Iberostar Costa Dorada Reviews

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Iberostar Costa Dorada  

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

"Will not return to DR any time soon."
Posted by: David on Jan 1, 2013
see all reviews

Iberostar Costa Dorada Reviews
Iberostar Costa Dorada Pictures and Information
Iberostar Costa Dorada Puerto Plata Dominican Republic

#11
of 94 Hotels in Puerto Plata

User rating 4.4

Based on 17 reviews

Iberostar Costa Dorada Information


Iberostar Costa Dorada is an ideal escape for everyone. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy a wide variety of land and watersports. Although offered at an additional charge, scuba divers will appreciate beautiful dive sites.

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Iberostar Costa Dorada Reviews

Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 4.4 of 5 17 reviews
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"Will not return to DR any time soon."

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 3.0 of 5

Posted by:  David  on Jan 1, 2013  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2013 | Leisure | Family and Kids
223 people found this review helpful

We had been to the DR 5 times before and had stayed at the Iberostar Playa Dorada 3 times before.
The situation there has gone way down hill.
The place appeared to be about 1/2 full and numerous resorts in the area are closed.
Although it is aging, the Iberostar resort is being outwardly well maintained.
Unfortunately, the place was infested with bed bugs.
Also, many people around us and several in our family group suffered terrible abdominal cramps.
Because we in our group were careful about not drinking tap water. we are not drinkers and we avoided staying out in the sun too long, I attribute the illness to poor food preparation and handling standards. Among many other problems, lobster tails were repeatedly served only partially cooked, which can be deadly.
The influx of Haitian refugees and the lack of tourists has apparently made the area somewhat unsafe.
Whereas we used to walk along the beach into town, we were blocked this time from doing so by armed security guards who warned us that "mafia" now patrols the beach and regularly robs tourists.
The departure was also marred by over zealous airport security personnel who spoke no English and who seemed to enjoy tearing apart our bags for no apparent reason leaving our dirty clothes in a heap on the counter.
I could write pages about all of the small things that conspired to spoil the experience but, in the final analysis, we will not be returning to the DR any time soon.

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"Over-rated and overpriced for what you get."

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 3.0 of 5

Posted by:  Kellie  on Feb 8, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
721 people found this review helpful

I travelled to this resort with my husband on Jan. 27 - Feb.2, 2011. We were supposed to stay until Feb. 6, but we were disappointed so we went to another resort for the end of our trip. We bought into the hype that this was the best resort in Puerto Plata, but the overall lack of service and friendliness put a real downer on our vacation. The food is average, some may say good, but the variety is limited. The Turkish bath & spa were amazing, but that didn't make up for the other downfalls. If we were to go to another Iberostar resort, it will have to be a Grand, but I think we will stick with the Riu because we have never been disappointed.

Room Block:
Building 8, facing back path

Arrival:
We arrived at 11:30 p.m. and the staff at reception were cold and rude. He pointed in a direction & said "take a left then right, then left" to get to our room. No one was there to help with our luggage, so we made our way in the dark in unfamiliar terriority and stumbled with our luggage to our room.

Rooms:
The room was average with wicker furniture. The king sized bed was very comfortable, but the pillows were flat & were not. There is an electronic safe in the room, but you had to pay $2.00 USD per day to use it which we were not impressed by. They had sattelite TV so there were English stations but the remote control did not work and we requested someone repair it 3 times, but no one came so we could not use the remote for our entire stay.
The coffee maker in the room did not work; the light came on but the pump was broken so the water would not drip through the coffee filter. We notified reception and left a note for the cleaning staff, but they turned on the machine, saw the light was on & left us a note that it was OK. After 3 days & 3 requests I had to show a staff member that water did not flow through & then we received a new coffee maker. Our word that it was broken, was not enough to get a new one.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food was average. The buffet did not have a good variety and the Seafood restaurant served the exact same calamari that was in the buffet. It came with no side dishes, just fried calamari on a plate. The same as we had the night before at the buffet. The meat dishes were overcooked. The fajitas were really good, as was breakfast. Most of the wait staff were friendly and provided good service but the bartenders and reception staff were miserable, almost to the point of being angry. The workers on the property did not acknowledge the guests and ignored you when you said hello.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The grounds were beautiful, but they drove utility trucks very fast on the walking paths all day long, so you would have to move onto the grass out of the way. There was seaweed on the beach that was two feet thick that workers would scoop onto the back of a pick-up truck and haul away. They did this all day, everyday and barely made a dent in the seaweed. It interrupted the landscape to see approximately 8 workers and a pick-up truck at the water's edge all day.
It was easy to get lounge chairs both at the pool and the beach and there were lots of covered areas for shade.

Other Comments:
The overall feel at the resort was very flat. We were so disappointed with the amount of money we paid for what we were told was the best resort in Puerto Plata, that we switched resorts halfway through our vacation. We ended at the Riu which was amazing! We had been there before and ending there is what saved our vacation. We received more "hola's", handshakes & high fives from staff at the Riu within the first half hour of our arrival, as we did for our entire duration at the Iberostar Costa Dorada.

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"Great hotel bad location"

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 3.0 of 5

Posted by:  Mike  on Mar 16, 2012  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2012 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
442 people found this review helpful

My wife and I spent 1 week here Feb. 23/12. My concern before we booked the Iberostar in Puerto Plata was the wind. If you look at the advertising for hotels in Puerto plata, they often mention wind sports. Well It was VERY WINDY there, so windy that you couldn't sit at the beach and be comfortable. I'm not talking a little bit of wind I mean constant gusting strong winds. Some people sit on the beach, but most people (at least 90%) stay by the pool. I did a lot of reading before we booked and little was said about the wind. So we spent the week by the noisey pool (not waht we really wanted).

Room Block:
3000

Arrival:
The arrival was great starting at the airport, they just push you through as fast as possible. At the hotel they get you to your room without delay.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food at the buffet is as good as it gets for an all inclusive. I don't drink hard liquor so I can't comment on it, but I do drink wine and beer. I have to say Iberostar cuts corners on red wine, so much so that I have tasted better home made red wine than the red wine they serve! They serve a local beer and it was excellent,great tasting beer. They have a great coffee bar in the lobby, we had many many coffee with Baileys (one reviewer I read said they were to die for, and she was right).

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
--Beach, windy windy windy!

--pools, nice but noisey!

--Grounds, very nice!

Other Comments:
If you like to sit at the pool not the beach, and if you don't drink red wine,this is the perfect place for you. As for me, those two things are deal breakers and I would never got back there again!

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"It isn't four star, but as a good three star family hotel"

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 3.0 of 5

Posted by:  Sheila  on Jan 1, 2009  >  2 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Visited on: Jan, 2009
283 people found this review helpful

Arrival: 5th to 19th January
We travelled with First Choice, excellent service, even the food on the flight was good. Our room keys and info were handed to us on the coach to the hotel so we could go straight to our rooms

Rooms:
We were on the top floor of Block one facing the sea.
Although the sea view was initially blocked by the palm trees, during our first full day the bottom palm fronds were all cut off. I 'm sure that this was probably for horticultural reasons but it had the added bonus of giving us, and future guests, a much better view.
The room was typical AI in decor, a fair size with a king size bed (which we found really comfy), sofa, chair and table, fridge, ordinary television (about 6 English speaking channels) ironing board and iron. The balcony had a table, two chairs and a handy pull out clothes drier. However, we found that, because of the humidity, clothes can take a couple of days to dry. The bathroom was compact, had a hairdryer, shampoo, body lotion etc, and there were also shower gel and shampoo dispensers in the shower, which was always hot and had a great water pressure. However, there is no conditioner and you may want to bring some with you. Also, as there is no clock, we were grateful that we'd brought a travel alarm clock. Both the room and bathroom were fine and kept beautifully clean.

Restaurants and Bars:
Food
One persons culinary delight is anothers nightmare so this is just our opinion, Buffet There was not one occasion when we didn 't have a great meal in the buffet. The food was beautifully presented and with a wide choice. Like luvmytrip2 Santos was also our waiter and looked after us extremely well.

Mexican Ate there twice. The second occasion, our last night, I had the beef and bacon kebabs which were sadly so tough as to be inedible. Although I managed to complain nicely in Spanish about the food there was no offer of an alternative dish. (But perhaps it was my Spanish !!!) A big disappointment as the shrimp dish which I had on the first occasion at this restaurant was wonderful.

Fish Restaurant
Fabulous. Ate there four times and would have happily done so every night. Great choice and wonderful food.

Brazilian
There is no choice here. After the starters (buffet service) everyone has the same range of meat which is delivered to your table on massive kebabs, a portion is cut off and the servers move on to the next table. Without exception all the meat we were given was inedible, tough, dry and overcooked. Probably the worst meal I have had in any AI. However we were at the later sitting and I wonder if the meat is kept warm from the first sitting which would account for the state of the food. We did complain to Guest services, hopefully again nicely, and were allocated an extra a la carte meal at the Fish Restaurant.

Drink
To echo the opinions of other reviewers the alcohol in the hotel seemed to have a different % strength than drinks at home.
Thanks to previous reviews, we bought a couple of duty free litres on the plane so we could have a proper drink. The rest of the time it was fine drinking the lower alcohol drinks in the bars. My only gripe was the ˜fruit juice ' from the machines at the beach and pool bars which were very sweet and sickly.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The pool area was a bit too noisy for us. It would be good if the hotel provided a quieter adults only area, but, as they don 't, we spent the time on the beach. Plenty of loungers and some lovely shady areas under the trees at the back of the beach. Very quiet and relaxing. There are some activities taking place but if they ever got a bit loud at lunch time we went and ate.

The Beach was immaculate, clean and with very little seaweed.
Another good thing about it was the lack of beach traders. There are a few people selling tours, but just stand there waiting for people to approach them rather than the ‘in your face ' selling that goes on at some resorts.

The grounds are lovely and well maintained.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Loads on offer. Everything from rifle shooting, football, archery, aerobics, stretch classes, dancing classes, games etc, and bingo at 4 o 'clock every afternoon. No pressure to join in and lots of competitions with prize giving every evening.

Entertainment
The night time entertainment was very typical AI. Most of it was the same routines just with different costumes. Watch out for one of the girl dancers who had obviously just joined the group as she spent most routines looking at the others and trying to work out what to do next. In fairness, if you want first class professional shows then there are other places, after all these are not professional performers.
A number of the shows were just miming. The worst of these was The Lion King which involved the entertainers (and some young guests) all wearing animal print leotards and miming to extracts from the English sound track of the cartoon. Don 't know what the non English speaking guests made of this.
The non miming shows included a Black light show with fluorescent painted costumes against a black background, rather like a sequence in a pantomime, and a magic show with a tightrope walker who was exceptional.
The House Band was good and sometimes played in the courtyard so guests could either dance or listen.
The most entertaining show was Mister and Mrs - for a nominal prize four couples had to compete and perform a number of tasks. Although I 'm not usually into guests having to make fools of themselves it was really funny.

Tours
As I don 't feel comfortable about peoples ' private homes being seen as tourist attractions I avoided any trips which included visiting ‘a typical Dominican home '. In any case how can a home be typical if it is visited by tourists every day! As we have been to Seaworld type centres and don 't enjoy fishing we didn 't do those either. Our best trips out were both to the main cites on the Island.
Although these involved a fair bit of travelling time, there were always stops en route and driving along gave us a fabulous overview of the island and its people.
The capital city Santo Domingo dates back to the 15th century and is beautiful with amazing streets, three lane highways, historic buildings and lovely areas such as the Cultural Zone. (There are also lots of shops, including a massive mall, but I opted not to use the time there.)

Local Shops
About ten minutes walk down the beach is the Orange Market.
Once you walk on the beach away from the hotel you are likely to be approached by some very ‘friendly ' people who want you to come and look at their shop. They can be very pushy but we found the best approach was, as soon as we saw them coming up to us, to speak first and say we had no money on us.
The Orange Market has the same range of souvenirs that we saw everywhere and prices which, even after extensive haggling, were sometimes more expensive than the cheaper shops in the Costa Dora mall. By the way, if very pushy traders are not your thing then you might want to avoid the Orange Market.
The shopping Mall in Costa Dora is over two floors and has a range of shops including a small supermarket, a dive shop and an art gallery. On the second floor (in the corner by the stairs) there is a very good tour operator - their prices were excellent and they offered some different trips to those offered at the hotel and on the beach.

Other Comments:
Shop
The hotel shop is expensive if you have any space in your cases bring out tubes of Pringles / bags of crisps & munchies. The hotel doesn 't include them and they are about four times the UK price in the shop. Also remember sun cream and toiletries as they are also very expensive in the shop. There are also English newspapers but they work out at about 5 pounds each!

Internet
The hotel has an internet room available from 7.00am to midnight. The cost of this or WiFi connection on a lap top is 160 DRP for an half an hour. Sadly there are no local cheaper alternatives. We found the connection very fast and, even though it was always busy, there was usually an available computer.

Staff
I don 't expect all staff to speak English and managed to get by with my limited Spanish and a pocket Spanish / English dictionary.
No one pushed us for tips or cigarettes. The staff were all unfailingly polite and helpful. However, although they smiled I found that a lot of the time it was very automatic and they didn 't ‘smile with their eyes '. But this could just be a cultural thing

I 'm not certain what the hotel can do to stop this, but I was very surprised to see it being tolerated in what is fundamentally a family hotel.

I have to agree with someone who described visitors to the Dominican Republic as being viewed as ‘walking wallets '.

This starts as soon as you enter the country when you pay $10 for a tourist card which, abut five yards down the immigration hall, is taken off you. Other examples include - The porter at the airport supervising loading the luggage into the hotel coach will expect a tip. On the return trip porters will barge in front of guests so that they can take their cases from the coach to the check in which is about 10 yards away.
Guides at all the visitor attractions will tell you that they are unpaid/lowly paid/ a volunteer / a student etc and rely on tips to support their family. Children ask tourists for sweets and pens and then sell them on to tourists to give to children who then sell them to tourists to give to children etc. etc.

At coach stops as tourists leave the coach for a break someone hands them an opened bottle of cold beer. Thinking that this is included in the trip the tourist takes the bottle, then having drunk from it is asked for payment. (Luckily our guide warned us of this practice although we saw this happening to other coach parties).

Puerto Plata has an orphanage and I bought over for them some pens, new clothes (children 's socks and underwear from Primark), and over the counter ' children 's medicine. Medicine is incredibly expensive in DR. Also Tony, the First Choice Rep, was involved with another charity and asked for any items which we could spare and didn 't want to take back home. He was happy to take half full bottles of anything as he said when you have nothing half a can of deodorant is very welcome. We also left him items from our medical kits.

Overall
The problem with star ratings is that they seem to vary from country to country and although the hotel may compare well with other Dominican Republic Hotels, I didn 't feel it had the facilities that I would normally associate with a four star AI hotel.
It is a largish hotel over 500 rooms and this means that it is, by its very size, somewhat impersonal.

But I knew all this when I booked and at the price we paid it offers excellent value for money and gave us a cheap and much welcomed break from the English weather.
One guest we spoke to described the hotel as being like an upmarket Butlins. Although I haven 't been to a holiday camp, I think I understand what he meant. Everything is provided for you and for some guests that will be just what they want, but others may want to try something a bit different.
However, because of its location unless you are prepared to travel there is no other choice. For me the hotel is not romantic, luxurious or very personal, but not everyone wants that. It isn't four star, but as a good three star family hotel offers incredible value for money. So, if you need a cheap break then look no further.

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"Awesome place"

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Lorrie  on Oct 24, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Oct, 2010 | Leisure | Family and Kids
764 people found this review helpful

This is was our first trip to the Dominican and the Iberostar Costa Dorada did not disappoint us, other than the food was not great. We didn't starve, but the 6 of us basically lived on chicken, potatoes, and bread. The Breakfast Buffet was good and probably the best meal of the day. The rooms are spectacular, the grounds immaculately kept, the beach fabulous and the staff are wonderful and very entertaining! We will definitely consider going back to this hotel in the future. There are Iberostars all over the world and will consider choosing one of these if we travel anywhere else.

Rooms:
Beautiful rooms!

Restaurants and Bars:
Service in the bars and restaurants superb!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
immaculate!

Other Comments:
We went on a shopping/sightseeing trip, but we were disappointed in the vendors constantly after you to spend your money. Became very annoying.

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"Ratings for the Iberostar Costa Dorada state it's a 4 ½ star hotel"

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Rose  on Mar 1, 2009  >  3 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2009
282 people found this review helpful

Arrival
Our AI holiday was with Air Transat Holidays as we flew out of Vancouver, non-stop flight, direct to Puerta Plata. About an hour away from our destination, the pilot comes over the loud-speaker to say "the PP airport was shut-down due to very bad weather and that we were going to fly into the Punta Cana airport! We deplaned and waited there for 5 1/2 hours. Our arrival at the PP airport was fine. Checked thru immigration smoothly and picked up our luggage and headed outside to immediately find a booth that had the Air Transat logo. The rep pointed us to a little old mini-van that sat 7 persons. We were on our way to the hotel in no time. The Iberostar is only about a 20 min drive from the hotel. We were the first stop to unload. Check in was quick & efficient as well.

Rooms
Because of the flight being detoured, we arrived at 11 pm instead of 5 pm so we dumped our bags in the room and headed to the buffet as we were starving. Rooms are clean, large and there was no smell. Our first room was in building one and had a view of the fence/wall of the next door hotel. Went straight back to the reception desk and requested a room facing the pool. We were then put in building three on the second floor. Nice view, better location, very spacious. No clock though. The A/C worked fine and wasn't too loud, rooms come with a hairdryer and a small coffeemaker and the coffee/condiments are provided. Mini fridge was handy and stocked every day with beer, water and pop. We had a few ants around the bathroom sink. I told the front desk and they came and sprayed with insect repellant right away.

Of the nine 3-storey buildings, I'd recommend building 7 or building 8 (request to face the pool). These are centrally located between the beach, main buffet and lobby area. They are also close to the snack buffet and easy walking distance to the lobby bar. Building 1 & 5 are nearest to the ocean but are only good if you actually get a room facing the ocean. The view ain't bad but its also not the greatest as the palm trees block your view. Otherwise, bring comfortable walking shoes as it's a jaunt to get anywhere except the beach.

Restaurants and Bars:
There are 5 bars. The lobby bar is where they serve the best drinks with premium alcohol. They have 3 a la carte restaurants that you must make a reservation for (but you can go back to these as much as you want, no limit): (1) The Brazilian restaurant - they come to your table with apprx 6 types of meat on a large skewer and cut a piece off for your plate, (2) The Mexican restaurant -you choose your type of taco here and (3) The Seafood restaurant. Men are required to wear long pants for these 3 places. We found the meat everywhere to be on the tough/overcooked side. The main buffet is ok. It changes the them every night so there is some variety in the selections but its kinda true what other write in the fact that it does get repetitive and boring by the end of the week. Breakfast and lunch buffets are pretty much the same everyday.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Grounds were kept tidy and it looks pretty with lush plants, palm trees and maincured cut grass. Nice open lobby area with a tiny lagoon with 7 flamingos in it. Staff were friendly and the pool was clean. Too bad there wasn't a swim-up pool bar. Grounds are lush and well-kept. The area of beach directly in front of the hotel was kept clean with the staff removing the seaweed constantly. When facing the ocean, walk to your right for about 10 minutes and cross over a pale green bridge to find The Orange Flea Market. Typical souvenirs sold here. Watch as they'll try to rip you off.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
There's an "Entertainment Team" that organize and run several daily activities. This team also performs in the theatre/stage area at night. Don't worry about noise as the shows were done and the music stops by 11:30 pm. Then the Route 66 night club opens and that club has good insulation as you can't here the music from outside. The shows are different every night, as there are 21 different shows that they rotate through. Shows are ok, some better than others.

Just so you know, the hotel is about 12 km east of downtown Puerto Plata. There's not much around except the neighboring hotel, the Grand Oasis, which has a casino (we didn't make it there). Be aware that there are no shops or restaurants on the streets nearby.

The Iberostar is on the main highway and you can easily get local transportation (see Other Comments section) if you want to venture out of the complex. Go west about 1-2 km (8 min walk) to reach the Brugal Factory. Note that it says Brugal Rum Tour on all the excursions and brochures - not quite! Its actually a bottling factory and the admission is free. You watch a 5 min video, view the workers and assembly line machines and then you exit the bldg and sample one of the rums. There's a factory rum store. Prices here aren't bad: white rum was $7 US, Anejo (amber rum) was $8 US, and the Extra Anejo (aged rum) was $9 US.

For tours, we decided to travel on our own. We didn't pay for any excursions with the exception of dirt-bike riding. My boyfriend rented and rode a KTM for apprx 200 US, guide included. He had a great time, 5 ½ hours riding around the jungle and countryside. Just look up Cabarete Enduro Tours on the internet as Rudy runs this excursion out of house.

Friends we met at the hotel took the Paradise Island excursion. They said it was too long of a bus ride (2 hrs) to get you to a spot where you board a very uncomfortable speed-boat that takes another 30 minutes to get to the sandbar (aka Island) that is really out in the middle of nowhere. They did admit once you get there, it was beautiful.

Other Comments:
Transportation & Sightseeing: Go and see Sosua. Its about a 25 min car ride, heading east, from the Iberostar. It's a larger tourist town with many streets filled with souvenir shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. There's also the public beach that has numberous souvenir shops and tiny bars. In Sosua you can transfer into another caro publico (see below) to get to Cabarete, which is about a 15 min car ride from Sosua. This is a small town, only one city block long known for windsurfing. Lots of shops and money exchange booths and hostel/suite for the night accommodations. Best prices for rum, coffee and cigars are in Cabarete at Janets Supermarket. Its at the far east side of the main drag, north side. For cheapie souvenirs and t-shirts, we found the best prices here in Cabarete at the Liquidation Store. Its on the south side of the main drag, in the center of the strip. We also took a caro publico heading west from the hotel to old Downtown Puerto Plata. Here you'll find a large public flea market, the amber museum, the old fort, the pier and this is all within walking distance. PP is about 15 minutes away and you see it's a large city (90,000 population). We enjoyed getting around on our own and felt it was safe. No problems. Of course, the tour rep will suggest you take their tours rather than going out on your own. Be warned, the drivers in the caro publico are aggressive and may not necessarily stay in the proper lanes as they do a lot of passing, some of which might not be for the faint of heart. One time we took the Guagua. This is like an old Volkswagen minivan. Don't recommend this one so much as they pile everyone and anything into these vehicles. We squished in and counted 24 people! Plus its stop and go constantly as people get on and off whereas with the caro public, once the maximum load of 6 passengers is acheved, the driver can pretty much get a good speed going.

You can take a taxi but they charge outrageous amounts. On the main hwy, there are 2 ways of getting around, the Caro Publico and the Guagua. We tried both and recommend the caro publico. It's a small car, like an older Toyota Tercel that will hold 7 people. There's the driver, 2 passengers sit in the front and 4 passengers squeeze in the back. On the roof of the car, you'll see a red sign Puerto Plata/Sosua. These cars travel back and forth between these two cities. Cost is 30 35 Dominican Peso's. Verbally set your rate before you get in. Of course, with your hotel wristband on, they see a sucker tourist and will want to charge you a lot more! Stand your ground, or wait for the next car to pull to the curb and if you can, cover up the wrist band! Cars with a greenish/blueish sign Sosua/Rio San Jan on top of the roof travel between these two cities. Take this car in Sosua to get to Cabarete which will cost 25 Dominican Peso's.

Ratings for the Iberostar Costa Dorada state it's a 4 ½ star hotel. I'd say that's pretty accurate - maybe give it a four star rating if you compare it to similar hotels in Cuba and Mexico. But keep in mind that its not a 4 ½ star hotel by Canadian standards My boyfriend and I our in our early forties, from Vancouver, BC, Canada and we'd have no problem recommending this hotel.

Sorry this is so long and wordy, but I know when I was scouting around reading other peoples reviews & comments, that it was helpful and well appreciated. I hope this helps with your traveling plans.

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"Good resort, nice vacation - NOT 5 star"

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Steve  on Mar 5, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
800 people found this review helpful

Just back from two weeks at Iberostar Costa Dorada and thought I’d put in my two cents worth. Overall I thought this was a very good resort but I would NOT give it 5-stars, perhaps 4 at most. We have stayed at a 3.5-star resort that impressed me more overall. If we were to ever return to Puerto Plata we would definitely have ICD in our short list of places to stay however we aren’t likely to return to POP again since we like to go different places. Parts of my review may seem overly negative but it is what it is, my observations and my opinion. I would recommend the resort and it is very good but not outstanding and not 5-star. Read on for more details.

Room Block:
Building One

Arrival:
Reception desk staff are excellent and willing to accommodate any requests as much as possible. I had requested a room with king bed and was very happily surprised to get a room in building one with an ocean view. Currency exchange was quick and rate given was decent enough. Rate changed during our visit but not by much. They will change US dollars, CDN dollars, Swiss Franc, British Pounds and Euros and all rates are posted.

When checking in I would suggest avoiding the back side of buildings 2, 3, and 4, if possible, as there is absolutely no view of anything except the receiving area of the resort next door. There is no way that we would have accepted being in any of these rooms. The pool side of any building has a good view and the garden side of 5, 6, 7, or 8 will also be an OK view. If you want to see the ocean you need to be on the ocean side ground floor of building 1, 5 or 6. Having walked the entire grounds I believe we actually had about the best ocean view possible on the ground floor of building one.

Rooms:
Our room was clean, well-stocked and well-equipped but as many other people have stated in their reviews the décor is old and tired and needs updating. The only things that seemed relatively new in the room was the flat screen TV (which we barely used), the electronic safe (at US$2 per day – why not include it in the “all-inclusive” room price?) and perhaps the hair dryer in the washroom. Bed linens were changed regularly, towels changed daily, washroom equipped with basics but make sure you bring conditioner for your hair if you need it. My wife found out the hard way that it is not supplied in the room and at US$12 for a small bottle she decided to go without for two weeks. The bed was quite comfortable but the pillows were very flat and hard. If you like a bigger or fluffier pillow you are out of luck. We did get a few different towel animals from the housekeeper during our stay. Air conditioning is good but we found that the ceiling fan was sufficient for most nights.

Restaurants and Bars:
On to the restaurants – the buffet has many, many, many choices daily however having stayed for two weeks there is quite a bit of repetition (as to be expected I guess). Anyone and everyone should be able to find something to eat and if you can’t, you’re just too picky and should stay home to eat gourmet macaroni and cheese. If you can’t find it at this buffet you can’t find it at any all-inclusive resort. Almost every imaginable meat/seafood was available at some point during our visit including lobster, roast beef, roast pork, chicken, lamb, many sausages and a multitude of different fish. Salads, cold cuts and cheeses are plentiful as are vegetables and fruits. Various pastas prepared before you with your choice of sauce were available every dinner. The food quality at the buffet is very good and both the bread/buns and the desserts are outstanding. The baker(s) at this resort is amazing and I wish he/she lived near us so we could purchase some of this amazing product. The resort had beach party BBQs on three of the fourteen days of our stay and these were lots of fun with good food. Kebabs were available one day with three different choices of meats. Paella was another choice one day. There was also paella available outside the poolside restaurant one day.

The “a’la carte” restaurants were quite disappointing overall compared to true a’la carte restaurants we’ve eaten in at other resorts. Basically they have a served main course with self-serve appetizers and dessert. Personally I can’t really recommend the “a’la carte” restaurants. They aren’t worth the effort to make reservations and the food quality is the same as in the buffet. Anyone who says the a’la cartes at this resort are “amazing” has not been in a good restaurant with excellent to superior service. We have been in other resorts where the a’la cartes were amazing so we know. After eating at each of the three choices the first week we didn’t even bother with the Brazilian the second week and only went to the seafood restaurant because we had already made the reservation. If we return to this resort we likely won’t bother with the a’la carte restaurants.

Having said all that I did manage to gain seven pounds over our two-week stay so the food overall was obviously good and plentiful.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Grounds of the resort are fabulously maintained as is the pool area and the beach. The landscaping staff is AMAZING and they work incredibly hard to keep the place up. Orchids growing in many places really add to the appearance of the resort. Beach is well maintained every day and I can’t see how anyone could complain about a little seaweed that appears on occasion. The peacocks, flamingos and turtles all add a certain something to the overall resort. You never really know where one of the two peacocks will turn up including on top of the thatched roofs of buildings. Many of the various types of palm trees and plants have signs in front of them to inform you of what they are.

The pool is constantly being cleaned. There is one person who seems to spend most of the day just walking around inside the pool washing the sunscreen oils from the wall of the pools. Unfortunately a “ring around the pool” has developed particularly in the centre Jacuzzi area that is quite unappealing. The pool is large with lots of room for activities and swimming. Unfortunately the “towel game” is rampant! If you want a lounger at the pool, especially on weekends, you need to be out with your towel to “reserve” your loungers by 8 a.m., if not earlier. Signs are everywhere FORBIDDING reservation of the loungers but this is not enforced in any way. Just one example is: My partner and I sat for almost five hours next to reserved chairs one day with no sign of the “occupants”. They finally showed up, stayed for about 30 minutes and then left their “reserved” seats not to be seen again to the point when we left for our room about two hours later. So that is over seven hours of non-use of these chairs! Things like this happen daily. The resort should either enforce the policy or lose the signs and somehow add more chairs! The signs also FORBID topless sunbathing and this policy does seem to be enforced but topless is permitted on the beach with a few people choosing to enjoy the sun this way. The pool is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. only.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Entertainment by the “animation team” was just OK, that’s about it. Daytime activities ran regularly and many people participated. There were daily surprises around the pool each day. I won’t detail the surprises here since it could spoil it for future guests but the surprises were VERY entertaining. Evening entertainment was hit or miss. It’s really too bad that these extremely hardworking staff are made to be “jack of all trades” working from 10 am to midnight doing some things really well but others not so well. While the evening shows were different every night there was a certain “Groundhog Day” similarity to each. The pattern for the entertainment was exactly the same every night. If I had to listen to “Everybody clap your hands - applause, applause, applause, applause” for one more day I could have gone insane. The animation team tries so hard but most nights the shows just don’t make it. Perhaps I was expecting too much? The band is quite good, the singers not as good and the rest of the animation team should be split into day-time and night-time and the night-time people given some professional training. The dancing choreography is not good and only one or two of the animation team could be considered dancers.

Other Comments:
BARS/DRINKS:
We aren’t big drinkers but the drinks and the bars were OK. Beer was cold and decent tasting. The mixed drinks were OK but nothing special. My partner was definitely NOT impressed with the wine - red, white or even the rose. Having tasted the white and the rose I can see why she wasn’t impressed. If you like good wine (or even decent wine) you won’t find it. Realizing this is an all-inclusive we couldn’t expect great wine but this was not on par with the wine at some other all-inclusives we’ve been to. International brand liquor was available at the lobby bar and theatre bar but you have to be specific when ordering. There is a good selection of whiskey, rum and even liquers. I may have made a serious dent on the Frangelico supply with my after dinner drinks.

Security & Safety:
Security at the resort, both during the day and more so in the evening, seems to be very good. The nicely dressed guards in their white and blue uniforms move the beach vendors along quite quickly if you aren’t interested. They will make sure that you know when the beach is “red-flagged” and tell you not to go in the water. In the evening the beach guards are armed with long guns of some type but they are covered with a cloth bag. In the evening the guards will suggest to you not to leave the resort area when you are walking the beach. Walking the more isolated (but well lit) parts of the grounds in the evening you can expect to encounter an unobtrusive guard somewhere and you really do feel quite safe. We played a game of “spot the guard” during our walks as well as when sitting on our patio in the evening. You could almost always find one but they aren’t always obvious. Darker clothes are worn at night by some of the beach guards.

The room safes seem to be new and are electronic. Put your belongings in, pick you own code, close the door and you’re done. We didn’t hear anything from anyone about any problems with the safes or safety/security during our two-week stay.

BIG DOWNSIDE - SMOKING!:
You will breathe second-hand smoke! It didn’t seem to matter where I sat down I was surrounded by smokers. My partner and I couldn’t believe the number of people that still smoke. While smoking is not permitted in the Brazilian or Mexican restaurants or in the buffet it was permitted in the pool restaurant with ashtrays on nearly every table and smokers permeating the air with pollution. Smoking in the lobby, smoking in the center plaza, smoking in the lobby bar, smoking by the pool, cigarette and cigar smoke permeating the air in the theatre for the nightly shows (even though it is designated more than half non-smoking). We ended up changing our seats and tables in the central plaza and in the theatre most nights trying, usually unsuccessfully, to get away from the smoke. Even trying to walk to the buffet restaurant in the evening you are accosted with smoke while walking down the “hallway” to reach the restaurant. Yes, it is an open air, but covered hallway but who wants to walk through and breathe all that smoke while on the way to dinner? Simply disgusting and offensive.

Summary:
In summary, ICD is a GOOD or very good resort, 4-star or thereabouts and certainly worth a visit. I realize that parts of this review seem quite negative but we did have a very good vacation and can recommend this resort. It is probably overrated but it does deliver a good vacation experience overall and as previously stated we would consider returning if we ever return to Puerto Plata.

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"Relaxed and satisfied"

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 5.0 of 5

Posted by:  Gord and Laura  on Feb 4, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
716 people found this review helpful

What can we say about two weeks of spectacular weather, hot sandy beaches and the every-present happiness of the Dominican people. It was exactly that, relaxing and satisfying.

Arrival:
We were one of only two couples checking in, so it was an absolute breeze. Most questions we had were answered before being asked. A nice cool non-alcoholic beverage was brought to us while we were still at the counter...a nice touch.

Rooms:
Rooms are large and clean. We stayed two weeks and actually changed rooms mid-way due to the inconsiderate people in the room below us who insisted that each and every door was slammed hard at least 8 times at 1:00 in the morning. They moved us from an upper floor with a view of the adjacent resort to a ground floor beach view. We were impressed with the efficiency and coordination of the maintenance and front end staff. The hotel was not completely booked, so they blocked off a strip of rooms, emptied them and completely re-painted them in two days. We noticed it, but in a good way.

Restaurants and Bars:
As with most places, if you are hungry, you will find something to eat. Nothing stood out as being fantastic, but nothing was horrible either. Neither of us are big on lobster, but the line-up suggested it was very popular. The large centre common area adjacent to the lobby bar and entertainment stage was a great place to sit in the evenings. Waitresses came by frequently and we could sit and listen to the band/pianist/singers etc., sip our port and play cards. The seven piece latin-jazz band was my personal favorite. A la cartes restaurants are nice and provide a change from the buffet. The buffet is quite large and varied, and has a great seating area...rings around rings which break up the noise and give everyone a choice of sitting where they are comfortable.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Beach and pool chairs were always available, even on the Dominican long-weekend (third weekend in January). There was someone cleaning the pool each and every day, skimming and scrubbing the walls. Pool and area are both large and clean. Lots of palapas and shade for those inclined. Beach has a slight sea-weed problem, but is not slimy, rather like grass clippings and has little odour. Crews were out on the days when it blew up on the sand. It is entirely avoidable so don't judge the beach by this. We walked many beach miles each day and this one is not just the cleanest, but also has zero peddlers. Other hotels seem to be swarmed by them and the time-share people. There was a clear dividing line at the Iberostar and we were very happy for this.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We took in a City tour with the Cable Car (Teleferico) option. This was fine and we saw lots of things we wouldn't have otherwise. We were disappointed though, as the bus driver slowed down to 20 kph so that the guide could finish his speech. They stuck to a schedule for the tour, which included stops at (surprise!) a gift store and amber gallery (with a gift store) and the rum plant (with gift store!). We didn't get to the cable car until afternoon by which time the clouds had moved in and saw the city view only from the car ride up and down. This was good and safe, but wanted to take in the vista at my own speed. As this tour specifically brought in the cable car, we felt they should have emphasized this and taken advantage of the crystal clear blue skies first thing in the morning.

We also did the Puerto Plata Runners excursion. This is a full day trip that takes you out into the country. We stopped at a local school which was a unique experience. Some on the trip had brought bags of school-like supplies; pencils, pens, markers, paper, coloring books etc. These were simply put into a big pile with the bags from the previous tours. There may have been fifty such bags there, so I was not personally concerned that I had not brought any. I can't help identify what it was they needed most, but this kind of supplies seemed to be covered at least. The trip also took us to a family home which was partly self-sufficient. They had solar power, fruit trees, vegetables, animals and even spices all in there little slice of the country. A stop to ride horses along the beach was the highlight for me. Thankfully I was in the front of the pack when my horse decided that he wanted to go home right now. I was told that our headlong gallup up the beach, along a winding tree lined path back to the paddock looked like a lot of fun to the group. They didn't see the sheer panic on my face as I was just trying to hold. The handlers saw me coming in and smiled when I brought him in to a stop. Apparently this was one horse who was used to race others up and down informal beach races. I can truthfully say that I had great time and would do it again in a heartbeat. The 'Runners' tour was very informative and interesting and we highly recommend it.

Other Comments:
Take note of the Dominican Family Day weekend, as most excursions were not operating on the Monday due to the holiday. This place filled up with Dominicans but turned into more of a family picnic/outing than a party. We quite enjoyed the social interaction and family-centric groups.

If there was a negative aspect of the trip it was the return flight. We booked a Transat Holiday so we expected to be a little crammed in on the plane. The flight from Calgary took only 5 hours 20 minutes with a tailwind. The return flight loops through Punta Cana, so you have to sit on the ground there to get the rest of the people off and the fill back up with others returning from their holiday. With a headwind and a longer distance, the return flight was 7 hours 20 minutes. Combine that with an hour plus on the ground and a short flight from Puerto Plata and it makes for a long, long day inside a hot plane.

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"Loved it!!!"

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 5.0 of 5

Posted by:  Jennifer  on Feb 6, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2011 | Leisure | With friend
709 people found this review helpful

Girls trip!!!! In total there was 8 of us..We never left the resort! Between the pool and the beach we were totally happy! Staff were amazing and very friendly..The rooms were great! The beds were as comfy as home.And they were also very clean.
The food was good, but I would have to say the Brazilian was the best!

Room Number:
1841

Arrival:
No problems!

Rooms:
Clean and comfy! Only complaint was all the doors slamming.You had to make sure that you held on to your door as it closed or it would slam..

Restaurants and Bars:
Great!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Amazing!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
On the resort..LOTS! There was a lot of activities offered off the resort but we never left.

Other Comments:
I wish I was still there!

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"Great Vacation"

Iberostar Costa Dorada
User Rating:  Iberostar Costa Dorada Review: 5.0 of 5

Posted by:  Kathy  on Dec 15, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Dec, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
739 people found this review helpful

We travelled to Iberostar Costa Dorada from Dec. 2-9th 2010 and had a great vacation. It was to celebrate my 60th birthday, gift from my husband. We had been to ICD 6 years ago, so I was hoping it was be as wonderful as the first time, and it was! The food, service and upkeep of the resort is still top notch. They have had some major staff changes, but it didn't seem to effect the good name they have. Every morning the coffee and breakfast items were delicious, our servers Joseph and Yasbel were incredible. Lunch was usually at the beach resturant, as we went to the beach everyday, all evening dinners were at the buffet, except one which was the "Seafood" Resturant, the grilled salmon that night was delicious! All buffet dinners were different each night with a main course, something for everyone. Their desserts, and breads are always good, what good bakers they are!! The room was spotless each day, including the bathroom. We had a king size bed, very comfortable, and flat screen tv. but didn't watch it much. Our balcony faced the pool, and we sat on it every day in the late afternoon. Weather was warm everyday, cloudy & sun mixture, but enought to get a tan. It was a great stay, and everyone there providing us with great service! Would go back again anytime.

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