Arrival When we arrived off the plane, there was a customer service desk out front at the airport telling each person which bus to board for what resort. We arrived at night and they had a coach bus take us to our hotel. After a 4.5 hour flight and a few drunk passengers, the bus was a bit rowdy and ready to start their vacation. The driver was a *little* crazy, but nothing like you hear about. The drive to the resort was long (around 90 minutes according to the brochure). But it was alright.
I think for the most part the resort has nice clean rooms. However it was VERY full when we were there and we were in the last hotel in the back corner of the resort (23). It was a bit more outdated but still clean and spacious. The beds were a decent size, although a little lumpy. Pillows were a bit tiny and lumpy too but enough for sleeping. Our toilet wouldn’t flush half the time, mostly because it wouldn’t fill back up with water. So we used the shower hose. And the shower hose leaked at the top so water would squirt out. Although this all sounds negative, these were the worst of our problems and everything else was above and beyond fantastic. Overall the rooms were nice with patio doors and balcony’s for each suite, and tv’s (we found about 3 english channels – TBS, TNT). I honestly think our hotel was a bit neglected because it was one of the far ones. But the room was secure and comfortable, and had air conditioning. And I was impressed with the size of the rooms. Room service was also prompt and provided fresh towels everyday, and made the beds. Also, we paid about $17 and got the key to the room safe. We didn’t use it the first day and everything was fine, but peace of mind is better and helps for a more relaxing vacation so I’d recommend it.
Restaurants and Bars
There were two options for eating – booking a dinner reservation, or eating at the buffet with everyone else. I think everyone gets one or two dinner reservations. We chose Italian night and Brazilian night. Brazilian was great – mainly different meats to try. Italian wasn’t as great, but it was nice to have a special dinner away from the everyday buffet. The dinner restaurants were really nice with candlelight and everyone was required to dress up a bit. The only real buffet area was the main restaurant in the front (that we found or knew of). We ate there almost every meal. There was a great selection and chefs were there also preparing certain foods as you requested. The dessert selection was huge, and included many cakes, cookies, jello and ice cream. The bars were great too. The best one we found was also at the front of the resort. There seemed to be a bar near or by every swimming pool (4). So that helped. And also one by the beach a bit. I wasn’t as crazy about their alcohol but the rum was the easiest to drink by-far. We never had to wait in line too long for a drink.
Pools were beautiful and well kept. Even though the resort was big, it never ever felt like any of the pools were over-crowded. Everything was pretty spread out and felt more private and spacious than crowded. The beach was nice and there were huts and chairs out for people to use. The grounds of the resort were beautiful with lots of nice foliage, plants, flowers and everything was well-maintained. Lots of nice fountains, ponds, and benches, etc. It was really pretty.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The resort has lots of small activities to keep from getting too board. We tried water/beach volleyball, horseshoes, dancing lessons, water aerobics, etc. The resort offered horseback riding although they only had 3 times a day to go out, with only 6 spots per outing so they went FAST. You have to be in the lobby pretty much before the rep arrives in order to get in line to book these. It took us about 5 days of trying before we got in. But it was worth it – it’s just over half an hour on a trail behind the resort and up the road. Very nice to do. We also did Ocean World. This place is massive but expensive! It cost us $115/pp plus $10 transfer from the hotel. This got us into the grounds and a chance to encounter the dolphins which was neat. But if you want to actually swim with them it’s a $50 upgrade. Then any other encounters or swims are extra. And the photos are pricey too (5×7’s start at 12.00 each). Included in the admission was snorkeling, feeding the birds and the bird sanctuary, animal shows (dolphin, sea lion, sharks, and birds), and other aquarium walk-through’s. I’m glad we went to this because it was neat and helped to break up our week but I wouldn’t go back – it was really nice but just too expensive.
Other Comments: I found a week was plenty of time here. I think with more than that I would’ve been bored. The festivities they have at the resort are pretty fun but can get repetitive after you’ve done a few. 🙂 The staff are very friendly and helpful though. We had fun joking around with the entertainment staff, and they seemed to speak English well. I would go back again, it was a nice clean resort. Also to note, we booked with sell off vacations.com and with Nolitours. Our Nolitours rep was amazing! He was really helpful with questions we had, helping us book our excursion, and any problems we had (ie: toilet not flushing). And gave us an extra towel card when someone scooped ours. I can’t say enough good things about him and would definitely book with them again over the "other" rep’s company who wasn’t quite so knowledgeable. Also, there were vendors along the beach selling souvenirs, but you had to barter with them. FYI, they do like "Canadian things" so if you can take some stuff with you, you could trade instead of paying cash (shampoo, clothes, etc.). When bartering, we found we could come down to about 20-30% of their starting price. There isn’t a lot though in the way of souvenirs. The paintings are nice and there’s some hand-made items, but most stuff you need to pick through. The resort also has some shops, but that doesn’t include bartering. Their prices are lower than the vendors but higher than what you could barter for.
Overall, I would recommend this resort, for sure!