Playa Arena Gorda, Punta Cana, Dominican Repúblic.
"A great time"
Posted by: JOHN on Mar 8, 2012
see all reviews
This exclusive luxury hotel is located directly on the Playa Arena Gorda beach and is surrounded by palm trees and a charming subtropical garden.
Share your experiences with others. Don't forget to send your review to Debbie by using an easy form.
"The whole place seemed to be in excellent condition."
Erin from Cape Elizabeth, Maine on Jan 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Jan, 2009
532 people found this review helpful
Arrival: Jan.1 2009- Jan 8, 2009
We have visited the DR 8 times in the past 7 years. This was our 5th visit to an Iberostar resort, our 1st at this resort and our 4th time in Punta Cana. We return yearly because we love the poeple of this beautiful island and we always have an excellent time. WE flew Delta on New Years Day. Our flight from JFK to Punta Cana only had 11 passengers on it. We arrived ahead of schedule and it took less than 15 minutes to go thru customs, get our bags and get on the bus to the resort. WE were the only passengerin the van and our driver drove very quickly to the resort. WE were they in about 25 minutes. Check in was quick. WE had emailed the resort adn requested to be in the building near the pool and beach. WE had asked for 2 rooms somewhere near each other. WE were given rooms side by side, one king and one with 2 doubles rooms 5276 and 5277. The # 5 represents the building #, the 2 is the 2nd floor. WE couldn't see the pool but is was a 2 minute walk to the beach and about 3 to the lobby.
Our rooms were clean and seemed to be recently remodeled although I am not sure about that. WE had a king bed, nice bathroom with tile. A couch, table with 2 chairs and a cabinet with space for clothes and TV. The deck had a small table and two chairs. WE overlooked the gardens and across to the Domincan buildings. Although there are 2 hotels it really seems like one. The Punta Cana is on the left when facing the beach and the Dominicana is on the right. The two resorts share the 2 pools and all the resteraunts. The casino, disco, internet cafe, spa and show area are on the Dominicana side.
Restaurants and Bars:
There are 4 or 5 a la cart restaurants and 2 buffets for dinner and 4 places to get breakfast and lunch. WE had breakfast down by the beach every day. There was plenty of fresh fruit, various breads, eggs ect. At lunch time they cooked out on a large grill everyday and also had 2 buffets at the 2 places to eat down by the beach. There was always a variety but the same variety every day. The salad bar and fruits were always good. I was not overly impressed with the food. It was OK but not as good as other Iberostars we have been to. Both my kids said it was better than the food they get at college but that is not saying a whole lot. The Oriental restaurant was very good, we ate there twice. The Mexican and Steak House were a good change from the buffet but were average. I am not complaining, we do not go on vacation to an all inclusive for the food. It was fine, just nothing to write home about. It was always kept clean around the food area. Some things that were very good were the Guacamole, fruit, potatoes, bread and salads.
All of the staff at the restaurants and bars were extremely friendly and always smiling. WE do not speak much Spanish but we did not encounter any problems. The drinks were a little too sweet for me but I found several that were good. The bartenders would make them however you requested. The wine at dinner was tart but passable. My kids enjoyed the disco at night although they were disappointed that the disc jockey did not play more to the crowds requests.
The beach is gorgeous. I got up every morning and found a great spot near the volleyball area. I was at the beach by 8 am and I could always find an area to set up for the day. It is funny to see all the places that get reserved early and the people don't show up until mid-day. I swam in the ocean everyday and it was wonderful. Nice sandy bottom, no seaweed, some waves and a slight undertow. WE brought a couple of floats and them blown up at the dive shop. It was nice to hang out on them and drift around. WE brought masks and snorkels but never ended up using them. It was a little choppy although some people did to the left side. It is a great beach to walk on in either direction. Nice and flat. The sand never got hot. The pools were nice. WE found there was more activity on the Dominicana side. The pool and the ocean are about the same temperature. We never sat out at the pool but there seemed to be plenty of people there everyday. We never had a problem getting towels, they always had them.
The grounds are beautiful. Everything was lit up for the holidays and it was magical at night with white lites wrapped around the trees. The groundkeepers work very hard and do an excellent job.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
There was plenty to do at the resort if you wanted to. My kids played volleyball and partcipated in a few of the activities. If you want to be busy you can be but it is also easy to just relax and read. The Star Friends invited you to play but were not pushy if you chose not to.
WE did not do any tours this trip but have done Bavaro Runners Safari Adventure and Outback Jungle Safari in the past and enjoyed them both. Also I recommend the Sanoa Island trip. I thought the entertainment at night was somewhat lame. Again, we did not go there for the entertainment but we have seen better shows. We enjoyed sitting in the lobby area playing cards and people watching. We went to the casino a couple of times but it was very smokey. Other Comments:
WE had a great time. The weather was perfect, sunshine all day with a couple of brief showers at night. Everyone who works at the resort is friendly and nice. We tipped the maids and the waitstaff. We also brought baseballs which we gave out to some of the grounds crew. The people work very hard there and they are very appreciative.
This resort is very well kept, well run and in a great location. We did not have any problems. There was no construction going on while we were there and the whole place seemed to be in excellent condition. The employees and the beach make this a very good resort.
"Great value, good security and great food."
Ed from Renfrew, Ontario on Feb 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
1136 people found this review helpful
Arrival: February 1 to February 15
Our arrival was great. It didn't take long to get off the plane, through immigration and then off to the shuttle to the hotel. The new roads make the trip more comfortable and less bumpy. As this was our 7th year at this property and because we requested our usual room check in was a snap and we knew exactly where to go to get to our room.
The newly renovated rooms were great. The new decor made the room more modern and very relaxing. They have changed all the wall colors to more earth tone and have changed all the interior doors and finishes. The bathrooms have had the bidets removed giving more room. New sinks and shower hardware were great. The new patio doors with screens were very effective to keeping any insects out although they were very few. The doors really kept the sounds out compared to the old doors. As our room was overlooking the pool this was a great feature if you wanted quiet. They have done an excellent job with their renovations and the new satellite TV was better than previous years and internet jacks were available in the room at $13.00 US per day. The lobby was also fitted with WIFI although we never used it.There are lots of electrical outlets in the room that do not require any type of adapters.
Restaurants and Bars
The restaurants were refreshed with new seating and some modern upgrading. Our favorite was always the lobby bar with its open air concept. The new tables and chairs are certainly the biggest bonus and you could sit in comfort and enjoy a drink. The music in this area was better than the past few years. The service as always was fantastic everywhere. The people at the Iberostar are so friendly and always willing to help. We felt that the selection in the main dining room was not as extensive as previous years but there were still enough selections that no one should ver go hungry. It looked like the staffing at the grill where they cooked many of the entrees was understaffed with only one person trying to cook everyones food. They need 2 people at this station but it is not that big of a deal.
This is the most amazing beach. We have travelled all over the Carribean and I would put this beach against any of them. There were lots of chairs however you probably needed to grab a seat by 8 or you may not get one. This is not abnormal at any hotel. The pool is excellent and is always clean.
We hit bad weather the first week and it had torrential rain and high winds for 7 days. It was miserable, however in 7 years we have never run into this type of weather. It cleared up the second week and although it was windy for the first few days the winds finally dropped and the weather went back to normal. During our stay I was stricken with a back injury and required medical attention at the clinic and eventually was hospitalized for 3 days. Even though it is a private hospital it does not compare to North America. Don't scrimp on health insurance as it is very expensive to get treated. The hotel staff was great in assisting my wife during these times and Sun Life did an excellent job in keeping in touch with us right until we arrived home. If you can purchase their insurance I would highly recommend them. The Skyservice flights are very uncomfortable and only allow 20 kg of luggage where other carriers allow more luggage and more weight. Be careful leaving because they charge for extra weight. All in all for us it was a holiday from hell due to my injury and the weather but the hotel and beach is excellent and we would highly recoomend it to anyone. Great value, good security and great food along with a staff that just doesn't quit trying to please you.
"Not one thing to complain about."
Martha on Mar 1, 2009 >
3 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2009
1103 people found this review helpful
Arrival: February 21st - March 7th
Our arrival was uneventful. Room wasn't ready but we arrived at 11:30 a.m. and did not expect it to be. It was ready for us at 2:30 p.m. which was great.
Rooms were spotlessly clean and quite large. Beds were comfortable.
Restaurants and Bars
Only went to buffet for the entire two weeks - mostly at our hotel. At lunch we went to Iberostar Dominicana which was great.
Beach is undescribably beautiful. This is our llth trip to Punta Cana and each time it has been breathtaking.
Had a wonderful vacation. People in the resort are so friendly and anything you ask for is never a problem for them. They are hard worker and definitely deserve recognition when you are there. A few dollars goes a long way for them and they more than appreciate it. This was our first time at Iberostar Punta Cana Resort and would definitely go back again. Not one thing to complain about.
"This resort is FANTASTIC!"
Allison from Goose Bay, Labrador on Apr 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2009
1032 people found this review helpful
Arrival: March 9 - 16
We booked through Tour Mont Royal Vacations out of Montreal. We flew Air Canada and experienced no delays or problems. When we arrived in Punta Cana Airport we were quickly grabbed and posed for a photo which were able to purchase on departure. Check in was a breeze. The staff were friendly and our room was ready when we arrived.
Our room was on the first floor which was convenient. We were travelling with our eleven year old son and was given a room with a king size bed and pull out couch which was made and ready on our arrival. The room was spotless and modern. We had a mini-bar which was stocked daily. There was beer, pop and water. The bathroom was very clean and had a hairdryer as promised. The only thing not working properly was our TV. We reported it and had a new TV within half an hour.
Restaurants and Bars
The food at this resort is fantastic and everywhere you look there is food. We ate at the Buffet most mornings and evenings and at the beach most lunch times. The service was superb! Glasses are being refilled before they are even empty..dishes being taken up immediately...we cannot say enough good about this resort. We were able to attend three a lacarte restaruants although attended only two. We delayed booking and then found we could only get reservations at two while we were there- book as soon as you get there. We chose the lobster restaurant and the seafood restaurant. The lobster was the best we had ever had!
While at the Iberostar Punta Cana you share all the amenities of the Iberostar Dominicana. The Dominicana is more expensive but we never determined why as they share the same beach, restaurants, shows, stores, etc. Perhaps the rooms are differnt although for us we were very pleased and did not need anything else in the room. If the room is differnt, I cannot imagine it would be worth the price- about 300 more per person. While at the resort it is difficult to know when you are in the Dominicana or Punta Cana.
The beach is beautiful...soft light sand and beautiful clear blue water. We spent most everyday at the beach. My son loves the water and swam a lot. There is some coral reef there and there are some fish to watch if you like snordelling. The only issue we experienced while at the resort was in relation to the wind. There was red flag all but one day we were there which meant we could not avail of the non-motorized water sports. It was not so windy you could not swim or enjoy the beach although if you enjoy the non-motorized water sports, you would have been disappointed. We could not even get snorkelling gear when red flag. thankfully my son had his own.
There were lots and lots of loungers on the beach although they fill up early. People do go down early and reserve them by leaving towels and stuff there. You can always find a spot altough if you like a certain area you need to get there early to reserve it.
There are several pools. The pool area is great. Very clean and well maintained. The entire resort is immaculate and well kept. There are staff everywhere cleaning and so on.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There are lots of activities daily at the resort. The staff are very inviting and inclusive but not pushy. I attended beach aerobics daily, beach bingo and tried out the rifle shooting one day. There are pool tables and that type of thing as well. There is a gym and jacuzzis and stuff although we did not avail of it. Each evening there is a show at the Dominicana stage area. We attended most evenings although usually left before it was over. The shows did not begin until 930 so our son was usually too tired to watch it all. They were good- some were interactive involving guests others were music and dancing. I preferred the music and dancing performances to the interactive shows eg- ideal couple.
We took one tour- Carribean Festival. IT was fantastic and the three of us loved it! We took a bus frm the resort where we boarded a boat and went to an interactive sting ray place. We swam with vegetarian sharks and sat and held sting rays. My 11 yr old son loved it. So did we...it really was an experience. They took us snorkelling then to a great coral reef. there were soooo many fish- it was beautiful. On the way back there were performances on the boat of traditional dance. It was well worth the money. We felt safe at all times and would definatley recomend it.
This resort is FANTASTIC! The staff, the food, the beach, grounds, all of it....wonderful. We are going back next year and taking extended family with us!
"Nice place once you get here. (Don't think anything will go the way it should)."
Tom from Grafton, MA on Jun 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Jun, 2009
1072 people found this review helpful
Arrival: May 21 - May 28
The American Airlines flight from Boston to Puerto Rico was held up in Boston MA for an hour and a half. Since there is only one flight from Puerto Rico to Punta Cana a day, we missed it. In Puerto Rico we were told by American Airline people that we could stay in Puerto Rico for the night or take a plane that day to Santo Domingo and we would recieve transportation to Punta Cana. They would let us know at the airport. At the airport in Puerto Rico we are told we will be flown that day to Santo Domingo. No choice in the matter. Well we were. We arrived in Santo Demingo and were immediately set upon by the local people at the airport. No transport there to meet us after 20 min. of fighting off people, we found the American Airline counter and recieved a voucher to take a cab to Punta Cana...3.5 hours away. The cab ride was something. There was a torrential storm we went threw at about 40 miles an hour. The trip went though the back roads and towns of the Dominican Republic. At one point we had to stop at a store of some kind for the cab driver to use the bathroom. As soon as he went around the corner, two guys came out of the dark one holding a shotgun behind his back. I have my 20 year old son with me and have no idea what to do. We both thought that we had been set up and would loose our money and maybe our lives. The cabby reappeared and we took of with out anything going down. We did get to the hotel at some point around 9:30 pm.
Nice room, very well kept. Very clean. None of the doors in the builing shut without slamming them so at around 7:00am when people run out to the beach to grab a chair, it sounds like handgrenades are going off in the halls, one about every 5 min. This makes it hard to sleep late for us older people.
Restaurants and Bars:
Everything was free. Can't beat that. Great sevice. Food was very good.Beware the waiters will pick your things up ( sunglasses ect.) and try them on or play around with them. This seems unnecessary.
The beach is wonderfull. Water is great. Sand and trees well kept. Get there early to get a chair. There are topless ladys abought. It helps if you can speak German.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Diving, sailing and the rest of the activities are lots of fun.
Nice place once you get here. (Don't think anything will go the way it should) Credit cards, both of mine did not work. ( yes I did call the company to let them know I would be there) People ( cabs, busses,ect.) were almost always late. Have fun. Don't use American Airlines!!!
Posted by: Sarju
on Apr 16, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Visited on: Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family and Kids
1027 people found this review helpful
We had a brilliant time and will certainly go back. We were in the Domicana but the Punta Cana is essentially the same hotel. They both share the facilities and the Punta Cana just has rooms in a different block. Apart from that I do not think there is any difference.
The staff were very friendly and helpful. Their English was not great but nothing was too much trouble and it was service with a smile every time.
The food was quite good and certainly better than I had expected and which is normally found in all inclusive hotels.
The gym has a good range of quality equipment.
There were plenty of activities to pass the time and the entertainment team were very good. The evening entertainment was a little boring after a while and perhaps a little more variety in the shows is called for.
The hotel was busy but did not feel at all crowded. There was some sunbed hogging going on but we always managed to get a bed in the shade.
The rooms are basic but kept spotlessly clean (as is the rest of the hotel) and serve their purpose fine. Certainly nothing to complain about.
I have only one gripe. The hotel has photogaphers (a different compny I think) offering photo shoots. I thought it would be a good idea to have some family photos in this lovely enviroment. The pictures looked great and I paid $150 for 10 pictures to be printed and on a CD. But the photos were printed on an inkjet printer and had lines / marks on them. After numerous visits to the shop and various excuses the staff had to admit that they were not going to be able to print pictures of an acceptable standard. To their credit they eventually gave a part refund but this was only after some extensive negotiations and much stress and wasted time. Other people were also complaining whilst I was in the shop.
In short don't bother with the photo shoots. Otherwise this hotel is brilliant.
"Very nice hotel!"
Victoria on Nov 5, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Oct, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
988 people found this review helpful
We stayed at the Iberostar Punta Cana from Oct 24 to Oct 31, 2010
It is such a super nice hotel, nothing to complain about.
Amazing service and great food! I highly recommend this hotel.
We were very satisfied.
lan on Dec 29, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Dec, 2010 | Leisure | Family and Kids
981 people found this review helpful
The resort is ok overall but we do not like the way they handle complains.
We wanted our refund of the insurance money we paid for the use of the water sports equipment which we did not use at all due to the weather. They told us it got nothing to do with the resort as it is outsource. Why don't we were informed the minute we check-in. Why should we pay for something that we didn't use at all!!
don on Mar 4, 2011 >
4 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Feb, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
954 people found this review helpful
Iberostar Punta Cana
Feb. 5-12, 2011. This was our seventh trip to Punta Cana (and 10th to the DR). I judge resorts on the following criteria; here's how Iberostar Punta Cana measures up:
ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF TOWELS: Plenty
ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF CHAIRS: There were enough chairs at the beach; the pool could be dicey.
ADEQUATE ALLOCATION OF SPACE TO NON-SMOKERS: A la carte restaurants were non-smoking; buffet was divided.
BEACH: Iberostars keep beaches free of seaweed.
ENTERTAINMENT: Iberotar-Grammies were outstanding. Several other shows the usual lip-syncing with good dancing.
TENNIS AVAILABILITY: 3 courts for 3 hotels are usually enough.
FOOD: Buffet restaurants have enough variety, but food sitting out is not at its best. I like the fact that they cut desserts into small squares, so you can sample more than one without stuffing or wasting food. As long as they have rum raisin ice cream, I’m happy.
A la carte restaurants are worth visiting. French may be the best.
SHOPS AND AMENITIES: One gift shop in each lobby sold all resorts necessities. A huge drawback was the lack of any English-language newspaper.
NON-HARRASSMENT: The sister hotels have aggressive local crafts salespeople stationed in the lobby; IPC has no one to bother you in the hotel or beach.
TV STATIONS: All US cable channels, but only 1 broadcast network.
QUIET: Better than most. It’s possible to find a beach area away from noise. Pool music is ubiquitous, but not loud.
STAFF: Friendly and helpful.
GROUNDS: A strength at every Iberostar we’ve visited. A long canal with flora and fauna.
HEALTH CLUB: Enough machines.
ROOM: A good size. There is a musty odor that gets into your clothing. The bathroom has separate shower and tub, but just one sink.
AIRPORT AND CHECK-IN: This is the first time we visited PC and left on time (TNT/Miami Air).
SUMMARY: Iberostar is top-drawer, and this was better than the Iberostars next door (seemed less crowded).
"Excellent in most ways; they do make an effort"
Ronald on Jan 20, 2012 >
2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2012 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
714 people found this review helpful
Returned from the Iberostar at Christmas. We mainly found it an excellent resort, almost worthy of 5 stars. All the facilities, the beach, swimming pool, gardens are first class; even the food is as good as possible. Weaknesses are noted below.
This is a huge development, including golf course and mansions for sale (just walk inland on the entrance road, pleasant scenery). It has the Dominicana and Punta Cana (two huge 4-sorey buildings and grounds, where we stayed), the Bavaro (villas, pleasant but not really better), and the Grand (looks too much like a hotel, small beach). It is rather old in design, so buildings are a bit industrial.... but parts are more pretty. It is the accommodation buildings and the old rooms that pull it down from a 5 star. Grounds between and around the two huge buildings are excellent, manicured. (But there are not a lot of entertaining showy flowering species.) The Punta Cana side has an extra big building jammed in behind the bar -- the junior suites. It is supposed to be superior, but is far from the beach, and one side looks into the bar (very noisy at night) and the other into the Riu building next door.
The Punta Cana rooms are old-style but clean, no smells: cannot complain as many folks seem to.
People's complaints about construction mess confused us. Only part of the Dominicana is being re-done and it does not seem a problem.
Buffets are nicely designed, and the food is excellent: so many fancy things added to the basics. This is not the normal trays of soggy food, there is so much in extras that one may well miss some of them: the cold melon soup or the baked peppers or the various cold meats or the spinach juice. Always good fish. Two beach-side buffets at lunch. The seafood a la carte was very good, the others we didn't get to.
The swimming pools are busy, seem a little crowded; but pretty enough and well-kept. The pool animation is loud and terrible... but fifty people were participating for some reason. It does tend to make noise over the whole pool area. The evening entertainment is hopelessly slow and simple - - guess we're not the entertainment type.
The beach is long and perfect, although being a bit deep it tends to have large waves. Seaweed is cleaned up well. Loungers were always available somewhere.... although the guests were quite bad in hogging them from 7 am. The beach can seem crowded, because of the size of the resort: you don't have quiet natural privacy. Beach walking is very good in both directions, just more resorts, very nice at sunrise and sunset. No sellers on the beach.
The staff is excellent, professional, do solve your problems. The only complaint can be the waiters shouting in the dining areas when they want to serve you a daily-special cocktail or even serve coffee. Of course English is limited, do try some Spanish.
The front desk exchanges dollars