Cabeza de Toro, Punta Cana
In the Natura Park Hacienda Style, ecological architecture takes advantage of the natural resources of the area and provides a feeling of freshness and comfort.
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"BEWARE! The hotel maid stole my IPHONE! Do not stay here!"
crys on Sep 14, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Aug, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
315 people found this review helpful
I left my Iphone on my hotel nightstand, locked the room, and went out to the beach. A few hours later my phone was gone. The only person that could have taken it is the maid. The hotel was unapologetic, and not helpful. I have incurred $80 in Dominican call charges due to this incident. Also, the hotel room smelled of cigarettes, and I was touched inappropriately by a hotel staff member. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT stay here!!!!
"Poor entertainment staff"
Dana on Jan 6, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2011 | Leisure
571 people found this review helpful
I had a horrible experience with one of the entertainment staff. I found them to be extreamly unprofessional , out right rude and vulgar. The hotel was not accommidating with complaints and/or concerns. I would not recommend this resort not only because of the unprofessional demeanor of the entertainment staff but also the lack of care taken to the beaches.. The beaches were sea weed covered on a daily basis, yet the resorts just next door were groomed beautifly. I was disapointed with the treatment and the way the entertainment staff treated guests. I also traveled with my 88 year old grandmother and was shocked that the resort did not have one wheelchair at the resort.. dissapointed.
"All Inclusive Food Poisoning w/ crowded beach"
Posted by: Danielle
on May 24, 2012 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: May, 2012 | Leisure | With friend
469 people found this review helpful
Stayed 4 nights for a long girls-weekend. I got sick with food poisoning from what I believe was iceberg lettuce at the buffet. I was extremely sick within 24 hours of arriving and my friend was told in order for the medical "staff" to leave his breakfast table at the buffet he had to come to my room to see me while I was passing out and vomitting, it was $130 cash.
I think it is completely unacceptable so many people get sick from their food. There were many women sick with intestinal issues at the resort during my visit. I think the hotel should improve on Certified Food Prep standards. I absolutely will not be recommending Eco Natura to anyone. My girlfriend came home and doctor put her on Cipro due to stomach issues.
Beach was nice but shallow with not much swimming space, as bouys keep swimmers close to shore due to major boat route for hotel "party boats". The all-inclusive liquor was a brand called "Royal", which was bottom shelf liquor. You can't even buy top shelf booze, there is none. There is only 1 beer on tap. The white wine is vinegar, not drinkable. Wifi is $25, for 24 hours total use time. You have to be in main lobby to get the wifi signal.
Buffet has many options, but many women were in the bathroom in the lobby with intestinal issues after each meal. If you want to go to DR because it's cheap, spend a little more and go elsewhere with nice beaches...
Used Cheap Caribbean, they were timely and very nice. Nice vehicles with a/c to and from airport.
Clean, older, beds very hard.
Restaurants and Bars:
Buffet with many basic options. Horrible liquor options -The brand name ROYAL is bottom-shelf...
Grounds are very neat, very well taken care of. A few birds, nicely attended to. Beach cleaned up daily (seaweed). Not much swimming /snorkeling space due to buoys keeping you near shore. No current or large waves, just no lifeguard, I suppose.
Posted by: Brian
on Dec 16, 2010 >
2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Dec, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
390 people found this review helpful
midweek tuesday Dec.7-14 14:30 quick check in
3221 great cleaning staff,(Franchisca),honest,hard working
room was a little dated, small TV, poor AC, thank God for the ceiling fan.
fridge dated not very effective,should be replaced was stocked with beer soda,water
nice not have to pay for safe key.
Restaurants and Bars:
were good, only local liquior,you should bring your own insulated mug,
buffet was good
a la carte sea food restaurant was OK but food was only warm not hot enough
the a la carte steak restaurant food was even cool not the best
nice clean good for small children and people with reduced mobility
lots of seating and shade if necessary
grounds were nice lots of animals ie:ducks,birds,fish
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
good animation staff, you should try to participate in as many activities as possible
you should all talk to Tiffany the only caucasian animation staff
good golf at Catilonia Caribe 18 holes and the Iberostate Bavaro 18 beautiful holes.
check out the small shopping market within wakling distance of the resort front gate approx.10min.
Posted by: Donnie
on May 4, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
283 people found this review helpful
My girlfriend and I had an excellent stay at this resort. The staff were excellent and my hat goes off to them for an outstanding job, they were very friendly and courteous. The food was excellent and there was always plenty to choose from. Wasn't to fond of the drinks but maybe I just didn't find the right one. The only other issue was the towels they always ran out. Night life could have been better. Overall we had an excellent time.
very pleasant staff was great
very good did't have a problem room was always clean
Restaurants and Bars:
Fantastic lots to choose from drinks could have been better
beach, pool and grounds were beautiful
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
lots to do had no complaints, could have had music a bit longer in evenings, shut down to early
Overall great time great experience and met lots of nice people. Lots of great memories from Natura park thank you
"We were NOT impressed!"
Heather from Edmonton, Alberta on May 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2009
212 people found this review helpful
Arrival: April 6 - April 13
We arrived in Punta Cana April 6th, 2009 and my mother's luggage was missing. We got to the resort, it was already 8 pm their time. We got our keys to our room pretty fast and had to rush in order to go to the shop(closed at 9 pm) located in the resort for toothbrush etc... basic necessities. DON"T FORGET your basic necessities, mousse - $28 (us), toothbrush - $12 (us) etc. Very expensive!!! While we were at the shop (purchasing the necessities) the bell man delivered my luggage to the room, we were not there and he left the door to our room with luggage wide open. He was obviously upset that we were not there to tip him. We were NOT impressed!
Basic rooms, very o natural. Double beds are equivalent to twin beds here. Rooms are very rustic. A lot of bugs on the wood furniture! Red ants... bring spray! A couple from Calgary, who were on the same flight, the husband had gotten bit by something while he slept. His abdomen and back was covered in red bumps. Another thing to be wary, a couple that we spoke with, had a room next to the beach, their room was broken into while they were at the beach. All of their us money was stolen. Watch your stuff!!! The husband stayed in his room the next day to catch the thief... the thief actually broke back in and the husband caught him! Unbelievable!
Restaurants and Bars:
Restaurants - ok. the buffet, same as any other resort, lots of food to choose from. A couple times we went for breakfast a little later and they did not replenish the bacon, you had to be there first thing in the morning to get bacon. A'la cart restaurants - not that great. The italian - ok, Seafood - ok, Steak house - ok. Nothing to rave about.
Beach - clean, beautiful. Pools - very small, only one pool - shared with kids, quite noisy and very busy. To get a towel around the pool you have to be up at the crack of dawn. My mom went out one morning at 5 am - NO chairs around the pool that were vacant of towels. Not people - towels. This is quite a downer when you go to these resorts - pay money and you don't get a chance to sit around the pool or beach. We were waking up first thing just to put our towel on the chairs. We would usually go for walks during the day and people wouldn't even be using the chairs, just put their towels on them and go do whatever! We also noticed on the beach they have huts. People would be going out the night before to put their towels on these. I wish the resorts would stop allowing this, and allow all visitors of the resort a chance to sit by the pool, beach etc.!!!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We didn't participate with any activities or go on any tours. However, we booked with signature vacations - STAY AWAY! The couple that I spoke about earlier booked a trip through our signature representative ( because like they told us in our group meeting the first day ) you can't trust the people around the resort only your representative will be a guarantee. Well that was bogus. This couple booked a trip that cost them $200(us) the young man (unfortunately I don't remember his name) that works for signature at the resort (Stephanies assistant) over booked the trip, refused to give back the $200 (us) to the couple!! The couple went home and never got back their money for the trip! Do not pay with money!!! A trip to Sauna island - another couple from our resort booked the trip trough signature and went on the trip... the bus stopped after a couple hours of driving at the location and the bus driver told the tourists "I never received the money from the hotels, you each owe me $50 (us) or you will not get off the bus". Thank goodness no one paid - they all said take us back to our resorts. 1/2 hour later the bus driver came back on the bus and said " ok you guys can get off now"!!!
Everyday we would check in with Stephanie - signature vacations - our representative, asking about my mother's luggage... she said that her friend works at the airport and is checking it to see if her luggage is there. Needless to say nothing was found. WE came back home to Calgary, and contacted Skyservice, informed them about the lost luggage... Skyservice was able to find out that our bag was resent to Punta Cana on the 10th of April (while we were still guests) and the airport sent it to our hotel. I sent the hotel email after email telling them we were aware that you have our luggage... finally we got a response from Blau - natura park that "yes, me excuse, we sent your luggage to the airport, today", this was April 27th!!! They had my mother's luggage from the 10th - 27th! WE got the luggage back, noticed her band around her luggage was missing and 90% of her clothes were gone! STAY AWAY FROM THIS RESORT! WE had NO HELP from the signature representative or by anyone!!! That was our holiday - not worth the stress... we won't ever go back and will not give anyone a reference to go!
Posted by: janet
on Sep 25, 2012 >
1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Visited on: Sep, 2012 | Leisure | Solo
204 people found this review helpful
I found the staff very friendly and helpful, but the food was the same every lunch time, a varied choice but too repetative. The beach was not cleaned up every day, the seaweed was, but the mess left by disrespive guests was not, cigarette ends, plastic cups and plates, it needed raking over in the morning. Also unless you are Spanish or French Canadian or Dominican it was hard to be understood as for my first week I was the only English person their.
But saying all that I did enjoy my stay and did manage to make friends.
9th September , nice welcome a cool drink would have been appreciated on arrival after a long journey.
Clean and spacious, but bathrooms could do with being updated, especially the showers.
Restaurants and Bars:
Good service, food too repetative.
Grounds are beautiful and well kept and the pool, can't say the same for the beach, not worried about the seaweed as that is to be expected, but the sand around the sunbeds needs to be raked and rubbish cleared up.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
On the resort were good, and the swimming with the dolphins trip was fantastic.
Definatley not a 5 star, more of a 3 star.
"Nice natural setting...relaxing vacation."
Rob on Mar 28, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
223 people found this review helpful
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
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!
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
"Good Value for a Last Minute Vacation"
Posted by: Shelly
on Feb 1, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family and Kids
234 people found this review helpful
Good resort for the price, but not a five star as stated on their website. 3+ at the most.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!!!
"Language skills were particularly absent when trying to solve even a minor problem."
Jim on Feb 1, 2009 >
12 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
199 people found this review helpful
Intro I’m writing this as someone who visited the Caribbean “BC” as in before children. Now that our brood is old enough to actually get something out of a tropical trip we took the plunge and set off for Natura Park in Punta Cana from February 4 to 11. We did a lot of research before the trip and by and large it paid off.
1.The hotel is expecting a ‘voucher’ but Westjet does not provide one. They will accept a print out of your Westjet itinerary so bring a spare copy. Otherwise you’re sent off to the Internet café for penance at the rate of $3 per 15 minutes while downloading. Of course if you don’t have it on file in your e-mail account you’re at the mercy of staff that seem to make up the rules as they go along. Yes – the resort is always ‘full’ but fresh rooms appear magically with the right persuasion.
2. By the time we were checked in it was dark. The desk clerk circled our ‘patio’ on the map on the back of our envelope and sent us on our way into the darkness. I thought it was easier to move from building to building via connecting links – Wrong! The wandering paths through the garden are actually simpler but in the dim lighting we walked almost around the entire resort before finding a security guard who, though speaking no English, took one look at our room keys and took us ‘home’. I paid that tip gladly.
3.The beds are hard. The two ‘double’ beds are actually ¾ size beds based on North American sizing. Our 10 and 12 year old daughters found them adequate but mom and dad were glad for the king size bed in the adjoining suite.
4. Language issues continue to dominate one’s experience. More on this later.
5. By and large this is a get-what-you-pay-for-experience. More on that later.
6. Bring a travel mug – details below
Natura Park looks like it was built in the early to mid 70s. It is in reasonably good shape but is clearly showing its age. If you are looking for pristine anything move on to another property. The site bills itself as eco friendly but this seems to be more of an excuse for air conditioning that works only when the outside air temperature is deemed warm enough, fridges that struggle to keep a couple of beers cold and ceiling fans that look as if they might come detached from their lofty perches at any moment. Most important – the main buffet, all restaurants and all bar areas are covered only by a roof. Nature can and does take advantage of the access and not always to your comfort. The main area of the hotel is covered with extensive gardens, pools and wildlife, all cared-for expertly. If the same effort and expense was directed toward the guests this would be a 5 star at 4 star prices.
We paid $800 to upgrade to a suite that gave us one king bed and two ‘double’ beds in two rooms joined by a private hallway. It was money well spent. All of our Westjet companions ended up far away from the beach, often with the wrong bed layout and facing forest. So much for Westjet maintaining a block of rooms! By booking a full suite we were promoted to the edge of the ocean with a perfect view and a balcony that joined our two rooms. The balcony made the trip! We spent many an afternoon on it drinking wine and beer while watching the horizontal rain and big waves roll in from the ocean. All of our Canadian friends were very jealous!
The resort is shaped like the letter U with the restaurants at the top and the two arms holding the ‘patios’. We ended up at the end of one arm of the U with an ocean view from our balcony. Given that everyone we met from Canada was unhappy with his or her first room we can only attribute our good luck to the upgrade we paid for. Other posters have commented on poor privacy, loud plumbing and maids who barge in at 0830 so I won’t go into much detail here aside to mention that all these things happen.
Your sheets will likely not be changed during your stay. Towels are changed only and I do mean only if they are left in the bathtub. Leaving extra tips for the maid may or may not result in extra beer and water, depending on the maid you get and what mood she is in. Room door locks are mechanical and easily by-passed with a credit card so leave everything of value in your safe!
Remember all those shampoo and conditioner samples you casually throw into your kit every time you stay at a hotel or motel? This is the trip where you’ll use them all up! Toiletries were refreshed irregularly. We finally gave in and purchased a bottle of conditioner from the gift shop at the princely price of US$12!
“Two solitudes” may be a Canadian concept but it applies very much to the DR. At the end of a week we came away feeling that the staff understood far more of our English and French than they cared to acknowledge. We did our best with please and thank you in Spanish and were grateful for the staff that introduced us to other useful phrases but by and large we sensed a great divide. Language skills were particularly absent when trying to solve even the most minor problem. This could well be due to the fact that staff work and live at the resort for 11 days straight and then have three days off with their families who often live several hours drive from the beach. That’s not much of a life for anybody so it is with some empathy that I point out the person who is being so sullen may well be starting another boring 11 day stretch of ‘duty’. Nonetheless some staff exuded such a hostile attitude that it was hard not to comment on it. By the last day I spoke French exclusively (my second language) and got far better communication.
Food and Drink
You will take most of your meals in the main buffet restaurant. The food is adequate but uninspiring. Custom made omelets in the morning, some decent coffee and a wide range of choices are the high points but after 7 days it all gets a bit boring. The beef was universally tasteless, likely from being too lean. Tacos and burritos were pointless exercises in blandness.
The a la carte restaurants fare a bit better but not enough to get out of the mediocre range. Neither the Italian nor the steak house was anything to write home about and considering they served the same wine as the buffet there wasn’t much different about them.
Speaking of wine – the white is barely drinkable. You are better off to go to the main bar and order as much champagne as you can carry to get you through your meal. The red is a bit more interesting but you’ll be missing your favorite shiraz or merlot within minutes!
Talking about wine brings us to booze. If you think you are walking into the land of free-flowing Johnny Walker and Bacardi – think again! While these brands are available at the main bar on specific request the vast majority of the liquor you’ll get will be local brands of questionable potency. The draft beer is Presidente and resembles a discount brand at an Ontario beer store. To be fair this makes sense, considering the deep thirst of your garden variety 20-something male – which would very likely be literally swinging from the trees if fed full strength sauce from 1130 onwards. Suffice to say you will be able to drink a lot without getting hammered.
You will get two bottles of beer per room per day. Again, this is uninspiring stuff but drinkable on the whole. Canadian breweries need fear not – nobody is going to come back looking for Bohemia pilsner at their local beer store. Finally we need to talk about water. There was never enough of it. Bribe the maid or not we were always looking for more potable water. The stuff in the tap isn’t fit for even brushing your teeth! Want to make a pot of coffee in the morning? Not if you got thirsty in the middle of the night. Want to brush your teeth? You may have to use pop instead of water! Providing more water would be the one simple and cheap way this resort could improve service!
While smoking in a food service area is no longer acceptable in Canada it certainly is in the DR, especially in bars. And remember that open concept? Cigar smoke at breakfast is not at all pleasant. There are no signs respecting smoking but ashtrays are provided only in bars and the a la carte restaurants.
A complete disaster! One good day at the beginning and of course perfect again when we left but otherwise frequent rainstorms, howling winds and cold temperatures. The beach and pool patio would clear out in 15 seconds and stay empty for a couple of hours while the squall blew through. A local vendor said this was typical for the DR in February – if only we’d known!
Punta Cana is well known for its excellent beaches and Natura Park lives up to this reputation. The resort faces due south and gets a lot of wind but on a sunny day you’ll be glad for it. Hotel staff cleans the beach of washed up ocean debris every morning and the swimming is very nice. As with most resorts you’ll have to play the reserve-a-lounge-chair game every morning. Beach area bars and restaurants reduce the need to make the long walk back to your room.
The ‘animation’ staff is supposed to get the guests out of their chairs for dancing, exercise or whatever other silliness can be imagined. I loathed the constant announcements in Spanish, overly loud music and ridiculous displays of intoxicated machinations but then I’m only one commentator. Leave me alone to read my book in the sun – but that’s just me.
Things I wished I’d known before taking this trip
1. Bring a big travel mug because the bars use 6 ounce cups and it gets to be silly running back for two more gulps of beer. 2. Bring all the toiletries you’ll need. Gift shop prices are 300% of normal. 3. Bring a nylon shell jacket for protection from wind and rain.4.Forget access to the Internet. You have to go and sit in a small room and pay $10 an hour for crappy throughput. I will not go back to this resort for this reason alone.
Two out of four of us developed GI issues and our friends from Winnipeg came down with cold/flu like symptoms. We were very careful about sanitation but I suspect there are deficiencies in kitchen and food handling protocols. As noted earlier, none of the main bars and restaurants is enclosed, meaning flies and birds are frequent visitors that usually are unwelcome. Staff is very casual about cleaning up tables after guests leave and in many cases we had to either refresh the table ourselves or point out the dirty placemats, cutlery, etc to serving staff who then took a very relaxed approach to bringing the table up to standards.
Vendors, Attractions and Excursions
We had little contact with beach vendors and what did happen was all positive. There is a small local ‘market’ within a short walk from the hotel but this amounts to about 20 small shops all selling the same trinkets, tee shirts, coffee and rum. Oddly enough, all bidding started at $95US and ended up at about 1/5th of that. Why anyone would want to buy alcohol that does not have a potency declaration on the label is a mystery to me.
There are many excursions but the costs are high – figure $100 per person on average. We didn’t partake and ended up back home with exactly $1 left over from a budget of $500US. A family of four that likes to ‘do things’ will need about $1,200US in cash to give everybody two excursions and leave enough for the daily tipping, gift shop, etc.
Departing the DR is organized chaos. Prices for food and drink at the airport are beyond belief! If you plan to eat a meal there then bring lots of cash! The duty free shops are surprisingly reasonable, especially if you are buying a known brand. I picked up a litre of Fundador Spanish brandy for $12US. That’s a deal considering that 750 ml of the stuff is $26 Cdn and I have to go to Calgary to get it! NOTE! No credit cards are accepted at Duty Free and judging by the amount of refused product at the cashiers, not accepted anywhere else either.
Natura Park delivers reasonable return for what you are paying. Based on what other travelers told me about the Mayan Riviera I think I’ll give it first consideration next time, even though it means giving up Westjet (who service Mexico only from Calgary and points west).
Father and youngest daughter (10 years) gave this holiday 6.5 out of 10
Mother and eldest daughter (12 years) gave this holiday 7.5 out of 10.
Combined rating is 7.0 out of ten.
I would consider returning to Punta Cana but this resort would not be at the top of my list.