat.

We did rent a scooter and drove around to check out the lay of the land. On this day we went to Playa Prohibida a beach area with a small restaurant that serves great lobster I highly recommend it. I would although state to bring bug spray as the bugs were terrible that day thank god the owner had some to spare. We paid $15 CUC each for lobster, shrimp, rice and salad.

Food
A la cartes: We went to the International, Chinese, Cuban, Seafood, Grill and Italian we found them all to be very good my favourite was the Chinese. Buffet: No issues with the food in Cuba they cook fresh omlettes, crepes etc every morning so if worse came to worse omlette and fruit is always good.
Overall
Cuba is my favourite vacation spot and I absolutely love it there. I will say I will not go back to Cayo Coco or Tryp. Although the island is beautiful I have come to realize that I am not the lie on the beach kind of person I enjoy going into town, visiting the locals etc. Also be careful when booking according to star last year I was at a 3 it was much smaller although much newer the only difference is it didn’t have the selection this one did. So if you are going for the a la cartes and number of pools go 4 or 5 star. If you want to enjoy the town and the resort and don’t care about that then go 3star but newer.

Any more info needed feel free to contact me Crystal ck.taylor@sympatico.ca

Rooms
I have to say this was the most disappointing factor for me. I am not very picky and have been to Cuba 3 times in the last 3 years. Last year I stayed at a 3 star and was never unhappy. I did although find the rooms to be very old, moldy and smelly? (read the reviews they all state this) I wasn’t too concerned as the next day we were being moved. When we got to bock #5 on Sat the room was the same other than the ocean view. At this point being that I am 4months pregnant and a little more sensitive to smells I approached customer service and explained my concerns with the mold. I asked that they simply clean it everyday and it wouldn’t be an issue. They did this and it was much better. We always had plenty of hot water, toilet paper etc.
Useful Tips
Take the taxi from the airport $15 CUC well worth the line up this was for a van as there were 4 + baby. Don’t forget bug spray

We brought essentials to leave with them i.e. Bathroom items, flashlights, softballs, fishing lures and childrens items. (these seem to be the favourites)

This was the worst hotel I’ve ever encountered
Hotel Laguna Mar Resort and Casino
User Rating:  
John >  21 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
Arrival The wait at the airport was over two hours. The hotel check in was an hour and language barriers further slowed the process.

Rooms

The rooms were clean and the beds were comfortable. However, we booked ocean views well in advance and received rooms on the opposite side. The hotel was unwilling to locate us without charging an additional fee. The air-conditioning had to be on at all times or else the floor got as wet as a swimming pool. As a result it was either very cold or too hot and moist in the rooms. The maid service ignored "Do Not Disturb" signs and came in as they pleased. They also attended to the rooms randomly, at all hours.

Restaurants and Bars

The overall service was quite good, and the bars poured strong drinks, although one had to put up with an overabundance of wasps that frequented every bar. The restaurants served vastly inferior food. It was tasteless, not fresh, soggy and lacked variety, despite their advertisements of daily "themes". This was the worst hotel food I’ve ever encountered, and these sentiments are shared by many. Also, children were allowed everywhere, so there was no place to go for adults to relax and enjoy peace and quiet.

Beach/Pools/Grounds

The pools were abundant and generally clean, as was the grounds. The beach was average for these types of resorts. However it is a very substantial walk to the beach from either hotel – almost a mile – and the shuttle service provided was random, at best.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

The one saving grace of the trip was the excursions that were away from the resort. On these the food was excellent, the service was outstanding, the prices were reasonable and everything offered was accommodated. However, these excursions are available from any of the island’s resorts, so Laguna Del Mar cannot take credit. On the resort itself, the activites were the same everyday and catered to the children and families. The casino was closed and this was not indicated when the booking was made.

Other Comments

Myslef and many others will not return to this resort and are making a concerted effort to steer family and acquaintances away from this resort.

Natural setting was amazing, the service was deplorable
Hotel hotel Villa Guama
User Rating:  
ciegomontero >  1 contribution(s) The Netherlands
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
I stayed here with my wife and our two boys, aged 2 and 6. We stayed for 2 nights. It’s an amazing setting, somehow like a Balinese village built on water.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
crocodile hunting
Beach/Pools/Grounds
nice pool, not great for kids
Restaurants and Bars
no veggie food
Rooms
made of wood
Your Arrival
We arrived by boat
Would not recommend, not as advertised, not suitable for the 14-18 age group
Hotel Breezes Bahamas
User Rating:  
Catriona Fraser >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
No water skiing, no sign of a tennis pro, slow service, noisy all the time, shabby and in need of a massive upgrade
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Advertised activities not all available, other activities on timed schedule, would have preferred to enjoy activities when we wanted, not when they wanted
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Water too cold to swim in pools, hot tub OK, grounds OK, they (and the hotel)all look much better in photos than in reality!
Restaurants and Bars
Cafeteria college style, also noisy, food OK. 2 restaurants with weird booking arrangements
Rooms
Shabby furnishings, scratched furniture, carpets coming off floor, inadequately soundproofed
Your Arrival
Could not go to rooms for another 2 hours, although changing rooms and showers were available
Broken sport equipment and tennis instructor wants tips
Hotel Grand Palladium White Sands Resort & Spa
User Rating:  
eugene >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Be careful when using the archery, equipment is faulty, no protection for the arm, arrows are broken. Complain with mangement since faulty equipment is dangerous. Also, they let you shoot only eight arrows and then the instroctor wants to relax and stop working. Fitness instructor sometimes is too tired to teach zumba. Complain with management.

Tennis instructor is supposed to teach but he wants a 25 dollar tip in advance. Beware do not give a tip and report him to management. He is alreay paid to teach, not to ask for a tip before he even moves. Report him to the chief of animation.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
See above, lots of problems with instructors and equipment.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Nice
Other Comments
I really did not like the fact that archery equipment was faulty and that the tennis instroctor asks for tips. If it happens to you please report him to the chief of animation.
Restaurants and Bars
Beware of long lines at dinner. Either be there at 5.50 pm or expect to wait until 8.8.30 to have dinner.

Lamb in Brazilian restaurant was quite bad.

Rooms
Very nice
Your Arrival
Very good and quick.
Poor food handling.
Hotel Dreams Palm Beach
User Rating:  
Dan >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We stayed for 10 days during which time 4 of our 6 were ill. I saw chefs at the buffet use tongs that they had used on raw meat (chicken or beef) then serve the cooked food with the very same tongs. They also would place raw chicken & then raw beef on the same plate time after time not changing the plate. The food industry in Canada would call this cross contamination. On more than one time we were served under cooked chicken at the buffet. The bacon for breakfast had a spoiled taste. So if this was seem in the front part what happened in the back part where you didn’t see. The food was the same in the buffet all 10 days and rated about a 4 out of 10. We also ate at the beach snack area where they served hamburgs & Hot Dogs & Fries, we were served under cooked hamburgs & I saw the chef place hamburgs on the grill with his bare hand & then with the same unwashed hand cut the hamburg buns an place them in the serving basket.. Food in the theme rest were better but would be rated a 6 of 10. The booze was watered down as well. The rooms are good (ground level rooms are very musty) the hotel was clean the staff were very attentive & the beach was good. We have been to the D.R. serveral times & this was the worst food handling & quality that I have seen.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
typical resort activities
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Good
Other Comments
I would not recommend this resort
Restaurants and Bars
Poor food handling many people ill
Rooms
good other than ground floor very musty
Your Arrival
No issues
Riu chain – never again!
Hotel Riu Taino
User Rating:  
Alice >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
While I’ve heard mixed reviews of the Riu chain I would never travel again to Riu Taino. Money stolen out of our safe, daughter lost room/safe key; front desk unwilling to do anything except tell us to look for key and come back later. No hot water in shower last three days despite three calls to reception, no hand towels or bathmat last two days.

Most of the staff were great with the exception of a few men that felt it was perfectly ok to paw my daughter. Food was mediocre at best; last night went to the Mexican al a carte; we were both sick on the plane ride home.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Carribean Festival with stingrays/sharks. They neglected to tell us we had to have the receipt but thankfully we were able to re-book for the next day. Our Sunquest guide Orlando was awesome!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Nice but crowded.
Other Comments
Am uncomfortable with the pushiess of the people selling their wares. I don’t like rude people and find it difficult to be rude; unfortunately at time I had to resort to just that when they clearly wouldn’t allow you to walk away. Afer having our holiday money stolen found it even more frustrating that even on excursions the bus driver, the excursion people, etc. all request tips. Bartering is my second least favorite thing to do….
Restaurants and Bars
Food just ok, very little seafood with the exception of oysters and shrimp. Great service at bar providing you tipped the b/tender on a daily basis.
Rooms
Meh – beds hard, pillow flat as a board, somewhat expected in given previous experience.
Your Arrival
Late at night, bags dropped off. Bellhop spoke no English, attempted to tell us how to secure patio door. Everything was closed up at 11:30 so went to bed
RIP OFF
Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana
User Rating:  
John Kenneth >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Smelly.Room had an odor but clean.After one week you got use to the smell whatever it was.When we got home that odor was in our clothes(clean ones never worn and dirty ones),my luggage may need to be thrown out along with some clothes.We will never recomend the riu palace punta cana to anyone and if your thinking on going there DONT.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
did not see much
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach beautifull,pool nice,grounds neat.
Other Comments
Highly overated.I give it a 2 or 3 star tops
Restaurants and Bars
restaurants O.K. bars only saw 2.One at the pool and the little lobby bar.
Rooms
Smelly but looked clean
Your Arrival
O.K.
You can do much better
Hotel Melia Las Américas
User Rating:  
Dylan >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Changing Canuck bucks into Cuban tourist Monopoly money (called CUC) is a scam so try to change enough just once to get you through the entire stay. This is easily done because there is not much to buy on the beach, in the shops or at the markets.
We stayed at the Melia Las Americas hotel in Varadero, Cuba for one week in January 2010 on a WestJet all-inclusive vacation. It promotes itself as a 5-star hotel but turns out to be a 3-star. Built in the early 1990s, it is clean enough but has low wattage lighting in public areas. Many steps to the lobby, to the beach, to the restaurants, to the golf club – great exercise but not handicap-friendly if that’s important to you. Only two small elevators in the main hotel but, again, you can take the stairs.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Take the Hop-on, Hop-off bus ($5 equivalent for 9:00AM-9:00PM) to see the tip of the sand spit (but watch those private hotel/beach police!) and back to downtown Veradero and its flea markets to buy junky souvenirs and T-shirts plastered with Che Guevara’s mug shot. Break up your stay in Varadero by taking a day tour to Havana. Have an over-priced Mojito at the bar frequented by Ernest Hemmingway. The Spanish colonial architecture is crumbling in Havana, the old-style 1950s cars are kept to amuse the tourists (most have replacement Hyundai or Kia motors) and, the government-run cultural tourist gift warehouse is full of white sales cubicles and computer-generated ‘art’ (there are a few, but very few, original artists). This will round out your excursion day.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The Varadero Golf Club is wrapped around two sides of the Las Americas Hotel. The beach is small and hemmed in at one end by the expropriated Dupont House (Xanadu) converted into a restaurant and clubhouse on a cliff and the Melia Varadero Hotel at the other end. The anal-retentive Cuban tourist police make sure you do not use any other beach than the one for the hotel where you are staying. Got the wrong colour wrist band? Go back! Forget any long walks along the beaches unless you stay on a property that includes a long beach. This confinement of tourists is not for any safety reason but so the Communist government can keep track of people. The public Las Americas Shopping Mall is a short walk away.
Other Comments
On departure, our 11:00 AM hotel bus pick-up to the airport was prompt and contained another Tourist Guide who explained the final tourist tax grab – the $25 CUC per person “Tasa Aeroportuaria” that translates as “Airport Tax”. Can’t get home without paying it. CUC cash only! Two sour-faced Security Department guards in military uniforms stood at the entry to the WestJet plane to collect the boarding card stubs showing each of us had paid our head tax and could depart. We will never return.
Restaurants and Bars
Hotel food is acceptable and plentiful. The open-air La Robleza restaurant by the pool is pleasant but opened later every day we were there – 12:00 Noon, became 12:30 PM then 1:00 PM. And stick with the luncheon meals – our paella took an hour to prepare but was a disappointing heap of rice, turmeric, one shrimp, one small chicken chunk and a piece of shellfish. The imported wine and domestic beer are good. The resort musicians all have CDs for sale ($10-$20 equivalent) and there are theatre shows every night.
Rooms
Rooms are basic two single beds pushed together, TV with CNN, CTV, French, German and Spanish channels, views of the golf course or the pools and ocean. Bathroom is all-beige fake marble and you get a packet of soap, shampoo and bath gel that lasts for one week. Bring your own face cloth. Electric power is 220V. The in-room fridge gets four soft drinks and two beers per day. The maid changes the bed linen if you put the reguest card on the bed (a tip helps).
Your Arrival
When we arrived at the Veradero Airport on January 17/10 we were met by maintenance staff, customs and security staff all wearing masks over their mouths and noses. So, the question is: protection from their germs or ours? Or, is this a hold-up? Given the Cuban attitude that tourists are cash cows (tourism is their largest government money maker far ahead of sisal, sugar, rum, cigars and oil), probably the latter. Our photos were taken, we passed thru security scanning on the way INTO the country, our tourist paper handed out on the plane was stamped but, not a mark appeared on our passports. The bus trip from the airport to hotel drop-offs went smoothly narrated by a Tourist Guide who told us how lucky we were to be in Cuba and how tipping vastly improved service. Yea, capitalism lives!
dump
Hotel Be Live Playa Coco
User Rating:  
Brenda >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This hotel was Not what I expected, the people are NOT happy they expected big tips for every thing. The front desk is the worst customer service I have every seen, paper products are hard to get, we did not get toilet paper in our room,when we arrived. And it took them several hours to get it. Then the maid did not leave any again, this was on going all week, LOTS of no see bugs they do not spray for them, and you well have bites all over you. Then you have to see the doctor for $25.00 then it will cost you for the drugs, bring bug spray if you go to this resort the food is plain NO taste bring spices with you as we did.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
NONE NO direction to whats going on no signs to say whats there we did not know there where bikes on the resort. If you go on the JEEP trip beware it said your OWN jeep but when you pay for this you will end up with a other couple in the jeep with you
Beach/Pools/Grounds
very clean
Other Comments
Bring bug spray and paper product it hard to get them there. I will never go back to Cuba as the people expect money for every thing. There was three of us and we went through $300.00 each in tipping as we did not go on any trips. Due to illness.
Restaurants and Bars
the food is plain no taste and the meat was over cooked. do not go to the BBQ night or Cuban night the food was tremble. every one left and went to the buffet, they are always late in opening on time for breakfast, lunch, dinner.
the nosee bug there on the beach for the BBQ night & Cuban night are very bad they DO NOT spray for them like other resort’s
Rooms
the room was a little dirty fuss balls on the floor and NO toilet paper in the room. all week the fuss was there and always asking for toilet paper.
Your Arrival
Bus was there for you but wanted a big tip for your ride to resort The front deck needs a lot of work on customer service they DON’T CARE, very unhappy people.
On a downhill slide…
Hotel Villa Cojimar
User Rating:  
Miles >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This was our 3rd annual 2 week stay at Villa Cojimar. You can see my 2 previous reviews for a lot of details and in the past I have really promoted this resort, not because the hotel itself is all that great, but it offered great value for a family vacation. It is only a 3 star so you must expect some issues, but this year was too troublesome.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Some key entertainment staff have left and we missed them dearly. It’s just not as much fun anymore.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The main pool was the dirtiest we’ve seen in our trips. We were told it was to be overhauled in the off season and it needs it. The pathways are still terribly dangerous (uneven and poorly lit at night). Don’t leave anything outside your room as many guests had towels, swimsuits, etc. stolen. We had 1 of 4 personal towels stolen along with 1 of 4 sets of beach shoes. Both stolen items were American movie themed items, the rest of our stuff left behind was ‘plain’. The theory amongst guests was that a groundskeeper is grabbing items he can sell in town and putting them in a garbage bag to avoid suspicion in the early morning rounds. Of course ‘security’ was of no help. Don’t count on the ‘lifeguards’ to save you if you are drowning in the pool. They only come by to have a quick dip when they get too hot from preying on young women. My wife had to rescue a small boy who’s parents left him alone with his brother. He got in over his head and couldn’t swim. We were very badly bitten by insects this year after escaping the last 2 years. Tiny black flying insects seemed to appear at dusk and you don’t really notice them when they land on you and bite.
Other Comments
On the positive side, they rebuilt the pier, and they added a play area at the Mini Club (swings and slide etc.). They are spending money on replacing the A/C units for the rooms. They are building new Villas by the beach that look great, but if they can’t service the rooms they already have, how will they handle even more guests? The charm of Villa Cojimar has faded for us, I don’t think we’ll be back after this trip.
Restaurants and Bars
The biggest problem for us this year was the buffet. Selection was much poorer that previous years. The 2nd week was very difficult eating the same food everday. Line ups for freshly cooked eggs, pasta, etc. were too long. Service seems to drop every year in the buffet. Find a good waiter/waitress and tip, then stick with them is you want your glass re-filled! Clean plates are sometimes hard to find, and food items were constantly running out with long waits for them to be refilled. As an example, french fries were brought out little by little so if you wanted any, you had to hover around the empty tray to grab them or they’d be gone in seconds. My wife and kids all got very sick this time, was it the food? We can’t say for sure.
Rooms
For the 3rd straight year our assigned room was substandard and we had to demand a new room, which we got (#55). In the new room the TV did not work properly and the matresses were horribly uncomfortable. They need new beds for this resort but are not spending their money on the basics. Towels have holes in them and are stained etc.
Your Arrival
Front desk people don’t really care about you, they just want people in / out. If you need something, demand it immediately, if they write your request down, it won’t get done. They have no clue what is going on in their own resort. The ‘Masseuse’ was not at his usual place at the beach for the first 12 days we were there (massages at the beach being a highlight for my wife). We asked several times at the front desk and they said he was there at the beach! They appeared not to believe us (that he wasn’t there) and made no effort to find out what was going on. He finally showed up and told us he was at another hotel for the last 2 weeks!
If you are looking for a five star resort don’t go to the Riu Bachata who’s five star rating may be accurate if it was based on a scale of 15!!
Hotel Riu Bachata
User Rating:  
Marilyn >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We travelled to this resort to celebrate our son’s wedding. We were a family group of 17 including 3 children and one teenager.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The off resort activities offered are expensive so we didn’t participate. Not many activities at this resort. Only have a couple of paddle boats and couple of kayaks which were not available most of the time we were there because of rough water. Even then, they are shared by all three resorts. Teenagers have very little to do. The younger children do have activities. Tennis courts etc are so spread out between the three resorts, they are hard to find and busy. The evening entertainment is absolutely pathetic! I’ve been to many other resorts and this one is the worst by far.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds and location are beautiful. The wedding in the gazebo was just gorgeous. I didn’t use the pool – it was very crowded. Beach was clean and there were lots of chairs. Swimming at the end of the Bachata property is very rocky. Go down towards the Mambo for a sandy bottom.
Other Comments
The wedding and people who helped us were excellent. Sunquest is not going to be much help if you run into problems. Our son became very ill ( stomach problems ) on our 5th day. (The doctor at the resort was very caring and professional.) Our son, who is 26, was taken by ambulance to Puerto Plata where he was admitted. We were all very worried and having to taxi back and forth. There was a phone for us to keep in touch with him at the front desk. One member of the staff at the front desk would allow us to call the hospital at no charge, and then the next one would charge us $1. I think they just pocketed the dollar when they felt like it. On the 6th night I approached a Sunquest rep to explain our situation – we were going to be late getting to the airport as we had to take a taxi to the hospital and have our son discharged – our flight left at noon. I asked if it would be possible to prebook a seat for my son in which he could stretch out and not be crowded. Also, not have to stand in the long check in line. He would not help me. He told me he could not do anything and that I should look for the rep who would be there. Now, how was that going to help us??

If it had not been for the beautiful beach and lovely wedding I would have called this resort a disaster. We stayed at the Bahia Principe San Juan 2 years ago and would recommend it way before this supposed 5 star. All in all, I have decided I will not be returning to the Dominican Republic.

Restaurants and Bars
There was very little variety in food at this resort. Not much fruit. The cooks gave you the feeling you were bothering them. I set a serving spoon back on the platter and one cook grabbed it and dropped it purposefully on the saucer it was supposed to be on. Constant little things like that made us all feel uncomfortable. The children could stand in the line as long as the adults then would be ignored by the cook until one of us appeared. All in all the serving staff were unfriendly unless you were forking out the cash – even then, if it was only a dollar or two, they were not impressed!
The two ala carte restaurants are in two sections of one building which is also the lunch buffet. You still have to serve yourself salad/ appetizers. Staff here were very pleasant and professional though. Although you were not limited to 2 meals here, we didn’t bother because the food was not very good. Bars serve weak drinks which is OK. Bartenders tend to pick favourites and ignore others. Again, money talks.
Rooms
Clean but beds hard. We might as well slept on the floor.
Forget about having your fridge refilled.( by the way at this resort the in- room bar and fridge are replenished every 2 days.) We only had ours refilled ONCE in 7 days. The rest of our group had the same problem, although, miraculously, they were refilled if you paid. Don’t stay in building #9. Rooms are moldy smelling and it is beside the bar that stays open 24hrs. Those close to the bar can forget about sleeping. 3 of our group of 5 rooms here, had to be changed, which they were good about. Air conditioners in half the rooms didn’t work. My son called for 2 days and finally repaired it himself. Rooms are supposed to have umbrellas, non of ours did. ( It rained for 2 days while we were there)
Your Arrival
Our arrival was fine – we were greeted with a cold drink. Only glitch was the man who was handing us our luggage said to my husband " you pay me". A omen for what was to come. Our rooms were not together as we had requested.
We went for lunch in the beach restaurant and one of the represntatives came over to "greet" us. I know he just wanted to make sure we weren’t a "wild bunch" who were there to party because he asked who was in charge of the group. That was me.
Don’t Bother
Hotel Dreams Punta Cana Resort & SPA
User Rating:  
Carol >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Nothing was nearby off the resort. The excursions appeared to be greatly over-priced and just not worth it. If you were at a beach resort where you should be able to go in the ocean, why pay more to be bussed to another resort to do the same thing? The CORE zone was a joke. No one was ever there other than the 1-2 employees who were assigned to the area. No one offered to let you participate in any of the activities, such as the rock climbing wall or the archery. It seemed to be too much of a bother for the employees to get off of their chairs and set anything up.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is very small. The pool is only 3 feet deep. Everywhere. The ocean was green, not the expected blue, and the caution flags on the beach remained up for our entire trip. Some days you could not go in the water, and other days you could go in if you were "cautious". None of the water activities were do-able due to the beach cautions. If you want to sit like a blob, it was perfect.
Other Comments
Okay, I may be at times thrifty, but seriously…$52 dollars for 2 bottles of sunscreen and some aloe when our stash from home ran out?? I guess they know that there is no other place to shop, so they stick it to you big time!
Restaurants and Bars
Food at or below average. The buffet did not change from day to day and the food was never worthy of the walk to dinner. The Japanese restaurant rated an average. The Mexican restaurant left me wondering what about it was Mexican.
Rooms
First, let me tell you that I reserved our room in the preferred club, so that we would receive the best treatment and have ou own concierge. The room that I had booked for my two teens and I was supposed to have 2 queen beds. The room we were given had 1 king bed. Not acceptable. The other choices I was given were a tiny room with two full beds, or I could pay another $700 to "upgrade" to a room with 1 king, which I shared with my daughter, and a pull out chair, which became my son’s bed. I hate to think about the rooms that are not in the preferred club. We had ants in the bathroom sink all week. Never resolved. We had water dripping from our ceiling. Resolved within hours. There were no screens on our patio door or windows. Never resolved. The patio door lock was broken. Never resolved. The refrigerator in the room never actually got cold. Never resolved. The bathroom light bulb burned out and for some reason could not be replaced until mid-morning. Showered in the dark. Several times a day the power to the room would go out for a few minutes at a time. Okay…that was the room.
Your Arrival
Safe. We arrived at the airport and were stopped to pay an entrance fee of $15 per person, cash only. 15 feet beyond this "booth" was a second "booth" where you turned in the tourist tickets for which you had just paid $15 per person. Why, exactly, do they waste the paper and our time rather than just collecting the cash an letting us pass through. We were lead to a van, uur luggage loaded, and we climbed on board. 10 minutes later, we were asked to identify our luggage so that it could be moved, along with us, to a second van. The first one had apparently changed course already. The driver was pleasant, and the 50 minute drive was uneventful.
Rat in the room!
Hotel Barceló Marina Palace
User Rating:  
Mark >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
By no means do we want to discourage anyone from going to Cuba. We had a fabulous time in Havana! Amazing city, rich with culture. A must to visit if in Cuba but the Barcelo Marina Palace is a disgrace! We have traveled to many tropical all-inclusive resorts and never have we experienced what we encountered at this Barcelo resort. Rude and belligerent staff. Yes they do run out of wine. A la carte restaurants – no comment. Mosquitoes are welcome at this resort and other bugs as well. Our first night there I got up at 2AM to use the washroom and encountered an eight inch rat in our room. Their reaction to the rat was unbelievable. They did not apologize in any way but rather made us feel terrible for the inconvenience we had caused them. After more than two hours of negotiating, we were moved from a king bed/ocean view room to a double bed room facing an extremely noisy road. It should have been a week of R&R with family but who can relax when you don’t feel welcome. Thank goodness for the "fantastic six" that traveled with us. We would not have survived without them! Visit Cuba, especially Havana, but don’t make the mistake we did by staying at the Barcelo Marina Palace.
Not that impressed
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
User Rating:  
Mike from Winnipeg >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We went with Sunwing Vacations who said it was a "Family Friendly Resort", not so much….. Let me begin by preficing this review by saying that it was not all bad, and that I will also point out some of the good things, but please read further to fully understand the concerns. Let’s see where do I start?? We pre-booked in Oct/09 as a group of 7 travellers, and asked for 3 separate rooms in the same building and we were not accomodated because their "resort was full". This was not the end of the world, but my parents ended up being stuck in a building full of young rowdy teenagers. This was a large spacious resort with beautiful grounds despite all of the messy Canadians who felt obliged to throw their garbage all over instead of using the many recepticles provided!!! After seeing this I found it disappointing to recognize myself as a Canadian for the first time in my life. The shuttle service was slow and at times non-existent, which was not a problem for myself, but my 73 year old mother found it difficult at times. This was especially true at night because the lighting was poor, but I also noted that a bunch of yahoo Canadian kids had ripped out the light posts all over the resort, and the maintenance staff could not keep up with all of the repairs needed. We found out the next day that there is a travel tour company (from Canada) called S-tours that caters to teenager’s looking for a "good time" in Cuba that uses this resort. This was a problem. I am not sure how the resort, Sunwing vacations, or anyone in fact thinks that mixing droves of drunk teenagers and families with young children is appropriate or "family oriented". My kids were treated to watching young scantily clad teenage girls (mostly from Montreal and Toronto) lie themselves on top of the pool bar (this is where the waterslide is by the way) and have the bartender pour shots of liquor into their belly button for young males to drink from. This was Lesson # 1 of the world for my 9 year old son I guess… Then there was the food throwing incident at 5:00 am in a few of the buildings. Apparently teens were ordering 10 burgers at a time and knocking on doors at 5:00 am and throwing them at the room occupants. Nice…. The best one for the week.. no,let me restate this. The most disappointing thing was hearing about the wedding that the teens crashed on the beach. A very nice couple from Nova Scotia were married on the beach, and the reception that followed was crashed by a bunch of yahoo Canadian teens that thought it would be funny to throw chairs and start a fight…. at a wedding. Now there’s a memory that bride will never forget.

I believe that there were some teens sent home early, but the point that I am trying to make is that this by no means is representative of "family friendly" activity, and I do not think that reviews will be any different than the one I am providing until the resort decides

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Lots of day trips available for reasonable prices to go off resort. The Havana day trip was very interesting for the culture and amazing architecture, but was a little too long for my liking. Also a lot of walking, so if you are disabled or a little long in the tooth, I advise you to do something else.

On-site activity workers try very hard to get things going, but if your over forty or under 16 they do not cater to you very much.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Smallish beach front, but well utilized by the patrons and staff. Good activities staff and they also include most of the watersports for free!!! Quiet pool is very nice and for the most part quiet. The Activity Pool, which has the waterslide is fantastic, except that the teens hang out at this pool, so in lies my problems described above.

Groundskeepers are overworked due to the teens ripping apart the shrubs and strewing garbage all over the place, but they usually have things looking very presentable by 10:00 am every day (they start at 7:00 am) for a resort this size.

Other Comments
Make sure you take travel health insurance. A gent over 60 got clipped by one of the shutle carts and fell and broke his wrist. The resort took him to the hospital, but assumed none of the responsibility of paying for his treatment.
Restaurants and Bars
Al-a-cartes were not very special, but it’s Cuba, so what do you expect. Everyone knows the food is not the reason to go to Cuba for vacation. My family and I did find the food at the buffet more than acceptable, and actually quite tasty for the most part. Bring a small bottle of ketchup and a small jar of peanut butter if these are staples in your household, because their ketchup is not very good and they do not have peanut butter.

There is a snack bar down by the beach which is amazing. They have outside BBQs that they serve the best pork on a bun I have ever had and a decent burger according to my 9 year old son, the burger expert.

Rooms
Very large and spacious. Very well decorated and maintained by the housekeeping and maintenance staff. We had a few things that needed to be repaired and they were done within a few hours. Bathrooms are HUGE, but the bathtubs are set too high and require a step stool (provided) to get in. Also the tub design was flawed as water runs out the back of the tile surface onto the floor. We just placed an extra towel at the back of the tub to catch the water. This worked fine, and the maid understood what we were doing with this towel so she left it there. Toilets are eco-friendly (low flow flush style), nice touch. Each room has TV with American and Cuban stations. Also there is a CD player, so bring CD’s as there are no good music stations and poor radio reception. Fridge in room was restocked daily with beer, water, and soft drinks. In-room safe is electronic and is 2 CUC/day = cheap.

Beds are small, but very comfortable, and they give you 4 large body pillows /room. These are very comfortable.

Your Arrival
Front desk staff was friendly, but spend too much time talking to each other instead of serving customers promptly. This was not the case for us, but I did watch other guests get very frusrated by this
awful Theresa and Graydon Lewis Pembroke Ontario Canada
Hotel Riu Taino
User Rating:  
Theresa >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
ist room was musty and small, gave extra money to move got a better room. Staff try to be helpful.Food was all the sameday after day. The four of us in our party got sick i mean sick my brother-in law was in the hospital3 days,the three of us left never ate or drank for 3 days. We were all dehydrated and weak. This is a 2 maybe a2.5 star.Staff were friendly and did there best.

Never again and feel we should be compensaded for 3 of the 10 days paid.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
beach was the best part bars good friendly staff.
Other Comments
Would like to talk to someone from riu Mamagement if i had a contact name
Rooms
bad and need renovating.Heard they were tearing this resort down and rebuilding.Maybe they should not have made reservations this year,
Your Arrival
Feb.26th 2010 till March 8th /10 days 4 sick days times 4 people
Cuba OK, Hotel not so much!
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
User Rating:  
Peter >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Havana was great (history and sites), tour guide excellent (knowledgeable and friendly). Scenery very good and lots of opportunity for picture taking.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Much of the beach has washed away and not cleaned up from past season storm, very messy for most (2/3rds). Grounds still developing as hotel fairly new. BBQ area best point about hotel (food and staff).
Other Comments
Don’t go to relax at March break and be ready to tip for everything. Hotel lobby money exchange very unfriendly. Roads in good condition for travel but be ready for lots of traffic.
Restaurants and Bars
Main buffet same food daily, poor service and long lines,
Rooms
Room good but beds hard to sleep on. Bring your own wash cloth as none here. Maids did well with limited resources.
Your Arrival
Check-in at 3:30 AM went well.
Marival Disappointing!
Hotel Grand and Club Marival Hotel
User Rating:  
Jay >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Stayed at Marival Mar.14-21. Decor, furnishing, architecture, landscaping was disappointing. Reception, lobby, bar areas could be found in any mid value hotel in Seattle or Vancouver. Very little in way of Mexican themes, art or architecture. Room very disappointing. Looked to be 20 yrs, old. Door had old style key lock (which you had to carry around your neck when you left) instead of newer magnetic card. Room furnishing similar to any good Motel 8, bed was short (I’m only 5′ 10"), no fan in bathroom (was like a sauna after showering), blow dryer wall mount kept falling off with each use, and had to pay $2/day for use of room safe. The rooms need a serious upgrade and renovation. Biggest complaint was NOISE in the room in the evening. Stayed on 2nd floor. Main floor/ lobby area had a large bar/sitting area that was used every night 9-11:30 for small bands, karaoke, singing, games ect.. Speakers were turned high and it was so noisy that it was impossible to sleep or relax. Seemed like the speakers were in the corridor outside the room. Many people in the building bought and used ear plugs, which they sold in the shop. Not what I paid for. The entertainment was not of a high standard and the building, stage and seating that it was presented in had a high school feel to it. Marival positives- good food, drink and service, excellent pools and beaches. Marival is very good for families with children and has an excellent water area for them. Overall, it was OK during the day, but not a good value in my estimation. Last year I stayed at the Iberostar in Cancun for about the same money (maybe $400-500 more for the two of us) and it was exceptional compared to Marival.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Didn’t participate in any activities.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Good!
Other Comments
I wouldn’t come again, as, for similar money, there are far better resorts available.
Restaurants and Bars
OK! Breakfasts were fine as were the restaurants.
Rooms
Clean but basic! No fan in bathroom, bed was short and the furnishings were motel 6 quality.
Noise in the evening was atrocious, with music, games, karoeke, ect. playing full volume on the main floor below and echoing up through the cement building. Many guests resorted to buying earplugs, available at the shop, to enable them to sleep. This is not what a 4/5 star resort is supposed to be!
Your Arrival
Arrived after a quick 20 min. trip from the airport. Tour guide on the bus urged us to take various excursions from the hotel and reminded us to tip if we were happy with the service. Reception area was clean, basic and quick. was surprised that we were being charge $3.00 a day for the room safe.

When we completed the check in, a representative sat us down to give a overview of the resort. This was just a push to sign up for a time share presentation. Extremely annoying and a waste of our time!

understaffed and overcrowded
Hotel Bahia Principe Punta Cana
User Rating:  
TK >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This resort was lacking simple ammenities: Pool towels were unavailable, air conditioning wasn’t working, rooms weren’t cleaned until almost dinner, unfriendly staff
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
excursion = Marinarium… must see… swim with nurse sharks and sting rays
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Excellent beach. Limited chairs. Beautiful, well manintained grounds.
Restaurants and Bars
Understaffed. Difficult to find tables at breakfast in particular. Food was mediocre.
Rooms
Not very clean. Outdated.
Your Arrival
Arrival was rushed and confusing. Packets were handed to guests as we arrived on a bus with no verbal information. Rooms were not ready upon arrival. While this is common, no one gave us information as to when.
Attempted Rape! Do not make the mistake of going here
Hotel Cubanacan Club Amigo Marea del Portillo
User Rating:  
Zaid >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2010 | Party | With Spouse/Partner
We stayed in the Marea del Portillo resort for one week starting July 21st. We met so many awesome people there and had a great time. One night, one of the girls we met went to the washroom. She was pulled by her elbow into a dark corner by security and was told to stay with them. When she asked to leave and tried to pull her arm away, they pulled her back into the corner and started to touch her inappropriately, despite her numerous demands for them to stop and to let her go. The security staff was backed up by management and the receptionist refused to call the police for over an hour before I tried to bride her with 5 pesos to call the police. The police said they could not do anything because it was all just the girl’s word versus the security guard’s and therefore the rapist security guard was back on his shift walking the grounds outside the room that the girl stayed in. He was not fired and he was not in any real trouble. We found out the hard way that in Cuba, a tourist should have bruises, scrapes, scratches and vaginal damage for anyone to be charged with rape or attempted rape. Upon leaving, airport security asked about the situation. They acted as if they were going to help, and asked to see the picture we had of the rapist security guard. When we showed them the picture, they deleted it from our camera to get rid of evidence. We now have to contact the Canadian Embassy and other officials to try to bring justice for a girl that has been changed forever. Security is all over the resort, and that’s definitely NOT a good thing. They didn’t serve, protect or do anything to help anyone. There were numerous complaints of security stealing from hotel rooms, asking for beers or food too many times, and even peeping into hotel rooms to watch as vacationers changed or were being intimate in their rooms. I even tested their security by yelling out several times "Seccoro!" which is Spanish for "help me" at the top of my lungs at a far dark area in the resort and none of them showed up. However, they were definitely there to watch us dancing together in the disco at night. The city, the beach, the pool and the activites were all too beautiful to describe in words… however the security and rest of the staff were completely rude and ignorant and just got ruder and more ignorant if you complained.

I do not recommend going to this city unless you DO NOT want to party or have a loud time on your vacation and I especially do not recommend going there if you are not fluent in Spanish. If you are a senior or a family with young children and don’t mind bad food (even by Cuba’s standards) then this resort can provide you a simple and inexpensive vacation – just make sure you lock all your belongings in your suitcase every time you leave the room.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities were fantastic! Horseback riding was inexpensive and beautiful. The cruise had an open bar and music and was also very inexpensive. There were also other activities we didn’t partake in that looked fun such as snorkeling, lobster lunch on a nearby white sand beach, jeep mountain tour, etc.
Arrival
Beatiful weather and cute, tiny airport… Horrible 2 hour bumpy bus ride to the resort.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach had brown sand (which we didn’t mind) and the water was so warm we couldn’t believe it! The water temperature was just too perfect to imagine.
Pool temperature was perfect as well. The pool was closed early at night and they did throw bleach and other harmful chemicals in there – which was a shame due to the perfect pool temperature for night-time swimming.
Other Comments
Find an English speaking lawyer in Cuba before going to Manzanillo to party. It’s just not a party city and the service is bad enough if you aren’t drunk and belligerent, so if you do start to get loud the service will go from bad to worse. If you complain the service will drop off the scale to an unacceptable level.
Restaurants and Bars
Bars closed whenever the bartenders felt like it, so we suggest buying water and other drinks from the gift shop for the nights that the bars decide to close at 11:30 PM.
Restaurants were ok, but the food and the service was not. There were numerous occasions of having rude service and the food was constantly recycled from the day before. The food in this resort was horrible compared to the food in another resort in Varradero that I had on my last trip to Cuba.
Rooms
An insect infestation of 4 different types of bugs resulted in us having to change rooms. The second room was much better, however the security guards do peep into the rooms, so we recommend only being intimate in the dark for short periods and changing in the washroom.
Very Hot
Hotel Bavaro Princess
User Rating:  
Ursula >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I would never stay at the resort during the hot months. Unfortunatly most of the dining halls as well as the lobby do not have airconditioning.One can not enjoy the food if one at the first bite perspires. Another sore point Guests are allowed to smoke in the dinninghall. A lady on the next table smoked. We asked her to please stop because we had a 14 month old baby at the table, she just laught and refused . There is a huge problem with the loungenchairs and gazebos at the beach. Guests get up at 5 AM put their towels on the chairs and go back to sleep. Most of the time they do not show up until late morning or afternoon. When I pointed it out to the staff it appear to me nobody cared. The same applied at the large swimming pool.The concept of Bavaro Princess is a great one but needs much improvement.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
A lot were listed but did not neccessarily commence as posted
Arrival
Room was not ready a big inconvinience!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
pools could use a fresh coat of paint
Other Comments
The ground were immaculet
Restaurants and Bars
The airconditioned restaurant were also very good and the wait staff very attentive
Rooms
The housekeepers were great. The room was always clean with fresh towels and plenty of bottled water.
The toilette has some issues it overflowed twice
Very very disappointed !
Hotel Tryp Península
User Rating:  
ross >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2010 | Leisure | Family
5 star HA! No welcome drink. Main buffet still closed for wks. to come although web states till Nov. Beach buffet small and mainly always the same poor quality food. A la carte food @ International wasn’t edible. Water/towels in room not replaced-calls to reception produced no replacements. Table staff @ buffet & a la carte were always great, as was the beach and pool. Entertainment was 90% in Spanish so we couldn’t understand what they said.
Arrival
Processed quickly.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Great with lots of sport activities
Restaurants and Bars
Very poor food,but good bars and staff.
Rooms
ok
Dissastisfied
Hotel Iberostar Paraiso Maya
User Rating:  
Russ >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My overall opinion of the Iberostar Paraisio Maya Resort (All Inclusive) is marginal. The facility (Architecture) is quaint and the bars are delightful (all the booze you want at no extra charge, no skimping and good quality to boot), but the resturant food is atrocious and the quality of service at the resturants was in general unsatisfactory. On one ocasion at the Stake House the stakes we ordered came out cold and were not cooked to order and the head waiter did not accommdate us without an argument. On another occasion at the Seafood Resturant it took 20 minutes for all in our party to be served their meals. This was totally unacceptable. The only resturant with acceptable food was the Japanese Habachi Resturant and it was unfortunate we dined there the only once, the last night. Our party consisted of 9 adults and two children one 2 years and the otehr 5 years. We could not secure reservations at any of the resturants earlier than 9:00 PM even though we made them the day we arrived. Feeding young childeren this late is totally unacceptable for a facility that accommodates children. We took a side trip to Xel-Ha to snorkel and actually had a great esperience and the food there was outstanding. In this regard, the Iberostar Resorts need to take pointer for this facility for sure. I highly recomment the Xel-Ha facility. The A/C unit in my room had to be repired twice during our stay. The water temeperature in the swimming pool was extremely cold and very few guests were enjouying the pool. You would think with the international crsss section of cultures this facility could have provided facilities to adjust the pool water temperature in the winter months. The water temperature in the pool must have been in the high 60 to low 70 deg F. with the daily temperature running in the high 70 to low 80 deg F. The beds are extremely firm and in my opinion made it impossible to get a restful sleep. There were bats flying around during the day and night and the sliding doors leading to the patio in the rooms were not furnished with a screen so we could not leave the door open at night. The beach facility was over crowded every day and it was almost impossible to secure a covered space.

I was surprised to experience such disastidfication for a 5-Star rated Resort even though reviews I read of this Resort all appeared to be favorable. All in all, I could not recommend this facility based on my experience. It was definitely money not well spent.

Room Number
6531, 6536, 6638
Hotel is horrible not a 4* for sure
Hotel Be Live Brisas Santa Lucia
User Rating:  
DIANA >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | Family
If your are looking for a nice hotel this is not the place to be, this resort is run down to the max, the linnen is horrible so old and smelly nothing i have ever seen :(…..however, the staff is wonderful can’t be any nicer. Food eh somewhat ok at times, very small buffet. Entertainment need major work..i wouldn’t recomend anyone to this hotel until they do so reno. The rooms are nasty….the beach need to be cleaned too much weeds and no maintenance.
Arrival
DEC 16-26, 2010
Room Number
714 &711
Some days you couldn’t go on the beach
Hotel Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Deb >  1 contribution(s) 
Nov, 2006 | Leisure | Family
Hi, My family and I took a holiday at The Blau Colonial in Cayo Coco, Cuba on the 29th November 2006 for two weeks. We flew with Thomas Cook airlines and booked the holiday on the internet which I found to be a really smooth, quick,and easy armchair booking and would recommend to anyone!
Activities
We found it very windy throughout our stay at the resort which resulted in our deep-sea fishing being cancelled. Some days you couldn’t go on the beach because the sand blows in your eyes and the sea was that rough throughout the whole of our stay apart from 3 days. There was sea weed on he beaches every day and lots of it and because of the wind the water sports were shut apart from those 3 days mentioned earlier and we were allowed a pedlo and Kayak and further down the beach they had parasailing which was a lovely experience with fantastic views of the Blau Colonial and neighbouring hotels and you have to pay for this but it’s well worth it.
Arrival
The flight over to Cayo Coco was a good one and the staff were pleasant and helpful, however we had to pay for our drinks and snacks on board which I’m not used to doing. There were five of us travelling my husband, son, daughter and boyfriend not forgetting myself and so a mixed age group from 13 yrs, 21, 25, 41 and 42. We arrived at the airport and went through customs and they pulled us all on one side and took us in to a private room, trying to ask us lots of questions (English not to good) and made us feel like terrible criminals but realise they are just doing there job! They then continued to open all the suitcases and empty all the contents out, not what you want after a 9+ hour flight! Two hours later we finally get on the run down bus and make our way to our Hotel. The journey was a short one which is quite a relief after a long flight and the booking in at the reception was quick and easy although their English wasn’t to brilliant.
Conclusion
All in all we had a good time with a few downfalls to the place that we found which were mainly: Hotel in need of a refurbishment all round, lack of good entertainment we were all bored after 10 days and ready to go home. Most of the staff very nice, polite and friendly but a few in need of training for manners and lack of English! The 24 hour snack bar is awful and the menu boring and if you order to your room unless you tip well you are in for a long wait. We waited for over an hour the one time. The restocking of the mini bar was rubbish unless you ordered it every morning and even then was not guaranteed to get your can of Cuban beer and 2 cans of coke or maybe a sprite if your lucky. Management definitely need to look at this aspect. My husband used the bank on two occasions and on both times they short changed us but luckily the husband is very switched on where money is concerned and had already worked out what was due to us down to the pence and luckily he picked them up on this however the banker argued with my Husband before he rectified the mistakes he had made on both occasions and finally apologised saying he thought he had given us twenties not tens. If my husband had not realised we would of been nearly £300.00 out of profit so please be aware before changing your money. The water in the shower was nearly always cold and no water pressure. If you want a decent size bath make sure you get back to your room early before other people so you may be lucky enough to get some hot water but bare in mind it takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to pour a bath some. The toiletries they supply ie: shampoo, conditioner, shower cap and shower gel do not get replaced at all. The maids swept our balcony twice in the two weeks we were there and I asked the one maid if she would do it for us and she said yes but never did it so I ended up doing it myself by borrowing there broom and they never once offered!

I would definitely rate this hotel 3 stars not 4, they need to make some changes before they reach the 4 stars and it could be a fantastic place at the right time of year. If your looking for a quiet retreat with not much to do but lay in the sun all day and your room for just putting your head down and some decent food then this is the place for you but definitely not for the young at heart that want to party 24/7 or people looking for a bit of luxury and sophistication! Not for children either in my opinion.

Food
We spent a fair amount of time by the pool because of the weather and enjoyed our selves with the entertainment staff and played volley ball, yarey’s bar right on hand which serves a lunchtime menu of Pizza’s, burgers, chicken and chips and a buffet salad bar which was just about satisfactory. The buffet restaurant was very good and we enjoyed almost all of our meals in there. On a few occasions some of the dish’s looked like the left over’s from the previous evenings dinner and I am fairly convinced it was but avoided anything that looked funny as did the rest of my family. The Italian restaurant served lovely food and we enjoyed both meals in there and it was voted to be our favourite unanimously. The fish restaurant was very good but the menu not really very exiting so we ordered lobsters for everyone and they were fantastic and very cheap (We had to order them at reception and pay separate) however the extra cost was well worth it!
Pool
The swimming pool was large and very nice and had 4 sections to it with one end being quiet and the other end can be very noisy and make sure you get there early to be able to get a sun lounger. The paint in the pool had come off in places which made it look a little shabby but overall not bad.
Room
They allocated our rooms in the main building two floors up above the reception area. The bedroom was ok although really needed a refurb but it was clean and fairly spacious with two double beds in the room, french doors opening up over the square in front and a very large balcony to the side overlooking the square and the shops to the side but this balcony was a shared balcony with a double room with people we did not no. We were very annoyed that our daughters room was not the double room that shared our balcony. To my mind with booking as a party of five people and requested a family room for three people and a double room for two people they would have put us together. My daughter and boyfriend were given their room down the hall about 10 rooms away. We went and had a word with reception which was hard going with the lack of English however eventually got our point across and they offered us a new room the following day so we could all be together. I then asked when the couple were vacating from the double room that shares the balcony with our room and they told me Sunday so i suggested that my daughter and boyfriend moved to that room on the Sunday as it was only 4 days away and that’s what we did which was ideal and made the holiday that bit better.
Trips
We booked a few trips and the first one we went on was the speedboat trip which we all very much enjoyed. You get to snorkel amidst the mangroves and see all the different fish which is great and drive your own mini speedboat in single file at a fair speed following one of the instructors through the mangroves. Good day out. Our next trip was the 1 day havana trip which was also well worth a look. Our day started with pickup by the hotel reception and coach driven to the airport and boarded a small plane which flew us to Cuba. The flight was fantastic with brilliant views of Cuba but the weather was not good, no sunshine just clouds and lots of rain which spoiled it a bit as we were all very cold but nobody on the trip had a jacket and the air con was on all the time in the coach that picked us up from the airport in Havana and took us on our tour. A very interesting tour but not for teenagers! My 13 year old son was very bored with it all! We got to speak to the locals and it upset me when they discussed how they have to live but was glad I went on this trip. Our deep-sea fishing trip was cancelled and the weather did not get good enough to rebook which was disappointing but we did book the catamaran trip which would have been brilliant if the weather had of been better. The views were spectacular and we visited a boat wreck which now belongs to the crabs who are very protective over it. We unfortunately had cloud for the whole day which ruined it and again very windy and quite cold so if you book this trip and it looks dull on the day you go be sure to take a jacket. Dinner is served on board with drinks all included. Our dinner was Lobster tails, Chicken, rice and vegetables which was really nice. Recommend highly!
The food was very good
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Robert08 >  1 contribution(s) 
Apr, 2008 | Leisure | Family
I am 43 my wife is 30. We have a 9 and 1 year old. The food was very good and the little bridge to restaurant you could occasionally smell something awful stale water. the beach and people were great also show we good. Only compliant is the rooms were musty and the bathroom were poorly maintained. Toilet did not flush had to lift lid and pull string, shower head clogged poor flow and uneven.
The entertainment at night was great for kids and adults.
Hotel Barcelo Puerto Plata
User Rating:  
Darlene, Ontario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2009
Arrival: Trip from Toronto to hotel was very long as we were delayed in Toronto for 4 hours, upon arrival at airport very quickly went through customs no problem, looked for our bus very well organized very informative on the bus ride to the hotel.

Rooms:

As we were late arriving our rooms were ready for us very clean we were in the prestige rooms bathrobe and slippers were there for us, beds were turned down everynight bar was well stocked, had problem with toilet phoned down was fixed in no time

Restaurants and Bars:

Buffet and all of the al la cartes, snack bars, pizza bar were excellent, food was well cooked atmosphere was very nice in all al la cartes…SERVICE WAS OUTSTANDING

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

They were always cleaning the grounds no garbage was anywhere very efficient in picking up anyy plastic glassses around the pool and even on the beach. You could walk on the beach for miles….it was hard finding chairs but that is at any resort…vendors on the beach not bothersome you said no they did not pressure anyone to buy

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

Our kids went on the dune buggy tour for 3 hours in the rain had a fantastic time would do it again in a second

Other Comments:

I found this resort to be very entertaining no one got sickwhich is wonderful and says a lot for any hotel in that area as I have been to the Dominican before and always got sick, there was 5 of us no one got sick everyone and a wonderful time, service was fantastic, rooms very clean, security excellent felt very safe when you were even out walking around the complex after dark.

There entertainment at night was great for kids and adults, the staff that entertained with different events during the day were fantastic

It exceeded our expectations
Hotel Breezes (formerly Starfish) Trelawny Resort
User Rating:  
Jan >  5 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
Arrival: Feb 10 – 17 Flight was on time, the bus for transfer to the hotel was not at the airport when we arrived, but it did arrive within half an hour….it took approx. 35 minutes to arrive at hotel….smooth check in….as I was first in line!!

Rooms

Rooms are in a need of an upgrade, rather disappointing on initial arrival, but after a few days, the room grew on us……bathroom sadly needs major makeover, but we had lots of hot water most days and lots of pressure for showers etc…the tv had tons of channels, could even watch our local city tv station from Toronto……..only problem is, the volume was quite loud and could not be turned down…had a nice balcony and they supplied a bar for your wet clothes.

Restaurants and Bars

main dinner restaurant left alot to be desired, lunch and breakfast were fine…we upgraded and ate at the speciality restaurants..Casablanca, and Guiseppes….wonderful….men need long pants for Casablanca and no open toed shoes were allowed either…….some menu items were not extra….i.e. the lasagna was wonderful and it was included….at Guiseppes….wonderful staff especially Adrian at the Casablanca and Caroldean at Guiseppes….most bar staff very friendly…especially at the pool bar and boy, are they over worked…needed another bar by the pool….too many line ups most of the day…would recommend a Hummingbird drink……….wonderful and healthy with a fresh banana in it!!

Beach/Pools/Grounds

grounds were lovely, well kept and clean…pools by the beach were amazing…the private beach located to the right of the resort, is absolutely stunning, the water was so warm and you could walk out quite far…

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

lots of poolside activities, entertainment at night was mostly bands, but not every night…….good music…did not go on any tours….

Other Comments

this was definately a three star resort in many ways, and in some it exceeded our expectations….lots of families with children, so if that is a problem, you may want to stay somewhere else…heard that they are changing ownership in October and becoming a Breezes, so the price will definately go up, but hopefully there will be some renos done at the same time……..all in all…considering everything, I would say it was definately rated a 7 out of 10 most days…

Arrival: Feb 10 – 17
Flight was on time, the bus for transfer to the hotel was not at the airport when we arrived, but it did arrive within half an hour….it took approx. 35 minutes to arrive at hotel….smooth check in….as I was first in line!!
Rooms
Rooms are in a need of an upgrade, rather disappointing on initial arrival, but after a few days, the room grew on us……bathroom sadly needs major makeover, but we had lots of hot water most days and lots of pressure for showers etc…the tv had tons of channels, could even watch our local city tv station from Toronto……..only problem is, the volume was quite loud and could not be turned down…had a nice balcony and they supplied a bar for your wet clothes
The Gran Ventana is a very nice resort but we will not be returning.
Hotel Gran Ventana Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Eldon ~ Smiths >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2009
Arrival: March 07 – 14 This was our fouth vacation to the Dominican Republic. Our four-some travelled from Montreal with Sunwing. The flight was great and Sunwing service was excellent. A bus with a Sunwing Rep. was waiting for us at the Puerto Plata airport. He gave the usual welcoming speech and the need-to-know info. At least that is what we assume he was doing. Although he was advised that we spoke only English, he delivered the whole communication in French. I understand a very small amount of French and he did get a laugh we he pointed at us and said something about English and then stated that the "whole world spoke French". From that point on we were completely ignored.

Rooms

We arrived at Gran Ventana in the late afternoon. Sign-in was quick and easy. each couple was given a room on the second floor of building three. This is approximately a three minute walk from the front entrance of the main lobby. The rooms are a nice size and clean with one king bed, but they are quite dated. The room my wife and I had was located at the rear of the building. The air conditioner was not working and the ceiling fan had only one speed. Through the night there was a lot of noisey activity on the road that ran along the back. I went to the front desk the next morning and we were immediately transferred to the second floor of building two. This room was much fresher and quieter. The maid service was good. Depending on the gift of children’s clothing or school supplies, we also left either a 50 or 100 peso tip. We were very well looked after and personal tyouches made it obvious the maid was very grateful.

Restaurants and Bars

We ate all but two meals at the main buffet. There was always a good selection which was well prepared. There were some items that were not as good as others, but that was probably only an issue of personal preferance. One problem we did encounter was that if any us didn’t have wine or beer with our lunch or dinner, we were not offered any alternatives. Most of the time, the hot water from the urn in the buffet area was barely warm enough to steep the tea.

The bar at the beach also has a snack area. There you could have a decent lunch or afternoon snack. This area was converted into an a la carte resteraunt in the evening. We had one dinner at the Italian restaraunt. The food and service was great. We could not have asked for a nicer evening. The next evening we ate at the Octopus restaurant. This did not meet our expectations. although some aspects of the meal were very good, others were not and the service was mediocre at best. Two of us ordered the seafood platter. It was more like a stew with a lot of squid as the main ingredient. Although we both enjoy seafood, we found this to be very disappointing and basically flavourless. My wife had a chicken dish which was good and my friend had a steak that he really enjoyed. He said the only problem was the small portion. We met some friends from our area who dined at the beachfront a la carte. They said it was very enjoyable and they would gladly eat there again. There are three bars in the complex and the serving staff are always very polite and accomodating. There is a large selection of both traditional and non-alcohlic drinks.

Beach/Pools/Grounds

The grounds and pools are kept tidy and clean. The beach is cleaned each morning and staff are continually picking up empty glasses and any litter. Although they claim that they do not tolerate saving chairs on the beach, if you go down after 8:00 am, you will see a lot of chairs with towels and very few people in sight. You will have to go early if you want chairs, especially under a cabana. What you do from that point is up to you. The are a number of vendors on the beach. If they appraoch you and you aren,t interested, all you have to do is say, "No thanks". If you are interested in their wears, be ready to barter. They are very good at what they do. The biggest disappointment was getting into the ocean. When the tide is out, the entire width of Gran Ventana beach is covered with coral. This is very effectively hidden in any promotional pictures of the resort. Because of the coral, we felt unsafe even when the tide was in. We had to walk a considerable distance in either direction to find a decent place to swim.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

We did not go on any tours this year, but there are a lot of good ones available. Because we spent most of the day on the beach or in the ocean, we weren’t involved in any of the recreational activities arount the pool. There are available activities such as snorkling, kayaking, biking, tennis etc.. The evening entertainment usually starts with a time for the children. Then each evening offers a variety for adults. We found the the entertainment to be extremely amateurish in ability and presentaion, so after the first evening we found other activities. The only exception was part of a magic show. The magician did have some very good tricks.

Other Comments

The Gran Ventana is a very nice resort but we will not be returning. The only reason for this is the poor access to the ocean. We would rate all other aspects of our stay from good to extremely good.

There is no way I’ll stay at Dreams again.
Hotel Dreams Palm Beach
User Rating:  
Steve from New Jersey >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jul, 2009
Arrival: June 26 – July 01
We flew on a 6:00am flight on Apple Vacations charter airline, USA 3000. The check in at Philadelphia was chaotic. Nothing is computerized. Other than that, the flight was uneventful, which means great. The flight attendants were extremely friendly. Our return flight was also great. Again, the flight crew was excellent.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We did the parasailing. They promise you 12 minutes, but they only deliver about 6-8. Still, it was fun. We also went deep sea fishing. You have to do a lot of negotiating to get a decent price. After 3 hours of boredom, we did catch a 6 Marlin, so in the end it was worth it.
Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The grounds are very nice. The pools are large. I think the resort was very full, so chair and float saving was a very big issue. We were up at 7:30 to make sure we got floats and lounges. The beach is powdery soft white sand and the ocean is crystal clear. It’s probably just the time of year, summer, or maybe just all those people sitting at the swim up bar and not moving all day, but the pool water was warmer than the air. The ocean is cooler and more refreshing.
Other Comments:
This resort is next to the Grand Oasis which was the Sunscape Punta Cana Grand 4 years ago. I stayed there when it was Sunscape. I loved it. I wrote a great review about it on Debbie’s website. While Dreams might be considered a better resort (both AMSTAR properties), we had a better time at Sunscape. Supposedly there was an activities team at Dreams. This was the first resort that I’ve been to in the D.R. (or any Caribbean resort) that had no music playing at the pool during day. They also didn’t try to get any activities going. They did activities with 2 or 3 guests. They had very little interaction with the guests. We hardly saw them and we were at the main pool all day. The entire team should be replaced. I was also a little shocked by the bar service. Yes, they had some top shelf liquor, Absolut, Stolichnaya, Kahlua, Baileys, etc, but they almost always only had one bartender so there were always long waits. They also never had cold water at any bars, only like warm. The bartenders also were devoid of personality except for Clemente at the lobby bar who was loaded with it. We spoke to couples who had their rooms changed, some twice. Many who had previously stayed at Barcelo, Melia Tropical, and Paradisius, all of whom said they would return to those resorts before Dreams. I love the Dominican and Punta Cana, but there is no way I’ll stay at Dreams again.
Restaurants and Bars:
The main buffet has some great choices. The breakfast buffet is your standard, omelet station, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, etc. At lunch, they had absolutely delicious grilled shrimp and mussels. There was always a fresh fish being grilled. Other than the heat, since it is open air, the breakfast and lunch buffets were great. For dinner, we never ate at the buffet. We ate at 4 of the 5 specialty restaurants. We did not try the Italian restaurant since we heard from numerous people that the food was awful. Our first night we tried Himitsu, the hibachi side of the Asian restaurant. Our chef was Acevedo and our waiter was Danny. They were great. Since the show is a big part of Hibachi, wanted to mention them by name. We loved it. The food and the interaction was great. Again, I don’t know what they do to the shrimp, but they are amazingly good. The caramel bananas and the fried ice cream are the winners as dessert choices. The next night we ate at the Seaside Grill. This was a big disappointment. The food was not good and the service was terrible. Most our group got the shrimp cocktail and the (gotta love this translation) Tibon steak (T-Bone for the rest of us). The shrimp was over cooked and chewy. The steaks were like half a cow. They were bigger than the plate, burnt to a crisp and full of fat. I personally got the rib eye. It had a lot of fat, but the when you cut off the fat, the meat was pretty good. El Patio, the Mexican restaurant was next. This was a lot of fun. Everybody enjoyed their diners except for my nephew who didn’t listen to our waitress, Noami, and ordered the tacos. She was best waitress that we had at any restaurant. Great service and a great personality. The manager, Carlos, was also phenomenal. The dessert here is the Tree Milk Cake. Not sure what it means, but it was very good. Don’t miss this restaurant. The French restaurant, Bordeaux, isn’t really French food, but it was pretty good. The only problem here was that it took 2 ½ hours. We returned to Himitsu to try the Chinese side. It’s not really Chinese, but once again, everyone enjoyed their meals. Very good service. Overall, the food is very good for an
Rooms:
We were a group of 8, in 4 rooms. Two of these 8 were my 24 year daughter and her friend. The front desk had a lot of problems handling this. They wanted to put us 8 rooms apart. We had requested connecting with our travel agent, and it could have been her mess up, but the front desk wouldn’t even try to move us next to each other. We ended up in building 8, while the other 4 in our group was in building 6. It appears that nobody is allowed to think with the permission of their manager. It took a few hours and they finally put us in adjoining rooms. One small problem, the door from our room to the girls room was bigger than the frame, and therefore wouldn’t close. They said they would fix, so we left and headed out to the pool. When we returned, the door was closed. Of course it was jammed closed, so now we couldn’t open it. Kinda defeats the purpose of connecting rooms. We waited 4 days, but they did fix it for our last night. For our second day, we returned from the pool to find out that we had no shower. Maintenance did some sort of jerry rigging and we had a shower a few hours later. Yes the shower set up is pretty stupid, and the floor gets soaked, put a towel on the floor. Problem solved. Just to top off our room problems, my wife went back to the room during the afternoon of our third day and the toilet didn’t work. It took a while to fix this problem. Then of course later that night, when we returned from the casino, our toilet didn’t work again. I spent the next few days lifting the float and repositioning the flapper. To be fair, Jose the day time front desk manager offered to move us to a honeymoon suite, and move the girls close to us. We really didn’t want to pack and unpack again, so we said, no, please just fix the room we’re in. We did ask for and receive access to the preferred club so our girls could use the internet. Unfortunately, our room issues never stopped. Our mini bar was never stocked. No matter how many times we called, we would return at the end of the day to an empty mini bar. Every afternoon we called for a refill. One night, we returned a little after midnight and called the front desk. They connected us to housekeeping who told us that the mini bar service was closed for the evening but they could transfer us to room service. Room service was gracious enough to tell us that we could get drinking water in 60 minutes. A little talk with the front desk sped up this process. The next day, empty mini bar. They told us that they had restocked it at 2:45. They told us this same answer for the next two days. Our housekeeper was very good about forgetting to bring us towels. Most days we received two towels, no floor towel and no hand towels. We had to make daily calls housekeeping about this. A couple of days we received the paper with the next day’s events, but not every day. Cesar at the front desk was about the only person who was able to get anything done for us. He was also probably the only person who cared. The rooms themselves are fairly large and the A/C worked great.
Upset stomachs.
Hotel Dreams Punta Cana Resort & SPA
User Rating:  
Donna >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2009
Arrival: March 7 – 14 Booked a Sunwing package through selloffvacations.com. Arrived on time morning of March 7th. Airport was a breeze! Only 7 people going to Dreams so had a van just for us. Drive was fine. Arrival at resort went smoothly. Room not ready but we were prepared for this. Put on our swimsuits and headed to the pool!

Rooms

My husband and I and our two children, 9 & 7, arrived at our Junior Suite mid afternoon. Nice room but we were expecting two beds and a pull-out sofa. Had a king size four poster, a couch (that didn’t pull out) and a loveseat (which did pull-out). Not exactly as planned. Two calls to the front-desk for a cot got us one before bedtime. When it was time for bed, we could not pull out the loveseat into a bed so my daughter slept on the couch. By the next evening, loveseat was pulled out and made up into a bed (couch was apparently more comfortable). The plug in the hot tub on the deck would not close so you couldn’t fill up. Never complained about it as it wasn’t really needed. Water in shower had a mind of its own – mostly alternated from scalding hot or freezing cold but with enough "warm" in between to clean up. We were in Building 8 on the 2nd floor. No view per se but was very quiet and an easy walk to everything. I really wish there had been a screen on the do! or and in the window. Not a big fan of air-conditioning and the lovely breeze that we had all week would have been wonderful. Overall, room was a good size (would have been awesome for two) and clean. Safe worked. Coffee machine worked. Two T.V.’s with a DVD player in the sitting area that worked. Lots of storage but not enough hangers. Large vanity with two sinks. Every evening with turn-down service you received the "Sundial" which was information on the following days events. Restaurants and Bars: Went to the buffet for breakfast every morning. Perfect. Staff friendly and efficient. Had lunch at pool or buffet. Tried out several of the a la cartes – Oceana, Himitsu (one night we tried Chinese, the next "Japanese") and the Seaside Grill. All were fine. Good service and always something on the menu that everyone liked. Unfortunately, my husband became very sick the 2nd day and his stomach remained upset the remainder of the week. My children had occasional upset stomachs and bathroom issues throughout the week. I also had issues during the week. Not sure what caused the problems. As of writing this (2 days after the trip) we are all still feeling "off" and have "bathroom issues".

Beach/Pools/Grounds

Lovely. Very breezy during the week so waves were big most days and prevented any watersports (sail boats, etc.). Well maintained property.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel The Core Zone was a hit with my children. There were pool, ping pong and fooseball tables. This was the area that also had the mechanical bull, climbing wall and a trampoline with harness. They did try the Explorers Club a couple of times but they had an issue with a couple of the other children there so only went when there was something specific they wanted to do. The women that oversaw the Explorers Club were great but did have their hands full with some of the children. We only saw two evening shows. The Tropical and the Magic Show. The Magic Show was great. We went to the Animal Adventure Park which is approximately an hour from the hotel. Bumpy but fun ride in the back of an open truck on the way there. Had a half-ton with crew cab on the way home. A half day adventure which everyone enjoyed.

Other Comments

This was my third time in this particular area of the Dominican. If I go back to the Dominican, I will probably go to a different area just for a change of scenery. I would have some concern about recommending this resort, mainly due to the stomach issues that we all experienced. I would be more than happy to respond to any questions (helps me relive the experience!)

Great family vacation!
Hotel Akumal Beach Resort
User Rating:  
YVRck >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Date of Vacation: Nov. 27-Dec. 4, 2009 Wholesaler: Signature Vacations Airline: Air Transat (direct flight Vancouver-Cancun)

About Us:
We are a laid-back, self-employed, professional couple, age bracket 55-60. We tend to favour casual resorts which offer good off beach snorkeling opportunities as we are very avid snorkelers. Large, fancy resorts with amenities we are unlikely to use do not appeal to us. We prefer small resorts on a nice beach and it goes without saying that cleanliness is paramount.

We have vacationed at the Akumal Beach resort previously and were very anxious to return. This trip was a family vacation which included our 5 year old grandson, our son & daughter-in-law. This was their first experience to the Mayan Riviera and the little fellow’s first tropical vacation and trip on an airplane.

Flight:
As experienced travelers we have flown Air Transat many times. Flight was on time both coming and going and actually arrived early at destination both ways. I had opted to pay extra and pre-booked our seats so we would be seated close to one other near the rear of the aircraft. Both hubbie and son are tall so I made sure they had aisle seats. Everyone was reasonably comfortable considering the 6 hour flight and of course I was well prepared with on board snacks, although some snacks are offered for purchase. Effective Dec. 1, Air Transat is again offering hot meal service so we enjoyed this on the flight home. Choice of two meals, which included a tiny glass of red or white wine, was decent for airline food compared to the cold sandwich offered on the way to Cancun. Flight staff were extremely friendly and professional. No complaints!

In advance of the trip, I had signed our grandson up for the Air Transat Kid’s Club membership. No charge for this and some worthwhile perks are offered for the child & his immediate family. The Kid’s Activity packages handed out by in-flight staff were a big hit and even I was surprised at the decent quality of the toys included in the package. Full marks to Air Transat! Our grandson’s first air travel experience was very positive and he can’t wait to do it again.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities:- The resort offers a variety of daytime activities and a nightly show in the theatre located across the walkway from the lobby. They have an animation staff and a list of daily activities is posted on the outside wall of the main bar area facing toward the gift shop. The few times that we did inquire about a certain activity, it either didn’t happen or the staff were not at the venue at the time indicated. This is often the case when a resort is at low capacity. Animation staff were present around the resort and often engaged guests in conversation but more often than not, they were chatting amongst themselves at their station, listening to/playing music or busy preparing for the evening show. We did observe frequent beach volleyball games and once we were fortunate enough to convince a staff member to let us use the shuffleboard equipment after she finished playing with other guests. The equipment needs to be returned to the animation station when you’re finished and they appreciate you doing so in a timely fashion. We had been looking forward to playing chess on the large outdoor board near the buffet entrance, as well as some bocce. When we inquired about using this equipment, we were told it was not available. Perhaps it’s broken? A games rooms with a pool table and table tennis are located in the area behind where the Mexican a la carte used to be set up. There were no paddles available for the table tennis and the pool cues were in pretty rough shape with the set of balls also incomplete. It should be noted that a fitness room- very small and with aging/outdated equipment- is also located in this area as well as a medical/first aid centre which was abandoned with an emergency telephone number posted on the door. The resort has two tennis courts which appeared to be in good condition, although we never saw anyone using them. No idea where one could get some racquets but I’m guessing that many tennis playing guests probably bring their own equipment. I recall that a tennis pro used to be on staff and perhaps one of the animation team specializes in tennis. While I enjoy playing tennis at home, the tropical heat always overwhelms me, so I rarely play while on vacation. Archery is set up in an area next to the theatre. This was something that especially interested me but no one was around at the time posted for the activity and the equipment shed was locked. I was aware of the child size bows since I had seen them being used by children on a previous visit. After making an inquiry with one of the animation staff, we were directed to go to the archery centre with our grandson for a specific time so he could try it. We arrived 15 minutes early, found two staff sitting and chatting but were told that sorry, they were closing up, please come back some other time. I did try to convince the girls to at least let us see the child size equipment and perhaps try it even just one time, but to no avail. My grandson was especially disappointed and we were leaving the next morning, so we never did get to try the archery despite our four attempts. The Kid’s Club, which we went to check out daily, was always closed which made the small fenced off playground unavailable. Just as well as there were a lot of mosquitoes in this area! There were several families with young children at the resort during our stay. We all seemed content to supervise our little ones and let them play on the beach. For us, this was a family vacation so dropping our little fellow off at the Kid’s Club regularly was never part of the equation. It should be noted that an ATM machine is on site by the large gate near the Kid’s Club area, but it wasn’t working. The evening shows offered at most all-inclusive resorts are something people either really enjoy or take a pass on. We enjoy shows with a cultural theme or good comedy well presented, but we don’t bother with audience participation/shenanigans types of shows. We made the effort to go for t
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach:- The beach, with it’s amazing directly off the shore snorkeling opportunities, is what keeps us and many others coming back to the Akumal Beach Resort! For a resort of this size, the beach is reasonably long and quite wide with white, powdery soft sand. Plenty of white, plastic beach loungers and palapas or palm trees for shade. A sign is posted asking guests not to “reserve” their loungers by placing personal effects or towels on them at the crack of dawn or the night before, so none of those dreaded “towel wars” many resorts have problems with. I can’t say for sure this doesn’t happen at the Akumal Beach resort, but with such very low occupancy during our stay, it wasn’t an issue this time nor on previous vacations. The beach is well suited for young children and our grandson really appreciated the few sand toys I had brought along for him. Entry to the ocean is quite gradual, there is no erosion, very few rocks in most places so water shoes are unnecessary and the reef formation keeps the water relatively calm. No jet skis or parasailing! We did have a couple of very windy days (red flags) which kicked up some waves but nothing too intense or dangerous, so our grandson was still able to frolic in the ocean close to shore. Of course, he wore his lifejacket at all times! Some of the fish seem to have been habituated to expect food from guests who enjoy wading beyond knee depth water or they are exceptionally curious. It took no time at all for us to be surrounded by a bout 8-10 pompano fish (possibly Trachinotus falcatus) swimming in and around our legs as we stood in the ocean supervising our grandson. One fish even snuck up the leg of his bathing trunks and this momentarily frighten/startled him. He soon enjoyed the interaction with the fish, attracting them by snapping his fingers underwater, but I can well imagine other children and adults not reacting positively. The major attraction at Akumal are the sea turtles, rays and accessible reef formations; truly a snorkeler’s paradise! Although the weather and visibility were not as good this time, we spent many enjoyable hours snorkeling to our heart’s content. Bonus was being able to take a hot shower in the area behind the resort’s dive centre when we come out of the ocean. Pool:- We rarely use resort swimming pools. Due to a couple of very windy days at the beach and because our grandson loves to swim, we spent quite a bit of time in the pool. A pathway separates the pool from the beach so getting away from the wind completely isn’t possible but the view of the turquoise blue ocean is wonderful. The pool offers a toddler area and whirlpool section. Water was reasonably warm and clean although some areas of the pool had a nasty algae build up on the sides. We observed staff making an effort to scrub the sides, especially in the deeper pool which leads to the whirlpool area. A complete draining of the pool, followed by a thorough cleaning and a coat of light blue paint on the bottom would do wonders! Plenty of loungers and some umbrellas are available around the pool. The towel exchange counter is located by the pool, along with a small souvenir kiosk. A dive shop, the pool bar and the snack bar are just a stone’s throw away.
Other Comments
Conclusions:- Having previously vacationed at Akumal Beach Resort, we were a bit shocked at the deteriorated condition of the resort when we arrived. Those who know me from my countless years of travel forum participation are aware of my high praise and recommendation to visit the Akumal Beach Resort. VentaClub, who were most recently managing this resort, did it no favours and thankfully they are now out of the picture. Shortly after returning from our vacation, I found out that the resort management has been taken over by the owners with a promise that things would improve quickly. I can happily report, based on information gained directly from the new manager, that improvements to the quality of alcohol, coffee in the buffet, condition of the rooms, repairs to the balconies and changes to the entertainment have already been made. I am very optimistic that the Akumal Beach Resort will once again be returned to its solid, 3 star resort status. For those who enjoy a basic resort with great friendly staff located on a 5 star beach with snorkeling directly off the beach, put the Akumal Beach Resort on your vacation list. Our family definitely plans to return again! If our 5 year old grandson had his way, it would be tomorrow! Thanks for reading, Cristal (YVRck)
Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants & Bars:- Travel brochures list the resort as featuring one buffet, one snack bar, 2 a la carte restaurants (Mexican & Italian) and a specialty restaurant which requires payment. In previous visits, the a la carte restaurants were set up in larger allocated areas between buildings 2 & 3. Sadly, this area was dark and abandoned. For this visit, a small separate area next to the buffet was used as the a la carte venue. They alternated nightly between Mexican & Italian. A la carte restaurants are not available on Sundays. We did not dine a la carte for this visit so I can’t comment any further. Several years ago, a fire damaged the buffet restaurant extensively but it has been rebuilt. Although not air conditioned, it sits virtually right on the beach and large opening windows provide plenty of fresh air and a fabulous view. Service was adequate to excellent. Many of the reviews posted before our departure complained about the food offerings- or lack thereof. We were more than happy with the selection and presentation considering this is a 3 star resort. They have labels telling you what the dish is! At every meal, we always found plenty which appealed to all of us- yes, even the 5 year old!- and the breads/pastry selection was especially fresh and delicious. Some of the hot dishes could have been hotter but this is a common problem at many resorts. A custom omelette station is available at breakfast . Only incident I can recall as being negative (but with a positive outcome!), was that a box of pre-packaged, sugar coated breakfast cereal our grandson selected was stale, so he didn’t eat it. While many vacationers enjoy being served and expect this, we have no problem getting our own beverages or refills. Our son loved the self serve beer tap! Water/juice/soft drinks/milk/wine dispensers are all available in the buffet. The coffee machine was quite another matter. Coffee was horrible and the wine not much better! Explains why so many people arrived for dinner with their own bottle of wine in hand. I need my morning java fix and found it available at the main bar which opens at 8 AM around the corner from the buffet restaurant. The snack bar near the pool always offered fresh, oven baked pizza with various toppings as well as nachos with fabulous fresh salsa and guacamole. Hot dogs and custom cooked burgers were available upon request and one day they also had onion rings. The availability of chicken wings or fries was intermittent. Our family found the snack bar, which is open until 6 pm to be especially handy as it provided a late afternoon snack option for our grandson who would otherwise have been very hungry (and cranky!) by the time the dinner buffet opened shortly before 7 pm. Again, the self serve beer tap was a welcome addition to the snack bar area as was the water/lemonade dispenser. Alcoholic drinks were offered at the bar around the corner. There are 3 bars at this resort, the most interesting being the Moonrise close to building #1 as it features swing seating. The resort uses only domestic brands of alcohol, probably the least expensive brands available, but they do NOT water it down. We aren’t big boozers but I sure do look forward to having a few tropical cocktails when I’m on vacation. This was a disappointment and a surprise change from our last visit! Compared to the lovely cocktails I’ve been spoiled with at Cuban resorts, where they use juices, this resort uses overly sweet and sickly syrups. Pina coladas were questionable and while I did enjoy a couple of daiquiris, I found myself ordering gin and tonic for most of the week. My son ordered a Caesars from the main bar one evening and it was undrinkable but hubbie had better luck with the Bloody Mary he ordered. It helped that he carefully supervised the bartender every step of the way. All of the bartenders were very friendly and accommodating, a few of them exceptionally so, and it was a real pleasure to deal with them. At no time did w
Rooms
We had booked gardenview rooms, hoping to again be placed in building #1 which has some adjoining rooms. The resort was at extremely low capacity during our stay. We were assigned rooms on the ground floor of building #6 . Buildings 5,6 & 7 house the superior rooms at this resort, so we received an upgrade. Except for a few select rooms, buildings 1,2,3 & 7 were not being used. Room 604 had a king size bed while #603 had two doubles. We had also been assigned #609 which is a handicapped room with a king size bed. This room was absolutely not suitable. Any showering would have immediately flooded the floor and a longer shower curtain was apparently not available. When we were informed by the front desk that we could not be relocated to another room, we opted not to use #609 although we had paid for it. Odd considering the very high vacancy rate during our stay!! I’m sure the maid didn’t mind having one less room to clean. The furnishings are basic and many complain about the beds being hard but we prefer a firm mattress so no issues on that account. Extra pillows are in the closet. The mattress and box spring had however seen better days and need to be replaced! We always take our own travel alarm clock. Just as well since none are provided. We did miss not having a mini-fridge, which we had in our room on previous visits. There are no coffee makers, iron/ironing boards or radios provided. All of the lights worked and no lamp shades were missing. In my first review of this resort back in 2003, I dubbed the decor “mexicano rustico”, and it still is! The bathrooms have a shower only, separated from the WC and vanity area. No water pressure problems and plenty of hot water. Vanity area is large, 1600 watt, two speed hairdryer is provided as is an ice bucket and a small thermal jug for bottled water (which is available from the dispenser in the main hallway on every floor in each building), face cloths, hand & bath towels, box of kleenex and small containers of shampoo, lotion & soap. We prefer to bring our own toiletries. Very large mirror with decent lighting but the mirror has seen better days. The retractable clothesline in the shower is handy! Across from the vanity area is a large clothes closet with double doors made of bamboo sticks (some missing!) and beside that is a narrower door which opens to four shelves. The closet floor was spacious enough to accommodate our empty suitcases placed flat and side by side so we didn’t use the luggage stand provided. The no extra charge in-room safe (lock & key operated), is located on one of the shelves. There is no dresser in the room but the shelves are more than adequate. I pack my hubbie’s cotton shirts on their hangers and bring along a few extras, so we never worry about a shortage of hangers. TV (cable, not satellite) is wall mounted. The remote control in our room was fine, but the one in our son’s room fell apart as soon as it was picked up. A couple of elastic bands solved this problem. The A/C was adequate albeit a bit noisy.We prefer not to use air conditioning and appreciated the screen on the patio door. The door sweep on the entry door is a bonus as it prevented critters from entering the room. A note of caution:- the patio door locks easily so don’t close the door behind you when going out on the balcony! A desk with chair, along with one other chair round out the room furnishings. Two plastic chairs and a small table are on the balcony/patio. We noticed that a few balcony chairs in building #5 rooms had some nice blue cushions. Our son’s room patio door didn’t lock properly and he had no hot water. These issues were repaired/resolved very quickly and satisfactorily. We were alarmed to find yellow caution tape around our balcony railings! I can’t explain the logic in assigning this room with a very unsafe railing to a family with a young child except to say that one can safely presume a young child will not have an accident due to being intoxicated. It was only
Your Arrival
Our flight arrived 30 minutes early in Cancun at about 8:30AM. Going through immigration and customs was a bit of a wait but otherwise painless. I knew to head straight for the exit doors to find our Signature rep. so the time share sharks had no opportunity to distract or detain us. We had no problem finding the bus which was to take us to the resort but as most often seems to be the case, we had a fair wait for stragglers. Our bus was to drop vacationers off at 4 resorts, and Akumal Beach Resort (ABR) was stop #2 after the Barcelo complex. Trip from the airport to the resort took about 95 minutes. Our little guy slept for a good part of the way while the big guys enjoyed a beer (Corona) offered for sale on the bus. We arrived at the resort shortly before lunch. Considering the amazing price I had gotten for this resort, I was very surprised that our family members were the only guests on the bus going to ABR.

Walking into the spacious, open air lobby with it’s quaint wooden plank floor and thatched roof (which leaks in some places when it rains!) was welcoming. Check-in was a breeze and even though check-in time is usually 3 PM, our rooms were ready when we arrived before noon. The check-in envelope contains the lock/key for your in-room safe, a room key on a lanyard, towel cards and a pamphlet outlining the resort amenities. Please note that your room number is engraved on the key so anyone finding your key can access your room. Although we had no theft issues, and I didn’t hear of any either, I suggest you always keep your room and safe key separate! WiFi is available in the lobby area at a cost of $25US per week for those who travel with their laptop/netbooks. Computer stations are charged at $10US for one hour of use.

2 Days were Great – 5 Days were Hell.
Hotel Punta Cana Grand
User Rating:  
Andrea >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My husband and I were on our honeymoon in June 2006. We had a wonderful first 2 days and then on the 3 my husband became ill, we just thought it was travellers diarrhea. Then we though it was food poisoning when it became worse and more symptoms persisted and as I joined him being violently ill the next day. He felt better after 3 days, I continued to be ill for A LONG TIME. It turned out that I had contracted Typhoid Fever, which comes from ingested faecal matter from an infected person. So within a few days of our stay I was sick for months because of our stay at the Punta Cana Grand. We had 2.5 days of rain where power was on and off constantly. No back up generators. Has multiple stores on property providing everything you may need.

Shows were better than most resorts. Had movie nights as well.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool was overcrowded and very busy on the weekend. Otherwise, classic resort pool. Fairly well taken care of. Swim up bar was fantastic. The second pool was an adults only pool that had a quieter atmosphere, and there were always pool chairs available.

Beautiful property.

Other Comments
I give the resort itself a 4 though the experience overall ended up being horrible as I contracted a deadly sickness from my stay there.

I found the staff helpful and had great service, except for the maids. Disappointed with the cleaning, but without the sickness I would have had a great experience. Even though we were, make sure you have all your necessary travel shots and medications just incase!

Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants were tasty, had great service and well trained staff. Enjoyed all the restaurants. Free room service is offered though tip is expected. Room fridges were well stocked, and we could even request what we wanted at no charge.

Frequently running out of bottled water.

Rooms
Towels were infrequently changed. Sheets never changed. We even tried taking them off ourselves and putting them on the floor to show we wanted new ones, but they were put back on the bed.

Had to constantly asked for bottled water.

Your Arrival
We arrived before check in time and had to wait for 2.5 hours before we got our room. There was no option to have our luggage kept anywhere so we had to wait until 3pm until we were given our room. We were offered welcome beverages when we arrived.
the Real Deal on the Corales
Hotel Club Amigo Carisol Los Corales
User Rating:  
Sandy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Summary: this resort is a solid 3 star for Cuba with standard Cuban food and drinks but the biggest selling point here ( and the reason we will return) is the weather !! In the high 30’s every day and no rain. For more info and some tips to make the most of your stay please read on…
We travelled to Los Corales Dec 27 – Jan 3 with a family of 12 (aged 12 yr to 78 yrs). We have travelled many times to Cuba including Manzanilla, Santa Lucia, Cayo Coco as well as other parts of the Carribean ( Mexico, Antigua, St. Thomas, San Juan, Costa Rica). I had researched this resort and we new what to expect. The resort was not even 1/4 full so we felt like we had it to ourselves. They just opened the week before we got there. The sister resort the Carisol also had low occupancy. We could go back and forth to both resorts but basically stated at the Corales. We were told that they are trying to make the Carisol the ‘party’ hotel for the younger crowd. NOTE: there was NO internet at either resort!!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
STAFF Bar staff – at pool were AWESOME!!! Ovidio and Ivan we miss you ..thanksfor taking care if us!! Maids – were very efficent and friendly but I have to admit I did not even see ours as we were not in our room much. Others in family talked to them daily and they called them by name. Gardeners and Security – lots of both of these around everywhere and they were friendly Activities staff – WHAT Activities staff??? really..did not see anyone in charge of activities for the first 3 days..when they did show up they announced Salsa lessons at 4:30 ..but never showed up..VBall at 4:00 and never showed up..and this went on every day. We actually made a joke of it until finally a water polo game did materialize. We were a group of adults and kids who would have participated and were disappointed at this aspect of the resort. Even the dive instructor was disinterested in drumming up participants and when we did go to get a lesson, he sat at the bar drinking beer while the bartender hooked us up with the tanks. Honestly, our take on the activities staff was they were lazy, but maybe there were at the other resort. HINT 15 – If you plan on doing alot of activities you may be disappointed as they were non- existent at this resort. Entertainment There was entertainment every night that started at 9:30. The dancing got repetative but they switched it up with some audience participation, a magician and water ballet. WEATHER – 3 words..HOT HOT HOT..mid 30`s every day ( I always take a themometer so I know the daily temps ) and at night went down to 25 or so..very few clouds and not a drop of rain!!! this is why we will come back…. HINT 16 – Bring a thermometer and tie it to your chair so you can tell your friends how HOT it was !! TIPS and GIFTING We tips the bartenders and wait staff but also brought tons of gifts like shoes and batteries and duct tape etc etc… HINT 17 – They realy need shoes especially running shoes so if you have good used ones bring them to give away. HINT 18 – Don`t forget about the gardeners and cooks. EXCURSIONS We did the 2 hr horse back riding which was fantastic. We took knapsacks full of goodies to give out along the way as we rode through the mountains. cost – $15.00 We did the snorkel excursion through Marlin on a catamaran where we were out on the water for 4 hrs, fished and snorkeled…saw great sea life and caught 5 fish. A very fun trip – cost $45 We also did the dolphins which was the highlight for some – took the bus and watched the show and swam with dolphins for $55.00 NEW YEARS EVE CELEBRATION This was a special night for them where they roasted a pig, decorated the dining room , had fancy desserts, served champagn, had nice appetizers. We took horns and glow stick and hats and were glad as they did not have any of this.

The entertainment was the same dancers as the other nights..and at NYs there was a count down and more champagne.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
POOL The pool was cleaned daily however they were very lax in the cleaning of the pool deck. The candy we dropped on the first day was still on the pool deck on the fifth day.The pool guy did not work too hard and sat drinking beer after the bar opened ( sorry..but we watched this every day!!) Pool chairs where fairly new and in good shape but very hard on the butt.. We pretty much had the pool to ourselves so there was no issue getting a spot. The towel lady appeared every day about 10:00 and was there until 4:30 so you can exchange your towel every day. You will be expected to turn in the # of towels that you signed up for or there is a charge.

HINT # 14 – Take a small air mattress to blow up as a cushion on the lounge chairs

Other Comments
CLOSING SUMMARY
We would return to this hotel for the weather and the people. The food is basic but still good and no one went hungry or got sick. If you are looking for a no fuss resort with great weather then this is the resort for you. If you are looking for 5 star dining and fancy accommodation this is not the place for you.
Restaurants and Bars
There are 3 bars 1) Daiquiri Bar by entertainment 2) Swim Up bar 3) Lobby Bar. these bars are opened at different times during the day. they have cappachino and expressor but did not know how to make a spanish coffee. Some of the drinks available are Cuba Libre, Mojito, Pina Colada, Hemingway Special, Ron Punch, Planters Punch, Gin Fizz. They also have draft beer on tap. If they ran out of beer they replaced the keg ASAP however when they were out of vodka they would not go get more at another bar. Pool Bartenders ( Ovidio and Ivan were fantasitc) but others were sparatic in terms of there moods and service. HINT #6 – They do not have diet soda/pop. A nice drink for the calorie cautious is Sparkling water,lime and vodka or rum. Ask Ovidio at the pool bar to make you one!! HINT # 7 – Drinks will taste different at every bar depending on who makes it. HINT # 8 – Sparkling water is water with ‘gas’ so be sure to ask for gas or no gas water HINT # 9 – Bring a thermos mug as the cups are small and plastic HINT # 10 – If you like to drink out of a straw in a big mug, take some straws.They did have them at the end of the trip but they were short ones HINT # 11 – If you like Bailys Irish Cream…bring you own..I wish I had for my coffee HINT # 12 – They only have red wine, which was pretty good , so if you like white, bring your own. FOOD We always found something to eat. There was always a carving of beef , chicken and fish on the grill. Buffet offers soup, salade, great buns, a variety of potatoes which changed daily, beans, veggies etc. They had ketchup, mustard, HP sauce and hot sauce. You will need to know when the restuarant are open as there are periods of time when there is no food available. Breakfast at the buffet only ( 7:00 – 10:00) with typical breakfast options including an ommlette grill, real bacon, boiled eggs, meat , cheese and buns, pancakes, french toast etc… Lunch options are buffet ( 12:30 – 2:00) or Italian Grill at the Corisal or Grill at the beach. Grill had fries and burgers or hot dogs. Italian had pizza or pasta. Dinner options same as above but Grill turns into a Seafood resturant which needs reservations ( Lobster and Shrimp are extra) and Italian is the same menu and also needs reservations which need to be booked the same day at 10:00 am.

HINT # 13 – get to the lobby early if you want to book the Italian as it fills up fast

Rooms
We stayed in 501, 502, 504 which is right near the Coffee bar and entertainment which was perfect for us. Others from group stayed in 106 and 108 which was perfect for them as it was further away from the music and early moring coffee goers. Rooms were cleaned daily and towels refreshed, no smell, no bugs, fresh sheets, great patio with chairs. We did not need convertors for electricity. There is a fridge but there is nothing in it. Safes for us were free but we needed to get someone to come and activate it for us. HINT #1 – the 500 block only has mirrors in the bathroom…bring a mirror if you will need to do hair and make up while the bathroom is occupied. HINT # 2 – Bring some extra toilet paper as they refill everyday but only one roll..so bring some in case of emgerencies HINT # 3 – If you want a quieter room ask for 100 or 200 as they are further away from the action. HINT # 4 -The beds are hard and the pillows are slim. If this is a problem for you bring an extra pillow or drink more before you go to bed.

HINT # 5 -There are no clocks in the rooms so make sure you bring an alarm clock or watch or you will be like me and wondering what time it is

Nice Place, but a few glitches.
Hotel Brisas Sierra Mar & Los Galeones
User Rating:  
Wendy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Our family of 4 adults traveled to Brisas Sierra Mar for the week of Dec. 27-Jan 3. We had read many reports on the condition of the road to the resort, but were shocked at how bad it really was! Two people on our bus had to move to the front due to motion sickness, and one member of our group was just about ready to join them. We were told that repairs were to start in March, but they didn’t say what year!!
Aside from these minor glitches, we had a wonderful time at Brisas Sierra Mar. The resort is a solid 3 star, with pleasant staff, and I would recommend it to anyone, but would probably not return. I understand that these issues are beyond the control of the resort, but the condition of the road and the beggars on the beach are a huge deterrent to going back. However, the amazing January weather may call me. There are so many places to see, we generally prefer to try a different place every time.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did one excursion, a Catamaran/snorkeling/Santiago tour, at a cost of 58 CUC per person. When the "catamaran" showed up, it turned out to be a fishing boat that reeked of diesel fumes. The snorkeling was at a sunken ship, and was interesting, but not as pretty as a reef. The ladder to get back on the boat was broken and I was unable to hoist myself onto the platform after snorkeling. The tour guide and captain had to haul me up by the arms. I still have the bruises to show for it. After a wonderful included lunch, we were to have a walking tour of Santiago de Cuba. Unfortunately, a half dozen people on the tour did not come prepared, and needed to find a bank. We were instructed to wait in the square in front of the Cathedral while these people ran to the bank for cash. While we waited (and waited and waited) some people decided to go to a local store and buy some rum and cigars. Then the people who had gone to the bank started rum and cigar shopping. We spent over 45 minutes of our 1½ hour tour time waiting for people to make their purchases, before heading off to the "flea market". It was then we realized that 3 people had never returned from the bank. We spent the next ½ hour re-tracing our steps, then heading to the bus, while our tour guide frantically searched for the missing people (whom he found). We ended up spending 2 hours in Santiago with not one word of info on the history, culture, etc. This was in no way the tour guides fault. He was visibly agitated at what was happening. We ended up not getting back to the resort until 7.00 pm, when we were supposed to have returned at 4.00. It was a long and disappointing day. Be warned, the Hola Sun tour desk does not accept credit cards. Luckily I had tucked some extra cash aside, as I am not comfortable getting a cash advance in Cuba.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The weather was absolutely amazing. It averaged 30C every day, and would dip to about 25C in the evenings. We didn’t have any rain at all. We usually travel in January, and the weather and water temperature can be hit or miss. Here we were able to enjoy the ocean every day, and never needed a jacket in the evening.

The beach has been badly eroded in the last year. There is a 3 foot drop from the lounger level to the actual beach. It starts to level out as you move further to the west. There were plenty of loungers available, and never a need to be up at 6.30 to reserve one. The beach bar was never very busy and served a good selection of tasty drinks. The pool area also seemed to have plenty of loungers, but we are beach people and never ventured up there. Most of the daily activities took place at the pool. We were not bothered by sand fleas or mosquitoes, but we did notice that the resort sprayed the wooded area every evening around 6.00 pm.

Other Comments
For the most part the holiday was great, but there were a few glitches and disappointments. -Beyond the resort boundary is a beautiful beach for walking. The only problem is the relentless beggars. We were hounded constantly for soap, shampoo, clothes etc. We tried asking them to leave us alone, we tried ignoring them, we even tried telling them we would come back on our last day, and not to bother us in the mean time. It made no difference. They would not back off. -The New Years Gala was extremely disorganized. None of the food on the New Years buffet was labeled, and it was too dark to really see what was on the platters. Many of the dishes had no serving utensils. They could not keep up with the volume of people and ran out of plates before everyone was served. Line ups were long for everything. The show that night was very disappointing. There were some singers, an hour and a half of canned music, and then a mediocre magician followed by some ballet dancers. It was dismal. We didn’t talk to one person who seemed to enjoy it. -Although we found the lobby entertainment every evening to be top notch, the repeat guests we spoke to said it was sadly inferior to previous years. They had noticed a significant change for the worse in the entertainment, service and atmosphere. They told us that staffing levels are way down, which would explain only one bartender during the peak before/after dinner hours, as well as the problems with the New Years Gala. Several people mentioned that the house wine was of extremely inferior quality to past years. -Also disappointing was the lack of information on activities. There was a festival on one day, with a parade which was never advertised on the activities board. We heard the festival music from the beach, but thought it was some sort of pool game going on. A printout of what is happening for the week would be a great addition to the envelope you get when you board the bus. -The New years Dinner required people to make table reservations for the number of people in their party. Unfortunately, many people did not know this, and showed up to find they had no table. We were lucky that someone on the beach mentioned it to us, or we would have been among the many people wandering around looking for an un-reserved table. None of this was mentioned in the orientation, or on the activities board. -Also while we were there, due to a broken washing machine, there were no beach towels available for the first 3 days of our vacation. We wasted so much time walking up and down the stairs from the beach to the towel exchange by the pool only to be told “come back in two hours”. Why they did not explain at that time that the washer was broken is a mystery.

-A simple note regarding sandwiches being served for our early morning checkout would have avoided two bus loads of people trying desperately to eat from the small continental buffet in the lobby.

Restaurants and Bars
Brisas has one buffet, a beach grill for lunch, and 3 a la cartes. Selection at the buffet was very limited while we were there, and vegetables were scarce, with yams and squash being the main offering at all 3 meals. There seemed to be a shortage of onions, even for the omelet station. Other than pre-peeled clementines, there was no fresh fruit at all. No bacon was available all week. That being said, they worked wonders with what they had. Every meat on the buffet table and carving station was tender and flavorful. I can’t recall any dish that was a let down. The beach grill offered the standard burgers, fries, hotdogs, pizza, and fish. We had a meal at the Ecological a la carte, and it was amazing. The atmosphere was wonderful, and the food was fantastic. The bruschetta was served cold, but that was the only disappointment. House wine is included at this restaurant, and we feel it was probably the best meal of the week. We also were able to eat at the Cuban a la carte. The food here was o.k., but a little disappointing after the Ecological. There is no house wine available here. You could purchase a bottle starting at 5 CUC, up to 60 CUC. We bought a 7 CUC Chilean Merlot, and were quite happy with it. Some guests brought their own wine from the bar to avoid purchasing a bottle. They also had a massive New Years Eve Gala Dinner set up around the stage and swimming pool, with delicious turkey, pork, beef and lobster. The dessert table that night was to die for!
Rooms
We were in Block A, rooms 402 & 403. We had a partial ocean view, but mostly we had a lovely view of the mountains. The room had been freshly painted, and was very clean. The draperies and bedspreads appeared to be new. The furnishings and bathroom were in need of an update, but they were perfectly functional. There was a 12 inch TV on the dresser with a remote that actually worked! We had two ¾ beds which we pushed together. The beds were a little soft, but not so much that they were sagging. The pillows were better than we have had on other vacations. Our balcony had brand new reclining chairs and a table. The evening entertainment could be heard quite loud in our room. Evidence of renovations are everywhere around the resort. The bottom floor of Block A was closed for updating, the bathrooms at the lobby and pool area look to be completely new, and they received 20 new bicycles on New Years Eve.
Your Arrival
Bracelets, room keys and check in forms are done on the bus. Once we arrived, all we had to do was grab our luggage and head to our rooms. The resort is built on a hillside, and is very compact. The lobby, pool, and restaurants are all on one level, with two blocks of rooms cascading down the hill below. There is an additional block of rooms opposite the lobby that moves up the hill.
Overwhelming
Hotel Grand Paradise Bavaro Resorts
User Rating:  
Suzanne >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
AS you notice my title was overwhelming. For three days it rain and it was very windy so you couldn’t stay by the beach. THIS RESORT IS NOT ORGANISED FOR RAINY DAYS. NOWHERES TO SIT AND RELAX ONLY CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TABLES FOR A RESORT THAT HAS OVER 600+ PEOPLE.
If you can’t speak any other languages but english you might be in trouble as everything is in french or spanish.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
I give the beach an A++. Go super and I mean super early for a lounge chair or you will not find one. I left my t shirt and or sandals on the lounges and they were still there at night. Noyone touches your stuff.
Pool dirty on our end by the ocean. But that is from the sand blowing in. The pool was big and the kiddie pool was awful. Very dirty, stick to the middle and far section they have the way nicer kiddie pools.I spent all my time in the middle section pool where the pool bar is. Very nice! Again put towels down in the morning or you will not find a chair.
Other Comments
This resort is more for a young age group, couples, singles or families with teenagers. It states great family resort but nothing was organised. I had to complain that the kids club was closed to my parents rep and immediately they were "open" again. They are hard to find, not the playhouse but the organisers. The sign says closed when they were in fact open as I ran into her at the beach and ask since I was hauling my child all over the place back and forth if they can take her now since we found them and she said no. I was pretty frustrated as you will know the playhouse mini club is located in the middle resort and so you have to take the trolly. When I first got their I asked them where the mini club was and the front desk pointed the complete opposite direction. Staff were not helpful and so that’s why this place got only three stars and the stars were because of the beach. I must state Holes on the grass which my toddler fell through. Open man holes. Remember this is a four star hotel. I understand if I were staying at a two star. PARENTS BEWARE When I did finally see a staff for the mini club by the pool, she left a young child unnattended to bring the other child to the washroom. Did like that idea much as they were sitting by the pool anything could of happened. That turn me off right away from bringing my child their. I WOULD NEVER EVER GO BACK TO THIS RESORT AGAIN! TOO BIG, TOO UNORGANISED, STAFF , NOT ALL STAFF, MAIDS WERE NICE, STAFF WALKING BY NICE, BUT FRONT DESK, POOL, MINI CLUB STAFF UNPLEASANT. AS SOON AS YOU WANTED SOMETHING THEY WERE UNPLEASANT. NOT A GREAT ATMOSPHERE. Only way you might enjoy this resort is if you stayed in that one area your entire duration. We couldn’t as our parents were staying in the middle section. Waiting for the trolly, going back and forth was a royal pain in the ass!

NOT TODDLER FRIENDLY RESORT.

Restaurants and Bars
All four of us got sick included several that stayed the same week us at. We all think it’s in the "purified" water bottles. And or not washing their vegetables. Staff very unpleasent they did not look happy especially the staff by the grill bar. The buffet staff are nice WHEN THEY WERE THEIR! The buffet at the old section is way overcrowded you can hardly find a place to sit. This is when the hostess takes charge but they seem to dissapear when the restaurant is full and so we are stuck to fight for a seat on our own. I went to the other buffet in the newer section and the food was ten times better and less people. EVERYBODY tends to stay in the old section all day and return to their own section at night. If you don’t know this yet this resort has three sections. You have access to all three via trolly/train.

We went to one a la carte and it was Michelogelo’s. Not bad but someone needs to teach them how to cook a chicken parmisian. Staff also were eager to push you out of their.

Rooms
Dark, hallway lights all burn’t, shower pull button broken, toilet not flushing, no face clothes (please bring your own), patio doors very hard to open (was great for us as we didn’t want our two year old to sneak out at night)tv small and hard to find channels, beds uncomfortable and old. Otherwise rooms are big, balcony nice.

My parents section, (middle newer section)rooms nice but a bit smaller, no face cloth, no sink stopper, dark stairwells, no tv remote. They had a clock radio and big screen tv.

Your Arrival
Arrived with Air Canada. Quick in and out. Downside with Air Canada is you have to pay for your snacks or meals. Upside was tv with kids/movies/music on every seat backing so that you are not stuck watching the same boring movie with everyone.
Quick through resort check in. Bell boy waiting to bring luggage to our room
The price was good and the resort was better than we expected..
Hotel Cubanacan Club Amigo Marea del Portillo
User Rating:  
Elaine >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did almost every tour. The sunset cruise (booze cruise) was a lot of fun and it was a great way to meet a lot of people who were staying at the resort. The party in the village in Pilon was okay…but not for everyone. Very hard to find a bathroom..there was one in a restaurant but we heard it was pretty bad. I heard most people just find a dark corner and go..lol.. We got tired of it after a while and wandered to the church and watched the service from outside..they were singing and dancing. We really enjoyed that even though we are not "church type people". They all came over to us and welcomed us when the service was over. The jeep tour was fun…and the roads were really rough and terrible!! But it was great swimming in the waterfall. Great scenery also. Lunch is included..but we missed ours as the farmer didn’t think we would come as it stormed the night before.(The tour rep gave us a partial refund because of that) The tour to the city of Manzanillo and Bayamo was very, very long. Bayamo is a nice city and lunch was very good. Your first stop in Bayamo is at the Sierra Maestra Hotel…bathroom stop…yay!! Then you go for a horse and buggy ride around part of the city. It is a full day…and it seemed like most of it was spent on the bus, but you see lots of Cuban towns, villages and scenery. You can ask the tour guide to have the bus pull over and cut you some sugar can to chew on..Also..if you have to go to the bathroom…they will pull over…men go out to the front of the bus and ladies go behind the bus. Cayo Blance island was great and so was the food. White sand and clear water. Just keep your eye out for jellyfish. Bring some cortisone cream just in case you get a sting. They also have a couple of kayaks there that you can use. You can go on the boat..about a kilometer off shore to snorkle at Cayo Blanco. There is also another waterfall..sometimes the waterfall is dry but the pool is great to swim in.. it’s near the resort..about a 25 minute walk down dirt roads, past farm houses. You can find a Cuban to guide you there if you walk down the beach to the left. You can also rent a guide and a horse at the resort and ride there.

If you go wandering a little ways in front of the resort you can usually find you a Cuban that will show you their house, farm animals, etc. etc. We really enjoyed that…just give them a few pesos or gifts…it means a lot to them.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool was nice and had a deep end. The grounds were kept up and had lots of different flowers, plants, trees and bushes. The beach in front of Marea is huge and very long..kind of a brownish tan colored sand. The ocean was fun to swim in..but not clear. If you walk down the beach to the left it starts to get pebbly/rocky. You can find Cuban families down there if you like to bring gifts for them. The fishing village is down that way, but we never went that far.
Other Comments
You may read about older Canadian men going to the resort to hook up with young Cuban women. We didn’t have a problem with this. The "couple" we met were very nice, polite and a lot of fun. We loved this area of Cuba as it seems like the "real" Cuba …compared to Varadero or Cayo Coco. We wanted an adventure and thats what we got. Don’t just stick around the resort…get out and explore!!! We thought we might get a little bored at this resort…but we were busy and on the go every single day and really enjoyed ourselves!!! (us..56 year old mother and 29 year old daughter)
Restaurants and Bars
The restuarant was okay. You can sit inside or outside. Go early as they run out of certain things. There wasn’t a lot of variety and it was very repetative…but it was healthy and you won’t starve. They usually have a variety of fruit, a few salads, rice, rice with beans, and more rice!! Pork, chicken and fish. Fresh bread, buns and butter and cake and baked custard for dessert.(You can also go to the restuarant at the Farallon resort). There is only one bar at the Marea resort…its right next to the pool. Service was fine…cups are small but they have a variety of drinks. You can also go to the bars at the Farallon section which is around a kilometer or less away. You can walk the beach to it or take the golf cart shuttle. You are allowed to use the services of both resorts. ***This was the only resort that I have been to where the staff really didn’t bother you or hint for tips!!
Rooms
We booked the V.I.P. Cabanas (Marea del Portillo resort) We asked for the two top rooms closest to the main hotel..and thats what we got. The rooms were much nicer than I expected. Oceanfront, balcony, two comfortable double beds and very clean other than a stain on one of the chairs. The only problem we had with our rooms was no hot water (but we didn’t even bother to tell them) and my daughter had a noisy airconditioner in her room, which they tried to fix. All in all we were quite pleased with our rooms. We didn’t hear anyone complain about any of the rooms at the Marea resort.
Your Arrival
We had a mid morning arrival and when we got outside we were handed envelopes with our wrist bands and room keys, before we got on the bus to go to the resort…a very easy check in! There is a money exchange booth in the airport on the right hand side near the exit doors. You can also buy beer and pop outside…near where the buses park. The ride to the resort is long…at least an hour and a half, but the scenery is interesting. You can see the mountains from the airport and the resort is behind the mountains (and you go the long way around them)
Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
Hotel Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Natalie >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The shows were good. The theatre has very comfortable seating and covered with a convient bar. The Spa looked very nice and the prices are reasonable..you have to book a day in advance and we didn’t find it until our last day. Every time we went to the gym it was full..probably because of the weather. We didn’t do any tours on this trip.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful beach! You could walk for miles. Lots of lounge chairs, bali beds, palapas etc…never had problems finding a space…which was great!There was space between lounge chairs which many hotels just had hundreds of chairs lined up on the beach with very little room to move around. The pools were nice – never croweded. The grounds – you could tell that the Colonial was older with it’s mature vegetation…I’m sure this could be nicer in a few years.
Other Comments
Although advertised as a 5-star, it’s not. It has potential, but the staff, service and amenities just aren’t there. There’s no follow thru on request or customer service. When we were departing at Punta Cana airport, others around us had the customs forms needed – they said their hotels gave them the documents to fill out prior to checking out….we got nothing. At the Elegance Club, we ask for them to print out out boarding passes for the next day, we were told they didn’t have computer access. It was up to us to print them out. Had to call 3 times for the bellman to get our luggage. All in all, the resort was alright – not exceptional. The airport – BEWARE – that place is a zoo when departing, especially on a Sat afternoon…it’s crazy!
Restaurants and Bars
The Steak House was probably our favorite and we received the best quality of food and service. The Japanese restaurant was typical, but there wasn’t "a show" with the cooking. Sea & See…skip it. The lobster, which may have been out of season, was not good. Le Gourmand, not impressed with the service but the tenderloin was very good (lobster bad there too) The plaza bar and lobby bars were nice place relax after dinner and before the show. There always seemed to be ample seating and the wait staff did come around often.
Rooms
The rooms were spacious and nicely appointed. The one bedroom suite did have a walk-in closet and an entry hall powder room but there was no mirror, a connection for a phone but no phone and it was always supplied with shower gel,shampoo,etc. We also had large covered patio area with an outdoor jacuzzi – since it rained most of the time, it was a great place to hang out. We had a bali-bed..which didn’t seem to be rountinely "cleaned" nor did the jacuzzi get cleaned after being used. In the girls jr. suite, which ended up being located next to ours with the stairwell in between, the shower did leak into the bathroom area. Towels had to be used to stop the flooding. Normally, we had turn down service at resorts. That didn’t seem to be an option here…Also ordered room service for lunch one day and the dishes were still on the table the next day at noon.
Your Arrival
We arrived in the early afternoon. Our arrival and pickup to the hotel went fairly smooth and much quicker than most island vacations. A smaller air conditioned van picked us up with only 3 other couples. The trip to the hotel was approx. 45 min. with 2 stops. (I would probably consider a cab on future trips, the cost is approx. the same without stopping) Upon arrival, we were directed to the Elegance Club check-in. There was another couple checking in, so we had wait. (only one person available to do check ins)We were given champagne and told it would be 15-20 min. We didn’t anticipate any issues since our assistant called to confirm and verify everything weeks ahead of time. When we were given our room, it was not as requested. (Ocean front and adjoining or side by side) We were travelling with our daughters, ages 19 and 21. We were told that ocean front was not available at this time and were given a room with a view of the restaurant roof and pool on the 2nd floor. Our daughters, further back on the 3rd floor. As they checked for availablity for other rooms, our butler took us on a tour of the grounds and to the Elegance Club lounge for drinks.

Finally, after talking to the Elegance Club Manager, our rooms were changed to first floor swim up room(a one-bedroom suite and the other a jr. suite)..But, not available until the 2nd day of our trip.

Clean but boring…..
Hotel Sol Río de Luna y Mares Resort
User Rating:  
Disappointed >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Departed Toronto on Sunwing Airlines after leaving one and a half hours late..due to the removal of nine passengers….which we never found out why only from heresay…The service on this charter is fabulous…it is like years ago when we were treated well….champagne breakfast which was hot and very tasty…hot towels is always a nice gesture…free pillows etc etc…the flight attendants are so nice and continually came round to see if we needed anything unlike other airlines where they disappear after an hour only to see them again shortly before landing.we paid more to have the extra leg room which was so well worth it….I will be flying Sunwing whenever I can…..
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
This section is why us and a lot of people we spoke to will never go back to this resort…boring, boring , boring…..every resort I have been to has daily actvities and entertainment…water volleyball, 2 drinking games and what they call crazy games which we saw twice in one week….was the extent of "daily activities" the weather wasn’t the best so people sitting around the Mares pool were very bored….let’s just say they didn’t do anything except play music and stand around the lobby doing nothing…shame on the animation team… we took the horse and buggy into Guardalavaca one day. we enjoyed the ride and the few vendors that were there..they don’t harass you like thay do in Jamaica…. The computer room need some new keyboards. they are in bad shape with their letters missing… Locks on the lobby washroom doors should be put on…this is neglect….
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach access not easy for people with handicaps….beach was gorgeous excpet for the very thick sand which made it hard for walking unless you were were right near the water…the ocean water was very warm unlike the pools that are not heated and are freezing cold…they were pretty empty…the grounds are immaculate..place needs more flowers–color missing…
Other Comments
If this resort would up their food quality and change their animation team..get some employees with a little bit of up and go in them..it would be an awesome place….
Restaurants and Bars
Food at the Colon was very repeticious…same old every meal…poor quality of food…roast pork was very tough looked good but couldn’t chew it..bread totally tasteless except the odd time we found good buns…bring coffemate because they don’t have that anywhere…their milk is quite different…the pasta bar was a lifesaver….very good as long as you tell them to cook it a bit longer so it will be hot….porridge would have been nice but there wasn’t any…ate at the Italian, the appetizer was to die for…parmesan cheese with balsamic vinegar with crispy bread to dip in…the Lasagna had big chunks of hamburger in with little sauce…not very good !! The french one we had heard people raving about disappointed us…the Lobster bisque had a very strong fishy taste..ans salty….the grilled shrimps and rice were very tasty…also the roast pork…We as well as others were asking for different wine..they serve the same wine everywhere…both the red and white tasted awful…people were leaving their glasses full..it is the quality of everything and not the quantity that leaves a lot to be desired
Rooms
We had the perfect room, view, size, cleanliness…. room 2061 on the Mares side….beds were comfy. the only gripe we had were the bedspreads there were rough and scratchy…looked like they had been made out of curtain material..put the blanket on instead and we were comfortable…Our housekeeper Minerva was so nice and our room was spotless our whole week…we brought a couple of jackets, Tylenol, aspirin and candies for her kids….she was sp appreciative..also I brought a new pair of men’s sandals which we gave to the gardener…people seem to forget them sometimes..we also tipped Minerva quite well the day before we left because apparently others go in the rooms before the maids get to them and take what people have left…so if you are pleased with your housekeeper give it to her personally before you leave…this way you know she gets it…
Your Arrival
Arrival went very well..through customs also what was when I got my suitcase a customs came up to me and said he needed to go through my suitcase…he pulled out my travelling kettle and asked me what it was…he didn’t understand me so had to ask another agent close by she asked me what it was also I told her it was a kettle to boil water to make tea or coffee….this cleared up the situation quickly…got on the bus and everything was very quick and efficient… At the resort our check-in was quite fast…
Love it everytime
Hotel Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca
User Rating:  
T. >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
We have stayed at Amigo 8 times in the last 3 yrs. Its like going home each time.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The best thing about this area is it is not tourist. Rent a scooter and take off the views are some of the best I have ever seen and take my breath away everytime. The people are beautiful and will give you the shirt off their backs without asking for anything back Boca de Semo is amazing and the aqerium is pretty good to. Look for Thomas the buggy driver to take you there.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is fantastic everyday but Sunday when the locals seem to spend a lot of time down in our area. The guys that work the beach shack, Carlos, Johnny and Jesus are fantastic and will go out of their way for you. Carlos and Jesus (heyzuez)are both fishing nuts so some extra line and a few lures in you bag for them.
Other Comments
We have stayed at other 5 star resorts in the Carribean but Guadalavacia has become a second home to us. There are several resorts in the area. Pick one and make friends that become family to you. Cuba and its residents are truly beautiful people. You will love your time there as long as you remember that you are in a 3rd world country and are on the receiving end of the best they have to offer.
Restaurants and Bars
Cuban food…yuk! We always take small cans of tuna and rice crackers, soya sauce, peanut butter and ms. dash so we can flavour our food and never really go hungry love the veggies that are served there somehow our plates always end up being full but the food is mediocre at best.
Rooms
Love staying in the blue barracks, very queit at anytime of the year. Rooms are run down but it is the oldest part of the resort..the villas were we tend to stay now are definetly 4 star.
Your Arrival
Arrival was good as always Thanks to Anna who seems to be at the desk each time we get there. If your going she has 2 boys and they wear large mens clothes.
Things have changed at the Barcelo
Hotel Barcelo Maya Beach
User Rating:  
Bernada >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Things have certainly changed at the Barcelo Maya in the two years since we had been there. There has never been a problem with the language until this time. All of us had a difficult time getting our needs and wants across because of a language barrier. There always seemed in the past to have a stable group of employees but there were very few we recognized from our previos visits to the resort. The food was not as good as I remember. Many items were cold. The service has certainly changed. If you did not tip heavily, you had a hard time being served a glass of water. We never experienced any of that in our previos five visits. I think that it is time for us to research and find another resort.
Good Value for a Last Minute Vacation
Hotel Blau Natura Park Eco-Resort
User Rating:  
Shelly >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Good resort for the price, but not a five star as stated on their website. 3+ at the most.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The nightly entertainment was good. There was a different show theme every night. And the entertainers do work hard and try to put on a good show. My complaint with the entertainment though, is that the MC’s or hosts were always in the spotlight. If they had a group of guests up on stage, the guests were pushed back and the hosts were centerstage. I think it should be the other way around, or at least have the hosts intermingle with the group. It just seemed to us that it was more about the hosts than the guests at some points. For other activities, there was a list of daily activities listed by the pools, but we never knew where they were taking place nor did we see the hotel staff actively looking or recruiting people. We were disappointed in that regard. We had stayed at the Barcelo Bavaro Beach resort in 2003 and there was designated areas for beach volleyball and dancing lessons. Here, we didn’t see areas for sports, or other activities. But each night, before the show they had winners for the various events, so I guess we either missed the announcements or were in the wrong place to participate in them (not that we really cared either way). You could book different excursions thru the resort or travel rep. Lots of different things to do from scuba dives, to zip lines to shopping and segway trips. We booked a shopping trip (free) and were quite disappointed with it. We thought we were going to be going to different shops or markets, but instead we were bused to one building which was two levels. There first floor had jewellery with SET prices. Silver, gold, larimar and amber. A bit better quality than what you would find at the beach/market vendors. Upstairs was a cigar outlet and other touristy items. Again, SET prices. If you don’t like barttering(sp) then this is a good place, but very limited in selection and a little more high end. Another downfall, is that you have to wait for the same people who you took the bus with to finish shopping. We had to wait 30 minutes for another couple who were just wandering around looking at the stuff. They weren’t willing to call another bus for them as ourselves and another family (traveling with a small child) were done and wanting to get back to the resort. Some of the excursions were a bit pricey. We were warned at the beginning by our travel rep that some of the excursions didn’t have insurance so you needed to be careful who you booked with. I think you were pretty safe if you booked thru a travel rep or the hotel. On the beach there were always guys trying to sell snorkeling trips or segway tours. Some were reasonably priced. We saw segway tours almost everyday, so I think they were quite popular.

There is a games room where you can play pool or pingpong, but everytime we went the attendant was sleeping or on his cellphone. We tried to rent bikes one day and they didn’t have any bikes for kids and they weren’t really in the best of shape.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
This is the absolute best part of the resort!!!! The hotel grounds-keeping crew kept the grounds impeciably clean. If you have seen pictures of the resort, you will know that it very natural. Lots of grassy areas, man-made ponds and bridges that connect the paths to various areas. There are ducks, geese, egrets, flamingos, turtles, peacocks and so many other animals just hanging around. The pool is a nice size. It was never crowded. BUT trying to get chairs around the pool was difficult. My major complaint with this that people would leave their towels over the pool chairs and then bugger off to do something else, and people were literally gone for hours. My daughter went down to the pool while we were playing cards in the bar overlooking the pool. She got a chair which she assumed was empty (there was actually flipflops underneath the chair). She was in the chair for well over an hour. When we went to get her, the chair people came at the same time, and said that they had their stuff there and that was there chairs. They weren’t rude, just polite in pointing out the fact that their stuff was there. My daughter was mistaken and we got up to leave. Well no more than 5 minutes later, they were gone again, and no word of a lie, those chairs sat empty for at least another hour. There should be a time limit!@! We didn’t have any problems finding chairs at the beach. Finding an empty palapa(sp) was a bit harder, though if you stood at the beach and walked to to the right close to the end of the hotel property, there was plenty of palapas. The downfall was it was further to walk to the beach bar. The beach itself was excellent. Always cleaned. The sea grass that washed up was raked daily, sometimes more depending on the amount. The resort as roped off areas where you can swim in the ocean. Take note: DO NOT SWIM/SNORKEL OUTSIDE OF THE ROPED AREA OR YOU WILL GET HIT BY A BOAT!!!! Seriously, people would snorkel outside of the roped areas and the beach lifeguard would whistle at them and tell them to get on the right side of the rope. And no more than 5 minutes later a motor boat would go racing by at least 2-3 feet by the rope. A couple of times the boat drivers would actually slow down and yell at anyone who was on the outside of the rope. There are reasons why these things are in place, it is for the safety of the resort guests and they need to be respected!!
Other Comments
Our complaints were few and minor compared others we had read/heard. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that it is a very laid back atmosphere. They run things on Dominican Time, not Canadian or American Time. Like I said before, if you treat the with respect and are pleasent, they are really a nice people who work hard to make your time there as best as it can be. Tip when you feel you had good service. We tipped the maid daily (we didn’t bother with those little trinkets from the $1 store) we gave her a couple bucks each day and got excellent service. We tipped the buffet waiters/waitress who we were served by oftened. They remember you and treat you better, believe me. On the hotel in general, it was surprisingly nice and we were pleased. It is dated, but the grounds and beach make up for any shortcomings. How much time do you spend in your room when you think about it. Would I go there again, yes, as a last minute deal, but probably wouldn’t choose this resort if given other options (depending on the options & prices). We paid just over $4000 for the four of us. We thought it was a fair price for what we got.
Restaurants and Bars
There is one main dining buffet and 3 ala carte restaurants (steak, italian and seafood) and a restaurant down by the pool/beach plus at least 6 bars in various locations. We dined most times at the main buffet, but did try the Italian (La Gondilla) and the Steak House (Media Luna). The breakfasts at the main buffet were the same everyday. Now, I had originally thought that there needed to be more variety at the breakfast buffet, but now that I think about it, there was tons of variety. My daughter got sick on the Tuesday, and we weren’t sure if it was because she had a fried egg, that wasn’t really cooked throughly or if it was sunstroke. Maybe both. But she was better in less than 24 hours. Lunches were standard. Hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, deli meats, tacos. Lots of local foods. All very delicious. Dinners at the main buffet were based on themes. The Italian ala cart restaurant was so-so. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a lot of pasta dishes. I had the chicken. It was stuffed with prosciutto and provolone. It was really good, but it was served with mash potatoes, which unfortunatly were quite gross. Very dry and there was some kind of weird spice (I think nutmeg) was added. I had one taste of the potato and that was enough. The service was okay and you have to like your wine glass filled after each sip (or so it seemed). We also ate at the Steak ala carte. The service here was much better, though it took longer to get our meal. Again, bottomless wine glass is a good thing. There is a good variety of meals to choose from. Obviously steak (rib-eye and tenderloin), plus fajitas, ribs and chicken wings. Here you got to choose your appitizers and main meal. We had the potato skins (plate was freakin’hot, but the potatos were only just warm) and we all had the tenderloin and my daughter had the fajitas. Note: ask for your steak WELL DONE, even if you don’t like it well done. We had ours done medium and it was just about raw. My son had his well done, and he ate all of his, and ours were not ediable once you got to the thicker portions. Bars were good. Never had to wait. And the drinks were always cold. They certainly aren’t stingey on the alcohol. Our sunwing rep had warned us about having too many drinks with coconut, as it is a natural laxative. We had maybe one pina colada, and then switched back to the sourballs. No problems. I was disappointed with the swim-up bar. It is completely covered and doesn’t get any sun no matter what time of day.

The water was fine to drink coming from the restaurants or bars. DON’T DRINK THE WATER FROM THE BATHROOMS IN YOUR ROOMS. Use the bottled water to brush your teeth. Common sense, but some people don’t know that.

Rooms
Here is one of the areas where we were slightly disappointed. We were traveling with our family of 4 + my SIL. We had two rooms, so my hubby, myself and our son(11) was in one, and to cut the single occupancy rate, my daughter and SIL in another. There were two "double" beds plus a single sofa/day bed in each room. I quoted the "double" cause calling those beds a double would be very generous. I would say a super-single would be more accurate. Very hard for two adults to sleep comfortabley in one of those beds. The rooms are very dated, but our rooms were always clean and we had plently of towels. The TV worked, but had only about 5-6 english channels. Our airconditioning worked all the time. The bathroom was clean, with the toilet separate(in a separate little room)from the bath and sink. There isn’t a bathroom exhust fan, so modesty from normal bodily sounds takes a backseat. 🙂 The rooms were damp, but your by the ocean so really, that is unavoidable. The beds were comfy and pillows were okay. We had extra fuzzy blankets which helped at night, as the blankets on the bed were thin. Our safe was included in our vacation fees, otherwise you had to pay $24 US for a week. I would strongly suggest using the safe. We never had any problems nor did we hear of anyone having items/money stolen, but better to be safe (no pun intened) then sorry. The locks on the doors were nothing more than our normal bathroom door locks. Very easy to jimmy open. We used the chain locks every night on both the room door and balcony door. One night, my hubby woke up and the door was open as far as the chain allowed, and we got a little freaked out, but then figured out our son didn’t shut the door properly.

We did lose water pressure for a couple of hours one day, and then the electricity went another, but it was for the whole hotel, not just our room.

Vendors in the Hotel
We had one very bad incident that I will mention. On Tuesdays and Thursdays the hotel brings in different vendors to sell their goods. On the Thursday we went down to have a peek at what they offered. I wanted a necklace and we were going to pick up some other things depending on the prices. We went to a table and a vendor named "Tony Montana"(character from Scarface) helped us out. He was very friendly. We picked out some necklaces and he gave us a price (heavily inflated) and we went back and forth for a bit. I told him that we would be back as the necklace that I wanted was at a different table and he didn’t sell it. So he was a bit upset but I promised we would be back. I bought my necklace and a bracelet from another vendor and went back as promised to Tony. My SIL and daughter picked out what they wanted and put it in the "shopping basket" and waited as Tony was with another customer. His face lit up when he saw us and told the other vendors to leave us alone as he helped us first. Fair enough. Anyway, I guess something happened with his current customers and his boss (every sale has to be approved by the boss) and Tony became quite upset at his boss or the customers (don’t know as I am limited in my spanish). Tony came over mumbling and we said "hey. we came back, no worries!" He saw what we wanted and gave me a price of $25 US. I hand over the money and get our necklaces. So we start walking away. We got around the corner and Tony comes up to us and takes the envelope and takes out my daughters necklace and puts the other one back in the envelope. He says "Just say you bought this one at another vendor and you bought only one from me" and takes off. Well Boss-man comes running after us. Yelling "What did you buy"?? I told the truth, I bought two necklaces from Tony. "How much you pay??!!!" he asked, so again, I told him $25 US. He says that I bought both for $5. I said No way, I paid $25. He asks me to go back to the table. He gets Tony and me and says basically that he only got $5 for both, and that I was given the wrong price and to cough up the $20. I told him that what I paid. Boss-man than tries to take my other purchase from the other vendor but I pulled it out of reach and stuffed it in my pocket. So thinking that it was over with I go back to my family and again head toward the stairs. Next thing I knew Boss-man is back yelling at me that I ripped him off and that he would never sell necklaces both for $5. I said I paid TWENTY FIVE He asks me again to come back to the table, so off I go again. He says he could sell one for $5 no problemo but other one, no way. I say fine, take back the necklaces and give me my money back. He hands me the $5. I say no I paid $25!!!! Meanwhile Tony stands between us with his back to his boss, and gives me the $20 THAT HE HAD POCKETED!!!!! He was the one that ripped of his boss!!!
Your Arrival
Our vacation was booked thru Sunwing directly as we had a person travelling from Toronto and our family flying out of Ottawa. The bus ride can be a bit hairy as those hotels don’t seem to be able to accomadate a hugh bus, so there was a lot of backing up and 7 point turns. Once at the Resort, we were greeted by a hotel rep, who explained our check-in procedures and gave us the wrist bands. I will say this: if you treat the hotel staff with respect and consideration, you will be rewarded with great service. An example was that a woman in our group thought it wasn’t nessacary to pay attention and she started to walk away toward the check in desk, she was asked very kindly by the hotel rep to come back as he was explaining important info. She rolled her eyes and looked pained as she listened. The hotel reps have information that is important to your well being and safety at the resort, it is a good idea to listen. :). We were very attentive and instead of having to wait in line, the same hotel rep opened up his computer and took my family right away. No problemo! I overheard many our groups (meaning the bus, not my family) rooms weren’t ready. We had two rooms, and one was ready and one wasn’t. Not a big deal. Try to remember that they are a very laid back culture. You are in their country and their time frames to get things done is VERY different from ours.
Not Bad
Hotel Grand Paradise Playa Dorada
User Rating:  
Christine >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2009 | Leisure | Family
I have been to this resort 2 times. This trip was my second visit. I was travelling with my sister, mother and aunt. I wanted to go back to this resort because my travel partners have never been out of Canada, so I wanted to go somewhere where I at least felt comfortable and knew what to expect. The resort was newly renovated when I went the first time Dec 2008. So I knew the rooms were at least updated.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Entertainment staff really try to get people involved with all the activites. Generally, lots of things to do if you want to get involved. We booked a couple of tours with Carlo on the beach. He usually stands right at the edge of the property near the beach bar. All the staff know him and he is great, I would totally recommend using him to book your tours. He booked us our trip to the Ocean World trip. He actually took our deposit and booked the trip for us and then the next day had one of the staff come and get me at the pool to go and see him. He wanted to re-write the booking because the company he worked for got a reduction in prices and he wanted to make sure I got the discounted price. Great guy really.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool is ok and they have a small pool bar. They also have a jacuzzi pool which was nice. The beach was okay and you get the usual guys trying to sell you crappy jewellery. How much beaded jewellery does one person need. We did most of our shopping at the mall down the street. The grounds were very well kept.
Other Comments
I have been here twice and I wouldnt go back again. I prefer to go to Punta Cana. The beaches are way better. The Food at this resort is the only reason I wouldnt go back. I am a picky eater, so if you have no issues with food, then go to this resort. The staff are very friendly and the rooms and grounds are clean.
Restaurants and Bars
We did not go to the a la cartes. I can not say for sure but we looked at the menus and nothing really looked that great so we just didnt go. We only went to the buffet. The food is not the greatest here. I found the same thing the first time I went. Luckily, there is a Pizza Hut and a couple of sports bars at the mall down the street. We only ate at the mall 2 times during our stay. Its really not that the food is not good it is just really repetative. After a couple of days, just the smell of the buffet kinda made me feel sick. The breakfast was the best meal of the day. Really enjoyed that. Lunches we ate at the small buffet, cause we could just stay in our bathing suits. Lunches were not great. We did go in off season and the resort was not even close to being full, so I guess they dont offer a full menu. Lunches on our first trip were ok. actually only because they had fries. Other than that still the same, not that great.
Rooms
We had no problems with our room. The last couple of days we did notice quite a few ants in the bathroom. They did leave a notice in each of the rooms saying that they would be spraying all the rooms and grounds on our last day. Apparently, whatever they were using to spray was not harmful to you.?? It really didnt matter as we were leaving on that day.
Your Arrival
Arrival went smoothly, no problems with our check in. We were given our rooms right away.
The resort is very beautiful and everything is well set up for comfort and enjoyment.
Hotel Bahia Principe San Juan
User Rating:  
Libby >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Beach/Pools/Grounds
I was really surprised how nice this beach was. It ws very clean and there were lots of chairs available everday. You don’t have the beautiful nice white sand and the blue water like Punta Cana but the scenery and the countryside is just beautiful.
Other Comments
Our overall vacation was great and we had a good time. There are some venders at the end of the beach and a few shops to go to but they all have the same things and not very exciting. Try to take a tour if you can to see the countryside and take some things like candy and school supplies to had out to the kids. They love seeing the tourist and love it when you give them something.
Restaurants and Bars
The main restaurant was amazing very big and open and the food was also very good and they had a big selection to choose from. We went to the Seafood and the Mexican restaurant and they were very good. There are lots of bars in the area but there alcahol is not so good. They are using the Normandy brand of alchol and they have no flavor. I’m not a drinker but there drinks taste like sugar water. No flavour at all. If you want a good drink you have to go to the Casino and pay for it.
Rooms
The rooms in the Golden section are so much better. It is totally worth it if you can upgrade. The other room was musty and old and the lighting is very bad. In the Golden section you get a coffee maker and the rooms are more bright and airy. The cleaning service was very good. There is a fridge with some water and a few bottles of pop and beer. You can’t use the tap water at all even to brush your teeth.
Your Arrival
It was the first time that my two sisters and I were able to go on vacation together. Our arrival at the airport with Skyservice was on time and we got our luggage in good time. One of my sisters had booked for her own room and we send many e-mail to request two rooms together and we never got a reply back so of course when we got our rooms they were not even in the same building. The service at the front desk was very bad and they didn’t understand English to well so we were not getting help from them. We finally had to go to the Golden section and ask to get our rooms upgrade with extra cost of course so that we could have two rooms together. The service there was so much better.
Photos: http://www.bobfromcanada.com
Videos: http://www.bobfromcanada.com
Still Had a Good Time
Hotel Fun Royale Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Robert >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
– 24 hr AI is now back by quiet pool where it should be. – Chicken BBQ is back at the beach club. Chicken is GOOD. – Swim up bar in the main pool is not open. A lot of guests noticed this. – Bugs (no-see-ums, NOT, repeat, NOT bed bugs) were terrible. They had three weeks of rain prior to our arrival and they thrived. Hotel fogged five days in a row. I’ve never seen this at the hotel, but it sure culled the herd. – Still got 5 star service. I managed to get ‘one’ glass of wine myself at dinner and once I managed to get my own coffee without being intercepted. Beer and drinks just magically showed up at the table just as I was finishing. Talk about just in time delivery ….. – New manager, only been on-site for about a month. Seems energetic and with some good ideas. Hands on type; I saw him mixing paint with the painters and hanging ‘curtains’ in the beach bar. – C & D blocks are shut down for renovations. We saw the model suite and the colour scheme looks bright and cheery. Similar changes are planned for the RCI villas. We saw a model of that too. – Occupancy was very low, about 20%. Not just Fun Royale, but most of Playa Dorada. The beach was very empty. Blue Bay, Grand Paradise and Grand Ventana seemed to be the exceptions. A lot of positives mixed with the negatives. We met a lot of people that were hating the place and a lot that were loving it. People we were traveling with this year had some issues, but it was mostly with RCI. They planned on doing their own cooking the first week and the AI the second week. They were expecting a full kitchen (stove, fridge, utensils etc) and not the bar fridge, toaster oven, microwave and hot plate that they got. As a result, they had to cough up for the AI after day two. Naturally they weren’t happy. And their first dinner was the Oriental theme night, and it was not very good (this is an understatement) and there was no carvery or grill station. The next day’s lunch at the buffet was terrible according to them. Their seafood salad was mostly shells and he couldn’t eat it. But at dinner, we took them to the Italian and he went into raves about how good it was.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Clean and well maintained. Walkways starting to show their age.
Other Comments
Short version. See my full review, photos and video via my website at www.bobfromcanada.com
Restaurants and Bars
– Most of staff are still there but on reduced hours. – Food cut backs (lower selection, not many grill stations or carvery, NO ice cream). Actually, on the first week we didn’t see a carvery or grill station, but the second week we did. Food can’t be that bad. I gained 7 lbs …… – Buffet food varied from very good to positively brutal. It was hard to believe it was coming from the same kitchen. – Specialty. Excellent, but only open 2 nights per week each. Since the food was so much better there, we ended up eating at Italian 4x and Brazilian 3x. – Beach club. Excellent. BBQ chicken is to die for …. – Pizza. Very good – Buffet. Inconsistent (varied from good to very bad). Ice cream station shutdown, low selection choice and carving stations / grill stations were rare.

– Presidente beer and Classic liquors.

Rooms
– Dated, spotlessly clean, everything worked. A/C quit during our stay but I didn’t report it until check out. Had some plumbing issues. I think some of the old brittle plastic piping in the buried water supply, especially the parts near the surface and exposed to the sun. They had a few burst over the two weeks we were there and they had to dig up and repair. – Got our room again. Still clean and everything worked, sort of. I think the toilet valve may have got a piece of plastic stuck in it as it wouldn’t stop flushing. This happened immediately after one of the plumbing repairs. The a/c crapped out the last few days. You turned it on and initially you got cold air, but after an hour or so there was no air flow. I didn’t report this until we were checking out.
Your Arrival
Quick and painless.
Pool and Jacuzzi freezing cold not heated
Hotel RIU Paradise Island
User Rating:  
Becky >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Just got back and first time ever out of US. Good to get away but very dissappointed at ice cold pool and no Jacuzzi = Could go into Spa and use but they were both broken. Could not get Room Bar to work, but always at other bars though. Would have loved to use the swim up bar but cold, and weather was 70’s, rain a whole day and people on beach very pushy (vendors)
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
so,so
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Cold, Cold, beach very nice except for vendors hounding for sales, grounds kept nice
Other Comments
Jacuzzi attached to pool, was not heated, dissappointed
Restaurants and Bars
very good food everywhere, sometimes staff were more into each other than guests, social hour
Rooms
nice rooms, service was little lacking with coffee refills and shower refills, toilet broke, door hard to open but nice
Your Arrival
Took motel shuttle and it took hour through streets of towns, dirty and littered. Airports very nice and timely.
people sick and theft
Hotel Gran Bahia Principe La Romana
User Rating:  
jp >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My wife and I got sick most of the time we were there.It was either due to food or water mishandling by hotel staff. We noticed also that the variety in menu was very limited and not very imaginative. What we know now about the food we would have kept away from that place.Another problem is the fact that someone managed to enter our room and steal jewelry and money. We contacted our tour rep who looked into the incident and told us that the resort was aware that some chamber maids like to take things in rooms so make sure that everything of value either sentimental of monetary is under lock and key at all times.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach is awfull the sea bed is littered with sea weeds and what appears to be bumpy like speed bumps
Other Comments
What I know now I would have gone elsewhere
Restaurants and Bars
food not all that safe water and ice are reportedly tap water.People including my wife and I got real sick
Rooms
clean but watch for the chamber maids as some of them take things in the rooms
Your Arrival
not bad
Gotta love Cuba!
Hotel Hotetur Sunbeach
User Rating:  
malibukathy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My family has just returned from a one weeks stay at the Sunbeach Hoteur in Veradero Cuba and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the resort after reading the not so great reviews prior to departing. The hotel was perfect! It was clean, the staff was incredibly friendly (with the exception of one male check-in employee)the food was your "typical" fare nothing to fancy,spicey or over the top original but there was a very nice variety at every meal, it was fresh and very well prepared and displayed. We had two rooms, side by each one for the parents, one for my two teenage daughters, ours with a balcony and theirs without. They were on the 7th floor and very spacious. Our maid Sonja, was extra nice, taking care to make sure we had everything we needed and of course took pride in her job ensuring that the room was spic and span every day. We had one issue with water leaking in from the air conditioner during the nigt when a storm erupted, but hell you are in cuba what is a little water. The beach was spectacular! Endless miles of white sandy beach and the most amazing blue waters. The entertainment sounded good although we did not venture out to watch it after long days in the sun but saying that it was not sunshine every day but we can’t control mother nature so no big deal. I rate this hotel a 3+ which is beter than the 2.5 it is currently rated at.

If you want a very inexpensive vacation with kids especially this is the place to go to.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Beach and pool volleyball, daily activities by the pool
Beach/Pools/Grounds
1 beach, 1 pool, 1 ground, 1 lobby bar (great for the late night coffee and rum)
Other Comments
Remember how fortunate we are and be generous with your tips or donations the Cubans are proud and honored by these gifts.
Restaurants and Bars
1 a’la carte, 1 Italian
Rooms
2 double rooms
Your Arrival
February 7, 2010 – February 14, 2010
OKAY place, but probably would NOT return
Hotel Ocean Blue Golf & Beach Resort
User Rating:  
karen >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach and pool both very well maintained, as were the grounds. Word of caution though …. some of the flooring/tiles.. can be VERY slippery when wet!!!
Other Comments
Nice place, just too spread out for my liking. You either walk A LOT or wait for a shuttle. It’s also a place where one must be very patient…..SOME of the bartenders are not the quickest, and the week we were there, the rudeness and the lack of manners of the guests were overwhelming….there seemed to be a lacking of "please and thank you’s" and an ABUNDANCE of cutting into lines, or cutting in at the bar.
Restaurants and Bars
Italian rest; very good, Dominican; also very good. Buffet no problems.
Rooms
Rooms are okay, low pressure in the shower, not much hot water, but honestly, I have pretty much grown to expect that in the D.R. Room was also very cool… and try as we could, the A/C for some reason could not be adjusted. Maid was a no-show …twice… we had gone to our room one day at 3, and another day at 4. She comes and grabs the towels, but does not replace them until the room is clean. I don’t really care about an un-made bed, but a shower after a day at the beach/pool is much appreciated, and waiting for towels is a pain, had to call TWICE the one day to get them, and they arrived at 6!
Your Arrival
Arrived half an hour early, but while being "shuttled" to our resort, there were SIX hotels for "drop-offs" … we were of course the 6TH one. Check-in went smoothly, with the exception of rooms not being ready till 3. Still get a kick out of the $10 tourist card…. don’t see the point of it, love the fact the little band actually KICKS the tip basket towards you, as you are walking by, and fighting off the guys trying to carry your luggage for you, for tips is also a joy.
Everything was wonderful except the food
Hotel GC Villa Trópico (Cameleon Villa Jibacoa)
User Rating:  
Violet >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This was our 9th trip to Cuba over the past 20 years. We speak from some experience. We have stayed in every mannner of accomodation, from a 5 star hotel in Havana to bed and breakfasts and very basic Cuban hotels where few tourists dare to tread, and everything in between.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
very good. Enjoyed the hikes, the animation team tried their best to get people involved. The entertainment programs are excellent and better than we expected in a 3 star.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
lovely- again, well-maintained and clean.
Other Comments
Except for the food, this resort is excellant value. What is happening with the food and the corruption in the restaurants is a shame and an embarrassment to Cuba. For the sake of the many honest, hard-working staff at this hotel, it needs to be stopped.
Restaurants and Bars
The bars were great. The restaurants: The only black mark against this place, and unfortunately it is serious enough that until it is fixed, we will not be returning. The guests are not getting the food they are paying for here, specifically, the meat. We have been to Cuba enough to know the signs of theft and corruption, and that is what is happening. The past 2 years we stayed in a 2 star with much better meat. There should have been much more of it and it should have been better quality. Empty chicken boxes out by the road behind the buffet are some of the evidence! That the chef is confident enough to be selling illegal lobster in the a la carte every night speaks to the level of corruption here, similarly with the head waiter in the buffet who openly peddles illegal cigars to the guests. We have never seen anything like that in all of our travels to Cuba. They are not in the least discreet. People who have not travelled extensively in Cuba have no idea that they are not receiving the food they are paying for here, and are actually tipping those chefs. They think it is the best Cuba has to offer. That is so wrong. We should not have been given the tough meat and bony fish we were. It was being substituted for what we should have received. And we should not have had to beg for second measely portions of the more tender meat and turkey from the meat carvers. I have no doubt that our food was going somewhere else.
Rooms
Better than expected. Very clean, well-maintained. Better than most 3-stars.
Your Arrival
very smooth
Nice location, but beware of the Royal Holiday scam
Hotel Bavaro Princess
User Rating:  
Juan Pablo >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We went there to enjoy our well earned vacation. All we wanted was to rest at the beach and spend time with the kids.

Unfortunately we were conned by the Royal Holiday timeshare scheme into spending listening to the pitch. The original 30 min "meeting" turned into 90 minutes. Countless drinks later the managed to get a deposit out of me. The next day I asked for a refund and since no contract was sign they agreed to do so in writing. Three month later I am still waiting.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
nothing to write home about
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Excellent
Other Comments
Stay away
Restaurants and Bars
Wine was undrinkable. Food was fine, but not great.
Rooms
less than we expected
Your Arrival
Arrived at midnight with two very tired little kids.
Too windy and cool
Hotel Sol Río de Luna y Mares Resort
User Rating:  
Keith >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Too windy and cool…you can’t control the weather but we were not expecting how cool and windy our week turned out to, certainly not a canadian winter, but not warm.You definetly needed pants and a sweater in the evening and we covered up a lot on the beach too!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There is not much in Quardalavacca, open air market, nice beach. Four of us took a taxi in for $5CUC and a horse and buggy back for $10CUC.Nice experience. The next day we took bikes in for some exercise, about a fifteen minute ride.We went on the catamarran/snorkelling excursion but nearly froze as the weather was cloudy and cool all day.We left from the port of Antilla, about an hour bus ride from the resort.The cat is fairly cramped with about 60 people on board, but it has good washrooms, and the staff serve drinks during the entire cruise.The snorkeling was not that great, but the meal on the island(Cayo Sartia) we landed on was excellent. While on the Island we took the wild Safari ride on the back of a huge truck, $9 CUC each, which our daughters enjoyed immensely. There are several species of African animals, including zebras and ostriches scattered about. Our driver, Cesar, stopped to feed the ostrich bananas.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Very nice beach, clean and no problem with getting a chaise any time of the day.The hotel staff will deliver one to any part of the beach you request…a great service some other resorts should emulate.I forgot and left my hat under the chaise the first day of our vacation when we left the beach.The next day when we returned to the beach I inquired if there was a Lost and Found,but my Spanish and his English lost something.A few minutes later he came over with my "sombrero".Where could you go in the Carribean and find such honest, kind and caring people, genuinely interested in making your vacation enjoyable.I would take some water shoes as there were some rocks exposed at the waters edge by the stong winds we experienced all week.We enjoyed snorkeling from the beach, lots of sand dollars to dive for, and some coral reefs a bit futhur out with some fish too.The other hotel on the beach is the Paridissus.The grounds of the hotel have an ecletic mixture of feral cats, horses, chickens and goats.The meowling cats and urine smell became a bit annoying near our rooms one night.We were all delighted with the animals.
Other Comments
All the staff we met at the hotel were great and will do anything they can to ensure you have a nice vacation. The service was friendly.We tipped at all our meals and brought things for the maids we left in the room, and tipped whenever we had good service, which was everywhere.
Restaurants and Bars
We ate at three a-la-cartes:International,Italian,and we are not sure what the third was.The Italian was our favorite.There was also a special Transat dinner on the beach, which was a letdown…another buffet.We were getting tired of the food after a week, however the flambayed bananas were a delight…excellent! The buffet staff were awesome, friendly and good service.
Rooms
Our room, 2026, had just been painted. It was clean and everything worked. The AC was working and everything in the bathroom worked.That was a relief.The room was clean.We could see the ocean from our balcony. The balcony was private, enclosed. We liked that. The door did not lock, but we didn’t complain about this since it hardly seemed important.Staff are very honest.Some things in our daughters rooms were not replenished quickly enough, toilet paper and hand soap, but not a major issue.
Your Arrival
We left Halifax at 7:30pm on CanJet and arrived three and a half hours later in Holguin. The hotel is about an hour from the airport. It was after midnight when we arrived at the hotel and our checkin was handled quickly.Our request for a king bed was denied, which we expected anyway.
Needs a lot of work
Hotel Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  
Donnie >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Took this trip after original trip was cancelled because company went out of business. If I had to give this critic at the time of arrival it would have been much different. I calmed down a little. Went with 8 people, family and friends. My purpose was to relax, read, eat, drink and veg.. Bottom line, no problems with the staff, they appear to work long hours and although some can’t speak English, ,most try to help. The rooms/grounds need work to bring it up to comfortable. One keycard is inconvenient and unsafe. If there were two people in the room and one wanted to go to sleep, the other went out, you would have to either leave the sliding door open, wait up for them, or have them try to wake you and the neighbours by pounding the door trying to get in. If it were a family, Mom or dad took the kids back to bed early then the remaining parent would have to do as above or manouver in the dark. The key turns on the electricity. The other alternative is to pay 3.00 us /day for another key. NWouldn’t go back and wouldn’t recommend it. 3 stars was being generous.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Not there for activities, but staff appeared to encourage participation in all the activities. I went for the all inclusive so I wasn’t interested in spending more money for excursions.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Nice beach, pools a little small but I preferred the beach, vendors on the beach weren’t a problem . Took no for an answer well. Wild horses around the beach and grounds. Had to watch you didn’t walk into major mounds of…..
Path ways could have been lit alot better, dim lighting may look nice but a bit unsafe at night
Restaurants and Bars
Good variety, not always hot, chef/cook get a little upset when you ask to put red meat back on the grill for a bit. Open air subject to bugs(not so bad), bird droppings ( not do good). Good bar
Rooms
We had a total of 4 rooms. Mine was probably the worst. Air conditioning didn’t work, bed/bedding was awful. I think they wash and dry foam pillows and they consisted of a pillowcase full of foam lumps. The shower head was broken off the wall. The air conditioner was fixed promptly but had a terrible moldy smell whey it was on. Report the broken shower to the air canada rep to get it fixed and even though they reattached it to the wall(tricky trying to hold shower head and wash)it had two streams of water coming out. The room appeared clean and was cleaned every day. My point being I didn’t ask for fancy, I wasn’t in there most of the time, but a little comfort with functioning equip would have gone a long way. Similar problems with the other 3 rooms.
Your Arrival
Had been raining for a few days when we arrived. Advertised 90 min drive from airport extended considerably because of the rain and work crews on the road. Arrived at hotel, check in went well but more so because of my organized sister (seasoned traveller). Only one key, understand the reasoning but it’s both a huge inconvience and unsafe.
Not a 4 staff
Hotel Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  
Bonnie >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
The bus trip to the resort took over 2 hours not the 40 minutes promised. The guide stopped for beer for some passengers so we had to make another "pit stop" before we arrived at the hotel. Were told that we would only get one key per room or we could pay $3.00 per day for an extra key. This is the hotel chain’s policy which I feel is unsafe and an inconvience.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did not participate in any off resort activities. The activity staff on the resort were pleasant and encouraging to visitors. They work long hours and provide excellent evening entertainment
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach was nice. There was a lot of seaweed in the water but the beach was cleaned daily of the seaweed. Pools were kept clean. The grounds were well maintained but there were horses so you did have to watch for their deposits. One was by our patio the first night giving us a scare. More lighting on some paths would also help.
Other Comments
I do not appreciate the tour companies fabrication of the time it takes to get to this resort – you would need a divided highway to get their in the 45-60 minutes. Was we boarded the bus to leave our guide told us we would be at the airport in 70 minutes – the whole bus laughed at him! This could be a very nice resort if it was upgraded = worth the drive!
Restaurants and Bars
Food was good and plentiful. The plates in the specialty areas were hot but the food was not. You had to get up and get your own drinks as there were not enough staff. The chef in the buffet area was upset when you asked to have your meat a little more browned. Bar service was good but on the night of the pool show they left one poor bartender alone in the pool area. Also, I did not see any food tables set out on the beach as previously mentioned, there was also no food at the appointed bar during "snack time"
Rooms
Rooms were very clean but need upgrading. Not all the equipment worked well. You needed the key to use the ac or lights which was a problem with only one key.
Your Arrival
Arrival went smoothly but there were not enough welcome drinks for all arriving passengers.
It’s not a 4 1/2 star hotel!!! And don’t go during March break as they gear to University students.
Hotel Barcelo Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Julie >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
This resort needs to pick it up on the service to meet a 4 star rating for me. Language barriers with front desk staff and concierge service and I felt they did not want to accomodate the guests and create a wonderful experience. Entertainment staff was excellent. They were busy throughout the day and night and deserve koodoos for a job well done. Definately made our evenings enjoyable.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities were great. Lots to do for the kids and entertainment by the pool was good, if you can stand the obnoxious university students. The sip line, reef explorer and swimming with dolphins excursions were very good.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
pools were cleaned daily. I think the family/kids area was cleaner than the recreational area were all the university students were. it’s sad to say that the children behaved better than the university students. Towels were a hit and miss-some days you would get towels that seemed they weren’t even cleaned. Some were bleached (they were suppose to be blue) you had to register or get a card to get a towel. For prestige class, towels were suppose to be delivered to your room-again a hit and miss. You’d think they’d know 3 people were in the room and would give you 3 towels.

The grounds were clean, beaches were beautiful, the ocean was a little rough to swim in but if you walked down the beach there were other areas that were calmer. It would have been nice to see the beaches combed in the evening to clean smaller debris however all in all it was nice.

Other Comments
When I travel I prefer 5 star and expect 5 star treatment as I pay extra for that. This resort was not by choice,however it is selling itself as a 4 1/2 star and giving 3 star service. If I had known it catered to university students, i would not have booked there. However, all in all the beaches were beautiful, the excursions (hosts) were great and I enjoyed my stay in Punta Cana. Would I go back? Perhaps, but I would choose a different resort.
Restaurants and Bars
Food was okay at main buffet. Wide selection of food available but variety did not change daily. They did have a few speciality nights however still the same selection of food with a few add ons. Japanese restaurant was excellent, italian was okay and seafood, well I would have expected maybe seafood on the menu, but the fish was still good. we missed the french/Paris, but heard it was very good.
Rooms
a little paint does not upgrade the hotel to a 4 star. This resort, at best, would be a 2 1/2 star. The rooms are cleaned but basically-floors are washed and toilets are cleaned. The sheets, towels and pillows smell like mold and I’m not sure if they even use soap. When someone showered above us, a broken pipe in the ceiling would leak in our bathroom and would create puddles on the floor and drip over the toilet. We complained 5 times, even showing the housekeeping and the inventory people (yes inventory people-apparently they are worried we are going to steal the stained lamp, dirty towels and rusty cd player in the rooms), nothing was ever done. I was able to go to each area of the resort and fellow travellers were gracious in letting me view their rooms and they were no different. This is not a new resort as noted. our room also had an inside and outside balcony…..section 3 over the french restaurant. Don’t recommend staying there as you can hear the staff cleaning and preparing for the next day in the restaurant, cutlery and chatter after 11 pm also the bar was just outside the restaurant, which is were guests gather for after dinner entertainment, so this also echoes up through the inner balcony. Plus the doors barely closed which did not provide much of a sound barrier. Balcony door did not lock. I strongly recommend checking your room before unpacking…and good luck getting a new room.
Your Arrival
checkin is noted on website as 3:00 p.m. we arrived at 2:30 were told checkin was at 4:00 and did not get a room until 6:00 p.m. So pack something on your carryon and plan to sit around for awhile.
not bad for first trip to Mexico
Hotel Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret
User Rating:  
krista >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Upon arrival in 3/21/10 we were informed that the resort was over booked. At first we were annoyed. We had a long flight then an hr. bus ride to the resort. We just wanted to check in and relax. The staff offered to send us to one of their "sister" resorts. We were very apprehensive but didnt want to wait for a room to become available so we took a chance and accepted the offer. It was the BEST decision ever! they sent us to "Royal Hideaway" Playacar. It was an adult only 5 star resort and believe me, it deserved all 5 stars! they only let us stay 2 days until a room was available back at the Grand Flamenco. If by some chance that offer comes your way, take it, you wont regret it but you will be disapointed when you return to Xcarat.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Xcarat park was awesome, plenty of shows in the hotel. deff. more family type resort
Beach/Pools/Grounds
pool was beautiful and well maintained, plenty of lounge chairs and staff around to get you what you need. the beach area they created was small but im more a pool person anyway.
Other Comments
I can not say enough about the staff. Everyone was ALWAYS smiling and friendly. very accomodating. I brought $100 singles and used them all. These workers deserved tips. I dont care that its all-inclusive, it drove me nuts when people didnt leave tips. You dont get service like that anywhere else that iv ever been. show your appreciation people.
Restaurants and Bars
the buffet’s were average, steak house was disapointing.
Rooms
Large size room and bathroom, plenty of closet space. smelled a little musty wish i would have brought some air freshner.
Your Arrival
Sunday March 21 at noon, then bumped to The Royal Hideaway Playacar for 2 days due to over booking at Grand Flamenco.
teriffic value
Hotel Celuisma Tropical Playa Dorada
User Rating:  
Ross >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Spent two weeks at this resort from march 1 to March 15 and had a wonderful time and we are already making plans to return next year. had no issues at all the first room we were assigned was a third floor suite with an upstairs bedroom, which was not convenient as my wife has a bad hip. I went to the fron desk and spoke with jhonney and he moved us to a beach front ground floor suite no problem.Beach was fabulous, food was excellent, animation staff tried very hard to engage everyone. I would rate this resort as a 3.5 for sure. in my opinion it is a diamond in the rough. we will be going back and would recommend it.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Animation team worked very hard during the day to engage people in the activities and the shows at night were very well done. Special mention for Joan(Juan), Junior aka Scobby Doo and Roselyn all of whom were just crazy.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach simple as good as it gets Pool clean and refreshing

grounds constantly being cleaned.

Other Comments
This resort is a wonderful vacation destination for the value. If you want 5 star service then go to a 5 star resort. We travel for the Sun, sand and food and in that order and this resort did not disapoint.We will be going back.
Restaurants and Bars
The buffet food in my opinion was excellent. we did try all the a la cartes, but choose to stick with the buffet.The best a la carte was the Komoda resturant at the beach especially the night they had the beach party it was really nice.They do reservations one day in advance and did not seem any problem to get reservations.
Rooms
As stated the first room we were given was not convenient for us so the next morning we got moved to a ground floor suite facing the beach with a beautiful view.This room in bld 14 definitely had some upgrades and was very nice. 11 days into our stay we were told that the boiler in the building was broken and we would have to move. They moved us to building 18 which was brand new or it seemed so, it was great, even had wi fi access in the room. there were at least 2 buildings that were not in service and had been gutted and were being renovated. it appeared to me that all rooms would be updated in the very near future.
Your Arrival
we flew from Fredericton on Canjet.Flight was as expected. we arrived late at night arround 12.30 am so there was no one at airport. got the bus and arrived at resort shortly after 1am. check in was naturally smooth at that hour.
Nice natural setting…relaxing vacation.
Hotel Blau Natura Park Eco-Resort
User Rating:  
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
User Rating:  
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.
wonderful vacation
Hotel Celuisma Tropical Playa Dorada
User Rating:  
J. >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We just returned from a week at the Celuisma Tropical and it was wonderful. The place was really nice, lots of updates on the rooms. Ours was huge, with a kitchen, living room, 2 tvs and a balcony looking at the ocean. The only concern was the bathroom was reeeally old but they are continuing to fix up the rooms. The food was very good. The chicken and fr fries at the beach daily were great. The large buffet always had plenty to choose from and the a la carte restaurants were great. The food isn’t on the same scale as a 5 star in Mexico but if you can’t find something you like you are waaay too fussy. The people were very nice but the time share people are a huge pain. Every day either walking the beach or at our hotel they bugged you. I’d like to see something done about that, that’s my only complaint. Hope to go again next year.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Games area near the pool, volleyball daily at the beach, aerobic at the beach.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Clean and beautiful
Other Comments
Very good time expecially for the price.
Restaurants and Bars
very good. Somewhat limited in the mix selection.
Rooms
Big and clean
Your Arrival
Early arrival, quick check in.
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!

BLUE BAY, Cayo Coco family trip
Hotel BlueBay Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Michelle >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We have been to Cuba in the past so my expectations were where they should be. I know the food is not great and the mixed drinks are not what I am use to. Having said that I was pleasantly surprised by our stay in Blue Bay Hotel. When we arrived all was good, Baggage handling is no different then any other air port a pain but everyone gets through it. The bus ride was nice and quick. When we arrived they had our rooms ready and served everyone drinks (nice touch). We did arrive at night so we were tired and just wanted to get to it. They delivered our luggage quickly. We had our two kids with us in a separate room. I was worried they would not be joined and they were. The rooms were clean and well stocked. I brought some dollar store things for our maid and felt weird leaving them. She in turned wrote us Thank you notes. She was excellent the whole week. The food was what Cuba has… I don’t care for it at all but it was ok and no one got sick. Same with the mixed drinks they just are not good but everyone that reads up on Cuba knows this so no one should be complaining. The beach was WONDERFUL they cleaned it with a tractor which was also nice. You did have to get out early for covered areas but again that is normal. My husband took the kids on a catamaran fishing for about 3 hours cost was about $75.00 CDN and they loved it. They caught three huge fish which we gave to the guys that took them out. We also rented a jeep which is really a tracker. This is the only BAD thing that happened on the trip. Beside Blue Bay is another hotel DO NOT GO THERE TO STAY OR RENT A CAR. The beach is awful all rocks and when we took the so called jeep we new it looked a bit beat up but that is normal. After we paid them $75.00 CDN we had to put another $30.00 CDN gas in. this is when we realized the gas gauge did not work, turn signal was broken, windows would not work, and the worst there was a rag where you fill up the car. They were basically to bad for you I already have your money.

Other then that Our family enjoyed our trip and the weather was hot and sunny everyday. Though I won’t go back to Cuba because I have been there a couple of times I would suggest people go to Blue Bay for a clean cheap trip. The people are friendly and know what to expect and you won’t be let down.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
They tried to do activities some days were better then others. People would take part and that is when it was fun and funny. Other days no one would get up so they would give up. They tried so I will give them a thumbs up.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool was great and warm.. They cleaned it everyday actually scrubbed it down by hand. It was warm and they had a net etc. for the kids to play with.
Restaurants and Bars
Bars and food were ok typical Cuba.
Rooms
Were clean and large. Bathroom was well stocked. I asked the maid twice to change the sheets in both my room and my kids. She happily did so. Reminder… TAKE SOMETHING TO KILL THE MOSQUITO’S IN YOUR ROOM AND SOMETHING TO PUT ON YOU. They do spray but that is not enough.
Not as impressive as RIU Palace Macau
Hotel Riu Ocho Rios
User Rating:  
Sharon >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
We had a direct flight and were looking forward togetting to our hotel.The van we were on stopped at some dive to make it an even longer trip. The kite festical slowed up traffic so it actually took 3 hours to getto the hotel. Check in was fine, but it took 45 minutes and two calls to have luggage delivered. They only stock the mini bar with water, etc every other day and it took 3 days for them to respond to a specific request.In case you are interested in any of the a la carte restaurants, you have to get up early to get in line to make reservastions. We didn’t like the second seating at 9 PM so we ate at St. Ann’s most of the time. Pool was lovely, help is friendier in the DR, but overall it is a pretty resort,nice beach with palm trees, good ocean breeze. Rooms are more than adequate and in our ‘ocean view’ room, if we leaned over the balcony we could get a nice view of the water. Beds were comfy and check out was a breeze. Only took two hours to get back to the airport.We both had massages, a bit overpriced, but the service was nice.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Lots of vendors selling trips and services. We did the shopping and found lovely jewelry to tempt us. If you buy alcohol from off-site it bneeds to go in your luggage. The duty free shops sell it cheaper than my besr negotiated price. Be prepared to negotiate and checkto see where souveniers are made. Some of the native looking drums available alll over are still marked made in Indonesia.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Grounds and beaches were well tended. Several wedding parties took advantage of that service and everyone seemed pleased.
Other Comments
This is a lovely resprt and it seems it might be too big. It did not feel as intimateas my trip to the Riu Palace Macau inthe DR. I did have a medical emergeny which was handled in house. The doctor (clinic across the street?) charges $180 US for the ‘house call’.RKG was only $50 but meds were $70. Glad to avoid having to go tothe hospital. The nurse is very caring and professional.
Restaurants and Bars
Nothing really exciting and the staff doean’t seem very interactive. Only a couple of the bartenders really seemed into their jobs. I hope they are good jobs because the rest of the country looks really impoverished. There are lots of bars to choose from.
Rooms
Rooms were clean,although some mysterious tiny ants showed up the last day.They make cool shapes and put flowers on your blankets for you. Lovely view of the garden, but not as much ocean sight or sound as we would have expected. Baths have two sinks and good use of space. Nice mahogany wood abounds so you feel like you are in the tropics.
Your Arrival
Front desk was frindly and helpful, giving us a map of the property.It is a large property so be prepared for lots of walking.
Allegro Varadero: Don’t Listen To The Bad Reviews, Food Is Very Good!
Hotel Occidental Allegro Varadero (Formerly Playa Varadero 1920)
User Rating:  
Jeffrey >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This was our 6th trip to Cuba since our first in 2005 to Tryp Cayo Coco, we’ve traveled to Cayo Coco twice, Cayo Guillermo once, Manzanillo de Cuba once, Varadero once and to the D.R. once, but prefer Cuba and it’s people. So now back to Varadero, to the Allegro. This resort has gone through many managment hands in the last 5 or 6 years and recently has changed to the Occidental Allegro in the last 6 months and there seems to be a genuiene effort to make things better and to spruce up this huge resort to bring it up to the 4 star status it deserves.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities seemed light on the first few days with only Aqua Aerobics and dancing being offered the first half of the week. The last two days seen way more going on from orginised water polo to mini putt. They need to work on having the animation crew more involved with the guests and doing more around this huge resort, I never saw the archery being offered once while we were there, and they have a nice range. We finally, after many years of trying to get on the catamaran tour, got our catamaran excursion. We have tryed previously over the years only to be cancelled by the weather at leat 4 times. We enjoyed this trip, on the cat, and got to visit the dolphins in the huge concrete enclosure out in the ocean, way better for the dolphins then the set up in town. It is made so water flows through and even fish mingle with the dolphins and it’s huge so they have louds of room. Then off to Cayo Blanco for a lobster lounch and some beach time, The lobster was OK, being from Nova Scotia we are slightly pickier about our seafood. We would have rathered plain lobster grilled with some garlic, but this was a large tail in a tomato based sauce, good but not great. Then we sailed back to port, with lost of singing and dancing by all. The bar was open from start to finish, and the drinks were good. We set into town twice during the week and wandered around and checked out the many open air markets. We took the double decker bus both times as it was most economical with $5 all day, hop on hop off. We didn’t get to Jesone park, or try any restaraunts, so no reviews of this trip. We did Jesone park two years ago and recomend anyone looking for a quite walk or a really good pina coloda to wander through there. The nightly shows were very well done, although we were surprised that there was only 1 audience partispation show in the 7 shows we saw, not that this is a bad thing, but it makes for some good laughs. The dancers were first rate and they even had many different singers who were quite good.

All in all worth staying up for.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is secluded from the rest of Varaderos beach by a large coral outcroup on each end. The sand is a bit darker than the average white beach, and had a good mix of shells and coral, but overal is a very nice beach, lots of loungers and a good number of umbrellas, thay have staff who will drag you a lounger to where ever you want it and whipe it clean for you, tip this guy a pesso or two as he’s out in the sun all day and trying his best. There are three pools, one main pool just off the side of the main building, nothing special a very larg squarish pool, but nice and clean with lots of loungers around. They had a guy who would drag an extra one out of storage if you needed it and offered cushions for the lounger if you wanted them, like the beach guy show him your gratitiude for his hard work in the sun. The cayo largo and the cayo coco section each have thier own smaller pools, visually nicer than the main pool and each with a cold jacuzzi off to the side and their own bar.

This resort is huge if you get to walk the whole thing you will see this for sure. Gardeners are everywhere keeping it clean and attending to the grounds and greenery. All the trees and plants are marked with a small sign saying the speciaes, we found this a nice touch. They have a long system of fish ponds linked up in fron tof the main building with a version of coy in them, most are orange in color and some are quite big, maybe 12 inches or so. There is also a white heron type bird who has taken up residence and if your patient youl see him dive in for his own version of a cuban buffet.

Other Comments
The Allegro Varadero is a huge resort with equally huge potential. They have a good management team who seem to be around day and night to be making sure the progress of stepping back up to the 4 star level is happening. At the moment this resort is a strong 3.5 star. With many little issues holding it back from being a 4 or more star. For a resort that saw life first start back in 1977 it’s in amazing shape, but give it a year or two if the shine and glitz factor are important to you.
Restaurants and Bars
Allego Varadero has 1 buffet, and 3 a la cartes, International, Steak House, and Italian. There is also 3 snack bars that are open from 12-6 everyday, one between the main building and the Cayo Largo section, one at the Cayo Largo Pool and one at the Cayo Coco section, at their pool. There is 6 bars, La Habana beside the main pool (which I never seen closed, the others hard varying hours), the Cohiba Bar, which house a baby grand piano being played every night, and was huge with little pocket rooms and comfy couches and chairs, get there early in the evening to get a seat, and the fancy drinks, like irish coffee and other special drinks and 15 year Havana club is available for extra $$. Cayo Coco, and Cayo Largo Pools each have a swim up bar, there is a beach bar and one at the snack bar between the Cayo Largo and the main building. All seemed to serve different drinks and those that were the same were made different, so find which one you like and keep going back. The snack bar had slushy drinks but closed ar 6 so get your bubba Keg filled early and get it in your fridge if you want an evening cool drink. We sampled all A la carts and found all to be very good and nothing like the buffet food. The buffet was a surprise as past reviews on another site were quite hard on the buffet. Knowing Cuba and their struggle sometimes to get variety we didn’t expect a lot, but were surprised to get a lot. For lunch and supper there is a pasta station where you can get premade or have them fry up a dish for you, then a large aray of premade dishes, of rice potato and other meat and fish. then a carving station, we saw beef, lamb, meat loaf, chicken and turkey over our stay, then there was the grill section, usually 3-4 different choices, of either beef, pork, chicken or fish, and hotdogs and burgers at lunch as well. Not sure what other people eat at home, but to me that’s a good variaty. Breakfast was your normal fare of two egg staions making basic eggs or omlets, as well as premade eggs and other dishes, bacon, sauge seemed available everyday. With your normal toast, cereal, yogurt, and lots of fresh fruit. No worries about the food here, they even had a special area for the kids, with burgers, fries and chicken nuggets.
Rooms
We arrived at room 6314 and found a very nice an spacious third floor room, not dericly on the ocean but with an ocean view. It was clean and came with a king sized bed so all was good. The room was fitted with an ironing board and iron, a small mini fridge with a large bottle of water, a coffee maker, a safe and the usual things found in a cuban resort room. Although there was no dresser to store your cloths, we have gotten used to this being hit and miss in Cuba. We found the room quite warm and stufy on our arrival and the bellboy turned the A/C on and it blew air so we though give it a few minutes and it will cool down. We dropped our bags and went exploring this huge resort, (they say it’s 2 kms in size, not sure if that’s 2 square kms or two kms long, but it’s huge!) We returned to a warm and stuffy room, and dropped down to the desk to see if someone could have a look, they said they would send someone up, it was almost 4 and nowing Cuba I didn’t expect to see anyone til morning. We went through the night with the patio door open and found this ok, but couldn’t do this during the day as your patio is easily accessable from the main stairs or another room. We checked again with the desk and they said they would send someone, but it seemed like they knew nothing of our previous concern. Day tow is almost over and no A/C, now I’m getting a little miffed, we meet the tech this time and he says the third floor has no A/C, there is only 4 rooms on the third floor, but all are occupied, and patio doors are open on all. We go back down to the desk, a long walk, and ask for a new room, they say they will send a tech, we say there have been techs and it’s the whole floor. We want a new room. they insist on sending a tech as they have no free rooms. We head off frustrated but it’s not gonna ruin my vacation that’s for sure. In the moring we call the desk after figuring out the crazy way to reach them on the resort phone. They said no problem they have a new room for us, great! The bellboy reachs our room and we load up and head down closer to the pool at the Cayo Largo section, back up to the third floor and wow a realy nice room and right on the ocean. We step in and bam, no air, he turns the switch and nothing, no way, we walk past the bathroom and I look in to see the ceiling on the floor. ARRGGHHH! The Bellboy calls the desk and they say all they have is a room in the main building with an ocen view, at this point I’d taken a view of the street.

So off we go on the golf cart again and up to the 4th floor and walk in to toom 4318, slightly smaller, with no ironing board or iron, but that’s OK, the A/C works! All is good and although we would have rathered be in the Cayo Largo Section, we are fine with this as we didn’t book the Cayo Largo section and had just lucked out on that.

Your Arrival
Having only flown Sunwing once before (Montreal to Manzanillo de Cuba) I was looking forward to a good flight with lots of room, West Jet our favorite airline with Sunwing a close second. Well not sure if Atlantic Canada gets older planes or my memory is getting bad but this plane was anything but comfortable. Seemed to be an older plane, there was ashtrays built into the armrests, so that may be a sign. Flight was the roughest I’ve ever encountered, the seat belt light was on for 4 hours of a 4 1/2 hour flight, but that’s life eh? Check in went smoothly and we had a room immediatley, although I believe others had to wait an hour or two as our arrival time was before the stipulated check out time of noon.

The bellboy grabbed our bags and wisked us off on the golf kart to the Cayo Largo section of the resort, although far from the main area of the resort this was definatley an upgrade to the main building.

It was all right
Hotel Barceló Marina Palace
User Rating:  
MJ >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My husband and I stayed at Barcelo Marina Palace in the Cayo Libertad section in April 2010. This was my 4th trip to Cuba and certainly won’t be my last. However, we thought the resort was just okay but we would be unlikely to return.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
I’ve taken the Havana day trip twice before so I didn’t do it again this trip. It’s great, though. This time I decided to do the Matanzas – Camaguey tour, which is only 28 CUC (7:45 a.m. to around 2 p.m.) It included a stop at a pharmacy museum in downtown Matanzas, a visit to one of the markets where locals buy their groceries (a real eye-opener), a drive through the countryside past lots of farms and a stop in Camaguey to get a drink before heading back to the hotel. It was a really good value and gave an opportunity to see interesting things. We also took the beach bus all around Varadero – it was packed in the morning but the crowd thinned out in the afternoon. They were also offering a free transfer to Havana and an overnight stay at another Barcelo hotel one night while we were there – I would have liked to do that but it happened to fall on my husband’s birthday and he wasn’t keen on it.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The resort is sprawling, not compact. The Cayo Libertad section is more efficiently laid out. The landscaping is still quite young, and many areas need to be “finished” (i.e., there are areas with construction debris and areas with no grass). The buildings are quite attractive in all areas of the resort. The beach is not as nice as the main beach in Varadero (few beaches can rival that) but has the advantage of being private, in fact almost deserted. However, sand fleas were a huge problem and even though I only went to the beach for a total of about 2 hours, I ended up with huge itchy welts all over my legs (I’m very allergic to their bites). We saw a few mosquitoes but they were a minor issue next to the sand fleas. They fog the property from time to time with a chemical smudge on the back of a truck – if you see it coming, go the other way. One surprising thing was that in order to get to the beach from El Penon, you have to basically pick your way through a field of sharp twigs and rocks and even some construction debris. It is unbelievable that they wouldn’t build a walkway down there since it is a very common place for people to walk barefoot.

The Cayo Libertad pool was a good size for the number of rooms it served, and it wasn’t a problem to get a lounger. The water was too cold for much swimming when we were there but it was refreshing to take a dip from time to time. We didn’t spend any time at the other resort pools. Beach towels were provided in our room and changed each night by the maid – no need to deal with towel huts or cards.

Other Comments
The service had some highs and lows. Usually in Cuba, it’s not very hard to find someone who speaks fluent English. At this resort, not so much. We were surprised that the staff at the Cayo Libertad check-in area spoke very little English or French, since that is where most people will naturally go for assistance and a large proportion of them will probably know little Spanish. We had a problem with our door lock and it was really difficult to communicate about it. The guys who drive the long golf-cart type luggage buggies are really friendly – you can flag them down and get a drive with them if they happen to be passing by while you are walking. One of those guys, whose name I forget now, had much better language skills than the desk staff. Another time, we were offered cigars by a staff member and when we declined, we were hit up for money or gifts (first time this has happened to us in Cuba). The currency exchange always seems to have a very long queue. However, when I got very sick on the same day I had to fly home, I had to get the resort doctor to come to our room and she and the nurse accompanying her were wonderful. They didn’t have any injectable Gravol or antibiotics on hand so they personally went out to the pharmacy to get them for me and brought them back within an hour. I was not in great shape on the return flight but thanks to their efforts I managed to keep it together enough to get back home. Our maid was also quite good and kept everything in order. We tipped her a couple of pesos per day and left behind our unwanted toiletries, etc.
Restaurants and Bars
The food was a disappointment and normally we enjoy the food in Cuba. However, what seemed to be missing were the traditional Cuban foods – i.e. rice and beans, ropa vieja and other stewed meat, pork of all kinds including ham, good bread… The El Penon restaurant on the island tried so hard to be complicated and stylish but usually some ingredient was unavailable and the menu descriptions were quite deceptive. The best things were the simplest – grilled meat and seafood. And the bread products throughout the resort were really not that good and tended to be undercooked and doughy, which shocked me because usually the bread products in Cuba are excellent. There was no toast at El Penon the entire time we were there – apparently the toaster had broken. Most of the fish and meats were overcooked although we did have a lovely lamb dinner one night. However, the coffee at El Penon was probably the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life. One of the waiters there deserves special mention – Michael. He is one of those instantly likeable people who has a special ability in the service industry and he would be able to hold his own in any good restaurant in a big city around the world. We also ate at the main buffet restaurant a few times and it was fine, and that has the advantage that you can see what you’re getting without having to rely on a menu description. The supply issues were also present there, though. Hamburgers with no buns or ketchup, salad with no lettuce, etc. The pasta bar was good, and the cook who ran it was entertaining. More seriously, there were issues with food temperature control and I experienced a bad bout of food poisoning on the last day (more on this later). We loved the cigar bar! It was a lovely, uncrowded place to have a drink in the evening and relax while listening to a very talented pianist. The restaurant bar at El Penon was also very good, as was the pool bar by the Cayo Libertad pool. We didn’t care for the main lobby bar – very noisy and crowded, and hard to get served. Those were the only ones we tried.
Rooms
Our room was excellent, and I doubt there are any bad rooms in the Cayo Libertad section. However, I noted while walking through the main part of the resort that I wouldn’t want a room on the bottom floor of some of those buildings because the footpaths go right through the building past your door and I’m a light sleeper. The balcony in our room was huge, with padded wooden loungers and a drying rack for towels and swimsuits. The room itself has an entry area with a little table, and there was a bottle of rum and some Cuban chocolates waiting for us on arrival. There is a bar fridge (including a tiny freezer) that is stocked with water, soft drinks, individual rum bottles and beer. The TV is basic, with satellite service carrying about 20 channels, a few of which are English. There is a DVD / CD player. The bed was not great – rather lumpy, and instead of a king-size bed, it was 2 twins pushed together and made up separately, not exactly the most romantic configuration. The pillows were almost completely flat – you would have to use 3 of them to get one regular pillow. The bathroom was spacious, with double sinks and a large tub with shower. The toilet is in a separate room, and there is also a walk-in closet including a safe and bathroom scales. There are no drawers in the room but there are a few shelves and a suitcase rack. There is a 115V outlet in the bathroom and 220V outlets elsewhere with the type of opening that allows either the European or North American style of plug to go in (nice feature that I haven’t seen in other resorts). We also had a look at the Grand Palace Villa, which was close to our room and was absolutely gorgeous, with private pool etc. It was unoccupied for most of the time we were there. I saw a sign saying it’s $300 per night to upgrade but I’m not sure if that’s per person or if that’s on top of the extra you pay for a Cayo Libertad room.
Your Arrival
The transfer from the airport was in a standard Havanatur bus – no issues. Barcelo Marina Palace is the very last resort on the peninsula so naturally we were the last ones to get off. Even so, the transfer only took about 55 minutes. We were dropped off at the main entrance and a porter on a golf cart came and delivered us to the Cayo Libertad lobby where we had a private check in. Our room #3204 was not ready at 1:30 p.m. when we arrived so we had to wait a couple of hours by the pool (since the towels are exchanged in the room by the maid, we had no beach towels…however, I liked not having to deal with the towel exchange routine every day so in my mind, the slight inconvenience was not a large issue). Eventually the very friendly porter came back and showed us to our room at around 4:30 pm.
Cheaper than hotels, but a fairly poor location and so-so maintenance and quality.
Hotel Villa Tropical
User Rating:  
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.

Beach was small and crowded – water was cloudy!
Hotel Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Resort
User Rating:  
carol >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I went with 2 other adults and 2 teenagers (age 12). the people were very nice, but the hotel should have had fresh drinking water in lobby . I could nevr get a couple of lounge chairs on beach with unbrella or under tree, because the same people would get up everyday at 4am and take twenty chairs!!! The water park was too babyish. The beach was much to small – no where to walk – and the water should have been cleaner. It was not like I expected. the water was too rough to snorkle and the water sport people only stay till 12 noon then go off to another resort. I did not care for room accomodations. We got the adjoining rooms but rather thatn a king size bed with rollaway we would have preferred two doubles with a roll-away! They should have sunscreen protector for hair in shop ( or salon). They ran out of 50spf spray.

The golf course was too pricey! The food was fair. I would not go back.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities were only "ok" . the water sports were hard to reserve , since the people left at 12noon or everything was booked when we got there
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach was too small, and crowded with beach chairs – it was horrible! and we could never get chairs together with an unbrella – the same people had them reserved every day ( they must have run down there at 4am everymorning to put towels on chairs – we noticed the same pople all week with the premium chairs and unbrellas . It wasn’t fair!!! The water park was too babysish for teenagers. We thought the slides would have been higher.
Other Comments
Spa massage was not worth the $ /this resort is maybe good for traveling with very small children , but not teens or pre teens

security was very good

Restaurants and Bars
House wine was disgusting – all watered down, and my brother in-law ( who is a beer drinker ) said the beer ( Red Stripe) was terrible! and if you orederd water at the bar , they never had a lime or lemon to put in it and I like to drink ice water all day.

The food was ok – as far as restaurants, the food was poor/fair – anything that I wanted to order would have cost me a lot extra, and that’s not righ for the $ we paid. Also all the restaurants were booked when we checked in. We did end up eating at once place becasue a person gave us his reservation. ANd the 3 Palms we had to eat 8:30 at night ,which was much too late for anyof us.

Rooms
Rooms were nice, but we had a 5 people and no one wanted to sleep on roll -away bed. For that much $, I can’t blame them. the room with two double beds was very nice and kept very clean by housekeeping, who were friendly, and trustworthy In bathroom, body lotion should have been included with shampoo and conditioner and a shower cap.
Your Arrival
Have fresh drinking water available in lobby upon arrival and departure ( or when lounging)
Lines too long to check in. thank heaven I was Hilton member
Great time but….
Hotel Bavaro Princess
User Rating:  
Greg >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
…the service does not warrant the five star rating. It is generally poor. Plus having to pay for WiFi access in a five star when its free at Mom and Pop hotels everywhere is crazy. The beach is great, as everyone knows. The food is passable all inclusive fare. The facilities are good. The hotel is not as large as some, so that’s good. There is definitely enough to contribute to your fun. But service was not great.
Good value
Hotel Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  
Carolyn and Craig >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
We are a couple in our 50’s and have travelled extensively in the Carribean.For comparison purposes we would suggest this resort is 3 star resort comparable to Breezes Curacao and Jolly Beach Antigua better than Salinas in Cuba but not in the same category as Sandals in Jamaica or the Bahamas. This trip we travelled with a large group (50) as were going to Panama for our nieces wedding. A good choice for a destination wedding.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The shows at night were really all in Spanish and catered to the Latino crowd and were not all that great. There are variety of tours that can be booked by DECAMERON EXPLORER at Lobby 1.We did the Embera Indigeneous community and this was a highlight and not to be missed. It costs $80 goes from 8 am to 6 pm with a 2 hour busride thru the countryside followed by a 30 min dugout canoe ride to the Embera. You get to have a refreshing dip in a waterfall, experience the culture of the Embera, see their village have a nice lunch of fish and fruit and buy Embera crafts if you wish.

We also rented a taxi at the main entrance for $50 for five of us and the driver took us into Penonome to see the local crafts.This is well worth it.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Grounds are beautiful and there is always someone pruning, cutting, cutting etc.There are many pools and they are all well maintained and clean. Lifeguards are stationed at all the pools and on the beach and they are very vigilant. The adult pool which was an infinity pool was very nice albeit a fair distance from our room but we found it colder than the other pools so we did not use it as much. The beach was very nice, the sand was quite hot and you needed shoes of some sort. A short walk on the beach to the left of the resort is Manuel Noriega’s old beach house and is worth seeing. A short walk to the right of the resort is a bar called Woodys and it is owned by Woody and Monique, expatriate Canadians who used to be in the Canadian Forces, it is worth the walk to see. Iguanas and peacocks room the resort and they are nice to see.

The resort is large and the shuttles they operate dont seem to operate regularly but when we preordered them for our 88 year old mother they did show up on time and were efficient.

Other Comments
A good vacation and good value for the money. Very HOT and HUMID in April and if we went back we would probably go in January. Bugs were not a problem like in other places and bring lots of sunscreen. The heat can be oppresive. Checkout was a bit convoluted. Luggage had to be out by 430 am but you could not check out until 5 am, just in time for the lineups to start. This needs to be rethought! Breakfast starts at 5 am on the day of departure and the first bus to the airport leaves at 7 am so its a long day to get home.

We found the 2 hour bus ride way to be a bit long and that might preclude us from going back, but all in all it was a good valued vacation someting a little different than the norm.

Restaurants and Bars
There are 8 a la carte restaurants with sittings at 615 8 and 930. Most North Americans eat early most Latinos eat later. On arrival you are given a restaurant booking for the first night. Reservations are made for the a la carte restaurants at one of the 3 Lobbies for the rest of the week. You can initially book 3 additional nights and then return on a daily basis for the rest of the nights. We ate at one of the a la carte restaurants every night at the 8 oclock sitting. Our favourite restaurants were El Canal (seafood), Cafe Med (Mediterrean food where we had a good paella and live flamenco music) Kontiki ( a great seafood crepe with curry),and Panamai (Italian) We did not enjoy Sushi Samba as mush as the tepayanaki style of cooking was done at one station instead of at your table and the food was not as good. The food is very salty here. There are lots of bars around the resort and getting a drink is not a problem! Sometimes spanish speaking people get preferential treatment and get served first. The bar in Lobby 1 serves spanish coffees, cognac and a good dirty martini in REAL glasses but they watch you like a hawk if you try to leave the bar with your drink!

We had breakfast and lunch at one of the buffets and they offered good choices.

Rooms
We stayed in the 10 block (room 1007) on the first level of the resort. Its well worth paying the extra for Oceanfront as you are closer to the beach most pools and a good choice of restaurants. The rooms are adequate and simple, we had a king size bed that was comfortable. The walls are paper thin and you can hear EVERYTHING that goes on in other rooms, so be forewarned. The air conditioning is either full ON or full OFF but it is a godsend when you come in from 40 degrees heat. We had to ask three times for towels on arrival but this was not a problem after that. The rooms are cleaned daily and they restock the room with a large water bottle every day (hide the water bottle if it is not empty so you get a new one each day)

It costs $21 extra to rent a safety deposit box for the week, this is well worth the extra money for piece of mind.

Your Arrival
We booked thru Air Transat and Nolitours. The flight from Toronto was long approximately 5 hours followed by a 2 hour bus ride to the resort thru the countryside and Panama City. We upgraded to Option Plus with Air Transat and would highly recommend this. It costs $50 extra per person each way but for this you get assigned seating, an extra 10kg per person for luggage, priority boarding and baggage handling,headsets, blankets and free champagne and alcohol with the food service. Well worth the extra money!! Air Transat is a good carrier and Nolitours is very efficient. Customs and security were handled efficiently in Panama and there was a pit stop half way to the resort for those that wanted washrooms and food.The bus trip to the resort was a good way to see Panama City and parts of the countryside.

Check in at the resort was bit hectic with a large group but it was handled well and organized so it really did not take that long.

Excellent value for the price
Hotel Celuisma Tropical Playa Dorada
User Rating:  
Muriel >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
We found the grounds very well kept,our room clean and quiet 99% of the time, and the gentleman who raked the beach did a great job, but the water while we were there was very dirty, with lots of "grass" or sea-plants floating freely around our feet and legs, and shoulders when we tried to swim.This was disappointing, especially if one is accustomed to the pristine waters of Tobago as I was.The food was wonderful, and the Animation team fabulous, the beer Perfect, the waiters friendly and accomodating. But I got to the point I wanted to scream at the endless barrage of vendors who never gave us a moment’s peace when we were on the beach. We tried walking… just about hopeless, as even more vendors came running from the kiosks and flea markets. We couldn’t read, or nap in the sun: couldn’t even ignore them. It was so annoying.I firmly believe Celuisma should at the very least limit their time for torturing tourists… perhaps allow 1 hour in the a.m., another in the afternoon, and if that’s not possible, give the paying customer a little sign to plant firmly in the sand beside their beach chair, saying "NO VENDORS PLEASE", in Spanish.I would do this myself if ever I returned. It really did spoil many a planned siesta for us. There wasn’t even a variety of goods: each seller had exactly the same jewellery or paintings as 10 others before and after him. My other complaint is the $20.00 US calling card I bought at the gift shop did not work, and believe me many people on staff tried to help me get a call through to Canada. Complete waste of time. So I finally had to call home, "Collect". Imagine my shock when the bill rolled in, $48.00 for a 6 minute call! Major shell-shock!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Animation TEam were amazing; endless energy and made everyone feel welcome and important. So full of fun despite their really long hours and low pay.Talented dancers and entertainers.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool was lovely, but a little too public for me… right outside the cafeteria.Grounds very nice, but water at beach very dirty.
Other Comments
The Managers beach party was great: only off-site entertainers we saw all week, and they were gorgeous girls in gorgeous costumes. Drinks were beautiful and delicious.Was nice to be acknowledged by all the various managers.
Restaurants and Bars
No complaints at all.
Rooms
Clean and quiet, but no special "Towel Art" as in Cuba . Only time we even had a flower or a flower PETAL, was the very first day. Boo-hoo!!!
Your Arrival
Fine… no hitches.
not bad except for mosquitoes and the dampness of rooms
Hotel Barceló Marina Palace
User Rating:  
maria >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
There was a pond right in front of the resort (not the entrance) which attracted mosquitoes. Some people had to see the doctor to get medication for mosquito bites. We all looked spotty and couldn’t stay out for long. There was also the smell and feeling of dampness (no I did not experience it anywhere else). The staff was polite and kind. The meal wasn’t that good. Coffee was heavenly.
Well maintained lush spacious grounds and beautiful flora/fauna
Hotel Occidental Allegro Varadero (Formerly Playa Varadero 1920)
User Rating:  
Richard >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Very seasoned cuban traveller. I rate this resort as 4 star in most categories
but in LOW season only 2 star for food variety,quality and avaliability.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Very good nightly entertainment with quality dancers,singers and comedians. Shows every night even low season.Support the staff they deserve it.

Also karaoke,live bands and music. Well done. Truly 4 star plus.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Nice well maintained pools.three separate areas.No complaints here.Two cold water jacuzzi’s.Comfortable padded lounge chairs. Beautiful spacious well maintained grounds. Lots of flowers and srubs.Forested

walking trails and lots of excerise capacity. A series of attractive goldfish ponds. Overall 5/5 here.

Other Comments
Most categories are four star.However low season food issues have to be addressed since people pay similar prices in may as march/april and expect
good food quality and avaliabilty.
Restaurants and Bars
Here is the heart of the problem. I was expecting that the main buffet restuarant be open every night for dinner.It was closed all week.Only open for breakfast which is 3 star variety and food. Even for low season this should not close for dinner or lunch. Only beach restuarant and snack bar open for lunch buffet.Very limited and repititious.Beach grill one 0nly cannot handle lunch crowd rush of 100 + people and many walked away with no meats or waited 30+ minutes.Food buffet I would rate 2 stars worse than many cuban 2 star resorts which are better. We ate a la cartes every night which are ok but very repetitive with the same choices nightly. Quality 3 stars. Thin cuts of steak,chicken or pork not up to cuban 4 star.
Rooms
cuban 4 star older resort quality room is accurate. Clean,bedseats changed daily.Maid service consistently good.central A/C No bugs.No mushy odours. New electronic safe.Colour TV with 15/20 channels.Comfortable bed and lounge bed great for younger child. Quiet.Nice granite bathroom with bathtub,plenty of Hot water.Great water pressure better then most hotels in cuba.Separate toliet with excellent flush pressure.Small balcony.

Hallway in main building older and 3 star feel.Only complaint door did not shut properly and you had to lift up and force to close.

Your Arrival
Professional english speaking courteous front reception staff.Fast room checkin and excellent service from Richard.No complaints here.
Ok place but has potential to be so much more
Hotel Be Live Playa Coco
User Rating:  
Christine >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Family
First, thanks to all for the negative reviews as it set our expectations so low that our experience could only go up from there. We were a group of 6, my husband and I traveled with our 2 kids (13yrs and 6yrs) and my husbands parents.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t do any excursions, so I can’t comment on those.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
We were there with low occupancy so not all the amenities were open. There was a small pool right outside our building, but the bar beside it and the ice cream parlour were not open – too bad or that would have been our spot all week. Main pool was good, with a swim bar – staff were always friendly. There is also a mini-putt and new playground equipment but was too hot to use. The Beach was great. I dont know that I would travel again in June as the bugs were bad, even though they resort sprayed every night (how people can blame the hotel on this is beyond me – try staying at a resort in Huntsville Ontario this time of year you’d have the same problem!). Also, it was HOT HOT HOT – and humid, even at night there wasn’t a break. The temperature may drop a couple of degrees but it was still humid and little breeze.
Other Comments
Overall, we still had a good vacation. Not sure I would go back unless I got the same great deal again – we paid $400/pp (with taxes!!) so that helped us overlook things in our room. I would only recommend this resort if you see it at a good price – would not pay full price for it. I think they should rate it 3 star. This place has all the amenities & potential to be a great place, if they could just take care of details like the grounds, housekeeping and maintenance of the rooms.
Restaurants and Bars
Food & Beverages – I don’t get the complaints about the food at this resort – it was good. No worse or better than other resorts we’ve stayed at in Cuba. We always found something to eat. The Japanese restaurant was great, food was awesome and the chef was very friendly. The Italian restaurant was a disappointment. The food was very bland, which I didn’t understand since they had garlic at the buffet – why wouldn’t you use it at the Italian restaurant?! We didn’t get into the Seafood restaurant as it was already booked. The snack bar at the beach was hit & miss, sometimes they had food and sometimes they didn’t. As for beverages, there were times when one of bars wouldn’t have beer – but there wasn’t ever no beer in the resort. They seemed to have the basics in stock, rum, gin, vodka etc… To get any premium shots (ie Johnny Walker, Baileys etc..) there was a cost, but if your sticking to basic drinks you’ll be ok.
Rooms
Our room – #9112 – was very musty smelling when we walked in. I’ve been to Cuba 5 times prior and know that sometimes the room can be a bit musty when you first arrive, however this was really bad. We asked to see another room, but it was musty also so we didn’t bother changing. The room my in-laws had – #9114 wasn’t as bad. We lit some candles and put the air on, it helped but there was always a bit of an odour. Another disappointing thing about the room, was the repairs that were still needed. It appeared that in the past they may have had a leak in the room as we could see where they made a patch in the ceiling. Also, in the bathroom the mirror had rust around the edges and the 2 pot-lights over the mirror were rusted around the edges. Although the room was clean when we arrived, these are little things that should be fixed to give a better first impression. Room #9114 didn’t have these problems. At one point room #9111 was unoccupied and the doors were open to air it out, we walked in and it looked better than ours too. If you can pack your own pillow – do it! The pillows were hard & lumpy.
As mentioned, the room was clean when we got there, but the housekeeping service during the week could be better. It would appear they only sweep/mop the bathroom and the main walkway from the front door to the back patio door – in-between the beds, tables were not swept. We also had sand in the bed – I didn’t expect sheets to be changed but getting any sand off them would have been nice. I’ve stayed at 3, 4 and 5 star resorts all have been great with housekeeping – except this place. Also, it appears that they just sweep anything out onto the grass, and they even through out the plastic tealight holder onto the grass instead of the garbage.
Your Arrival
Flight – With Westjet – first time flying with them and loved it! Staff are great, funny and friendly. Both flights there and back were on time.

Check in – Very fast, front desk staff were friendly and even tried to joke around – first told us we didn’t have the right papers from our travel agent, but they would sort it out if we wanted to come back tomorrow – haha, the look on my father-in-laws face was priceless.

Holiday Spoilt by Clientel! Not a Thomas Cook STYLE Hotel!
Hotel Ocean Blue Golf & Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Debbie >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
May, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Just arrived back from a two weeks stay a the the Ocean Blue Bavaro (26/05 to 09/06), We travelled with Thomas Cook (UK) from Gatwick & booked this Holiday back in Oct 09. TC market this Hotel as a "STYLE" Hotel which although it has the potential to be is most definatly is NOT! It seem that this H10 Hotel is marketed as a cheap option for those travelling from the USA/Canada/Peurto Rico & when the previous reviews state that its good value for the $ then maybe it is at the prices they were paying but we paid £3600 for this trip (2 adults & 2 kids)!
When we booked this trip Thomas Cook gave us a FREE upgrade to a Privilage Package, two months after we booked they dropped the price by £800 so in theory we had Paid for it! Then two weeks before our flight TC downgraded the aircraft to an older plane with 29" seat pitch from 33/34" & No seat back IFE! Not a good start!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities Very Poor! My husband plays Volly Ball but often he turned up to play & the activity had been cancelled! My daughter (9) went to Kids Club twice which again was poor. Staff We found the staff had very little English skills especially the waiters & waitresses which was not a problem really as with a little help we usually got our requests understood. Although there were plenty of staff they never seemed to go out of their way to be overally helpfull or friendly! Evening Entertainment There is a large Theatre with loads of seating but unfortunatly the shows run on a weekly basis so if you have seen them in the first week the second week you have nothing to watch! The Michael Jackson, Latin & Circus show are well worth a look.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The Pools Well where do I start? Both pools are Huge & both have swim up bars. Loads of sunbeds available at all times. The Pools are advertised as the Quiet Pool & the Sports Activity Pool, unfortunatly on the first week of our stay the hotel was running a American HipHop Gangster Rap Festival, The whole pool area was overun with foul mouthed hiphop fanatics walking around with 3ltr Bottles of Grey Goose Vodka (beacause the Dominican Alcohol didn’t get the drunk!) shouting & screaming & overtaking the whole of the swimup bar (the only one open!) & blaring out thair HipHop Music for 6 days! The second week a huge group of youngsters (about 200) from Peuto Rico arrived again running riot & performing Sex acts in the pool at 2pm in the afternoon! Thankfully I love the beach in Punta Cana so was happier away from all the madness which is unfortunate for our children who we felt were not suited to the sights & sounds of this pool enviroment! The Beach Well what can I say? Real paradise! White sand & azure sea….beautiful! We used the Privilage beach area which although isn’t very grand has a waitress service which was a nice touch. Also plenty of sunbeds at any time of the day & unlimited beach towels. Only downside was the aftermath of the youngster (condoms & vomit) the next morning! The Grounds The grounds are beautiful, Immaculate gardens, all clean & well kept……….well done to the groundstaff!
Other Comments
Privilage Package All I can say is if you get it FREE the go for it otherwise don’t waste your money! We never had any outstanding service from anywhere in the Hotel, We didn’t get all the package advertised, My husband ordered a bottle of Champagne for our Wedding anniversary from the Privilage Customer service desk & it never arrived, when he complained they said they would get one send & it arrived 2 days later, warm with no glasses & no Ice! This Hotel has no finesse about it anywhere which is a great shame. Holiday Overall I have rated Ocean Blue as a 3*, I have visited Riu Palace Macao & Superclub Breezes Punta Cana which were both fantastic & I would say that this hotel is the only one I would not return to. I feel that it is being marketed as a bargin Bucket 18/30’s venue & H10 are selling it off to anyone without any regard for how this may effect other holidaymakers! It was not a Family friendly hotel for the two weeks we stayed & by reading the previous reviews I believe that this is ongoing problem at the Ocean Blue. We were also aware that the Thomson Clients (UK) that were there at the same time as us were requesting to be moved to other hotels due to the noise & antics of others at night keeping everyone awake till 4am in the morning! My Husband & I both had tummy upsets, my husbands being quite severe & he is still suffering now we are home. We did see a food inspector one evening in the main Buffet & the next day they introduced a hand sanitizer policy in all food areas. I am asuming that there was an outbreak of sickness/diarrhoea! I think Thomas Cook are wrong to advertise this hotel as a STYLE HOTEL when it quite clearly isn’t, if you are expecting luxury of any kind you will be dissapointed! If you get a good bargin/last minuite getaway & go with no expectation its an OK Hotel otherwise shop elswhere!

Would I go back? No, there are far far better Hotels for the same price! Would I recommend a friend? No!

Restaurants and Bars
Food and Drink We found the food to be very good with loads & loads of choice & dinning option. We did visit Route 66 (USA) twice which the kids loved, Mexican again very nice & Italian which we didn’t like very much. We found the Italian station in the Buffet to be as good. We did have room service on one evening which was swift & very good. The beach snack bar at lunch was also very good. Drinks overall very good, good choice of Cocktails & top shelf alcohol, Wine Red & White very drinkable, Champagne like Cider & only 4% not so good.
Rooms
The room was large & spacious with huge bathroom! Although it was a privilege room it overlooked the service road to the back of the hotel, not what I had hoped for & emailed ahead & requested on several occassions! We managed to get a room change after 6 days & a heated discussion with the Privilege staff! We did not receive all the promised Privilege extras & had to ask several times before we got half the promised mini bar! The rooms are clean & a bit scruffy but thats to be expected with the constant us I guess!
The second room had plumbing problems, the toilet never flushed properly & we had to take the ciston lid off every time & flush manually! We did report this but it never got fixed! We also had water flowing through the lights from the room above when they used the Shower/Bath, however this did get fixed!
Your Arrival
On arrival at The Ocean Blue we were directed to reception to check-in, I had taken all my booking details with confirmation of the Privilage Upgrade. Thankfully there was another couple with the same Upgrade (Hi Duncan & Jo) who also had all their documentation as proof as the H10/Ocean Blue staff were totally unaware of any offer an so were unaware of our status consiquently they had NO Privilage rooms ready! We finally got our rooms & luggage a few hours later, not ideal when you have had a long flight with kids.
Beautiful place, need to import new hotel staff
Hotel Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
User Rating:  
William >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
The beach and facilities are great. The rooms are fine for the equalivent of a $100 a night hotel room in the U.S. The food was fine, again do not expect what you would get for $25 each at dinner at home, but the variety was good and the quality was fine. I do not think you can find a better value for the room and food anywhere. BUT, the service was the worst. You just swallow and move on for the first few things, but by day 3 you are not a happy camper. It is not one thing, it is dozens: Go to breakfast they seat you and you have no coffee cups and no water glasses, fine get food from buffet come back and there is the guy with the coffee, but you do not have a cup. Someone brings the cup, now we just need the coffee guy back. Sounds like a nitpick, this goes on all week – water glasses, forks, towels for the room, asked for a new iron to replace the one that did not work, 6 days, never got it. The bath robes are very used, my room smelled like smoke and I was told I could not change. My twin queen beds instead of a King would have been fine except they were not queens, but we learned how not to fall into the crack after a few nights. I did notice the Spanish speaking and darker skinned people were getting better service. If you go, the Horseback riding and Scuba Diving was great. I would go back, but not to this resort. It is asham; they have all the ingredients of a world class resort except for staff at all levels.
check your belongs daily because the maid is.
Hotel Riu Merengue
User Rating:  
yolette >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Family
2 twin beds pushed together to make one big bed. Everyday we would put everything up in the room only to come back and find a dresser drawer open good thing we had a safe. She took the things that my kid won playing games.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
good!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
very pretty
Other Comments
They let the islands come in on the weekend these people were right down rude could care less about anybody it was a disgrace….
Restaurants and Bars
good!
Rooms
2 star the air was a joke in the room.
Your Arrival
great
Housekeeping extremely bad – Told what should be and what really happens is called " The cuban way
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
User Rating:  
Stephen >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
Resort was booked to capacity so very difficult to get a spot on the beach. What was left of the beach due to recent storms. Weather was off and on. 3 hot days the rest cloudy and overcast. Too windy to go to the beach. Check in was very fast however the room location we requested during purhchase was not what what we actually received. We were given dirty beach towels the 1st day to exchange for clean ones WHEN they were available. We were told laundry was broken and that it was across the cuba. Howwever after speaking with quests from other hotels were found out this was NOT true. We had clean room towels the 1st day and then not the entire week. The shower leaked the entire week so everyday we had to clean up a flood = We used a towel to block the water but housekeeping kept taking it away. We had to beg borrow and pay through the noise if we wanted to get another towel. The food was terrible so we ate mostly bread and veggies.

Our nolitours rep was a nice yound french guy but frankly he wasn’t much help – he pretty much said when in cuba you must except that what is advertised it not exactly what you get. The cuban way is not to believe anything the sign says. If the bank is suppose to be open between a certain hour it really isn’t so if you need money make sure you don’t wait until the day you need it.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
very hokey activiites – need more activities that get guests interacting -= part of a holiday is too meet new people. Resort is soooooo huge that its hard to meet new people. People stay in their clicks.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pools huge – 2 but people have a habit of tieing their towels to the beach cots so if you want to lay out on the pool or beach you have to get up early and reserve a spot. Not enough cots when hotel is booked to capacity.
Other Comments
Staff are absolutely horrible at this resort. They are tip hungry. The first night we were taken to our room and the bell boy or should I say man would not leave without a sizeable tip. we didn’t have any convertible pesos yet so he insisted on us giving him canadian $ 10 tip. They are always asking for tips straight out.
Restaurants and Bars
don’t cook well – food horrible. The dominican’s food is gourmet compared to cuban food. Lots of drinks if your a drinker.
Rooms
spacious – bed nice and firm. Fridge always stocked – have to pay for the safe even though we were told it was part of the package.
Your Arrival
Fast check in/out
Nice Beach and good food if you dont get the TOURISTA !!!!
Hotel Grand Paradise Bavaro Resorts
User Rating:  
lachach >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2010 | Party | With Group
This is a nice place if you dont get the tourista and expect to get some rest. The food is good,so is the beach and pool,but not much of a nightlife if you are a nigh owl like myself. Its pretty much a self service place,dont expect much service there,you always have to get your won stuff if you want something,get your own forks,towels,toilet paper,juice etc… The workers dont seem very happy to work there,not like the other resorts i have been to . There is some activities and stuff to do on the resort but everything closes pretty early,lacking in the women department if you ask me,everyone is either there with their husband or boyfriend.

I wish the pools were open after 6 pm and we didnt all get sick with tourista (all 4 of us ) 5 days out of 7 . (we did put alot of mileage on those toilets lol )

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There is ping pong tables outisde near the beach,beach volleyball,badminton,darts,water basketball,tennis courts. There is also a show every night, not very long but the weekend shows are very good,lots of dancing.

The weekend is good but its very quiet during the week.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was great,spent my whole vacation in the water when i wasnt in the can lol (tourista).Nothing like the beautiful turquoise ocean to rejuvenate you ! Always sunny and hot and a little brease near the water. The pools were also very nice, but why go to the pool when you got the beach near by ? Lots of free chairs on the beach to lay on.They do have parasailing,banana boat,kind of pricy tough. Kayak is included for free,so is body board,snorkling mask etc…

Not enough women tough.

Other Comments
Good luck trying to change your canadian dollars into US . Why are they asking for US dollars ,when their currency is pesos ???? Dont get a craving for doritos, a medium bag is 8$ US ! Lots of extra charges for this and that,and this is not included … No bottled beers,only draft presidente,no brugal rhum either.I wasnt too impressed with the drinks in those small plastic cups,even the pino colada didnt seem right. If you are looking for peace,beach,sun,good food,you will like this place. If you want action at night,hot chicks in bikinis,lots of partying ,you will be dissapointed.

I did have a good vacation,but the damn tourista kind of ruined it for everyone.

Restaurants and Bars
The buffet was really good,lacking A/C tough,if you work for a ventilation company,you will make millions replacing all the units there lol. Great food,lots of variety,not much of the expensive stuff tough,you wont find filet mignon,fib steak,ribs or shrimps there. Great fresh fruits,lots of fish,they mostly serve pork or chicken,some stuff i have never ate before,great breakfast,why are all the juices so sugary and the coke,7 up so flat? Have the Paela when they make it,its awesome.Great desserts,they really know how to make sweet stuff. The sports bar was awesome,free pool and soccer table with TV.Great way to start the night before going to the discotheque.

Discotheque was nice,not very big but decent,but only opened on the weekend and not very crowded.The dominicans come in on the weekends,so thats the best nights.Most,or should i say 99% of the women are accompanied with their husband or boyfriend and why do they allow people under age? Why do they also allow prostitutes and salesmans on the resort?

Rooms
Very ordinary room for a 4 stars,it was clean but nothing special.The A/C wasnt working,took almost a miracle to get a new room.they said they were gonna send the tech.he came like 1 and half hour later but didnt fix much.After calling many times and showing up at the front desk,talking to the manager who only spoke spanish,we finally got a new room with working A/C after elevating my tone and not leaving the counter for nearly an hour.

The TV didnt work in the new room,they finally fixed it 3 days later.The room was decent and clean but not luxurious at all.

Your Arrival
That was pretty good,we got our laugage pretty fast,the plane ride was very hectic,lots of turbulance and high drops.We got in the bus pretty quick, the A/C was working great,took about 30 minutes to get to the hotel and 10 minutes to get our room.Nothing to complain there.
I had a blast with our friends and their children
Hotel Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca
User Rating:  
Nat Brampton >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Sep, 2009 | Leisure | With Group
When my husband and I got married, we never went on an official honeymoon. We had planned on going on a 10 year anniversary without children, but ended up taking them both (6&11). We also went with our friends and their 3 children (2,7&10). I couldn’t wait to be on vacation all inclusive. Well let me tell you that you MUST really look into the Hotel you will be staying in. It was a horrible first experience but thank goodness for the company you keep I had a blast with our friends and their children. So much to laugh about and I look forward to going away with them again…. Thank you…………
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
What, there were activities. I did not see any. If only someone directed me to them, maybe I could of had more fun. (Maybe not)
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool bars – well the swim up bar was great, but if you have a connection with the bar tenders maybe they will fill your beach bags too with goodies (booze). Was that lady with the big bag lucky!!!
Other Comments
When picking a hotel to stay at ask around if anyone has stayed there. Pay the long distance charges and find out what will be going on the week you will be traveling. Do your homework to find out the most you can find out about it. But most of all travel with friends you know you will have fun with no matter what. Can not wait until February 2010
Restaurants and Bars
Food was tolerable, drinks were cold, at the 24 hr. bar food service was terrible. How can you ignore someone if you are sitting at the wrong tables to get served. (Speak up and let your tourist know, how do you expect to get a good tip.)
Rooms
Our first room (in the barracks)had 3 twin beds for 4 people. Could you get any more cramped. No hot water the night we arrived or the next morning. T.V. hung off the wall so that every time I walked by it I would have to duck. Mold was growing on the curtains and sheets, oh boy what an experience.
Beautiful resort
Hotel Iberostar Bavaro
User Rating:  
Kathy >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Beautiful resort.Very clean.Most beautiful beach
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There was always something to do,but star staff was always looking for young people.
Arrival
Airport went fine.Ride to resort on time.Service at hotel lobby a little slow.Management never told us we needed a key to the inroom safe,therefore 3 days later we got locked out of our safe.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Lovely resort.Grounds immaculate and very clean.Most beautiful beach.
Other Comments
My family and myself did not like the food at this resort.There was always food to eat and the presentation was lovely,but we got very ill from the food/and or drinks.
Restaurants and Bars
Very disappointed in all restaurants.Waiters and waitresses did not understand English well.Our orders were wrong quite a few times at most of the restaurants.We got turned away twice because the restaurant times in our room paperwork said 9:30 for closing and the restaurant said 9:00.We wanted to change a reservation time one night and the front desk told us no they wouldn’t change it.The alcohol was lousy.No top shelf liquor and some tasted watery.
Rooms
Rooms very large and comfortable.Clean.Room cleaned and sheets changed daily.
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.
Spend a few extra $ somewhere elseif you want a memorable trip
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
User Rating:  
Andy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
The resort looks nice from the outside. Pool is welcoming and beach is very swimmable. Food is always the same and I’m not sure what the rest of Cuba is like but we didn’t go for a gourmet experience. Staff are pleasant but expect to tip and that doesnt guarantee service ..except on the beach. Our room had mold in the bathroom and the shower always ran water across the floor. Maid service was less than commenting on. Never got our drinks refilled even after complaining..luck of the draw cuz others did not seem to have a problem…even though we still tipped. Gardeners and buffet staff were always accomodating and fun to talk to. Its a budget resort really so hammer out a best as possible deal.. we paid $1150 for 2 weeks from a connector to Calgary AB with Air Canada…thats a pretty good deal, otherwise I would be really dissapointed. Organized trips are expensive but they do provide! The beach people or staff will get a way better price and a personalized trip…I believe them to be quite earnest and safe to deal with. There are biting flees on the beach so be prepared to get a rash or red marks. Wife got sick for3 days.. I did not. Staff get overwhelmed so go in a slow period when there is 50% occupancy or you will pay for it …not enough beach spots for a full house.. Watch out for your towell or be prepared to find someone elses.
I did enjoy myself, but if you want a really exotic memory, go for a top rated resort and make sure you go to Havana and buy at least a 14 year old rum
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Take the bus into Veradero, its super cheap and great mode of transportation. There is nothing to buy but trinkets, rum and cigars. The straggglers will always try to sell you shells but they are friendly and will back off if you say NO Look for a lobster dinner that will be cooked fresh.

The food to the island was way overcooked..you cant do that to lobster

Arrival
Arrival was easy, we all got bug sprayed and checked for Sars or whatever. Cold beer outside, but it only costs a peso, so don’t over tip. Go to bathroom before you get on the bus, its another 45 minutes to Veradero. Nothing much to eat at airport. The price in Cuba is the same everywhere, so you don’t need duty free. Bottles are 700 ml..not 750
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful water, bring a mask and flippers, they have boats to sail and an incredible exercise routine every morning the bartenders are very friendly and enjoy a drink with you
Other Comments
I would not go back to Sirenis La Salina, only because I would want something more special. Many East coasters go there because it is easy to get to and much cheaper than someone on the west coast. Learn some Spanish and Quebec French…never heard so much french before

Lots of people smoke so be prepared to see a lot of butts

Restaurants and Bars
bland bland bland but the ice cream, honey, and pineapple is fantastic. The coffee sucked some form of cappacino I dunno. pretty weak..On the beach restaurant they make excellent pork buns, but there are lots of flies there so you have to put up with it. People raved about the Japanese place…don’t waste your time..we watched little prawns (shrimp) get fried for 10 minutes before they serve them..well you don’t have to worry about anything undercooked in Cuba At the bar, they have 5 0r 7 year rum have a cigar and enjoy the lifestyle.

Your kids will probably be happy with the food, its not bad…its just buffet mass produced and I don’t think Cubans know any different

Rooms
Rooms are large but you need the AC on which makes it bearable..Lotsa humidity so don’t expect anything to dry…Bring Gold Bond powder. If you leave stuff outside (like on ground floor) it will depart overnight.
Good; not great. Glad we went; wouldn’t go back though.
Hotel Breezes Panama Resort & Spa
User Rating:  
Jay & Jenn >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Panama is a unique place to go right now; you have the relaxed resort to enjoy, the beaches, the Canal to explore, as well as a city that’s been labeled a world heritage site. But it’s also going through a transformation right now, since the Americans left the nation in 1999. The city is being gutted and rebuilt (literally) to bring in more multinational corporations, condos, and tourism; the latter of which is just starting to blossom. Consequently, there are still a lot that needs to be learned with experience in regards to how travelers to resorts expect to be serviced. In addition, because the Panamanians lived quite separate from the Americans when they occupied the Canal Zone, English is only spoken by 14% of the population; which does not make for easy conversations when shopping, or when trying to communicate what you want to some of the resort staff.

In terms of weather, we went in August, which is the rainy season. We’ve gone in August to Mexico and the Dominican in the past, with great weather. Panama is a bit different in that it gets quite a bit of rain, sometimes their wet season lasts 8 months. On our trip, clouds dominated. Usually, they get some mix of sun and cloud in the morning; solid clouds by noon, and rain in the afternoon/evening. During our seven days, only three days of complete sun were enjoyed. The other days, were cloudy, with spotty showers. However, we were lucky to be off the resort on those rainy days, so it’s not like we were sitting around hoping to get tanned. But if you want a vacation with solid sun the majority of the days, I would not travel to Panama in the wet season.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Because they built the resort in this area, there is little else right now. There are no vendor stands, or any kind of local market that you can walk to. Down the beach is a small fisher village. Next door is a time share condo; with very few people there. You can walk for a couple hours on the beach and see no one. But, this means that you spend a lot of time on a bus. 2 hours from the airport makes for a longer day of travelling on your way into Panama and on the way out. In addition, most day trips will involve at least 4 hours on a bus round trip. A couple tours have you ona bus for 6 hours. Ask in advance how long you’re on a bus for – we found that the bus really tired us out more than anything, and that ‘s one of the reasons we wouldn’t return to Panama at least for a decade or so when more things start to pop up closer to the resort area.
Arrival
The airport is efficient with no worries. The duty free shops are all over, selling much of the same merchandise, but some had more variety than others. When you arrive, a truck will take your luggage to the resort. We had no issues with that. Remember to set aside $40USD per person for the departure tax. When you check your baggage as you leave Panama, you will have to cough it up. The Hotel itself is quite isolated, in the dry belt of the country. You’ll still get clouds and rain, but nowhere near what the rest of the country gets – in the city it rained every day we were there. But the resort only got rain in the daytime 3 times, and it was brief. It rained through the late night a lot – but few care about rain at 3am. The hotel is small, with 4 buildings, a slew of pools, and the beach. Building one is the largest, main structure with the lobby. Building two, three and four are on a slight slope heading down to the beach, with 4 being the only one with direct views of the ocean for a lucky few. I’d recommend avoiding anything on the 2nd and 3rd floor of buildings one or two; that faces the pool area of the resort – at night, a lot of loud, latin hip hop music is played from the sports bar (bottom floor, building two) which would disturb many people. Many seem shocked that the hotel wants to copy your passport, but it’s common in Europe for hotels to keep your passport numbers, so it didn’t phase me. The front desk now has a small photocopier out front to expedite this process; but we saved time by bringing copies ourselves
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The hotel was not very busy during the week (perhaps because it was in August), but local Panamanians take their families for a getaway to the resort on the weekend. It got much busier, but not overcrowded to the point of being stressful. The pools were great, and there’s a waterslide for the kids. The beach is nice to look at, but the water is quite choppy. Very few people went in. Your small children will likely be kicked out of the water by the lifeguards. We went in the ocean the first day and got so pummeled by sandy waves that the rest of the week we kept finding new grains of sand in our ears with every q-tip. If you like the ocean, this is not the place for you. But outside of swimming, I took out a kayak a couple times, and once past the breakwater, the ocean was fine. However, the guys working the watersports hut have zero personality (except one taller gentleman). Like a lot of the wait staff, they give one word answers and seem to genuinely want you to go away. Perhaps this is a language barrier issue and nothing more. But if I pay a thousand bucks for an all inclusive that rates itself as 5 stars; I don’t need to be treated like a king; but do expect some common courtesy.
Other Comments
Overall, I am glad I went to Panama. It’s amazing to see the Canal, and unbelievable to see how the city is rapidly changing to embrace big business and tourism. But I wish I had gone in their summer; and it’s not a place I’d go to twice.
Restaurants and Bars
The bars all stock top shelf liquor, though the bartenders tended to lack knowledge of common drinks, and had trouble with consistency. I ordered a simple mix of Malibu and passion fruit juice, which was made perfect; but when I asked for another one, the bartender put in grapefruit instead, despite the fact that he had just made the original 5 minutes before. WE found that this kind of experience was common with the exception of a couple bartenders that were excellent – they were always manning the piano bar in the main lobby. The buffet could use a bit more variety, though it wasn’t awful – just a notch below resorts we’ve been at in Mexico and the DR. Breakfast was always decent, with great service from the guys making omelets. But the people making pasta at night could do with some training – with four burners and lots of pans, it seems they only make one pasta at a time; which means you could wait 15 minutes in line for one of your own. The late night snack table gets rolled out around 11pm; but this consists of sandwiches made from dinner’s leftovers. I couldn’t eat it. Overall, though there were some servers who genuinely made an effort to provide friendly service, most staff at the bars and buffet didn’t seem like they wanted to be there. The hut down by the pool served some food during the day like burgers, chicken nuggets and fries, but had to have the worst quality out of the whole resort – I don’t know how you mess up chicken nuggets, but they were mushy and tasted so bad I couldn’t swallow them. As for the al a cartes, you are guaranteed 3 bookings at the specialty restaurants of your choice; which you do at the orientation session (which really could have half its content in paper format). You can try and book more, but they tend to be fully booked every day. The steakhouse was utter crap. The steaks are small, thin, and have little taste. The ribs are a waste of time – they’re boiled so long that they lack any kind of flavor. The chicken was decent, but not worth the booking. We didn’t do the Italian place as we didn’t hear one good thing about it. But we went to the Japanese place twice – and most people we talked with agreed that this was the best place to eat on the resort. The cooks put on good show for you, but the serving staff really can’t seem to get you out the door fast enough. All I’d recommend in this place is a few more smiles and a lot more courtesy.
Rooms
Our room was originally a premium oceanview with a king sized bed and balcony. Unlike many rooms, this wasn’t a Juliet balcony (which are plentiful – and you can’t sit out on them), but large enough for two of us to sit out and chill. But the balcony is shared – it joined with three other rooms, so you won’t be sitting out there alone – no big deal. That room was in building three overlooking the pool area. It wasn’t too noisy, but instead of a king bed, there were two doubles. The front desk was courteous enough and said they could get us what we booked the next day. Outside of this issue, the room was substandard compared to what we were used to. The walls were scuffed, there was dirt along the baseboards, there was no fridge. . . . it just looked a bit dingy, but we figured we’d just roll with it; after all, it’s a different country and tourism is new. The next day, the front desk told us that they couldn’t get us the premium oceanview with a balcony and a king size bed, so they were upgrading us to a suite. The suites are on a totally different level than the other room we were in. The suites are in building four, and if you go on the Breezes website, under the heading ‘rooms and suites’ pictured here: http://www.breezes.com/resorts/breezes-panama/rooms/ you will see the suite we stayed in. There’s a standard room with a bed and bathroom, and then you can go into the adjoining room, which is a big sitting area with yet another TV, full bathroom, fridge, and dining table. Go outside, and there’s a huge balcony spanning the two rooms of the suite, with 4 lounge chairs, and an unencumbered view of the ocean. Unlike the premium ocean view with balcony we were in the first night, the suite had granite counters in the bathrooms (which were larger) and was generally in much better condition in terms of cleanliness, with no signs of wear or neglect on the walls.
Will visit again but at a different resort
Hotel Holiday Inn Sunspree
User Rating:  
Alisha >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My boyfriend and I stay for 6 nights @ the Holiday Inn Sunspree hotel. I was happy with the front desk staff, very friendly, The maids were not so friendly and some one waiter was very grumpy and pretended he couldn’t hear me when I tried to get his attention. The food was good but then again, I am not such a picky eater. Not too many exotic fruits, just ones you would get in Canada except for papaya the one day for breakfast. The entertainment needs to be improved on. It started late and ended early. No dancing or clubs in our own resort. The beach was beautiful and that is why I would visit again. The service at the bar was poor, I don’t want to make a false accusation but maybe because of my ethnicity, we stood at the bar for 20 minutes until someone was forced to serve us our drinks. We noticed they served others before us when we were clearly there first. We also got alot of stares from the other tourists which made us uncomfortable and we felt singled out. The entertainers in the evening didn’t even cheer for us when we said we were from Canada they only cheered for other countires or they made crude jokes about canadians when my boyfriend took part in the limbo. The weather was great, the rooms were ok. Not much to do there besides the activities and tours. Shopping was a disappointment. Overall I give this resort a 3. We would visit Aruba again but will not at stay at the Holiday inn. Thanks David from Pelican tours! He made us feel welcomed, taught us alot about Aruba, very friendly and helpful. Glad to be home, 6 days was more then enough time.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
lots of activities and sites to see but got bored after a couple of days.
Arrival
When we arrived, it was nothing spectacular in comparison to Punta cana, dominican Rep. where you have pictures taken with the people, and live music.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Spectacular views, clean beaches, great views, great snorkling sites, clean water and beaches. Pool was okay, it was small and crowded. I don’t recommend this resort if going as a couple. Too many children.
Other Comments
Just wish some people were more friendlier and more diversified. If you don’t like someone, don’t make it obvious!
Restaurants and Bars
The al a carte restaurants were the best especially the Italian restaurant. Try the chocolate mousse dessert… yummy! The wait staff were wonderful at the Italian restaurant.
Rooms
Cleaned often, again, nothing special. You get what you pay for. We tipped the maids, no thank-you’s or even a hint that they appreciated it.
Nice rooms, mostly nice staff, not enough info up front
Hotel Gran Bahia Principe Runaway Bay
User Rating:  
Rose >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Dec, 2010 | Wedding | Family
We booked through a travel agency Bahia Principe USA our of Miami who was coordinating the travel to our nephew’s wedding at this resort. We were told that we would receive our travel vouchers once we were paid in full. They never explained until much later that everyone attending the wedding had to be paid in full before we received the vouchers. While we were paid up two months before departure we only received our vouchers the week before. The agent booked our children on the plane and made a mistake booking their return flight home as 6 days later than ours. Unfortunately, we didn’t notice until the night before our Jamaica departure when we went to print the boarding passes. We had to call the airlines and charge $300 to our credit card to fix her mistake. I have e-mailed her about the mistake and charge and haven’t heard back yet – now 2 days later. It would have been nice to receive more information about the hotel amenities and restaurants before check-in so we would be prepared to make reservations upon our arrival. Some of the guests who made reservations or tried to add people to their reservations were given a hard time when they arrived at the restaurant. The pool was very nice. I noticed many commented our the rocky beaches. I agree; however, a guest who came earlier in the week showed us the sandy beach further down that was very nice for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. It would be nice to have that information in advance and also to know that some of the beaches are rocky so that people would pack water shoes. The wedding was nicely done and the minister was excellent. We weren’t told which restaurant the reception dinner would be held until after the ceremony. My sister-in-law said that the wedding planner wasn’t very flexible when she asked for a few extras, such as taking the wedding cake which was cut and not served over to the wedding pavillion where people were dancing to serve to the guests. The wait staff, maids, and lifeguards were all very friendly. The front desk staff could use some people skills. Our rooms were very nice. We were put in smoking rooms even though we didn’t want to be in them. Our kids were next door and supposed to have 2 double beds but instead were given a king bed. If you want to be moved you have to check back with them after 1:00 the next day. It wasn’t worth re-packing when we were only there for a few days. The food was OK. There was enough variety at the buffet everyone could find something to eat; however it got very repetitive. For a tropical island the fruit was very disappointing.
Room Block
14
Room Number
109 and 110
Great family time. the beach way better than punta cana
Hotel Aguas Azules (Formerly Club Amigo Varadero)
User Rating:  
MAGS >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We all liked this resort, beach and pools all where great. food was ok nothing special burgers at the beach bar and pool where very good. my girls 13 and 14 had fun walking around by themselves. As parents we felt it was a lot safer then in when in punta cana. Cuban people are sometimes said to be snoby, i totally disagree. they are polite and respectful. They do not beg or make you feel uncomfortable. Shopping in the markets was fun no one pulling you into their stalls and bugging you to buy something.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
GREAT FOR THE ACTIVE VACATIONERS, OUR YOUNGEST PLAYED BEACH VOLLEYBALL EVERY DAY AND MET SOME OTHER TEENS BY JOINING IN AT THE POOL SIDE GAMES. NIGHT SHOWS STARTED LATE, THEY WHERE FUNNY AND THE STAFF DID A GREAT JOB.
Arrival
ONLY DISAPOINTMENT WE HAD ASK FOR ROOMS BESIDE EACH OTHER, DID NOT HAPPEN. WHAT PISSED ME OFF THE MOST, WAS THERE WAS A ROOM RIGHT ACROSS FROM OURS THAT WAS EMPTY. THEY LIED AND SAID IT WAS NOT. THE NEXT DAY WE MET A GREAT FAMILY, THE PARENTS HAD THAT ROOM AND ALL OF THE KIDS WHERE DOWN THE HALL. WE HAD ARRIVED AT 10AM THEY ARRIVED AT 10PM. THERE WAS NO REASON WHY THE FRONT DESK COULDNT HAVE GIVEN US THE ROOM CLOSEST TO OUR ROOM
Beach/Pools/Grounds
GREAT, CLEAN LOTS OF BEACH CHAIRS. BAR CLOSE BY ALL THE POOLS OR ON THE BEACH. EMPLOYESS DRAGGED THE CHAIRS TO THE SPOT ON THE BEACH THAT WE WANTED. LOTS OF SPOTS TO CHOOSE FROM. IN PUNTA CANA IF YOU DIDN’T SAVE YOUR SPOT THE NIGHT BEFORE IT WAS HARD TO GET A GOOD SPOT. SAME AS BY THE POOL LOTS OF CHAIRS TO LIE DOWN AND RELAXE, SHADE FOR THOSE WHO DONT WANT THE SUN.
Other Comments
BRING TRAVEL MUGS ONE FOR HOT DRINKS AND ONE FOR COLD. RINSE WELL BEFORE BED AS SWEET DRINKS ATTRACTS ANTS FAST INTO YOUR ROOM. THE CUBANS LOVE GIFTS AS WELL ALL DO. WHEN EXCHANGING MONEY ASK FOR SMALL CHANGE FOR TIPS. OTHER THAN THAT IT IS A GREAT PLACE TO RELAX AND HAVE A FEW DRINKS. IF YOU EXPECT A FANCY RESORT WITH EXCELLENT FOOD YOU BETTER GO TO EUROPE. THIS IS A POOR COUNTRY AND THE PEOPLE WORK HARD TO PLEASE US. WE WENT HERE FOR A INEXPENSIVE FAMILY TRIP AND GOT WAY MORE THEN WE PAID FOR.
Restaurants and Bars
THE FOOD WAS THE SAME MOST DAYS, WE ALL FOUND SOMETHING TO EAT AND NEVER WENT HUNGRY. POOL SIDE BAR HAD GOOD CHIPS AND BUGERS AS MENTION BEFORE. GRIILED CHEESE WAS NEVER THE SAME TWICE BUT ALWAYS GOOD MY KIDS SAID.
BAR TENDERS WHERE ALL FRIENDLY AND MADE WHAT YOU ASKED FOR ALSO ENJOYED TRYING THE DRINKS THEY MIXED UP FOR ME. HUSBAND STUCK TO CRYSTAL BEER AND WAS QUITE HAPPY. THE GIRLS LOVED THEIR BLUE LAGOONS AND OTHER VIRGIN DRINKS ( I THINK ALCOHAL FREE)
Rooms
CLEAN, BIG, NICE BATHROOMS. WE HAD A HUGE BALCONY TO HANG OUT ON AND READ, PLAY CARDS OR PEOPLE WATCH.
Hotel is great, food was good, but I think ONCE is plenty for a visit to Cuba
Hotel Melia Varadero
User Rating:  
nimi >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | Family
In general, I think the hotel, the people and the food were all good. This hotel is old and it shows. We took a full day tour of Havana from Sun wing agent. In this tour, it was a unique experience of having your first stop at a massive grave site. Personally, I found Cuba boring — I think next time I want to see a communist country then China is going to be my first choice. I don’t think I would visit Cuba again.
It was fun, it was sunny.
Hotel Be Live Grand Bavaro (formerly Oasis)
User Rating:  
Blayne >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
We found that the service staff did their best and were pleasant. The food was decent. However, there appears to be a huge problem with the reception/administration at this hotel. For example, with two issues (getting a security lock and getting change) We were told repeatedly to "come back tomorrow", "come back in 15 minutes", "come back in 10 minutes"…and on it went. It took some of us two days to get a security lock and we never got change. We understand that we were in their country, and we respected that, but there should be somebody at the reception/administration area who can understand and take action. As typical Canadians we were all trying to be understanding and polite, however, after 2 or 3 days we gave up even going to the front desk for any issue.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t really go out of the hotel area…there to relax. We simply went for walks or stayed around the pool.
Arrival
was pleasant and enjoyable..felt welcome. However, within one hour after arriving (we arrived at noon) there was confusion as to room readiness as we were told they were not ready and we would have to wait 3 hours (we arrived…and no one could give us an answer.) We simply went to our rooms after 1/2 hour and walked in and they were ready. The reception/administration area were the people that told us our rooms weren’t ready….we, in turn, came back and told them they were ready.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
All good
Other Comments
After awhile, one almost becomes ‘short’ with the people trying to sell you time share condominiums, fishing trips or things from the stores. It does get bothersome and they don’t give up.

The entertainment was good.

Restaurants and Bars
They were all good.
Room Block
5
Room Number
5118
Rooms
We were in the older section but the rooms were decent.
O.K for the Price
Hotel Grand and Club Marival Hotel
User Rating:  
Sam >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2011 | Business | Family
Stayed at this Resort between December 10-17,2010. OVerall impression was good however it is a four star in my opinion. The Italian and La Pergola resturant very good however the buffet had repetative food with not the greatest taste. The other resturant by the Pool was not that great either. Freindly staff. Great hotel for Kids. Wahtchout for Time Share pressure.
We did have a wonderful time despite the bad
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
ChrisJocelynNovaScotia >  1 contribution(s) 
Mar, 2008 | Leisure | Family
We (ages 33 and 36) just spent a beautiful week at the Tryp Cayo Coco with our two boys ages 7 and 8, and my Mom & Dad, 56 and 58. We were there AMrch 15th – 22nd, 2008. Both my parents and I have travelled to at least 3 other places in the carribean prior to going on this trip. This was a first time for everyone going to Cuba. There were good and bad things about this resort, but let me say we did have a wonderful time despite the bad.
Bars & Food
This is where this place is lacking a bit, but I guess that’s Cuba. No consistency in drinks from one day to the next, one bar to the next, but hey, if it’s no good just poor it out and try again, although you hate to waste them. My kids had trouble finding things to eat. They had pasta, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and so on, but it was not the same as home to them. It never is. Even the pop was different. Not great for the kids. But you can buy Coke products at the hotel gift shop which is way better than the pop they serve at the bars or in the buffet. Food was only mediocre to the adults too I would say, but hey. I guess it depends how important the food is to you. Never tried any a la cartes as they are not our thing. I would recommend the stir fry station in the main buffet, the pasta station is okay, the turkey at the carvery one night was good, the rolls were good, the bruschetta at lunch for 3 days was excellent! The burgers at the swimup bar were not too bad at lunch time, with pickles and tomatoes and onions. Omelettes and eggs made to order in th emorning were hot and good, as was the frsh squeezed OJ each morning. Wait & bar staff was excellent and freindly. Tip them they work hard for so little pay- all staff get about 8-12 canadain dollars a month in salary, so tips mean a lot. p.s. – Take an insulated mug!
Check in/out
went pretty smoothly, although when we checked in Sat night at 2 am there was only 1 person on to check in about 30 people, and no bell boys or anything. That was poor. My Mom & Dad were given a room that someone was already in! They walked in on 2 people sleeping at 2am! Pretty scary for all involved. Back to the lobby to get a new room!
Entertainment
Staff very friendly and worked hard every day to provide you with something to do if you were interested. Kids club was a bit of a joke, never many organized activities going on. Luckily my kids were content in the pool with other kids they met. New staff came in for evenings to do shows, and mini disco – bless her heart this lady was good with the kids. It was fun to watch. Then there was music and dancing, a mr and miss cayo coco contest, that sort of thing. The disco opened at 11pm, but we never went. Young crowd/party crowd did.
First of all
First of all, the beach and water is stunning! Absolutely beautiful.Really the high point of this resort. In my opinion better than Bavaro beach in Punta Cana, only very little shade on the beach, for my kids to play for example. I’m a sun lover so that didn’t matter to me, but it did for my Mom & the kids. No palms on the beach like in the DR though, just constructed wooden sun shades. Less attractive. Could walk a long way in either direction. Not much to see right off the resort snorkelling wise though, for those looking for that.
Grounds
Lovely & mature, but the DR was nicer and neater. Many large palm trees, etc. The flamingo pond and lagoon under the main lobby/ main buffet were stinky and gross and an eyesore. Fill them in people or dump some javex in them or something!
Other comments
Weather was gorgeous all week, very windy for 2 days. No water sports or parasailing etc, for those 2 days. I went parasailing one day for 40 pesos. Well worth the money, what a blast and what a view. Excellent & very safe. The gardeners were comical, always making things for my boys – grasshoppers out of palm fronds, hats, and monkeys from coconuts. Great guys! Tip them too, they get very little and go the extra mile to make you feel welcome. p.s. – we gave then t-shirts and our sunglasses on the last day, and our insulated mugs, they loved them. Cayo Coco is very isolated, nothing to see but resorts, so you should be aware of this. Also, when you stay at the Tryp you can get a visitors bracelet and go to any of the other Sol/Melia resorts for the day for free, as they are all owned by the same people. Nice option. Free transportation to and from. Whole island felt very safe.

So, hope that helps you prepare for your trip, or helps you decide where to go. Good trip for the cost. Have fun!

Pool Area
(where we spent most of our time), very large, many loungers, lots of sunny and shady spots, but it can get noisy and crowded at times, especially if beach is windy. Always cuban music playing loudly around the pool, and many activities like crazy games and volleyball, aerobics arouind the main pool. Shallow, wading in areas and 5 ft deep areas. One quiet pool for mostly adults down the property a bit. Parts of the pool have a few tiles missing or have some paint chipped off, but it is still lovely and cool and refreshing.
Rooms
Run down and outdated, in need of an update, but comfortable, clean, and all you needed really. We had very good maid service, plenty of towels and hot water, a/c worked great, beds very comfortable. As the week went on it hardly mattered what the rooms looked like. The same could be said for the rest of the resort, in need of a fresh coat of paint for example, but as the week went on you hardly noticed and cared even less. p.s. – Take faceclothes!
Tours
Went on the Spectacular into Moron city and Ciego de Avila, and the Speed Boats. Boats fun but poor snorkelling – don’t take this tour for the snorkelling, go to PIllar Beach or on the catamaran for great snorkelling. Spectacular was a long 9 hour day, and very hot, but we saw a lot and learned a lot. Hectar was an excellent tour guide. Bus was cool and comfy. p.s. – Take things for the locals, like toiletries, candy for the kids, dinkies, paper, pencils, coloring books, crayons, socks, etc
Beautful water and sand, very clean
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
AndreaMississaugaOntario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Arrival Two Adults, two children (9 and 12 yrs old). Stayed at the TRYP from April 5-12. Departed Toronto at 6:30am via Air Canada. Flight was on time and uneventfull. Arrived Cayo Coco at 10:30am, easy process through customs. Had our luggage and borded the hotel bus within 25 minutes. 15-20 minute bus ride to the hotel. Rooms Check in was quick (10 minutes). The rooms were pretty average. They do need a bit of a "face lift", but a good size and clean. Beds were comfortable. Restaurants and Bars We hit the buffet every day. They had a variety of foods to choose from. Most were not overly tastey but that’s what we were prepared for. Until we discovered the Stir Fry and pasta counter. They were really good…especially the stir fry. You can choose your ingrediants and it had alot of flavor. The beach grill food was okay. The beach Pizza "hut" was Awesome, go see George! We were really happy with the food all in all. One of my kids is a pretty fussy eater and he had no problem finding something he enjoyed every day. If you go with the right expectations you’ll be fine. Cuba isn’t known for it’s culinary delight. Beach/Pools/Grounds Beach was fantastic. Beautful water and sand, very clean. The water was warm every day. Ran into some jelly fish one day when the tide came in from Bahama way, but every other day was fine. Pools were well kept clean. The big pool always had activities running. The other smaller pools were a little more quiet. We never had a problem finding chairs or shade if we needed it. We did drop our towels on chairs on the way to breakfast in the morning to secure a spot. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel Pool and beach activities are always available. We didn’t go on any tours but heard that they were nice. Evening shows were good too. Other Comments

This resort should probably be rated a 3 or 3 1/2, mainly just because it needs to be fixed up a little due to age. But overall it was very beautiful. The staff was really nice and always helpful. I’ve been on several trips to many different Islands and I would go back to the Tryp anytime, with and/or without the kids.

The FDR Pebbles has an awesome “Teen Program”.
Hotel FDR Pebbles
User Rating:  
Bev >  3 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2005
Sunquest Vacations Skyservice

About us: We are a professional couple in our mid 30’s with two children ages 12 and 7 yrs old! Our previous travel experience includes multiple trips to the UK., Island hoping in Greece, many visits to the USA (mostly work related) and a yearly “Caribbean relaxation” trip to an “AI” resort. Some of the “All Inclusive” resorts that we have had the opportunity to visit over the years are: Iberostar in Cozumel, Spanish Bay Reef in Grand Cayman, Sandals Dunn River in Jamaica, Paradisus Rio de Oro in Cuba, and finally the FDR Pebbles in Jamaica.

We have stayed in accommodations rated from a 2* resort through to a 5* resort. When choosing our vacations, we typically try to decide on “exactly “ the type of vacation we want first and then we go from there.

For example, our trips to Cozumel and Grand Cayman were based purely on the quality of the “aquatic programs” the resort offered, likewise for our trip to Cuba, we were interested in a “low key” romantic vacation and we were not disappointed. On this vacation we were looking for a resort that was extensively geared towards family and kids, we really didn’t care which Island we were visiting or the * factor. We knew exactly what we were looking for in a resort and for the most part the FDR Pebbles met our expectations

at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay was right on schedule. The airport does seem a little “run-down” and could use a real good “make-over”. Finding our luggage was not really an issue as it arrived quickly on the carousel, we headed to the “nothing to declare” line (and declared that I was happy to be in Jamaica) and then tried to find the Sunquest rep. Now the fun begins…Being that this week was March Break for many people and a Saturday night, I guess I should not have been surprised with the amount of people pushing and shoving their way around. Once we finally found the person who we thought was our rep, we were directed to go to another counter to speak to somebody by the name of “Marlin”(?). After wandering around aimlessly we managed to find and speak to Marlin, whom, handed us our information packet and told us to make our way to the exit and speak to “Bethany” “she will set you up with your hotel transfer”! Okay, frustration was really beginning to settle in now. Finding Bethany became almost as daunting as finding Marlin. Once again through perseverance, we eventually found her and she instructed us to “go out” into the parking lot to find Omar (?), “he will be your driver”, she said… So, now we had to find Omar!

Finding Omar, took another 10 minutes of us wandering around the parking lot aimlessly with our entire luggage collection and two very tired kids… FINALLY another driver helped us find Omar (for a tip of course) and we settled in for the 40-minute drive to the resort. We were traveling with three other families from our flight and one American family.

2) Better Security! Okay, the beach at this resort was not really all that bad, I mean, Steve and I had a chance to visit Hedo III while we were in Jamaica, now that was a truly horrible beach! The beach at FDR Pebbles was quite narrow, however there was some length and never busy, always lots of room! If you like to take long walks along the beach, you can do this here, however you will need to go past the fences and the security of the resort. Security, what security, oh yeah, I think I saw somebody once and awhile, wandering the beachfront in a uniform! As the beach was public, anybody can walk along, and they do, all day long! Locals, mostly from the “bamboo village” calling out to you “Hey mon, do you want me to braid your hair? Hey Mon, don’t be rude, come see my wares! All day this would occur, I would even see them coming up past the beach. I don’t mind sharing a beach with the locals, after all this is their Country; however we were constantly harassed! It got to the point where we would not sit at the beach anymore! I would not have wanted a “beach front” room that’s for sure, It would have been very, very easy for somebody to walk along the beach and hop with onto the bottom balcony and break right into your room. There would have been NO security to stop them! Needless to say, we made sure the “chain” was across the door every night!

3) The Nanny program!

Okay this was our single biggest disappointment, which is why I left it for last! The concept is a GREAT idea, however in practice, I think the service needs a major overhaul! Part of me feels horrible complaining about this, as maybe our expectations were too high, we did see plenty of families who were completely satisfied with the nanny service! In fact some people went as far as to say, that the “nanny” would be the only reason that they would return to FDR Pebbles, however, we were truly disappointed with the program!

Food: Despite all of the negative reviews that I had read about the food at this resort, I was really quite impressed, and I do consider myself a “foodie”! The only true disappointment was the Curry dishes; they were way too bland for our taste, with only a hint of “curry” in the flavor! The food served at the FDR Pebbles was by no means “haute cuisine”, however very wholesome, fresh and certainly had a “home cooked” feel about it! The meals were very similar to the type of meal my “mother-in-law” would create, as my husband is from Newfoundland, I found it quite surprising that they shared some “similar” dishes… For the “less adventurous’ they had the North American staples… Breakfast consisted of: Omelet Station, toast machine, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal (cold and hot), fresh juice (apple, orange, pineapple, papaya), milk, “home fries (or some other potato variation), bacon (yuck) or sausage. More traditional Jamaican dishes were “dumplings”, “braised kidney’s” callaloo (steamed and put into quiche), creamed cabbage, esckovitch fish, and of course Akee and callaloo, Akee and rice, Akee and fish. I somehow think the chef managed to somehow “incorporate “ Akee into every breakfast. Lunch: Word of advice, if you don’t want to get “sick” of the buffet, I would avoid lunch at the Oceanside. If we even had lunch (as we were usually too full from breakfast) we would try and hit the “Pool grill”! These guys really do make the “BEST” Jerk chicken that I have ever had… Tried the pork 3 times and all 3 times, all I got was a plate of “jerked fat” (Yuck)! The “Grill” also served burgers, hotdogs, French fries, sandwiches, a daily special (patties, curries), Ice cream, fruit and cookies… The kids really loved “saddling up” to the old “pool bar and grill” to order their daily fix of hotdog and fries (Erich liked a side order of jerk sauce to “dunk” his fries into). Dinner: Dinner was buffet style, and again had plenty of North American dishes! Each night the buffet had plenty of salads and “salad fixings”, three or four types of vegetables, and one or two types of carbs. (Usually potato and rice), two fish and one chicken dish, and a “roast of something” at the “carving” station. Of course the kids were thankful for the “pasta” person as well. Pretty much every night at least one of the kids would find themselves at the “make to order” pasta station! The resort also had three theme nights, Monday was Asian night at the buffet, Wednesday was “beach BBQ” night and Saturday was Caribbean night (this is the night you will get a chance to try curried goat). Now, the resort also has one (1) “adult’s only” restaurant called the Sabbia, the food and atmosphere was supposed to be really nice, however we dined here twice and were really disappointed. The meal itself was good, one night I had the pork, the second night the lamb, however, dining here was anything but relaxing. The service has haphazard at best, and downright non-existent at its worse. Not only was the service horrible, the fact that this restaurant was on the edge of the resorts property, with the “public” beach just on the other side of the fence, made for some very interesting fumes coming from the “sellers” next door. I actually witnessed a “mother” from our resort purchasing some of the local herb, while we tried to look inconspicuous eating our appetizer.

The “soft” dinner music they were playing was actually just the local radio station, playing top 40 hits from a “ghetto blaster”. Now the kitchen was another problem, the kitchen window was so large that you could “plainly” see what was going on in the kitchen while you were trying to eat. I am not trying to nit-pick, however between the condition of the kitchen and the less then sanitary practices that I witnessed on our second trip, left us with no desire to return!

Here is a list of some of the “Preteen activities”: Pool and Beach volleyball, Soccer, Cricket, Hikes, Dance class, Disco, talent show, Camp-outs (both weeks in the disco as the beach was too windy to set up tents), Beach party, Kayaking, Sailing, Windsurfing, Scuba lesson, Tie and Die, Tattoos, Pool (Billiards), Air hockey, Table Tennis, Video Game tournament, Pool Party. The teen and preteen coordinators also took the kids on field trips off the resort to places such as “Bamboo Village”, Tubing down the White River, Trip to Ocho Rios and FDR (the sister resort, for a day of friendly competition), Montego Bay trip, Water Park and Go-cart racing.

Adult Activities:

For the adults they also had activities scheduled from around 8:00am till 11:00pm. Although I never really participated in many of them… They had poolside games, power walks, trips (already mentioned above), water sport activities (including Scuba), fitness classes, aerobics (water or land), dance classes (really lame), trivia contests, “not so newlywed game”, and evening entertainment. They have a resident band, which played most nights, however I found the band quite disappointing, as I did with most of the evening shows. I certainly was not expecting a “Las Vegas review”, however I was hoping for something better then a third rate garage band or high school drama production. Most evenings the “main bar/restaurant” cleared out pretty quick. This is the first resort that I have been to where the evening entertainment “chased” its customers away! Oh well, this is a family resort and for the most part I was really ready to “crash” by 10:00 pm anyway! The adult coordinators Leon and Paulette really did try their best to get people up and motivated, unfortunately I think most people come to this resort looking for relaxation. I really did not see a “huge” turnout to any of the “adult” activities!

Excursions:

As this is a review about the FDR Pebbles, and not of Jamaica, I wont really go into great detail about the “excursions” we took away from the resort, except to say, even though we “went” to our “Sunquest meet and greet”, we found her information to be basic and her tours of little interest. She had the “obligatory” Martha Brae rafting tour, Swim with the Dolphin tour, “Dunn’s river” falls, Shopping excursions and several “combination” packages for astronomical costs… The resort has its own tour desk with more reasonable costs and is willing to “mix and match” specific tours for you. The other alternative here was to “hire” a taxi driver for the day! The resort has its own drivers that you can hire from $75 to $125 USD per day (you need to negotiate a price, depending on where you want to go), the driver will not only take you to your places of interest, but he will act as a tour guide along the way, pointing out several points of interest, and will stop for photo opportunities if you choose! The resort also organizes several “field trips” throughout the week! You can find out about these tours from either the “adult coordinators” or the tour desk personnel, the costs are reasonable, and it’s a nice way to meet people from your resort! The excursions we took, were the “Luminous Lagoon”, Shopping trip to Ocho Rios, Tubing down the White River, Falmouth Historical tour (free), Bamboo village walking tour (free), an evening in Montego Bay (which included dinner and music at Margaritaville) and a “Day trip” to Hedonism III for my husbands birthday!

All in all, I was disappointed with the tours offered through Sunquest, however we did like the “flat rate”, “make your own tour” option that was available through our resort!

In Summary: I have tried to keep this review as factual as possible, without “injecting” my own biases! However I do want to take this opportunity to share MY rating of this resort and a brief explanation as to why! Please keep in mind that I always take in account the “value per dollar” scale when assessing a resort or vacation destination. For example, if I paid $20, 000 to visit Atlantis Paradise Island in the Nassau for two weeks, vs. the 10,000 I spent on my trip to Jamaica and experienced the exact same service and facilities, I can assure you the Paradise Island experience would see a much lower * rating. Overall I would give my vacation experience a 2.5 star while I would give the resort itself a 3.5 star, I probably would have given the resort a 4 star rating if they did not disappoint me so badly with their inability to “pull it together” when the resort was at its maximum. The resort was beautiful and a lot of care really is taken considering the “age” of the majority of its guests. You have to imagine that a resort geared specifically towards children must see a lot of abuse. The pool was quite large and the resort quite small, so there was always plenty of room in and around the pool (They could use more sun-beds when the resort is at its capacity). The food was a pleasant surprise, again I found a delightful mix of Jamaican and North American cuisine being served, and as long as you didn’t eat all three meals in the buffet, the meals were not too repetitive. The mix of guests for the most part was different then what I am used to while traveling. I would guess 75% American, 20% Canadian and 5% other (for the weeks we were there anyway). Normally we AVOID resorts that are geared to the American population and tend to enjoy our vacations with a more “European” cliental, however for the most part we were quite delighted with the people we met, the resort seemed to “draw” an unusual amount of people from the “Midwest”! W e did have the opportunity to meet several wonderful families for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, even Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. We met a “single mother” and daughter from California who were a delight to get to know, and of course we did “bond” with other Canadians while there. I would like to send a very special “shout out” to the Harmons, whom we did have an opportunity to get to know quite well through the help of our daughters (who were practically inseparable the first week). The entertainment coordinators for both children and adults truly worked hard and tried their best to get people involved. Again, the scheduled activities for “all” age groups, kept everybody “hopping” all day long. The staff in general from the gardeners to the waitstaff, really tried their best and was always smiling, even when you knew they had to be exhausted. Mr. Rance himself showed up several times throughout the two weeks and during the second week, I was able to discuss with him some of our enjoyment and concerns (That is a first for us while on vacation). The beach, although not the best beach we have been to, certainly was not the disappointment I had expected. The only real problem I had was the constant barrage of locals, that would try and “sell” you their wares, although they were never aggressive, they were persistent, several people all day long walking the beach.

Word of warning… DO NOT lead these people on; they consider this extremely disrespectful (as do I). They will not forget your promise and will come looking for you. I saw this several times on the beach!

Prefix: I always start my reviews with a warning! Reviews are just individual travelers experiences. I think reviews can give you great tips, advice and a general feel for the resort; however, you have to remember that your vacation is going to be what YOU make it! What one family may find exciting and extraordinary, another family may find uninspiring and unpleasant. Planning a family vacation can be a daunting task, especially when you have many personalities to consider. My best advice would be to read as many reviews as possible, take the time to figure out what everybody in your group wants from their vacation, and try to find a resort that best matches their needs. Never discount a resort due to a few bad reviews, and don’t book a resort based on overly exuberant reviews. Stay focused more on “factual”, “middle of the road” reviews as they tend to be the most “honest” and probably the closest to “actual” you will get! I hope you find this review enjoyable and informative. If by any chance at the end of this review you still have questions regarding the FDR Pebbles, please feel free to contact us at sbbudgell@rogers.com Thank you,!

Flight:

As “Sunquest tours” is the only “tour company” that carries the “FDR Pebbles” we had no choice but to fly with “Skyservice” (Sunquest uses Skyservice as its Aircraft carrier. With the seat configuration of 3 seats isle 3 seats), we prepared ourselves for what we figured was going to be a long, miserable, cramped flight to Jamaica. However, I have to say that my husband and I were pleasantly surprised. Although the seating was cramped, we were able to “prebook” our seats and as we are a family of four, we were able to book seats A, B, C and D of the same row… This allowed me to sit with our children and in return this did afford us a little extra room (our kids are pretty small for their age).

The Activity Programs: As I mentioned earlier in the review, we chose the FDR Pebbles based on its “advertised” children programming. We realized that the resort as a whole was only rated as a 3.5* and for the most part we would agree, however, the children program was rated as 5* and we expected to see a 5* program in place” again, for the most part that is exactly what we got!

The activities center around three distinct age groups:

Children Center (Children 2 thru 8) For children ages eight and under they have there own children center called the “Yellow Bird” club. The center is open from 7:30 am until 10:00 pm daily with organized activities every half hour around the clock. The daily activities are listed on a black board in the children center, so every morning on our way to breakfast, Natasha (7yr old daughter) and I would check the board for the daily activities, and then we would “mark-down” the activities that she was interested in doing for the day. If Natasha was with us, we would drop her off at the activity, if she were with the Nanny, our Nanny would stay with her until the activity was completed. Typically we would have the Nanny clean the room first thing in the morning, while we tried to have some “quality” family time together. The Nanny would normally join us around 11:00 am and then she would watch the kids for the rest of the afternoon! Here is a sample list of activities offered for children 8yrs and younger: Arts and Crafts, Fishing, Shell collecting, Crab hunting, Crab racing, Beach Games, Beach Picnic (field trip), Talent shows, Fashion shows, Tie and Dye, Kayaking, Soccer, Snorkeling, Dance Lessons, Nightly Disco, Evening movie, Playground time, Glass Bottom boat rides, Tennis Lessons, Video Games, Treasure Hunts, daily Scavenger Hunts. While we were there the resort had a “magic show” one-week and a “snake and alligator” charmer the following week. The Yellow Bird coordinators also arrange great birthday parties for anybody having a birthday while away! Preteen Activities (9 thru 12yrs) We also have a child who is considered a “preteen” (ages 9 thru 12). The Preteen coordinator was awesome, probably one of the “shining lights” at this resort, between the Preteen and Teen coordinators our son Erich always had something planned (whether or not he would join the activity was another story). Currently the “preteen” center is under renovation, so, the teens and preteens are sharing the “games room and “ballroom” as the meeting center. However most of the day, if they are not on a field trip somewhere, you will find them at one of the many sports areas. During our first week, their really was not a lot of “preteens” so Francis the “teen coordinator” really tried to include Erich in many of the “teen activities” ensuring that he kept a special “eye” on him. By the end of our first week going right through to the end of our second week, there were at least 25 to 30 preteens on the resort. Rick the “preteen coordinator” was really able to “kick-up” the activities then, although Erich found it harder to make friends with so many preteens around!

Here is a list of some of the “Preteen activities”:

Pool and Beach volleyball, Soccer, Cricket, Hikes, Dance class, Disco, talent show, Camp-outs (both weeks in the disco as the beach was too windy to set up tents), Beach party, Kayaking, Sailing, Windsurfing, Scuba lesson, Tie and Die, Tattoos, Pool (Billiards), Air hockey, Table Tennis, Video Game tournament, Pool Party. The teen and preteen coordinators also took the kids on field trips off the resort to places such as “Bamboo Village”, Tubing down the White River, Trip to Ocho Rios and FDR (the sister resort, for a day of friendly competition), Montego Bay trip, Water Park and Go-cart racing.

The Resort: FDR Pebbles an Overview: Two resorts, the Franklin D. Resort and the FDR Pebbles resort are the creation of – and named for – Frank Rance, an enterprising Jamaican hotelier. Mr. Rance was an innovator back in the 1970’s when he was the first General Manager at the original Negril Beach Village. That was the first resort to incorporate what was to become known as “the Caribbean all inclusive concept.” And, it was Frank Rance who subsequently came up with the idea of a resort for “couples only.” Mr. Rance managed the conversion of Tower Isle Hotel Ocho Rios into Couples – the world’s first couples only resort – as well as becoming its first General Manager. He also spearheaded the creation of Boscobel Beach Resort. Eventually Mr. Rance wanted to “break out” on his own and open his own resort, a resort geared exclusively for families, this resort however was to be designed slightly different then the other family resort his helped create (Boscobel Beach). At the FDR resort not only will your entire vacation experience be geared towards entertaining you and your family, each family vacationing at the FDR resort is supplied a “Vacation Nanny” to ensure that it does happen. With the success of the Franklin D. Rance Resort, the opportunity to open a second resort presented itself and Mr. Rance took the “plunge” The FDR Pebbles is the “sister resort to the original FDR resort. FDR Pebbles was a dream of Frank Rance for a long time – FDR Pebbles is an all suite, all-inclusive family resort with 98 deluxe air-conditioned cedar wood suites. FDR Pebbles is closer to the international arrival gateway of Montego Bay and offers most of all of the same amenities and services as FDR. However, as the FDR tends to cater to families with small children, Pebbles is geared more toward the youngsters, as they get too old for FDR. In other words, the families start at FDR and go to Pebbles after the children get older.

The FDR Pebbles, s advertised as a “soft adventure” resort, where the emphasis is on learning as well as fun for the children. There they can learn first hand about the history of the island of Jamaica, as well as experiencing the ecology of the nearby coral reefs and the area surrounding the resort, including a luminous lagoon. Children learn where bananas come from and what causes the Caribbean to be so blue. They tour a working sugar plantation and historical sites and go on ecological trips in the parish of Trelawny.

A family, had complained about their Nanny, the Nanny was “let-go” and for the rest of the week, the other Nannies made sure, the children they were looking after did not play with the kids of the family who complained. To make matters worse, I had heard from another family a nasty rumor about the family that had let their Nanny go, of course they were told this “nasty rumor” by their Nanny! So, Steve and I just kept our mouths shut, and took it upon ourselves to make sure the kids were having a great time, after all they are our children and this was supposed to be a family vacation. The Davinci Code isn’t going anywhere! Just so people don’t think we got the “rotten apple” in the bunch…. Who do you think our Nanny was taking to all of the times she should have watching the kids? That’s right, other Nannies who were also supposed to be looking after kids. One of more comical things I would see is, the Nannies would “fawn” all over the children when the parents were near by, however as soon as the parents were out of sight, the children would be neglected. As soon as the parent would begin their approach, one of the Nannies would signal the other Nannies and the “fawning” would begin again! So the parents naively believed the Nanny was there the whole time paying lots of love and attention to there children. Sorry to say, the majoirity of the time this was not case! Now with that being said, I really did see some GREAT Nannies, the funny thing is, the Nannies that seemed to be really into their jobs, were not part of the “clique”. They pretty much “stayed to themselves” and spent time with their charges… I really wished we could have had somebody like that… Oh well, maybe you will be luckier! One more thing… I asked our Nanny how much training she received and she laughed! “Training, what training”? Our Nanny told us that she came for the interview and they had her with a family the very next day! The “kicker” here is that she was actually applying for a wait staff position! Apparently there is a “Nanny Pool” for the FDR Pebbles, and they do have a hard time finding and keeping Nannies, many of them don’t like being “casual labour, which is what these girls are. In a pinch they have assigned wait staff and bartenders to act as “Nannies” (according to our Nanny anyway).

So, I would not recommend this resort to somebody who is basing their vacation on this service, because you could be very, very disappointed, and I would never recommend the Nanny Service to families that have children who are too young to tell you when something is not right!

Finally Steve and I asked our Nanny to NOT allow Natasha into the pool after 2:00 pm and we spoke to Natasha to ensure that she understood that she was not allowed in the pool. Natasha assured us that she did not ask to go the pool; it was the Nanny who asked Tasha… Anyway, the following day, I found Natasha down by the sports beach playing with a few girls that I had yet to meet and there was no Nanny around anywhere. I asked Natasha where the Nanny was, and she didn’t have a clue! I did find our Nanny waaaaay down by the other end of the beach, yes that’s right, chatting it up with 4 other Nannies. I will add here that not one of those Nannies had children with them either! Another thing I wanted to mention was, even though our Nanny was supposed to be responsible for both our children, she never once knew where Erich was. Whenever I would ask where Erich had disappeared? She would always reply the “games room”! I would check and surprise, surprise, no Erich! By day six 6 I had enough, I ended up writing out an afternoon agenda, clearly outlining what I wanted Natasha and Erich to do for the day, that evening, Erich told us that the Nanny was mad at Natasha, because she figured Natasha had complained about her! Pretty much from that day forward, I kept the children with me! The Nanny would hang around the pool all afternoon chatting with her friends while I made sure the children got to their activities, had somebody to play with and I really enjoyed the water activities with them! Steve would always dismiss the Nanny as soon as he got back from diving, which would be around 4:00 pm. A couple other things that bothered me was that she would alternate between Steve and I, asking us to get her a “drink” from the bar. We would always oblige, however we would ask the bartender for something without alcohol. I think she caught on, so the Nanny started to ask us to get her and her friend a couple of “rum creams”. Yeah, that’s right, the Nanny thought we would supply her and her friends with alcohol while she was supposed to be watching our children, I told her under NO circumstances would we supply her with alcohol, and with that she stopped asking. You might be wondering why Steve and I didn’t ask for a new Nanny? Well, this brings me to my final complaint… The Nannies here are a very close nit, gossipy group! Not only would they gossip amongst themselves, our Nanny had a tendency to want to tell me about all the stories she would hear. In some cases, the stories repeated were completely inappropriate.

However with that being said, we pretty much knew instantly if we tried to “swap” or dismiss our Nanny, the children would have been ostracized by the other Nannies and I could only imagine some of the stories that would have “floated” around about us! We did unfortunately happen to see this is action by the way!

I knew ahead of time, that “water pressure” and temperature of the water would probably be an issue, so, this was the first thing I checked, however in all honesty, with the exception of one (1) evening (where we had virtually no pressure) we were never bothered by the lack of pressure nor did we find a problem with the temperature of water being too cool, actually we found that for the most part the water never really got cold, we ended up brushing our teeth with warm water most mornings. These suites actually reminded of my childhood cottage, beautifully constructed with cedar wood paneling, warm lighting and cathedral ceilings, quite spacious with two rooms separated by a ¾. wall. Our room was slightly different in design to the other suites, as our “living room” area actually had the “two” single beds as oppose to the one “pull out” couch and “rollaway” bed. We also had the television in our room as opposed to the children’s room, which worked out fine for us, as the only time the children were allowed to watch TV was when we were all getting ready in the evening for dinner. We had a huge private balcony just off of our room, with a nice view of the mountains from one side and a view of the pool and further out the ocean on the other side. The balcony was our favorite place to hang out first thing in the morning, where we would sit outside to enjoy our morning cup of coffee…

In total I believe the suite was approximately 430 Sq Ft. Just a note, we brought our own coffee machine and filters with us as they don’t supply coffee machines in the room, they don’t have hair dryers or irons either, however you can borrow one from the front desk. My daughter and I had our hair braided by our third day so the hair dryer thing did not bother us, and who the heck “irons” their clothes on holidays, especially at such a casual, family friendly resort!

I was not offered drugs at the Bamboo village, however my husband was offered several times, as he had to go over to the Bamboo side of the resort fence on a daily basis for his diving. As “drugs” are not our scene, he kindly said “no thank you”, and he was left alone (at least until the next day). The only time “marijuana” was even mentioned to me was by our Nanny. When she asked me if “I smoked”, being the naive person that I am, I went into the whole story of how I “smoked” for years and finally gave up the horrible habit using the “nicoderm patch”. It wasn’t until she told me that her father “grew the stuff” and if I ever needed “anything” she could arrange something for me, did I realize that we were talking about two different things. After I quickly explained that I was talking about cigarettes not marijuana, she quickly apologized for bringing up the topic. I never reported the incident, as I am sure that as wrong as it is, many families probably do go looking for marijuana while in Jamaica, This was probably just our Nannies way of trying to be helpful. I blame the tourist for that one not the Nanny!) The resort also provides a free excursion into the town of Falmouth. The adult entertainment coordinators host this trip, which leaves the resort Tuesday and Saturday around 2:00pm and returns around 4:30 pm. I would not really recommend the tour (Falmouth is far from Kansas), except that we did get a chance to visit the “Juicy Patty” shop (The best beef patties in all of Jamaica) and I was also able to finally buy Mangos at the local vegetable market. The resort couldn’t make my favorite milkshake (mango) because apparently Mango was out of season. So during our trip to Falmouth, I bought some mangoes and had the bartender whip me up a Mango and rum milkshake. Yummmm!

Vacation Nanny:

At FDR Pebbles, families are provided with the services of a “Vacation Nanny”. At the very least these ladies are charged with cleaning the suite and stocking the refrigerator daily. However, her real responsibility is to help plan, coordinate and participate in the fun filled activities for the children throughout the day. Unfortunately, we did not have much luck with our particular Nanny, however we met many people who were absolutely pleased with this service and mentioned that by the end of their stay the Nanny almost feels as though she was part of their family. The Nanny normally arrives at 9:00 am in the morning, she takes a lunch break from 12:30 to 1:30 pm and then she is with you again until 4:40 pm. The Nanny is also available to stay with your family in the evenings for the cost of $4.00 USD/hr (+tip), the Nannies really do try and solicit the overtime, as whatever they make from you during the “after hours” care, they can take home. Contrary to what I have read in other reviews of the FDR Pebbles, the nanny IS allowed to eat with your family in the dining room, you just need to go to the “front desk” and ask for a permission slip for her. This slip shows that you have made to personal request to have your Nanny dine with you and your family. The manager will also need to sign the slip, however the whole ordeal is really quite painless, and probably took no longer then 10 minutes to do. The resort does provide meals and accommodations to ALL of the staff in the “staff” housing units”, which were located directly behind our block of suites… The Nannies/Teen coordinators and entertainment staff are allowed to spend the night in the “staff quarters” if they have worked late into the evening.

However, the one (1) night we had our Nanny stay late, we offered her the option of having us pay for her cab home or stay in the “staff house” she quickly replied that she wanted to go home. Apparently, things can get a little wild and outrageous in the “staff quarters” and the Nannies prefer to just go home in the evening!

I would also like to mention the woman who kept my children well fed with the “make to order” pasta at lunch, she was also a hero to my family, very sweet, and worked extremely hard and always with a smile! By the end of the second week, we also had our favorite waitress and waiters, and really did try and make sure that we sat in there section each night… One of our waitresses even dedicated a song to us on the “staff and guest” talent show night! This was a very enduring waitress and such a beautiful gesture will never be forgotten!

Now the negative:

Three (3) areas for improvement stood out loud and clear while we were visiting the FDR Pebbles! Keep in mind that we had the opportunity to stay for two (2) weeks and had a chance to observe many things that either really bothered us, or we could see some real room for improvement! 1) Better “hands on” supervisors! The second week we were at the FDR Pebbles, we were totally “flabbergasted” at the difference in service; it was almost as though the staff was on a “work to rule” schedule. A total lack of organization. During the second week found ourselves “bussing” our own table, getting our own coffee/wine! The second “beach BBQ night” we were seated at a table that when the “surf” came in, we got completely washed out, my husband was “drenched” from the knees down… Three waitress stood by and watched, completely perplexed as to how to remedy the situation. I finally got mad and grabbed our linens and plates from our table and started to reset a “dirty table” further up the beach, as I went back to our “washed out” table to get our water glasses, a different waitress proceed, to give our second table away. Now I was fuming, I approached the second waitress whom at this point didn’t want to have to remove the other family, as there were no more tables, “sorry”, “I guess you are just going to have to wait” she said!

“No problem” I said “I will speak to the “General Manager” (who happened to just enter the beach area)… This did not help remedy the situation, as I had mentioned earlier “one speed” (dawdle). The GM himself helped to clean off a third (3) table for us, and as it turned out we very nearly lost that table as well. By the time I made it to the buffet, the “curried conch” and “suckling pig” were all finished! I could go on and on about the little things that went wrong the second week we were there, like “saved” sunbeds, “lack of towel’s, constant “power failures”, over booked field trips, however I believe it was just that the resort staff just could not handle so many guests, and I did not see any supervisors giving guidance or assisting in any way, I did see a lot of staff standing around aimlessly or dawdling, which aggravated me further!

If you are the type of traveler that chooses to stay on the resort or in organized tours, I can see how you can walk away with a positive opinion of Jamaica, however, we are more “independent travelers” who prefers to “blend-in” with the local culture, and really get to know the Country we are visiting. In the case of Jamaica, the more I got to know about the “Culture”, the Country, the Politics, the more I just wanted to leave. For the most part, I truly felt the people we had met, had an “angle” or a “hidden agenda” and were not interested in a genuine friendship. I really did begin to feel like all I was to these people was a “walking” sack of cash. I did not feel safe leaving the resort (unless accompanied by a local). The “rampant” drug use, and the “laid back” attitude really did start to anger me, especially after I had met so many hard working people on the resort, who were trying their “damdest”, to “sell” Jamaica as the “perfect” vacation destination. As of right now, I can’t say that we would return to Jamaica. If we do, it would be to “experience” the resort not the Island (Hedonism III was a great resort). I still recommend people visit Jamaica at least once in their travels, as the Island is beautiful, the “theme resorts” are great and you will make some “interesting” acquaintances. I will chalk up my own experience by saying that “I” really did not feel a “kin-ship” with the Jamaican culture, which is not saying that you wont! As for FDR Pebbles…I read a description once that described our experience at FDR Pebbles, to a tee… “Jamaica all inclusive meets Northern Ontario summer camp”. If you keep your expectations in check, you really will have a great time! I would recommend the resort for families with children that do NOT need the “Nanny service” (ages 7 thru 16), who are adventurous, who want more a more Jamaican experience then what you find at a typical “AI” resort and do not need all the bells and whistles of a more lustrous resort. I hope you found this review insightful or at the very lest enjoyable to read. We have attached two links of our vacation photos for your viewing! Thank you, very much for giving us the opportunity to share our trip! Stevenbev, (The Bev half)

http://community.webshots.com/user/stevenbevjamaica

The “in-flight” crew were completely professional and attentive, the meal service on the flight to Jamaica was actually quite good (Chicken Teriyaki in a potato boat), however, a little less desirable on the way home (Penne Pasta). One complementary non-alcohol drink is served prior to the meal service and coffee and tea is served after the meal. Those wishing soft drinks, bottled water or alcohol on board will find these items are subject to charge- between $1.00 to $5.00- depending on your request”. The flight to Jamaica went off without a hitch, a nice smooth ride on the way down with very little turbulence. I believe the total flight time was just over 4 hrs. The flight back was quite rough, actually, probably the most turbulence we have ever flown in, however the pilot and staff handled the situation calmly and professionally and I never felt as though our safety was in jeopardy. The flight home was closer to 4.5 hours with approximately 3 hours of turbulence! Both flights left exactly on time with no delays! One other note of interest, Skyservice is very strict about the weight of your checked-in luggage. The allowable weight limit is 20 kilo or about 44 pounds per person, which may be spread between two suitcases per person. When two or more people check in together they usually take a combined weight, but they don’t have to. I spoke to several people who had to pay the “excess” weight penalty (and that was on the way down, I would hate to see what they would have been “nicked” on the way back once they bought all of the souvenirs). Excess weight baggage is penalized at a cost of $7.00CDN or $5.00US per kilo.

With everything taken into consideration, we would not hesitate to use Skyservice again! Yes, the seating is still very cramped, however for a short flight (3 to 4 hours) I can survive, I am just thankful that we have the “charter” option in Canada as it really does help keep the costs of traveling down a bit!

The FDR Pebbles has an awesome “Teen Program”. I don’t believe you can find a resort anywhere that offers as many activities and programs for the “Teen/Preteen” then the FDR Pebbles. The resort has set aside its own supervised tropical "campsite" for outdoor camping (Which sometimes takes place in the disco as the weather does not always cooperate) The preteens are taken hiking, the had beach party outings, pool parties, cycling trips, field trips up the nearby Martha Brae River. tubing on the “White River”, day trips to Montego Bay (waterpark/go-cartes). They receive instruction on how to Sail, Kayak or Wind surf. They’ll learn about the flora and the fauna indigenous to Jamaica.” And then they come back with stories about how fascinating the island of Jamaica really is. Located on the oceanfront, the 12 cedar wood buildings each house 8 junior suites and are nestled among palm trees and beautiful, lush gardens. Most suites have ocean views, while others are situated directly on the 600 ft white sand beach. The resort also boasts an expansive pool, complete with “swim-up” bar. The FDR Pebbles has three (3) restaurants to choose from, The Oceanside, which is the “open air” main dining room that offers buffet meals three times daily. The Sabbia is the “adults” only restaurant, which offers an Italian (loose translation) a la carte menu. Finally the “Pool grill” which makes the BEST jerk chicken I have ever had! There is also a “kids” buffet offered in the evenings from 5:30 to 7:00 pm situated above the pool grill. I don’t recommend the kids buffet! The one night I took our daughter upstairs to check it out, I found “Mac and cheese”, plain spaghetti noodles, hotdogs, French fries, cheese and peanut butter sandwiches. They also had cookies and melon for dessert. It appears the only people who actually eat in the kids buffet are the children that were left with the Nanny for the evening. Actually I saw more Nannies eating up in the kid buffet then children!

Other Interesting Resort Features:

This resort also has a ‘’petting zoo”, a turtle farm, a “catch and release” stocked pond, excellent condition tennis courts, basketball courts, whirlpool and sundeck, volleyball court, PADI scuba diving clinic’s with programs starting for children 8yrs old and up (1 dive per day for certified divers is included in the cost of your AI package). There is also a gift shop and beauty salon, Steve and I each had two massages outdoors in the massage hut for $60 USD 1/hr session. On the premises you will also find a nurses station, tour desk, games room (pool table, foose ball table, air hockey, and X-Box), cyber café (really only two very slow computers, but at least its something), disco, gym and fitness center (which I only visited during my orientation).

The water Sports center included: Snorkeling, Windsurfing, Kayaking, Sailing and Glass bottom boat rides (which I only did once as I was waaay too seasick to try it a second time) If that is not enough and you really want to get off the resort… There is golfing nearby in both Montego Bay and Runaway Bay, the hotel will arrange a shuttle for you. Directly to the left of the FDR Pebbles is a great “Gilligan Island” type beach bar and grill called “Time n Place”! This “beach grill” had excellent food, and even better atmosphere, a great place to “escape” the loud sometimes over bearing noise at the FDR Pebbles… Conde Naste traveller listed this place as one of the top 30 Caribbean hangouts. Many a movie and photo shoots have happened in this location, including the famous beach bar scene in the move “How Stella got her groove back”. Not sure if I got my “groove back” here, however it was a great place to come and get recharged! Directly towards the right of the FDR Pebbles along the beach heading towards the “Starfish” is a local group of entrepreneurs know locally as the “Bamboo Village”, The people at the Bamboo Village try to pass themselves off as artists living in an “artist” community, however this place is really very far from that. I was lucky enough to be turned onto a local craftsman by the name of “Puttymon” who owns a “hut” in the Bamboo Village, and gave me the “real score” about what the Bamboo Village is really all about.

Although you will find some “true artists” at the Bamboo Village, most of the people actually get their wares in the “big city” and mark them up in order to sell to you the tourist. I suppose there is nothing really wrong with that, as most tourists would rather not go into Montego Bay to buy their souvenirs anyway, as long as you understand that you are most likely not buying an original piece of art. You are still supporting the local Jamaican economy and bringing home a gift for somebody so why not?

The whole process described above was totally chaotic and un-called for. From the time we left the “nothing to declare line” till we reached our driver, took over an hour and we were “sent off” to speak with four (4) different people! This is a process that I think Sunquest needs to spend some time ironing out! The vacationers who were staying at the “Superclubs” resort were just ushered to their own waiting area and offered refreshments while they waited to be escorted to their buses… Urrrhhhh!

Resort check-in and first impressions:

I had read somewhere that “what the FDR Pebbles lacks in curb appeal she makes up for with charm”; well I was certainly counting on it as we pulled into the driveway. I have to admit, even with all the research I had done on this place before we arrived, I don’t think I was expecting how “low key” this resort actually was.

The “check-in” process was smooth and painless. There were two efficient staff at the reception counter and we were not asked to leave our passports however we were asked to leave our “departure pass/tourist card”. This resort does not have “in-room safes” only “safety deposit boxes“ that are kept in the “office” behind the reception desk. Just a word of warning, do not lose your safety deposit box key, they will charge you $100 USD to have the “locksmith” come and “re-key” the box (This happened to a family while we were there). Across from the reception desk is a little waiting room with a few wicker coutches and chairs, a tour desk and the manager’s office. In total I don’t think the lobby could have been larger then 40’ by 40’ in size. Please keep in mind that this resort is actually quite small with only 96 suites so I guess they did not feel the need for a “grandiose lobby”.

This excerpt is taken directly from the “FDR Pebbles” website! Our Exclusive Vacation Nanny Program Our Nannies are special. They are not just based in a Kids Centre. They are assigned to your family exclusively, full time, for your entire holiday. Your Nanny will welcome you, and say goodbye to you. You will love her. Your kids will adore her. From rinsing swimsuits to combing their hair, from getting them dressed to taking them to dine, the same trained Vacation Nanny will care for and entertain your children. She is also available for babysitting after hours. So you will complete your holiday feeling relaxed, pampered and totally revitalized and your kids will want to return year after year. This could not be further from the truth. First I will begin with the positives! Our room was always spotless, our nanny did a great job cleaning our suite and our fridge was always stocked. Our nanny was personable with a great wealth of knowledge which she enjoyed sharing. Our Nanny was quick to explain the “do’s and don’t” in Jamaica and would always have the “inside scoop” (including gossip) of what was going on at the resort! Now, when it comes to the most important part of her job (watching our children), she was really not interested! As we wanted to spend time together as a family, we would have our Nanny clean the room in the morning and then meet us around 11:00 am. Most days she would not show up until 12:00 and then want to leave for break at 12:30! Okay, so we figured that would be fine. Steve had his Scuba diving each afternoon, so as soon as the Nanny would have her “lunch break” we would have her watch the children so that I could have some “time” to myself (I wanted to finally get around to reading the DaVinci Code), however this too never seemed to work out! You see, once the Nanny would get off her break and “find” us (like that should be too hard at a resort this small), it would be 2:00 pm, she would then proceed to take Natasha to the pool and then sit with the other Nannies chatting around the pool, Our Nanny was not watching Natasha at all!

Thank god Natasha is a good swimmer, as I am sure she could have drowned and the Nanny would not have taken notice! I had asked the Nanny on several occasions to take Natasha to the organized activities at the “Yellow Bird” club, however, the next time I would walk by the pool, I would find our Nanny once again chatting it up with the other Nannies around the pool, When I would ask why Natasha was not participating in her programs the Nanny would tell me that Natasha was not interested!

To be honest the buffet offered more choice anyway, and we enjoy eating with our children. Everybody is so busy doing their own thing during the day that we enjoy getting together over dinner to discuss our day’s events!

The Staff:

Okay, normally I would not comment on the staff at a resort, however, as this resort is so small and you really do get to know the staff, I thought I would make an exception. For the most part (with the exception of the nannies), the staff does work really hard to try and please you. Especially the front desk personal, I really would not want their job, I mean having to deal with people complaints all day long really must wear on you! The staff at the “swim-up” bar ALWAYS worked hard especially the “Chef” and a special bartender by the name of Natalie, who always remembered our food and drink preferences, made my special Mango and Rum milkshakes, however, MOST importantly, remembered my daughter’s allergy to “strawberries”! As most of the children “drink special of the day” had strawberry syrup, Natalie always made sure (and instructed others to do the same) that she would have a “Natasha Special” conjured up daily! Not only did this make me feel comfortable knowing that Natasha would not inadvertently drink something she shouldn’t, it made Natasha feel special as well. As I mentioned earlier, the coordinators worked long and hard hours as well. Francis the “Teen coordinator and Rick the Preteen coordinator worked tirelessly trying to create and organize activities “geared” to the particular group of kids they had each week. Even though my son is a bit of an “introvert” and chooses to spend a lot of time on his own, the program was there if he wanted to join, and after explaining to Rick some of Erich’s challenges (extremely shy), Rick made a point of sincerely trying to encourage Erich to participate. Rick really went out of his way to ensure Erich always felt included, which as parents we really, really appreciated! The restaurant staff was a “curious” sort…. They were very obviously understaffed (especially the second week when the resort was over-booked), however the staff for the most part had one speed… DAWDLE (as my mother would call it)!

The busier the resort became, the more frustrated the staff would be, however they never, never seemed to “pick up the pace” instead they became more “surly”. Again there were exceptions to this… We had two eggcellent (joke!) omelets makers in the morning, no matter how large of a line-up they were always pleasant and ready to “crack” a joke.

Total check-in time took no longer then 20 minutes! To our great delight, the resort does not require you to wear those dreaded plastic ID bracelets, nothing worse then being “banded” like a “Canadian Goose”, so, with our room assignment, basic resort information and key in hand, our suitcases were loaded onto a pulley and we were whisked away to our room. Now, I had contacted the resort prior to our vacation and did request a specific room, however realizing that no request is guaranteed, I had at least asked for a second story room. Although I did not get the room I had initially asked for, I was rewarded a very lovely, corner, second story suite! The only problem with the location of our room was that we were located right beside the resorts “petting zoo” which, with such humidity, the wretched smell of the animal pen could be enough to make you physically ill, especially in the late afternoon/early evening, as you were making your way back to your room to prepare for dinner. Yuck! Thankfully the smell never permeated through our room or was it noticeable off the balcony. The bellboy brought our luggage up to a second floor room and took great care and time to explain the air conditioning controls and to show us the “care package” our “soon to be” Nanny had left us! This care package included: cheese, crackers, cereal, sliced melon, 2 pop, 2 Red Strip beers and a jug of water. Each evening prior to the Nannies departure she would restock your “mini fridge” with the items that you request from the “order form”. You can find this “order form” on your fridge the first night you arrive. The list of choices are not extensive, mostly, Pops, Juice, Beer, Cheese, Cracker fruit and Cereal. As it was quite late when we arrived (10:30pm), the meal service was over, however the “main bar” was still open. The bellboy graciously offered to “show” Steve where the bar was, so that he could get us a couple of Daiquiris while I unpacked and got the children settled.

My first impression of the room was quite favorable, actually I would say, that this was the best room/suit that we had ever stayed in (even nicer then the Paradisus). However as the consciousness traveler that I am, I made sure prior to unpacking that everything was in good working order.

We also enjoyed the “Body shop/Beauty Salon! We had the opportunity to use their services for both “hair braiding” and massages, and in both cases, the attendants were truly professional, friendly and certainly knew what they were doing. When we arrived at FDR Pebbles, both my husband and I had a year worth of stress on our shoulders, by the time these ladies were done with us, the stress had melted away into nothing more then a memory! As for the hair braiding… Our daughter managed to keep her braids for almost 3.5 weeks and they still looked as good as the day they were created! As mentioned before, our single biggest disappointment was our “Nanny” experience, although our room was always spotless, at best, our Nanny was an adequate “babysitter” and I certainly would not trust her with a young child. For a resort that “sells” itself on the “Nanny Program”, I think Mr. Rance and the management team really need to evaluate its current program! I was also disappointed with the disorganization and chaos that took place from ALL levels of service during our second week, when the resort was at its capacity. Again, I believe this may be a training and/or lack of supervision issue that “management” should seriously look at. If we had only visited the FDR Pebbles on the second week of this vacation, I can assure you my review would have been extremely different. It truly appeared as though the resort “fell apart” under the pressure of capacity. The only area the benefited by the “capacity” issue was the activities! More people at the resort the more people to join the activities! Finally, you may have noticed that I gave my “vacation experience” only a 2.5 rating, while my resort rated at a 3.5… Please keep in mind that this is only my opinion and based on our travel experiences, however we really did walk away from Jamaica feeling quite sad and disappointed.

I have never in my travel experience seen such poverty, sadness or felt such an undercurrent of anger or animosity towards the vacationer.

Our stay at Beaches Boscobel Ocho Rios
Hotel Beaches Boscobel Ocho Rios
User Rating:  
Carie >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jul, 2009
Arrival: July 22-29, 2008 My husband and I have been to a number of all-inclusives to include Oasis, Crown Paradise, Secrets, Excellence Resorts, Couples and Breezes. This was our first Sandals associated property and if it’s any indication of the Sandals brand, we weren’t impressed. Overpriced for the quality received and in fact quite rundown and dirty.

Rooms:

Accommodations were pretty typical resort hotel rooms. We were allegedly "upgraded" to the concierge level service but didn’t notice much change in service or amenities. Were given a rollaway, which was nice to separate the two kids. Bathroom was pretty small for the type of resort but similar to a stateside Ramada or Comfort Inn. We had to take a list of what we wanted stocked in the mini bar to the concierge if we wanted anything outside the ordinary. Another peculiarity was there were snacks in the room but a price list accompanied them…so much for all-inclusive. Guess our thousands of dollars didn’t includ gummy bears and nuts. No free internet in room or anywhere on property…disappointing.

Restaurants and Bars:

Our first dining experience was disappointing at best. Very slow service. We ate at the BBQ Park and nothing was good. Fries were cold and limp, ribs were fatty and tough, no flavor in any of our four selections. Eleanor’s was very good food and service was prompt. The Bayside Restaurant was the buffet and was overall good with bouts of average. Food was flavorful, selections were stocked and there were ample choices, to include healthy options. The Venetian (Italian restaurant) was the best by far. Service was incredibly slow and seating limited, so prepare accordingly. Tiramisu was delicious especially with a cappucino. There is no room service offered…something one would expect at a resort at this level. The Appleton Bar was a fun little getaway spot for steel drums and kid-friendly fun. Kids loved the place…much like a small beach bar. Great atmosphere! Pool swim-up bar was loaded with bees…they were everywhere! Desserts were not worth the calories consumed except for the tiramisu mentioned before.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: An example of how the grounds were kept: the same three french fries were on the stairs near the spa for more than three days. It almost became a joke on our way to the gym every morning…are the fries still there? Pools were kept clean, although chair areas could have used a more thorough cleaning…used cups and plates stayed around a little too long. The plants are gorgeous and the beach is kept nice. Experienced no poolside waiter/cocktail service, something we’ve totally appreciated at other resorts. No fun cocktails in coconuts like at Excellence Resorts. Water slides were nice and lines weren’t too long but they advertise 11 slides and for our kids (ages 10 and 14) there were really 3 that were usable for those ages. The rest are for tiny tots…good if you have small children.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

Gym was decent but not top notch…only large beach towels were offered, hand towels made more sense. Only water fountain, no bottled water. In fact, no bottled water available outside the room, only pitchers and water fountains. Not exactly ultra luxury. There were water sports available and they seemed available most times. Off-site excursions were available, heard feedback from a couple who was upset about their experience so we decided to book on our own.

Other Comments:

Beaches claims "ultra luxury" but I can tell you this is NOT even luxury let alone ultra anything. For what we paid I would at least expect internet access to be complimentary yet we were charged $38.99/week. Power outages were frequent and incredibly annoying. Be ready for a more than 2 hour drive to the resort…without music. Thought a nice touch would be some Jamaican/reggae music to get vacationers in the spirit of their stay. Overall, wouldn’t return to a Sandals property…we’ve had much better stays at lower-priced resorts with much better food. Can’t imagine why a couple would come here at all (geared more toward families) when there are wonderful resorts like Couples and Excellence out there to choose from where there are no children screaming in the dining room.

We had a great time!
Hotel Tamarijn Aruba Beach resort
User Rating:  
Larry09 >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2008
My wife and I stayed at the Tamarijn with our 7 year old son from December 6 to 20. We had a great time! The low-rise area where the Tam is located is much more relaxed than the high-rise area further north. We much preferred the low-rise area.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
I would recommend one of the jeep tours. We had a good time going to the natural pool on the other side of the island. It was what they called a "shake and bake" tour, since you go off-roading and are baked by the sun!
Arrival
December 6-20, 2008 The desk staff were nice and helpful. We checked in late, since our flight was delayed and one of our pieces of luggage got lost, but they handled us nicely and made sure we were able to get a beer before the bar closed at 1:00 am…
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pools were very nice and refreshing. The beach right in front of the Tam has eroded a bit in recent years but the beach between the Tam and the Divi is very large and very nice!
Other Comments
My wife and I stayed at the Tamarijn with our 7 year old son from December 6 to 20. We had a great time! The low-rise area where the Tam is located is much more relaxed than the high-rise area further north. We much preferred the low-rise area. Downtown Oranjestad was about a 20 minute walk from the Tam. I walked there on numerous occasions by myself and never had any problems. I always felt quite safe on this island. My son had a great time playing in the ocean and swimming in the pools. The only problem we had was with the kids club, which was not at all well attended by other kids, so we didn’t bother booking him into that. He did fine meeting other kids his age the second week we were there. The first week, he wasn’t able to find any suitable playmates, but we made do by going to the ocean and bodysurfing. Darn! 🙂
Restaurants and Bars
The quality and variety of food at the Tam and Divi kept us happy for 2 weeks. We saw some repeats by the 2nd week, but it had been long enough in between that it didn’t bother us. We liked Paparazzi the best and Ginger was just ok, the rest falling in between. My wife has food allergies and she was always able to find something to eat.
Rooms
The rooms are basic, but we couldn’t have cared less about that. We were there for the surf, sand, sun and sights! The room was clean and comfortable, so that made us happy.
The views from the hotel are lovely
Hotel Royal Antiguan Beach And Tennis Resort
User Rating:  
MikeSheliaUSA >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Jun, 2006 | Leisure | With Group
We are now in our final day of a one-week vacation at the Royal Antiguan Beach and Tennis Resort, and we have had a wonderful vacation here. We are here with my parents and my husband’s parents. We unanimously give the Royal Antiguan high scores in all categories. The last reviewers mentioned the lack of guests at this resort. There are more people here now than they described, but this big hotel is far from full. This has not seemed like a disadvantage to us…we have enjoyed it–but we can’t figure out why more people aren’t here! The beach is the best we have seen anywhere and there is never any trouble getting a chair and catching some quiet time in the sun. The beach restaurant was open all of the days we have been here except for a couple of days when rain showers drove people off of the beach. When that happens they serve the same menu in a lovely open air restaurant nearer the hotel. One night there was a ‘Manager’s Cocktail Party’ with hot appetizers and free drinks in the lobby. The manager went around welcoming everybody. This preceded the Thursday night bar-be-que buffet that was quite an incredible meal. My husband and I are vegetarians; our parents are not. We all had plenty of great food. For us there was corn on the cob, baked potatoes, cooked vegetables, potato salad, beet salad, cole slaw, seasoned rice, soup, bread, etc. For everybody else there was all this and all sorts of barbequed meats. The dessert selection was incredible, including an amazing coconut pie. The food in general has been the best we have ever eaten on a Caribbean vacation. The landscaping, including vegetation, walkways, and fountains, is absolutely beautiful and very well-maintained. The views from the hotel are lovely (but pay a bit extra and get a lagoon-view or ocean-view room). Finally, and most importantly, the people who work at this hotel are some of the nicest we have met anywhere. If you come, be sure to give some food to the ancient cat who hangs around the grounds and adds still more atmosphere to this great place.
We purchased the American Food plan
Hotel Atlantis Royal Towers
User Rating:  
DexterNancyArkansasUSA >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
May, 2007 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We recently returned from a stay at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. We stayed 4 nights the first week of June at the Corral Tower section. We were offered at check in an option to upgrade to the Royal section. We turned this down, preferring an Ocean view at the Corral section to a Garden view at the Royal section. Believe me, we found out, at least judging from outside appearances, there is a vast difference between the Corral Tower building and the Royal Tower Building. I would advise you to take the Royal building if offered, it is amazing, awesome. The Corral Tower section is downright tacky in comparison.
Arrival
We recently returned from a stay at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. We stayed 4 nights the first week of June at the Corral Tower section. We were offered at check in an option to upgrade to the Royal section. We turned this down, preferring an Ocean view at the Corral section to a Garden view at the Royal section. Believe me, we found out, at least judging from outside appearances, there is a vast difference between the Corral Tower building and the Royal Tower Building. I would advise you to take the Royal building if offered, it is amazing, awesome. The Corral Tower section is downright tacky in comparison.
Beach
The beach was great, beautiful sand and water. The beach was somewhat crowded and had a few beach vendors pedaling various items but not bad at all. The pools and water parks were very entertaining and our 5 year old pretty well lived in the water for 4 days. The 48” height required for some of the water parks was a bummer for baby as she was about 4 inches short of that height and they would not budge on letting her in. The lazy river she could do and we enjoyed this. When the lazy river ride got crowded, it wasn’t much fun, but with few people it was a favorite. The Lagoon and Snorkel beach was also a favorite place. We probably spend as much time there as anywhere. It’s not a real place to snorkel with not much to see but baby didn’t mind. Overall, this resort offered the most varied water entertainment of anyplace we have visited.
Food
We purchased the American Food plan and probably did not come out on it. A dinner at one of the Buffet restaurants would have averaged over $100 for two adults and a 5 year old. The food was plentiful, which was mandatory, as finding something edible was a problem. I’m not sure if it was our spoiled American appetites or if the food was really bland and tasteless. The Breakfast buffets averaged about $60 and the Omelets were pretty good. Service at the restaurants was typical of the Caribbean resorts, slow and slower. You just have to adjust to a lower scale of service and you’ll do fine.
Resumé
After years of going each year to Mexico or the Caribbean, we went last year to an island off the coast of Greece. I have to say I was no more impressed by last year’s trip than I was by the Atlantis resort. We spend hardly anytime exploring the Bahamas and probably going to the Atlantis is more like going to Disney World than to a foreign country. Regardless, It is simply a great feast for the eyes and a genuine place to do nothing but what you want to do. I always say that I never go to the same vacation place twice as life is to short and there are way too many places to see. But, if I ever change my mind, I will be back at the Atlantis and, next time when they offer the upgrade to the Royal Tower I will say yes and Thank you!
Room
Our first room in the Corral Towers was awful, the “water view” required tunnel vision and a good imagination. We complained and Peggy at Guest services came thru like a champ and the next day we were offered a beautiful sixth floor room with a great view of the Ocean and the entire facility. On the second night, they has a totally awesome fireworks display at the new Cove section. This was indeed impressive and if we had taken the Royal room we would not have had the great view. I guess our bad judgment worked out OK in this instance. The room itself was fairly plain, but clean and pleasant. Nothing like the rooms at some 5 star resorts we have been to in Costa Rico or the Dominican Republic, but still overall there was no complaint. Service was good and the Hotel employees were friendly. This is unlike what I had read in some other reviews.
Tours
We went on one tour, the Dolphin experience. We took a boat ride to an island and baby and momma got to touch and kiss a Dolphin. The Tour cost about $80 each to participate with $25 to observe. It was a fun trip and worth the money. The same basic Dolphin Experience at the Atlantis was about twice as expensive.
Take the package that includes the night dive
Hotel Club Med Columbus Isle
User Rating:  
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

I would throw in my 2 cents
Hotel Westin Grand Bahama Island Our Lucaya
User Rating:  
FamilyFromIndiana >  1 contribution(s) 
Apr, 2004 | Leisure | Family
My husband and our 2 teenage boys stayed at the Sheraton Our Lucaya – awesome property! Some of the reviews scared me, so I thought I would throw in my 2 cents. Check-in was a breeze, however, walking through the lobby several times a day, I noticed lines were really long sometimes, so I guess it all depends upon timing of flights, group check-in, etc.
Pools were cold, but so pretty.
Even though all 3 hotels were booked, it never seemed overcrowded. It was spring break & it was a joy to see college kids having a great time. It wasn’t like an MTV thing, but the contests the hotel provided proved to be worth a lot of laughs. My worse fears of these reviews occurred when we were sent to our ocean view room only to be looking down on a roof with the ocean wayyyy out in the distance. I immediately called the desk and politely begged for another room. No other ocean rooms were available so I asked about a poolside room. They had a bellhop show us two other poolside rooms & it ended up just perfect. He even made the exchange of keys for our convenience. (expect to tip everyone $2 – $5) Maid service was excellent. Each guest is given a towel card for the beach/pool area. Everyday you can get a huge beach towel & rights to beach chairs (you see, temporary guest from cruise ships & other hotels didn’t get these unless they paid $$$$). If you lose a card, it is a $25 fine for each cards you lose. I can see why – those towels are very nice. Golf was expensive ($110 for 18 holes, $60 for 9 holes, 15 & under-just the cart fee $18) but nice to be on a course again. We stretched our dollar by golfing 3 rounds of 9 holes instead of 2 rounds of 18 holes. Lucayan course is prettier, but very narrow. Reef course is wide open with lots of water. Was very windy for 4 days and most snorkeling boat excursions were cancelled. Nature Snorkel Tours substituted our Peterson Cay trip for the West End where our guide treated us to kayaking & snorkeling in calm seas blocked by trees & a bay. Expect to pay a lot of money for meals ($800 for four of us – 6 days), but do not expect good service. Be patient – your mantra should be "It’s okay, we’re on vacation." Gratuity is always included on bills. Marketplace across the street has tons of places to eat, but most are pricey too. We found the some of the property restaurants weren’t any more expensive than the marketplace ones. Starbucks in the lobby. Our favorite "on property" eatery was the Prop Club – 2 pizzas for about $30. Typical burger meals are around $12. The drinks will kill ya though. We’ve saved a little by eating a few meals from Subway & Domino’s & Dunkin Donuts. The breakfast buffet ($15) at the Sheraton Barracuda was fantastic! We indulged at Friday’s seafood buffet at the Westin’s Willy Broadleaf’s for $47 each – but it was awesome! Case of beer from liquor stores – Bud Light $38, but if you drink all your beer down by the pool, you would be paying $150 for a case*.

Rooms were nice, bathroom is small. Refrigerator and safe in-room was great. We brought snacks and a pitcher to mix kool-aid. Walks along the 3 hotel properties are beautiful. Cannot see sunsets from the Sheraton (you can on the higher rooms at the Westin), but sunrises were great. Pools were cold, but so pretty. Ocean temp was doable. Everyone down here was nothing but nice, nice, nice!

Beautiful colonal style hotel complex
Hotel Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
MikeNicolaEngland >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Jul, 2006 | Leisure | Family
Went to Blau Collonial July 2006 for two weeks with wife and two teenage boys. Hotel was beautiful, very nice rooms, lovelly setting, clean everywhere in the resort. Although you may read that part of the complex is closed this has no effect whatsoever on thr rest of the hotel. the staff were all very friendly and helpful. There were not many guest there and at times we had the beach to ourselves – a beautiful white sand beach and warm sea. The only downside for us was the lack of sailing boats (there were 2 hoby cts that you could not take out on your own and one Laser which for the first week did not have a sail! – we are keen sailors so this was disappointing). There are no villages to walk to and excursions are expensive (four adults to Havanah for one day trip cost £500 approx). If you want to relax, read a book and eat reasonable food you could not want for a better place. The hotels down the beach were unattractive in comparrison but had more going on. We decided that the bad reviews we had read on this site had put people off going, unfairly – Blau is not a building site whatsoever and is a beautiful colonal style hotel complex.
The beach and rooms were good.
Hotel Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
AnneLondon >  1 contribution(s) 
Mar, 2009 | Leisure | Family
My husband, 2 year old son and I spent March Break at the Blau. The weather was perfect the week we went, but they had just had a terrible storm the week earlier. Take your chances with Cuba. The food was what we expected. The beach and rooms were good. Our big problem was the students. This hotel is the main hotspot for the S-trip organization in Cayo Coco. Student (high school) "organized" March Break trip. There were a ton of them. They would sleep all day, emerging from their rooms around 4pm and coming back to their rooms at 4am. They were typical under-age students. VERY drunk, not supervised and not made to be respectful of people sleeping. The hotel staff would do nothing about them. We never complained, but many did. We never slept well b/c of all the door banging and yelling in the middle of the night. You also could never get to a bar because it was 6 students deep. I would stay at the Blau again, but never during March Break!
Flight to Cuba
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
6people >  1 contribution(s) 
May, 2007 | Leisure | Family
Cubana Air was pretty comfortable. In-flight movie didn’t work on the way there but that’s not such a big deal. I wasn’t too impressed with the food but I had eaten before we left and also packed some snacks for the flight. No delay getting money exchanged at the airport and was on the bus very quickly. I love the fact that it’s only 10-15 minutes away.
Beach and Pool
Cayo Coco is known for the beach and I could see why. No seaweed, lots of space and lots of chairs. We never had to look long for a nice spot and thats after we got to the beach around noon on some days. We even got lucky on a couple of days and got shade. There’s a coral reef right there where you can do lots of snorkeling (for free!). We were thinking of doing one of the day trips but after we saw this reef, we didn’t bother. There’s tons of fish and you can spend hours just watching them. Take some bread or bananas from the buffet and you will be surrounded by fishes. There’s a beach volleyball net set up and there’s usually a game going on. We met a lot of people that way so it’s definitely recommended

We hung around the pool a couple of times and it’s a nice change. Different atmosphere and the pool volleyball is fun too. We ended up participating in the pool games and of course Team Canada won 🙂 It rained a couple of times in the late afternoon but instead of hiding inside, we played some pool volleyball. You don’t notice the rain as much when you’re in the water.

Check in
There was a line-up to get the rooms. That was a little frustrating since we just wanted to relax instead of standing in the heat with our luggage. We didn’t get the rooms we had arranged beforehand so we were told to come back the next morning. We had arranged for rooms in the middle blocks (halfway between the beach and the pool) but ended up in block 12 which was on the far end.
Disco
I think the disco is a hit and miss depending on the crowd that is there. We were lucky that the volleyball people we met were pretty social and ended up hitting the disco every night with a bunch of them. Music becomes repetitive so if you have some music, bring it with you and PLEASE give it to them and make them play it. We didn’t do any day trips but we did go to the club in a cave. We almost didn’t go because we heard there were tons of mosquito’s and bats but we changed our mind at the last minute and took some bug spray with us. The cave was hot but no bugs or bats to be seen. It’s definitely an experience and one of the few times you will get a chance to socialize with the other resorts, but I found that people stick to their own groups.

Also went to the Sol one night for their event where all the resorts go clubbing together. Their disco was much nicer and much cooler. They had a live reggaeton concert (although they had performed for free at Tryp a couple of days prior). Again, it’s a good experience. We came back to our disco and it was dead so it looks like we made the right choice, otherwise we would have been bored. Both of these trips cost about $10 peso’s and you get a ride in their little train (with wheels). The train itself is fun. You go pretty fast so you enjoy the breeze and the route is very scenic (even though it’s dark).

Food
You can always find something to eat at the buffet. Omlette’s, crepes (pancakes), croissants, pasta, stir-fry, freshly carved turkey, pineapple juice was really good.
A la cartes: We did the Italian and the Chinese. Italian was good but the Chinese..not so much.
Overall
We really enjoyed ourselves and had a great time. Would I go here again? No. But I would still recommend it. I’m glad I went and will always remember Tryp. I stayed at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria (5*) 2 years ago so the Tryp wasn’t as good facility-wise but the social aspect more than made up for it. MAde a lot of friends over here and we have already met up a couple of times once we got home. Was kind of disappointed the first couple of days because the animacion staff seemed pretty useless. No activites were happening and I was worried that it would be like that entire time. Turns out most of the staff had the weekend off for Mother’s day. By Monday, everything was ok. Staff was generally pleasant. We always left presents for the maid and gave some stuff to the waiters who were really nice to us. There was one guy in the buffet who was nice to us and when we went back the next night, he shook all our hand and even remembered the drink orders. I was really impressed when he remembered what one guy drank when he wasn’t even there yet!

We also had a waiter who just didn’t care. There was only one table left that could accomadate our group and the waiter was reserving it for someone else. He told us that they were late and that we could have it. We were ready to give him a tip right there on the spot! Instead of playing up to us for an even bigger tip…he disappeared! By the end, we had about 12-15 empty plates on the table and he never came back to get our drink order. We ended up walking to the server station and just taking our own bottles of wine for the table. We saw him later on walking out of the restaurante (for a break?). I didn’t understand the motivation behind that incident. Our table eventually got cleaned up..by security! I guess he could see our table from the window and the mess did not look appealing so he walked in and cleaned it for us. Guess who got the tip that night?

Rooms
Block 12 was already looking bad since we had to walk the distance but looked okay when we got in there..and then realized that the AC didn’t work. We couldn’t open up the door since there was no screen and also, we were on the first floor when we had asked for rooms on the second floor or higher. It’s always nicer to have a room higher up so that you get a balcony to hang your towels and bathing suits as well as it’s less of a security risk. Some girls we travelled with had seen peeping toms in the past. Water pressure was pretty bad as well. Reception arranged for a bellhop to drive us to our rooms and move our luggage to the new ones. AC was being fixed as we were leaving.
We got new rooms in block 6 (633 and 634) and those were great. Rooms were already cool, TV was much bigger (we had a dinky 12” tv in 12…this was at least a 20”) and the water pressure was perfect. No more complaints about the room after this.
The big negative
There was a group of about 30-40 kids who were there as a grad trip or something. They looked 16 but were apparently first year university students. They were always making noise and just causing trouble. Fortunately we weren’t affected but we saw that security was increased drastically. We heard some people requested to be transferred to the Blau to avoid this. We ran into an older couple at 3am at the bar who said they were awakened by a coconut being thrown through their bathroom window. The kids were caught.
Useful Tips
Make sure you take an insulated mug. It should be common knowledge by now but there’s tons of people who never know. They also stare in shock at my 64 oz insulated mug 🙂
The children made some very nice friends
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
PaulEnglandUK >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Apr, 2008 | Leisure | Family
Both the children and my husband and I had a wonderful, relaxing if slightly boozy (not the kids) holiday. The red and white wine is very drinkable. The children made some very nice friends and seemed to have lots of fun without needing the animation team too much who, incidentally, seemed very good. Well, the kids knew all the dances and we got lumbered buying THE CD of the tacky songs. For the money we paid which worked out around £700 each it was real value for money. We went with a company called Future Travel/Instant Holidays. We would recommend this hotel to someone wanting a value break with lovely weather, courteous staff and adequate food and drink.
Bars
Lobby Bar was very nice although the service was a bit slow. Try catching a waiter once you’ve found yourself a table. Tip a pesos each time (60p) and they catch on very quick and you don’t have to move ya toosh all night! They have live music there from about 7pm ish, a band or that, which was very good. The entertainment was then moved down to the Theatre or Stage, whatever they called it, below the Lobby Bar. It was like a kids thing at 8.30pm then changed to an adults show 9.30 til 10.30pm. It gets very packed so get there early. We personally didn’t bother, the bar was too cosy and we then went for a dinner around 8pm. The kids went to the shows and enjoyed them. However, on a Mon, Wed and Fri there’s a chap who sings in the 24hr bar, thinks he’s Tom Jones. Ha ha. Superb. There were a gang of French Canadian women who became his “groupies”. He’d sing directly at them, you know, “I looooe you ….”. Very amusing and a fantastic voice. Did Frank, Barry White, the lot. After a gallon of Pina Colada (best from 24 hr bar, Eduardo) and Tequila Sunrise, we ended up dancing the night away!! Only had the cheek to go onto the disco a few times too even though we’re 40 odd!
There’s a bar between the Italian and Chinese a la cartes, which is very nice but small. The ambience is good, quiet and the cocktails are the best.
Beach and Pools
The beach was beautiful. There is seaweed and although you do see Manuel, or Miguel or whatever their names are with “rake in hand”, they don’t seem to clear it away. However, it wasn’t a problem at all and there was hardly ANY seaweed in the sea!!!! We tended to lay at the quieter end of the beach which is located to the right of the quiet pool. BUT DON’T FORGET, you must get your towels on your sunbeds, either around the pool or on the beach by 8.15am each day, or forget it!!!! We didn’t use the larger pool, (which needs re-tiling quite desperately) which we aptly named the Chav Pool but the kids loved it and raved over the swim up bar/restaurant although they said they were regularly ignored in favour of the Canadians (mainly youngsters who booze for ……. Canada). It was a bit too noisy for us and I wanted to go topless, making the beach the only viable option for a 40 something whose boobs have seen better days!!! The quiet pool is very nice (if the brash load Canadians (English speaking) aren’t there or their noisy counterparts (French) kids. It’s nice for an afternoon swim if not too busy. There’s also a small hut thingy which is a bar, open from around 11am til 5pm and you can nip off the beach to get drinks there to take back with you.
When we were there it was a little windy so not many of the water based activities took place although the children used the pedaloes and kayaks and had lots of fun. You don’t have to go out far to see the most beautiful fish, just nick a banana at the breakfast buffet and break into the sea, the fish swarm around you. Apparently due to the windy weather there was also very little sea fishing and a few of the men were disappointed about that.
Conclusion
Both the children and my husband and I had a wonderful, relaxing if slightly boozy (not the kids) holiday. The red and white wine is very drinkable. The children made some very nice friends and seemed to have lots of fun without needing the animation team too much who, incidentally, seemed very good. Well, the kids knew all the dances and we got lumbered buying THE CD of the tacky songs. For the money we paid which worked out around £700 each it was real value for money. We went with a company called Future Travel/Instant Holidays. We would recommend this hotel to someone wanting a value break with lovely weather, courteous staff and adequate food and drink.
Oh, and if your kid likes football, take your own, they’re into baseball!!!!!
Grounds
We found the grounds to be very nice and well kept. The apartment blocks were a little tired, really could do with a good lick of paint and the rooms upgrading. I personally would rate it a European 3 star but as we paid under £3,000 for four, it was a bargain!!! The gardeners are lovely chaps who make the most amazing things out of leaves, insects, hats (I think you give them 5 pesos) etc. You can also have a coconut off the tree (if they offer, give them 2 pesos and they chop top off ) which contains milk, add some ice and rum, a long straw then lay on your front, hang head over sunbed and slurp all afternoon, book in hand!!!
We didn’t see one creepy crawly at all although the kids said they removed a cockroach from our room (fibbers I reckon). However, do make sure you wear plenty of mossie guard containing 50% deet, a little expensive but well worth it. Superdrug was the best. We also took the plug in things which we think helped.
Restaurants
We visited the International, Cuban, Seafood and Italian a la cartes. They were okay but we had read that you don’t go to Cuba for the food so that was fine. I don’t think you can beat London for international food. It was however nice to be waited on and the service, with plenty of wine top ups was fantastic. The Cuban restaurant was very intimate (especially as we palmed the kids off elsewhere – the Buffet restaurant). The Buffet restaurant was good with plenty of choice even if it was a bit repetitive but again the staff are wonderful. I’d suggest sitting over to the far left corner of the restaurant for all meals, the waitresses there were excellent and it’s a bit quieter, you don’t have everyone marching past you. You can have freshly cooked fish (the Tilapia is superb) and meat (steak a bit tough, Pork and Chicken breast fine) each evening as well as what’s already on the hotplates. There’s also a couple of chefs doing pasta and Chinese style noodles/stirfry which was nice. The chips are a bit cold but unless you’re into MacDonald style chips, you probably won’t bother with ‘em, we didn’t, just the 12 year old!!! The soup’s good and of course there are plenty of cakes, and cakes and cakes for pudding, which seemed to all be different colour sponge but were sweet!! It seemed very clean there and we had not complaints. Would say it was your average 3 / 4 star buffet. A bit noisy and busy but so what!!
Rooms
We had one room with two double beds which we specifically asked for as we did not want the children in a separate room, although they were 12 and 10 years old. The room was absolutely fine, spotlessly clean if a little tired. Our maid, Somalia, was an absolute gem. The room was a tip as it was quite crowded with the four of us however, our maid tidied everything up every single day. Was Heaven. The towels were changed daily and we were given a bottle of water each day. I’d read a review that said if you wanted to be away from all the night time action go to the higher numbered blocks, we were in block 10, first floor. Perfect. There’s sod all in the mini bar, so don’t get your hopes up!!! There’s a TV with BBC World on it!!
Things to Take
We took the usual toothpaste (Tesco’s 45p), Bic razors, pens and pencils, which I’d read the Cuban people are grateful for. I also brought socks and pants for different ages groups (again Tesco) and gave them to a variety of staff, but especially the maid who was a Godsend in getting anything of a personal nature you needed. Don’t forget to take absolutely everything a woman needs, there’s sod all there to buy although I saw HUGE Tena’s!!!!! Bring your own!! Take upset tummy stuff as well as tons of headache pills and again for ladies, anything you MAY need. You’ll end up having to pay £15 to see the nurse when you know all you need is Canestan but SHE HAS TO GIVE YOU A PRESCRIPTION. There is a pharmacy located a 4 pesos (rtn 8 pesos, he waits for you) cab ride away next to the Aquavida Spa where you can get whatever you want WITHOUT the nurse, so pass this info on.

Take plenty of sun creams, high numbers too. We usually start on 8 then work our way down to 2. Oh no, we were on 25, 15, then 8, then 6, then 1 DAY ONLY on 2!!!! Very strong sun, everyone was burnt and flaky (except us, as we met them like this and they kindly warned us!!!).

Tours
Did the Aquavida Spa which was £30 for the afternoon. Was ok for the money, treatments so so, nothing like a Spa here but very cheap. We got a facial, mud wrap and short foot massage. However, the barman made the most fantastic MOJITO’S so we supped 4 each of them and were like a pair of lushes being bundled into the mini bus back to the hotel!!!! Did the trip to Moron, worth the money but standing up all day was hard work, we couldn’t wait to get back horizontal, drink and books in hand!!! Did the overnight to Havana which again was hard work but a must, well worth it, even if a little whistle stop.

Both trips had very informative and entertaining guides if a bit repetitive about how poor the Cuban people are!!!

Respect the sun, use sun-screen
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
PatCambridgeOntarioCanada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jun, 2009 | Leisure | With Group
This Review may be of interest to physically challenged people. We were a group of 8. 6 retired (three of whom were physically challenged), one young adult, one child. Flight out of Toronto: Was good, as wheel chair service was requested at time of booking and provided once we got to the airports (both ends.going and coming). All P.C. passengers were met at the check-in counter, and assisted all the way to the aircraft.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
For first time visitors I recommend the day visit to the little town of Moron…..that is real Cuba. There are many other days trips, however please remember to bring bug spray, at this time of the year the mosquitoes are out in force day and night….. the resort does do a daily spray every night…….but if your are going off resort….carry bug spray.
Arrival
In Cuba the planes do not pull up to a ramp, so exiting the aircraft was a bit of a challenge as our P.C. relatives had to make their way down the stairs (with the rest of the passengers)to the tarmac where wheel chairs were waiting for them. Once on the tarmac, we were greeted by service reps assigned to us, the entire party was ushered Express (ahead of the able-bodied passengers) through Immigration, and out to the baggage area and our buses. This service continued until we were on the bus. PLEASE IF YOU USE THIS SERVICE (that you do not pay extra for), TIP THE CUBAN PEOPLE GENEROUSLY..THEY DO AN EXCELLENT JOB.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
They take care of this place; all exterior is in a state of good repair, nice and clean (I watched them clean the pools every morning). The beach is always tidy, shade is at a premium book a spot early (by putting your towel on a beach chair). The grounds were impeccable with Gardeners always in attendance and always wanting to cut you a fresh coconut (so that you can drink it’s contents) or make you a palm hat to help shade your head. AGAIN, PLEASE TIP THESE PEOPLE GENEROUSLY they do not have to do these things, they just do it to help you create a wonderful memory of Cuba, and for the price of a coffee back in Canada, you can so improve the quality of life for these people one CU (visitors peso) goes a long way for the locals be generous.
Other Comments
CAUTION: AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR IT IS VERY VERY HOT IN CUBA. Respect the sun, use sun-screen, seek shade or cover-up when you can. The reason why I stress this is that one in our party didn’t, as a result she ended up suffering SECOND DEGREE BURNS, she had to be taken to hospital in Cuba (which was a nightmare in itself), then transferred to Canada for treatment, she is now in the Sunnybrook Hospital Burn Unit.yes, it is that serious. Please respect the sun, and if your are on any medication, check to see if it compromises your ability to be in direct sunlight.
Restaurants and Bars
All of the restaurants are ramped. There wasn’t a meal there we didn’t enjoy be it at one of the ah la carts or in the main dining room, there was always something good to eat. I am a breakfast person and appreciated not just the buffet, but that you could have something made fresh for you if your choose. Others who were dinner people enjoyed the ah la cart menus or the fact that in addition to the prepared food in the buffet, there is a chef there to make you some fresh pasta dishes if you so desire. One person in our party would grab additional raw vegetables from the salad bar, then give it to the chef to stir fry it with some fresh pasta and other vegetables he had with what ever sauce she chose. She made her own meal right there in the buffet this is Cuba people, the raw material is there, they just may not know what to do with it. Help them she also promised on our next trip down to give the chef in the Oriental Restaurant a cooking lesson. (to spice up his menu).
BARS: Stocked with anything you’d need to cool you of. They never ran out while we were there.
Rooms
Check in: Went well, it was the usual wait as three bus loads of people were trying to check in at one time, we simply waited our turn, it went incident free.
Rooms: Once it was our turn, we were happy to learn that we got the only two rooms in the hotel that were designed for the Physically Challenged (open shower stalls instead of bathtubs) but this only happened because I requested these rooms ahead of time. A few weeks before we left, I sent them an e-mail with my request, they promised they would do the best the could, and that as long as the rooms were available we could have them. We were lucky, the week we were there, they were not occupied. These rooms which are equipped with double beds adjoin regular rooms should you require others in the party close by. Our rooms were all in a state of good repair considering the age of the hotel. The air conditioning in all of the rooms and we never ran out of hot water. We had clean linens daily.
I enjoyed watching the many humming birds
Hotel Montana de Fuego Hotel & Spa
User Rating:  
John and family of 4 from Wilmington, NC >  2 contribution(s) United States of America
Aug, 2005
Our family of 5 spent the first two nights of our Costa Rica vacation at the Montana de Fuego resort, which is at the base of Arenal Volcano. The rooms are actually rustic cabins with fantastic views of the volcano. We rented two units, one for us parents and one for the 3 kids. The folks who run the resort were extremly helpful and cheerful. Each room had air conditioning, TV and phone service, which made it all that much more comfortable for us. The pool was very nice and included a jacuzzi. While there, we booked a canopy tour directly with the tour company. The tour is a thrilling run, very high above the jungle. If your nervous with heights, you may rethink it. The kids loved it. We also enjoyed the hot springs (don’t miss this) and had a very nice, inexpensive meal in the local town "La Fortuna". Although we did not do this, you may want to consider renting a car so that you can spin around the other side of the volcano to see lava flows and Arenal Lake. The volcano did erupt several times while we where there and booms and smoke were visible from the resort. Also, I enjoyed watching the many humming birds and other exotic birds visiting the resort. Overall, I rate the Montana de Fuego a 4 star resort and highly recommend you stay for 3 nights so as to take in all the sights.
Snorkeling was awesome
Hotel Breezes Resort Spa & Casino Curacao
User Rating:  
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

We enjoyed this hotel and would recommend it
Hotel Best Western Hotel Las Mercedes
User Rating:  
Lee & Mike >  4 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2009
We stayed here for one night before our departure from Nicaragua and after our one week stay at Hotel Vistamar (see our review of this hotel also). We enjoyed this hotel and would recommend it. We booked on-line on the Best Western site. The front desk personnel were very efficient, pleasant and helpful. Upon your check-out, you can literally walk out the front door, across the road and into the main door of the airport (a 2 minute walk perhaps). There is also a shuttle bus available. The grounds of this hotel are beautifully landscaped with a wide variety of plants and trees and the occasional fountain situated along walkways between the rows of rooms and throughout the property. The rooms are in long rows that look like summer cabins with open air walkways between the rows. It almost feels like a little village. Our room was small, but adequate, with a very spacious bathroom. Everything was very clean. There were the usual amenities in the room – coffee maker, iron & ironing board, clock radio, shampoo, soap, towels, washcloth and bottled water. The hotel is renovating their rooms and we had a look at one just down the hall that was in the process. It had been gutted, literally right down to the dirt floor and from the look of our room, everything has been updated. There were two pools on-site – one right beside the restaurant (along side a bar & a future snack bar) and one near a gym & massage room.

The only disappointment or surprise here was the restaurant. The food was good and moderately priced, but there was no atmosphere. It was located beside one of the pools and was open air on two sides and adjacent to a beautiful piece of the garden. However, the two remaining walls and ceiling were stark beige and the restaurant was a conglomeration of mismatched tables and chairs. It looked like a whole afterthought to the rest of the hotel. We only ate one meal here and this was the only complaint that we had with the hotel.

We did enjoy our visit immensely
Hotel Decameron Aquarium
User Rating:  
Pat & Diane >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2008
Well I can’t really expand too much on what has already been written about this resort. As our second trip to this island, I can only add that once again, we were not disappointed. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and the same happy employees from last year. There is nothing this resort wouldn’t do for their guests and again, we were treated like family. Service was excellent, food was excellent and even though hubby was ill (cold/congestion) we did enjoy our visit immensely. Nelson provided wonderful dives and didn’t disappoint in the least. We also did a tour swimming with the stingrays. If anyone wants an exciting adventure, this is it!!!!! What a thrill it was feeding and swimming with the rays and even got to see a nurse shark. We were going to book with Mario until we talked to Raoul (from the Aquarium Dive Shop) and he gave us a good price and the most wonderful experience possible. What was great about Raoul is that he only took out 4 of us so we got individual treatment and our time was not limited – we swam as long as we wanted!!! So if interested, I would highly recommend talking to Raoul and what he can offer you – he is great !!! The weather was hot, hot and hot, wonderfully breezey ….. the beer was cold …… the water refreshing. What more could a person want? No complaints about the food whatsoever. Rockey Cay was terrific as well as dinner at the San Luis – although it was so noisey in that restaurant we didn’t linger too long. Seafood restaurant at the Aquarium – top notch!!!! Any questions, don’t hesitate to e-mail……selectivedi@yahoo.ca……………..until the next visit
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.

We had a fabulous time
Hotel Coconut Bay Resort
User Rating:  
T&M >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2009
We had a fabulous time. The weather was nice and hot with a constant breeze. Hotel room was simple, but clean and comfortable and a good size. Food was very good. The buffet was smaller than what we have enjoyed at other resorts but they changed up the menu every day and always had a good variety. I never ate the same thing twice or experienced anything I did not like. The Hotel puts on a Country and Western BBQ night on Wed and a Pirate theme cookout on Sat, plus with the Italian restaurant, the Asian restaurant and the Beach Grill, you only need to eat at the buffet restaurant 2 evenings, if you choose. Alcohol was plentiful. They offer all kinds of mixed tropical drinks and they are strong! Kids lazy river, pool, water fountain area, and slides were all alot of fun. Pools were cleaned daily. No need to reserve loungers as they offered plenty. Towels were picked up and dropped off as required by the pool. No towel cards required. No arm bracelets required. Beach was also cleaned daily of seaweed. Ocean was very rough so we did not swim there but did walk along the beach and put our feet in. Cushioned beds offered along the beach for a nice afternoon siesta. My only complaint, and that is because we were travelling with a 4 year old, is that we arrived at the hotel at 1pm. Luggage follwed in a separate truck, but we did not get our room keys until after 4:30pm. Our little guy was very cranky and exhausted by then. I would certainly recommend this hotel to anyone travelling with young children because of all the great activities included. Hotel is literally minutes from the airport.
The refurbished rooms look lovely
Hotel Paradisus Varadero
User Rating:  
"From our house" from Ottawa family of 4 >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2008
We were perplexed by the highly contradictory reviews of the resort that appear on both this website and other fora, so we hope this information helps anyone else who is considering going. We visited the Paradisus for the first time 7 years ago, and in spite of the several negative recent reviews we read, our family of 4 packed up our hopes and went again for one week at Christmas time. At the time of our first visit, it was rated as a 5+ and we absolutely loved it; back then, the resort was only 2 years old and everything was pristine except for a relatively small patch of the pool bottom lining that had disintegrated (but was repaired shortly after our first visit). Now that the resort is 9 years old, it is decidedly shabby in spots and the rooms desperately need renovating. Room renovations appear to have begun just recently and the refurbished rooms look lovely (!!), although not many are available yet. The updated hairdryers will be a bonus for people like me who have trouble with their hair when visiting the Caribbean – the old hair dryers are akin to a tube of vacuum hose awkwardly sticking out of the wall. We understood from staff and from the drawings displayed in the foyer that Sol Melia is expanding by adding on a very high-end spa resort facility where villa guests will have their own maids. For those who can afford it, it will undoubtedly be lovely.

To preface our next comments, we should mention that we’ve also stayed at two 4 ½ star resorts in Cuba (Cayo Coco and Holguin) and at a 4 ½ with a VIP/Elite package in the Dominican. During our trip this time, we found the Paradisus to be generally comparable to, yet shabbier than, the other 4 ½ star resorts we’ve visited. We also observed that the entrances and foyers at the other resorts along Varadero (where we stopped on our way to Havana and the airport) appeared more run down and not as well appointed as the Paradisus. We made the same observation as we walked along the beaches. In summary, the Paradisus is a 5 star in some respects and in some respects it isn’t; this may explain why the reviews are so varied, i.e. it depends what matters to you most.

What we love about the Paradisus:

* Size; at just over 400 rooms, there is an intimate feeling, no vast distances to cover and you can easily get to know the staff. (NB – we had a great walk down "memory lane" reconnecting with long-time staff members).

* The resort layout is terrific.
* The entrance, foyer, washrooms, theatre, a la carte restaurants and other public spaces are truly lovely.
* The beach, pool design and grounds are gorgeous.
* Pool is bromine, not chlorine.
* There are about 3500 palm trees that are now very mature and the gardens are beautifully kept.
* The bar and serving staff are very warm, friendly & helpful plus seemed to appreciate our efforts at speaking Spanish.
* Japanese restaurant was great. Romantico and Italian restaurants are solid.
* The entertainment was top notch (eg, the Cuban National Philharmonic Orchestra played one night; a daytime aquatic-synchro-dance show; a nightime aquatic ballet in the pool; poolside stilt and clown show; beach show involving actors and trained animals; always bands in the restaurants and lobby bar; nightly dance/stage shows). Animation at the beach and poolside everyday (how about a rum and cigar tutorial?) and Spanish lessons every day if you cared to avail yourself of them.

The food at the buffet is generally fine. If you happen to want bacon every morning for breakfast, you will be disappointed as it is fatty and in short supply. Lots of other fine and healthy food choices. We would recommend avoiding the Steakhouse— beef is not the Cubans’ forte. For our part, we don’t go to Cuba for the food—we love Cuba for the warmth, friendliness and heart of its people and for its music and culture (not to mention the rum, the mojitos and the cigars).

We should emphasize that our initial disappointment with the condition of the room soon gave way to better times lolling by the pool, body surfing at the beach, reminiscing with old employees and making the acquaintance of newer staff. As far as earlier references to shabbiness, we will list the things we experienced only so that others who go in the next few months (i.e. before the renovations are complete) won’t be surprised or disappointed. Here goes: our tub had 2 large patches where the enamel was missing; paint and tiles were chipped here and there; the lamp shades mysteriously disappeared halfway through our vacation for a few days; a wall sconce was hanging from the wall; and neither of the first story patio doors in our 2 rooms would lock. Our room key also was old/overused and stopped functioning and we had to get it recharged once and then eventually replaced. The pool had several small and large patches throughout where the tile has come off. When we mentioned the state of repair of the pool to certain staff, they told us that in March 2009 the pool will be closed and the whole thing repaired. It wasn’t clear whether this would be a matter of a couple of weeks or the entire month (also bear in mind the concept of "Cuban time"). While we like to spend one or two days at the beach, mostly we’re pool people, so had we arrived to find the pool closed, we would have been greatly disappointed if not downright upset. We add this information as a caution strictly for pool lovers, and with the emphasis that we didn’t confirm the facts with the hotel management. And finally, just in case it’s helpful, during this trip -versus our first trip to the Paradisus- we noticed there were fewer Canadians (an observation the staff echoed) and we were struck by the number of young couples with small children/babies. There were few families with children the same age as ours (14 and 12). At our last stay, the baby club/kids club was GREAT and some of the childcare staff are the same. The location has changed—it used to be situated in the beach restaurant but now they’re using a renovated hotel room which is brightly painted and well-equipped. Without a doubt, the level of care is as fantastic as it ever was. Would we go back? We weren’t sure we would return after the first time, but we did. We aren’t sure we’ll return again, but we might. That’s about all we can say. We hope the above is useful to you in some small measure, y buena suerte.
We got a really good deal on this resort
Hotel Grand Palladium Palace Resort Spa & Casino
User Rating:  
Stephanie from Ontario, Canada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
Arrival: January 12 – 19 Our SkyService plane was late leaving Toronto and therefore late arriving in Punta Cana. Of course the obligatory photo op at the PC airport ate up some more time but hey we had to wait for our luggage anyway. Then on to the small shuttle bus where we had to wait as one of the passengers had not received her luggage. We had noticed a case destined for Heathrow on the carousal in PC. Do you think hers was there and theirs was here? Ha Ha Our arrival was close to midnight but after our quick check in we were off to the Sports Bar for a bite to eat. It was a long walk back to our rooms – 20 minutes or so – but we did crawl into bed at around 2 am.

Rooms

We were in building 68 and I would not recommend that room to unless you like to hear and see all of the staff arriving and departing and all of the tour buses arriving and departing. The staff and buses arrived at our usual time of sitting on our balcony and trying to enjoy the first coffee of the day and the staff and buses departed as we tried to wind down on the balcony with an evening cocktail. This was a daily experience and if we had been staying our usual 2 weeks we would have asked to change rooms on the second day.

Restaurants and Bars

Our first a la carte was at the new Brazilian Restaurant. It had just opened that past week. Personally, we(4 adults one teen) felt that this was not the best restaurant this resort had to offer. If face to but it mildly we all left hungry and unimpressed. But it could only go up from there right? We enjoyed Mare Nostrum so much that we ate there twice. We did try the Japanese and we felt it was just okay. The Seafood was again okay. We ate at the buffet for dinner on two occasions and found it to be quite delightful. The bars was fine and dandy. I think if you were heavy drinkers and heavy tippers you would have had a totally different experience and found it quite pleasant.

Beach/Pools/Grounds

We spent most of our time on the beach between the Punta Cana resort and the Palace resort. There was one time that we moved down to the Bavaro beach area but my cousin and I found that we were "eaten" alive by sand fleas. On that note we were the only ones that complained about it but it did drive us from the beach for the rest of the day. We hit the rooms and showered but still I was feeling the affects from the bites for the rest of the week.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel We did not plan any activities off of the resort as this was our third time in the country. The other 4 in our party, not myself, did go para sailing. The cost was $160.00 for the four (2 trips of 2) of them and to be honest although they did find it pleasurable my husband felt that it could have been even better if they had put them up a little higher in the air. We did walk into town to visit the shopping mall and of course I use that term loosely. Since we have been to the Dominican Republic before we had already purchased all of the cheesy touristy things that our hearts desired but my cousin and her family had not. The Bavaro plaza? was an experience we did not wish to encounter but we felt that our company had to have the pleasure at least once. The teenager although a little overwhelmed did enjoy all of the haggling and fun name calling. Being from Canada was an extra bonus even though we were keeping his starving children starving.

Other Comments

Would we recommend this resort? Whole heartedly. Would we go back? In a heartbeat. We got a really good deal on this resort so I think that if we could find a similar deal next year for around the same time period we would go again. If you have any questions feel free to email me and I will try to answer them.

atomlevelhockeymomm_1999@yahoo.ca

Our Family Vacation
Hotel Be Live Grand Marien (formerly Oasis)
User Rating:  
Arto ~ Montreal, Canada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2009
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
As mentioned, there is a sports bar near the lobby, with a projection TV, a couple of pool tables, and a foosball table. There are also a couple of foosball tables, and a couple of ping pong tables near the pool. There’s also a large chess board/game behind the towel exchange place. At the beech, they have horse shoes, and bocce ball, right next to the kids club building. Our kids never went to the kids club, but we did notice a trampoline, and a small swimming pool outside the building. The also took the kids go karting one afternoon (heard this from one of the kids our boys made friends with. All kinds of activities around the pool and at the beach during the day. We went to the nightly show a couple of times. Not bad, but typical resort shows. We’ve seen much worse…
Arrival: June 19-26
Arrived at the hotel at around 6PM with my wife and 2 boys (9 & 12). The hotel is only about 20 minutes from the airport, and is located in the Costa Dorada complex which contains only this hotel and the Iberostar. Since there were more than 50 of us checking in from the same flight, we had to wait a bit to get our room. The front desk clerk filled us in on the mini-bar (which supposedly is operated by a separate company). Only the 2 BOTTLED soft drinks, and 2 beers(don’t remember the brand) are included. Everything else is extra, and is quite expensive. There is also a litre of bottled water in the room which is also included. We were given our room keys (cards), and sent on our way. Our luggage arrived at the room a few minutes after us.
Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The beach was quite wide, and there were plenty of loungers. Lots of trees at the back for shade for the times where all of the shade ‘structures’ (not palapas) were reserved by non existing guests. Water was generally calm, but contained quite a bit of floating sea weed. They raked up what came ashore daily, but there is nothing they can do in the water. For a few days, low tide was near noon, and the kids were able to do some snorkeling near shore at the left end of the beach. Unfortunately there is not all that much to see. The pool is quite large, and divided into 3 walk-in sections. Never felt crowded in the pool, and were always able to find a lounger. Again, though, finding a spot under a hut was almost impossible, since they always seemed to have towels, books, etc. under them, but rarely people. Considering the number of rooms in the resort, the grounds are not that large. They are generaly well maintained, but I was a bit surprised that they didn’t clear the excess water from the pathways after a major downpour. Something else I noticed, or rather didn’t notice: I never saw anyone cleaning the public washrooms. Not once. The washrooms weren’t particularly dirty or anything, but on occasion, there were no paper towels, etc.
Other Comments:
Overally, the resort was quite nice, especially considering the price we paid ($2400 CDN for the 4 of us). Would we go back? Possibly, if we got a great price. However, if paying full price, we would probably try somewhere new, or go back the the nearby Gran Ventana, where we have gone for the previous 4 years. The food and service there (as well as the snorkeling) was definitely better. On the other hand, the rooms, and pool at the Grand Oasis Marien were better.
Restaurants and Bars:
The hotel has 4 a-la-carte restaurants (Pasta, seafood, tex-mex, and crepe), the main buffet, as well as Mangos, which serves lunch, and perhaps other food after the restaurants are closed (never stayed up that late). Each of the a-la-carte restaurants was closed one night of the week. As indicated elsewhere, there are no reservations for the restaurants. You simply show up and try your luck. If there is no space, they will take your room number and tell you when to come back. Only the pasta restaurant is indoors, and is small, so it fills up fast… We ate at all of the a-la-cartes, and went to the tex-mex a second time. All were reasonable good. Service was decent but nothing exceptional. We had breakfast every morning at the buffet, had supper there only twice, and lunch only once (the last day). Service at the buffet is a bit lacking. Hard to find someone to refill a coffee or water cup, or to get a soft drink. Plates are not cleared from the table quite quick enough. As for variety, there are 2 rows of hot trays (one on each side), but when they are filled, they contain the same things. In the morning there are always pancakes, and an egg/omelette station, fresh juices, all kinds of breads, etc. Plenty to choose from. For supper, however, we noticed that the variety of options could have been improved a bit. Not a bad buffet, but perhaps just a bit weak at night. We ate lunch at Mangos just about every day. There are 5 or 6 hot items (with french fries every day), as well as hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, salad, soup, and deserts. They will also cook meats for you at the grill. The meats are located to the left of the grill in a section that is sort of outside the main food area (behind the coffee machine). There were pork chops, lamb chops, steaks, sausages to choose from, depending on the day. There are also tortilla chips a soft cheese dispenser back there. There were 4 bars, one near the beach at Mangos, one by the pool, one next to the show area, that I think only opens at night, and one in the sports bar just outside the lobby. Wait time at the bars was not too bad, but I think that they need to either increase the staff behind the counters, or add another bar near the pool during the day.
Rooms:
We had requested a 2nd floor room in building 8 or 9(2 of the newer ones). We were assigned a second floor room in building 7 (#7201). It’s one of the older buildings, and is located just to the left as you leave the lobby. Buildings 6, 8 & 9 are the new ones. Our room was relatively spacious. There were 2 double beds, a night table, a dresser with 4 drawers, a hutch with 3 large drawers, some storage space for suitcases, and which housed the TV. Plenty of channels on the TV(many in English), including the major US networks, and Cartoon Network (for the kids). There was also a small round table & chair in the corner. There was additional space for clothes in the closet on some wire shelves in. Overall, plenty of space to put things away. There was also the mini bar with drinks and snacks. The washroom was a nice size with a single sink in a large counter, the toilet, and bathtub. There is liquid hand soap next to the sink, and combination soap/shampoo/conditioner in a squeeze bottle in the bathtub. A couple of minor maintenance issues in the washroom, but nothing worth reporting. We did loose hot water one evening for about an hour, but no big deal. The room safe worked with a key cylinder, that you have to get from the front desk at a cost of $21 US for the week. Well worth it for the peace of mind. The A/C pumped out plenty of cold air, and the thermostat worked perfectly. There was also a ceiling fan in the middle of the room. Beds seemed fine to us; not too hard or soft. The clock radio in the room wasn’t working properly, so we called the front desk, who transfered us to housekeeping. There was a new unit in our room the following afternoon when we goot back from the beach. Houskeeping was, as in most other resorts, a multi-phased task. Dirty towels are removed from the room in the morning, the room is cleaned and made up after that, and some time in the afternoon, fresh towels are brought in. Somewhere in there, someone comes in and checks/restocks the mini-bar. Note that the mini-bar is locked down the day before you leave. The room was clean, and we only saw a couple of small bugs one day after a heavy rainfall. The rooms are sprayed on a regular basis, as we received a notice advising us of spraying to take place one morning. They also left a card you can hang on the door if you do not want your room sprayed. We left 3$ each day for the cleaning lady, who seemed to do a good job. After the first day, she realized that we did not use/want the bed covers, and stopped putting them back on the beds. On the first day, we left a note next to the provided water bottle asking for 2 bottles, and she left us 4. Every day after that, there were 4 bottles of water in the room!
I would recommend this resort to others
Hotel Riu Merengue
User Rating:  
Lena >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2009
Arrival: Jan 2 2009 We had a morning flight out with Skyservice which was very good… no complaints. We arrived at the resort for 1pm which was nice as we got to enjoy the day. We did however request rooms near the beach and were put at unit 27.. right at the back. We asked to be changed and were given rooms the next day.

Rooms:

The rooms were ok. They did smell a little musty and even when we got home we had trouble getting that smell out of our clothes. The beds werent the best. Ours definitely due for replacement but we still managed to sleep.

Restaurants and Bars:

The main buffets were awesome.. a large variety of food and always hot and very tastey. If anyone complains about the food that have to be very picky because I didnt hear anyone say anything negative about the food. We were a party of 6 with kids and no one got sick.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

The grounds were absolutely beautiful and well kept. The resorts are very lush so if you want shade, never a problem finding some. The pool area was a bit crowded but still very nice

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

We didnt go on any tours but there were always activities going on and the team really did work hard to get you involved. We didnt participate as we were with the kids and were busy with them. But if you wanted dance lessons or exercise in the pool to tons of other activities.. they had them

Other Comments:

We didnt us the kids club a lot but it was very good for crafts and activities for the kids. The one day they painted their faces and did a fabulous job. The kids wanted to go back. Every night at 8pm they had a dance party for the kids which they couldnt wait for every evening. All in all was a great vacation and I would recommend this resort to others.

Our Family Vacation
Hotel Barcelo Dominican Beach
User Rating:  
Peter & family from Toronto >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
Arrival Arrived at the airport and had a smooth time getting to the hotel bus. I was going to use a porter but they didn’t come chasing after us so we took our own bags. We arrived in pouring rain at the hotel. The rooms weren’t ready so we went for lunch. Everyone had to come back at 3PM which was a minor pain.

Rooms

The first rooms (we had 2) were in 3000 block. The rooms were modest, clean and comfortable with a view of the gardens. I seem to recall the bed being soft. The only thing we didn’t like was the nightly entertainment started at 10PM (too late for us) and we could hear it clearly in our rooms. The rooms were too close for our liking. We had only two bath towels. Through a connection, we were moved after 2 days to the 6000 block to a terrific room but it was at the edge of the property so it could be noisy at times with construction nearby. We saw someone’s room in the 7000 block and it was like our original room but in a quieter location.

Restaurants and Bars

The food was ok, about what I would expect from a 4* as opposed to 5*. The selection was limited compared to our last resort (a 5*) but we found something to eat at every meal. Two of us are vegetarians and we managed. We liked the main buffet for breakfast and the smaller buffet by the tennis courts for lunch. I tried the pizza place and the pizzas were good although at meal time it seems that they were gobbled up as soon as they were taken out of the oven. We tried the rest. by the beach but didn’t enjoy it. We tried the Mexican, Italian and Japanese a la carte restaurants. We really enjoyed the Italian and the Japaense was good too. No sign up for any but the Japanese. We went at 6PM to the a la carte’s just as they opened and we always got a table but I guess by 6:30 there was a line up. The service in the restaurants was just ok but I think that was largely because most of the service staff spoke very little English and so they couldn’t communicate.

I didn’t find anyone who served me at the various bars to be a standout and worthy of a decent tip. The favourite place for us was the coffee bar. They made different drinks including great coffee & hot choc. from 10am to midnight. The staff were good even if they didn’t speak English.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds were lovely and the beach was cleaned every day. No complaints except for the weather. A few rocks in the ocean where the swim area was and bits of seaweed but nothing worse. The water outside the swim area was a ‘major’ route for the local boats ferrying people to various places so it was not the best place to try wind surfing or sailing. Other than a couple of kayakers, we didn’t see anyone at the resort using watersports. The pools were ok, lots of chairs around the pool. It seemed like finding some chairs with good cover/shade at the beach or by the pool was tough if you were not out by 8am.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

We played tennis 3 times and the courts were in decent shape for a resort. We brought racquets and balls but they had them at no charge. Still I would bring balls. You could sign up a day in advance. We brought ping pong racquets and balls and they had a couple of tables in various locations. They also had several pool tables that were in good condition. The activities weren’t as intrusive as at other resorts. If you wanted to participate you went to the location. Seldom did they try and coax you to participate. Beach volleyball and bocce were popular beach activites.

Other Comments

My only complaint was with the wi-fi/Internet. When we arrived Internet was down. I never bought the wi-fi but from what I could gather it has limited range depending upon the room you were in. As a result we had to use their computers and other than shutting down if you didn’t send/receive frequently they worked and weren’t too busy. Rates started at US$5 for 15 minutes but they had 50% off specials. I think this resort was great value for the money. You can see the ‘wear’ in some areas but overall it was clean. We had modest expectations and so we weren’t disappointed. We have 2 girls 12 & 16 and they found enough to keep them busy.

We booked a couple of months in advance and paid about $1K p.p. incl taxes for the week at the end of March break. I would bring lots of US$1’s for tips rather than try and get them when you arrive. Not always easy for them to make change. Old clothes and chocolate bars seem to be appreciated by the staff as well as $$$ (not Loonies or Toonies).

Would recommend the resort to others
Hotel Gran Ventana Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Lianne ~ GTA >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2009
Arrival: July 06-13th, 2009 We arrived at 9:30 PM, with two very tired and excited boys, ages 3 & 6. We flew with Sunwing and had no difficulties, aside from the "normal" entertaining of the boys. We were glad that we packed some of their familiar treats and small toys, and a new book each to occupy them. They loved the costumed girls at the airport and the drive through the night to the hotel. They enjoyed exploring the lobby and listening to music while my husband was effeciently checked in.

Rooms:

We loved our room – ground floor, corner room, non-smoking, mini-fridge, close to the pool but with a garden view and steps to the restaurant and minutes from the beach. Clean, bright, comfy and cool. Cleaned daily. The boys were able to relax and have some down-time playing quietly or watching familiar kids shows – in Spanish – they didn’t mind at all. In fact they knew a lot of Spanish from shows they watch anyway – Sesame Street, Dora and Diego!

Restaurants and Bars:

We enjoyed the cheerful service and convenience of the restaurants. We all enjoyed the food and tried different things when available. No one in our family was ill or felt uncomfortable about the food the entire vacation. The Beach restaurant was the favourite, and Mark and I enjoyed the grilled chicken. Our oldest son tried octopus and calamari, while the youngest lived on peanut butter pancakes, cereal, fish, french fries and pineapple. We ate out at two of the other restaurants with reservations and found them very family friendly and service prompt. Our wine glasses were always refilled!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

Brisk cool beach and gorgeous views – snorkeling was a hit, searching for shells and seeing "pirate ships" it was shallow for a way out, and colourful fish were visible close to shore. When calm in the morning it felt quite safe. We put the oldest son, and Mom in a PFD for snorkeling and that was reassuring. The kids loved the pool because they played with new friends and had the novelty of the swim-up bar. We parents found it hot, noisy and crowded – but that’s because we are more introverted and the privacy of the beach suits us better. But we recognized that the boys were having a blast! The kids liked the play area and we had several walks through the complex itself. Just be assertive with the staff who solicit for hair braiding, and souvenirs on the beach – we bought stuff early on and then our privacy was respected. It was a treat to pick out stuff on the beach the first day.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Let’s see – the horse carriage ride in the evening was peaceful and cool – our 3 year old fell asleep in my arms. (The oldest was fascinated by the horse body functions – but hey – he’s all boy…)We went to Ocean World and LOVED IT!!! Just felt a pang of social justice that the local people can’t afford it. The dolphins sure seemed to love their "people" interactions. It was a long day for the kids, (we had one tantrum in the store…) but they fell asleep on the shuttle back to the hotel so we had a quiet evening with them in bed. Hiring a taxi driver and guide was also a good call – we went up the cable car to the mountain and around some markets in the city. Now – Mark and I have travelled to Malaysia and Taiwan, and I have lived in Indonesia and Bangladesh – we have adventurous spirits. So, be aware that the cable car has open windows, and is a tad crowded,but the boys loved it because it was like Diego! Be sure you are comfortable with beggars & shoe shine boys etc . and are willing to explore and try new things. We saw the old Spanish Fort and the port. The boys had a donkey ride and drank from coconuts on the side of the road! Memories! If the kids were older, or we were on our own we would have explored the island more. Our boys didn’t want to stay at the daycare,because they wanted to be with us, but they played there the last day after check out. The staff had arranged a birthday party for another little girl, and they were excited and friendly people. The kids evening games on the stage were fun as well, to watch or participate.
Other Comments:
Take lots of sunscreen because it is expensive there and the dates may have expired. Our boys also wore swim shirts. Also we took "fishy" crackers and snacks and meds, like polysporan, tylenol, bandaids and cortesone cream – useful for heat rash. It was a busy vacation, since our boys are "BUSY", and Mom and Dad need a trip alone next time! However – we had wonderful, quality time together and would recommend the resort to others, for certain.
The staff are great.
Hotel Gran Ventana Beach Resort
User Rating:  
Sara >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
Arrival: Mar 26 – April 2 Although the flight and airport have no baring on the hotel, going through the airport was very quick. they are doing construction so the walk is a bit longer but our baggage was on the carousel when we got there. My dad needed assistance and was brought through in a wheelchair right from the plane to the bus. Sure wish that would happen at Pearson – we were given next to no assistance there. Arrival at the hotel was smooth, we expected to wait at least until 3 for our room but one of the porters took care of us and we were in our rooms by 1:30ish. A little confusion with my dad’s room as he needed 1st floor, this was cleared up in a matter of minutes.

Rooms

Rooms were very clean, we did have some fridge stocking issues but nothing that wasn’t cleared up in a hurry. We emailed specific room requests about a week before leaving. Although they were unable to give us the exact room we requested, the view from our room was even better – full ocean view (well through the trees). If you wanted to find something wrong with the room, I’m sure you could but it was perfect for us. My dad’s room as also perfect for his needs. Always cleaned, fresh linen and towels when requested – they have a new practice where if you want fresh towels you put the old ones in the tub and they replace them, if you want new linens you place a card on the bed and when they make the bed the put down new linens. This cuts down on wasted laundering – who has new sheets everyday at home.

Restaurants and Bars

Luis at the pool bar is amazing. The service at all the bars is good. All bartenders always have a smile on their faces and are happy to serve whatever you’re drinking.

The Buffet was good, there was something for everyone at every meal, you just had to look. We did the Octopus Restaurant – food and service was good – no complaints there. We had a slight scare when the lights went out – completely – only to be re-assured to hear "happy birthday’ being sung buy the staff and the lights came back on after the candle was blown out. This happened twice during our meal. It was nice for the birthday people. As ‘repeaters’ we were entitled to use the restaurants the the Victoria down the road. Don’t waste your time the food and service at the Gran Ventana is MUCH better.

Beach/Pools/Grounds We walked 45 minutes east and the same west along the beach everyday. We can honestly say the Gran Ventana section was the cleanest in the entire Playa Dorada complex and beyond. It did get windy in the afternoon (like that’s the resort’s fault??) but if you turned your chair to chase the sun the wind was coming from behind you and less of a bother. We never spent anytime in the pool but it looked and smelled clean.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

We did not do any tours or excursions. This was a week for us to just do nothing but lay or walk on the beach and that’s exactly what we did. Lily (#8) gives a great pedicure and manicure. And Christine is the girl you want braiding your hair. Yep, the venders are there walking the beach but a polite ‘no gracias’ sends them on their way. Pedro is our jewelery guy and Ramone (#13) for shirts. Always negotiate your price.

Other Comments

We would have liked the evening entertainment to have started a little earlier – the kid’s show goes until 9:30. The ‘adult’ stuff doesn’t start until then but were either too tired or too bored to stick around for any of it and ended up retiring early. That would be our only complaint about this resort. The staff are great. They really appreciate when you ‘try’ to speak their language and will help you learn if you let them.

Oh and special mention must go to Guy the Signature Vacation Rep – He remembered us from last year and when far beyond the call of duty to help us out this year even though we traveled Sunquest. Signature Vacations just earned loyal customers because of Guy and Buddy, his assistant.

Stunned to see the number of languages spoken by most of the people seving us.
Hotel Bavaro Princess
User Rating:  
Michaud from Dieppe N.B. >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
Arrival: March 25 to April 2 Easy access upon arrival Buses with drivers identified to resort. Introduction on the Bus with good information

Rooms

Well kept confortable , veri nice patio , We were on 2nd floor of the Villa which I recomend . Bathroom while neat is in need of a face lift ( Tired after so many years)

Restaurants and Bars

Good choice , good food ,very pleasant service , funny , likes to joke with you very friendly and of service with a smile

Beach/Pools/Grounds

Beach , oustanding as the eye could see. Beautifull and very clean .Supervise by security gards non disturbing and you feel very safe . Grounds of this village of over 90 buildings is fabulous , very pleasant to walk and good shuttle service for every corner of the resort Beutifull at nigth ,well lite Poll room also needs a facelift

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

Many activities on the resort with scheduled board at a few stratigic places. Did three off resort .Manati Park which I feel is overpriced but our daugther loved swimming with the Dolphins.( Bring your own towels )Horseback riding which me and my daughter loved even thougth it is was done for only the two of us at regular price .Horse riding broth us in wooded areas on the beach fabulous natural scenes. We also went Jeep safari :this is a cultural shock between the fairy tale life on the resort and the real life and hardship,It was very well done we visited sugar cane in bloom ,coffe plantation ,banana trees and all sort if fruit grapefruit etc. We visited shools and some of the houses .Bring lots of small gifts for kids especially pencils(lead and coloring )

Other Comments

I was stunned to see the number of languages spoken by most of the people seving us. Every show at nigth were presented in Spanish, French and English . Other langauges like Russian and German were also frequently spoken

Our Stay at Bavaro Princess
Hotel Bavaro Princess
User Rating:  
Mike from Canada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
Arrival: Feb. 6 to Feb. 13 We flew with Sunwing out of London, Ontario. The flight was very good, with friendly attendants and fast service. Good food on flight. Will book with Sunwing again. We had the same experince on the way home. Really enjoyed London airport. We’ll consider for future vacations.

Rooms

We were not happy. We got to our room and all we could smell was mildew. Over powering. Called the front desk many times. Because of the time we came in they could not help till the next day. We moved to another room the next day. We traveled with our 2 children so we required to single beds to be brought to our room. The gentleman brought the beds and 1 was soaking wet. We found the rooms to be fairly tired.

Restaurants and Bars

The ala Cartes 5 star, buffets 4 star.

Beach/Pools/Grounds

Everything in this catagory has to be 5 star. The grounds were beautiful, beaches were amazing, pools clean and warm.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

Dis not leave the grounds so no comments. The entertainment was good and interactive. Give it a 4.5 star.

Other Comments

To bad but because of the rooms and some service problems getting extra blankets and pillows, we will look elsewere to spend our vacation dollars. This resort is advertized as a 5 star. I give it a 4 or 4.5 at best.

We would go back with our children
Hotel Holiday Village Golden Beach
User Rating:  
Canadian Travellers >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
2 adults, 2 twelve year olds

Flight—Via Sky Service which have very small seating area. Be prepared to be cramped and uncomfortable but, the flight is still worth the wonderful trip awaiting on the other end…..

Pools— very well-maintained, clean, have life guards…..great children’s activities especially at the " wave pool and water slides…………

Beach— super, except for folks who after having a late rise in the mornings, still thought that they could steal whatever occupied shaded huts they wanted…… very clean, beautiful white sand, great beach grill and bar and staff to place your chairs wherever you preferred . The Flea Market was right next to the resort beach… great location for our girls, as they loved the local shopping/ bartering experience.Great long beach in each direction for relaxing walks or running…. very safe and friendly..

Rooms We had a 2 bedrm suite which was basic, roomy and extremely clean… bar fridge was well stocked daily….we gave the gardeners the drinks and beer…. but drank the bottles of water. Shampoo, conditioner , towels and soaps were provided. Food– The Italian and Carribean Rest. were super… the Asian and Mexican were okay. The buffet was okay but needed desperately to have some desserts besides jello, and cookies!!!!! The snacks were available around the clock. The Mexican became a grill in the p.m.’s and nightly with great pizza, fries and burgers as well as,a salad bar.. The waiter named Joseph, worked there and at The Italian Rest. He was our favorite staff person.

Bars— what can I say………………… great supply of drinks and served with always a smile and at times , a song or two. Latimer at the main bar was super duper………

Entertainment—– This is the only downfall at the resort…………How much could you listen to two … ******* and *******…… English , dominaring, non- whitty, pathetic, microphone hungry people?? Please use the talent of your local entertainers, such as Jonathan’s, to spice up the evenings…………….. more of their dancing, bring in a local band, have kariokie…… and please decrease the microphone hogging by ******* and *******…..

Casino– great but, bombarded by locals after midnight……… hard to stay interested when all others speak spanish……….. I won however!!!!

We would go back with our children, but would prefer better desserts in the buffet and for God’s sake an improvement in the entertainment……………….

A wonderful vacation.
Hotel Tropical Princess
User Rating:  
Lindsay >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Apr, 2009
Arrival: March 31 – April 7 We were transferred here from Colony Bay Beach Resort after arriving there and being told that it was closed. Luckily Expedia found us a family room here and check-in was very easy and our bags were brought with us to the room. It is a beautiful hotel – great landscaping with a mangrove forest and wonderful bird life

Rooms

We were so pleased to have an attached room for our son to sleep in and they bought a crib in for us right away (despite us being last minute additions) It was great having two bathrooms. The balcony furniture could be a little bit nicer/substantial and our light outside didn’t work. It was basic and clean with a mosquito problem but they did fumigate and try and solve the problem (plus it is the tropics – maybe it would be better to put up mosquito nets) Air conditioning didn’t seem to work, but we didn’t need it. Maybe they are helping the environment – it wasn’t hot in there and was fine with the fan on.

Restaurants and Bars

There was a good selection, we ate at the buffet each meal as we had two young ‘uns. My husband got stomach sick but he admits that it was his fault for eating 3 plates of oysters! The presentation was thoughtful and beautiful and the staff were really friendly. It was wonderful being able to drink champagne/wine at will!

Beach/Pools/Grounds

Beautiful beach – I’ve been to many and this is one of the best. It’s great walking up and down it, spying on all the other hotels. The ocean is as blue as it comes, my kids are young so they didn’t go above running in and out of the surf. The pools were great – 3! I think they could skim all the crappy little stuff out (bugs etc!) but there was lots of shade and they were so nicely designed. I liked the garden walk especially – lovely flowers, birds and fish. So peaceful walking and a real treat for the kids to come across peacocks on their walks!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel

We weren’t interested in any activities, I’m not a fan of loud music so we just stayed away from the area where there were activities going on. We did go to the beach party for a few minutes before all the people came with our kids – it was magic for them seeing the disco ball and dancing on the beach to the disco music! It was cool having the option to have pictures with iguanas/monkey/traditionally dressed Dominicans. They weren’t pushy about it either, it was fun for the kids to pose with such things.

Other Comments
I found the reps trying to get you to go to the other Princess hotel a bit annoying – trying guilt trips to get you to go there (as they work on commission) I tried to be polite in turning down their overtures but then was forced to be an arsehole to get them to leave us alone. I do think that the hotel is trying to improve its service – we had a few questionnaires and a guest services lady interviewed me to find out if there were any problems. Anything we did say negative (ie mosquitoes in room) was dealt with immediately. Thank you for the wonderful vacation Tropical Princess!
Again, it is basic, but clean- amazing staff- great food- nice beach and that is the life!
Hotel The Puerto Plata Village Caribbean Resort & Beach Club
User Rating:  
Pat >  3 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
This was visit #5 for me, 2003-2005-2007-2008-2009. This year I went with a friend and 3 young teenagers (14-14-15). They had a room separate from us, thank you! The kids had a blast; it was the second visit for my son! Upon arrival, we got an upgrade (balcony and mini-fridge)- the boys got an extra bed in the room. I would say everything is the same as last year minus a few minor changes: The main bar is closing at midnight- Disco goes on 11:00PM- 2:00 AM for dance and drinks- Bars re-open at 10:00 AM—- That is very fair! Pool is open until 7:00 PM (pool bar is done at 6:00PM- so you can sip your last club soda!) and it re-opens at 8:00 AM (pool bar at 10:00 AM) The buffet (selection) was bit smaller but just as delicious as last year, with a theme every night. The Oriental restaurant is no longer- It is now a Dominican restaurant- Much better food!! The Italian à la carte is like a 5 Stars! Again, it is basic, but clean- amazing staff- great food- nice beach and that is the life! I am going back next year- if not sooner- that should answer the question!

My e-mail is on the March 2008 review!

Group of 8, All Enjoyed the Trip
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
User Rating:  
adamrides >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Realizing that experiences at all-inclusives are entirely subjective and can be affected by zillions of factors, here are my thoughts. I got back two hours ago, spent Dec. 26 – Jan. 2 inclusive there with a group of eight (five adults, three teenagers). This was my fourth stay at an all-inclusive, second in Varadero. – If you book Nolitours, check-in is private and a breeze. – The resort is far away from town. You cannot walk there. You will need to take a bus or taxi. I didn’t expect this going there (but I suppose I could have figured that out by looking at a map!). – I expected the worst when it came to food (my last experience sucked) but it actually turned out to be pretty good. I don’t eat pork but still found plenty of options. Problems: next to impossible to get a la carte bookings (Cuban was surprisingly good, Italian excellent) and the "Nolitours-only" dinners were a gong show (huge crowds, bad food), – We did the Nolitours Havana excursion and the catamaran excursion. Both were excellent. If booking the catamaran excursion be prepared for lots of drinking in the sun on a boat, followed by a beach visit. Lots of fun. But not great for kids. – The resort is huge. It’s the biggest in Varadero. As a result, be prepared to walk. A lot. – I like to run, and this was not an option at the gym (eliptical and stair equipment only). All the joggers ran around the outskirts of the resort, dodging pedestrians. Not the best arrangement. – Staff was always nice and friendly. Entertainment activities do NOT vary too much though. – I’m generally not fan of shows at resorts but the one they put on with gymnasts and such was simply superb IMO. – Disco is nonexistent. You’ll want to head offsite for late-night entertainment. – Kids LOVED the waterslide.

Anyway, not the most in-depth review but I suppose I just wanted to say it was a good time, the food was decent and everyone had fun. And isn’t that what you generally want in a vacation? 🙂

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.

The Aruba Marriot is a fine hotel
Hotel Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino
User Rating:  
Alexander from Ontario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2008 | Leisure | Family
Taxi fare from the airport was twenty-five dollars. Check-in was efficient. Beautiful ‘new age’lobby. Could pass for Tahitian. Respectful clientele. Rooms: Rooms were large and well fitted. Plenty of area to both unpack your belongings while enjoying sufficient ‘living space’. One has to give adequate thought to your room assignment when checking in- rooms on the lower floors tend to get noisy and other specfic rooms also have their particular issues- we awere assigned a room immediately beneath the salon/ hospitality area of the upper most Tradewinds floor. Those on the upper floor receive access to a hospitality suite for drinks and breakfast. Each morning we were awakened very early by the high heels of the ladies setting out breakfast and coffee in the hospitality suite. Take my advice, avoid that specific room assignment. Also, as usual, avoid rooms near the elevators. Restaurants and Bars: All restaurants, in the hotel and out, serve quality meals- very pricy as we have come to expect in Aruba. LaVista was certaily very good, albeit near empty. High’s steakhouse was not worth the hype. My son loved the Mudslides at the pool bar. Part of the enjoyment in visiting Aruba is the evening meal and stroll to and from the local restaurants in the high rise area. Consequently, try not to place to much emphasis on the eating establishments in the hotel. Beach/Pools/Grounds: Their one pool was lagoon style. It was large enough but certainly not spacious. Very sanitary. All guests seemed very friendly and respectful. However, staff did permit a small seemingly lonely group of young male twenty-somethings to float about in some morally questionable loungers. Most guests with children weren’t impressed. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: This was not our first trip to Aruba. Tours are often very expensive. It is often better in terms of money and time management to rent a car or jeep for two or three days and to go to the various activites of your choice. Other Comments:

The Aruba Marriot is a fine hotel. In Aruba, only the Hyatt is of similar quality. I’d give the edge to the Marriot for accomodations and to the Hyatt for grounds and pool.

Golf next door at white sands is a waste of time
Hotel Ocean Blue Golf & Beach Resort
User Rating:  
George from Newmarket Ontario >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Room was well looked after and clean.Security was good as each room had a safe at no charge and patio doors had proper locking pin.Ilike feather pillows so bring one if your picky. Rooms: REstaurants were good and never got tired of the food.Loved the theme restaurants and mikes coffee shop .Also never got ill or sick from food or drinks. Restaurants and Bars: Great pools clean and bars as they serve premium drinks not cheap resort booze. Beach/Pools/Grounds: Beaches were great and clean no mosquitos. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: GOLF next door at white sands is a waste of time as it is not maintained and in bad condition.It is the worst course i have ever played on.Do not let this influence your stay here.Great courses nearby .Good shows at night. Other Comments:

Bring usd as they rip you off on canadian exchange rates(.79 to us dollar)Pay in cash or travellers chqs. On your return duty free terminal 2 gate 6 has good deals on booze opposed to the other stores.Example corvosier xo $75.Also dont let the workers fool you that they make only 100 dollars a month ,really like 350-400.Overall you will like the resort and feel safe.GOOD for the family.

Great resort for families travelling with children
Hotel Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret
User Rating:  
John/Melinda >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
This was our first trip to Mexico, and also our first trip that we brought our 2 children ages 9 and 11. We have been to the Dominican Republic twice, Jamaica once, and Cuba twice before. Upon arrival in the cancun airport, we made it through customs, and picked up our luggage without any delays! We quickly were directed by our Sunquest representatives to the location of our bus. It is about 1 hour from the airport to the resort, but we were aware of this before the trip. When we arrived at the resort, the check in was quite painless and efficient. They gave us a map and showed us where to find our room and told us that our luggage would be following us shortly. Everything went without a hitch!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
As I mentioned before, it appeared as if the most activities took place at the "fun" pool. There was ping-pong, archery, pellet gun shooting, dancing, beach volleyball and many more. Lots of things offered if you want to take part or not is up to you. We did not feel pressured by any of the staff. One night we took a cab ride into Playa del Carmen. It was 100pesos or $10 each way. It was nice to see the beach and to take in the touristy areas. All the shops were the same but it is fun to do some bartering to buy your souveniers. We did take a tour on our 4th day there. We took a snorkelling/spinaker tour out of Maroma Paradise Marina. The price was right and it only took 6 hours from beginning to end. We got to snorkel twice and if we wanted to, the captain set up a huge kite behind the boat and you could sit in a swing and fly behind the boat and then jump into the ocean. On the tour, we saw lots of colourful fish,a starfish and couple of turtles. The kids loved it and so ! did we. We chose to go to the Xcaret park the last day that we were there. As recommended at the tour desk, we did the underground rivers first. It took about 45 minutes in total. When we got out of the river, there were showers and places to change. They ship your belongings in a bag and you pick them up when you are done the snorkelling of the river. From there we explored the entire park. So much to see. Turtles, mantaray, manaties, butterflies, dolphins, crocodiles, fish, shrimp, jaguars……so much more. This park was out of this world. There were no line ups anywhere, and you could take as much time as you wanted to and enjoy the scenery. The ruins were amazing and the children found it exciting to be able to climb them. The night show which is from 6-8pm was also amazing.
Beach/Pools/Grounds:
As for the beach, we were aware of the small size. Which is one of the reasons we chose this resort as we wanted to keep an eye on the children. We all brought our own snorkelling equipment and enjoyed snorkelling daily. Lots of fish to see. The pellicans that swooped down were amazing to watch. At times we counted over 20 pellicans. We did go to the "fun" pool for a day where you can take out a raft to float on and take part in the activities that they offer. If you want to be in the hub of everything this is the pool for you. This was the pool with the swim up bar, so it was nice to visit. The adult only pool which is located by the beach buffet resaurant, looked beautiful as it was right beside the ocean and the waves would come crashing up along the shore. Since we had the kids with us, we could not use the pool but we did explore the grounds surrounding the pool. Lots of hermit crabs to be found. The resort itself is very large, but once you know the layout, it isnt that hard to get around. The tram that goes by every 15 minutes is handy if you are tired or just want to go on a tour. The drivers keep you amused the entire ride. The children had a blast exploring the grounds. Everywhere we turned around there were lizzards of all sizes and colours. We took some bananas from the buffet and fed them throughout the day. They have flamingos and deer located near the "fun" pool, and also some monkeys. The fish that are found in the main lobby were fun to feed with the food that the resort supplied daily. Turtles were seen swimming with them and loved to be fed also. We had brought along a couple of flashlights with us and took the kids out exploring in the dark. It was amazing looking at the different bugs and night creatures that we dont have hear in Canada.
Other Comments:
Overall, great resort for families travelling with children.
Restaurants and Bars:
We made reservation at the oriental restaurant which was good, but our children are picky eaters. We all enjoyed the steakhouse restaurant, as it was kid friendly and had a very relaxed atmosphere. The children loved eating at Paco Taco’s also. The buffet restaurants had plenty of selection with some items repetitive. As for the bars, all of them had great service and were extremely friendly. We found the "quiet" pool bar the best. The buffet restaurant found at the beach is quite nice to eat at for breakfast and watch the sun and ocean and waves. It was not as crowded as the main buffet, but did serve the same. It offered amazing pizza at lunch time.
Rooms:
We were put in the 14th building 2nd floor. Our balcony overlooked the "quiet" pool. The room was just as explained in previous reviews. 2 double beds, stocked bar, bathroom with just a stand up shower(which was huge). The water pressure and temperature was amazing! Never short on HOT water no matter what time it was. The room service was outstanding. Everyday we returned to our room to find a new towel ornament layed out on our beds along with a fully retstocked fridge.
Swam with the dolphins which is an absolute must
Hotel Palladium Vallarta Resort and Spa
User Rating:  
Dave from Winnipeg >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Quickly directed outside to tour bus after landing and taken immediately to hotel.Friendly staff greeted and checked in with no issues.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Lots of activities during the day to keep busy but could use a few extras to mix up and not repeat the same day after day. Night time entertainment nothing to write home about. Daytime staff is working from dawn to dusk and some of them are out of their element when it comes to the musical/theater parts. Again a little variety would go along way. Magician, hypnotist ect to change things up. Swam with the dolphins which is an absolute must.Whale watching and dolphin tour is a crap shoot and nothing is a guarantee. Tried snorkling but again time was cut short. Stay away from Kontiki Tour for whales/snorkling. Don’t waste time going into town to shop at the market. Small village 20 minutes away in the town of Buccerias? which was ideal. It’s located next to the ocean so you could spend the day there swiming, shopping, walking, bike riding [rentals available] if you need a break from resort.$15 for taxi each way.
Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Excellent beach, pool and grounds.
Other Comments:
Always tip a couple of bucks and it will go along way during the week.
Restaurants and Bars:
Buffet pretty good but restaurants nothing to write home about. Too many different rules in regards to dress codes and not enough consistency in regards to enforcing policies. We ate at all 3 restaurants and if combined had 1 good meal between the 3. Service was always excellent but found the quality and the temperature of the main dishes especially very disappointing. Food was very cold and sometimes just plain disgusting to try and even eat. Bars were superb and everything pretty much available on request.Always check to see if food is cooked all the way through. Numerous times kids food was raw.
Rooms:
Booked with 2 other families but lucked out and was put into building #3 which is the nicest and newest of the 3. A little disappointed that we were not all put into at least the same building as we did book all together and as a group. Buildings #1 and #2 a little run down and in need of upgrades.
Service is top notch 10 out of 10
Hotel Iberostar Paraiso Beach
User Rating:  
Namabeer >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Just came back from a great week at the Beach from Dec 6th to 13th. This is my 6th time to the Mayan Riveria. Previously visiting: Barcelo Colonial, Sunset Princess, Gran Sirenis, Occidental X Caret, Palladium Kentaneh. I’ve been to an Iberostar (in La Romana) in the DR and had high expectation of the Paraiso Beach. Iberostar chain usually demands a premium compared to other chains and they did not disappoint again. Service is top notch 10 out of 10. Workers actually like working there and take pride in their work whether they receive tip or not. I guess that’s why they rarely discount this chain of resorts and there is great loyalties of the guests to come back. Comparing to other resorts I stayed I think the pool is the best of any. Service is the best of any. I was a bit weary as I knew this resort was a bit older than ones I stay at before. It’s prob 10 yrs old but in immaculate condition, even the rooms. You would only think that it’s like 5 yrs old, it’s that well kept and more importantly, maintained. The Beach and the Delmar is basically the same resort and shares the grounds like a mirror images (similar to other resorts). Summary of Rating out of 10: Beach 9 Buffet Food 7 A La Cartes 8.5 Facilities 9.0 Rooms 9.0 Service 10.0 Overall 8.5
A La Cartes
* As I said before, I managed to snag 7 a la cartes due to low occupancy as typically only 3 for 7 day week. Also managed to prebook the reservations even before arriving not normal but they made an exception. In order of favorites: a) Steakhouse: (10 out of 10) Had good appetizer buffet with smoke salmon, soup, chicken wings, mushrooms, salad and some seafood, black & red caviar too!!. Oh yeah good onion flower. For Entre best is Tenderloin. Melted in my mouth. I’ve been to Ruth Chris and Mortons and the tenderloin tasted better here. Actually ate here 2 times as sooooo good. Had Rib Eye the other night and very good too. Lots of flavor. Apple pie a la monde was very good for dessert . b) Mederterreanean (9 out of 10) All you have to do is eat the buffet and that’s it. Amazing selection of seafood Including great stone crab claws, giant fresh prawns, squid, octopus, fried fish, procuitoo, avocado with caviar, yummy oyster mushrooms etc For entre had tenderloin (small) and ½ lobster (ok but liked prawns better). Also had some lobster bisque. On my second visit to the restaurant we had a 40 min fish baked in rock salt and foil for 40 min. It was about 1 1b and was to be shared for 2. Enough and perfectly done. Ok Full? No leave room for the best ever chocolate covered mouse. The best ever ever in my life. It’s hard chocolate covered in an amazing mouse. It’s big and prob 2000 calories alone but amazing. c) Japanese Hisashi (7 out of 10) Everyone raves of this place. Yes it’s fun but the food is passable. There will always be a rowdy one at the table. The table it double the size of normal resorts so you will only see ½ the show as he has to show both sides. Our chef was pretty boring and quiet. Get the teppanyaki (eg beef/chick/shrimp). Tender beef, sometimes stuff could get overcooked as the chef is too busy doing his show on the other side. Fried rice ok, Sushi acceptable. Tempura was disgusting and soup not exciting. Very limited sake (only cup by cup). Desert was boring and buffet style. It’s ok but not great. This is not just because I’ve lived in Japan. d) Mexican (7 of 10). Fill yourself on the buffet as the entrees are boring and limited. ONLY tacos for entrees. Ok but not really an entre. Snapper ok but not exciting. The appetizers was the best with all sorts of Mexican yummies , quesedias, Chimichanga, tamale, shrimps, etc. Dessert was ok but nothing great. Big disappointment was that they did not make me a Mexican coffee like other resorts. They did not do the show with the cart of flames. It was just made at the bar and not too exciting. e) Italian (6 of 10) Very fancy place. I believe it was the gourmet restaurant before. Calamari not crunchy, beef carpaciao ok. Entrees were salty risotto, gluey seafood linguine. Best dessert was the brownie. The tiramisu was disgusting. This was prob the worst a la carte out of the ones I attended but it’s better than the buffet I guess!

So I was a very happy camper being able to do a la cartes everyday.

Drinks:
* Wines are drinkable unlike other resorts. They are drinkable but light both red and white. From Spain. Sparkling white is more drinkable. Passport scotch is avail and if you manage to order from the Lindos, eg at the theater, Hennesy congacs were nice!!! * As other say the lobby bars made better drinks. Cappacininos a bit weak but just tell them a little stronger and they’re great

* Lots of top shelf liquor if you just ask or point!!

ENTERTAINMENT:
Kids disco starts at 8pm so if you have kids have an early dinner. They took kids to the shopping centre to carrousel and underground disco for kids and a tour off the Star Wars main disco. There is a band playing til 9pm outside at the shopping centre with bar service. The nightly entertainment started at 9:30 or 9:45. There are pre shows with games before this. The shows were not too exciting compared to other resorts like the Princess or Xcaret resorts. Boogie night so so, Ms Iberostar funny but typical resort stuff, Lover match funny but similar resort stuff. Hollywood night was lipsycing and dancings so so, Same for Movie night. The only really worth show was the Magic show. We preferred the theatre at the Lindos/Maya better than the Beach/DelMar so watched the shows there. They don’t care as long as you don’t use their bars. I did get my congac there as many waitresses don’t care and it’s too dark for them to see your band colour. Besides like the booze better on the Lindo side, it was closer to our room and I liked the layout of the theatre better.

Note there is a fiesta night with Mexican games for kids to play at the shopping center one night.

FOOD
* Breakfast was your regular fare. Bread poor, only sugar free yoghurt, no cappuccinos to order, omelettes ok but tend to be browned too much given old grill and overcooking. Scrabbled look better. Fruits limited as probably out of season so everyday was pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, papaya, bananas, passionfruit. * Lunch was ok at the main buffet near the lobby. Very similar to dinner quality/quantity. * Lunch near the pool was more busy. The del mar pool bar is better. Brighter and busier so fresher food. The outdoor patio looks better on the Delmar side rather than the Beach side.

* Lunch at the beach is at open snack bar. Good burgers, fries, sausages, jalapenos cheese balls, hash browns, soft ice cream and bbq chicken. Prob fresher food as always busy.

OCEAN
Long beach, lots of seats but slight incline up so tough to watch kids from where the lounges are of kids on the beach.Water was wavey all week. Fun to play in waves. Few rocks in ocean but most was nice sandy bottom. No seashells for pickings on this beach unlike some resort but neverthess, nice in its own way.
Other FOOD:
Good hard ice cream at the icecreame shop. Cones actually crunchy here as A/C. The crepes are also good there and free!! Had fries at the burger stand but didn’t try the taco bar. Looked dead and there was a small dried out meat on the rotisserie.

Paella on the beach was great during the Beach party. You can contribute to cooking it with your own hat. To my surprise it was good too. Not dry as most paellas I’ve had.

POOLS
As I said this had the best pool I’ve been to. Something for everyone and it’s so vast that it never seemed crowded except near the activity pool. Lots off areas for quiet/action or kids to play.

We did try the lazy river on the Lindo side. No one monitoring you so no biggy. It was the star friends who suggested to us and said don’t worry no one checks. Did it a few days. It was pretty lazy and slow and not that long like other lazy rivers I’ve been to like Gran Sirenis. But nice change. The wave pool was also ok but never went when on as off most of the time. Not sure why you would want to use a wave pool if you got great waves in the ocean.

ROOMS
Rooms are avg looking but Air conditioners worked amazingly unlike some resort which would turn it off in the middle of the night so you only have a fan -to save $$$. Well I actually spoke too soon as it happened on the 4th night that the A/C started feeling like a vent. Tons of towels and towel art every day. The mini bar was packed everyday. Free safe too unlike some resorts. Bed firm but nice. Flat but there are extra pillows in the closet. Washroom was nice and caulking very nice esp given 10 yr old hotel. The hair dryer was the vacuum type. Gets hot to hold and is not too strong. Overall very happy with the room. SUMMARY: Overall, this resort is great for the price. They seem to now be discounting this place and it’s in the same league of other resorts probably giving occupancy rate and age of the resort. This resort use to demand a premium and was usually quite a bit more than the Barcelos/Palladiums/Bahias. Given the great service/pools/a la cartes/impeccable grounds, it’s a bargain. Don’t just get stuck in the heat at the buffet.

If you have any questions you can contact me at namabeer@hotmail.com

THE BAD
* Buffet food not too good. Meat’s dry and cold (not sure if due to low occupancy). But few grilling stations and many things are pre made. Still acceptable. The variety is not as big as other resorts. But you won’t starve!!! * No snorkeling as ocean was wavy with red flags everyday. * No watersports given waves * Poor breads at buffet and restaurants. Drier type, not fresh or soft. Like local cheap breads and buns/pastries * No Air conditioning in Buffet. It was ok for us for breakfast but I could see it being very uncomfortable in the summer months or periods of high humidity to eat at the main buffet. We were lucky to get 7 a la cartes and therefore always had A/C for dinner.

* Themes (subject to change) didn’t seem to coincide too much with the food offered.

THE GOOD:
* Amazing pool. Covers ½ the resort. It’s got waterfalls, lazy river like sections (only 2.5 ft) to activity pools to lounges in the pool. It’s like an amoeba, free forming pool. The waterfall area is very quiet and the other end is where the action is. The pool is salt water rather than chlorine * Fine white sand on a long stretch of beach. The north end is kinda ugly with new building going up. * Amazing housekeeping. First time when I never had a problem in the room. Towel art everyday, lots of towels, tons of water & beer and spotless washroom. A/C worked well the first 4 days but sort of got humid in the middle of the night thereafter. Actually felt cooler with fan only * Great service at restaurant. Not sure if due to low occupancy. But they were constantly taking my plates away and asking if I needed another drink. * Nice shopping center that is shared by Lindo/Maya & Palace & Beach/Del Mar with free Carousel for kid, nice crepe & ice cream bar (included), taco stand and burger joint (all included). The dance club at the shopping center is wild with star wars theme. There’s also a kiddy club but never had anyone the underground. * Good selection of international alcohol * Amazing grounds with so much wildlife coatis (raccoon like badger), flamingo, macau, hens, swans, egrets, turtles, and tons of peacocks. * Star friends are really friendly always with a smile. They enjoy their job unlike other resorts.

* Gave what I requested. Room 3546. I’s midway between lobby & beach so very convenient. Minutes to the pool.

Don’t believe the crap others write.
Hotel Carabela Beach Resort & Casino
User Rating:  
Gord Sperry >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
My family, (mother,sister,brother in law, daughter and myself) went here even after reading all the terrible reviews and have been to Columbia, Cuba, Mexico and a few other places. I generally try for 3 1/2 to 4 star resorts and this place was amazing.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t book anything with nolitours because the rep was hardly ever there and when she was anything we tried to book with her was near double anyone else. We took 2 excursions over to islands in the caribbean which were both amazing and we took a ride in the glass bottom boat right off the resort which was also very good.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pools were great, little cool but i like them that way. The beach was amazing, very large, lots of sun or shade, we could swim every day, waves were broken by a reef so swimming was always good. Lounges got a little scarce after the hotel fillled up but we made out allright.
Other Comments
I have been to quite a few other resorts around the caribbean and this resort was at par with any other 3 1/2 star resort i have been too. The employees were always friendly and cheerful as long as you were the same to them. I read so many bad reviews and the only thing i can figure is that the people writing these other reviews were actually other resorts trying to drum business there way because there is no reason whatsoever not to go to the carabella and i wouldn’t hesitate to book there again. Any questions you can contact me at gordsperry@sympatico.ca and you will see i am a real person writing a real review.
Restaurants and Bars
All the food was fair to good, very few complaints whatsoever, got spoiled for christmas and new years with all you can eat lobster and amazingly decorated dining rooms. The bars are another thing, it is strange to have a pool bar without service, and the bars at the smaller pools were either closed or self serve beer and pop. The lobby and patio bar was very good and they even had waitresses that served us our drinks. The drinks were good, beer was good so no real complaints there.
Rooms
We had 2 rooms, we had asked for ocean front which we got, same floor and three doors down. My sisters room did leak in the bathroom ceiling when it rained really heavy, but nothing to cause them to want to leave or move. We had asked for a few repairs in our 2 weeks which were promptly taken care off. The view from our 2nd floor balcony was to die for.
Your Arrival
We flew with transat, through nolitours and this trip went perfect all the way without a hitch. I have had problems with transat before but this time everything was timely. We took off on time, landed on time, got our luggage quickly headed to our tourbus and the only hitch was some idiot that decided to sit in the bar and have a few while everyone searched for him. Check in was a breeze, front desk was polite, did english well enough to comminicate and sent us on our way.
Natura Beach Resort in Punta Cana was great!
Hotel Blau Natura Park Eco-Resort
User Rating:  
elayne earp >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
We travelled to Punta Cana over Christmas and throughly enjoyed Natura Beach Resort. The food was very good and the variety and selection was amazing. They put on a Christmas dinner that was terrific. Everything from Lobster to raw oysters, and an amazing selection of quite rare cheese. And for the Vegetarian or Vegan every day there were dishes specifically geared for these people. One could even have a fresh fruit smoothy made in front of you every morning from a selection of fresh fruit of your choice. YMMMMM! I had no complaints in the food department. The drinks always seemed a bit watered down and became a bit boring with the same bottled mixes.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
They seemed to have something going for younger people every hour at the hotel. Lets say if u were under 35 there was lots of games etc to play. NOTE: BEWARE! We took a Catamaran day trip that was without a doubt one of the most horrifying trips of my life. (and i have been all over the world) Firstly they do not tell you that it take 2-3 hours to get to the boat docks, and Dominicans are very fast drivers. We finally get to the dock, board the Catamaran and had a lovely 2 hr trip to an island. We spent about 2 hrs on the island and then were loaded into speedboats (2 X 200hp Yamaha motors)(approx 30 people sardined into boat) and it takes off back to the dock as it would take to long to return by Catamaran. We hit a storm! And I mean Oh My God! The swells were approx 15 ft, the boat was smashing thru the water, the rain was coming down so hard sideways it felt like hail. The sky was black! ! I was terrified and had my ultra athletic daughter take my 6 year old grandchild to keep with her for when the boat tipped!!! (she could save her before I could) In all my life I have never been so wet. To the bone. Finally after 30 minutes going thru storm we arrrived back at dock, got off and loaded onto a bus that the driver would not turn off the air conditioner and no one had a dry piece of clothing. We then all froze to death during the trip back to the hotel, (another 2 hrs) These trips are sold at the hotels Beware.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The ground of this hotel are beautiful. It must be very labour intensive for them to keep it up. Lagoons and lovely walking paths all thru the resort. Flamingos, cranes, geese, turtles, fish all in the lagoons. The paths thru the resort are very well maintained and lit very well at night.
Restaurants and Bars
The main buffet as I mentioned was great! The Seafood restaurant was OK. Seems Dominicans like to over cook seafood and meat. The Steak restaurant was also ok, as the menu was quite limited. I preferred the main buffet, the lunch buffet at the beach and the snack bar at the beach.
Rooms
I had read reviews before going and also looked at pictures of the rooms. I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and well kept it was. It also helped that my boyfriend is handy and was fixing lights that the wiring was quite messed up. We did have a leak in our bathroom from upstairs. Every time they ran the bath or flushed the toilet our bathroom flooded. We did report it 3X and they best they did was bring more towels to mop it up. The air conditioner was adequate and sometimes it was too chilly. All in all found the room very comfortable even if the bed was a little hard. The rooms were cleaned very nicely every day and if you left a few $$$ you were sure to get extra bottled water, extra fresh towel. Oh and the mini fridge did not work.
Your Arrival
On arrival to Punta Cana we had just gotten off the plane and even before you could go through Customs they were holding up the lines, taking pictures of your party to try to sell to you on your departure. Check in was a bit slow but quite efficient. We were a party of 9 and somehow the 6 year old had been put in a room with the 86 year old (in retrospect it might have been a good idea)
Paradise!
Hotel Caribe Club Princess
User Rating:  
Linda >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Business | Family
I travelled with my 12 year old son and it was our first trip to a resort so we did not know what to expect at all. The Caribe Club Princess surpassed all our expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by everything.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There were all kinds of things to do at the resort. We played tennis, mini putt, fruize ball and shuffleboard. The highlight of my trip was a buggy tour that took us down muddy backroads. They told us to get ready to get dirty but I never imagined how muddy we would get. It was a lot of fun though but if you think you might take this trip, make sure to take some old clothes and shoes that you can just throw out after because it’s just not worth trying to clear everything up afterwards. It was a really good tour with stops at a coffee plantation, down into a cave with a swimming hole and a beautiful beach. We also did the Segway tours (motorized scooter-type devices). That was a lot of fun too, these were a lot easier to drive than the buggies and a really good family activity. We went past some amazing houses ($8 million +) and again stopped at a breathtaking beach). Both these tours were quite costly($65.00US each) but well worth the money.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was amazing. We walked the shore line a few times and it was always very clean. The pool was a good temperature with a swim up bar that was quite nice. I was very surprised that there were very few people who took advantage of the pool, most sat around tanning so it seemed like my son and I had the whole pool to ourselves most of the time. The only complaint here is that the pool closed at 7:00 and sometimes it would have been nice to have a little swim after dinner.
Other Comments
I had also heard that the people could be really push when trying to sell you something and that is very true but just as long as you keep giving them a firm "NO’ they do get the message and move on so it was never a problem for me. A woman travelling alone with a child seemed to be a real novelty and was met with surprise by a lot of the resort employees but there was no time that I did not feel safe. Security was good and there was always tourists or people walking around the resort. Overall, this trip was like a dream come true for us, it more than met our expectation and we are looking forward to a return visit as soon as we’ve save up our money again. We would definitely stay at the Caribe Club Princess again.
Restaurants and Bars
The food at the buffet restaurant was wonderful. Even my picky son was always raving about something from the buffet. There were choices for every taste. For nights when we wanted something a bit more special and relaxing we ate at the Brazilian Restaurant one night and the Mexican Restaurant another and at both places the food was terrific.
Rooms
I had heard some bad reviews about the hotel rooms but ours was wonderful. Very clean and the bed very comfortable.
Your Arrival
We were the third stop from the airport so it took about 45 minutes to get to the hotel. We arrived right after another bus load of people so the wait to check in was very long but I found the people at the reception very friendly and efficient.
Photos: http://community.webshots.com/album/576393200kCybhd
Amazing time
Hotel Barcelo Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Nancy >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I just returned from a week at this property and after reading other reviews was a little unsure of what to expect. I was with a group of 8, 4 adults and 4 children so the main selling point on this location was the amazing kids pool.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pools were very nice, we spent the majority of our pool time at the kids pool, since we were traveling with an 8 year old, 6 year old, 5 year old and 2 year old. The Beach was kept clean, the waves were quite rough…which led to some amazing Boogie Boarding! The Grounds were kept clean, although I have to admit that they were very plain in comparison to some of the other resorts that I have been to. The children were all a little disappointed that there were no Peacocks or Flamingos on the resort…This is the first time that there were none to be found and they all really enjoy watching and feeding them. There was also a lack of the beautiful flowering bushes that we have all become accustomed to.
Other Comments
Just a side line the medical services on the resort were great, one person from our group had to visit them as they had injured their toe. The Doctor was fabulous. The staff from the kids club were also great!
Restaurants and Bars
The staff at the Bars and Restaurants were very good. We only tried 2 of the A La Carte Restaurants, as we could not get earlier Reservation times at the others and 9pm dinners for 4 kids is just not feasible. The Buffet Restaurant was good. You will only go hungry if you choose to. The French Restaurant was my personal favourite
Rooms
We had booked through Air Transat and were to receive the "DELUXE" rooms. We were placed in renovated rooms, which were beautiful. My sister in law had e-mailed the resort a week before arriving requesting that our rooms be near eachother…..we were placed 2 doors away from eachother. We had decided to to upgrade to the Ocean view rooms but were very pleasantly surprised to get the most amazing Ocean and Pool views!!
Your Arrival
We arrived 2 hours later than expected because of flight delays. When we finally made it there, check in was very quick and easy. We had our room assignments and were being led to our rooms by the bell boys within 5 minutes of getting off the bus.
Have baby will travel
Hotel Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa
User Rating:  
Kate >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I’m a veteran AI traveler but this was the first time with my 10 month old daughter Zoe. I have tried specifically to gear this review to parents with small children as well as regular visitors.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Excursions: On our 10 day trip we went on 2 excursions. We went Zip lining and did a snorkeling trip to Catalina. Zip lining was super fun. 1 hour on the truck to the zip lining site and 2 hours in the air. Apparently kids 6 and up can do this (Zoe stayed at the resort with her dad) and there were several seniors doing this excursion as well. I felt very safe the whole time and it was well worth the money and the hour ride each way. Catalina was booked through Gri Gri Divers on site and it was great. I liked that it only took people on our resort, on our last trip to the DR our catamaran was over booked by 20 people due to a communication error. This time there was lots of room on the boat and the sailboat (not catamaran) was very nice. The snorkeling (1 hour) was good but I’ve seen better in the Philippines and Mayan Riviera. That being said it was still worth the trip. Catalina was beautiful, take bug spray as this is a natural island and we went after a rainy day. The mosquitoes sent a welcoming committee to greet me; 6 bites in 2 minutes. There is bug spray provided once you get to the beach but if you have a real problem with a few bites take some spray and put it on before you go ashore. Lunch was good and waves were stronger than at Dreams so fun to play in. After a couple hours there we sailed home, well worth the money. I particularly liked that they didn’t sic vendors on the captive audience; many other tours get you surrounded when you stop at a beach area. I have nothing but good things to say about Gri Gri, Pedro in particular was wonderful (he wears a red Phillies hat). Although selling tours, we never felt pressured. Actually he came on the tour the day we went and we had a great time talking to him. Entertainment: Didn’t really do it or get to know the staff. My husband did beach volleyball twice a day and loved it.

Vendors: There were vendors around the pool 4-5 times during our stay. Their wares were not amazing but they were willing to deal. For better shopping and selection, particularly for medium-nice jewelery (not beach vendor, not Harrison’s) and rum; I recommend taking the free shuttle into Dominicus. It leaves at 10:30 and its a 10 dollar cab ride home. There is a good selection of shops and markets to look at. Just keep in mind that some shops close from 1 pm to 3 pm for siesta. We didn’t realize that and missed out on a couple items as we weren’t willing to wait.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach: Beautiful sand with a nice soft surf. We were on the beach from 9 am to 5 pm with only a break for lunch. Zoe loved to sit in the area in front of a little natural cove where the surf swirls around.
Closer to the pier there is a smoother entry into the water but it is fine throughout the whole beach. Not a long beach like Punta Cana but very calm. There is a lot of shade available- my parents went to the beach early and got a couple loungers under a palapa for us, but there were families arriving on the beach at 10 that found shade under the trees with no problem. With the palms and other trees the beach looks very natural.
Other Comments
Bar Service: The beach wait staff were lovely and the bartenders were fun. Some of the wait staff have limited English so speak clearly and if you’re not sure they understand, ask to write it on their pad or take what you get with a smile. It is much quicker to walk to the bar and order a drink but nice to have one delivered if you’re not in a hurry. The first 5-6 days drinks were great but in the last few days of our trip something changed, it was almost like they were running low on alcohol. You would order a drink and you had to specify with alcohol, sometimes twice. Preciously they would just add it or ask you whether or not you wanted it. Not a big deal but something to be aware of. Lobby bar was very nice as well (my husband really liked the peanuts they give out). We took insulated mugs because that’s what we’ve always done and didn’t need to use them. The resort uses plastic reusable glasses (glass in the lobby) that are a good size.

Overall: This resort was very good overall. I’ve been to resorts that were better in the beach, or the food, or the rooms, or the service but NOT all at the same resort. I found this to be a nice, clean, family friendly resort that made it easy to take small children to but still engaged adults interest. I may be back if not to this Dreams then to another location. As to the travel experience with a baby, it was awesome; Zoe is such a little trooper. Other than the first night at the resort she slept better than she does at home. I would go with either a younger or older baby next time. Crawling on foreign surfaces wasn’t in my comfort zone so I would go pre-crawling or walking next time.

Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants: We ate at the a la carte’s almost every night and loved the no reservations policy with Zoe. If she wanted to nap when we got back to the room, she could then leave when she was up. We never had a wait for dinner, that may have been the times we were going but nice none the less. If you are going with a baby look into a portable booster seat; I only needed it 5 or 6 times the whole week but… There is a kids menu available at all a la carte’s but sometimes you have to ask for it. These are my opinions of the a la carte’s. Mexican: average, almost every other AI has had a better one. Dominican: Okay, other ones in the DR have been better (wear bug spray)Asian: Good, Sushi was pretty good for the DR, service was great. Seafood: Excellent, good service and a delicious somewhat adventurous menu so good we went twice. Seaside Grill: Dinner- great service, good food. Steaks are varied in the doneness; "Medium" had a variety of results, none of us were bothered by that and so went a second time. Italian: Classy atmosphere, good food, erratic service (new server?) and fabulous desserts. French: Looked great but adults only so we didn’t go. Barefoot Lobster on the Beach: This is not included in the AI package but it was my birthday and we decided to splurge. Its wonderful and very private. Only 4 tables the night we went and although it rained a bit we were under palapas so we didn’t get wet. Included is a salad bar, whole grilled lobster with rice and veggies and dessert bar (amazing). Room Service: We did it once and the food arrived in the time they said it would (30 minutes). The nachos weren’t great although my husband liked them but the steak burger was very good.

Parents with small children: I brought a whole bunch of food (cereals, instant mashed potatoes, apple sauce, canned fruit, baby crackers) and other than on the plane and using a couple crackers at the resort I didn’t need it at all. Zoe doesn’t eat packaged baby food and I prepared for the trip to make sure she could eat regular food. Other than relaxing my standards on square meals and sodium content I didn’t have to do anything else. She ate, was happy (didn’t get sick at all) and even gained a little weight like everyone else does at an AI.

Rooms
Room: We were in building 4, 2nd floor, right at the top of the stairs. I had sent an email requesting 3rd floor, corner room (Zoe cries at night and didn’t want her to wake the neighbors), king bed to ensure a quiet room. I got the king bed and really I wouldn’t have wanted to carry the stroller up another flight of stairs anyway. Our room was very quiet, we could clearly hear the entertainment in the bathroom but in the main room it was quiet and there was nothing else noise-wise worth mentioning. Apparently the rooms with the connecting doors (they are located at the very back of the building) are much noisier.
One couple we spoke to could hear everything next door. We requested a crib in the email and when we arrived at the room it wasn’t there. One call to reception and it was delivered within the hour. We always had lots of towels and received facecloths every day (I know that this is not the case with everyone while I was there). Our room had a shower only and since I knew this was a possiblity I brought a blow-up tub at Walmart and brought it down with us. It was great and I used it to do a little wash as well. If you want a tub, I believe you need to be in buildings 1-3.A few days into the trip we got the wireless internet deal (its only good for 6 days) and got decent reception in our room. It was slow to connect to some sites but since we were there during the earthquakes in Haiti it was nice to be able to tell everyone we were okay. Never had a problem running out of time but we made sure to log off when we were done.
Your Arrival
Flight/Arrival: Flew AC from Vancouver to Toronto and stayed overnight and flew out in the morning to PUJ. When we arrived there were planes there from every major Canadian carrier and it still took us only 25 minutes to get out of the airport. We did get our photos done, and I tipped the guys playing the music since I was dancing to them with my baby to keep her entertained. We used one of the porters to move our luggage and I had tip money ready- there were 5 of us with 13 pieces of luggage; it looked like we were staying for a month instead of a week. The only weird thing was that on the flight the attendants handed out several forms for customs in the DR, not just the blue ones and the tourist visa and we filled them out. They were never collected and I still have them. Transfer: We were in a mini van and I brought a rear facing car seat for Zoe. Heads-up: the only place I could install it was in the center, very back seat that was in the aisle. Other seats had seat belts but this was the only one with the depth required. Front facing seats wouldn’t be a problem. It took about an hour and a half but with the flight times etc I slept the whole way.

Reception: We received the traditional Dreams welcome of towels, cookies and champagne. The towels in particular are lovely. Reception was very efficient and we were told which rooms we would have and asked to have lunch and return as our rooms were not yet ready. We went lunch and met our favorite server of our entire stay. Carlos works breakfast and lunch at the main buffet and he was awesome. He remembered our names after the first meal, always got a highchair for Zoe without being asked and remembered our drink preferences. It was a great start.

A-mazing!
Hotel Grand Paradise Playa Dorada
User Rating:  
Victoria >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Where do I begin!
For christmas my mom treated my sister and I on a vacation to Grand Paradise from December 19th to the 26th so we spent our holidays there, and we couldn’t have had a better time! We jokingly say we’ll never be able to go on vacation again because we’ve set the bar so high with this vacation. It was great everything from the food to the people. And considering it rained for 3 straight days out of the 7 we were there for, we still had an amazing time.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
You can book activites with the hotel, or from the people who approach you with trips on the beach-just make sure they’re legit (sounds sketchy I know, but we did it and not only saved money, but had the time of out lives!!!!). We met a guy named Carlos who showed us pamphlets full of trips with everything from hourse back riding through cities to 4-wheelers, dolphin swims, snorkeling, anything you can imagin. We went on the jeep safari trip and payed $45 American each, it was unbelievable! We drove to a mountain where we walked through what looked like a jungle to these gorgeous waterfalls-which we then climbed! They took us through cities and to a cigar factory, it was an all day excursion and did I mention how friendly everyone was?! We also did the dolphin swim on christmas day, which was a little more expensive but 100% worth it!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Before going we read a few reviews and didn’t hear too many good things about the pool, we were skeptical but very please once we got there. The pool was decently big(with a pool bar!!) and the beach was huge! When we needed to recover in the mornings we would go for a walk down the beach passing other resorts and found grand paradis’ beach was the biggest and cleanest of the few beaches we past! Unfortunatly, it rained for 3 days straight but due to the layout of the resort, it was easy to get around without getting soaked and we were able to get out of our room and enjoy everything, except the beach, on those horrible rainy days.
Other Comments
The resort was great, every single employee was friendly and hilarious. We met so many people, we came to the conlcusion that all of Montreal decided to go on vacation when we did-everyone was french! Not complaining though we had alot of fun and we happened to make some friends we actually still keep in touch with, it what such a friendly crowd. We didn’t want to come home at all, I would definitely go again only this time for 2 weeks instead of just 1!
Restaurants and Bars
We ate at the buffet most of the time, but did make a reservation at Edens(Edans?) and the food was good. We spent christmas eve at the Italian restaurant and the holiday dinner was fab, the soup was to die for. The buffet was big and although the selection was pretty much the same most days, we got lucky being there during the holidays and enjoyed the festive feasts 🙂
Rooms
Our room was cleaned daily, water was always filled and we made sure to tip regularly considering our room was covered in sand almost every single night (poor cleaning lady:( !!). AC worked, beds were comfortable, tv worked, no complaints! Our view was terrible but we didnt ask for a fancy view or anything(we probably should have) but we figured we wouldn’t be spending most of our time sitting in our room anyway.
Your Arrival
We arrived late, about 8 pm and were greeted with drinks and very friendly service! We were given a room key and our bags were brought to us in a matter of minutes. We got ready and went straight to the beach where there was a show on the beach with dancers and competitions. Afterwards we went to the disco located on the resort which was about a minute from our room, we ended up in a club only minutes from the resort and finished the night, or should I say early morning, off with a dip in the ocean! It was a great first night.
Nice place
Hotel Breezes Bella Costa
User Rating:  
Paul >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This was my 6th trip to Varadeo and the first at the Bella Costa. Great all round. Food was good compared to other places I have stayed. Stay in a bungelow if you can.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Night entertainment fairly good.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Great
Other Comments
Will return without question
Restaurants and Bars
Italian the best resturant , Japansee good, Cuban not the best.
Rooms
Good,
Your Arrival
Excellent porter Josha
OOOOO la la
Hotel Melia Las Dunas
User Rating:  
Rhonda >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My husband and I traveled for one week with 16 year old son .We have previously been to varadero- paradisus , costa rica- fiesta premier(now the hilton) Dominican republic -at the grande palladium punta cana and although there are many places yet to see this resort is one to return to soon .
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
went on the catamaran tour son went scuba diving, both were wonderful We saw the jet ski tour it looked really good. but we just didn’t have time.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
beautiful beaches and yes you need to get a chair I did always see chairs at the pool but never did have time to sit there.
Other Comments
This is a great resort always plenty to do. The bands under the stars after supper were so nice, there they also tried to get you to dance which many did. The only down points were there is no bathroom by the beach. closest were at the pools or for us our room but we were lucky. The staff spoke English very well along with their Spanish and french so language was never a barrier.
Restaurants and Bars
Always could find plenty of great food, remember Cuba cooks with lots of olive oil our systems aren’t really used to for some an adjustment time is needed. Take pepto-bismol or Imodium. Definitely try the calamari at the beer garden. OOO the beach barbecue had lobster for like 4 hours straight never ran out my son said that the chicken was great too. We did the romantico restaurant and the steak house also great
Rooms
Upon arrival we went to our assigned room ours, was in the 72 building with as asked for a room next door for our son. Our room was fine we didn’t get the king size bed but 2 singles pushed together would have been OK. My sons room was extremely stale smelling (although this is expected in a humid climate) upon investigating the air conditioner did not work. Called the front desk and went to eat, and did stop at the desk where they told us that was being looked into. After eating went back to the room to investigate and discovered the air conditioner still did not work. Called the desk and they were expecting our call. They apologized and said it was impossible to fix and that they were very sorry but they needed to move us both ……so sorry but we have a very nice room for you on the beach we were moved quickly to the 46 building which is probably the best building of the resort.
Your Arrival
The air port was well organized, they had us up on buses in no time at all and well on our way. The bus ride was like a tour if you can make sure your trip on the bus is in the light it is very informative. It took about 90 minutes but sure didn’t feel like that as there was a running commentary about that part of Cuba and Cuban culture, It took you thru nice farmland also plenty of old cars on the way and while going thru the towns they took you right thru the streets and slowed right down to look in the houses and shops. Very interesting. On the bus room keys and bracelets and check in info was passed out.
Two reasons for a Four Star rating
Hotel Bahia Principe Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Kayne >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Recently back from the Bahia and will keep this short.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Did one catamaran tour, basically a snorkel booze cruise. Had a blast. Not the best snorkelling I’ve done, there was another boat out at the same time and it was way too crowded to try and see any fish. When I went away from the group out on my own, I got called back closer. Oh well, their rum wasn’t watered down.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Spectacular everywhere.
Other Comments
Here comes bad point number two: the resort was too big. Didn’t like meeting people and then not seeing them again for the entire week we were there. Beach too crowded. Amazing staff, polite and courteous.

Wouldn’t go back because of the liquor or size.

Restaurants and Bars
All excellent. Had one piece of fish that was undercooked (out of 30 so that’s not bad.) Garden Grill had the best steak I’ve had in a long time, yummy.
Here comes bad point number one: the liquor was all watered down! I’m not that big a drinker but it still really bothered me, a lot. Tried ordering doubles but even that didn’t cut it.
Rooms
The room was huge and gorgeous. The only issue I had was that the shower would keep cutting out almost as if there wasn’t enough water pressure to keep it flowing. We were on the third floor though. Oh yeah, one morning while enjoying my coffee while waiting for my sister to get ready to go, a man came around the corner from the next balcony onto ours to clean cobwebs from the ceiling! Good thing I had on the bathrobe, LOL!! He took me quite by surprise! Dangerous too, the rooms must have 10ft ceilings.
Your Arrival
Arrival was a pleasant surprise, rather than stand in line at the front desk we were escorted to take a seat and brought a cold drink. The receptionist came to us to check us in. Before our departure we had written the resort telling them that we were repeat guests, we asked for any available upgrades but didn’t know what we would get. Well, at first it didn’t seem like we would be getting anything but then a second lady from the front desk came over, confirmed who we were and then proceeded to cut off our bracelets and replace them with the VIP ones! Wow, we were spoiled every where we went. Not that manners and some small tips hurt but still amazing.
Bevere if you are non smoker
Hotel Canto Del Sol Plaza Vallarta
User Rating:  
Bil Balint >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Business | Family
Smokers paradise non smokers HELL Positively speaking the resort is with the standard of the 3 stars and plus. Unfortunately the Management ignores the non smokers rights. We had a very comfortable room #306 nicely equipped partially good ocean view. Arriving on the 16 January entering the room. it was horrible.. THE SMELL OF SMOKE WE CAN NOT describe. Some maintenance person spread something which camouflaged the cigarette smoke smell and added some other unpleasant odor. After several complains the answer is ‘the guests are not supposed to smoke in the rooms" but the balconies OK. Well who can enforce this rule. Conclusion, the cigarette or cigar smoke infiltrate into the neighboring rooms. the air conditioner units are interconnected and you can enjoy your neighbors stench. Do not use it!! We consulted the issue with several officials, but we don’t think They will do anything in the near future. We suggested segregated section for smokers and non smokers accommodations.Plenty enough to mingle with the smokers around the pool and bars area. Finlay arriving home our lungs slowly cleared out. Very unfortunate this situation because the resort is lovely good service all around.

Too bad I can not recommend to any one who takes seriously "THE SMOKING KILLS"

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Ecceptable
Beach/Pools/Grounds
beach non Pools good but crudy graunds well kept but croudy
Other Comments
Segregation smokers rooms and non smokers room long over due
Restaurants and Bars
GOOD
Rooms
306
Your Arrival
16 January 2010
A fabulous vacation for our family
Hotel Be Live Grand Marien (formerly Oasis)
User Rating:  
Scott >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Our family of four stayed at the now Grand Oasis Marien. It is not the Coral by Hilton anymore. This was our third time going to the Caribbean with kids. All in all this had to be the best resort we stayed at. Everything from the staff to the food were excellent. You will not go wrong staying at this resort. I highly recommend staying here.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
This area has tons of activities to do off the resort. We did the Outback Safarri and the Tip Top Catermeran. The Outback Safarri was one of the highlights of our vacation. A great way to see the area and learn how the locals live. A real must. Make sure you also take the Brugal rum factory tour. A ten min walk off the resort. There is also a local market (Orange Market) down the beach to the right. It is a ten min walk. Worth a look. Make sure you don’t pay more then 50% of there asking price. Barter with them.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was great. Lots of chairs and shade areas. The sand was a soft brown and the waves were just right. Not to powerful to knock you over. Kid friendly. The only downfall to the beach is the tour reps bugging you to go on excursions and there was a bit of a walk to go to the snack bar for drinks. The pool was very large and never crowded. There are lots of chairs, but you have to get up early in the morning to reserve one in the shade. It does get really hot in sun. You will need it. The pool bar has fast friendly service. The grounds were very nice and kept clean.
Other Comments
I cannot say enough good things about this resort. You will get your monies worth staying here. Lots to do on and off the resort. The nightly animation team was great. It was the best we have seen from any other resort we stayed at. They work really really hard to put on a great show. Just ensure that you get involved in the animation activities.
Restaurants and Bars
The food was great. We ate at all the a la carte restaurants and the buffet for dinner. The buffet had lots of choices and was well prepared. You will really enjoy the breakfast buffet. It had almost everything you would expect back home. The service and food were excellent at the a la carte restaurants. They took your orders fairly quickly and ensured your wine glass never went empty. There was a Tex/Mex Grill, Italian and Seafood restaurant. The snack bar and buffet seem to be always open so you will never go hungry. The only thing I didn’t really like about the a la carte restaurants, is that you can’t make prior reservations. You have to get in line at 6:00 to either eat or make reservations for later in the evening. The lines can get long for the initial feeding time. The plus to it being this way is that you can eat at a particular restaurant each night instead of only once. If you like eating at 8:00 you should be able to walk in and eat.
Rooms
Our room was wonderful and modern. We stayed at the new bulding #8 right beside the pool. There are three new buildings constructed on the resort amongst the original ones. The room had two double beds, jet tub, mini bar, hair dryer, coffee machine, iron board, alarm clock, flat screen tv, etc. Our maid was great. She keep the room very clean and tidy. She made swans out of towels on our beds and even placed fresh flowers on the bed. We left her some small gifts and $1 USD each day for a tip. If you ask the maid she will give you extra bottled water.
Your Arrival
Once the plane arrived at the puerto Plata airport, things went very smooth. We had our luggage and were met by our tour guide showing us what bus to get on. For a couple of bucks, the porters were eager to take our bags over to the bus for us. We made about three stops at the other resorts dropping off people before we arrived at our hotel. All in all it took about 30 mins to arrive at our hotel. I was surprised this time how fast things went at the airport. You will be given a green custom form (per person) to complete on the plane for customs. If you have it ready on arrival, you wont have to waste time completing it there. You will also be given another white form (one per family)that is to be filled out while you are waiting for your luggage. While I was watching for the bags, my wife completed the form. Keep a pen handy on the flight and at the airport. Your tour company covers the arrival tax now. Once the bus arrived at the hotel I headed to the front desk to begin check-in, while my wife and kids collected the bags. We were all done and in our room in about 30 mins. Fast pleasant service. Also have 21 USD for the safe key ($3 a day rental). Worth every penny for the peace of mind.
Great Experience
Hotel Breezes Bella Costa
User Rating:  
Vicki >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Business | Family
I travelled with my 15 year old daughter. This was my third time to Cuba and although it was not the most beautiful resort I have stayed at, I have to say it was the best in alot of respects. It’s a little run down …could use a face lift, but was very clean
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There were activities and games during the day and the staff were very good at getting a lot of people to participate. They had entertainment every night at 9:30. Typical cuban show with dancers and music but we saw one of the best magic shows I have ever seen.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool was small but adequate. water was a bit cold as well but once you got in it was very refreshing. The beach was beautiful with lots of chairs and cabanas available, so you didn’t have to be there at the crack of dawn to get one. Lots of chairs around the pool as well. They were never all occupied
Other Comments
I would definitely recommend this resort, especially for families with kids of all ages. It was fully booked when we were there but never seemed overcrowded. Great vacation.
Restaurants and Bars
The food at this resort was very good. Jimmy’s buffet had a large assortment to choose from and the food was fresh and delicious. We ate at all of the a-la-cartes and they were all awesome. My favourite was the Cuban restaurant. The beach grill was great for lunch as well. It had a nice buffet and a station where you could get freshly made pizza almost all day. The pizza was excellent, although you had to wait quite a while in line during the lunch hours Jimmy’s buffet has a lobster night every Thursday. Get there right at 6:30 though or you will be waiting in a big line.
Rooms
The room was quite spacious and clean. The room itself and the bathroom were tired looking(needs some updating), but was adequate. Lots of closet space but not many drawers. Our cable kept cutting out when we had HBO on but no big deal. You get one bottle of water the day you arrive and then have to keep filling it up at the bar because they do not give you any more after that. Our maid was wonderful and made beautiful displays with our towels and fresh flowers an our beds. We left her 2 pesos a day and she left us a nice note each day telling us how happy our tip made her and how grateful she was.
Your Arrival
We arrived on Saturday January 30 for a one week stay. We flew Sunwing and had a wonderful flight. Getting our luggage was very quick and we were ready to roll on the bus in about 20 minutes. Though it states that it is only 35 minutes from the airport it took over an hour because of all the stops the bus made to drop other guests off at different resorts.
Check in was quick and our room was ready when we got there (12:00 noon)
Great place BUT….
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
User Rating:  
Kathy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My husband and I stayed at the Blau Costa Verde the week of Jan 30 – Feb 6. We really enjoyed the week and the facilities but the beds in our room were horrible! They were like sleeping on a wooden plank; very uncomfortable and hard on the hips, elbows, shoulders. The pillows were also of very poor quality. Having got that off my chest, here’s the rest of our review!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We stayed on the resort this week and didn’t go outside on trips. We loved having the pool table in a covered facility. We liked the shows most nights but would have liked to have seen more "shows" rather than musicals. We thought it would have been nice if the hotel gets rid of the tennis courts (it’s usually too hot to play on it anyway) and turn it into a mini golf course. We also liked the fact that the hotel allows people to come in and sell Cuban things each day.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful beach, pool area, grounds. Lots of mature vegetation, flowers, trees etc. Lots of lounge chairs at the beach and pool area. Both were also very clean. The beach is lovely but does have rocky areas; be careful when you first go in the water. We liked the Hoby Cats and the snorkelling right on the beach.
Other Comments
Overall, it was a great holiday. The weather was gorgeous each day and as anywhere in Cuba, the people were very friendly and helpful. I’d go back again for sure and would recommend it to anyone who asked me about it but I would hope that the beds, pillows and the food choices (at the buffet) could be improved. I’d also bring my own instant coffee as I find Cuban coffee way too strong for my taste. My sincere thanks to all the staff for making our stay an enjoyable one – it was much appreciated.
Restaurants and Bars
The alacarte restaurants (Cuban and Italian) were both excellent the nights we ate at them. The wait staff were quick, friendly, attentive and not over intrusive. We were serenaded over supper which was a nice treat. Desserts were not all that thrilling but everything else was okay. The beach restaurant had great burgers and fresh fish but I didn’t like having the shrimp with heads and bodies still intact – plus they were messy to clean! The pizza’s in the Italian restaurant were really good as was the pastas each day. The pool bar and grill was very good – food and service. The drinks at this resort are not very good – the cola and other non alcohol beverages were very sweet and at one of the bars I had the worst Mojito ever – I don’t even think it was a Mojito! We missed some of the drinks made with fresh fruit and crushed iced – I think they only offered Bahama Mamas made with real bananas and I can’t eat bananas. Also, they didn’t offer Bailey’s; only a cheap substitute which was again way too sweet for my taste. Needless to say, we didn’t drink a lot (we are not beer drinkers). The cappacinos were excellent – every single one we had was a treat! The buffets are typical buffets although we didn’t like a lot of the food so ate mostly the fresh grilled foods. All in all; okay but definitely not spectaular.
Rooms
Okay. The hotel is older (I think it was another chain and Blau just bought it out?) so the rooms were typical of Cuba. Like I said above, the beds were terrible as were the pillows but everything was fine. Our housekeeper kept the rooms spotless every day. I forgot that you don’t get tissues or face cloths in Cuba so we didn’t have any of those and the towels were a bit rough but overall, the room was just fine.
Your Arrival
We arrived at close to midnight and were booked into our rooms in minutes. A porter took our luggage and put in on a rack, gave us a mini run down of the hotel and smiled very pleasantly all the way. It was the best check in at any resort we have ever had!
Spectacular
Hotel Barcelo Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Irene >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Weather was fantastic as well as the beach with the spectacular waves.Plenty of beach chairs never had to reserve chairs.Buffet and a la carte restaurants were all fantastic.Service was excellant.All in all a very nice and welcoming resort.Would go back anytime because the beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was breathtaking.The waves were something else.We were brought back to shore when a big wave hit.The waves were huge all week.We enjoyed playing in the waves all week.
Restaurants and Bars
Plenty of bars.Drinks very good especially the pina coladas.The Japanese à la carte was excellent.Good entertainement and delicious food.The dominican as well as the italian were very good.
Rooms
We were located in the old section where the rooms were not renovated but still acceptable.We were in block 5 and the renovated rooms were blocks 1,2 and 3.
Your Arrival
Three hour delay at the airport therefore got in to Punta Cana later than we expected but every thing went well and fast at the resort.
Not all it is cracked up to be.
Hotel Breezes Bella Costa
User Rating:  
Linda >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Bella Costa is an old hotel that needs to be refurbished. Taken over by Breezes approx. 3 yrs. ago. Staff are excellant, very pleasant and helpful. Friends found cockroaches and ants in their room, but we did not. Had a water leak on our section of the floor. Pool was fine, lots of chairs. Weather was so so, some days very windy couldn’t used beach as it was too cold.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Approx. 4 -5 games per day. Winner gets bottle. Took excursion into Havana. Not bad but because is was on a Monday some of the attractions were not open. Tour of castle limited to one area. Tour guide nice and informative. Lunch provided on tour, wasn’t bad. Kids begging all the time. When you say no they will continue to ask for money. Just walk away.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Nice. Took the long walk into Varadaro by the beach, 4 1/2 klms. one way. Clean. Life guards good at posting flags water conditions and jelly fish. Lots of lounges and sunshade.
Other Comments
I haven’t decided if I would ever to return to Cuba. Once was enough. If you go outside the resort and need to use the facilities take some kleenex with you as they don’t have any or they will ask for money for some. Shopping is not great, just junk at the markets, same everywhere. Wood carvings very nice, but do not think they would last in Canada because of the temperature here. Would likely crack and dry out. Vendors will bargin. We also took a taxi (old car) into town and it was a nightmare. Not all taxis as bad as the one we had. Took a taxi back to hotel from town and used the newer vehicle. Cost in the area of $5.00 p. Lots of places to drink in town, didn’t try any food.
Restaurants and Bars
Jimmy’s restaurant good. Great staff, very helpful, you ask and they try to accomodate you. Specialty restaurant’s not all they are cracked up to be. Italian restaurant presented you with a menu, but didn’t have everything available. Head waiter rude. Japanese rest. not bad. Fish was good. Lobster on Thursday nights at Jimmy’s. Beach rest. not bad, good french fries, pizza. Birds flying around all the time.
If you decided to tip you will get great service. Seems they pay more attention to those with money.
Rooms
Room not ready when we got there, had to wait couple of hours. Rooms cleaned every day. Our room overlooked the pool, ocean and stage. Entertainment ended at approx. 11 PM so don’t try to sleep before that.Safe in the room. Towels not bath size, but adequate. No face cloths.
Your Arrival
Trip from Toronto to Cuba was a long process as is with every trip. Arrival was fine, bus trip from airport to hotel not very long, but had to stop off at different hotels, that’s expected. Greated by friendly front desk staff. Drinks awaiting your arrival.
I don’t like smokers
Hotel Riu Mambo
User Rating:  
Dave >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Reviews we read are pretty accurate. Arrived and upon entry to room was overwhelmed by the cigarette smoke smell. Jose at the front desk was great and moved us to a much less, but still smokey smelling room. The smokers are the one reason we would seriously consider never returning. Dining area has designated areas which is ok…when they haven’t blocked off some of the dining areas thus forcing you to eat in the smoking area. Night shows…well we skipped most because again the smokers. There was no designated area which would have allowed non-smokers to breath! That would be one recommendation for improvement. Don’t get me wrong, there is alot going for this resort but the smoking issue kills it for us. This is the first trip EVER the wife didn’t go in the pool…because the proximity to smokers. The bars, surrounded by smokers. etc etc etc. Lots of positives, but we’ve read about them which prepared us. Even the smoker issue has been written about. I’d have to say that is a bigger problem for families with kids (there were some) because, although one group of smokers moved when we started coughing during the info meeting, there are truly some ignorant smokers. I have no problem with them killing themselves, just don’t take me with you. Lighting up immediately after getting off the arrival bus, in the mdst of kids, and others is just plain ignorant.

The sooner lung cancer rides the world of this kind of smoker, the better. Not all smokers are like this but the ones that are, who enjoyed their vacation at the expense of others, well, I wish carinoma ends your life soon. Harsh, perhaps, but that is what ruined this vacation. The rain, no problem, it was warm. Food great, staff great etc etc.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Most self directed to avoid the smokers. 1/2 Day city tour was interesting, visit an old fort, amber museum, go up the mountain in a cable car about 800m up. Ocean world was great as well. Sea lions, sharks, dolphins, birds etc. Cool man made corel reef for snokeling in.

Lots of shops on either end of the beach.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool – avoided entirely, first trip ever never went in once due to the smokers.
Beach was nice. Very wavy, and undertow but there is a section cordoned off for swimmers. Sand like Lake Ontario/erie which is fine to us.
Other Comments
Can’t do much about the smokers, other than to find another resort until this one decides to provide non-smoker areas other than in the restauant. Took lots of med and clothes for Haiti which could be left with the Sunquest rep. Internet cafe was fine. Signed up for the RIU card based on reviews read here prior to the trip.

The smoker comments may be harsh but not when some of us have asthma or respiratory issue, kids, etc. The one thing I hope anyone reading this will take away from the review, (that is different from others) is don’t enjoy your vacation by lighting up, at the expense of others comfort and enjoyment of their vacations. It is possible to smoke without imflicting your choice on others.

Restaurants and Bars
Excellent selection of food,fruit,veg,smoothies.
Bad- SMOKERS, just can’t get a drink without being exposed.
Rooms
Nice but VERY smokey for first room. Jose at front desk was great finding a less smokey room.
Your Arrival
Plane tried landing twice due to bad weather had to suddenly accelerate and take off again,
Cayo Santa Maria Barcello is one of the best resorts we have visited.
Hotel Barcelo Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  
D >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We visited the Barcello Santa Maria from Jan. 18. through Feb. 1 2010.14 days of amazing weather.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We were there for 2 weeks of sun and relaxation. We did not look for any activities, so while there were things to do we did not participate. The best part of this no one bugged us.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach, outstanding. Grounds,well maintained and gorgoeus. Pools also first class.Beach was the choice of most guests and you had to get their early to get a decent spot.
Other Comments
The bus trip was a drag.If we don’t return that would be the only reason.The Barcello will be on our short list for 2011. Staff was excellent. Anything we asked for was tended to quickly.The only place we had a problem was at the hairdressers in Pueblo. It is very poorly equipped.
Restaurants and Bars
Buffets, never a problem finding something to eat. Food was as good as we have had in Cuba.Really enjoyed the a la cartes, Spanish,good food, lots of it.Italian also good, portions smaller than Spanish, seafood was OK.Most of the guests loved the seafood, we had the salmon and it was so-so. Bars were well stocked. mixed drinks were great,but consistency varied with the bartender.Service was usually quite fast.
Rooms
Clean, large, well equipped, comfortable.Everything in working order.For 2 adults it was more than adequate.
Your Arrival
Flight sucked!2 attempts @ landing in a storm before diverting to Cayo Coco where we sat in the plane for over an hour besore returning to Santa Clara airport. Bus trip to resort about 1 1/2 hrs. Arrive at the resort @ 2:00 a.m.
Check in well organized,however the 10 min the bell hop told us to get the luggage to our room was at least 30 min.
Nice resort, mostly older people, quiet.
Hotel Riu Palace Macao
User Rating:  
Jocelyne, Mike >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We booked with Sunquest, we arrived late at night, everything went pretty smooth from the airport to the RIU Macao. Just find the right bus and you are at your resort in about 20 min.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Did not do any off site activities this time. This is our second time to DR. First time was in Puerto Plata at the Riu Bachate (nice resort). Punta Cana is very much nicer beach and all. Didn’t take part in any activities on the resort but they did have lawn bowls, archery, aerobics, dance, volley ball. We just wanted to relax and play in the ocean. It’s a quiet resort with mostly older crown, we are in our forties with a 10 yrs old but that’s what we liked.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
I liked the pool, quiet, older crowd. If you want rowdiness, just go to the pool at the taino or bambu if you want more games and kids and noise. Never had problem getting our towels or chairs at the pool side or the beach, anytime of day. They are always serving drinks, you don’t even have to move from your chair if you dont want too. The beach is beautiful, blue water, white sand. Ocean water was warm. Lots of trees for shade or on beach if you want full sun. The dominican people work very hard, always ready to serve you.
Other Comments
I would stay at the Macao again. Went to visit the Taino and Bamboo. Don’t think I would stay at the Taino, just looked like a rougher crowd. Would consider the Bambu depending on the price. Visited the New Riu Palace, very very posh, not for us unless we had lot’s of money and didn’t care to spend it. These resort all have the same beautiful beach and that’s why we were going there. As long as the rooms are clean and the food is good nothing else really matters.
Restaurants and Bars
There’s lots to eat at the buffet. None of us got sick or had diarrhea and my husband tried everything, from seafood to sushi. I stuck with fruits, salads, pasta and bread. Never went hungry. We did reservation at the Japanese, the steak house and the Krystal with no problem. My husband enjoyed the "a la carte" but I rather eat at the buffet, more selection. I didn’t like having to choose a seating for the supper buffet, we took the second seating (8:30pm) found that a little late some nights to eat. During the day, found it a little awkward for lunch as you could not go in the restaurant in bathing suit, or barefoot. We ended up eating at the Bambu or Taino lots of times for lunch.
Rooms
Our room was nice. 2 double beds, you could easily push them together. Balcony had 2 rocking chairs and small table and dry rack to dry your clothe.
You must keep the patio door closed for a/c to work, that was indicated. Bathroom had tub and shower. Always had hot water. TV has many channels, lots in Spanish. Not there to watch tv. Didn’t have a remote when we got there asked the front desk twice. The second time we made them laugh, we asked very politely and we were very friendly, they called to have someone bring a remote right away. If you dont want to be disturbed when you are in your room, put the "don’t disturb" sign on door as they always seem to be coming in your room to stock up towels, stock fridge ect. Beds were a little hard. Overall our room was confortable, always clean, always had towels, pop, beer in fridge.
Your Arrival
Check in was quick, they just put bracelets on and we had a bit of trouble locating our room but eventually found it.
Riu Bachata a very nice surprise
Hotel Riu Bachata
User Rating:  
Kyrke >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Two families stayed at Riu Bachata between Feb. 7th and 14th. Both families had 2 twelve year olds and 2 10 year olds. All girls…
We arrived on the early flight from Toronto and were at the resort by 11:30 and surprisingly were at our rooms by 12. Best check in of the 6 resorts we have been to. The resort is 35 minutes from the airport but it goes so quickly…the cold Presidente probably helped.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Shows were ok but we were too tired with all the daily activities to take in all of them. The animation team was very entertaining and kept things going during the day. There is a wide array of excursions that you can take so make sure to look them up and take in a little local flavour.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The nice thing about the Riu complex is that you get the use all three resorts. The Bachata beach is beautiful but you cannot swim in the ocean without shoes…very rocky as in coral. Awesome for snorkeling but can’t swim there and beware of the current. The Merengue beach is better but still a little rocky and the Mambo ( at the other end of the beach 5 minute walk ) is the best beach for swimming. So you have all three options at your disposal….Use them for what you want. You can also use the other restaurants and bars except for dinners. We took in a couple of the other shows at night just to mix things up…needed to walk off dinner too.
Other Comments
All in all, we were very impressed with the Riu Bachata and it’s sister resorts. Everyone had a great time and we were sad to get home except that we can start planning next year.
Restaurants and Bars
The buffet was a very nice surprise. There were plenty of choices for your main course. There was seafood, beef, pork, chicken and all the fixings every night. Turkey and mashed potatoes on a couple of nights if you wanted. Who would have thought. Best deserts in the carribean so far….cheese cake and chocolate…..Just remember to mix things up and you will always find something to eat. The ONLY thing I will say about the food is that the Riu’s lack in the a-la-cartes. Only two and they were nothing more special than the buffets. Still nice but not as elegant as other resorts we’ve been to.
Your Arrival
Arrived on the 6:10 from Toronto so arrived 10:45 local time. Transfer to the resort was 35 minutes direct and went by very quickly as the scenery was nice. Check in was amazing. By the time I got our bags from the bus, my wife had already checked in and had our keys to our room. A short walk later we were at our room. Very roomy and very clean. Two double beds pushed together but could have separated but we didn’t. Very large bathroom and a balcony where we could view the ocean. We were in room 501. Close enough to everything but still away for some quiet time.
A good basic 3 star. Great holiday at a great price.
Hotel Hotasa Luperón Beach Resort & Tropical Beach.
User Rating:  
Larry >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My daughter and I have just returned from a week at Luperon Beach. The weather was lousy, but we had a great time anyway. This is a good, basic, three star hotel. If you are expecting the Hilton, stay elsewhere as you will be disappointed. It was good value for the money.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did three dives through Sea Pro, which has a shop right on the property at the beach. Because of the rough seas and lack of sun, visibility wasn’t great, but the dive master (Ramon) was great, and there were no set times to go– just show up and they load up the boat. We took a couple of walks off of the property in both directions and enjoyed both. We didn’t do any of the paid excursions.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The upper pool over the waterfall was drained but the others were all open. The music at the main activities pool was a bit loud, but we spent most of our time at the beach. It’s a lovely beach with a beautiful view although the water was rough most of the week and due to wind and the rain we had the visibilty in the water was usually limited.
Other Comments
All of the staff we encountered were extremely pleasant, and always cheerful and helpful. For example, I wanted a second key to the room, and got one with no hassles, plus a replacement (no charge) when I lost one in the water. For $30 U.S. you can have a late check out. The check out was 1:00 but our bus didn’t leave ’til 6:40 tiempo Dominicano so I paid the $30 and it was worth it.
Restaurants and Bars
There was only the one buffet restaurant open. There was apparently somewhere (I think upstairs over the buffet) where one could reserve for two a la carte meals per week, but we didn’t bother as the food in the buffet was always excellent and plentiful. My daughter is a picky eater, but even she was delighted with the food. The lunch buffet at the beach and the hamburger at the disco at night were also good.

The bar service was also good, although the beer (Brahma) tended not to be cold later in the day. I think they should switch to draft which should be easier to keep cold. My daughter loved the various drinks of the day, especially the banana mamas made with real bananas.

Rooms
Our room (17307) was large and comfortable. The plumbing was a bit of an issue as the toilet was plugged about half the time and overflowed now and then, but this is Latin America, so no big deal. The beds were comfortable and the mini fridge worked well. TV reception was weak, but we didn’t really watch it anyway.
Your Arrival
We landed at Puerto Plata after dark, so the drive to the airport was less interesting than if we could have seen more of the countryside, but still pleasant (a bottle of Brugal bought at the airport helped pass the time). Check in was quick and efficient and our luggage reached the room five minutes after we did. Then it was off for a burger and a few drinks at the disco.
Heaven on Earth from beginning to end!
Hotel FDR Pebbles
User Rating:  
David >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My wife and I have always wanted a destination Wedding. We have done extensive research on most of the Caribbean destinations and Jamaica came out on top. We have a 4yr old and a 9yr old so we really wanted somewhere kid-friendly and family-oriented. Family members who had been to Jamaica highly recommended Franklyn D. Resort & Spa and Pebbles.We were told that we could get a vacation nanny which was included in the cost at either property.This seemed really great because we could finally get some alone time. When we called the resort, we realized that the same coordinator plans for both resorts. This made us a bit hesitant because we really wanted our dream day to be well planned and professionally executed. After continuous emails and countless phone calls from the Wedding Coordinator we wondered if she showed the same personalized service to other guests. She was amazing! She ensured that everything was taken care of- from assignment of rooms to bouquet selection to the area of wedding! She even emailed me nice styles for wedding dresses for my wife when she did not know what to wear. She even remembered Tahni’s birthday( my 4yr old daughter) and surprised her with a birthday cake upon arrival. I probably must have said it in passing and she remembered! She gave us a virtual tour of both properties and answered all our retarded questions. In the end we chose to get married on the beach at Pebbles and it was the best decision we have ever made! I tell people everywhere I go – if you want service second to none, a vacation nanny that will pamper and spoil your children and a wedding coordinator that ensures that all your needs are met and that you leave thrilled at the end of it all- Pebbles will be your destination of choice. We have been to other resorts but we are yet to see any that compares to Pebbles! All the staff are friendly, attentive and they don’t make it look as if they are desperate for tips! The only problem is that we had to reprogram our children when we got back home – they got so used to having everything being done for them by their nanny that they were stuck in that mode! We are already planning to visit Pebbles again next year!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The coordinators are full of fun and energy. The kids have their own coordinators that teach them to do tie dye and arts and crafts.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
They have lush , tropical foliage that gives you that home away from home feeling. They have swim up pool bar with a huge slide.
Other Comments
Every penny well spent!!!!
Restaurants and Bars
It’s a small boutique property but it has enough restaurants and bar to make you feel relaxed. The food is average most days and you can always fnd something to snack on.
Rooms
We got a junior suite in Block 10 and we were comfortable and had a nice view of the ocean! The suite are large enough to hold our entire family. Additional beds were placed in the living area. The suites are like wooden cabins and are more of a rustic simplicity and comfy enough to relax.
Your Arrival
We were greeted by our Wedding Coordinator and our Vacation Nanny with a birthday cake for my daughter! We felt like we were at home!
Puerto Plata Paradise
Hotel Riu Bachata
User Rating:  
Rob >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
A wonderful time at a beautiful resort. First off, let me say I researched this resort as much as possible before purchasing. There seems to be quite a few poor reviews. I do not understand. Everything is gorgeous, all staff are friendly and eager to please. There are comments about bringing bug spray – I think I saw two mosquitos and that includes walking the resorts and beach in the middle of the night.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did three excursions – Outback Safari, Free Style Catamaran, and Ocean World. All fantastic. Outback Safari – Junior our tour guide for Outback was super. Always having fun, cracking jokes, and full of local information. Junior’s knowledge about his country, the vegetation, how people live was top notch. You finish your day boogie boarding which is alot of fun. This excursion is highly recommended, you will not be disappointed. Freestyle Catmaran – The crew are great. A completely fun filled day. Bring lots of sun screen. Snorkelling on the reefs is amazing. 15 – 20 feet of crystal clear water. So clear you would never guess you were in water this deep. The beautiful tropical fish feed right out of your hand. If you make it a little difficult for them it almost turns into a feeding frenzy. This excursion is highly recommended, you will not be disappointed.

Ocean World – Some of us swam with the dolphins. They had a blast. The exhibits are very interactive. Make sure you visit the Love Birds exhibit. You will get covered in birds eating right out of your hand. Ocean World feels a little too American (Sea World, Disney, etc) and charges too much for pictures, food, souvenirs, etc. I must admit we had a fun day, however, felt a little too pricey.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pools are very large and clean. Riu claims you cannot layout your towels to hold lounge chairs but everyone does. Layout a couple of towels on your way to breakfast. We were there during University Break Week so the swimup bar was very busy. I must admit the beach is not the greatest. If you want shade it is good. For full sun you would be best to wander down to the Merengue / Mambo beach. Coral washed up on shore makes the first 2-3 feet at the waters edge a bit rocky. Never swam in the Ocean here so I cannot comment.
Other Comments
The animation staff are absolutely outstanding. They keep things hopping poolside during the day with different games, competitions, dancing etc. At night there is a very large stage with different shows. We were there 7 days and the shows were different each day. Don’t sit too close to the stage if you don’t want to be involved in on stage fun. Nothing dirty or risque just good clean fun. I think the animation team have been doing this job for some time so they know who to have fun with and who to leave alone. I’m sure the complainers on this site are the ones they left alone. We had a great time. Would we go back. Probably not just because we will want to try different countries. I will say that staying at a Riu will be top priority when visiting other countries. I just hope the other Riu’s are as fun, clean, friendly, and eager to make your stay enjoyable as the Riu Bachata.
Restaurants and Bars
The main buffet restaurant is huge and the amount of food served is crazy. There is so much variety and quantity you will have to hold yourself back. You could easily gain a ton if you ate everything. Two restaurants – Italian and Steakhouse. I found the Italian very good. The Steak I had certainly was not Alberta beef but my thinking is you are not in cattle country so don’t complain. Reserve a seat for the a la cartes at the entrance to the buffet when you go for breakfast. A la cartes were never that busy anyway.
There are a number of bars around the resort so you will not go thirsty. The bartenders are great. Friendly, ready to make anything you want. Every drink comes with a smile. If you have fun with them they are ready to have fun with you. You are on vacation – relax. There are comments saying the booze is watered down. Good thing because your glass gets filled to half or more liquor per drink. They have a number of different kinds of slush machines going at the bars during the day. You have to ask for rum, tequila, etc if you want liquor in them. Not a problem, bartenders accommodate without question.
Rooms
Rooms are OK. Clean no bugs. Air conditioning along with an overhead ceiling fan makes everything comfortable. We had a king size bed. There are alot of complaints about being too hard. Seemed just fine to me. We were in building 8 ground floor facing the pool. I found the balconies a great place to relax with a drink and a cigar.
Your Arrival
Our arrival was met by Sunquest reps immediately and we were directed to the bus. The sunquest rep went with us on the bus to provide info for our trip. Checking into the Riu Bachata took about 1 minute. Barely even enough time to finish our welcome cocktail. Riu staff took our bags directly to our room and beat us there. Again I do not understand how people can complain. If we had opted not to unpack we could having been suntanning poolside within 15 minutes.
ALMOST PARADISE
Hotel Majestic Colonial Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Cheryl >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I would recommend the majestic colonial to people. Very nice and better than previous resorts i have been to. Only one small complaint, went to have hair put up for wedding at spa – no english. However, with limited english/spanish and hand gestures – i was able to have the hairdo somehat close to what i had wanted.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities – dolphin explorer a must – very cool. Awesome pictures! Worth the money. Horseback riding at the Pat Ranch also very cool. Very well run – and worth the money (not expensive). Staff were very friendly. They had guides at front, back and inbetween to ensure all riders were comfortable. Personnel also took pictures for riders on their own cameras. Very nice!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach and pool grounds were amazing. Pool bar a must try! Daily Water excercise class – great!
Other Comments
Attended my sons wedding – they chose the gazibo for their ceremony. Beautiful. Wedding planner was very helpful and efficent. The photographer (off site) was amazing. Very organized, pleasant and funny! Unfortunatley do not know his name. I would suggest Gazibo for weddings – I watched three weddings and those on the beach were very nice, but sand/wind /beach people were all factors. the Gazibo, you are surrounded by gardens and a little more private. Pictures of beach still obtained.
Restaurants and Bars
Buffet was good – better than others i had been to. Ala cart restaurants were good – steak house – chateau briand was awesome and French Restaurant very good! Make reservations upon arrving as they are booked quickly. Personnel were friendly.
Rooms
Room was beautiful – air conditioned, jaccuzzi tub and a huge shower. Plenty of hot water (unlike other resorts which were luke warm at best). Only complaint, no faceclothes? Used large handtowel (not soft!). If you are assigned a corner room close to lobby I would suggest changing rooms, all night we heard entertainment noise, staff, vacationers – it was like being beside a frat party. Rooms were clean and well kept. Some rooms had flowers and towel swans but I guess that depends on your housekeeper. Mini bar had water, pop and max two beers per day.
Your Arrival
Upon our arrival – check in was farily quick and personnel pleasant. A nice surprise that safes were included free of charge. Information session scheduled for following day re: pickup times, excursions etc.
Great resort – staff friendly – rooms could be updated
Hotel Riu Naiboa
User Rating:  
Linda >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We stayed at the resort January 27 – Feb 3 – four star resort but probably really it would be classed as a three star anywhere else in the world. Our stay was made more comfortable because of the friendly staff. Juan, Orlando & others in the lounge were excellent. Rooms were clean but do need to be updated. Bathrooms could use updating the most. No bugs or stained beds as some reviews. Lots of fun activities…bingo. Food was good – lots of fresh fruit. Mexican night excellent. Easy access to the beach. Market at the end of beach was OK but street market at the resorts had better prices. But of course you had to barter and watch your prices at all shops. Coconut candles at one place were $18 but we bought for $8.00 across the street.

Thursday night Carnival was a great way to start our vacation,

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Bingo was fun
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Grounds kept clean
Restaurants and Bars
Friendly staff Dining restaurant was good Bar in lobby could be updated

Bar by pool great food and staff

Rooms
Update with paint and new tiles in bathroom.
Bed was comfortable but cover could be updated.
Your Arrival
Fast and efficent check in
nice stay
Hotel Grand Papagayo by Occidental
User Rating:  
Kevin >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Overall the resort was nice,quiet and very scenic. The food was good and flavourful, I will say we upgraded to the Royal Club and found that there is no difference and would not do it again if we go back there. We went with a guy on the beach for day trips his name is Marvin we used him twice and both times he took the payment at the end of the trip, he is personable, knowledgable and spoke good english I would use him if I go back, also he did come down on his prices. It was a nice relaxing vacation.
Very Enjoyable.
Hotel Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort
User Rating:  
Paul >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Nice rooms, good food, good service. Pools are beautiful. Beach is very nice but you need shoes. Great snorkeling.

Lots to do both day and night.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Tons. Kayaking, snorkeling, volleyball, archery, lazy river, disco, shows at night. Swim with turtles. Did an off resort boat ride where they have a BBQ, booze, snorkel and then they let you dive off the top of the boat. A real blast. Took about 5 hours and cost $80.00. Highly recommend it.

Book it right on the resort at the Dive shop.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pools are beautiful. Sparkling clean and surrounded by vegatation which makes you feel like you’re in the jungle. Beach is really nice. Some people bitch and moan about it but I thought it was beautiful.

You need water shoes and the snorkeling is fantastic.

Other Comments
It’s the second time we’ve been there. I doubt I would go again but it’s a great place. Some people will always find something to complain about (someone said the pools were too cold) but it’s a very nice place. It deserves to be a 5 star. The Spa is amazing.

Try and upgrade as soon as you check in.

Restaurants and Bars
There are a lot and I managed to visit all of them.
Can’t remember some but the ones I do, they were terrific.
Rooms
Very nice. Clean and spacious. Bathrooms are pretty neat.

The design is quite unique.

Your Arrival
Late at night but they kept the buffet open for us because they knew we were coming.
We had our rooms within 1/2 hour of checking in and they took all our luggage by golf cart.
Great Resort
Hotel The Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium
User Rating:  
Michael >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Having been avid travelers to other resorts to the Punta Cana Region, we decided to try this resort.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
one word – AMAZING!
Other Comments
The resort is EXCELLENT! It is less than 1yr old, and it has some growing pains. The food was superb!
However, any established resort to claim “Royal”, should have a Process that is better. Customer Service is Number One at any place in the Dominican Republic.
Restaurants and Bars
We ate at the buffet every night, and it was excellent.
Rooms
We stayed in room 5312, and it was beautiful.
Your Arrival
When we checked in, we were never given the undivided attention from Michel at the front desk. He kept answering the phone. He indicated that the room was not ready, and to come back. We went for lunch, and came back, to which Michel was no longer at the desk. Our room was not ready. We sat in the Lobby for another hour, and finally Jose assisted us, and we went to our room. Our room keys did not work, so he used the master key to open 5312. We noticed the following: The safe was locked from the previous individuals No Bathrobes or Champagne / Rum

one butler said he will look into the safe ASAP, and the room keys. At 5:30pm I walked to the front desk and asked about the status of the room keys, and the safe. The maintenance fellow in charge of the safe came right away, and I got the room keys immediately.

WE WOULD RETURN
Hotel Gran Bahia Principe Tulum
User Rating:  
Laura >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
first trip to Mexico, this hotel is rated at as a 5 star, when we first arrived I was a little disappointed in the bathroom & room. I at first classed it as a 3 star, but then remember Mexico 5 star can be different than a Canadian 5 star. Everything worked well in the room, it was cleaned regularly, clean towels everyday, staff was excellent, food was excellent, front desk were quick and efficient to help out, transporation was never a problem. We stayed for 2 weeks and would certainly return for another 2 weeks, beaches were very clean and beautiful. I was amazed how well the service was, man if we got service like this back in Canada, I would have no problem tipping. I thing the room bar could of been better stocked and they did miss that once or twice, but out of 2 weeks – not bad.

We were treated exceptionally well, I would highly recommend this as a vacation spot for r n r, it is away from the hustle & bustle. It is at least a 20 min taxi ride (at mexico speeds) into playa, 30.00 usd each way.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Daily activities, staff comes around to the pools and beaches asking if you would like to participate.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
extremely well groomed and kept, was spotless, just a beautiful resort
Other Comments
wireless internet is available in the lobby only. They charge 10.00 per hr usd to rent a laptop, keyboard was in spanish so that was a pain. Next time I will take my own laptop.

Safety deposit box is free at this resort, you only pay the 50.00 if you loose the key. The other two siser resorts, Akumal & Coba – charge for their safety deposit boxes. If you like to be close to the beach, do not stay at Coba.

Restaurants and Bars
Excellent food and service.
Rooms
Romms were large & roomy and clean. Bathroom, I was a little disgusted with. For a 5 star, I think the batghrooms could of been a step up, but everything worked.
Your Arrival
Check in took a bit, only because there was an extremely large wedding party checking in at the same time. Just double check to make sure you are receiving the room that you paid for. We had an issue with this, but it was corrected immediately.
Most awesome & humbling experience of my life, I absolutely LOVED it!
Hotel Cubanacan Club Amigo Marea del Portillo
User Rating:  
Denise >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Can’t say enough good about this – hopefully sunwing publishes my review, it was too long to type here again 🙂 Was an absolutely amazing time, spent on the resort and with the locals – very poor although extrememly happy and loving people – unbelievable time of my life.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
amazing adventures
Beach/Pools/Grounds
awesome – again!!!!!
Other Comments
check this out, it has become the place I want to have a home away from home
Restaurants and Bars
no complaints – clean area with fresh food 🙂
Rooms
spotless albeit old. comfortable & cool 🙂
Your Arrival
awesome, speedy 🙂
I’ve been down south 25 times, I’d return to this hotel and area of the DR. Good diving experience.
Hotel Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach
User Rating:  
Kathy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I was at the Beach part of the hotel, March 1 to the 8, 2010. Got a good last minute deal, under $800. I went with Air Transat, I’d prefer to have gone with West Jet. Their flight times are better. Both fly into La Romana, 30 minutes from the hotel. Stayed in bldg. 32. No complaints. The beach huts or bungalows looked cute but small and dark to me. I go down south primarily to dive and I had a very good experience with Scubafun in Bayahibe. I sent an email to them in advance, heard back almost immediately from John and Ingrid. Made arrangements for them to pick me up in the lobby. This is an excellent dive operation. Check them out. Staff were great, as were the boats and the plan. They’ll put as many staff in the water as are needed to ensure people get to dive to their own level. They attracted some excellent divers, over 60 minute dives were happening. It’s a pleasure to dive with good, better and best divers. I did 2 dives with the resort dive operation just to test the waters. If you only dive once or twice on a vacation and don’t ask for much you can stick with the resort operation. If you want a rich dive experience check out Scubafun. As for the food and the hotel, I liked it all. It’s what you make of it. I went horsebackriding in the National Park. Very nice way to spend 3 hrs. I’ve been down south all over the Caribbean. I’d go back to the area and the resort and I’d dive with Scubafun anytime.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Viva diving…it’s ok. They limit you to 45 minutes. They are on a schedule. That’s not a bad thing but when you have 1200 psi in your tank, it’s a sad thing. I really liked Scubafun. They will pick you up, drop you off and keep equipment overnight. I liked strolling around the shops and areas outside the resort. I would like to return to this part of the DR and explore some more. Bayahibe is a nice little town.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful beach, nice swimming. Lovely pools. Grounds are worth a stroll.
Restaurants and Bars
All good. We paid $10 twice to go to the Palace al la carte restaurant. Just because I like a change from buffet dining. Staff were attentive.

Note to guests, don’t take so much…you can always go back for more. The amount of food that people waste is near to being criminal. Please stop it.

Rooms
We were in bldg. 32. It was quiet. Staff were attentive to cleaning and making minor repairs. Bungalows looked nice but I expect they were dark and smaller than hotel rooms. A/C worked fine.
Your Arrival
No problems. Only 15 or so checked in.
Glad we went but we won’t go back…
Hotel FDR Pebbles
User Rating:  
Tracy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family
If you are used to Club Med, then this place is NOT for you. Not fancy-schmancy, but still nice. Beautiful grounds and foliage, big rooms with nice balconies, great small beach. My son is 11, so we didn’t NEED the nanny service, but it came in handy a few times (Ask for Aneisha, she is GREAT!). Most kids and kid activities were for younger kids, 8 and younger. My son had a good time, but we won’t go back because of his age. Our room was in the middle of two rooms with babies, so we were awake all night with crying kids. If you have a baby, you are used to that, but we weren’t. Food was a nice mix of N. American and Jamaican. My son is a PICKY eater, and he found something to eat every meal. With the economy/fewer travellers, some activities were cancelled or had a fee. Only 1 specialty restaurant and the buffet. We brought our own beach toys/games and we were glad we did, and we left them there. Big room; hard bed. Water pressure/temperature is hit and miss. If you want to do any excersions, $150 travel fee to Ocho Rios, but if you have smaller kids, there is enough to do on the resort. BRING BUG SPRAY! Plan on tipping your nanny at least $10 a day when you leave, and the nannies will try to get you to hire them in the evenings. Nannies show up at 9am, and will want to eat breakfast with you. Bring plain white shirts for tie-dying. Bring water shoes for the pool, because the surface is rough and my son ended up with bloody toes. More than we expected for service/resort, less than we expected for activities.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Fewer activities than advertised, and some charge a fee. Ocho Rios is a good hour away, so excersions there have a high transportation charge.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Great pool and beach. Bring water shows for the pool for the kids; rough surface.
Other Comments
Aneisha is a GREAT nanny! The perfect place for families with young kids! Plan on tipping your nanny at least $10 a day before you leave.
Restaurants and Bars
The buffet, the snack bar and 1 restaurant only. The others are closed.
Rooms
Big and clean. Hard bed. Water pressure and temperature is hit and miss. Nice balconies.
Your Arrival
Not as organized as some resorts, but everyone is helpful. Remember…Island Time!
This resort is better than I expected
Hotel Cubanacan Club Amigo Marea del Portillo
User Rating:  
Andrew >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I traveled with my mother and sister here. I came with the intention it was going to be a backwash place in the middle of nowhere, but really, I dont know why anyone was really complaining. Aslong as you go to Cuba expecting Cuban standards, you will have a great time. The food is exactly what you will get for a 3 star, but you dont go to Cuba for the food, you go for the beach and pool. After the hurricane they remodeled the resort, so be sure to stay at the Farralon de Carib. It is much more elegant, with better food, and nicer rooms. Overall we found the staff very friendly,but try to find Henry (he is very nice and helpful). Come there with a flash light, because the nightly entertainment rotates from hotels every second night, and the road can get slightly dark. Also, dont go expecting to use the internet, it is expensive and takes FOREVER to load a page!!!!! I do not recomend this hotel for the young drinking crowd however. The resort is very spread out, and after a night of fun (or to much to drink) there is no food to get after dinner until breakfast!!! Otherwise, familys with kids and older citizens I do recomend this tranquil atmosphere.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
This resort is more friend orientated. There are activities on the resort, like bingo and contests. The tours were fun, but not very organized. They had ping pong, which was very fun, but the tennis was not very good. If you are a player, you are better off to walk down to the Marea del Portillo resort, because the Farallon’s tennis is isolated and hard to get to. The shows were funny, and the entertainment staff were very nice!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
If you stay at the farallon, the beach is about a 5 minute walk, but it is worth the walk.The path ways are clean, and the grounds are very lush. There were animals on the resort pathways, (goats, horses, pigs, cows) but aslong as you avoid there poo they dont bother you. The beach at the Farallon side isn’t very nice. The sand is very dark and rigid. We allways walked to the other hotels beach, which had lighter, and softer sand. The pools were very nice. They were clean and relativley warm. Other than the pathways, the grounds were spotless.
Other Comments
The resort was better than I expected, and aslong as you go for the weather and not the food you will have fun. If you are younger I dont recomend this hotel. Overall, it was a good vacation
Restaurants and Bars
The food is what you would expect in Cuba. We found the Farralon’s food was a little better than the other ones, and a better variety. The food is very simple, rice, beans, pork, chicken ,beef and salads, but the bread is amazing!!!!! The fruit was fresh, but the desserts were plain, and the icecream only came in vanilla. The bar had a wide variety of drinks, but I suggest you bring your own cup, beacuse the cups are really small. One thing I didn’t like is that there was no food avaliable after dinner.
Rooms
I cannot stress this enough, STAY AT THE FARALLON!!! The rooms were relativley nice. They were very clean, and everything worked fine except for a noisy airconditioner. There were about 5 english channels on the TV. ( You cannt scroll to CTV news because of the American and Cuban fued, but if you press channel 2 you can watch it. The room 414 had a bug problem in our beds after the wind died down, but they gave us a spray bottle. After dark besure to keep the doors closed, because once sand flies are in the room the get into your sheets and matress. This is Cuba, so if you want somthing done right, you must complain.
Your Arrival
The flight was not that bad in my opinion. The seats are a little bit closer together, but they had a movie, food, and pillows. When you arrive in the airport you go through normal customs, and then board a bus. ( Be sure to bring somthing to do, because the bus ride is another hour and a half.) There is a bar where you can get drinks, and they give you your key and bracelet befor you board the bus. Very convinient!
Great first trip
Hotel Cubanacan Brisas del Caribe
User Rating:  
mike >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We loved the people, the sunshine, and the beautiful white beach. Only had a few windy and cloudy days. The food was ok considering.

great price for what we got and will be going again more than likely to the same hotel.

Rain Rain go away
Hotel Dreams Punta Cana Resort & SPA
User Rating:  
Diane >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We have stayed at several resorts in Punta Cana. This was our least favorite. Although my husband and I had a wonderful time together and we enjoyed ourselves I would have been very upset if we would have paid more. The resort is well kept and clean except for the rooms and beach. The water and beach is the main reason we choose DR. The area in front of the hotel has coral and sea urchins. TO the left of the property is the only place you can swim. Every day but one the red flag was up, no fault of the resort. But with the water so turbulent you could not see the rocks. Snorkling was really not fun either. There was no life guard on duty however there is a guard that sits on the edge of the property. People are slobs, there were cigerate butts, bottle caps and trash everywhere. The towel situation is out of hand also. What really upsets me is when people "save" chairs and never show up. There was a limited supply of chairs, forget the beds. Unless you want to get up very early and "save one". We were unfotunate to be there when it rained almost every day, so there were not as many things to do with many activites held in doors. Our first room was on the ground level and in the family side. It was dirty, the comforter had stains on it and the comforter pillows had a strong smell of perfume. I had breathing problems and we were moved to a second floor room over on the adult side. Less noise and our own balcony and clean. Some rooms had robes, some did not.

This is definitely a family resort and it looked like they were having fun. We enjoyed the resturant down by the sea the most and room service. We were told what was expected in tips and that was a down side for us.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We walked to the right of the resort to check out the mini mart for coffee and vanilla. Don’t bother was out findings. There is a tour that takes you to a farm in the moutains where they make vanilla, etc. Make a pont of going on that one and picking up the clear vanilla. If you can’t do that you can buy coffee and vanilla at airport cheaper than the resort.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pools are too shallow and close at 6 pm every day. Plus it was cold, rainy and miserable most of the days to enjoy. But they are well kept and clean. The bridges that go over them to the rooms on the north side are in bad need of repair as the hand rails are pulling off. The beach was not clean, and water in front of the resort is difficult due to rocks, coral and sea urchins. When we swam we walked in to the left of the resort. We truly enjoyed the water when it was safe to swim in. Best part, later at night we took towels and laid down on the beds in the dark and listened to the water and looked at the stars.

Ground themselves are clean and in general look good

Other Comments
This is NOT A PLACE for those with disabilites. There is alot of walking. There no elevators except in the main lobby. That is 2 stories and has a huge stairway. We did find a covered walkway that connects the buildings which helps but if not on the ground floor it would be difficult. IF you have CPAPs, you may need to bring an extension cord. I also recommend good walking shoes. Bathtubs are very difficult to get into. And if you have asthma and can handle the stairs I would make sure you take a second floor room. Dress for men seemed to be walking shorts except the French resturant. But we noted most men wore slacks to all except the Cafe. Women, tended to dress up more. It was hard to know what to pack as we left snow behind. It was cool and rainy for most of the days then very humid. I was very glad we packed light weight jackets. You have to ask for umbrellas

Even with the rain we had a good time and met some really nice people.

Restaurants and Bars
We tried the Old WOrld Cafe, it was okay but the noise level was unacceptable, plus it was indoors….we like to be able to see and hear the water. The Oceania was wonderful. It was not until the third day we discovered it was also open for breakfast. We tried the French and the steak place. Not impressed. Room service was neat, once we was able to get a menu.I was not impressed with any of the drinks I tried. But I enjoyed the mamajana. It settles the stomach. That being said I was impressed that everyone was asked to use hand cleaner when entering for meals. We ate everything we wanted and only started having stomach problems on the 5 day after swimming.
Rooms
On the family side first floor, small dark, damp. Dirty. We changed to the other side building three and it was airy. Smaller than we are used to. Refrigator is a joke. Bathroom was clean and free of mold. However I am very short and it was a struggle to get into the tub/shower. Of which it does not function as a tub. It was overal clean and we had a neat balcony we could sit on, In this room we had a king size bed and small table. It was light enough to read. Even with the constant raining it was nice
Your Arrival
At the airport. The expected. We knew they would be taking our picture and we look forward to buying that. As you walk into building from the plane they snap your picture. I think Apple is very organized at the airport. A air conditioned bus waits for you and your luggage is loaded. Arrival at the resort was pleasant, but we were shocked when we were not given a 2nd floor room and was instead told we could upgrade to the second floor with hot tub. Of course for a considerable fee. We declined. When we were taken to our room and I really found it unacceptable we were told it was "impossible" to change us. The next day out Apple agent made the arrangements and we were given a airy clean room second floor.
Perfect March Break Getaway
Hotel Coral Sol de Plata Resort, Spa & Casino
User Rating:  
Sandra >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Arrived March 12, 2010 and departed March 19, 2010 This was a family vacation which included one teenager. It was our first time to the Dominican Republic as well as first time to an all-inclusive resort. We thought it was fabulous. The staff were all very pleasant and willing to help in any way they could.

The only real complaint we had were the vacation club "vultures" as we called them. They would circle around just waiting to pounce on you when you walked by to pressure you to sit in on one of their presentations. We thought we were clever in evading them, however one of them was waiting for us as we exited the buffet restaurant and we finally acquiesced and went in for the presentation against our own will. We sat there and listened to the "spiel" for all of 5 minutes when I finally abruptly got up and walked out with my family. I told them I was there on vacation to enjoy the pool/ocean and was not interested in sitting indoors getting information on any "timeshare" venture that was a waste of their time as well as ours because we were just NOT INTERESTED. They never bothered us again.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The Chocolate Friends did a great job organizing daily activities by the pool and nightly activities on the main stage for the kids as well as shows for the adults. The disco opened too late (11 pm) which we were always fast asleep by that time so we never got to experience that. The casino always seemed empty but looked inviting although many of the slot machines were out of order. We also went on a couple of excursions off the resort although that gets expensive. Paradise Island was beautiful!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds are beautiful, the pool was amazing and the ocean/beach was private, clean and there was lots of room, it was not too busy at all which was surprising. Being March Break I was sure it would be packed and would be hard to find a spot without being one on top of the other.
Restaurants and Bars
The food was delicious and had a great variety at the buffets, every day for dinner there was a different theme (ie: Chinese, Mexican). There were also three other restaurants and the only complaint we had was that we never got to go to the Japanese Restaurant because you needed to make reservations and it was always filled up. We received conflicting stories about when we should try to book it and at each time we tried (in person and by phone) we just had no luck. I even asked to speak to the manager however was told that he was not there. The drinks at all the bars were good and the bartenders always very pleasant.
Rooms
Room was clean, quiet and well tended to by the maid during our stay. We were missing an alarm clock; a light over one of the beds did not work and the phone did not work (although we told the hostess at the buffet and when we returned to our room it was fixed…thank you Rosanna!) We had a nice balcony overlooking the gardens.
Your Arrival
Arrival was uneventful and quite rapid. Our luggage was brought to our room for us.
A Blooming Paradise
Hotel Sirenis Playa Turquesa (formerly Occidental Grand Playa Turquesa)
User Rating:  
Valleyguy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We returned from our 10th trip to Cuba on March 10, this time staying at the Sirenis Playa Turquesa. This was our 8th resort. It is a very visually appealing resort.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
I cannot comment on daytime activities as we seldom take advantage, however, as our room was by the pool, I can report that the late afternoon activities seemed well attended, loud, and of an adult nature. The nightly entertainment was as good as or better than many Cuban resorts with only one audience participation night, and one night was the water ballet. As we have been to Cuba and the Holguin area several times we only took one tour, Inside Cuba. It was well worth the 49 CUC (?) each and included a train ride, a tour of a cigar factory, lunch, tour of Holguin and free time in the city centre. We had taken a similar tour before but it was made more interesting as there was a Book Festival in the main square.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach had lots of shade, which is important to us; however, we did not stay there very long most afternoons as the wind was quite chilly. It is a relatively short beach with exposed, dead coral at each end. You can explore beyond the ends of the sand but you need something on your feet. The pools are one of the more aesthetic features of the resort. They cascade down the slope, going from the shadeless adult pool, down to a family pool, down to another pool with access to the swim-up bar, and ending at the shallow family pool were all the pool activities take place. Except for the adult pool, all the pools have shade cover on both sides of the pools; however, it was quickly snapped up by the unattended towels!! The one slightly annoying feature of the upper pools was that the music from the activity pool was piped up to them making for a distraction for those trying to read or sun-snooze. In addition, each pool is linked by blossom covered arches which disguise the number of stairs on both sides of the pools. The Turquesa grounds are very lush and to my wife’s great pleasure the bougainvillea and other plants were in full bloom and cover a good portion of the resort. We found the layout good and logical. The roads/paths within and around the resort are wide and make for a good evening walk. Fortunately our room was very central, so I may have had a different opinion if we had been on one of the ends. However, I don’t feel that there was more than a 10 minute walk to most areas of the grounds. There are also the usual facilities: a store which I thought had a limited variety, until I got to the airport; a Cadeca (money exchange), the exchange was 85.6 CUC = $100 Cdn (in early March, 2010) and has good hours so no great line-ups; and an internet area.
Other Comments
We enjoyed the resort but I have to admit it wasn’t my favourite, although I cannot be specific as to why, it is just a personal think. My wife liked it more than I did. As I said it is very visually pleasing with a large plaza off the lobby. This was the first resort that we had been to that actually catered to larger groups. All of the eating areas, i.e. buffet, ala cartes, snack bars, and bars, had large tables capable of seating 8 or 9 people with out having to pull tables together. I did not see any, but I got the impression that the suites were good for families and larger groups. In addition, there were 2 weddings in the week we were there. As well, the Turquesa had one of the largest Kid’s Club area I have seem at any resort, complete with shallow pool and cute kid sized sun loungers. The resort staff were very friendly, helpful, and quite efficient by Cuban standards. I had read several reviews that talked about being ignored by wait staff or not being served at bars without tipping but I never found this on any occasion. My biggest complaint (and this has happened at other resorts) was the lack of live musicians (as opposed to dead musicians!). There was a trio each night for a short time in the buffet, but not at the ala cartes, and there was either a pianist, singer, or saxophonist at the lobby bar for a short time early evenings. However, to be fair at least the canned music they played at other times was Cuban (one resort we stayed at a few years ago played "Hotel California" 24/7). Overall, you will enjoy the Playa Turquesa.
Restaurants and Bars
A very nice lobby bar with early evening entertainment. The buffet was good with a good choice of fruits, salads, carver items, casserole dishes, cooking stations, and above Cuban average desserts. The 4 ala cartes (Cuban, Mediterranean, Grill, and Italian) we ate at were good; in fact, I think the food at the resort was some of the best we have had in Cuba. My main observation with the ala cartes was that although the service was okay, they did not seem as "special" as in other resorts; or that is to say that in many Cuban resorts the staff seem to attempt to make the dining experience more special than the buffet, even if they often fall short. The Italian was the best, although they have not completed the decorating. With Air Transat we were allowed 5 ala cartes, but we did not go to the Oriental ala carte due to the poor reviews and we are not that into Chinese food, if it had been Japanese we would have tried to go twice! However, we heard several favourable comments about the Oriental. We had several lunches at the Beach snack bar, where the table service pizzas were the best we have had in Cuba. Through Air Transat we were offered the Beach snack bar for a continental breakfast, we only went twice as the selection was limited, however, there was no waiting for my omelette. We did not try the 24 hour snack bar for food. The 3 bars we frequented most were quite good: Lobby, 24 hour, and Beach snack bar. They have 2 of the best bartenders I have encountered, 1 at the lobby bar and the other at the beach snack bar, they make the best Pina Coladas, my new favourite the Mulata and the guy at the Beach snack bar makes the best Mojitos going. The bar on the beach was limited and made the Pina Coladas with slush. I only used the swim-up bar a couple of times as the water was quite cool, but it had one of the most entertaining bartenders I have ever seen, and was featured on stage one night, think Tom Cruise in "Cocktail", only for real!!
Rooms
Perhaps because we were first to check-in or maybe it was advance email (?), we got a room directly by the pool, which was a perfect location. I had emailed and asked for an upper floor room, however, our first floor room turned out to be good. The room was very typical to most of the Cuban resorts we have stayed in. An entry hallway with large closet (containing safe and iron & board), large bedroom with patio doors onto good sized balcony. Although almost of the buildings are only 2 stories, the ground floor is off the ground so the balcony does not step out onto the ground, thus avoiding low level insects or other creatures. The bed was typical, hard with thin long pillows. We had a daybed/cot in our room (useful for piling junk on) and an armchair, with another desk chair at the dressing table, TV and bar fridge, which was stocked each day. The only 110/120 volt outlet is in the hair dryer in the bathroom (usually meant for razors). The bathroom we had was in 3 sections, the main room had the sink and vanity, a separate toilet and a separate shower (no bath). It was adequate as bathrooms go. Overall the room was quite functional.
Your Arrival
We flew with Air Transat out of Halifax. Arrived at 10:00 and breezed through the airport, to the bus, to the resort. We were almost the first off the bus, (without any pushing or shoving, I hasten to add!) I got the luggage while my wife went to the check-in. It was so fast and orderly that the only slow down was them waiting for me to get there and be banded (1st note: only Air Transat guests get banded, like true snowbirds!), I had to stop for my welcome cocktail! A bellhop took us to our room on a golf cart and we were in our room by 11:30, THE FASTEST check-in we have ever experienced!!
awesome
Hotel Gran Bahia Principe Coba Resort
User Rating:  
faten >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
the animation team is very nice
Other Comments
alex the MC is a great host. all the best to him.
he is very energetic, helpful,modest,welcoming, entertaining and has a good language skills.
Very nice resort Transportation problems sucked!!
Hotel Bavaro Princess
User Rating:  
Frank >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Overall we had a very nice vacation. The negative reviews about this resort must be from pretty unhappy people as we had very few issues. In fact, the ONLY issue was with the trams and service vehicles that travel around the resort on the sidewalks. We were always having to watch for them and get out of the way. If you have ever seen how Dominicans drive you will understand completely!! Other than that we had a great time until the flight home. When we arrived at the La Romana airport it was closed and we were informed by another PASSENGER that there was no plane to take us home. I asked our bus guide to contact Signature and was told very rudely by their agent – LAURA – that it wasn’t her problem and that the airport was responsible to accomodate us and then she hung up on me. So much for customer service. Then we come to find that SUNWING had not been able to get the plane going yet because of scheduling problems. We kinda thought that this would be something that was taken care of well before the time to send the plane – sort of like how they require us to PAY in advance…. Regardless, we were offered a $5 voucher for food and the airport opened approx 1 hour later and we were allowed to check in but were told that the plane had only just left and would arrive @ 6am. Keep in mind that all of this was going on from 1am until approx 3am for a flight that was supposed to depart @ 3:45am. The plane did arrive @ 6am only to do a touch and go because of fog and continued to Punta Cana to get fuel. We finally departed @ 9am. SUNWING is now 2 for 2 in screwing up on flights for us and I am thinking it’s time to find another travel provider. Especially as we were also told by the signature rep that Sunwing had bought them out so we could expect better service….. still waiting for that part.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Didn’t go off the resort but there was lot’s of activities to choose from and the animation crew was working hard to keep everyone entertained.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach was beautiful but the water was a bit rough most of the time. We actually got washed ashore one day but it was ok. The same old game of palapa and lounger saving is alive and well @ this resort even though there are signs asking you not to so hopefully someone from your group is an early riser!!
Restaurants and Bars
Didn’t try any of the al a cartes but the buffets were pretty good and the selection was finne. You could always find something to eat.
Rooms
Rooms are a little dated but very nice nonetheless. Only issue was that the thermostat didn’t work so the air conditioner ran full tilt unless you turned it off. We just turned it off at bedtime and kept the overhead fan on. Actually slept better this way as it was way quieter!!
Your Arrival
The trip down was fine, but we didn’t realize that we were looking at a 2 hour bus ride to the resort. Be very careful to check these details out as the trip description said the resort was 35 minutes from the airport – I guess we needed to clarify which airport!! Check in was pretty quick and we were in our room within 30 minutes of arrival @ the resort
Allegro Puerto Plata
Hotel Allegro Playa Dorada
User Rating:  
Gerry >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Well this was my 2nd trip to DR and first to PoP. I had an open mind and was not disappointed. The resort was great, the people were nice and I loved the city. I will be returning to this resort with the kids in the new year.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The imagination crew were good. Most days they did some activities but I did not partake in any of them. They tried hard to keep the guest entertained and should be given a pat on the back for that as they did a good job. The evening entertainment started with a kids show then the adult one followed. I was there almost every-night and the shows were funny, and good. No its not Vegas but I had no problems with the entertainment. Again they all worked hard for the guests. I met a tour guide as I was walking to the Playa Dorada Mall, his name is Dominic and he was parked at the Wyndham hotel. He took me out on two excursions. He was a decent guy, always early for our pickup times and he did give us the"Dominican Experience". He was clear about the price for the taxi drive and his payment was what we decided to tip him. If you want the one on one/small group sight seeing then I would definitely recommend him. I booked through Didi on the beach as Manual was not there at that time for the City Tour just so I could go on the cable car(which I enjoyed). At the mall I used Julio to book for the dune buggys and that was fun but very wet and muddy so be warned.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach- what can I say other than it was beautiful. Well kept with lots of loungers to lay on. Pools were constantly being cleaned as were the grounds. This was a real nice resort, it was not perfect or super fancy but there were no major issues and the staff tried hard to make your stay good.
Other Comments
If you want more info just message me and I will go into more detail. I just skimmed over the points. But from the reviews I read before going down they were dated and/or not flattering and I feel this resort deserved better than that after I had a great week there.
Restaurants and Bars
Topaz Buffet-Food was basic but plentiful. It was not the biggest selection but there is enough variety to keep everyone fed and happy. No issues I liked it alot. The Lotus-Oriental A la carte, I had one supper there and it was a great meal and experience. Pancho Villa-pizza for snack/lunch daily and it was good, it is also the Mexican A la carte. I enjoyed my supper there once. I never had an opportunity to get to the Italian A la carte but ate there during afternoon snack and the food was always good and served fast. Bars, the wave pool was never that busy with good service Felix was an excellent Bar-tender. Main bar fast service most times but busy. The Palms bars- great service, great view of the beach and ocean. Franklin was an excellent bar tender. It would have been nice to be able to have a bar open past 1am.
Rooms
My room had a single bed and a daybed like couch that I used just to store suitcases on. It was on the ground floor looking onto the golf course which was nice. It was not the best room I have ever stayed in but it had what I needed and was clean. The AC worked great, fridge kept my water cool, always had hot water regardless of what time of day it was, my coffee maker wasn’t working but as soon as I notified the front desk it was changed. The maid did a great job everyday. My only real issue is the tv reception was not very good and there was no wi-fi but those are just picky points as far as I am concerned.
Your Arrival
I flew in via Canjet on Transat Holidays. Once cleared customs and headed outdoors there was a rep right there at the booth who directed us to the right shuttle bus. Within 20min we were heading off to our hotel. We arrived around 1030 but check-in time is 3pm. The lady gave us our bracelet for the AI and told us to try back at noon to see if our room was ready. I went back at 1145 and got my room keys. I had to wait a few minutes for the bellhop to show me to the villa but make it to the room and back in time for the buffet to open up for lunch at 1230. Overall very pleasant very efficient.
Friendly fun group at Caracol
Hotel Club Amigo Caracol
User Rating:  
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.

Resort is big, clean but not a five star.
Hotel Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort
User Rating:  
Kathy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Spent much time at the pool, the activities there weren’t that great, the music wasn’t the best, the staff tried to get people to participate but because the area is so big and pool not used, there wasn’t many people close to the entertainment (or what should have been).
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool was COLD! It was my first time to Mayan and I was a bit disappointed with the sand on the beach, was in Punta Cana last month – the beaches there are amazing!!! Everything was clean, the pool is huge, but empty due to how cold it was.. guess that’s one way to have it clean. The Resort has a great spa… the gym there was pretty good too, had everything you need for a decent work-out.
Other Comments
I had 2 big issues with the resort, one being there was no water one day from 7:30 a.m. to around 2:30 p.m…. the toilets wouldn’t flush (I’m guessing they shut down the pumps), there was no water in the room at all (bottled water), the staff had no idea when it would get back on when we called. The people were told to use the Pool Washroom & Lobby – imagine what a resort full of people can do to 2 areas, 5 toilets (female) in total!!! My other issue was the construction next door… banging away one night – all night. When we asked for a late check-out, the Resort wanted to charge us for the 2 hours… I brought up the issues we’d faced & they did give it for no charge, but only after plenty of discussion.
Restaurants and Bars
Ate at the Steak House (al-a-carte) only is ok at best, the buffet was abundant and changed up a bit each day… plenty of choices, no complaints there. Had to request for a better brand of alcohol, only a few bars offered domestic brands only.
Rooms
Previously read reviews regarding bathrooms, but was pleased to see doors and obscured glass fitted to all areas which previously had been open. The room was spacious, clean and well looked after.
Your Arrival
On arrival, we were greeted with champange, check in was quick, luggage assistance was offerred.
Relaxing – Beautiful
Hotel Be Live Canoa (formerly Oasis)
User Rating:  
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.
Great hotel, perfect location
Hotel Barlovento
User Rating:  
Debra >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We just returned from two weeks at the Barlovento Hotel in Varadero. We flew with West Jet Vacations out of Thunder Bay
Beach/Pools/Grounds
There are three pools at the resort. The two near the lobby are the busiest….as well as the noisiest. The music and entertainment team are always there. If you like the involvement then that is your spot. The kids pool is next to it. There were a few small ones enjoying it. When it is windy on the beach this pool is more sheltered so not as cool. The pools were always being cleaned. The one night the aqua ballet was done in the larger pool…they are really amazing artists. There were always enough chairs by the pools…never saw the towel game played. The beach is beautiful…what we go to Varadero for! There are too few beach loungers so get there earlier in the morning….9ish is fine. Coming at 11 you are not likely to get a chair. They do need to invest in a few new ones. Beach bar was a fun place with one of the nicest bartenders I have ever met. She is always smiling and happy….even when it was a little cool and windy. They don’t have beer at the beach but she can come up with something for you. There are hobi cats, kayaks and paddle boats to take out. The water doesn’t get deep fast but is not too shallow either…perfect for everyone…my grand daughter loved jumping into the waves.
Other Comments
This hotel is at the edge of the town so is a perfect location. You can walk to the flea markets and restaurants in town. If you need a taxi the most we paid to get to the other end of town was $6. I would go back to this resort in a second and would recommend it to anyone. We loved it!
Restaurants and Bars
We booked all of our al a cartes as soon as we got there as they fill up fast. We went to all three…they were all great. Mexican was the most fun and the food was very good. We were the last sitting so we never felt rushed. The tequila shooters were funny….”no lady the camera never worked we have to do it again!” A great bunch of guys working there! The Cuban restaurant…in the same place as the Mexican…was really good too. The Italian was a nice quiet change from the others…the music was more classical….food tasty. The food in the dining room was basic. We always found something we liked. Some days were better than others. Breakfast was really good as you have the fresh juice bar, eggs cooked the way you like them….bacon too if you take it to the grill. Lunch is at the beach restaurant with burgers, pasta, fish, sausage, chicken and pork….you wont go hungry! For supper there was something different at the carving station every night. We had a very nice white and red wine at meals also…it came after day two.
Rooms
Our room was great. We were in a bungalow just down from the beach, across from the out door lunch buffet and the quiet pool. The room was smaller than our friend’s but our balcony was huge. The room had a fridge that was stocked with bottled water every day so we never had to buy it. The maid service was very good too….no too many fancy sculptures on the bed but that’s ok as long as the room is clean.
Your Arrival
Check in was really quick…front desk has an amazing group of very friendly and helpful people. There was a bell boy there to take our luggage to our room…no waiting.
Tranquil, quiet, restful.
Hotel Sosua by the Sea
User Rating:  
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.
The reviews didn’t do it justice
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
User Rating:  
Sherri >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
I can honestly say I have little complaints with respect to this resort. I read the reviews before I left and was terrified we had made a mistake, but what I learned is that I don’t think I’ll take to heart reviews in the future. My thoughts are that your vacation is what YOU make of it.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Shows at the theatre are excellent, a must see. Disco, kind of sucks, but again it’s what you make of it. Catamaran tour was a blast. We had a great crew and had lots of fun. Havana tour was very interesting. Our tour guide was awesome.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Very very clean. People complained about bugs. I rarely saw any. If I got bit, it wasn’t noticible. Again if you are getting bit, cover up, same thing happens in Canada people, adjust for it. Always saw workers cleaning, and keeping care of the grounds.
Other Comments
Amazing resort and would go again for sure!
Restaurants and Bars
Beach Grill, by far the best restaurant. Japanese a la carte was excellent. Lots to eat in the main cafeteria. I read some complaints about cold food, but that was never an issue for us. Loved the quiet pool bar and the bar in the main lobby. Janet at the loud pool bar, Maylan at the beach bar, Eddie at the lobby bar, friendliest on resort, for sure! There were lineups if you chose to eat at standard breakfast lunch and dinner times. You just learned after a couple of days which were the busy times and you adjusted your eating time. Not a big deal. If you don’t like crowds why would you ever book at a resort that has 1035 rooms. People be smart about it. If you are impatient, and need to go by a strict routine, this is not the resort for you. If you are looking to relax and just wing it, you will love it!
Rooms
Very clean, spacious, well kept. The only problem was our toilet paper dispenser was broken, but that really wasn’t a big deal. I had heard that about 400 kids were at the resort the week before and had done a lot of damage. Housekeeping was there at the same time everyday and did beautiful art with the towels every day. Fridge stocked daily, with the exception of one day we had no water. I found our chambermaid and she gave it to us immediately.
Your Arrival
Upon arrival we were greated by staff with a tray full of a fabulous cocktail drink and who ushered us to the counter to receive our room information.
Hotel ok but issues with maintenance of rooms and service definitely not more than 3 stars
Hotel Grand Sirenis Mayan Beach
User Rating:  
Kay >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Beautiful Resort Lots to do with Kids… crafts, swimming, games etc Great nightly entertainment Rooms needs attention and maintenace – tv not working, locks in the rooms, concierge outside the room not too helpful more worried about timeshare sales Staff need more english training Beach very disspaointing too many rocks in the ocean and seaweed Front Desk not too responsive

Overall i would rate this resort good but not great

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Lots of choices for activities, but very disspointed in the beach compared to Cuba
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Rocks make it hard to swim…Pools very nice and clean, great choices for pools for kids especially lazy river.
Other Comments
I am not sure i would return back… very disspointed at Service, and ofcource the beach with rocks.
Restaurants and Bars
Food choices excellent and fresh everyday. Service is great, lots of variety of foods! Buffet restaurant excellent choices and hot food!
Rooms
Tv not working, Beds really hard, Great Housekeeping, Staff not very helpful and cannot understand.. they nod but do have a clue of what you are saying.
Your Arrival
Too Slow at the Front Desk… cannot understand English, very slow to respond,Service is satisfactory but not great!
Clean resort, very spread out.
Hotel Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa
User Rating:  
Gary >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Our stay was very good. The staff were excellent. We were bumped up to the select club because there were no other rooms left. (not worth the $ difference) Our room was too far from the beach and all three buffet restaurants. lots of walking. Our two boys aged 15 and 11 liked the grounds and animals, and pool tables. The food was what you’d expect at buffets. Our only true complaint was the smell of sewer everywhere on the property. It was by the restaurants, pools, rooms, etc.
Great people
Hotel Be Live Brisas Santa Lucia
User Rating:  
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.
Worthing Court Apartment Hotel – Jan 30 – Feb 13 2010
Hotel Worthing Court Apartment Hotel
User Rating:  
Will >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
I will not get into the mess of our Westjet and Selloff Vacations experience here, but what we had planned worked out fine. Landing in Toronto at about 9:00 pm we walked to the Sheraton hotel which is located right in the airport, no need for winter coats and boots, threw our suitcases into the room while getting stuff out for the next morning flight, then went downstairs for a bite to eat and a couple of cold ones. You think Champers is expensive.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The location of Worthing Court Apartments is great as you are within walking distance to restaurants, Worthing, Accra Beach, grocery stores, banks and the St. Lawrence Gap. We walked the Rockley Beach/Accra beach to Needhams Point/Hilton resort almost every day. Rockley/Accra beach and connecting beaches are nice but they are not as nice as Varadero beach in Cuba for beach walkers. Even with the boardwalk it is not the same. We heard they are expanding the boardwalk in the future. Worthing Beach is nice if you just want to sit by the beach, it is not a beach walker’s beach, but it is still nice. We did the Adventureland 4X4 tour. We selected The Congaline Adventure (lunch tour). They were a half hour late picking us up because they couldn’t find a certain hotel to pick up a couple that were supposed to be on the tour with us. Nelson was a great tour guide, we had a couple of locals on the tour with us and he was really picking on them, it was funny. Barbados is a beautiful island, we went to the Welchman Hall Gully for a casual walk, taking pictures of the green monkeys and learning about the poisonous plants of Barbados. The drive from and to the gully was interesting, didn’t miss a bump. The view of the Cattlewash and Bathsheba was fantastic, thank god for digital cameras. On the way there we stopped and had a short talk with a 103 year old lady who still does everything for herself. Barbados has the second purest air in the world, the first being the Swiss Alps and the water is also very pure. We also stopped at St. Johns Church and the Lions statue. We drove through Bridgetown on the way back to Worthing Court didn’t seem like there was much to do there but shop.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Worthing Court Apartments is a small complex consisting of 20 apartments ranging from Studio, Superior Studio and One Bedroom apartments. The cost for our Superior studio room was $103 US a night tax included. The complex has a small pool which is in the best shape of any resort we have stayed at, it also had enough sun loungers for everybody. Courtyard Bistro is connected to the pool area and was staffed by one chef (sorry didn’t get his name), Sasha (Barbados only pink car owner) and (Killer) Howard which always provided us with great service and laughs. Courtyard Bistro is going through start up pains but the food was good and the atmosphere was great. Happy Hour was instituted at the restaurant while we stayed there (nothing to do with us).
Other Comments
We left the room at 12 noon and went downstairs with our suitcases to check out. They had a place for us to put our suitcases since we weren’t leaving yet. We went back to the bar to have a couple of cold ones, while we were sitting there one of the room attendants asked us what time we were leaving and we told her 1:30pm. Later when we went back to the reception to get our suitcases and for me to get out of my sandals, to our surprise Vonda and Shirley presented us with a Valentine’s Day card which they all had signed. We thought that was really nice of them to do that. They called us a cab for the time we said we wanted to leave and the driver was there on time. We left vowing to return. Barbados airport was different than any other airport we have been to. It’s like being outside when you check in your luggage because it’s not closed in. Unfortunately for us there was a cruise leaving at the same time we were so there was a bit of confusion around one of the line ups for flights and one line up for the cruise which was not marked, we were in the wrong line, no problem we just slipped over to the other line, as did a bunch of other people following us. The airport is small but nice, with lots of kiosks selling food, alcohol, clothes and duty free. There weren’t very many empty seating places but that could have been because it was so busy. We flew out an hour late, could have been because the pilot didn’t know how to count, saying we were third in line when actually we were fifth. We landed in Toronto and went straight to our hotel and went to bed for our early flight home the next morning.
Restaurants and Bars
I ate all my breakfasts at the Courtyard Bistro. It costs $10 Bds for cereal, toast, juice and coffee and $20 for bacon, sausage, 2 eggs, toast and coffee. We ate some of our suppers here to. We had supper a couple of times at the Lucky Horse Shoe, it was good and close by. Another place that wasn’t too far to walk to was MO JO’s. It was a bar down the street and you have to walk along a really narrow strip of sidewalk to get there, which made it an interesting walk home, especially after a few beers. We really liked the music and they also make good wraps. Bert’s bar was also an establishment that we went to. We made reservations on the way to the beach one day. You really have to make reservations, the place was just packed. We arrived with me being all dressed in my Ottawa Senator’s garb for the big game, got our table and noticed that we had a bunch of Leaf and Hab fans behind us. Not a good night for the Sens not to show up to play. What a long night, but it was fun. We went to the Gap twice to eat at Cafe Sol. Nice sunset views and great Mexican food. Will try to get to Oistins Fish Fry next year. We went to Champers for a 6 o’clock setting for Sandy’s birthday and the place was dead. I guess if you go at that time you don’t need a reservation but it’s probably better to make one anyway. The place was nice (beautiful sunset shot) but expensive. They had a table set up for us decorated with different coloured confetti on it. Sandy had the Swordfish and I had the Pork Tenderloin, we both really liked the food. For dessert they came out with ice cream with a lighted candle in it (too bad the wind was blowing towards Sandy) and they sang Happy Birthday to Sandy. We each had two beers and the total was $220 Bds plus tip.
Rooms
Check in was quick and very informative about the hours and services of the apartment block. Our Superior Studio room was number 203 on the second floor. When we arrived in our room we noticed there was no way of locking our room safe, so I went down to inquire about this while Sandy unpacked. I was told the key would cost $15 or $50 Bds to replace it if we lost it, which was no problem. The room was close to the street but it didn’t bother us. We had the windows closed and the air conditioning on for most of our stay. The kitchenette had a good size fridge (keep the beer cold) and gas stove, had enough dishes and utensils for two people, also overlooked the front walkway of the apartment. The bedroom had a nice good size balcony with wicker furniture and the bed consisted of two twin beds attached to each other but was comfortable. The TV worked good but had a limited selection of channels. The bathroom had a full shower and tub, always stocked with clean towels. Overall the room was good sized, clean and comfortable to sleep in. One final thing about our room a big hug and kisses to our room attendants Vonda and Shirley, who kept our room in tip top shape.
Your Arrival
Lot of paperwork to do before you land in Barbados compared to Cuba. Customs was quick, very pleasant lady in customs greeted us welcome, good first impression. Picked up suitcases and went outside to see what Barbados had in store for us. Remember this is our first time to a non AI, so we are used to having buses waiting for us. Remembering what I learned on this site about asking the taxi drivers how much first, paid $18 US plus tip to get to
Great time, great resort for the money.
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
User Rating:  
Mark >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Overall great time! We travelled with 3 small families. 6 couples 3 kids all under the age of 2. All had a good time no real complaints. I think the complainers are people who think they are going to a $5000 resort in Barbado’s and expect to be waited on hand and foot. If you are looking for a good place take take a family and don’t go with huge expectations you while be pleasantly rewarded with a nice resort, very new and overall clean and affordable. The vast mojority of people who complain I think are just the people that complain all the time anyway. If you are looking for a party time there is a bit of that but i think its a better family place. It is a big resort but you can walk from one end to the other in 6-8 minutes, we did every day with kids and strollers so its really not that far. Take a stroller if you do have young ones. Besides you can get food and drink anywhere! So if you don’t want to walk you don’t have too. If you are too lazy to walk don’t complain about waiting for the shuttles, those should be used for sure at check in and check out though. (make sure you call for one 30 minutes before you check out)
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t go too far with the little ones. the wives went in to Veradero on day had a good time shopping. The men went golfing one day, the golf was expensive but worth it if you are a golfer. Take a cab when you split the fare its about the same as a bus anyay. If you do golf go in the mansion after for a pina colata upstairs, great view.
Daycare area was great too to get the kids out of the sun for a while, and there are a couuple of play ground areas too. I would suggest taking some dollar store toys and plan on leaving for them or with your favorite maids or servers. Many of them are young moms with very little and its much appreciated.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pools are beautiful, kiddie pool was great for the little kids. Only issue there again was other tourists walking through it to wash sand off thier feet (when there of plenty of outdoor taps and showers for that) And a couple fo days there was little water in the kiddie pool. But we split time at the pools and beach anyway. If you are a pool person go out early before breakfast and grab a chair with your towel, it will be there when you get back. People who show up there at 11 am , yes the good spots will be gone. But there are two main pools so try another one! Oh and again directed to other guests, the kiddie pool area area should be for kids, there was one day some older 20 somethings were play wrestling in the kiddie pool, god knows why the main pool is enormous. Beach again same deal go early if you want to get a good spot with shade. But its pretty big and lots of room further down. Its just right by the Beach Bar (hut) that the most crowded.
Other Comments
Overall again pleased for the price very good. If you are looking for a big party place you can have a good time but I would suggest an adult club like a Snadles (two resorts down) You can still have fun but I think it should be and is overall more a family place. Some older folks who are not overly mobile shouls also consider a smaller resort or wait for the shuttles but don’t complain about it. It is a big resort but not so big that you can’t walk. Again if you are travelling with small kids take your stroller. If you are looking for a 5 star waited on hand and foot and treated like royalty you won’t get that for $1200 so spend the $3-4K and you’ll get it.
If you want a nice new resort with friendly staff cand walk for 5 or 10 minutes without getting winded that you can take a small family too, this place is great. I would go back for sure, and reccomend it. Up grade to the C-Club and you will have a great room location too right by the big pool kiddies are and beach. The biggest issues are with the other tourists not the resort but again for only $1200 or so you will get lots of different people. One lady was a loudmouth the whole time and got so drunk on the bus ride to the airport, she caused a scene at the checkin, and was eventually not allowed on the plane to go home! So its the other tourists you will want to watch for, but this place was great for me and my family going in with little expectations.
Restaurants and Bars
Plentiful you don’t have to go far for either. Tips are gratefully recieved but they are not standing there with thier hands out either its optional and up to you. Tip when you want. No hard feelings either way. The snack bars by the pools the food is not the best but its convenient. My 17 month old loved the pizza at the snack bars. Main buffet is great, lots of variety every night. few lines ups for the freshly made stuff, but the only people you have to worry about are the other tourists not the staff. Very attentive staff got us high chairs when asked. Beach grill was good, pulled pork sandwiches were great, had different BBQ fish everyday. And there is another BBQ right on the beach too so plenty of options. If you are staying down by the beach you don’t have to go all the way to the main buffet you can sit and order a limited breakfast menu from the beach grill. But the buffet is awesome and worth the 6-7 minute walk. Drinks are good, lots of fun rum drinks, but if you want a good night out try the whisky!
Rooms
Clean and air conditioned. We only slept and napped there which is all its for anyway, plenty of room to unpack your stuff big closets, and drawers so you don’t have to live out of your suitcase. Couple of hints, if you open the patio door the AC turns off. So when you leave your room just make sure you have the patio door closed and turn the AC back on. Also you get beer and water in your fridge, if you want more make sure you either drink it, take it with you or hide it if you want more. Tip your maid and she will take care of you, they are very friendly and accomidating for nap times for the kids etc…
Your Arrival
We did the upgrade to the C-Club for only $100, seperate check in from front desk organized and easy. Only issue was no cribs in our rooms which they corrected either that night or the next day for all of us. Hint there are cribs in the daycare area by the kiddie pool just ask for one of those if you need one fast.
Was a great time
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
User Rating:  
vicki >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Loved this place and would go again
be prepared to walk
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
we took the bus into varadero, 2 bucks there and 2 bucks back. did the carriage and horse ride,

did the catameran with the dolphins…. neat experience.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
grounds – clean and beautiful, the beacch was eroding away… locals are not sure why? this is the first time that they have seen this. sometimes hard to find a spot on the beach.

pools— fun and clean… love the cave swim up bar

Other Comments
I would go back to this resort, but we have a tendency not to return to the same place twice…

It’s not all that bad…., Cuban people are the best and they try to do their best.

Restaurants and Bars
didn’t have a problem with the food, except for the FRENCH – GOURMET.. the food was cold and the service was not too good. Don’t book that ala carte. the buffet was fine the beach buffet was great.

the ala carte – cuban, waas awesome !!

Rooms
rooms were well equiped.. mini bar was stocked every day with beer, water and soda, maid made nice decorations from our towels, beach towels were in our room. bed was a king size bed, toilets were the low flowing, energy efficient ones. the bathtub, yu had to step on a woodend step to get in.

very clean and big

Your Arrival
we arrived late at night, we flew skyservice ( skyservice went belly up during out stay, and we had to stay an extra night at the hotel at no cost. we had an excellent rep who figured this out for us), the room was big we stayed in room 33205, by the ocean but far from the lobby.

They escort you into your room we were camelon gold so we had a seperate check in and fast service to our room with a bottle of rum

Good friendly right-sized resort
Hotel Occidental Grand Punta Cana
User Rating:  
Murray >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was fantastic as always in Punta Cana, and we would have to say that the Occidental has one of the nicer sections that we have seen on the strip. It was always clean and every morning they would be out picking up the seaweed that had collected on the beach. You had to of course be out to reserve your palapas at about 6:15am every day if you wanted a good choice, but thats the price you know you have to pay, so you might as well just go for a nice early morning walk on the beach afterwards!
The three pools were very nice and very clean, and it was nice to have the two smaller and shallower pools on either side of the complex. The three pools really give the Occidental its unique atmosphere as opposed to just having grass everwhere.
Other Comments
We really liked staying at the Occidental, and while it can’t compare in quality to the Bahia Principe where we went two years ago, it is a really good, friendly right-sized resort where you don’t feel that you are lost in the hugeness of the other much bigger resorts like the Bahia Principe.
We would definitely go again!
Restaurants and Bars
The buffet restaurant which is just off the looby, was great, and as it was quirte large you never had a problem finding a table. The choice of food was pretty good and they had the usual omelette stations for breakfast, a griile for egss and pancakes, as well as a crepe station for desserts. Although we had five confirmed a la carte reservations with our package, which you receive when you check in, we only used two of them as it was more convenient to eat at the buffet. Service at the tables was good and there was usually someone to pour you water or coffee right after you sat down. It was hard to figure out who, or if, you could tip however as there were usually about three different people involved during the course of your meal unlike Cuba where generally one person does all. There were all very nice and courteous, even more so, as we didn’t have to "buy" their attention as you are used to doing in Cuba. Great people. We did eat at the steakhouse one night and the Italian restaurant the other night, and while it was nice for a change of pace, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. A great feature are the pizza and taco areas up on the upper terrasse area near the Italian restaurant, don’t miss them! Another nice feature is the very large lobby where you could always find somewhere to sit and have a drink, even though the resort seemed to be fully booked. There is a "ranchon" restauarant down near the beach that had a pretty good selection of food available that was open at lunchtime during the day. Curous however for this hotel, that there is a period of time of about three hours between the time that the ranchon closes and the buffet opens. During that time you can only get a very small choice of food at the small restaurant beside the main pool.

Bars are everywhere as per the usual, and as we had our own bar at the Preference section of the beach, we had the excellent attentions of Franklin the barman. Great guy, always in a good mood and clowning around throughout the day.

Rooms
We had asked for a third floor room, and we were pleasantly surpised that we actually got one! We were in the building #24 which is the second building from the beach on the right hand side. While our room was not facing in towards the small pool and the rest of the complex, we still had a nice view off our balcony towards the next hotel complex. It would have been nice to have a balcony on the "inside" for the view, but realized quite quickly that the rooms and balconies at the back were cooler as they were out of the mid day and afternoon sun. Because it was a third floor room, we had one of those really nice wood cathedral ceilings which really made the room. There was a nice big comfortable bed, two big rattan easy chairs with cushions, a good sized closet and a mini bar, a desk, and a TV unit with drawers. All in all a great room, but next time we will remember to bring more hangers as they only provide about 6. The AC was great and with the ceiling fan kept the room nice and cool. The bathroom on the other hand, was a bit of a surprise as it was quite dated and worn out vs the rest of the room. The bath tubs are all made in such a way that all of the water from a shower would collect on the top "rails" and then promptly spill out at the two ends all over the floor. We learned quickly however, and just used the telephone shower to get wet, shut it off, and then turned it on again to rinse off afterwards. No big deal and we ended up doing our bit by saving water right? Water that was more cold than hot though, as we never actually got any hot water although we asked every day if they could fix it. Again no big deal as hot water would have really hurt my sunburn!
Your Arrival
We had an Air Transat package but actually flew with CanJet. The staff were very nice and helpful, but the new style German Recarro seats although they did not leave you with a sore back afterwards, were not exactly what you could call comfortable. We arrived at the airport in mid-afternoon, and while there were at least 10 planes on the apron, and throngs of people in the arrivals area; as we already had our tourist "cards" which are included in the Air Transat tickets, we got through quite quickly. The luggage arrived in about ten minutes and as we were the first hotel on the bus route, we were at the hotel in about 15 minutes more.

As soon as we arrived at the hotel, check in was almost immediate as there is a seperate check-in away from the main desk just for Air Transat Preference clients. We had to pay $25 for the lock for the safe, but the towels were provided in the rooms, which was a nice touch, again as we were in the Preference Club area.

Complain
Hotel Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort
User Rating:  
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
User Rating:  
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.
Great service, pool and beach, food not so good.
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
will >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We would certainly go back to Tryp, the grounds are lovely, it was hot with a nice breeze, the staff was extremely helpful and friendly. Though the food was disappointing we had a terrific time.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The pizza place on the beach is excellent, with really friendly waiters. There is a very nice little lobster shack just down the beach with tasty lobster tales for $12, ask for Franklin. The entertainment was good, though much of it is provided by volunteers from the audience. There is very little to see around the hotel, though they have lots of avtivities for kids, plus tennis, etcetera.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The main pool with the swim-up bar was terrific, with somewhat loud music but games and entertainment and a party atmosphere all afternoon. The other, smaller pool was very quiet.
The beach was amazing, with warm water and a cooling breeze.
Other Comments
Be aware that you need to take cash to exchange for CUC (Convertible Cuban dollars). You can use VISA at the stores but to get a cash advance on your VISA you have to walk to the resort next door. You can not use you bank cards at all!
Restaurants and Bars
The service at all of the bars was fast, though they do not have several of the drinks and mixes we are used to in Canada, such as club soda, scotch, pineapple and cranberry juice. The beer is okay. The bartenders did not seem to care whether you tipped or not, theey were just as fast and friendly. The food at the buffet was poor, you really have to be picky, though the breakfast omelets are good. Their orange juice is great. We had turkey one night which was great, sometimes the meat is not cooked enough, such as the hamburgers at the restaurant on the beach. Even when we went to an a la carte the food was disappointing.
Rooms
The room was aging but fine. Few rooms have a view of the ocean but most are a short walk to the pool and lobby and buffet. Our maid was terrific. We had problems with our TV, though we didn’t watch it much, but they fixed it right away.
Your Arrival
The check-in was very fast. Though the front desk staff aren’t very friendly.
Twice this year…and we are going back again
Hotel Melia Azul Ixtapa
User Rating:  
Dave >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
What can I say about Melia Azul? This has been our best vacation ever. We have been to Cuba, DR,Mexico and even 3 weeks in Hawaii and the service and accommodations at Melia Azul were awesome. The hotel and grounds are well kept and the food is top notch, didn’t have a problem getting what we wanted at the bar no matter what time of the day and the pools were clean and always fun to hang out in. The beach is the weak point of the hotel but you can’t have it all. Our first trip was in Jan/10 and it was great, our 2nd trip was this past week and it was equally as good. The resort was busier this time due to Mexican spring break (lots of locals, that’s cool) The most impressive thing about this resort is that they actually enforce their policies (non-smoking, pool behavior etc) We flew Air Transat and booked first class on the way home as the trip home involves a stop over in Manzanillo in which you don’t deplane.

I would recommend this resort to anybody and we plan on returning next December and try some other Melia hotels in other Caribbean countries.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Lots of activities, very good activity staff and your kids wont get bored. Take the bus into town (safe and cheap) and make sure to get into the market in Zihuantenero (sp)
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pools are great, the beach needs some work, there is debris in the water for the first 20 ft or so. Water shoes would be a good idea.
Restaurants and Bars
The al la cartes were very good although you may want to book the seafood restaurant after 8pm to miss the mosquitoes (it is outdoor)
Rooms
The rooms are great, our first time was 1531, end of hall with a sitting room but no balcony, this trip was 1527 no sitting area but had a balcony. In either case the rooms were very large and the beds were great.
Your Arrival
Just head through the time share guys and go to the buses outside.
Wanna Bang for the Peso ! ( Kinda Short but Sweet ) — > SuperClubs-Breezes-Jibacoa CUBA
Hotel Breezes Jibacoa
User Rating:  
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.

Much nicer than I expected for the price!
Hotel ClubHotel Riu Bambu
User Rating:  
Janet >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We left Boston on a TNT charter flight via Miami Air. Great flight, on time both on departures and arrivals. Good cold meal snacks both ways. Pick up at the airport and arrival at the hotel was prompt.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Plenty of tours to pick from. If you book on your credit card, make sure you check your billing for duplicate charges.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pools were nice and clean with plenty of chairs and shade. The beach was beautiful as usual (this is one of the things that keep me going back to Punta Cana). The only shade on the beach was from the palm trees, but there were enough of them to follow the shade and space was ample. The kiddie pool had a nice little playground. We did not take advantage of the structured programs for the kids, but other parents remarked about how much their kids liked them.
Other Comments
We knew when we booked that the hotel was planning on closing in April for renovations and I was a little leery about what we would find. I’m not sure what their renovations will include, but I was happy just the was it was. The only negative thing I would say about this hotel is that the soap bars that they give to you are smaller than what I throw away. If you go here bring your own soap and Kleenex!
Restaurants and Bars
Our family of 4 generations ranging from 3 to 80 years old found plenty of variety and tasty food in the buffets for everyone. We choose not to go a la carte so I can’t comment on them. Not ONE person in our party suffered from ANY KIND OF AN INTESTENIAL ailment! Bartenders were eager to please. There was a good choice of domestic alcoholic drinks for everyone. Much better quality than some of the other hotels in Punta Cana. I’ve been to Punta Cana ten times now.
One of our party left her beach bag with money and an expensive camera in the lady’s room. When she realized that it was gone about a half hour after that, she went to the lost and found and it was there!
Rooms
Room were clean and maid service throughout the stay was efficient. Free mini- bars were well stocked with water, 4 kinds of alcohol and soft drinks. Staff were friendly!
Your Arrival
Check in was done immediately on arrival with free in room safes.
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.
NH Real Arena…NH Really Amazing
Hotel NH Real Arena
User Rating:  
Diane >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Overall for the price we paid we were very pleased with NH Real. We booked "Le Mirage" through transat holidays with our Travel Agent at tripcentral in Bedford, NS. Didn’t see the need to upgrade to "Conceirge". Although we would upgrade to the NH Royal (adults only) if we return here. We are a married couple, aged 50 & 55. This trip was all about rest & relaxation. I booked NH Real because the beach and rooms sounded great (and they were). Here is our detailed review of the NH Real Arena:
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t take any tours this trip. We only went for rest & relaxation this time. Shopping is an adventure in itself here. The prices at the hotel gift shop are very expensive. One small tube of sunscreen = $26 us. Thankfully, we bought plenty from home. We did want to purchase coffee and rum to take home and I found directions on the internet (can’t remember where from originally) to the Supermarcado behind Captian Cook’s restaurant in Cortecito. Overall their prices were about half of what the hotel gift shop wanted. We bought 6 large bags of Santo Domingo coffe @ 105 pesos each (hotel price 300) The best Dominican Rum 368 pesos (hotel price 575) Pringles 86 pesos (hotel price 150) Overall our shopping cost us $55.00 us for everything. Hotel shop would have charged us over $100 us for the same purchases. To find the supermarket….looking out at the ocean, turn left. The walk is about 25-35 minutes down the beach. Go past the restaurant that sticks out in the water about another 5 minutes…watch for Captain Cook sign. Turn in right beside Captain Cooks and walk through the alley. Be careful crossing a small paved road, as there are lots of motorbikes. The doors to the supermarket are right there. You should see a few metal carts outside the door. It is a real grocery store with set prices. The vendors along the way are very persistant! Be firm but polite. Don’t believe what they tell you! We mistakenly told them we were looking for the Supermarcado….and twice we were told that they was no supermarcado up there and we could buy from them…ha ha ha! As for the entertainment….we have no comment on this aspect of the trip. We never saw one show. We were usually in our room by 9:30-10:00. The shows didn’t start until 9:45. Didn’t use the Tantrah Bar upstairs either.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach…the reason we chose this resort…and it is gorgeous. We love to take long walks and this fit the bill perfectly. Waves not too big, soft white sand, no rocks. I love this beach. Yes…the towel game is in ‘full-force’ here. There were a couple mornings that you still could get chairs at around 8:30-9:00 but most mornings we had to get up around 6 and claim our palapa. Then back to the room for an early coffee on the patio…breakfast at 7:00…then hit the beach for the day. There are not as many palm trees on this area of beach so the palapas provide the most shade. We only encountered a problem on one day when a family of 5 parked themselves under our palapa. They never moved or touched our chairs..they just decided to squeeze under with us….we said "Hello" but got absolutely no response from either him or her. They just turned their heads away from us and kept talking in French. I thought "Hello" was a fairly universal word! We have galdly shared our shade before but were asked first. To be totally ignored I thought was a deliberate insult to my husband and myself. Yes…we ended up moving. It was just too darned uncomfortable and weird to stay there with them. The pool wasn’t used much by us since we’re beach people. I found it a bit too noisy and too many kids. Very hard to get a chair with shade at the pool. I didn’t even try. The grounds are very nice. A few more years will see the plants and shrubs mature and more flowering vines. Overall very tidy, clean grounds. One suggestion would be for the resort to provide a few benches or seating areas around the grounds. We enjoyed a stroll every evening but found nowhere to sit and jusy enjoy the atmosphere. We didn’t like sitting in the central courtyard because it smells of smoke from cigarettes eventhough it is open air, it is enclosed on all four sides by the buildings.

One afternoon we watched a maintenance worker scrub the beach rocks around the base of the palm trees by hand. He had a wheelbarrow with soapy water in it and a scrub brush…we went to the bar and got him two cold drinks. Smiles & handshakes were exchanged and we wondered what he’d make of our ‘gas powered high-pressure washer’ at home!

Other Comments
I must mention the service at this hotel…we were very impressed with the level of service we received. We thought it was the best we have ever had at any resort we’ve been to. We never felt any pressure to tip however we did when we felt it was appropriate. Being a ‘curious’ person I wandered over to the NH Royal one day and had a walk around their pool area. I didn’t know that I wasn’t allowed. I just wandered by and entered the property. The swimming pool is fantastic! It is a lazy river type. The lower level rooms all have sun lougers outside their patio doors right on the edge of the pool. It’s almost like having a swim-out room. It’s nice & quite, adults only and you have access to all the NH Real facilities & restaurants. And no kids allowed the Royal beach.

If we go back to this resort it would be to the Royal section for sure.

Restaurants and Bars
We mostly used the Festival Buffet for our meals. Selection was quite good. Yummy omelets for breakfast. Lots of fresh fruit available at all mealtimes. I was pleased to see plenty of salad veggies. Usually had 2 types of lettuce, arugula, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrtots & beets, onions etc. Carving stations had turkey, fish, ham etc. Had grilled shrimp a few times. They had nice stuffed baked potatoes one night. Lots of hot vegetables. We thought the bread was very good. Nice dessert selection and ice cream. The service in the buffet was very good. But we found the staff very friendly and helpful. We usually lunched at the Beach Restaurant. They have a large BBQ grill set up everyday outside offering chicken, beef, fish, fried rice etc. Inside they have hamburgers, hot dogs, assorted meats, veggies, salad & desserts. It is best to go early when they open at noon…it is hard to find a table at around 2 when it is busiest. Somedays I just made up hamburgers and wrapped them in napkins to take back to our beach chairs. We only booked 2 a la carte restaurants. The Shore Grill – fair-good. We had the shrimp wrapped in bacon and the ribeye. The meal starts with an appetizer of nachos & a few chicken wings. Tasted ok but never warmer than room temperature. Other folks we talked to said the same. I think they must prepare them ahead of time and just serve them ‘as is’. Then came a ceasar salad…good but had at least qtr. cup of dressing poured on top of it. Even asked for dressing ‘on the side’ but still received the salad the same way. The shrimps were good but the ribeye was quite fatty. It tasted good…you just had to cut off all the fat first. It came with a baked potatoe. Dessert was a small cheesecake topped with a brownie & white chocolate decoration….very good. There is definate room for improvement at the Shore Grill Restaurant. Our second restaurant choice was the Asian-Tapanki – Good. We were seated at the cooking station and enjoyed the sushi, fried crispy onions & soup as an appetizer. The busboy was over-enthusiastic and absconded with my husbands soup and onions….we light-heartedly teased him when he returned and laughed it off. The main course was fried rice with egg & veggies, shrimp, chicken & beef…all good. We then were ushered to a large table for a dessert of fried ice cream. Overall we enjoyed this meal but felt a bit rushed. Although we understand the need to have the next seating on time…we felt that an offer of coffee with dessert would have been nice. After speaking to a few of the staff…they suggested that the French restaurant, Senses offers the best meal of all, they recommend the beef tenderloin……have to remember if we go here again. Anyone should be able to find a decent meal at this buffet unless they are super-picky.

NH Real also has a sports bar that opens at 5pm (I think). It has a couple pool tables, popcorn machine & a bowling alley ($10 per game to bowl) And a few TV’s.

Rooms
I had emailed the NH Real one week before we arrived requesting a poolview room. I never received a response back from them but we did get our poolview room. We were Room # 2143. The Punta Cana building, ground floor, Rm. 43. Very well appointed rooms with a nice big shower, separate toilet area with a frosted glass door, large whirlpool tub and the "infamous" hole-in-the-wall….it was a non-issue for us. I enjoyed soaking in the tub and watching TV at the same time. Adequate drawer & closet space. The safe is free. Iron came in handy twice. We did bring along extra hangers since you don’t get many. We packed facecloths but they do have them….the maid finally gave us some after a few days. Room had a king bed (very firm), 3 pillows, a small sofa, coffee table, armchair, bureau with 4 drawers, desk & chair, 2 nightstands with drawers. We thought the rooms were spacious. There is a terrace outside. Rooms do have coffee makers. Mini fridge stocked daily with beer, Coke, Coke Lite, Sprite & water.

The only issue we had with our room was mosquitos coming in when housekeeping was cleaning. The slippers provided made a good flyswatter….lol! No big deal but I think an upper floor would be better!

Old Reviews – Traveling with Kids

Rex Halcyon Cove
This was such a DISAPPOINTMENT!! On our arrival, we were told that the kids club was closed on Tuesday – fine, no problem, my daughter waited patiently to the next day. On Wednesday, I approached the front desk to find out the hours of operation: opens at 10:15 am and closes during lunch and opens again in the afternoon. On several occasions, I personally walked over to the kids club which is by our building, the room was locked and dark. I went to ask the front desk, and they acted all surprised. After the 3rd day, I realized this resort did not cater to kids. As for the playground, there’s a frame for the swings, but no swings and the games room also non-existent. In comparison to other resorts, like Mexico, Turks and even Cuba, it really is disappointing. FYI…I spoke to people who stayed at the Pineapple Beach and St.James, everyone said the same thing – "it must be an island thing" was our conclusion. So, keeping this in mind, DON’T ADVERTISE THIS TO YOUR KIDS, BECAUSE IT IS NON-EXISTENT.
Turtle Beach Resort
Kids Club: Our children really enjoyed the Club and asked to go there every day when we were not out on a tour. They chose to have lunch and dinner in the club with the other children on several days. One of the main attractions was the wide selection of video games. The ladies who worked there were very friendly and the children were kept occupied with games and craft. Video game time was (wisely) limited. During the evening, at 7.30, a film was shown. We have travelled considerably with the children, and stayed in many hotels that operate Kids Clubs, but this is the first hotel we have stayed in where the children have actually wanted to attend Club. It was certainly a treat to eat alone with my husband whilst being confident that our boys were safe and happy.
Paradisus Playa Conchal Beach
Christine Toronto, Canada
February 2004
They have a great centre for kids of all ages. There a two halves – for children 4 and under and the other for 5-12s. There are playgrounds, one of those inflatable jumping things, a trampoline, a climbing wall, tightrope, rope wall, crafts and more. They have a glossy pamphlet with the weekly activities for kids in the two age groups. The staff dress up as clowns in the evening and get all the kids up on stage for dancing and games. The only thing was there were hardly any kids there. Our daughter was lucky to find another 6 year old girl to play with. Maybe it’s busier other times of the year.
Bahia Principe Varadero
Lynda Gilles and the kids New liskeard, Ontario
January 2007
This is our second trip to Cuba. You can check my other review to villa covarubias from last year. We traveled with sunwing from Sudbury. It is very nice to leave from a smaller airport when travelling with kids.

FOR THE KIDS: This resort is very child friendly. Their is many organized activities for the kids all day and into the evening. Bowling, darts, ping pong, checker, tennis, dancing, dress up, playground, just to name a few. I felt safe to leave my 7 and eleven year old at the daycare. The daycare worker was very nice and my kids loved her. The swimming pools are safe for children.

OCEAN: The ocean is just wonderful. Activities includ kayaks, catamarans, and peddal boats.

RESORT: This resort is clean but seems to need some carpets to be changed.(paint and stains on them) The rooms are clean but look a little old.

FOOD: My take on the food in Cuba is if you don’t like change then stay home. None of us starved! The kids ate all day, snacks plentyfull, fresh fruit, pizza, hamburgers and french fries. Their was always lots to choose from in the buffet. We all found something good to eat. The a la carte restaurants were very good. The x-mass supper was great! Hey! I’m not going to lie, some food is bad BUT you’re in a different country. If you rather eat things you are used to then stay in Canada. As for the beer, crystal is always a very good choice. The mix for the drinks, not so good. You can drink the water in Cuba, we did and never got sick!

TRIPS: Their are many trips you can take daily in Varadero. We did the dolphin swim for x-mass. It includes a day trip in a catamaran, all inclusive drinks, a swim with dolphins, snorkeling, lunch on an island. A must for children. My kids loved this. We also took the kids on a horse caridge ride in the town of Varadero. They got to see alot of different things that they would otherwise not get to see if we stayed on the resort. I went for a walk with my cousin to the markets and felt very safe to do so.

This was a very good trip, the staff was nice, the weather was great, my kids were safe.I will be returning to Cuba.

Blau Colonial Cayo Coco
 Georgia – Canada
March 2007
If you go with children: Take jarred baby food with you, especially fruits and vegetables. Based on our previous experiences in Cuba (once in Cayo Largo, once in Santa Lucia, Camaguey), we thought that surely we would find something to give the baby. So I didn’t pack any baby food. For our dissappointment, the food was bad at this hotel, and very seldom we found something to give the baby. So we fed him toast with butter, platains, and whatever we could find that was cooked enough. The vegetables were cooked canadian style if I may say so, I mean, just blanched and we couldn’t feed the baby that. The meat was hard because they use frozen meat which they cook without thawing. Take a bottle warmer if you can because you have to wait a lot for the water to warm. And it’s not a pleasant thing to stay by the tap 15 minutes in the middle of the night. Because we were at the ground floor we could wash any clothes because we didn’t have something to hang them to. The kids pool is nice, lots of room for them to play. There is also a mini-club, but they don’t accept babies unless there are no other children to be taken care of. Or they will accept if they’ll stay in the stroller. Again, in the mini-club building, tiles on the floor, baby couldn’t crawl. If you want something cooked for the baby, you can talk to somebody from the kitchen and they will gladly accomodate your request. I requested some veggie puree and sometimes I would get carrots with potatoes and chicken, sometimes whatever they made the soup of. It was good taking into account that food that was available in the common serving area was so bad for the baby to eat. I also requested some fruit, which I’ve put in the fridge in our room.

Pack a peeling knife, a fork to cut and mash the fresh fruit, plastic spoons, a big bottle, plastic plates just for the baby. Aside of bottles, cups and whatever you use for the baby.

Club Amigo Caracol – Santa Lucia
The kids club is described in the brochure as "Supervised kids club ages 3-11". Having made use of kids clubs extensively in the past when travelling to Varadero with our kids, we were very disappointed. This one is quite different. In the interest of informing future families – here is what to expect. The kids club was non-existant on the first two days. We made several complaints to the signature rep, and made sure many staff from the animation group knew that we really, really both wanted and expected there to be a kids club. There was no facility, or room to meet, which differes from other Cuban vacations we have enjoyed, where there was an air-conditioned facility filled with toys and games, and usually even a tv, and videos. At Caracol, apparently the staff would round up the kids at certain times and organize activities. The official times were from 10:30-12:00 and 3:00-5:00. We pushed and pushed, and finally by mid-week staff from the animation appeared to "baby-sit" the kids at the pool. There were only two occasions where there was an organized excursion to the beach, once to play in the sand and once to visit a neighbouring resort’s pool. The resort was obviously having staff problems relating to the kids club and we learned that a student had been operating it for the past 3 months but had returned to school. During our week it was different people each day, and they obviously did not have experience in organizing the kids and providing structured activities. There was an enormous language barrier for the children, as there were children speaking French, English and Italian, and the supervisor often spoke only spanish. I guess its no wonder she didn’t venture into any other activities beyond playing with them in the kids pool. There is no way any child over 6 or 7 would have been interested in this. And my little guy was reluctant to go off with a different person each day, which made it difficult for us. And I really felt I had to stay nearby in case things didn’t go well, or there was some discipline problem.

The pool itself was a disappointment, again, because our kids are 4 and 6. The "kids pool" was a small square pool that was equally shallow everywhere, (.35 meters). It had absolutely no appeal for my children, it would only be good for toddlers. The other pool, also not very big, was the same depth everywhere with steps leading down, at 1.25 meters (approx 4 feet). My children could not touch beyond the steps. And oddly, there was a wall between the two pools so you could not be in the big pool and watch your kids in the small pool. This is not usually the way it is in a kids-friendly resort, but at least if you know what to expect, you can decide if this experience will work for you and your kids. Make sure you bring floaties unless your kids are excellent swimmers.

Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village
We were at the Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village from Dec.31- Jan 14th,2005 with our 2 & 7 year olds. There is nothing wrong with the resort for a 3 star. The only complaint I have is that we booked through Signature because they state in brochure and website that the kids club is for 2 & up. When we arrived we were told that the club is for 4 & up . Major disappointment since that was the only reason we booked this hotel.Of course hotel blamed Signature and Signature blamed hotel. Our 7 year old still used the kids club but it was very poorly organized. We’d ask in the morning what the kids would be doing and it was never the same as the listing on board by door of club. One morning we were told they’d be playing soccer then mini golf. When we picked up our 7 year old later he told us he’d been swimming. Not only did they take him swimming without permission but he does not swim. He always wears a lifejacket and is within reach of us at all times. They took him to the Olympic sized pool with no lifejacket and 1 supervisor for 14 kids. On another outing on a train ride to the countryside they also had 14 kids to 1 supervisor. The kids were spread out all over the train with no supervisor watching. We just happened to be there with our 2 kids. They were willing to take younger kids only if you paid them. After this we kept our son with us because we did not trust the kids club. The resort is fine if you want a cheap place for some sun and beach.They had other things like basketball and ping pong but I heard a lot of complaints about equipment missing. We had read all the reviews on a couple of forums and even asked questions about the kids club but received no info. Just thought I’d send this in to give other people the info we wish we’d had. If anyone has any questions I am Holidaypinettes and you can just PM me.

Just don’t go for the kids club because you will be very disappointed!!!!

Grand Playa Turquesa
The kids club is amazing, very attractive to the kids and well organised during the day. The mini-disco at night was not always a success depending one the creativity of the animator but still a high light for the girls. Perfect for our age range… don’t know how it would have been for younger or older kids. They also loved the carito rides around the resort (golf carts that are used as shuttles). Came in handy for everyone at the end of the day.
Grand Playa Turquesa
The kids club was excellent. The ladies working there were absolutely incredible. The kids have their own clubhouse, with lots of activities, their own pool and it is gated in. The ladies would take the gang to the buffet for lunch, down to the beach snack hut for pizza and ice cream, I never once worried about them at the club. I felt guilty when my husband and I were eating lunch at the buffet and here come the kids club with our boys(it felt a little bit odd) but the boys had so much fun with the kids club they didnt want to spend the day with us( hey, I’m not complaining!) They had a mini disco every night and a fashion show once a week, it was really cute. We tipped these ladies huge, they were so deserving and one had a son a bit younger than mine so we left her a bunch of clothes for him(they have so little)
Grand Playa Turquesa
This is like a little resort for the kids. The staff there are wonderful and truly do enjoy kids. Kids Club has it’s own pool and exterior play area as well as several different rooms that offer play, sleep and dancing. Keep in mind that this is more for younger kids that are 7 and under. No worries in leaving your children there as they are very well supervised and you must sign in and sign out each time. Our daughter is 8 so she would only go to Kids Club for certain events such as Spanish Lesson or when they where preparing for the evenings stage event. Yes, your child gets to participate/perform nightly at the kids disco in the Theatre between 8:30 – 9:00 pm. Wednesday is always Birthday Party Day. They celebrate all the kids’ birthday and serve cake. The team at Kids Club do take the kids on mini excursions to the beach etc. etc.
Iberostar Daiquiri
Andre and Wendy Canada
January 2006
The kids club was a bit hit and miss. They advertise that they take kids from 4-10, but I certainly wouldn’t leave a 4 year old with them. We laughed one day because they had about 3 kids that were waiting for the kids entertainment to start and she told them to wait there while she went to find more kids, OK for the older kids, not so good for the young ones. The hardest part was for the kids to! try to plan their days, some days the siesta was from 1-3:30, you were just never sure when things would start. Worked fine for us because the 9 year old is very independent and knew where to find us, don’t know how wonderful it would be for a shy kid. When they did have things organized the kids had a great time, there was just lots of down time with nothing really going on.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Jeff & Deby Hamilton, Canada
February 2006
My kids just loved the staff at the mini-club. The first time they arrived they met Mila the mini-club staff person. She asked their names and remembered it for our entire stay. The kids just loved Mila and she treated them like her own brothers. The mini-club had its own small wading pool, outdoor climbing structures, foosball table, mini-basketball net, toys, puzzles and games. The kids could do crafts alone or with the staff’s help. There was also a TV with a Playstation 2 for the kids to use, which mine only used once since there was so much else to do. There was lots of shaded area as well so that the children could stay out of the sun. In the evening there was a mini-disco for the kids and it was always done whether there was 1 child or 20.

There was also baby-sitting, however we never used this service so I couldn’t give an opinion on it.

Oasis Playa Coco
Kids club was located in a convenient spot, just outside the buffer restaurant. If you sat outside the buffet in the patio seating area you could watch the kids play in the playground while you lingered over lunch after they were all done. Worked great with our older son, but the 2.5 year old was too young to be there unsupervised. Besides, she was usually napping by lunch time. This is the one fault with lunch being at 12:30. By that time our younger daughter was falling asleep, so she ate at the snack bar around 11:30 for lunch. Often our older son joined here and he would simply sit with us for a bit on the patio area and enjoy ice cream from the buffet and then run off to play while we finished lunch. The actual kids club was well supervised by a lovely lady named Alina. She took both kids in with no problems, although the official age is 3 to 12, our 2.5 year old is well adapted and independent, so she was fine to stay there for a couple of hours. There was not much in terms of organized activities for the kids, mostly because it was just the one lady so she just supervised the kids indoors while they played. There are no cribs in the kids club as some photos will show. Also the kids club is closed from 12 to 2, however, you can arrange Alina to take your kids to the buffet for lunch if they are older and you need the whole day away for some reason. There were toilets inside the kids club. Inside there was a ‘little tikes’ play house and play structure with slides and all. Quite safe for 3 and up (guideline, as our daughter who is 2.5, very tall and independent was fine on them, but some 2 year olds would have trouble. There was a TV there, but I didn’t see any of the kids watching it. I would say that the kids club was great from 3 to 8.

There was a kids show every evening at 8:30, and while our kids were too shy to participate, they really enjoyed watching. This was organized by the wonderful Alina.

NH Krystal
Kids’ club: My kids didn’t want to go, mostly because they go to daycare after school every day and it seemed like more of the same – crafts, games, Lego, drawing and painting, plus little excursions around the property, and swimming. The girls who ran it were nice, and seemed good with the kids. I feel for them though, having to entertain such a wide range of ages for long periods of time in a confined space, and with limited resources. I’d say from observing it briefly a few times that it’s probably best suited to 4-7 year-olds. The kids’ club has its own buildings, washrooms and shallow pool which is fun (kids can use it even if they’re not participating in the club, as long as a parent supervises). It’s in a little area at one side of the Laguna section, so it’s not super convenient if you want to drop in or check up on your kids often (on the other hand, if you really want uninterrupted time to yourself, it’s excellent, plus there’s little chance of a child wandering off and getting “lost in the crowd”).
Playa Pesquero
Laura Ottawa, Canada
March 2007
We are a family of four with two young children (ages 3 years and 21 months) from Ottawa, Canada. We traveled to Playa Pesquero from February 16-23, 2007 using Signature Vacations. I booked the trip about five weeks ahead using canadatravels.com. I checked lots of other websites but theirs was user-friendly and seemed to match or beat the other prices and I’ve used them before with equal success (the other website I particularly liked was itravel2000.com). They phoned me the following day to confirm my internet reservation and answer my questions, and they forwarded our requests to the resort – we got a room with one king bed on the second floor, quite close to the lobby (although in building 27, not one of the specific buildings I’d requested). If you’re booking for a family, note that different tour operators – and sometimes even the same tour operator – charge different amounts for the kids’ fares. Of course I started off looking at the cheapest adult fares, but soon found that if I plugged our ages in on all the different options (even with more expensive adult fares) we could end up with a lower total price. We ended up getting a superior room for less than the cost of a standard room (also with Signature Vacations!) by using this tactic. Also, prices seem to change every day or two – if you see a price you like book it right away! We chose this resort over any other because of the baby club. Most places only have a kids club for children aged 4 or 5 and older. Note also that the different tour operators may tell you different ages that the clubs are good for so you may need to do some separate research – the Signature Vacations brochure, available on their website, has a separate page at the back that lists resorts with a baby club. The club at Playa Pesquero is right by the main pool and is enclosed by a low fence. Inside are a little paddling pool, a couple of play houses, a couple of pedal cars, a shower in the shape of clown, a sand box, a decent sized climbing structure and two large roofed rooms with soft floors. The room for the older kids was closed for renovations when we were there but our two kids were in the baby room anyway, which had tables, chairs, a TV, a dark room for sleeping, a bathroom with child-sized toilet, bathtub and change table, a kitchenette, and various toys and activities. The little ones normally stay in the room most of the time because it has another fence to keep them out of harm’s way and of course it’s out of the sun. The group also left the club from time to time, especially to walk to the ice cream parlour which our kids loved! The caregivers were Yanet (who is pregnant!), Diana (has one daughter) and Reina (didn’t really get to know her at all). They were very friendly and patient, especially with our daughter who unfortunately was devastated to see us go and cried most of the time we were away (our son had a great time). That was very unfortunate because my husband and I ended up having much less “couple time” than we had hoped because we were too sad to leave our daughter at the baby club! We did however get out for a couple of a la carte dinners after the kids went to bed, while Yanet babysat for us. We didn’t take any tours and the only adult activities we did were an hour of rather mediocre snorkeling using our own equipment, a couple of hours of moped rental, ten minutes in the hot tubs inside the gym and the Cuban show one evening (which we thoroughly enjoyed). We went jogging around the resort a couple of times too – it’s large enough that it’s easy to cover 5K! During the day we mostly hung out by the pool, which had a shallow area (ranging from about 2 cm to about 40 cm, then a line of little underwater seats that served as a barrier from the deeper part of the pool) where our children loved running back and forth and pouring water out of watering cans. The white tiles are very slippery – if you’re going to be running both adults and children should wear water shoes! We always managed to find lounge chairs by the pool, and almost always in the shade. The shallow part of the pool is also right by the washrooms and some smaller plastic climbing structures, and only a few steps from the 24-hour trattoria. We were a little paranoid about sand fleas so only spent a couple of mornings at the beach but the children loved playing in the sand and none of us got any bites, nor from mosquitoes. In the evenings, my husband and I brought back a couple of drinks to the room and sat out on the balcony sipping pina coladas and reading our novels. Not very exciting but a nice break from a Canadian winter! We ate most of our meals at the buffet Latino. It was slightly further from our room than the buffet Criolo but had a better selection. We always found things that the children liked, and if we got a table right by the buffet we could leave them at the table while we went to get food. There are high chairs available. At breakfast we generally filled up two sippy cups with juice and picked up a couple of bananas, rolls or tubs of yogurt as snacks for the kids later in the day. My favourite meal was breakfast with chocolate croissants, made-to-order omelets, fresh orange juice and sometimes prosciutto (I must have eaten $30 of prosciutto in a week!). We had sparkling wine or beer with almost every lunch or dinner – we didn’t like the regular red and white wine at all. We all got a little bit of “traveller’s tummy” but I think it was just the change of food and nothing to do with hygiene. Our a la carte dinners at the Grill and Romantico were a nice change but small servings and nothing special. Our flights were great. We didn’t pre-book our seats but the airline staff and other passengers traded seats until we all managed to sit together both ways. Our room was also very clean, comfortable and well-equipped and, in my opinion, qualified as “superior”. We brought inflatable Ready-Beds for our children (we bought them a year ago at Toys R Us and they are truly fabulous, allowing children to sleep in their “own” beds wherever you go), the only disadvantage being that they creak a bit when the children roll over and so my and my husband’s sleep was interrupted.

I don’t have much to compare with, only having taken one sun holiday in the past (at Sol Club Rio de Luna, also in the Holguin area, in 2002). We didn’t like the location as much as last time (Rio de Luna is on Playa Esmeralda where the snorkeling was better and there was also ample opportunity for birdwatching at the mangroves between Rio de Luna and Paradisus Rio de Oro). Otherwise Playa Pesquero was fantastic and we plan to go back in two years when hopefully my daughter will be happier about being at the baby club.

Playa Pesquero
The kids club was very nice. It has a little pool, playground structure, sand, toys etc. Our kids would go play there in the mornings. We never went too far though. I liked to keep the club in view, as sometimes, the workers were helping with coloring activities in the building and not really watching the kids that were out around the pool. My kids left a few times, the workers did follow them out till they saw us, but I would not have been comfortable leaving my 2 year old there without me being able to see the club. One really great thing was they lend out strollers for you to use while you are there. We thought we could do it without one so left ours at home. This resort is huge, and alot of walking for little ones. The tires on the strollers do need air, but they worked just great to haul my 2 year old and all of our towels and gear around.
Sirenis Las Salina
We would return in a heartbeat except that the kids program was horrible. There wasn’t one. Travelling with 6 children ranging in age from infant to 10yrs, the kids club was to be an important part of our holiday. We wanted and the kids wanted to be able to have the option to go and have fun with other children. They did not have any daily activities planned and for the most part kept the kids inside the clubhouse. After last years vacation in Mexico where they had a fabulous program, we were very disappointed. My advise to parents if you are looking for a resort that offers these services do not book at Sirenis. As mentioned, we would return in a minute if it was not for that reason.
Sirenis Las Salina
Art & Jeanne 
February 2008
We phoned Selloff Vacations & Sunwing to check the hours of the kids club and were told it was 10 to 5. We also emailed the resort and were also told the hours were 10-5. When we got to the resort we were told they were from 10-12 and 2-6. We were very disappointed to not have the hours we were told available. We were told we could get the kids club from 12-2 but at the cost of $5 per child per hour. We would have had to spend another $20 a day to get what was supposed to be offered. Only after we talked to the Sunwing rep. did the hours change 11 days later.

When our kids did use the club they were usually the only ones over the age of 3. Sometimes there was only 1 lady to take care of them and the little ones that were there. Of course the lady had to take care of the babies so our sons were left to entertain themselves. There are 2 sides to the kids club; one has cribs and a little kid’s playroom which is very nice. The other side has older kid’s games. Unfortunately since there was only 1 caregiver they often had to stay on the baby side. Not to much fun for a 5 & 10 year old. They were usually the only ones there over 4. Other kids would check it out and see that they weren’t doing anything then would leave. They’ve been to 5 other resorts with kids club and said this was the worse one. They never had a schedule of activities and often they sat and watched tv. The club was fine for kids 3 & under. The activities around the pool & beach were also geared to get the adults involved and not the kids.

Sirenis Las Salina
Nicole & Oscar Edmonton Alberta
November 2007
This is a great resort for families, the kids pool has a huge water slide, kids club with park and baby pool, water volleyball and the animation team keeps things going all day at the pool. The adults can swim up to the pool bar which is inside a cave complete with waterfall at the entrance and there is a snack bar on site. Bring a stroller for the litte ones as there is a lot of walking at this resort.
Sol Cayo Guillermo
The Kids Club (4-12 years old, approx?) was *excellent* – better run and better facilities than Melia Caribe in the DR/PuntaCana we visited last year, and the MeliaCaribe makes a big deal about its kids club. They have a good space (nice clean space, good AC, lots of toys, dress-up stuff, a good size small private kiddie-pool, good supervision, and once our nearly-5-year-old-daughter started going it was hard to get her to spend time with us on the beach 🙂
Sol Pelicano
One of the main reasons I booked this resort was for the Kid’s club. Our 3 year old speaks only English but speaks very well. The girls that work with kids speak fluent Itallian and Spanish with only a little English. All of the other children were Itallian so the staff spoke almost exclusively Itallian. Our 3 year old was confused by this and didn’t enjoy the club very much. The toys were old, the crayons were stubs. We gave the staff a large bag full of crayons, markers, stickers etc. so that in the future I hope other kids can play.
Sol Sirenis Coral
BabyClub:
One of the reasons we chose this resort is that they had a babyclub (0-4) which was actually very good. It was in a large building and had a separate portion where kids could have their nap (other parents took advantage of this and dropped off their toddlers for a nap while they were at the pool/beach but it never worked with our son) and a playroom with toys. Most of the time there’s 2 older ladies watching / playing with 2 or 3 kids. Our son loved it and we left him there for a while (30 minutes to 2 hours) on most of the days.
Tryp Peninsula – Varadero
Robert  Alberta, Canada
December 2008
The kids area has a wading pool for toddlers in a small fenced area with sun chairs and palapas around it. Adjacent to it is a bit larger pool that goes up to about 3 feet deep, a whale shaped fountain in the middle, and more sun chairs and shade palapas around it. Between the 2 pools is a large Spanish style castle with a waterslide, it is a little short (15 feet long id say) and fast, but it is there and the kids enjoyed it. There is a building beside the pools which is the size of a 3 car garage, it contains the kids club, a washroom, little tables, play area, some games, and a little buffet of hamburgers and hot dogs. Outside the building there is a granita machine that they make slushie pina coladas in, and a table with a full bar service for the moms and dads. The service from the bartender here was excellent. The kids club offers babysitting service for little ones, activities and kids projects and events all day. It was phenomenal and our kids had a blast participating in the events that they did. The girls who run it really are great with the kids and seem to love it.
Tryp Peninsula – Varadero
Paul Montreal, Quebec
February 2008
BABY ROOM – we had mixed experiences. Some Staff (eg Enya) are clearly interested and capable in looking after your child whilst others are more mechanical. It’s worth mentioning that the toys are not as numerous as in the brochure photos and have seen better days! They do have the only baby-change facilities in the complex and a nice sleeping room with cots.

CHILDREN’S MINI CLUB – this is fine if your child is a primadona. Delia is keen on doing her evening shows but made no effort to engage with the kids otherwise, and rather spent ther time playing dice with adults. She was in no way accomodating of children slightly younger than the stipulated age despite the fact that the Baby Room is not suitable for those aged over 3. Julia from the Kids club made a good effort with the 3 year olds. The lady who runs the kids pool snack bar is lovely (Sonya) and if you read this and are going to the Tryp please take copies of positive commmets with you, the staff realy appreciate the feedback

MINI-DISCO – this is fantastic….if you can keep your kids awake until 8:30pm. Lots of fun for all ages!

Villa Cojimar – Cayo Guillermo
I must mention the kids club!! Janette is the girl who is in charge of the mini club and we loved her so much!! Our boys had a great time with her the two weeks we were there. She took them bowling ate dinner with them sometimes and they also went to a park off the resort and went swimming at the next resort over. The boys were even in a play and I was amazed how well they could act. She also did a mini disco with them everynight with all the other kids and that was always fun to watch. So if you bring your kids to this resort I promise you they will love janette and the kids club.
Bahia Principe – Punta Cana
The Sherry’s  Ontario Canada
October 2005
The kids club was good. If you have kids over 10, it may not be for them. Our girls are 5 & 7. They met some friends and had a good time. They had mini-disco every night. It is the same routine every night, but the kids loved it. Stephanie and Isobel were the supervisors. They did a good job. The club had movies, Nintendo,an outside play area and play area inside. They would go to the beach sometimes, or the pool or play games (tennis, board games). Kids club was open from 9am to 6pm. The good thing is that if the adults wanted to do a day trip, they could go and do that.
Bavaro Princess – Punta Cana
Tara (Saultgirl) Sault Ste Marie, Ontario
May 2007
This was our first time taking our 2 children. It was clear the Dominican people love children. They were acknowledged constantly. The staff would say “hola” or “high 5” just passing on the sidewalk, the tram driver mimicked birds and the kids would be looking around. The waitstaff would ask them if they wanted special things, like making hot chocolate at the table in the am, and when I went alone with them, they would tell me to go to buffet and hung out by table, keeping an eye on them. At dinner, my picky eaters often did not eat a la carte meals. No problem, they would get fries or pasta from the buffets ajoining without an issue. The suites accommodate 2 trundle beds no problem, but the sofa bed is a double and we used that.

The property:

It is huge, but try to take time to walk around, especially through the animal area and the mangrove. My children were fascinated to discover a peahen and her chicks walking beside us on the road, and the peacock showing his plumes at the buffet. You can take bread out of the buffet and hold it in the water in the lobby and the turtles and fish will eat from your hands. So will the ducks and flamingos. We had a visitor in our room – a baby gecko that kept the kids entertained for a couple days. Food: OK, my children are very picky eaters. They don’t like to try new foods at all. They lived on fries, pasta with butter, and waffles pretty much. The 7 yr old ate hot dogs & pizza, and the 6 yr old bacon. However, they never starved. They loved the ice cream—the pink is bubblegum, not strawberry. My 2 never had any stomach problems at all Little boxes of Cheerios and Lucky Charms were always available at breakfast and staff didn’t mind us taking them out, so I stockpiled for snacks and the plane.

Kids Club:

This ended up being my 7 yr old daughter’s favorite spot. The staff – Primotivo “Master Ping Pong”, Nathalie and Ana Theresa were terrific. It was a little confusing at first as there is no schedule to speak of, so I didn’t know where the kids would be and that freaked me out a bit, but after checking regularly, I got to know the routine. A printed schedule would be very helpful as an improvement. The culture is a lot less rigid than we are used to with our day cares, but generally it went like this: Opened at about 9. Kids stayed in club area and did whatever they wanted —nintendo, games, crafts, soccer, etc and then at about 11 there might be a structured activity, depending on number of kids ( a couple days, my daughter was the only one there as my son wanted to stay with me, on those days, she literally called the shots….pool, beach, walk, etc) There was archery, dressing up as pirates, ping pong, . At about 11:30 the kids went to the pool for an hour. After that they picked up food at the grill and went to club to eat. They stayed in club area until about 3 pm when they went to pool again. At pool kids would be rounded up for a game, little show, or other activity. At 5 you pick them up. We gave my daughter a radio to call us, but she just used it to play with. At 8 pm they go around the lobby buffet collecting kids and take them on the stage for ½ hr-45 min. They have games, a fashion show, etc. You can pick them up at stage at end. On Fridays they do The Lion King. They pick kids up from pool area about 3-3:30 for practice. You take them at 8 for makeup (they will get you about 9 to take pics). At 10 they are on stage and then sit to far right of stage to watch show and are on at end again.

Suggestions for taking kids here:

You don’t need much for clothing: a few evening outfits (kids can wear shorts & sandals), and bathing suits & coverups. Laundry service is very inexpensive (most items about $2 for kids). So is a Tide to go pen. Get a long sleeve 50 spf boarding shirt for each kid. My daughter wore hers almost the entire time. My son just in the pool. The problem with sunscreen is that when it is re-applied, you have to wait for it to absorb and the kids don’t wait so it washed off.

Catalonia Bavaro – Punta Cana
The kid pool was where we spent most of our time. The kids LOVED the pool and it was not too deep. They would hang out there all day and play with the other kids. We brought water toys and beach toys that they all shared and had fun.

The resort has a kids club which was for 4 year olds and up. I was not expecting much and was slighlty impressed with the club. Are 2 year old also played and did crafts there. They had a decent swing set and some toys to play with. They had a room where you could do crafts, watch some TV or play some games. There was always a friendly staff there with the kids. The club was gated but most kids could come and go as they pleased. The staff was not really watching this so we did not leave the kids unattended. There was a small eating area across from the kids club where us parents could sit eat and drink if we wanted to. The kids enjoyed the club frequently. My only negative comment was when the staff was allowing my 2 year old to throw real darts at a dart board.

Club Med – Punta Cana
Walden & Michelle Texas
June 2004
We have a 2-year-old and placed her in the petite club for four days. The Petit Club is closed on Saturdays, as that is the major check-in and check-out date for Club Med. The GO’s were wonderful with the kids and watched them closely. Every morning, they had arts & crafts, went to the baby pool, went to the beach, played under a covered awning on little cars, went to lunch around 12:00 at one of the restaurants and then went down for their nap from 1-3. Around 3:30, the GO’s herded the kids to one of the restaurants for a snack and then either let them play in the play room or had entertainment down at the beach where the parents picked up the kids. Overall, money well spent. We were able to relax or do water sports and we felt confident the children were being well watched.
Dreams Punta Cana
Nancy  Toronto
December 2008
The Explorers Club for kids is also fabulous, my 7 and 4 year olds wanted to stay there for the entire duration of the trip. This is the first resort that I ever brought them to that I felt confident leaving the kids at the Kids Club. They assign you a cell phone when you check the kids in and contact you if your kids need you, or in my case if they just wanted to call you and see if they could do lunch with the Club Kids instead of having me pick them up.
Fiesta Bavaro – Punta Cana
Kids Club: Our two younger kids (4 & 6) stayed there for a part of most days. The older 2 girls (9 & 11) preferred to stay with us at the beach. The kids club looks like a western fort’s stockade, with climbing areas, sand to dig in, craft room, Nintendo, ping pong, bathrooms with showers, small kitchen, and little soccer field. The staff are friendly and speak some English. Our kids really enjoyed making foreign friends! The staff has all sorts of planned activities, and most of the time sticks to a schedule posted at the gate. They took the kids on a Hobie cat one afternoon. They go mini-golfing, do archery (older kids), go to the pools and beach. They also take them to the lunch buffet at the beach restaurant, Arricefe. On most days, there were about 6 kids at the Mini Club at a time. You can leave your kids off at any time between 9am and 5pm. One of our kids started with the stomach probelm while ther, and the staff was very caring until we returned. They had a place for her to lay down, and made her an Alka Seltzer drink. When we got there, a staff member was reading a story to her. When we were saying our goodbyes on the last day, the director gave us a CD of the Dominican kids music to take home. Our kids loved that bouncy misuc, and still enjoy listening to that CD. She also gave us her email address, so the kids have enjoyed exchanging emails.
Fiesta Palace – Punta Cana
One area I found little about in your reviews, was Fort Fiesta, the camp for kids. My sons and nephews went every day for at least a few hours. It was a great respite for us. The counselors were warm and fun for the kids, and had lots of activities, including a pizza party , and an ice cream party. This was all included in our package. I found the hotel was great with kids.
Fiesta Palace – Punta Cana
Sarah Ontario, Canada
July 2002
Hello my name is Sarah. Im 15 years old and this is my first trip to a tropical place. My family and I went to Fiesta Palace, Punta Cana. I was Amazed with this resort.

When we finally arrived at the airport in the Dominican Republic the were to girls in traditional outfits waiting at the entrance and then you get a picture with them. (Which you can pick up when you are leaving for 5 dollars) But sometimes they don’t turn out so they are not there which happened to us. We went and went through secruity. Next we were going to get or luggage which we found took a while. I think we were one of the last people who actually got our luggage. When we got or bags we went and found the represenative for our hotel. They showed us where our bus was. We decided to sit near the front as we would get to the resort around 5 pm. We were the second ones to check in. When we were waiting a waiter came and served us drinks. I think it was a fruit punch but not quite sure. After we checked in the bell boy showed us to our rooms. Once we got to our rooms we were not satisfied with them as they were on the 1st floor and had a smell to it, and we were looking more for the second floor with a beach view but not necessary as all the view is gorgeous. We went back to the front next and asked if it was possible to get a room on the second floor. The lady was very nice and helpful and gave us a couple of keys to go check out the room and told us to tell her what room we decided on and to return the keys. We were in the 19 something i think can’t remember as it was 2 months ago. It was on the second floor and was close to the beach pool and the main lobby. My sister and i got the better room as it was our first trip to a place like this. We had abit of an ocean view but not much which was ok because we had other very nice view and your not in the rooms alot anyways. The only time we were in the rooms was for showers before dinner and bed we found. I found the room very nice and the beds were comfortable as you have to remember they are not a wealthy as we are. In the washroom we had some ants which didn’t really bug us because thats the only place we ever saw them. My sister and I each had our own bed which was a double. Tip: don’t drink the tap water as you will get sick. When taking a shower keep your mouth close and brushing your teeth use bottle water they supply enough that you will never run out and there will be no need to use the tap water. When my parents did some research on the internet knowing that this was their first time going to this resort and some people complained that there were not enough towels. That was wrong when we went there was always plenty of towels (beach and shower). They were always clean. The rooms were always clean and if you leave your pjs on your bed which i forgot to take off one morning (oops). They maids will do them up all fancy looking. It was really cute. The food at the resort was not bad considering i am a extremly picky eater. You can always find something for anyone. For the a la cartes they say you can only have one for the week, which is not true. We tried almost every restuarant as possible. We really enjoyed the tex mex as we really enjoy mexican food. But friends of ours didn’t care for it as they are not big on mexican food. I didn’t like the sea food place because i don’t like sea food but my parents and my sister really enjoyed it. For breakfast we always ate at the buffet which was right across the lobby over the bridge. We always ate there because it was easy, variety, and staff was very friendly. For lunch we ate at the restaurant by the pool. They would bbq fish, chicken, pork, beef, hotdogs, hamburgers, ect. I really enjoyed the chicken nuggets and french fries there. But also enjoyed other dishes. There is so much food you will never be dissatisfied. I found all the staff was very friendly as we became really close to alot of staff there. The beach was gorgeous and was always keep nice. The seawweed and other floating stuff that lands on shore was always raked up in the morning to be keep neat and tidy. The water was a blueish green. The sand was unbeleivable. It was white and powdery. There were always enough recliner chairs for every one so that you don’t have to go and reserve them before. Just as we wanted. there were shacks about 5- 10 mins down the beach where you can get you hair braided and buy things. Tip: