Grand Paradise Samaná Reviews

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Grand Paradise Samaná  

Samana. Dominican Republic

"Strong 3 star - value for your dollar"
Posted by: Lynne  on Feb 21, 2016
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Grand Paradise Samaná Reviews
Grand Paradise Samaná Pictures and Information
Grand Paradise Samaná Las Galeras Dominican Republic

#1
of 10 Hotels in Las Galeras

User rating 3.2

Based on 26 reviews

Grand Paradise Samaná Information


Situated on the coast of Playa Las Galeras, Grand Paradise Samaná welcomes visitors to a tropical Resort where comfort is a priority and the natural beauty of the environment is everywhere.

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Grand Paradise Samaná Reviews

Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 3.2 of 5 26 reviews
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"Amazing!"

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 5.00 of 5

Posted by:  Sarah  on Apr 8, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2011 | Leisure | With friend
1347 people found this review helpful

I have to say when i arrived on this resort i was a little disapointed.. very different from other resorts ive been on.. my friend and i made our own fun and it was the best vacation ever.. as long as you meet people and the staff are generally pretty good.. Juan at the sports bar is the best to go to for drinks or you wont get anything good.. the entertainment guys are also great people.. I would recommend this resort to anybody, the people are very friendly.. Best trip ever.

Room Number:
3103

Restaurants and Bars:
The food isnt the greatest

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
well maintained

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"Dream vacation"

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 5.00 of 5

Posted by:  Silvana  on Feb 26, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Solo
787 people found this review helpful

I stayed in the Grand paradise, Samana. It included my flight, buses, food, table wine, juices stocked in room fridge. There was also free scuba diving, etc. I am 64 and went on my own. The hotel complex was so safe and a wonderful place. you have entertainment every night, a disco, all inclusive. Like a small holiday camp with 2 pools. Everyone there went out of thier way to please you. I loved my two weeks and want to return.

Your Arrival:
middle two weeks in march'09

Rooms:
a ground floor room, a guy bringing me a fresh coconut every day

Restaurants and Bars:
i think 4 bars plus restaurant bar

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
a couple times a week they set out tables by the beach for you to eat, a wonderful expierience.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
tennis, mini golf, many more

Other Comments:
I highly recomend this, specially to families and older people

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"Amazing!! The whole Family is going next year!!"

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 5.00 of 5

Posted by:  Tabatha and Patrick  on Mar 18, 2012  >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2012 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
1680 people found this review helpful

My husband and I just returned from this resort a few days ago and even before we left to come home, we were making plans to visit again next year! We fully intend to take all of our children and our grand child as well.
This is an amazingly friendly, family of all ages, oriented resort. The young people who run this beautiful place are so caring, and eager to please and talented. The resort itself is beyond words beautiful! The service providers are more than helpful. everything worked in our room without any problems. We had ocean view, which was simply breath taking! The beach was beyond words as well. Never any problems getting loungers. Towels were fresh every day. everything was so very clean.
These people work so very hard and such long hours. The daily activities were such fun and getting to know the friendly staff was a treat. The nightly shows were epic! The talent these young people have is amazing and trust me you wont want to miss a single one!

Room Number:
1137

Room Block:
1

Arrival:
We arrived around 2pm on Thursday afternoon. The front desk staff were so cheerful and helpful, you couldn't help but feel their good spirits rub off. We were greeted with cold drinks of juice and escorted to the restaurant for lunch which was very much appreciated after travelling nearly 7 hours.Then, so there was no confusion, a young bell hop escorted and carried our luggage to our room for us and showed us around a bit. He answered any questions we had and was so pleasant.

Rooms:
The rooms were impressively clean and views were to die for! Even had a little Gecko living in the tree behind our patio LOL

Restaurants and Bars:
The bars were equally friendly and very knowledgeable of their positions. They made drinks of all kinds and let me recommend the beer, if you aren't a rum drinker, this is really good beer. The restaurants were all very nice and the staff were on top of things at all times. Always with a smile as well.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
This beach is so beautiful! Pictures just do not do this place any justice. We took full advantage of the activities offered and the water sports. Also did a bit of snorkelling in the local aquarium, My husband even bought an underwater camera at the little gift shop right on sight! How can you beat that?

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We walked to the local village on our 3rd day there for a couple of hours and it was quite an experience. The culture shock will humble you and the people earning their living in this little village were also more than friendly and helpful. There is an on site photography booth which take random pictures during the day. You'll need to check this out. My husband and I had a sunset sitting and the pictures were gorgeous! A perfect piece of remembrance for us for many years to come.

Other Comments:
I believe my time is equally as valuable as anyone else's, that's why I took the time to write this review. I truly want people to realize how great and beautiful this resort is. From the natural beauty of the land to the inner beauty of the people who make your stay memorable :O) We truly cannot wait to take ourselves and our entire family back next year!!

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"2 for 2!"

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 5.00 of 5

Posted by:  Tabatha and Patrick  on Aug 28, 2013  >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2013 | Leisure | With Group
1186 people found this review helpful

During February 28-March 7,2013, my family and some friends had the pleasure of enjoying this resort for the second time. My husband and I went there in 2012 and loved it so much that we took four more people with us this year! It's relaxed, friendly atmosphere is comparable to none!
Greeted by familiar faces upon arrival, We also had complimentary gifts in our rooms waiting for us all, even though the other four had never been there before, they were treated as VIP also. Benito at the pool bar is so kind and went out of his way to make sure we were happy and taken care of every time he saw us, Thank you Benito!

Room Block:
500's

Arrival:
Upon arrival and during our entire stay, Alvero (I think it's spelled right) went out of his way everyday to seek us out and make sure we were being taken care of. Even on his day off, we saw him shopping in the little village and he chatted us up an was helpful with directions as we were looking for an old friend we had made the year before. Thank you for being so kind and patient with us Alvero! He has a sincerity that cannot be faked.

Rooms:
Rooms are clean and towels stocked daily so no issues there.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food is very good and you will certainly not go hungry.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Louis Martinez Is your towel guy! He'll make sure you have fresh towels every day and is also so very kind and pleasant!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We made use of all the equipment daily plus enjoyed the activities and stayed involved with the entertainment, It was always fun.

Other Comments:
We fully intend to visit again in 2014 with even more family and friends next time! Our group will probably be about 10 or more next year, see you all in the spring!!! And thanks again for the excellent treatment and beautiful resort!!

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"A great trip."

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 4.50 of 5

Posted by:  James from Calgary  on Jun 1, 2009  >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jun, 2009
711 people found this review helpful

Arrival: June 2009
The package was through Air Canada Vacations. Had a good flight in, processing through the airport was quick. The bus ride was about 90 minutes and very bumpy. Scenery was great.

Rooms:
Rooms were great, clean and well looked after, Air Conditioning worked great though a second key card is recommended in order to keep the AC running while away from the room. Maids were awesome.

Restaurants and Bars:
The choice at the main buffet was lacking. The beach BBQ on the day of arrival was the best. The seafood restarant was lacking as well. We didn't go for the food so we were not disappointed

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The resort was well laid out and looked after. The beach was awesome. Nice white sand and very warm water.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Took and ATV tour to Playa Rincon beach which is another spectacular beach. The tour was through a tour company we found in Las Galeras, Augusto Tours. They were located on the main drag in town. They were a pleasant surprise.

Other Comments:
Overall this was a great trip. Would go back.

jimdrolfe@hotmail.com

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"What an amazing vacation...."

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Anita  on May 4, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2011 | Leisure | Family and Kids
1946 people found this review helpful

Everyone needs to get a visitor pass including the baby form your flight attendant. If not it will cost you US$10 for it at the air port when you arrive. We were not given one for our baby and did not asked for it; we did not now the baby needed one so we end up having to pay for it at the air port. I was not too happy with that.

We loved how everyone always greeted you with a smile and ‘Hula!’
The staff were all wonderful.... $1 US goes a long way. The trick is to tip….

Room Number:
1136

Room Block:
1

Arrival:
Other than that, it was fast getting out and onto the bus. The ride was an hour and 20 minis to the resort. Don’t worry the bus have AC. Be prepared to have a long day. When we arrived we got throw reception fast and were in time for the buffet, which we were defiantly in need of.

Rooms:
Our room was on the 1st floor room 1136. Great location close to the buffet, bar, reception, pool and beach… Very quiet and cool. The AC was ok. It was comfortable. No mosquitoes or bugs. We found the room very good. It was very clean and spacious. They mop and clean the rooms daily. The only concern we had with the room was the mini bar, they did not full it daily...Only 2 pop and a big bottle of water is in there… Everything else was perfect.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food was good.....they had a small variety but it was tasty.... I quite enjoyed the food at lunch and dinner, we never went hungry. The breakfast was just about the same every morning. You must try the hot chocolate milk; it is out of this world delish… There is NO 24hr snack, only a 1hr midnight sandwich that ends at 1am.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The beach and pool was fabulous we thoroughly enjoyed both every day. The water was warm and the sand soft and wonderful. There were plenty of lounge chairs to go around and lots of shady spot. We especially loved the closeness of the beach to the hotel...it was a very short walk to the beach.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The night entertainment show was great. We truly enjoyed it. A must see….
Lots of stuff to do but we did not take part in....

Other Comments:
We went out to the towns, once to the little one near the hotel. You can take a cab for US$12 both ways as we did or walk along the beach, it is about a 5 or 10 minute walk. I would not recommend to go to this little town it is not worth it, but if you do you should go to the little supermarket there to buy your alcohols and cigars you will get the best prices and they won’t over charge you. You don’t have to barging. But if you shop at any of the other stores you MUST barging with them. We also went to the main town of Samana. It cost US$60 both ways. It is expansive, so what we did is split the cost with 2 other families and payee US$20 for each family. The cab was a mini bus that seats 12 persons. So we were all comfee… It is worth it, we were all happy we went to the town of Samana the prices are better and it was a wonderful experience. If you go you must buy your rum there it is less than 1/2 of the price. You will pay a lot more at the gift shop and air port. You must go to the town of Samana, just split the cost with others. Ask around in no time you will get a bus full. On our trip to Samana we bought mangoes US$1 for about 6 mangoes and fresh coconut water with jelly for only US$1 each. Never buy coconut off the beach it is not good. The gift shop at the hotel price is ok but you must be a wear that some of the prices are wrong and it is twice the amount when it is time to pay. It is best to bring US$ with you. You get a better rate when you exchange it. Take along a lot of US$1 with.

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"A pretty good vacation"

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Brenda  on Nov 20, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) 
Visited on: Nov, 2010 | Business | Family and Kids
1049 people found this review helpful

My husband and I have just returned from our one week vacation at the Grand Paradise resort in Samana, (Sam-ah-na) DR. This was our first trip to this region of the DR. It is a beautiful area. The resort is located in a small town called Las Galeras. Ten minute walk from the resort to town, 15 if you walk slowly. We have also traveled to Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica and other areas of the DR. We flew out of Halifax to Toronto, we had about an hour or so wait and then on to Samana directly. On return, we took the same route but had an overnight in Toronto. The departure tax was included in our AI package. On the way down we did have a couple of spells of turbulence due to the hurricane that had just passed the day before; the return flight was nice and smooth. We flew via West Jet Vacations. The Samana airport is pretty small and we were the only plane that arrived (that I noticed). We cleared the airport pretty fast. If you take fruit with you to eat on the flight, don’t forget to eat it. The baggage is x-rayed before you leave the airport so they will find what you forgot. The transfer from airport to hotel took between 1.5 and 2 hours (we dropped off people at another resort). The trip from the airport to resort is like a mini excursion. You get to see a lot of the area. There is road construction happening now, so the roads will be improved.

Arrival:
Check in was quick and we found the front desk staff to be friendly. Our room was ready when we arrived. No welcome drink. We were given room 1102, the first room, ground floor in the right wing of building #1. You are only given one room key (credit card type) we asked for a second and were told they only gave one for security reasons. They used to let you buy the 2nd key for $3/day, that policy has been changed and now there is no 2nd keys period! I had requested a room on the 2nd floor. I asked if we could change rooms and was told that there were none available, try tomorrow. If you want a quiet room, don’t get one in building #1. It is beside the buffet, which is beside the theatre. It gets pretty darn loud when the evening shows are on. If you want a room that is close to the pools, buffet and reception, ask for building #1. There are three types of buildings at this resort. Villas (all in a row like a motel, looked nice from the outside). Two storey and three storey buildings. The buildings closest to the reception are the two storey buildings. The villas are kind of in the middle and the three storey buildings are at the back end of the resort. The resort is spacious, everything is easily accessible.

Rooms:
The room was a good size with two double beds. We both found the mattress uncomfortably hard (no mattress pads, I guess we are getting spoiled). The room was clean, no mold, no bugs, no bad smells, no worries. There is some wear showing in the bathroom, this is to be expected. The hot water in the shower was a little tricky. You had to turn the water on and get the proper temperature before you turned the shower on. If you need to adjust it during the shower, it went to cold and you had to turn it off and start the temperature process over again. There is a sticker on the toilet seat showing you not to put your toilet tissue in the toilet, but to put it in the waste basket. The problem with this is that the waste basket does not have a lid. We put our wet paper in the basket and the other paper went in the toilet! We had a garden view from out patio that had two plastic chairs and a small plastic table. There is an in room safe (electronic, but you need to get a key for the inside of the door at reception) US$15 /week. Double closet, one phone, one bedside table, the armoire held the TV (get remote at reception) and mini fridge which was stocked with two pop and two water (it was kept stocked all week). We had a desk with three large side drawers, no clock, and great air conditioning. There were also two chairs in the room. The furniture was pretty nice and all was in good shape. The hairdryer was on its last leg. We did not need our converter for the plugs. There are several English TV channels, including movies. Beach towels were supplied. Bring your own facecloth. When in the room you put your room key in the slot beside the door to get electricity and AC. Once the key was removed the power went out in about one minute.

Weather:
Weather - we had a nice mix of sun, some clouds and a few showers. One day it rained all day, pretty hard at times we were told. We were not at the resort that day and we had sun where we were. : )

Beach:
The actual beach area is narrow but nice and long. The entry is sand except for one or two small sections. You can walk quite a way out in the water before it gets deep. The workers kept the beach clean of seaweed. No real snorkeling from the beach. There is a roped off section that you have to pay $10 to use. They take you out by boat to that spot. There were kayaks, boogey boards, and wind surfers. There is a dive shop. We had red flags all but one day and I only saw someone using the water sports equipment on the one day we had the yellow flag. There were a few vendors on the beach, nothing like Playa Dorada. They were not bothersome. Mostly jewelry, cigars, diving, and horse back riding. One guy was selling shells and another had coconuts. I didn’t see anyone with clothing or toys. No guys selling toy monkeys.

Pool:
There are two pools towards the front of the resort beside the pool bar, no swim-up bar. These two pools are side by side with a nice wide walkway between them. Both pools have nets for water volley ball. The adult’s pool is closer to the back in the Lookea section. I don’t know if the adult’s pool was being used while we were there. The only people I ever saw around it were workers. I didn’t spend much time around the pool so I don’t know if they had any activities there. The other two bars are at the beach area. One in the restaurant and the other was called the Sports Bar. There is also a bar in the buffet.

Nightly entertainment:
Nightly entertainment – They did not have a night show every night, maybe every second night. They had a beach party scheduled one evening, but it got rained out.

Food:
Food-we had no problem finding food. Breakfast - lots to choose from. Sausages, egg station, crepe station, pastries, sliced meat, cheese, fruit, cereal, etc etc. We only saw bacon one morning and I only saw yogurt three mornings. Lunch was good also. There was always something in chicken, beef, pork and fish, vegetables, rice, salads, fruit, pasta, deserts, breads and rolls. They also had something on the grill at lunch and supper. Supper – Fish, Chicken, Pork, beef, vegetables, rice, pasta, salads, fruit, etc. Great deserts. Lots of selection. Buffet food can get a little repetitious, just don’t eat the same food every day and you will be fine. They even had goat a couple of meals, maybe on Dominican themed days. One evening they were carving turkeys another pork shoulder and on another beef. We found the beef a bit chewy. At lunch you could go to the beach restaurant they always had hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, French fries, pizza, salads, some sliced ham, fruit and usually cookies for dessert. If you wanted ice cream, you had to get that at the main buffet. You booked in the main buffet for the restaurants that were located at the beach restaurant in the evening. This time of year they have the Italian on Tuesday and the Seafood on Thursday. They also have a cash menu at the restaurant if you don’t want what is on the included menu.

Internet & shopping:
There are two computers located just inside the buffet doors (between the buffet and the theatre. Not sure what they cost, never used them. Well I did once while we were waiting to speak to our travel rep. I played solitaire. No charge for that. : ) Next to the lobby in a separate building is a Market. Take a peek, lots of stuff in there if you forgot something. The town of Las Galeras is well worth the short walk. Several shops, drug store, grocery store, clinic, restaurants and local people. : )

Activities:
The activities include introductory scuba lesson in the pool, Spanish lessons, aerobics, maybe some other stuff. At the resort they have Croquet, mini golf on a grassy course, archery, table tennis, volley ball, bocce ball, and ping pong. You could rent ATV’s right at the resort. Beside the resort there was a guy with horses. This resort does offer a lot of activities if you choose to partake. We never did find the bicycles.

Excursions:
We did one excursion, to Los Haitises National Park. This is a full day trip that costs $178 for two people. We were picked up at the resort around 8:00 am. We picked up people at Bahia Principe Caya Laventado and continued on to Samana where we got on a boat. The park is located in the ocean off the coast. It was raining when we got on the boat. Everybody wore a life jacket and they also offered raincoats. When we arrived at the park, the sun was waiting for us. We motored around some islands where there were pelicans and other birds nesting in the trees. They took us to a mangrove forest and then to some caves. One of the caves we went to was the one that they filmed part of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. There were caves drawings in that cave. If you go on this trip, bring your own flashlight. We went to another cave and then on to Barcardi Island for lunch. Lunch was a buffet lunch, rice, beans, French fries, chicken, fish, tomatoes, cucumbers, fruit and rolls. You got water or pop with lunch and if you wanted a drink, you paid $5 for that. On the boat they had water, pop and rum. We had about two hours on the island for our lunch. Some people went swimming in the rain. Oh yeah, the rain was waiting for us when we got to the island, lol. There were also vendors on the island in shops so those that had the urge could visit them. We got back to our resort around 5 pm.

Mozzies:
I didn’t notice a big problem with mozzies, but I wasn’t out a lot in the evening. I would bring bug repellant and remember to use it. Hubby had a few bites.

Resumé:
Overall, we had a pretty good vacation. I would recommend this resort to others. We probably won’t return because we like to visit other resorts. Only having one room key is a negative for us so we would not return to this resort until that policy was changed.

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"We had a great time"

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  gail  on Feb 25, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2011 | Leisure | With friend
1167 people found this review helpful

We flew out of Ottawa with a connecting flight from Toronto. The bus ride was long but saw the countryside which was nice. The only complaint I have about the 2 hour ride is nothing was available to drink and after a long plane flight, that would have been nice. We were anxious to get to our destination.
My friends and I had a fun time for the week we were there.

Room Number:
2205

Room Block:
facing ocean

Rooms:
The rooms were clean with a view of the ocean which I loved. Went down to get coffee in the am and brought it back to sit on the balcony and people watch for awhile. The workers cleaning up palm leaves, sunbathers heading out at 8am and the beautiful green ocean.

Restaurants and Bars:
The buffet was good but a lot of the same things daily. The beach restaurant was the same everyday with pizza, chicken, veggies, fruit etc. The burgers looked questionable as did the hot dogs. They did not offer a BBQ and got sick of the food after a week.

Bars offer domestic beer, rum, gin and many sweet drinks. Bring a large thermal cup for drinks.........they only have small plastic glasses.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Very beautiful. We spent most of our days at the beach

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We went whale watching then had lunch on an island. Was a good day

Other Comments:
Would definitely go back if there ever is a direct flight from Ottawa

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"Very family friendly."

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Marion from BC  on Feb 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
612 people found this review helpful

Arrival: Jan 16 - 19
We drove from visiting Dominican family so although the distance from various airports may not be so far the roads are really poor - and this hotel is right at the end of the roads so don't be upset if it ends up being a long drive

Rooms:
Really liked the rooms - they looked recently renovated and loved the decks so we could sit out and enjoy the night (and we didn't pay for any special view). My parents and in-laws had mobility issues and front desk upgraded to ocean view rooms to allow them easier access as well as keeping us all in the same building (and we hardly had to ask). First room the A/C didn't work so they moved my parents right away.

Restaurants and Bars:
All restaurants and bars were good but one bartender didn't smile ever - we tipped him anyways considering the poor guy got stung a bunch of times making drinks and the service was fine - just not with a smile - but everywhere else (restaurants and buffets) was terrific

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Loved the kiddy pool - had various depths and my kids LOVED it. there is a special area for French and Swiss I believe but we never went there and the very small animation staff (dominican) were awesome anyways so why would we care?

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
No but animation team (including kids club) were professional and awesome - really LOVED the step aerobics on the beach (and I am not a step person) - burned some calories and with an amazing view - better than other places that have "water aerobics" and its just party games - actually got 1-2 workouts a day and REALLY appreciated that (am a fitness instructor myself), also night time shows were with the small staff and they made them fun and entertaining

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"Could Easily Be 4 Star But ..."

Grand Paradise Samaná
User Rating:  Grand Paradise Samaná Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Robert  on Feb 16, 2016  >  5 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2016 | Leisure | Family and Kids
881 people found this review helpful

This is a shortened review (to make text fit Debbie’s review submission fields)

Photo Set: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12759824@N02/sets/72157663908200750/

Video Slide Show with Sound: http://www.bobfromcanada.com

Full Review at: http://www.bobfromcanada.com or ‘the other guys’.

The property is rated at 3 to 3.5 stars and that’s about right. It could easily be 4 stars. There are a LOT of things to like about this resort and some things that are not to like. Over-all, we were pretty happy and think we got great value for our money. With a little tweaking, it could be a whole lot better.

They were constantly running out of things. They would frequently run out of plates, or glasses. It took a ‘few’ minutes before replacements would appear. At least they did appear; it just took a while.

They also seemed to have supply issues. For example, one afternoon, they ran out of beer, rum and vodka (resort wide, all bars). This was for an extended period. I felt sorry for the bar tenders because they were taking the heat and it wasn’t their fault. They ran out of beer briefly on three other occasions during the two weeks we were there. People tend to remember things like that and it’s not the kind of thing the resort wants you to remember. Enough said.

As for the buffet, here’s where I’m coming from. I don’t expect a whole lot of service. It’s a buffet; pretty much a do-it-yourself operation. You get your own food. But, what I do expect is to have my table properly bused. What happens seems to depend on the server you get. Some were really good, others weren’t. Sometimes the table is bused, sometimes not. Once seated, we usually waited for a few minutes. If the table got bused within that time, then we were away. Otherwise we did it ourselves. No big deal! Other times someone was right there, bused the table, filled your water glass, and asked if you wanted coffee, beer or wine. Guess who got the tips ….

Fortunately the positives far out-weighed the negatives and we had a great vacation. That leads to the question “Would we return?” The answer to that is YES.

The property is not exceptionally large, but it is very pretty and natural. It’s a pretty quiet resort. There’s lots of trees, grass and shrubs and it’s very scenic. The groundskeepers do a good job of keeping it nicely maintained. There’s only about 400 rooms. It seemed to be pretty easy to meet, socialize and make friends here.

The age mix is tilted towards the early 50s. There weren’t many younger people there, but there were enough for them to have a good time. Good thing too. The disco is pretty small. A large crowd would overload it. Speaking of the disco, they either need a bigger amplifier and speakers or turn it down a notch. The sound system was maxed out to the point that the speaker cones were rattling against the enclosure. Loud I can live with, distortion no

Room Number:
1139

Room Block:
1

Arrival:
After a longish but scenic bus ride we arrived at the hotel. We wanted to get beer at the airport before we departed, but the driver/guide suggested we stop en route because it would be cheaper ($5 for a Grande versus $8 at the airport). The bus did stop for beer just after we left the airport (twice actually - the beer wasn’t cold enough at the first stop) but there were no bathroom breaks en route, even though we stopped at two other hotels to drop off passengers. The ride was about two hours including the stop-offs. To be fair, when one was in dire need, I suspect you could get off the bus to use the washroom in those hotel lobbies. That option was offered on the return trip to the airport while we were waiting for passengers.

When we arrived, check-in was pretty efficient and painless. We got a welcome drink while doing the paper work. I’d requested a second key, and had been told I could get one despite the fact that it wasn’t their normal policy, but it wasn’t there and they told me to come back tomorrow. I did get it then with no issues.

Interestingly, on the second day the reservations manager (Noris Silverio) phoned the room as a follow up to my request and to make sure I had received it. Kudos to her. Nice lady; we stopped by her office to say thanks personally. I’d also requested a second floor room, but got assigned a first floor room. It turns out I liked it better and I would request the exact same room on my next trip. And there will be one. Right after check-in we were whisked off to our room. It seems that the bellhop misread our room number (upside down on the paper he was trying to read) and initially took us to the wrong building. That was quickly rectified and we found our room.

Rooms:
We requested and paid for a deluxe oceanview room. We think it was worth the slight additional cost. The room we got seemed recently renovated and in pretty good repair aside from some very minor issues which I didn’t bother reporting. It had two double beds (weird dimensions 54 inches wide x 85 inches long), one bedside table between them, a set of drawers, closet, safe ($15US per week), flat screen TV (the remote was already in the room), refrigerator and a pretty nice bathroom with the usual amenities. It should be noted that they ask you not to put toilet paper down the toilet but in the waste receptacle instead. Dominican plumbing is somewhat on the anemic side. This is a minor inconvenience compared to an overflowing toilet. We heard of some people that didn’t heed the sign and paid the price. There were washcloths when we arrived but they weren’t always replaced, so we hid the ones we had. The shower head was one of those rainfall ones and it looked like the fixture and associated plumbing had been recently installed. I didn’t think I’d like the rainfall head but it turned out to be pretty nice. There was good water pressure and we always had hot water when we wanted it. The patio outside the room had a tremendous view. My wife thinks this one is the best rooms we’ve had in the last 10 trips.

The only issues we had with the room were that you had to jiggle the toilet handle sometimes to stop it running and the bed side table was mounted to the wall on the headboard which had a slight warp. So, it had a small angle down and the drawer kept opening by itself. Not a big issue but just annoying. It wasn’t about to fall off or anything like that. It was just off level.

We also lost the programming on the room key a ‘few’ times and had to make trips to reception to get them reprogrammed. Reception was always courteous and friendly.

It should be noted that the dim room lighting is as reported in previous reviews. The bedside light is not only dim, but located such that even with a bright bulb, reading in bed would be difficult. And kudos to them for putting an energy efficient LED fixture in the bathroom. It was quite bright, but it was clearly the wrong fixture for the job. It had bare LEDs rather than a frosted tube and cast horrible shadows around the room. That one has got to go.

We were offered the VIP/Select package. I feel the deluxe oceanview was worth the extra cost, but not so the VIP package. We did see a few that went for it.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food was far better than we expected. No complaints here. It was plain but there was plenty of variety and they had a different theme each night (Mexican, American, International, Seafood, Dominican, BBQ, Italian, France, Asian, Chef’s for example). Each night there was an excellent carving station. We got served baked chicken, some very nice roast beef (surprise, it was even tender), carved whole turkey, roast piglet, several varieties of fish, BBQ chicken. There were also a lot of interesting offerings in the chafing dishes as well. Sauces, where present, tasted like a light citrus base with a hint of cinnamon. I liked it.

The vegetables were consistently served slightly al dente and had a nice firm texture. Sure, sometimes they were slightly on the cool side but I’d rather have that than hot, overcooked and mushy. We got potatoes, carrots, corn on the cob, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, and several varieties of beans.

The breads and buns were excellent, as were the sweet rolls. They also baked a killer banana bread. The French stick was excellent too. Yum.

Each night there was a good selection of salad fixings (two types of lettuce, shredded red cabbage, shredded cabbage, carrots, and two or three types of prepared salads). None had any dressing on them so you could pick your own dressings and amounts from a selection of three or four types. The lettuce was consistently crisp, but a few times some of it was frozen to the bottom of the chafing dish.

There was a good selection of desserts and several nights they served ice cream. And it was good ice cream.

There was pretty good variety in the buffet at lunch as well. The beach club was rather limited in choices but acceptable. It was pretty well sandwiches, burgers, fries, and something on the grill. We ate most of our lunches in the buffet because there was a much better selection.

Breakfast had a pretty good selection that didn’t vary much from day to day. But bacon was a rare event. We got bacon once in the two week period. The omelette station was a pretty busy place. You could pick from ham, cheese, onion and tomato fixings, but there was nothing stopping you from chopping up other stuff (like potato or a different meat) from the chafing dishes. Surprisingly, we saw few bananas on the fruit tray but there was lots of pineapple, melon and mangoes. My wife loves mangoes.

The restaurant supervisor (Victor) seemed to be there for every meal. I heard that the guy started at 5:00 am every morning and was there until after 9:00 pm. I believe it from what I saw. That’s pretty dedicated. He was always jovial and friendly and without exception greeted us with a smile and a handshake (at least after we introduced ourselves to him).

We didn’t try the a la carte restaurants but it was reported that they weren’t worth the effort.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The beach is quite nice, but a little strange. There’s a thin strip of sand (pretty thin at high tide and slightly wider other times) with a larger bordering grassy area. Most of the loungers were situated on the grassy area. A little strange, but you got used to it quickly.

The water was blue, but a little murky most days. The sand on the bottom seemed to be slightly finer than the sand on the beach (coarser) and stayed in suspension for a while after being stirred up. Overall, the bottom was sandy with a few coral patches and a few flat topped seaweed patches. There was a little, but not a lot of seaweed. The seaweed looked a lot like crabgrass leaves so it wasn’t terribly nasty. Once washed ashore, they were pretty good about cleaning it up and hauling it away.

The hotel was about full up. Loungers seemed to be at a premium around midday. Unfortunately the towel game was in full play. We were never around midday anyway. Getting loungers early morning or late afternoon didn’t seem to be an issue.

The better (newer) loungers were in the pool area. The ones on the beach were older and getting near the end of their service life. The sun is slowly doing them in.

There are 3 pools. None of them are large, but otherwise they are pretty nice. Two are located in the same general area and the third is out by building 5. It seemed almost like a private pool leading one to wonder if there were two separate properties at one time. They seemed well cared for and the water had a nice blue colour.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
They had the standard beach volleyball net, bocce ball, shuffleboard, archery, a hobie cat and sea kayaks. They also had a mini-golf course (sort of), but no golf equipment (???). There’s a booth on the beach selling snorkeling tours to what they refer to as a natural aquarium, a roped off enclosed area a bit off-shore. You’re not likely to wander in by accident, but they get pretty vocal if you do.

We didn’t associate with the activities staff much but it appeared that they were working their butts off to keep people happy. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. We also noticed that on many occasions the activities staff joined guests for meals.

We only went to one or two shows. The best one was the fire and water one staged in the pool. The rest were pretty standard fare that we’d seen before and we decided we’d rather socialize at the beach bar. Our loss (maybe).

Off resort, it’s an easy and safe walk along the beach into town (Las Galeras). The walk along the beach path is an easy 5-10 minutes at a Dominican pace. It’s pretty scenic. Take your camera. Oh, if you use the road instead of the path it’s a lot longer walk and not very scenic.

I was a little disappointed. The so called supermercado (we found two) had limited booze offerings on the shelf and the prices were not marked. I suspect the price varies depending on the colour of your skin. There’s probably more supermercados but we didn’t find them.

Oh, and in town and along the path there’s a few watering holes where you can get a large Presidente (called a Grande) for about 150 pesos (and free wifi). Along the way, the first guy you’ll meet is Juan (who sells tours). He’s pretty personable. The next guy is Joseph, who has a small bar and the first free wifi off the resort. He seemed pretty nice too. I chatted both of them up a few times.

Going the other way along the beach, there’s a few blow holes where the ocean waves surge through an underground passage and surge up through a hole in the ground. That’s a pretty easy 15 minute walk too. The road is pretty rocky so you might want sturdy sandals instead of flip-flops.

If you go a little further along a narrow path, beyond the blow holes, you can see a cliff face that looks like a dragon’s jaw, that appears to open/close as you walk along the path. There’s also a set of small caves in there. It’s worth the walk in my opinion.

Special Thanks:
I don’t normally do this, but several staff made our vacation memorable.
I know I’m going to miss some and misspell others. Some names were heard verbally and others were read off name tags with pretty tiny lettering. Those I do leave out, my apologies. You know who you are, but here goes.

Noris Silverio - Reservations Manager (great follow-up service, before and after our trip)
Joelissa - Waitress (breakfast/lunch buffet, great service)
Benito - Bar Tender (pool bar, excellent)
Evylyn - Bar Tender (beach club evenings, super, great gal)
Fausto - Waiter (buffet dining room evenings, attentive and good service)
Maribell - Our Maid (kept our room clean and supplied. Always a friendly smile, even across the resort)
Caesar - Bar Tender (sports bar evenings)
Victor - Restaurant Supervisor (man, this guy seemed to be around, smiling, every meal, I’m impressed)

Pros and Cons:
PROS:
Nice location / nice property
Great food, lots of variety
No one got sick except for self-inflicted (at least in the group we hung with)
View from oceanview room is very nice, gardenview rooms seemed good too
No time share / vacation club
Nice beach

CONS
They seem to have supply issues
Service could be better (with exceptions as noted)

Comments (part 1):
There are lots of little spots to sit out, socialize and have a drink. Very convenient.

There was live entertainment (OK, one guy with a band-box) outside the dining room two or three times a week. He was pretty good. By the way, that was at one of the little spots.

I advise taking an extension cord with multiple outlets. The wiring in the rooms was designed and installed long before the need to charge our modern electronics. In our room there were three ac outlets. None of them were conveniently located. One was fully used up for the refrigerator and the TV. The second was inconveniently located under the bedside table and the bedside lamp was connected. Note that that one was switched on/off by a switch at the door, so you could control the bedside lamp. The third outlet was in the bathroom and one outlet was dedicated to the hair dryer. I ended up using the bathroom ac outlet because it was the least inconvenient. Note that the ac outlets were North American style type B sockets but I seriously doubt that the ground is connected and the wiring is polarized. I wouldn’t depend on any appliance that requires a ground.

You need your room key to keep the ac power powered up. That includes the air conditioning.

They request that you not put toilet paper in the toilet but in the waste basket beside it. This, at worst, is a minor inconvenience. Dominican plumbing is a bit anemic and paper tends to plug up the system. If and when that happens, it’s more than a minor inconvenience.

The room fridges are stocked with water, Coke and Sprite. Interestingly, the hotel also has diet Coke, but wouldn’t stock the refrigerators with it. Diet Coke is only available in the bars.

What appears to be the main entrance to the buffet dining room is blocked off. It appears they want you to enter via the covered archway from the lobby/reception area. I’m not sure why.

At dinner, if you spot a nice chocolaty dessert, best grab it because that selection will likely be gone by the time you finish dinner and are ready for the sweet stuff. The chocolate items disappeared quickly.

The better entries at dinner also disappeared within the first hour or two. The dinner period is about four hours, but the better selections got snapped up quickly. Hint: Be early.

I can’t believe how many people treat the buffet like a cafeteria. Man, they’d go stock up their plates with hot food, and THEN start looking for a table (really awkward when the table hasn’t been set). It’s pretty easy: Get your table, all set up with utensils and condiments, and then go get your food. No doubt these are the same people that complain that the food is cold. And it is surprising how fast the food cools down. I’ve found serving spoons that are quite hot to handle, but found the food on the cool side when I got to the table (quickly I might add).

Comments (part 2):
We met a lot of nice people from all over the world. Actually, before we even arrived, I matched up with a couple that we had met years ago at another resort. Then, lightning struck twice. I met another couple that recognized me from another resort, also years ago. What are the odds?

They seem to have the bug situation under control. We didn’t see many at all. My wife reacts to insect bites and she reported getting only a few. Normally she goes home with a lot more welts. There were a few centipedes on our patio, but they were all a lot smaller than my sandals. I don’t know if they bite or not. They never got close enough.

If you do decide to walk into town, and your return will be after dark, take a flashlight. The path is pitch black at night, but appears to be safe enough. We talked to several people that did it with no issues. One guy did it with the flashlight app on his cell phone. Oh, and there’s a nice pizza place with a wood fired oven that serves up great pizza. There were a lot of other nice looking restaurants as well. I heard they were pretty good.

It seems to be one of the places that actually follows the sign about leaving your towels in the tub if you want them replaced and hanging them on the rack if you don’t. No issue there. I don’t need new towels every day. If you dirty the towel drying off from your shower, you likely didn’t shower properly. To be fair, once our maid got to know us, she replaced the towels daily, regardless of where they were left.

The red wine at dinner is not great, but potable. The white wine is not. I made the mistake of trying it and instantly regretted it. I think I may have killed an aloa vera plant in the nearby planter.

I pointed out that bacon was a rare event at breakfast. So much so that the day they did serve it, just about everyone commented on it. Interesting at lunch; the sandwich bar lists a club sandwich and the ingredients that included bacon (natch), but there was no bacon there. Sorry, but you can’t make a club sandwich without bacon.

The coffee station in the buffet is very awkward, unless you are 4 ft. tall. It’s very low and you have to bend down to fill your cup. I know why though. You fill your cup from the bottom of the urn; they have to fill it from the top. And it’s a big urn.

For what it’s worth, the air conditioning in our room was quieter than the bathroom fan.

We had a number of 5-10 second power bumps the first week. There were none that I noticed in week two.

Watch the paths at night. The lighting is somewhat lacking in spots and the path edge is uneven. Some of the interlocking stone / flagstones are also uneven in spots. Just be aware.

Comments (part 3):
Beware of the edges on the patio areas in the restaurants and bars. Some have pretty sharp drop-offs at the edge and it’s pretty easy to back up your chair just a little too far if you’re not paying attention. I saw one go over (fortunately the gentleman wasn’t injured) and warned two or three others that were within ½” of doing the same. Language barrier or not, they got the message when I pointed to the chair leg.

We had to have our room keys recoded several times. That seems to be a common problem. Other people were at the front desk with the same issue. My best guess is that their key writer recording heads are clogged up from writing a gazillion keys and need cleaning.

The beach is quite accessible at night. This is very pleasant for watching the moon and the surf.

There seems to be a wide variety of room types. Some have minor issues like fiddly plumbing controls, doors that are hard to lock, late or no towel delivery, TV not working (or missing), refrigerator that’s kaput or ….

On site wifi is expensive and I hear it doesn’t work all that well. I went without internet (gasp) for the whole two weeks and lived to tell about it.

The resort is very European. Surprisingly there was very little topless. When it was there, no one paid any particular attention. But I did hear reports about people changing into and out of their bathing suits on the beach. Come on! There’s a washroom only a few steps away.

The guests seemed pretty good at queuing at the bars. Things seemed to go in spurts. Things would move along at a good pace and then suddenly there would be a log jam. This seemed to happen a lot in all the bars and even at the food stations in the buffet.

There is a natural aquarium (extra cost) just outside the beach area. I don’t see how you would wander into it by accident, but if you did enter without paying, the proprietor got quite vocal about it. I heard him once from my spot, beachfront and he was quite some distance away. Actually, I don’t understand how he can legally do this. The ‘aquarium’ is out in the ocean, off the public beach. But there he is ….

Don’t miss the walk to the blow hole / caves. It’s very pretty walk and you may encounter a horse, a bull or other livestock along the way. At the beach, facing the water, you go to the right and take the two left forks in the horse path. Going to town is the other way. Head off to your left and follow your nose. You can’t miss it.

There seems to be a lot of repeaters at this resort. That speaks volumes. I think we’ll be joining them.

Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12759824@N02/sets/72157663908200750/

Videos: http://www.bobfromcanada.com

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