Bayahibe, La Romana. Dominican Republic
"internet was the only problem"
Posted by: zita on Oct 4, 2014
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Day and night, the fun never stops for families, singles and couples. The beach, pools, manicured gardens, and warm tropical breezes, fabulous a la carte restaurants and tropical drinks are all part of your escape because Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa is an All-Inclusive beachfront resort.
Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa official website
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"The restaurants were simply excellent."
Jo-Ann from Ottawa on Jan 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
261 people found this review helpful
Arrival: Jan 5, 2009 - Jan 12, 2009
Arrival at the hotel was very smooth. We were shuttled there from the airport and our bags were taken immediately to our room. Seamless.
Our room was clean and nicely decorated. King bed, nice bathroom with shower, very nice.
Restaurants and Bars:
***** The restaurants were simply excellent. There were I think 5 a la cartes open at the resort plus the buffet and snack bars etc. YOU DID NOT HAVE TO BOOK THE A LA CARTES...just walk up to the one you want, when you want, and there was NEVER a line...and they were VERY classy, excellent decor and even better food...We absolutely never had a bad meal. We loved the Italian, French and Mexican. We didn't do the grill (cause we have that food at home) and the Oceana Seafood restaurant was excellent too. The buffet food was always fresh and top quality..and never lines for pasta station etc.
There were bbq's on the beach making delicious hamburgers with all the fixins..and a banana boat on the beach featuring fresh fruit every day..
The grounds were gorgeous - everything well layed out, pools were second to none..and the beach was very nice. The sand is as white and fine as flour - which made the water a little cloudy for snorkelling BUT that having been said..the snorkelling was excellent. We swam with schools of sardines and watched the tuna come in and round them up then dart in to grab them..we fed tropical fish with bananas...very beautiful...
Palms line the beach which I love to look at..and there was always an activity going on down on the beach..everything from cooking lessons to water aerobics..
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
As I mentioned there were daily activities - cooking lessons on the beach, water aerobics in the ocean, step aerobics by the pool, movie nights on the beach for the kids, nightly entertainment by the pool, dance lessons etc
We are well travelled, heading to the caribbean once or twice a year...This is a very good resort for the money...would I go back...ya..if I got an amazing deal...however our thing is that we like to try new resorts and places all of the time...PS...I never saw any construction going on except at the far east side of the resort where they were working on an ocean side wedding chapel..
"I loved this resort and would definitely go back."
Barbara on Feb 1, 2009 >
9 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
221 people found this review helpful
My husband and I spent 1 week in January 2009 at this resort after spending our first week at the Majestic Colonial in Punta Cana. This was our first time at a Dreams resort and our first time in the La Romana area.
We used IBK Servicios for our transfer from the Colonial on Jan 20. Our driver was excellent and took us to a few stops in the city of Higuey on our way to Dreams. Very enjoyable.
We arrived at Dreams about 1:30 pm and our room was not yet ready. We were told our room number but asked to come back to the front desk at 3pm to check in. We wandered around and had lunch and got to our room 5213 shortly after 3pm.
Very nice room as far as the decor and the pillows were nice and soft. The balconies though are extremely small. They do have a small table and two chairs and there wouldn't be room for anything more. We do prefer a larger balcony to relax on. The safe was not working. The bathroom was nice. There were not very many drawers to store things. There are no elevators at Dreams La Romana.
We were pretty tired that evening so we had an early dinner and returned to our room to find that the rockband playing infront of the main pool was directly facing our room and the music was VERY loud. The band played until 10:45. After that we were able to go to sleep.
The next morning we asked to be moved to the other end of the resort into bldg 1 or 2. Well to make a long story short, we ended up getting put into bldg 7 which was the premium club area. Our room was 7339 and when we saw it, we were glad we hadn't paid the 250.00 per night upgrade charge as it was exactly the same as the other room except it had marble flooring and a bit newer furniture and linens. Oh and the safe worked. But the balcony was the same and so was the plasma tv. The linens when we went to bed did seem to be of a better quality though. Other than that, we were allowed free internet, another pool and bar and thats about it for the premium club. I certainly am glad we didn't pay for it.
We only had one major issue with this resort which was that the walls in all of the buildings are very thin and we could hear everything from the rooms on either side of us. It started every morning at about 7am with constant coughing. (We find that a lot of tourists in the DR smoke). The noise didn't really bother us as we don't mind getting up early. But one day, one of the couples had a big fight with lots of tears. Of course, all of the couples were either French or German, so we couldn't understand anything (thank God).
The pools at this resort were very nice and we used the main pool the most. It would be nice to have a bit more shade options around all of the pools though. Most of our time was spent lounging on the beach. There are lots of beach loungers, however, many of them should be thrown out as the majority are in pretty rough shape. I hope that new beach loungers are on the renovations list. There were more areas at the beach where you could sit in the shade. The ocean was great for swimming, warm and calm. We didn't have too much luck with the snorkeling though. We did go out on one of the pedal boats for a look and the water is very calm and clear most days.
The entertainment team does a wonderful job and works very hard all day with activities, dancing, games and trivia challenges. They are great fun. They play the music on the beach too loud though. We enjoyed hanging out with Coca Cola, Miami, Picachoo, Alisa and many others. They are genuinely fun to be with and obviously love their jobs. I can't say enough about them.
The buffet food was fairly average for an all-inclusive. Although the selection was a bit smaller than some and the desserts were not that great. The staff here were very good. The food in the ala carte restaurants was of a much higher quality.
We loved the No Reservations concept at the ala cartes. No lineups and no waiting. We ate most dinners at the french and italian restaurants. The red wine is not good. The French Onion soup was great as was the Beef with Pepper at the French restaurant. The pear and walnut salad at the Italian was delicious.
We thought the food in the ala cartes was definitely some of the best we have had at all-inclusive resorts. And all of the serving staff were very good.
The internet cafe has a lovely coffee/tea bar with pastries throughout the day.
The grounds are quite beautiful and the recent renovations are nice, great looking lobby area. The resort itself is set on beautiful property which is very mature in growth with a lot of natural landscape that makes you feel like you are experiencing natural beauty instead of all of the man-made beauty of Punta Cana. I think they need some staff for keeping the grounds a bit better maintained and also, they really need to have the hallways in all of the buildings cleaned regularly. They were very dirty and most days not swept at all, nor were the stairways to the rooms. There was a burnt out light in the stairway that wasn't changed the whole time we were there and it was very dark in that stairwell. We have noticed much cleaner common areas at all other resorts we have stayed at. The new bathrooms off the lobby were well kept and the lobby itself is kept spotless.
Overall, I loved this resort and would definitely go back. But I would ask for a room in bldg 1 or 2 or 3. Hopefully they will build a proper theatre soon and the noise will not be so loud in the guest rooms.
Finally, the sunsets are amazing and we got some beautiful pictures.They are on webshots under gemgirlbarbara.
"We had a few ‘niggles’, but nothing major. "
Janet from Staffordshire on Feb 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Visited on: Feb, 2009
261 people found this review helpful
We have just got back from a wonderful fortnight at Dreams La Romana. This was our first visit to the Dominican Republic. We are already looking into booking the same hotel for next year. This review is long (sorry!), but I hope it’s informative…especially for those people who are a rare breed – vegetarian and teetotal. I hope this review can show that it’s very easy to have a great time at this hotel, seeking out the quieter corners and lesser-used facilities. We had a few ‘niggles’, but nothing major. It was a great holiday, and we can’t wait to go back!
We flew from Manchester with Thomas Cook Airlines. The flight was about an hour late taking off, due to fog in London (our flight had started from Gatwick, so was already half full when it reached Manchester). We made up that time during the flight, though, and arrived exactly at the time we expected. In-flight meals were good for the money (we both had vegetarian meals). Didn’t bother watching the films.
Arrival & departure:
Punta Cana Airport was a bit chaotic, both ways. The Thomas Cook rep didn’t make himself very noticeable, so we missed him at first, so we were unable to find the correct transfer coach easily. Eventually we located him. By then, it was dark (8pm) and raining. The transfer time was about an hour and a half, and uneventful (by Dominican standards!). Going back, we had one Gate number printed on our Boarding Passes, and a different Gate number showing on the screens – then, a third Gate number was announced in a garbled message over the PA system.
Arrival at the hotel was nice – staff waiting with orange juice and towels on hand, lots of bellhops ready to take the luggage up to the rooms immediately. Our luggage got to our room almost before we did, as we got lost (giving guests a map would be good, but apparently they are ‘between maps’ right now, due to the renovations making the old maps obsolete). We had brought two suitcases of charity donations with us, and we needed to sort out where to leave these (we didn’t want them taken to our room, which bemused the bellhops at first ). Eventually, we left the suitcases for Kerry to deal with the next morning, which she did.
Our room was in Building 5, on the top floor (of three). We were so tired and disoriented by then, and it was dark, so we couldn’t work out which direction our room faced. When we opened the curtains in the morning, we were really pleased to discover that we had a great view overlooking the main pool, looking through the trees to the beach and the sea. As this view was so nice (and, incidentally, looked onto where the evening shows are temporarily being held), we often used our balcony. If we couldn’t be bothered to walk down to watch the shows close-up, we just sat out on the balcony instead. We felt this was a plus! By 4th February 2009, apparently, the new theatre building near the World Café will be finished, so most of the shows will no longer take place outdoors.
The room was almost identical to the one shown in The Thomas Cook brochure (for a ‘De-Luxe Room’). The furnishings were very nice and modern, the bed very comfortable, the bathroom was large, and clean. We had a walk-in shower, but no bath (not a problem, though). Some people have said in reviews that they never use the toiletries provided by hotels, but I do – I found these ones to be very good quality, especially the shower gel. As others have noted, though, face flannels are rarely provided. We had no face flannels left for us for the first few days, and then, after the maid changed, we had some put in the bathroom, but as we had brought our own, we didn’t use them. Three days later, they disappeared, still unused! Towels were plentiful, and changed often. Twice we left notes in Spanish asking for items in particular, and they were supplied.
Restaurants & bars:
We are both vegetarian, and, having asked around on various forums before we went, were not very hopeful about finding a great choice of things to eat. However, we were pleasantly surprised by how much was available. The World Café (buffet) was where we ate the most. The breakfast selection was wonderful – 7 or 8 fruit juices to choose from, many types of bread or rolls, fresh fruit (pineapple was gorgeous), omelettes made to order, cereals, yoghurt, pancakes, scrambled egg, French toast, doughnuts, Danish pastries and muffins. Meat-eaters could have bacon, sausage and some unidentifiable stuff, too!! We got in the habit of taking a couple of muffins from breakfast back to our room to eat in the afternoon, as Dominicans don’t seem to have the concept of ‘afternoon tea and cake’ like the English do!
The one thing that was a problem at breakfast was that the buffet staff do not understand that not everyone drinks coffee. They would offer us coffee as soon as we sat down, but when we asked for tea, they often looked blankly at us. They’d first bring a saucer of herbal tea sachets. We learnt, then, to ask for ‘Liptons tea, with milk please’, instead. They’d then try to put hot water AND MILK in the cups together, and leave us with a teabag each. The waiter called Jeisy (who works in the Japanese restaurant in the evenings) was the only one who got it right during our two weeks there, and it earned him a tip. We mentioned this issue about tea to Jesus in Guest Services towards the end of our holiday, and he said he would see if he could get them a bit better trained!
Lunch at the resort for vegetarians was a bit more limited than for meat-eaters, but not a problem, either. The pizzeria by the main pool had four kinds of freshly cooked pizza each day, and two of these were meat-free. The World Café buffet always had salad, rolls, sometimes a ‘main meal’ which was meat-free. The barbecue stand on the beach, however was a totally no-go area for us, but very popular with those who like meat with their meat. A short way away from the barbecue was the ‘fruit boat’ where fresh (VERY fresh) fruit is cut up for you as you watch.
One lunchtime we went to the Seaside Grill, where they had a spaghetti dish (with side salad), which was available without meat if required.
We tried only one of the A La Carte restaurants – the Bordeaux. The staff were rather bemused by the idea that we are vegetarian, but our waiter was very helpful in suggesting what we could have from the menu . He spoke with the chef, and came back to explain that the chef would make us up a dish from the vegetables that they were using that evening for the various dishes available from the usual menu, which worked out great. However, if we had wanted to go there for a second evening, we would have had to have the same thing again. The next evening, we spent some time visiting all of the A La Cartes, to speak with the staff about what each of them MIGHT be able to offer if we were to go there on another night – all of them had the same reply, really – they would make us up a special, but there wasn’t anything specifically ‘vegetarian’ on any menu. What they tended to CALL vegetarian, was really ‘vegetable accompaniments’, to be chosen to go alongside the meat options.
Most evenings, then, we went to the World Café buffet. Some reviewers have criticised the World Café as having little variety. We found it to be very varied, and it was always possible to find something yummy. I eat some fish, although my husband doesn’t – so, some evenings I ate grouper fish, or salmon, or a lovely smoked fish fillet which I didn’t find out the name of. The range of sweets and cakes, at both lunchtime and in the evenings, was huge. There was always a selection of ice-cream, too. The buffet has a different theme each evening (on a 7 day rotation). As vegetarians, we found the ‘Dominican night’ the hardest one for us, as Dominicans eat so much meat, and there was little else.
For meat-eaters, if you can’t find loads to eat at every restaurant, every night, then you simply aren’t trying! The food was always plentiful and clean. Even just before closing time at the buffet, the serving platters would be re-filled so that the choice looked fresh. I noticed that gateaux, for instance, were always replaced with a whole new one when they were three-quarters gone, not completely gone. The salad, etc., is washed in purified water, so is safe to eat – I had no problems, and I ate some every day.
One night each week there was a ‘pool party’, when the buffet was closed, and it was set up around the main pool instead. This took the staff an enormous amount of work, but was very impressive. They had to start setting up the tables from lunchtime, so it disrupted those sitting around the pool a bit. The range of cakes at this event was stunning – one cake measured about four feet by two, with national flags iced on the top, so that you could eat a ‘relevant’ piece from it, depending where you came from! As the food was more ‘special’ at this meal, though, as vegetarians we found that that meant extra meat dishes, and not much choice for us. After the pool party the first week we were there, we learnt from that, and the following week it happened we made sure that we ate a lot at lunchtime, so that we didn’t need to find much in the evening.
Previous reviewers recently have mentioned that, due to the renovations at this hotel, some of the A La Cartes HAD BEEN closed some evenings, so that, despite advertising that there were six or seven restaurants to choose from, most evenings only a couple were actually open to eat in. By the time we were there, though, ALL the restaurants were open every night.
Neither my husband nor I drink alcohol, so the bars were not really of interest to us. We could get an orange juice when we wanted one, but as so many people wanted cocktails, each of those takes a long time to prepare, so we found it took quite a time to get served. Annoyingly, non-alcoholic cocktails are listed on a separate menu called ‘Children’s Cocktails’, which put us off from even trying them.
The beach at Dreams La Romana is gorgeous. Soft sand, clear water, lots of shade under palm tress and what we referred to as ‘hairy umbrellas’ (most appeared to be very newly built). Plenty of sun loungers everywhere. My husband did some snorkelling and saw a few fish near the beach, but nothing like as many as some others have reported. The area around the volleyball and lunchtime barbecue stand was quite a noisy place to sit. The aerobics takes place there, accompanied by very loud music. The area near to the small pier was quieter – where many people read. The quietest, though, seemed to be at the end of the beach nearest to the watersports area. Beyond the pier towards Building 7 was always virtually deserted (including the jacuzzi overlooking the sea).
The watersports equipment was a bit of a disappointment. The glass-bottomed boats are no longer there. The catamarans, the pedaloes and a Sunfish dinghy were all in a dilapidated condition. Last year, guests could have an hour per day free use of all non-motorised equipment, but now it is just half an hour. Also, despite being ‘non-motorised’, we had to pay 15 US dollars per hour to use the Sunfish. We raised these points with Guest Services, and were told that in May 2009, the contract for the watersports centre will change hands to another business, and then the facilities will improve. Despite this, we used the kayaks, catamarans, pedaloes and Sunfish several times. Booking is necessary, but there’s often only half an hour’s wait.
Both the main pool and infinity pool are lovely. The infinity pool got quite busy, mainly with people at the swim-up bar end. Loungers became ‘saved’ with towels from quite early in the morning here, despite guests being asked on noticeboards not to do this. We didn’t see any staff removing towels from loungers. The main pool was much quieter, except for late afternoon, when the step aerobics, with loud music, takes place by the pizzeria. Hardly anyone ventured into the pool itself – I got the feeling that if you did, you became the ‘entertainment’ for those sitting around the edge.
The new pool between Buildings 5 and 7 is surprisingly small when seen ‘in the flesh’. It is supposed to be for the sole use of Preferred Club guests. I don’t see how staff can monitor that, as this hotel doesn’t operate a wristband system. The pool seemed a bit too overlooked for my liking, but it’s a good design. There is a bar near the pool.
The pools have new, wooden sun-loungers (the ones on the beach are blue plastic). These wooden ones look good, but are only a few weeks old and are already going mouldy in the seamlines, from when they get wet. They don’t drain as well as the plastic ones. But they do look better.
The grounds are beautiful and mature. Staff work constantly on them. They seem to only use their hands, or a machete, to do the weeding! It’s worth seeking out the garden alongside the Spa, as it is very peaceful and well-designed. There is a small labyrinth/maze, pools and fountains, hammocks and stone benches, and a lot of wildlife. It’s also hardly used, so we found it a good place to go for some peace and quiet.
Activities on & off resort/hotel:
The Animation Team work very hard on the activities such as volleyball, dancing classes, water aerobics, etc. In the evenings, they take part in the shows. Some of the shows were fantastic, such as the ‘Taino Show’ (brilliant dancing) and the circus show (wonderful acrobatics, fire displays, trapeze). At the weekend, Saturday night is a live band. The first week, it rained after they had only performed two songs, unfortunately, so that they had to stop as the electrics would have got wet. The second week, they performed their full set, and were very good – first half was ‘pop hits’, and the second half was Dominican-inspired dance music. Sunday night was karaoke. Obviously, this varies from week to week, depending on the guests’ skills. We didn’t go to this show, but could hear it from our room – one man was a brilliant ‘Tom Jones’, and one woman crucified ‘I will survive’ with a tone-deaf rendition.
If you aren’t the ‘joining in’ type, the Animation Team learn very quickly to leave you alone. Those who want a lively week will find that these staff can provide it for you.
Excursions Our Thomas Cook rep suggested several excursions. We only went on one – to Saona Island. It cost us 85 US dollars each. It was a great day, and well worth doing. We were taken by taxi to Bayahibe harbour first. We could have easily walked this (along the beach), but the rep told us that a taxi was easier, as people didn’t always know where to meet up. It was a bit chaotic, as guests from various hotels meet to go out to the catamarans here. We tagged along with a group from the Iberostar, who fortunately had a rep who went with them and spoke four languages. A speedboat took us out to a huge catamaran, and we transferred onto it. I was wary of this bit, as I can’t swim, but the speedboat is tied to the catamaran in two places, and a staff member stands either side of the steps, helping you across a gap of about a foot. Children are carried across. On the catamaran, we were offered coke or rum. The journey out to the island was lovely, and took about an hour and a quarter. Bob Marley music, then merengue, played the whole time, and the staff tried to get anyone reasonably willing to dance.
We transferred to speedboats again to get onto the beach. Saona’s beach is beautiful – very soft, white sand – paler than Dreams La Romana’s. A buffet lunch was provided in the cost of the excursion. There were basic toilet facilities on the island. There were quite a few vendors where we were first dropped off at the beach, and they quickly approached us with the ‘looky looky, cheapy cheapy’ catchphrase that we’d been told about. We managed to get rid of them quite simply by saying ‘we’re English, and we’ve got no money’. The first one went back and told the others, and after that they left us alone.
We had three hours on the island – enough time to walk along the beach further than anyone else, so that for a while we could see no other people. It was lovely - a real tropical island feeling. The sea was very clear, with WAVES (which you hardly ever get at the beach at Dreams hotel itself).
We joined the speedboat again (and had to wear lifejackets this time), and were taken, at speed, to the ‘natural pool’. This is a sandbank, formed by a hurricane in 1998 just off the coast, which makes the sea about three feet deep, even though you are about a quarter of a mile out to sea – very bizarre. We had 20 minutes here, splashing about and drinking coke or rum whilst standing in incredibly clear waters. There were a few large starfish to see, and some VERY posh yachts moored nearby. We then raced back in the speedboats, alongside another one (we won). It was an exciting, bumpy ride, but safe. Lots of fun. When we got back to the harbour, the taxi should have been waiting for us, but it wasn’t there, so we walked back along the beach. We told the rep the next morning that the taxi hadn’t shown up, and he seemed unsurprised, saying ‘yes, most people walk back’. We felt this was a bit poor, as we had presumably paid for that, and while we’d been waiting for the taxi, we’d been pestered by vendors (one a child), who were quite intimidating and made us feel uncomfortable. We felt that this excursion was well worth the money, though.
The staff at Dreams are wonderful. They are the friendliest people we have ever come across. Going from your hotel room to breakfast, you could easily come across a dozen staff, and all of them would say ‘hola’ to you. Maids, bellhops, gardeners – everyone. The staff in the restaurants work very hard, and almost all of them worked fast. Most speak only a little English, but between their limited English and our limited Spanish, it wasn’t a problem. Maria and Carol (two of the ‘welcomers’ in the buffet) were particularly friendly. The staff seemed to enjoy working with each other, which seemed a good sign, to us.
We had two different maids cleaning our room, during our stay. The first one was more cursory than the other. The second one knew more English. We worked out that there is no point mentioning to a maid if, for instance, you need more water in the minifridge, as that kind of information isn’t passed on to the person who refills the fridge. You need to leave notes, preferably in Spanish, then the relevant person will respond. The hotel seems to have hordes of staff doing the rounds of the rooms all day, but each doing only their specific job. So, if you wanted a day in your room, you’d have to use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign, or you would get interrupted several times.
Two days before we left, we bumped into ‘our’ maid in the hallway, and she told us that the next day was her day off, so she wouldn’t see us before we left. We fell for it, and gave her a ‘final’ tip. But we only had two dollars on us at the time, as we’d just come back from the beach. The next day, we saw her working in the hallway, as usual, and worked out that she’d been angling for her tip a bit too early. We’d intended to tip her more as we left, but as we felt she’d been a bit cheeky, we didn’t leave her anything else.
The staff who filled the minifridge remembered our particular needs, so we always had plenty, refilled daily. Each evening, someone slipped a programme for the following day’s events under our door, at around 9pm.
The staff at the Front Desk were polite and courteous. Check-in and Check-out were quick and painless. Their English was pretty good.
The staff at Guest Services were great. However much Jesus gets paid, it’s not enough! That man can sort out any problem with a smile, in fluent English. He listened to our (few) complaints about our room – such as, we had no bathrobes when we arrived, and no coffee cups, and he got it sorted. There was one slightly more serious issue which he sorted for us, and the next day we had a bottle of wine and a fruit platter delivered to our room while we were on the beach, to compensate.
Apparently, there used to be an ice-cream machine in the buffet, but it has been removed. We suggested that a machine on the beach would be a good idea, and were told that other guests had requested that too, so they’d look into it.
We talked to Jesus in Guest Services about the vegetarian food that the hotel offers. In the UK, about 10% of people are vegetarian. In the Dominican Republic, it’s probably less than 1%. We explained the problems we had had on some evenings when choice was limited. He came back to us after a few days and said that the chef in charge of the World Café buffet was finalising a selection of items to have in a ‘vegetarian corner’ that they were going to start in the next few weeks (March 2009?), so that vegetarians would not only have something to choose from if they hunted through the whole buffet, but have a dedicated place that they knew they could go to each meal.
Dreams La Romana is advertised as an all-inclusive ‘resort and spa’. However, if you want to have any of the spa treatments, they have to be paid for as extras…and they are EXPENSIVE – about twice the cost of the same thing in the UK. If the watersports, entertainment, food and drink are included, why not the spa? The hotel was marketing the spa hard whilst we were there, but seemed to have few takers. I got the price guide in English, and felt it was let down badly by the bad spelling – surely, that should have been checked before going to print? Some items listed were strange – you could have a hair treatment called an ‘Up do’, for instance!
There is a second spa and garden on the resort (beyond Building 7), but this was closed for renovations while we were there.
Our Thomas Cook rep seemed a bit too passive for our liking. He was pleasant, but not too keen on the La Romana area (he’s based somewhere around the Bavarro area, I think, and is only at the hotel for a couple of hours, three times a week). We got the chance to sit in on the welcome meeting for a group of Americans whose rep was from Apple Vacations, who is called Katie Barlow. She is from Hertfordshire. She’s really nice, is based at Dreams La Romana full-time (except Weds), and said she’s always willing to help any English guests, as ‘we all need to stick together’! Her introductory chat was very informative and really enthusiastic.
Vendors are allowed onto the resort on alternate evenings, and set up temporary stalls around the main pool, selling souvenirs like cigars, clothes and jewellery. We found that they weren’t a problem at all if we started off politely but firmly showing no interest whatsoever. After that, they left us alone.
Any of the ‘niggles’ I’ve mentioned above were small ones – we’d go back in an instant. We took 1400 photos altogether, and will be showing them to anyone daft enough to ask us if we had a good holiday!
"An enjoyable week."
Lenny from Old Saybrook, CT on Feb 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Feb, 2009
246 people found this review helpful
Arrival: Feb 6th to Feb 14th:
Uneventfull but a long ride from Punta Cana Airport to Dreams La Romana with Prieto Tours who did a very good job.
We were placed in building 2 on the 1st floor (we had requested upper level rooms but could not get one). Rooms were adequate and clean but worn. We had 2 problems with plumbing which took a couple days to get repaired. Toilet wouldn't flush properly and when we took a shower the water came up through a drain in the bathroom floor and covered the floor with shower water. Rooms were kept clean and neat daily. We did not get any towel art or flower petals on the bed as we have had at all other resorts we have been to over the years (no big deal).
The fridge with filled daily with water and soda, we never did get any beer.
Another problem in our building and room was the smell of burning garbage or burning of plants/vegetation the smoke and smell carried down the hallway in building 2 and entered our room under the door. We had to stack towels in the crack under the door to try and stop the smell and this did not work 100%. We had friends on the opposite did of the hallway and they did not get the smell in their room only the hallway. I asked questions about what was burning but got no answers. Only on the rare occasion could we smell the smoke on the beach.
Restaurants and Bars:
The restaurants we OK, we ate in three ala cartes and the food was good in all of them. The buffet was also good with plenty of selections but did not vary much from night to night (this was not a problem for me).We however did not care for the new decor of the restaurants, too modern looking, I thought we were in New York City. I would prefer a more laid back Tropical approach but the designers did not.
I must say the bars had a good selection of premium liquor, better than we have ever found in a resort previously.
Most other resorts we have been to have had larger and better decorated lobbies (in our opinion), again more tropical feeling than Dreams La Romana. Most of this is our personal preference for decor and did not retract from our experience.
One downside is the lack of lunchtime outside buffet style restaurants all other resorts we have been to have had at least a couple open air buffets for lunch, Dreams had one small one that was not open every day so you have to go the main buffet or the Seaside Grille and order a meal from the menu.
The beach leaves a bit to be desired (for us), after a few times in Punta Cana you tend to get spoiled with beautiful long white sand beaches. We are used to being able to walk for miles on the beach and you won't find that here. The beach is shallow in depth and a lot of sand has eroded away to expose coral and the length of the beach on the Dreams property is not very long (maybe a 1/4 mile). We knew what the beach was like before we left so it was not a surprise to us. We however did miss our long walks on a beautiful beach.
The grounds are pretty and well maintained and the plantings are mature. The pools were fine, we only used them at the end of the day before we went to the room.
The watersports equipment was well worn and not in good condition, this is not what I would have expected.
The loungers on the beach are very well used and many need thrown away and be replaced.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The activities are just what you would expect at a AI resort, no better no worse. we did not go on any tours this vacation.
The staff was very good and very helpful and probably the best we have seen on our trips the the DR.
Although we had a good time and had an enjoyable week we would probably not return due to our personal preferences not anything bad at the resort.
"We had a wonderful nice time and will return."
Carol from Pensylvania on Mar 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Mar, 2009
249 people found this review helpful
Our arrival was smooth and nice with the preferred seating with USA 3000 and Apple. We have used Apple for many years and are always thrilled with our travel with them. We had the drive from Punta Cana but this was the first year we arrived in the daytime so it was nice to see the views. Upon the arrival to the hotel we were met with smiles, juice and cool wash rags. This is very nice but nothing beats the smiles
We stayed in the preferred section room 7135. The rooms were beautiful with the flat screen tv, well equipped refrigerator and must be new bed. The linen and the bedding were very nice and comfortable. I slept like a baby. Loved the bathroom all marble with a fantastic shower head. Great water pressure and great temperatures. Upon stepping out on our patio we were within feet of a bar--might I add which had Bob Sapphire Gin there--a big plus for him. An infinity pool and jacuzzi. Beautiful well kept ground and always clean.
Restaurants and Bars
Love all the restaurants and the idea of no reservations is a great plus. The only bad thing was I didn't get to go to two of the restuarants. We ran out of time--so disappointing. We can't critize all the food because when we come to the island we want the fresh fish. We eat the fish almost everyday and we're never disappointed.
Always clean, well manicured. I do believe they need more sand on the beach, storms have cleared some away.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn't take any tours because we're beach bums ..........
The animation team will always keep you stepping if you want. Beach can get crowded where we like to be--because we're never too far from the bar. They do offer beach drink service though, so shouldn't be a problem. I need to be in the shade also. I did notice that the silliness of saving chairs has been lessened. Not like years ago.
We had a wonderful nice time and will return.
Kathy from Wisconsin on Mar 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Mar, 2009
246 people found this review helpful
How delightful it was to be greeted by staff, offering us orange juice and cool, wet washcloths, after a long bus ride from Punta Cana.
Delightful! Our room attendant surprised us with a beautiful rendering of swans, via washcloths, plus romantic music from the radio. It was special.
Restaurants and Bars
Unreal! Every day in the Universal buffet was a surprise. I will be looking for female chefs on the line, in the future.
Clean, clean, clean! Always raked, with the chairs lined up daily.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hote
I rented a cab to take us to Chavon. We were charged $80 from Dreams La Romana. Upon arrival, we were also charged $5 per person to enjoy the chavon area. Very unique! Look for the donkey to enjoy a ride.
The entertainment is spectacular. I could see a genuine pride in what they produced. Also, I truly enjoyed the land aerobics in the morning. You go, Leinie, Picachu and Risa. Wonderful!
"We did not want to leave paradise and return to reality."
Mary from Kingston, ON on Mar 1, 2009 >
4 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2009
243 people found this review helpful
We have been to the Dominican Republic 8 times in the last 10 yrs. Returned to Dreams (formerly Sunscape Casa del Mar) this yr for our 4th visit in 6 yrs. It was wonderful being back, felt like we were returning to visit a friend. The time went by way too quickly, we did not want to leave. It continues to deliver everything that we want in a holiday!
Had a pleasant flight with Sunwing, despite the 4 hr delay coming home. Food was good. The few higher priced seats are not any wider, just more leg room. Drive from airport takes 20 mins.
Lots of everything – towels and face cloths, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, shower gel, lotion, 15 SPF sunscreen, mens mini shaving cream and razor, shower cap, and sewing kit. Blow dryer, DVD player, fridge, coffee maker, umbrella, iron and ironing board. Everything worked, water pressure great, enough lighting. Pillows were flat, lumpy and horrible; but we got used to them. Our regular maid, a young girl, did not do a very good job. Her days off replacement did an excellent job. I guess we were lucky in that most of our neighbours seemed to be considerate and did not slam doors, etc during quiet hrs. First time we did not find towel art or flowers in our room, oh well, no big deal.
Pools and Beach:
Now 3 pools, very nice and kept very clean. Beach beautiful but very short, so don't expect to walk for hrs. Still pleasant snorkeling. Reef did sustain a lot of damage from 2 hurricanes. For those of you who have been to Dreams before, the beach is now a bit further back, a small outcropping of coral and tree roots exposed, but does not detract from the beauty, actually looks neat. Still lots of shade thanks to trees and palapas. They need to add more sand on the far east side because a lot of coral is exposed around the beach loungers. Even where it was not exposed, you could tell that the layer of sand was very thin. We would have welcomed more music at the beach as it was hardly ever played except for water aerobics. Contrary to another review, I saw only 1 broken chair. They must have been removed or replaced. We had 4 days of extremely high winds, thankfully not coming off the ocean. There was no need for anyone to pay for an exfoliation spa treatment, we all got it for free!
Food and Drink:
No problems, neither one of us was sick, no need for any meds. I have only 2 complaints about the food. Pancakes often tasted doughy/heavy, should have been light and fluffy. The other item was spare ribs, they were very tough, which is unusual for ribs. With the renovations and addition of several a-la-carte restaurants, you have several dinner options.
Jeans were acceptable for men at the a-la-carte restaurants, however most wore dressier pants. Gents, even though the buffet is very laid back, and yes you can wear shorts; in my opinion hats/baseball caps are not appropriate in any restaurant!! Neither are sleeveless/muscle shirts, definitely not at dinner, nor at breakfast – disgusting, unless of course you plan on shaving your armpits like we women do!!
Drinks, all great except for some of the ones I had at buffet which were hit and miss. I got into the habit of picking up my dinner drink at lobby bar on way to dinner. They have removed the self serve pop machines at the beach bar, means more work for bartenders and longer line-ups. Bring them back please! Get rid of the bowl style of plastic glasses at the beach bar and swim up bar, awkward and easy to spill, and you don’t want to spill a drop!
Most days, lunch of hot dogs, burgers, etc available on beach near the bar. This year they had mustard, but hardly ever onions, and sometimes cabbage instead of lettuce. BBQ sauce on burgers would be a great thing as the meat is quite tasteless.
Fruit stand is still set up in a small boat on the beach every day except Sun, in front of the Oceana restaurant/ infinity pool area. Variety of freshly sliced fruit for the taking from mid morning to mid afternoon.
Two waiters at the buffet stood out for us, Osvaldo and Juan (wears glasses). That’s not to say they weren’t all great, they were, but these 2 were our favorites.
Resort is architecturally very well planned with the guest's comfort in mind, everything is within easy walking distance, covered walkways between the bldgs and main paths for the times it rains. Wheelchair accessible.
Renovations and additions of restaurants, here is where we were not impressed. Is very modern looking, lacks the tropical feel. Like another guest commented, looks too “new yorkish”. Too cosmopolitan for our taste. Some of the seats/chairs were not designed for comfort. Included with the renovations should have been a fresh coat of paint on the room dividing walls at the buffet.
Bugs and Orphanage Donations:
Bugs, not a problem. Had one mosquito bite. However, we did find tiny bugs on the counter above fridge and on bathroom counter. They were there when we arrived, and were still there when we left. We were very careful with even syrup on the outside of pop bottles, and we still had them. I think you will find them in every room, are harmless. We found the resort very clean (and I do look for these things). Never found any garbage on walkways, etc. Dining areas were clean, everything was well presented and in order. The only complaint I have is that the beach washrooms could use more than just air freshner, hold your breath when entering. They could also use more than 2 stalls for the ladies.
Leave any donations for the orphanage with the Guest Services staff. When they have enough items collected, they will be delivered.
Shopping, Internet and Book Exchange:
Local vendors are set up in huts on beach just at edge of resort past water sports hut. A few vendors will set up near the beach bar several days a week. Contrary to previous visits, not once did we see them at the hotel at any other location. This was very surprising indeed, and nice in a way to not be harassed.
Internet is available at the Coco Cafe just off the lobby. Will cost you US$7 for 30 mins. This is also where you can get a variety of coffees and pastries for a snack.
Coco Cafe is also the place to drop off the books you have read or want to exchange for another.
Secrets Construction Plans Cancelled. There had been talk about building a Secrets resort next door. Not going to happen! Was told by Guest Services Staff member that the townspeople petitioned the government about not moving the cemetery in order to build a resort. Ruling was in favor of the town.
Casa del Mar met our expectations for the 4th time. Once again we ate well, slept well and enjoyed our stay very much. We did not want to leave paradise and return to reality. Service from everyone was excellent and professional, (love that Pablo Picaso, he’s a genuine entertainer – “no pee pee in the ocean, no make baby on the beach”...) We received smiles galore from everyone except from the spa staff who would not even say hola. The entire Dreams team deserves a 10 out of 10! Keep up the excellent work! We will be back for a 5th time next Feb provided someone flies into La Romana airport.
"This was a very definite 5 star resort."
Noreen on Mar 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2009
261 people found this review helpful
Arrival: Feb 16 - 23
there was a flight change... so we arrived 5:30 A.M Feb 17. We were supposed to get a welcome drink etc. but it was 6:a.m reception staff not especially friendly or knowledgeable but they have a concierge service and these people are helpful regarding any questions about hotel services.
perfect room. sliding glass doors onto private patio just feet from pool and beach. Room was very clean and well supplied with satellite TV and DVD player. Fridge stocked daily with beer, water and soft drinks. Bathroom all marble and wall to wall vanity. Restocked daily with fresh towels and shampoo, shower gel and even sunblock. No charge for room service and beautifully prepared, we enjoyed breakfast on our patio for a nice change from the buffet. Very quiet at night... no trouble getting a good night's sleep on very comfortable beds.
Restaurants and Bars
excellent a la carte retaurants no need to reserve. Beautiful decor great service. great food. Buffet was the best. we are vegetarians and had a wide variety of dishes to choose from. beautiful surroundings and friendly waiters. Many bars including swim up.
fabulous white sandy beach. water was calm and clear... smooth sandy bottom no rocks or sharp stones.. lots of beach lounge chairs and lots of palm trees for those who like a bit of shade. no flies or mosquitoes. Grounds and landscaping just gorgeous, never saw any litter anywhere.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
didn't participate in beach activities although there was lots to choose from. We went on 3 tours. The Jeep safari was fantastic, visited a sugar cane plantation and saw people working in the fields also visited a an elementary school for the children of the cane workers. The workers are all Haitians as the pay is very low and work is very hard. Dominicans won't work for $1.00 per hour. If you take this tour bring along treats for the kids and school supplies. WE visited a typical home of small farmer and also went horse back riding. On that same tour we took a houseboat ride up the Chavon river. Lunch was provided also drinks. Took a boat ride to Catalina Island to snorkel. Had a most excellent massage on the beach for only 20$ US. We had sunshine every day not a drop of rain.
This was a very definite 5 star resort. We also had a massage at the hotel spa. there is also a small Casino on the grounds. The staff were very friendly and courteous. All conveniences and sparkling clean inside and out. although the internet service was too expensive $4.00 US for only 15 minutes, cheaper to make a phone call. I would highly recommend this resort, have been to Cuba, Mexico and Costa Rica at very nice resorts... but this was the best in every way.
"We definitely left our hearts in the Dominican Republic"
Cherilyne on May 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2009
238 people found this review helpful
Dreams La Romana March 23 - April 20, 2009 We arrived at La Romana airport mid-afternoon on March 23rd where we were met by our complimentary Amstar transport to the hotel. As we booked Preferred Club and there have been many other reviews done on the general rooms at the hotel, this review is more focused on the upgraded rooms and amenities offered. A flurry of staff met us at the door; a bellhop for the luggage, two smiling people holding trays - one with welcoming mimosas and the other with refreshing cool cloths. Everyone was saying "Welcome Home" and we were ushered through the doorway to the lobby desk. A quick perusal of our reservation and we were escorted to the Preferred Club by Reynaldo who gave us an orientation of the resort on the way. At the Preferred Club we were seated in very comfy chairs and glasses of champagne were offered as we were once again, welcomed home and checked into our room. All the Preferred Club amenities were offered and explained and I was given a ticket to take to the Internet Cafe to obtain a password which gave me wifi internet access pretty much anywhere on the resort. (I did not test the limits, but used my laptop at the PC poolside and in our room with no difficulties).
We were given room 5334, much to my great delight. It is a partial ocean view room and gave us wonderful views overlooking the Preferred Club pool, the Caribbean, Catalina in the distance and my personal favourite - the glorious sunsets. Our room was sparkling clean, spacious, tastefully decorated and very welcoming. The balcony was perfect for enjoying a bottle of champagne and watching the stars come out after witnessing the glorious sunsets. It's a good size for two people, but it's not meant to be a party patio! The walls are thin but it was only an issue for us with a few of the guests. The bathroom was very large with a partially glassed-in shower stall. Man, do we ever miss that shower! Great pressure. Varying temperatures but we quickly figured out the best times to take showers that would net us our optimum temperatures. The shower drained slowly but that did not bother us. The sink when we first arrived gave us a bit of grief as the pipe leaked underneath but it was fixed quickly and although we were immediately offered another room, we declined to change. The pipe never leaked once they'd sealed it up, and again although it drained slowly, we did not mind. We were absolutely delighted with the amenities offered in the bathroom. One thing I did miss was conditioner, so if you use this product, take some with you. Amenities ranged from a mending kit to sunscreen. If you'd like a more detailed list, please contact me and I'll be happy to provide it. The king sized bed was the most comfortable bed I've ever had the pleasure of sleeping in, in my entire life! The pillows were very comfy and a good size. Sometimes it was hard to get up, it was that comfortable!
The Preferred Club bar has all top shelf liquor and beer. Mariano was our favourite bartender and although you could not complain about any of the other staff working the Preferred Club bar, Mariano's professionalism really stood out. Victor kept the Preferred Club rooms and the pool area pristine and ensured that fresh clean pool towels were on all the loungers early every morning. The Preferred Club lounge has the private concierge desk with four beautiful, friendly women always smiling behind it, ready to do or fix anything you desire. There are wonderful coffee drinks, juice and nibblies available all day and well into the evening. There is a good library of books you can borrow/exchange, dvd's you can borrow, three complimentary computers for guest use plus a connection and space for one private computer if you bring your own down. There is a comfortable tv room, nice comfy tables and chairs near the nibblies, board games and multiple tables on the terrace outside where you can lounge, read, eat or just have a coffee.
The Preferred Club pool has an infinity edge at the south end which overlooks the Taino garden and the Caribbean Sea. There is no "deep end" and thus no diving, (nor is there at any of the resort's pools) which makes the pool very calm and relaxing. There is a horseshoe-shaped area that contains jets but it is not a "hot tub". Some days the water felt very cold initially but the sun is very hot there so usually once you were in, the water felt good. We did notice that after several hot sunny days the pool water was much warmer - more like a tepid bath (which is exactly how the sea felt to us when we were in it). Loungers were not a problem at the pool however there are only 4 palapas. The first two weeks we were there we had no problem securing a palapa at 10 am but the last couple of weeks the clientele mix changed and if you wanted a palapa you had to secure it earlier in the morning. There was an occasion where we found a few palapas had been reserved before 6 am. By 10:30, neither party who had reserved 2 of the palapas had returned and the very observant Alfre (bartender at the PC bar) had towels removed so that others waiting could enjoy the shade of the palapas. Another palapa note - there are multiple swift nests in the palapa roofing - please take care when walking by the palapa overhangs or entering a palapa that you do not disturb a nest. There is a family of resident kestrels on the property that attack the swift nests for food from time to time. Overall, the Preferred Club is on the quiet side of the hotel (far west of the property). Not all rooms in buildings 5 & 7 are Preferred Club rooms. If you have been given a room in this part of the property but have not paid for the upgrade, you will not be able to use the lounge, pool or the PC bar. You will be asked for your room key as proof that you are a Preferred Guest. Best to take it with you until the staff all have a chance to know you.
Having stayed at the resort for a month, we had a chance to explore all the restaurants. We ate at the World Cafe, Seaside Grill, Himitsu, Bordeaux, Portofino, Oceana & El Patio. Although we attempted to dine one evening at Jungla, our initial seating experience was not the best and we left without ordering. We had intended to go back and give it another try but with so many pleasant experiences elsewhere, we never did get there again. We only dined once at Oceana. Being coastal island dwellers, we are very familiar with seafood as it is a staple of our diet. While the food wasn't bad, it wasn't really what we were expecting and we left it at a solo meal. By far our favourites for fine evening dining were the Bordeaux (adults only!) and the Portofino. We are huge fans of tiramisu and in fact we have been known to make a journey of many miles just to try a tiramisu somewhere. Without a doubt, hands down, it was unanimous - Portofino has the best tiramisu we've ever eaten! I think over our many visits there we sampled most, if not all, of the menu. Everything was excellent. Bordeaux was the same for us. My husband stated their rack of lamb was the best he's ever had - and he's a huge fan of lamb. The fish & chips at the Seaside Grill were amazing - loved the batter - not heavy or greasy - we will probably never eat fish & chips in a restaurant here again! Himitsu was another hit with us - we enjoyed several dishes on the menu many times. I have friends from Thailand here at home who own a restaurant and I must admit the Thai dishes at Himitsu were nothing like the ones we get here, but still they were tasty and we enjoyed the experience. El Patio was a huge hit with us as well. Great enchiladas, tacos, burritos - and hubby loved their margaritas.
The entertainment was a lot of fun and we made many friends among the staff everywhere. We did not do any of the excursions offered through the tour operators or Gri Gri. We did venture away from the resort to visit Dominicus, Bayahibe and Altos De Chavon. As they are unrelated to the resort experience I will not describe them here. Feel free to email me for details. I have to say that we feel we were treated like royalty everywhere we frequented on the resort. The internet cafe has computers you can rent time on plus a coffee and snack bar with plenty of delicacies. The lobby bar also has top shelf booze and entertainment on some evenings. Look for the nights Flore performs - she's got an amazing voice!! We renewed our wedding vows on our anniversary at the end of the pier. For many reasons, we hired a private photographer from Bayahibe for the event and were well pleased with our photos. We had the romantic dinner for two later that same night in the wedding gazebo which is pleasantly situated on the seashore in the Taino garden. Any questions about the ROV ceremony or the dinner, feel free to ask.
We did some shopping in the gift shop (I had to bring home some of that amazing coffee!) and my hubby bought a pair of pants in Bamblue. We had interesting experiences with the vendors both on and off the property. My husband celebrated his birthday while we were there and the staff went out of their way to ensure it was a great and memorable day for him. While we were there, he fell ill and had to spend a bit of time with the hotel doctor. We were both impressed with the doctor and his nurse. Everywhere we went afterward the hotel staff asked after my hubby's health. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and showed concern for his brief illness. We both had the deep relaxing massage at the spa and overall we would recommend the massages we had with Tomasa and Hector. I had other spa treatments which disappointed me and which I would not recommend at this time. The Eco Spa behind building 7 is currently closed for renovations and will remain closed until some time next year. Our maid service was excellent. I only regret we did not have more money to tip because they were well worth it! We did not always get turndown service and even when we did we did not always get chocolates, but we did not mind in the least. We did get several examples of towel art during our month-long stay - the maids are very talented and work very hard at this. It was easy to see why they would not always get to every guest with towel art. It takes time to do and they do have other chores! No matter where we went, what we did, everywhere we said a "gracias" we were answered with "it's my pleasure" and a big smile.
Many members of the staff helped us acquire some Spanish and we look forward to expanding our knowledge of this beautiful language. We picked up a Latin American phrasebook at the airport, which was a great help with the local dialect. We made many new friends from all over the world and connected with other bridal couples as well as many forum friends. It was great to meet each and every one and to finally put faces to some of the names we knew from the forums. The grounds were beautiful, the service excellent, the room comfortable, the food delicious, but what truly made this the holiday of a lifetime - what made it hard to leave and has us chomping at the bit to return was the fantastic staff at this hotel. Not all met our expectations, but they were in the minority and we had limited contact with them. The rest will forever live in our hearts and memories for having given us an incredible vacation experience. The day we left, staff from all over made a special effort to meet us somewhere on the grounds to wish us a safe trip home and a speedy return to Dreams - now our "Segunda Casa" too. I was teary-eyed all the way to La Romana airport and I cried when our plane took off. We definitely left our hearts in the Dominican Republic, and as much as we love our homeland and our wee farm here on this little island paradise, we cannot wait to return to Dreams La Romana next spring!
"We felt welcome to be there and the activities were second to none. "
Rick from Toronto on Nov 1, 2009 >
2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Nov, 2009
268 people found this review helpful
Arrival: Nov 9 - 16:
We booked through WestJet Vacations. The flight was 'economical' as there was no meal unless you wished to buy one. Snacks and drinks were served.
Upon arrival, total caos. The 'Hola' representative was swarmed with passengers as the bus supplied carried less then half the people it required to. With no organization, we were left at the curb and told another bus was ordered. When it showed, there was the usual stampede to get on. Since we were travelling with two small children, it made no difference if you were at the front of the line. We were pushed to the back. It was a short 20 minute drive to the resort.
Arrived at the resort and lined up again for our room. When we made it to the check in counter, our request for a king size bed with two cots was not met. To the credit of the front desk staff, they asked us to have a seat at the bar until the line thinned in order to accomodate us. They gave us a pager and called us back to do what they could for us. They offered us our request but also offered us an upgrade to Preferred Club (for an additional $100 per night). We opted for the Preferred Club which gave us two rooms etc etc etc. It was a great choice. Well worth the extra $700. The room we got overlooked the ocean and came with a king bed in one room and two double beds in the second room. It had a double balcony. We always had fresh towels, even 2 - 3 times a day and we had turn down service every night.
Restaurants and Bars::
From the buffet to the a la carte restaurant, the food was fantastic. In the buffet for dinner there was a great variety including t-bone steak and shrimp. There was no need to make reservations at the a la catre restaurants, just show up and you could use them as often as you like during your stay. As part of the Preferred Club, we had access to the private club where they had exceptional snacks and high end liqours. There were also two rooms with large screen TV's and access to the internet with 3 computers.
The only knock on the bars was the pool swim up bar. The staff there tended to ignore the kids which means I had to go over everytime the kids wanted a drink. There is a coffee shop close to the main pool where you could order lattes and capuccinos.
Two of the pools were huge. The swim up bar pool seemed to be the party pool where the crowd was loud and the explatives flew. If you're into partying, this was the place to be. The main pool was quiet and great for the kids. The pool contains a climbing 'ice berg'. The pool was huge and had waitresses coming around to offer refreshments. Lots of loungers available at all the pools. The last pool is the quietest, but reserved only for Preferred Club members. The beach is long with plenty on loungers. There is a water trampoline in the ocean.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel::
Tons of activities for the kids. All the equipment is in good repair with all the parts available. Some of the activities were ping pong, shuffle board, giant chess set, pool tables, video games (Wii, X-box & PS3)table soccer and a mechanical bull. There was always an activity being put on by the entertainment staff. Our kids didn't use the Explorer's Club but when we checked it out, it looked great.
The staff was very friendly. Whenever we requested something, they would do it with a smile and reply 'it's a pleasure'. My family and I have travelled thoughout the Carribean with our children who are now 8 & 10 years old. This resort is by far the best we have stayed at. We felt welcome to be there and the activities were second to none. When the kids are busy and happy, it makes for a fun and relaxing vacation. Looking forward to returning next year.