Avenida Alemania S/N, EL Cortecito, Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana Dominican Republic
"very energetic animation team"
Posted by: mason on Sep 8, 2014
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Now Larimar Punta Cana (NH Real Arena) is a five star luxury resort that distinguishes itself by offering deluxe spacious rooms, fine dining and personalized service.
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"* Service could use some improvement."
Debbie on Nov 1, 2008 >
Visited on: Nov, 2008
358 people found this review helpful
November 9 to 16, 2008
We flew Air Transat Club Class to Punta Cana on November , 2008. Our first week was spent at NH Real Arena (formerly called EdenH Real Arena). Just a name change, no change in ownership or anything.
This hotel is located in Bavaro, about 15 minutes from Punta Cana Airport, 50 miles from La Romana Airport, and 120 miles from Santo Domingo. The cab ride from Punta Cana Airport cost us $35.00 U.S.
The hotel is located between Paradisus Palma Real and Los Corales, and is about a 20 – 30 minute walk along the beach from El Cortecito.
The resort is quite compact, and the layout makes it very easy to get around and find things. Its design reminds me of a combination of several resorts – Punta Cana Princess for the grounds, Ocean Blue for the courtyard area where the restaurants, bars, and lobby are, and Majestic Colonial for the rooms.
Checkin is at 3 p.m., checkout is noon. Late checkout may be available depending on availability or they will provide a courtesy room where you can shower and change. We were booked into a Paradise Club Concierge room and checkin was at the Paradise Club Lounge in the lobby, opposite the front desk. Note that Transat Holidays calls the Paradise Club Concierge room Le Mirage Concierge room. I don’t know why they insist on using different names than the hotel uses, it just causes confusion in my opinion. We were provided with a welcome drink and checked in and given a pink wristband, a map of the resort, our key cards and towel cards, and a slip to fill out with time preferences for our restaurant reservations. Transat Mirage and Transat Concierge guests only are guaranteed 5 a la carte restaurant reservations . The Paradise Club lounge was also the checkin for guests that had the Mirage rooms, they were given a green wristband.
The Paradise Club lounge has complimentary internet for Paradise Club guests, snacks, newspapers, a TV, coffee, drinks, and a fridge with beer, pop and bottled water.
During high season Mirage room clients will be booked in at the Paradise Club lounge in the lobby, and the Paradise Club guests will be taken to the respective lounges in buildings 1 and 2 for checkin. These lounges were not in use while we were there, but will be fully staffed during high season.
We were then taken to our room with our luggage by golf cart, which was located in the Paradise Club section, on the 4th floor. Note there are elevators in all the buildings.
The rooms are lovely - large and very bright and airy. We had a great view of the pool and beach, we were in room 1460. What was especially nice was the key cards for the door, you didn’t have to slide them, just touch them to the lock like a Paypass credit card. Apparently it will even read the card if it’s in a wallet. When you enter the room you have to place your room key in the slot by the door for the power to work.
Our room had a king-size bed, 2 night tables, a desk, dresser, couch, chair, and coffee table. Note that the Paradise Club Concierge rooms do not have a tub in the room, it is out on the balcony, that was a little disappointing, but the shower is large and very nice. There are double sinks and separate toilet and shower stalls, divided from the rest of the room by a wall, so the bathroom area is more private than their regular rooms.
The room also contained a 27-inch TV, telephone, coffee maker, clock radio with MP3 plugin – never did figure out how to stop the alarm from going off, it went off at 6 a.m. the first two mornings, we ended up just changed the time to a more reasonable hour.
There is a minibar which is restocked daily with beer, soft drinks and water. Leave a note and tip with your preferences.
Bathrobes and slippers were provided in the room as well as beach towels – we never needed to use the towel cards we had, we just exchanged the towels at the beach for clean ones when we needed them (towels are at the Watersports Centre). An iron and ironing board was provided. There is an ice bucket, and ice machines are located near the elevators.
There is lots of closet space and shelves to put your stuff on and the electronic safe is included. It is large enough for most laptops, you might have to tilt it up a little to close the door. One problem we had with the room was the door banging – changes in humidity make the doors swell and shrink and it was quite breezy while we were there. We solved this by putting a small pad of paper in the door as we shut it for the night.
The bathroom contained a hairdryer, makeup mirror, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, bath sponge, even a plastic brush and comb, sewing kit and makeup pads. Suggest you pack a couple of facecloths, as they are not necessarily left every day, or hide the ones they leave so they don’t take them. We started out with 2, but by the end of the week we didn’t get any. This is not unique to this hotel, happens in all the hotels we’ve stayed at.
We always had good water pressure and hot water. The Jacuzzi tubs are big and take a LONG time to fill up. As we had a Paradise Club room, we only had a tub outside on the balcony, so I only used it once.
We tipped the maid every day and maid service was excellent. I think this is the first hotel where we actually received turn-down service every night, and they literally did a cleanup of the whole room, ie. emptied garbage, washed dishes, left clean towels, etc.
In all room categories they are available with a king-size bed or two full-size (double) beds. The rooms with double beds may have a table and chairs instead of a couch.
The regular Deluxe rooms and Mirage deluxe rooms (same as regular Deluxe rooms, just in a better location higher floors overlooking the pool and extra includes) have an open concept bathroom (no wall), but have a Jacuzzi tub in the room. They are a little smaller than the concierge rooms (495 square feet), but still a good size. These rooms have no Jacuzzi on the balcony, just inside the room.
The Le Mirage Inclusions are::
- preferred room location
- Concierge service with direct phone line and private reception
- Minimum 5 guaranteed reservations for a la carte dining (Transat Holidays only)
- Separate checkin/checkout
- 30 minutes/person/week Internet access in the business centre (must be used in one session)
- Beach towels, bathrobes and slippers in room
- VIP amenities
- Turn-down service
- Fruit basket upon arrival and distinct identification bracelet
- One bottle of rum in room
- 50% discount on a 20-minute massage
- 15% discount on selected spa treatments
- Welcome gift in room
Air Transat inclusions for the Paradise Club rooms (Le Mirage Concierge) are the inclusions listed above, plus::
- Accommodations in more luxurious and spacious rooms (581 sq. ft.) with outside Jacuzzi and ocean or pool view, closest to the beach.
- Private continental breakfast (This is at the Italian Restaurant)
- VIP in-room lobster dinner (restrictions apply and this is for Transat Holidays guests only and is only available for a couple of months during high season (Dec. to Feb.)
- Premium drinks
- Private pool with butler service
- A la carte pillow and bath products (we never saw any pillow menu, but the pillows were fine).
There are about 20 larger oceanfront suites, but these are not sold through the tour operators, you would have to book these with the hotel. You can also purchase upgrades at the front desk after you arrive, subject to availability – the prices are posted. It’s probably cheaper to book the upgrade when you book your trip.
Some rooms with connecting doors are available.
Grounds, Beach and Pools:
The grounds are beautiful, I love the layout of the resort and all the palm trees and fountains.. Pools run down the middle of the resort, and rooms are on each side in 4-storey buildings with elevators. There are covered walkways to protect from rain and sun. For a new resort not even open a year the landscaping is very nice. They still need some umbrellas around the pools, there isn’t much shade there and people tended to be on the beach instead. I understand they are working on that. They were experimenting with some shade cloths on the pergolas.
There is a swimup bar in the pool right at the beach, the main pool, and a “relaxing” pool, as well as a kid’s pool. In addition there are two private pools for Paradise Club members at the front of each oceanfront section, complete with bar serving premium drinks.
When you look at the pools you will see they are not the “pool blue” most pools are, the pools actually have brown and white tiles in them and looking at them from the room, the colour matches the colour of the ocean.
The pools are open later than most resort pools, until 8:00 p.m. (bar service ends at 6 p.m.)
The beach here is spectacular, nice and wide, with lots of palapas. You can walk for miles in either direction, it’s easier walking in this section of beach, at resorts further north the sand tends to be deeper and harder to walk in.
Bars and Drinks:
Lots of bars around. There’s the Alisios Bar off the lobby (large and enclosed), open from 10 a.m. to midnight – they also have live entertainment here, and Karaoke once a week.
The Olas bar is at the beach restaurant, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Swimup bar – open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – the bartenders are quite entertaining – one day they were delivering drinks to guests at the pool on a bicycle while balancing the drinks on their head.
Tahntra Bar is next to the casino and opens at 9 p.m. This is a very nice open-air bar, they have lots of comfortable couches and even a splash pool.
Sports Bar – open from 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. – there are several pool tables in here and a bowling alley. Bowling is $10.00 an hour plus $2.00 for shoes – available from 5 p.m. to midnight. Automatic scoring, so you don’t have to keep score. You have to wear socks. Also a popcorn machine in the bar.
Theatre Bar - open from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Paradise Club bars – there is a bar at each Paradise Club pool, open from 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Presidente is the main beer served at the resort, sometimes they may have Heineken, Coronna or Miller’s.
I could not get a drink menu at any of the bars. The bartenders will be happy to recommend a drink. I tried the “Carlos Special”, it was very good. Mostly I just drank white wine though.
Also loved the icecream machine at the main pool bar.
The Festival Buffet restaurant is open for Continental breakfast from 6:30 a.m. – 7:00 a.m., Breakfast from 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Lunch from 12:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., and Dinner from 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
There is a small open-air section in this restaurant.
They had a good selection at breakfast and I enjoyed their freshly-made smoothies and Felix’s wonderful omelettes!
We ate lunch here several times, was very good, with lots of coldcuts and things for sandwiches.
We ate dinner here the first two nights. Loved the food the first night, but I did not feel they had as great a selection of items as other resorts I have been to, but I had no trouble finding something to eat. I was told during high season there would be more variety available – at the time we were there occupancy was less than 50 per cent. They always have pasta and pizza available.
I was a little disappointed in the deserts available, not a great selection, again likely due to the low occupancy.
Service in this restaurant was good most of the time.
A La Carte Restaurants
All of the restaurants are located in the same area, opposite the lobby, with a central courtyard in the middle. This is where some of the entertainment takes place and they have tables and chairs where you can relax with coffee or a drink before or after dinner.
They have 5 a la carte restaurants, and reservations are required. If you are in a Paradise Club room, the concierge will have you fill out a form when you check in noting your preference for dining time, and will make the reservations for you. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. We didn’t get our reservations and found out they had not been made, but another concierge looked after it for us. Later on during the week we needed to change a reservation as friends were joining us for dinner, we assumed the concierge would look after this for us, but they just told us to go see the Reservations person at the Sports Bar.
For other room categories you make your restaurant reservations at the Sports Bar.
Dress for the a la carte restaurants is “Casual Elegance” – long pants and collared shirt for men, no flip-flops.
Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
This was our first reservation, on Tuesday. When we were seated we realized that there were 3 Tepanyaki tables, but we were not asked if we wanted our reservation for a Tepanyaki table or to order off a menu. We would have chosen the Tepanyaki table. Actually while we were waiting for our food I made a comment to Pat that the food they were cooking at the Tepanyaki table smelled good, and one of the servers overheard me and brought over a small plate of it for us to sample! Our food was okay, but they didn’t bring me what I had ordered, and they ran out of white wine..
Cinque Terra Italian Restaurant
Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
We ate here on Wednesday. We had friends from Santo Domingo joining us for dinner. Service was very slow. Pat and I ordered spaghetti and meatballs with red sauce and they brought spaghetti with a different kind of sauce and no meatballs. Our friends pointed this out to the waiter and he did bring the meatballs. The thing was, our main course did not arrive until an hour after we’d had our appetizers. But, we were talking with our friends, so it wasn’t a big deal for us. We had coffee but elected to skip desert.
This restaurant is also open for a la carte breakfast for Paradise Club guests. We went there one morning, I think we were the only ones there. It was fine and service was great, but we found it just as easy to go to the buffet.
American Shore Grill Restaurant
Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
We ate here Thursday night and again on Saturday night - this was my favourite restaurant. The first time I had a salad, pumpkin soup (aka butternut squash) and beef tenderloin. Cheesecake and apple pie was on the menu for desert, but we were just too full. The second time Pat had the 24-oz. hamburger (really - that’s what it says in the menu, actually it is just a regular hamburger), and I had the “World Famous Ribs” – I actually enjoyed them very much – better than what I’ve had at our local Ribfests. Service the second time we were there was slower than the first time, but they had a couple of large groups they were serving. Senses Romantic Restaurant
This restaurant is Adults Only, and is open from 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
The décor is all in red and white – red chandeliers, white curtains and fabric on the ceilings, roses on the chairs – kind of cheesy. But the food was good and service was excellent. Olas Beach Restaurant
Located at the beach, this restaurant is open for lunch and snacks from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It’s the only open-air restaurant, all of the others are enclosed and air-conditioned. They serve hamburgs, hotdogs, chicken, pizza, salads, French fries, nachos and cheese, a good selection. We alternated between eating lunch here and up at the main buffet.
24 hour Room service is included for all guests. The menu is quite limited, consisting of continental breakfast items from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and the entrees available from 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. included Chef’s Salad; Cheese, Olives & Mustard/Raspberry Vinaigrette; Beef Carpaccio of Manchego Cheese; Caprese Salad; Ceviche; Cheese platter; Club Sandwich with potato chips; or “Make your own sandwich – choice of cheese, ham, tuna, and salmon with choice of bread, and Deserts consisting of cheesecake or Tripical Fruit Selection The literature indicates an upgraded room service menu for Paradise Club guests, but I didn’t see any signs of this?
Candlelight Dinner for 2
You can make arrangements for a private dinner on the beach or other area of the resort – see guest services for details.
The Italian and Grill restaurants offer a lobster dinner at an additional cost of $29.99 plus tax.
Daytime Activities and Sports
There is no shortage of activities here, if you want to be active. You can check the activities board near the Buffet restaurant for daily events. They have dance classes, aerobics, cocktail-making classes, weaving classes, beach games, Spanish lessons, all kinds of things.
At the beach is a “coconut tree” for climbing (kind of like rock-climbing) – you get the harness from Animation. I never saw anybody doing it, but it looked interesting. They also have a bungee trampoline in this area, which is privately owned and costs $10.00 to use, again I never saw anyone using it.
There is an ocean trampoline in the water for kids.
The Animation hut is located next to the pool and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., where you can get board games, books, etc.
They have 2 clay tennis courts at the front of the resort, open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Private lessons are available for $30.00 U.S. an hour, you make your reservations with Guest Services.
See the Watersports desk at the beach operated by Sea Pro Divers for info on catamarans, party boat cruises, parasailing, glass bottom boat rides, sport fishing, diving, snorkeling, banana boats, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing, etc. They also have a free scuba clinic in the pool every day.
They have various entertainment venues in the area of the courtyard
There is the Crystal Theatre where they put on song and dance type shows, some with audience participation. We’re really not into these shows, watched one for a few minutes.
In the evening they have large screens up in the central courtyard and we enjoyed the music videos, ie. Frank Sinatra and Bee Gees concerts..
On Latin night they had an entertainer who put on a “fire” show. He was covered in wax and lit various parts of his body on fire.
Since we get up early, we didn’t stay up for much of the evening entertainment.
There’s a small casino off the courtyard. There are 25 – 30 slot machines open from 4:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., and poker, roulette and blackjack tables open from 8:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.
If you are in the Paradise Club, you can use one of two computer terminals in the Paradise Club lounge off the front lobby for free.
There is also a business centre where you can purchase internet time. (Mirage room guests get 30 minutes free, to be used in one session). If you have your own laptop you can purchase wireless internet access in your room for $25.00 for 24 hours of time good for 6 days.
There is a large gift shop at the hotel, and space for another store, maybe a jewellery store. Shuttle service is also available to the nearby Palma Real Shopping Centre. We meant to go and check it out, but we never got there.
Golf is available at 8 local courses. See your concierge or Guest Services in the lobby to make arrangements for any of the local courses or others located throughout the country
There is a lovely full-service spa run by Renova Spa, open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.. I had a combination massage which was wonderful. They also have two massage palapas at the beach which are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Watch for their daily specials!
Next to the spa is the Fitness Centre. Sorry, didn’t go in
24 hour medical service is located next to the gym.
Nino’s Kids Club is located near the buffet restaurant and is for children ages 4 – 12. It’s open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. At night it is open from 8:15 p.m .until 9:30 p.m. when the kids put on their shows and parents are invited to watch. I was told that during high season they bring in kids entertainers to put on shows.
The day I went in there weren’t any kids there, but I was impressed with the facilities they have. There is a full program of activities for the kids, they are divided into two groups – Cubs – ages 4 to 7, and Bears, ages 8 to 11.
We didn’t see any weddings the week we were there. There are a number of packages available, starting from $649.00 U.S. For a description of the various packages, see our Weddings Page.
Take U.S. currency. You can pay for virtually everything in U.S. dollars, and even if you exchange your money, you will get the best rate with U.S. dollars. There is no ATM at the resort. Money can be exchanged for pesos at the front desk, or there is a bank at the Palma Real Shopping Centre.
Weather and Bugs
We had gorgeous weather during our week at this hotel, except for the last afternoon when we had some rain. It was hot during the day, but very comfortable in the evening, not humid at all. Didn’t notice any mosquitos, there were a few flies and bees around.
Meet and Greet for forum members
On Tuesday we went into El Cortecito to La Casa de Piedra with Hula and her husband and Mikefisher, and met some other forum members for a couple of drinks. These meet and greets are usually held on a weekly basis, a good way to put faces to names if you post on the forums.
If you want to bring school supplies or other donations (clothing, etc.) you can leave these items with Mike Bryant at the hotel. We had the privilege of going with Mike to a school in the barrio on his weekly trip to deliver school supplies and see firsthand the good that these donations do. The children are so excited to see him, and Magdalena is so grateful for the donations.
The staff at this hotel are great, they are always smiling and there is always an “hola” when you pass by. Service was good for the most part, but could use some improvement in the concierge area and restaurants. Quite a bit of English is spoken by the staff, the hotel provides English classes every day for its employees..
This is still a new hotel, not even a year old yet, and they are still working on making improvements in service and other areas. We really enjoyed this hotel, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and I’ll try to answer them for you.
With special thanks to Mike Bryant, Carmen Rosa de Torres, Priscila in Guest Services and Maria in Restaurant services.
"I would definitely return to this resort."
Beverly on Jan 1, 2009 >
3 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
367 people found this review helpful
Arrival: Dec 18-Jan 1
After arriving at the open airport and receiving our luggage we were a little confused as to where you were suppose to get your bus. We missed the Air Transat counter which was to your right when you exit the luggage area.
Excellent clean rooms. The only complaint would be the turn down service you are suppose to receive with Air Transat le mirage package. We only received it twice in the 14 days that we were there. We did put an extra key card in the light switch which we left in all the time to keep the air conditioner running but as soon as you open the sliding door it shut off. We were in block 2 with the odd numbers as the even numbers had the view of the construction site. My brother had the paradius club room the only different is the that you are closer to the beach and the bathroom is an inclosed area with the tub outside on the balcony.
Restaurants and Bars:
We did do all the a la carte restaurants. When you book the Japanese restaurant asked to sit at the grill as this was entertaining. All the restaurants were excellent my least favorite was the American Grill.
Well kept grounds, beaches and the pools. No problem with people bothering you on the beach as security was at each end of the resort. Once you leave the resort you will be bothered especially to the north. We would show up around 8-9 in the morning and there was still chairs to be found. After 9 it was getting impossible to find one.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We did do the Bavaro Runners Safari Adventure. It was ok. When they say you go to a sugar plantation you really just pull off to the side of the road and they cut down a sugar cane to share with you. The last stop was to a beach but the waves here were a little to rough to swim in. I also did the Tropical Storm tour this was excellent. You got to up and down the coast line and also see the shipwreck. They did have nightly activities in the courtyard were the restaurants are.
The only complaint is with Air Transat as they did downgraded us on the back to Edmonton. We are still waiting for our money back for this and also my kids seats which I paid for they never got they put them farther behind us. The hotel was great but Air Transat we still have issues with.
I also meet up with Mike at the resort to hand over some school supplies which he was greatful for. If you decide to go shopping there is a market south of the resort by the big slide go inside to do your shopping as it is cheaper then the outside market. To the north there is one close by and there is one farther around the inlet which is also an outside market they had good deals there. It is cheaper to by your gifts at the market or even at the WBA shop at the resort then it is at duty free in the airport. When you buy your liquor pack it in your suitcase and not your carry on as my husband found out they kept his.
Overall I would definitely return to this resort.
"We made the best of our time."
CaraSue from Missouri on Jan 1, 2009 >
2 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Jan, 2009
375 people found this review helpful
Arrival: January 15-22
We vacationed at Eden H (NH Real Arena) in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic from January 15-22, 2009. We also vacationed at this resort last year during the last week of January/first week of February. I felt that due to problems that we had last year I would be fair and give this resort another chance before giving a full review.
I will start with last year's portion. We booked our vacation through a travel agent. He actually was advising us to not go to this resort as it was new. We liked the price and it looked great so we went knowing that there could be little things because of the recent opening. He was not able to get much information for us at all regarding the Paradise Club, etc. as it was all called different names. Even when he called he was not given a definite answer. We arrived at the resort and nobody told us to check in through the Paradise Club..not even the gentleman at the front desk. We were taken to our room, which was the last room on the front corner of building #2. This is the side that faces all of the construction. We had nothing in our room waiting for us other than a lot of mosquitoes,no drinks in the refrigerator, no rum, no robes, etc. Our power was out off and on. Our bellboy said that he would take care of all of this. He is the one, who in fact, brought it all to our attention. We called down and ultimately went down to the lobby after nothing had been done. We then went back to our room and that night a gentleman from the Paradise Club called our room and asked if we were going to come to our meeting. We went down and told him that we knew nothing about coming there. So he took care of getting drinks to our room and rum,.it was all the next day,but at least we did get the stuff.
We woke up each of the next few mornings with a construction truck on our patio, supplies in our Jacuzzi tub and still tons of mosquitoes, likely due to the huge puddle of water outside of our room. We called numerous times about all of this and nothing could be done. Finally our room was changed to a 4th level room facing the pool/ocean. Much better. Unfortunately, half of our vacation was overtaken by workers at our doors and mosquitoes. In this room we arrived to half full bottles of pop in our fridge and no towels. Called down to get robes and towels. They arrived. The robes were made for a toddler, I believe. I then decided to contact *****, who frequents the TA message boards. ***** lets everyone know that you should come to him with any problems or concerns so I decided to do just that. When I contacted ***** I started going over the problems and told him that I just wanted to make him aware of things that were going on. He was quite short with me on things and then told me that he would take care of things but that he had to go and pick up his girlfriend so he didn't have time to do anything now. I was a bit stunned by this. We later received a call from Clara, the manager of the Paradise Club, asking us to come down and speak with her. We explained all of our problems to her and told her that we understood that we were going to a new resort but that these little things were problems and had ruined much of our time on vacation. We also explained how we were never able to get into an a la carte restaurant as they were always full. One of the days, after waiting in line for quite awhile, they told us that they were full, we were the next in line. We didn't understand why we couldn't have been told before we got up there. Clara gave us a voucher to return before 11/2009. We told her at that time that we were not trying to get anything..we just wanted these little things fixed vs. cutting into our time. We definitely didn't decline the voucher though. The lobster dinner in our room was the best meal that we had that visit. We didn't receive that this time, unfortunately. We booked our 2009 vacation and kept in constant contact via phone and email to confirm the reservation. We had no problems with this. There definitely is a language barrier when calling in though. We were excited for this vacation and looked forward to it being so much better. We knew that we had to arrange our own airfare. We did not realize that we had to arrange our airport transfer. Not a big deal at all but definitely would have been nice to know instead of being screwed by the v.i.p. guys at the airport/resort. To elaborate,we had no clue where to go for transportation. We went to the v.i.p. guys (that is who we had last year) and they asked if we had a voucher to get to resort. We told them that we did not. They take us outside to one of their buses. They tell the guys there and we also tell them that we have no voucher. They say no problem as they load our suitcases into their van. We get onto the bus and take the last 2 seats remaining. They then come back to us and ask again for our voucher. We let them know that we have already told them that we don't have a voucher. They tell us it will be $40. So this is just an FYI for those who do not have transportation arranged from the airport to the hotel.
When we arrived we knew to immediately go to the Paradise Club check in. Everything went smoothly there for the most part. The gentleman was new (1 month) and was training another gentleman. You will definitely find that there is a very high turnover at this resort. We only recognized a couple of people from last year but none in the check in or guest services. We were taken to our room 2465. We could tell that the resort had done a lot of work to make things nicer and complete. It had really improved. There was a nice sidewalk on the side that was once swamps and gravel and the lobby in building #2 looked pretty complete. We went into the room and the refrigerator was stocked, we had rum and fruit, towels, robes (adult size) and slippers. The room has a great view and is a nice room. It is the closest to the suites and faces the pool side/ocean. We were very pleased with the room. We chuckled and kind of rolled our eyes about the outlets falling out of the wall as you plugged in something, the chipped wood on the headboard and dressers and the beat up lamp shade. We weren't going to let those things bother us and felt that since this was technically a free stay, that we weren't going to complain about anything at all,and we didn't. The resort did not seem full at all. In fact, guests were sent over from Dreams as it was not complete yet.
Paradise Club Check in::
There was a foul odor almost every time that you went in here. Very much a sewer smell. If you want to get onto a computer here you will have to wait awhile. We had brought a laptop with us as last year we were able to have internet access (free) anywhere in the lobby area. Not this year. Now you must purchase a password if you want to use your internet, unless you want to wait for the ones in the Paradise Club. We purchased 24 hours for $25 (I believe). We could use our laptop anywhere this way (using their password..make sure that you disconnect each time you are done). Our last day we had 14 hours left. We always disconnected. We then all of the sudden had 15 minutes left and then 2 minutes! It was ridiculous and obviously just another way for the resort to get money. The drinks are not cold out of the refrigerator in the Paradise Club.
Everything was great. As I stated before, we laughed about the little beat up things. Housekeeping comes later in the day, which we liked actually. They are quick to come in though if you don't have a Do Not Disturb sign out (which we had to go down and ask for after being walked in on). So make sure that you get a Do Not Disturb sign. We love the closet space in the rooms. Your clothes will stink if you put them in the drawers,so avoid that. It's a musty, sweaty smell. Bring additional hangers with you as you will not have a lot in your room. We did not have problems getting towels. We did not have the soap bottles, etc. replaced ever. We would have loved to have had the soap replaced after we ran out but none was ever left. We rarely had hot water. This was a huge problem. No hot water at certain times of day,especially late night and early morning. A cold shower at 5:30AM is not pleasant. We never were able to use the Jacuzzi as you could not get any more than lukewarm water to come out. We called for a wake up call for 5AM. At 4:45 our phone rang for a wake up and also at 5:15. Lots of TV channels. If you leave your card in the power thing on the wall (you have to if you want power in your room) make sure that you remove it when you leave as the maid will take it if you don't. Just an FYI that you can stick anything in that..paper or whatever to make it work. We found that out when the maid had left it that way. We walked in when our room was being cleaned at one time and found that they do not replace your glasses that you drink out of in the rooms. They rinse,yes rinse,them out in the sink and not with hot water. That is a HUGE health issue. When you walk by their carts you will notice that they don't even have glasses on their carts. Also getting your refrigerator stocked is hit and miss. We always drank the water and pop and sometimes it would get refilled,sometimes not. It was never filled with more than 1 of each kind of pop..Sprite, Coke and Coke Light. They would not give you more than 1 bottle of each of those 3. You also had Presidente' beer (2 cans) which we never drank.
Restaurants and Bars::
Food: We made reservations for all of the a la carte restaurants. The waiters at all of the restaurants do not speak English well at all. The first one that we had was the Italian restaurant. Not very good. We did go there for a la carte breakfast one day and that wasn't too bad. It was really hot in there though. We went to the American restaurant next and it was not very good at all either. We didn't even stay for dessert. We decided that we would cancel all of the others except for the Japanese grill. We had breakfast and dinner at the buffet all of the other times. The buffet restaurant is ridiculously hot. Last year it was cool. It seemed as if they were trying to make it an open air restaurant,but it's not and they can't without construction. Service in there was very sporadic. You might get it and you might not. You might get it once and then never again. The food was very mediocre. Last year seemed better. I ended up sticking to the pasta each night after that. I knew that it would be good and it would be hot. All of the food at the resort has an odd taste to it, really can't say what the taste is. You notice it the most in the desserts. We ate at the beach grill a couple of times. The best was the chili. It was very good actually. We went to the Japanese grill the final night and we are so glad that we did and wish that we could have had it every night. Not your typical Hibachi show but the food is very good here. Just make sure to watch out for egg shells.
Pools: Everything was always kept clean and the pools are really nice. We always swam in the Paradise Club Pool on the #2 building side. The unfortunate thing is that even though signs have been put up this year (last year it was ridiculous) there are still parents bringing their kids to that pool and nobody enforces the adults only rule. Many guests were grumbling about this. It is unfortunate that people don't follow the rules but more unfortunate when the resort does not enforce it. They do enforce the no green bands on that side though. The pool service was wonderful. We always had chairs (no matter what time of day) and would be brought a table if we couldn't find one. We were brought cool washcloths one day, which was nice. We had no problems getting drinks. Beer in a bottle is not typically kept very cold. The fruit kabobs are nice too. It was nice to have an additional towel waiting for us in our chairs.
The beach is beautiful. They do have security on both sides this year but we did notice that occasionally someone without a bracelet of any kind would come and swim on our resort side and nothing was said. This was kind of surprising. They do a great job at keeping the seaweed cleaned and picked up along the beach. We always were able to get a chair (no matter what time of day) where last year we played the chair game. Palapas were always readily available. Vendors do not bother you much at all. It is mainly the photo guys and spa people. Gift Shop: Very pricey. Make sure that you remember everything that you need.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel::
Activities on resort: We bowled one night. It was really hot in here also. The lanes are set up really nicely. It would be nice if you could pay in the sports bar but you have to go to the front desk and pay for your shoes and your bowling there. $10 for one hour and $2 per person for shoes. While we paid this,it's kind of ridiculous to make you pay for an activity like this at an all-inclusive resort. We enjoyed the casino as well. Very small but nice. Does not open until 4PM.
Excursions: We went to guest services and spoke to Danny (we really appreciated him during our stay) about excursions since we would be setting up our own this year. Last year we did Saona Island and absolutely loved it!! Danny had a guy come over from Barcelo who helped us with our excursions. We chose to do the Reef Explorer (owned by same people as the Marinarium). We absolutely loved this excursion! We were bussed out (maybe a 15-20 minute bus ride) to the Marinarium beach. There were tons of people doing Marinarium and maybe 20 doing the Reef Explorer. It was so nice to not be crammed onto a boat with 50 people at a time. It boils down to do you want to party or do you want to enjoy and relax? The Marinarium serves alcohol and the Reef Explorer serves fresh fruit, sandwiches, and juice. This was $89 per person (I believe). We were taken out in a small motor boat in groups of 6-8 to their island type platform. There were beach chairs, 2 chair massage stools, kayaks and snorkeling equipment. We were able to do all of those activities as well as swim with the sharks (nurse sharks which are docile) and stingrays (stingers removed). We also had our picture taken with the stingray. You can take pictures yourself and you can buy theirs as well ($10 each). We truly loved this trip and recommend going in the afternoon when we did. We also did the Santo Domingo day excursion. $75 per person. We enjoyed this but the bus ride is really really long. We left our resort at 6:30AM and returned at 8:30PM. We had to detour out of Higuey on the return home due to the religious holiday taking place the next day. We went to all of the Christopher Columbus castle, church, etc. and then did shopping. We then went to a Barcelo resort there for lunch (fantastic lunch). Drove by the Presidential Palace, the lighthouse and then to a cave (totally could have skipped the cave) which was so hot and a lot of rough stairs. Overall great excursions.
Renova Spa: I do not recommend this at all. We did the Moonlight Massage for couples on the beach. This was $300. We so looked forward to this and it came with champagne and chocolate covered fruit. We set it up for 10PM and arrived shortly before. Definitely a beautiful night for a massage and the beach part was great hearing the waves. Not a good massage at all. Way too much oil used and overall not a good massage. They told us that we could do our champagne there or in our room. We chose to take it back to our room. They would not allow us to take the champagne glasses to our room,so we drank from the bottle since we were not using a rinsed out glass. When we returned to our room it was 10:40. The massage was to have lasted 1 hour. Also keep in mind time for dressing/undressing; gathering the champagne and fruit and walking back to our room. Meaning we had less than 30 minutes of massage. Our complaint about this was not heard and it's very disappointing to have paid so much money and not receive what we were to have received.
Overall Resort: When we set out at 6:15AM for our excursion there were no lights on in the hallway by our room. NONE. We decided that it was probably safer to walk on the outside. Wrong, no lights on throughout the entire resort other than people's patio lights or small buffet lights in the buffet restaurant. That is very unsafe. Lights go off outside fairly early at night (considering Casino and bars are open until 2 and 3AM. This is a huge safety concern. Pool lights go off at 11PM,another safety concern. It's very obvious that this resort really tries to conserve energy but there are safety issues that need to be taken into consideration. Pools close at 8PM. Too early, in my opinion. Tips are really expected here. An******* being this great, wonderful person who helps everyone with everything I would have to disagree. I contacted ******* before we went and let him know that we were using comp. tickets and wondered what it would cost to upgrade to a Presidential Suite as well as telling him that we would like to meet him this time. He did not give me a price. He asked me for my last name. I provided him with my last name and never heard back from him. I messaged him again letting him know that I had not heard from him. He messaged me again that he needed my last name. I told him that I had sent it to him when he first asked and was giving it to him again. I still never heard back from him. That was a disappointment. One would also think that when you are a coming on a comp. ticket that they would try to speak to you to make sure that all was going as planned. I think that they could avoid some problems.
Transportation: You read above about our transportation to the hotel. When leaving we asked for requests from staff on who to use and were told a Taxi. We started researching and found on the Punta Cana airport site www.dominicanairporttransfers.com. We used them and it was hassle free and great! It was $45 from our resort to the airport but it was only us riding. We did not have to pick up any guests from other resorts. We also paid online via paypal. The driver was there early to pick us up and got us to the airport safely and was very nice. Definitely recommend this company for transfers.
To sum it up. We had a wonderful time because we made the best of our time. Would we return to this resort. No. The biggest disappointment is that the resort truly is beautiful. It's a shame that they cannot get it together to truly make it a 5 star resort. We heard complaints from other guests and when we were checking out a guest who was also leaving was in a bit of an uproar over his unhappiness. So obviously there are a lot of problems still.
"A jewel of a resort."
Dave from Sudbury, Ontario on Jan 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
346 people found this review helpful
Arrival: January 3rd, 2009 to January 10th, 2009
My wife Kate and I along with our two boys 3 yrs and 5 yrs and 20 yr old daughter with her boyfriend arrived January 3rd, 2009. The host centre was well organized and had us checked in and packaged up and into our room pronto. Check in was congenial complete with liquid libations and interesting eats.
The design of the room is fabulous and state of the art with the open concept including partial partition between bath and bedroom. Risky design leaves one feeling airy and relaxed. Excellente! Bravo!
Restaurants and Bars:
There were 7 fabulous restaurants with the casual atmosphere of the beach and buffet restaurant to the semi-formal atmosphere of the other adventurous dining rooms. The bars were fun, energetic and great service. The staff are what makes the EdenH Real Arena sing. They are all so welcoming, friendly, quick to serve and interested in you as a customer. The staff enjoy children. I made friends with about 20 staff and knew them all on a first name basis. It was great to share stories and feel the passion of the people.
The landscape architect created an environment which is so pleasing to the eye and to all the senses. There is a myriad of vistas constantly popping up no matter where you walk in the resort. The wide open spaces with the greens and neutral colours create a soothing relaxing environment. It is typical to find a huge open window framing a palm. The grounds are award winning. There is ample choice between the many pools. The beach is supreme with plenty of palapas for everyone. The volley ball court attracts some serious contenders and fosters an open welcoming agenda for everyone. The pool staff and beach staff are engaging. It is such fun to join in an impromptu dance class on the beach or an aerobics class in the pool. There is so much beach activity going on with the complimentary catamarans, kayaks and the many other activities from flying boats, to para sailing to helicopter rides and more.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We always get adventuresome to see some local attraction when at a resort. We took advantage of the trip to M. Beach where the boogie boarding is world class with continuous six ft waves. Gives you a chance to mix with the locals and buy some fresh coconuts to drink.
This is a jewel of a resort tucked on the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. It is an award winning resort for its grounds, rooms and buildings.The management team has managed to assemble a great service team of unique individuals with plenty of personality who make you feel part of the family. Give them your name once and they never forget it. This is the perfect holiday place for both families and couples. Lots of room so you are not stumbling over one another. Lots of diversity between the beach and pool areas. The food is fun, creative and so tasty whether in the buffet or a specialty restaurant. Mike Bryant, manager of Public Relations is an interesting person with a great story of how he ended up there from his hometown of Belleville Ontario. When you arrive look Mike up sometime during your stay and hear his story. His office is to the right of the registration desk and down the hall. This is a no holds barred winning resort which will meet your every need. The EdenH REal Arena has it all! Treat yourself! You deserve to be spoiled.
"I would recommend this resort, but would not go back."
Judy & Steve from Ottawa, Ontario on Jan 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
342 people found this review helpful
We flew WestJet, through Nolitours. Gotta love WestJet! We had a bit of a hard landing in Punta Cana, but the rest of the flight was quite smooth. We were served a Breakfast wrap and granola bars for breakfast, and had a yummy Turkey & Swiss Cheese sandwich, with granola bars, on the way back. Service was excellent.
It is only a 20 min. drive to the resort from the airport. We arrived at 12:30 and waited until 3:30 pm for our rooms – no problem, as we were aware check-in was at 3:00 pm. Front Desk staff was very friendly and spoke perfect English, so we had no language barriers. I immediately saw PCMike (Mike Bryant) and told him how much we appreciated all his posts. We tagged our luggage with our assigned room number and went off to explore.
We were in Room 1414 and had a wonderful view of the pool and the ocean. We did not have the upgrade, but we were very pleased with the view. The rooms are very spacious and there was plenty of closet space and drawer space. The safe combination was easy to set, as well. We had the opening between the bathroom and bedroom, but were aware of this before we left, so it presented no problem for us. The mini fridge was stocked on a regular basis and the room was cleaned in the morning. The air conditioning worked great and we had hot water every day – morning and night!
The main buffet, Festival Buffet, had one wing off the food area for smokers and two wings for non-smokers. We never had a problem finding a table. There is also an outdoor eating area off the wings and we ate breakfast out there most days. Table service for coffee and cleaning off dirty plates was hit or miss, but when we caught the eye of one of the servers, it was cleared immediately. The food there was okay… Met Felix, the Omelette guy! Very nice person…
We went to the Asian Restaurant and sat at the grill. It was a lot of fun and our group of 8 really enjoyed the food. We had no problems getting reservations.
The Italian Restaurant is another story… we had reservations at 7:45 pm. We were served an appetizer and soup. By 9:30 p.m. we were still waiting on our main course – we finally got up and left and headed to the Festival Buffet to get something to eat. Service was terrible. We did let management know…
The Senses, French Gourmet Restaurant, was quite nice. We had the beef tenderloin and crème brule. The food was very good and was beautifully presented. Service was excellent and everything was nice and hot. My niece’s reception was also held at Senses, where we had the entire restaurant to ourselves.
The American Seafood is bright and cheery. Service was great and we had a Caesar salad prepared right at the table. We enjoyed the food here as well.
The Beach Restaurant was where we had all of our lunches. It is a bit repetitive in the food, but the chicken makes it worth coming back to. It opens at 11 am and closes at 6 pm, so it is nice to have the option of eating there whenever you want. Some people would fill their plates and then head back to the beach or pool, which was a nice option.
We also had beach/pool service. It was nice having your drink orders taken without having to go to the bar. Service was a bit hit or miss, but the option was there.
The courtyard off the lobby was a popular hangout during the evenings, as all of the restaurants are right in front. They had various entertainment – concerts, Cirque de Soleil (taped shows), etc. The only problem was that there were never enough chairs.
We did not go to the Crystal Theatre – mainly because it was indoors and we wanted to enjoy the weather outside.
The Alesio Bar was very spacious and nicely laid out. Unfortunately, we did not hang out here because of the smokers. The Sports Bar is right off the courtyard as well and we also got our drinks there. There are also servers in the courtyard taking your drink orders, but on the night we had an a la carte booked, we had waited 30 minutes for our drinks to arrive and had to finally leave so that we didn’t lose our reservation.
Drinks were good. A favourite was the Sammy Sosa. I’m not sure what all is in it, but if done properly, it is layers of red, white and blue.
We did not do any excursions or tours – just relaxed and enjoyed the weather.
The beach was beautiful, as usual. We never had problems finding palapas on the beach, or chairs by the pool. There are lots available.
I guess the only negatives I would have to say about the resort are that there wasn’t a great selection in the Festival Buffet. It was pretty much the same food on both sides of the food stations and service was hit or miss.
I would recommend this resort, but would not go back. We like to try different resorts each time we visit the DR
"We really enjoyed this property. Paying for the upgrade is worth the money."
Ted from Toronto on Jan 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
355 people found this review helpful
Arrival: November 10 to 17
Came in on Monday, so the PC airport wasn't busy and we got through real quick. The ride to the resort was real quick, 15 to 20 minutes. PC airport is modern.
Resort is relatively new, rooms are oversized, great king sized bed with crisp linen, lots of pillows and beautiful duvet. There is a flat screen tv with plenty of channels. Everything worked well. Service was excellent, you can request cleaning at a specific time. Free safe.
Restaurants and Bars:
We enjoyed the buffet for breakfast, way too much food, even had bacon every day-unusual for Dominican Republic. We enjoyed all the a-la-carts, especially the Asian. Order appetizers while waiting for the hibachi chef to complete the meal. The beach restaurant is convenient, we liked going over to the main buffet restaurant to take a break from the sun/heat. Self serve soft icecream by the beach bar is a nice treat. The resort was about 2/3 full so one restaurant was always closed-no problem for us.
We were on the beach pretty well every day, played beach volleyball everyday and walked the beach everyday. You can walk forever-don't forget to bring along a thermo cup for your walks and to keep your drinks cool/hot. The resort is a perfect size, u shaped with a courtyard surrounded by stores, restaurants, casino, etc. If you want you can walk under cover through out the resort, very clever.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We where with a group of 11, and spent each day starting with playing tennis, then beach volleyball, long walks on the beach, more beach volleyball, and finally cards/casino. The tennis courts are fabulous, sandy surface-new nets.
Bring along some school supplies. PC Mike will take them to a local school, the kids really appreciate it. Take advantage of Debbie's Spanish translation-the staff appreciate your attempt to speak their native language. One day they ran out of premium rum, so I switched to beer-not hard to take.
This was our second time at NH Arena, we've been at many other PC resorts, e.g. Palladium Bavaro, Bahia, Ocean Blue, etc., and we really enjoyed this property. Paying for the upgrade is worth the money, the rooms are bit nicer and closer to the beach. Request pool view.
"Absolutely no complaints."
Barbara from Edmonton, Alberta on Feb 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
358 people found this review helpful
Arrival: December 18-January 1, 2009
Great - airport was wonderful - looked like a grass hut - no outside walls - what a difference from our international airport in Edmonton. We cleared the airport quickly. Bus was waiting to transport to the hotel/resort.
Room was great. Cleaned regularly, towels replenished always, fridge stocked with soft drinks, water, beer daily. Everything was clean and done efficiently. Great job!
Restaurants and Bars:
Visited all of the a la carte restaurants (twice) in two weeks. No waiting - good service (except for Christmas day - a little slow - but short of staff). No problem. Food was plentiful and great in all restaurants and the Festival Buffet. Bars were great - especially the sports bar - quick and efficient and make excellent drinks. The omelette guy (Felix) was great to talk to and remembered who you were and where you were from. Plenty of choices and fruit and fish were provided daily (many different types/varieties).
Beaches are excellent, cleaned daily. Sand is fine as silt and wonderful. Pools were clean and cared for (many of them - lots of choices). Grounds were cleaned on a regular basis. No complaints.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We went on the Bavaro Runners tour - informational and good. Also did the Tropical Storm tour - swimming was available in the coral reef - equipment and instructions provided. Great fun! Also went to the Adventure Park where grandson swam with the sea lions. Only complaint on this one was that they sell CD's of all your experiences for a mere? $75 US. Wow! Hardly worth that considering that you could get the same service from Tropical Storm for $35US.
We thoroughly enjoyed this resort, the staff were friendly and helpful. We have absolutely no complaints and would recommend this resort to anyone (except that there wasn't a lot to do for teens - bowling, pool table, etc. were provided - but not a lot of activities for this age group). I would visit this resort again in a heartbeat.
"The best vacation we have ever had despite 4 days of on and off rain. "
Danielle & Shawn from Oshawa, ON on Feb 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
342 people found this review helpful
Arrival: February 6th to 13th:
We arrive from TO airport (where our 600.00USD=750.00CDN was inadvertently left in bathroom stall, 15 min. later, no sign of it). PC Airport allowed us to go in without paying our $10.00 Tourist cards and wished us great vacations. What a relief. We were able to use the ATM at the airport. We used IBK Transportation for transfer to hotel. On-time, safe vehicle and very friendly driver. This was our 2nd time at NH and when we arrived at the resort at approx. 1PM, we were greeted by Felix, our friendly bell boy whom we had met last year and it was like returning home. Hugs and kisses and hand shake reminded us immediately why we returned to Edenh?NH. So refreshing to receive such greeting, although it was raining. We were then introduced to Clara, Manager of Paradise Club. Very efficient check-in, all info provided. We expected to wait until 3pm for check-in but our room was ready. Wow, what service.
Our Paradise Club # 1246) room was beautifully located, closest to the beach, nice Garden & partial Oceanview. Perfect for the morning coffee on the balcony. Very clean with King-size Bed. Rum and Fruit basket awaited. Bathroom with Jacuzzi plenty big enough for 2 (with view of TV through wall opening, if needed. Private toilet stall with frosted glass door, same for beautifully tiled rain shower stall (approx. 4x5ft).Plenty of hot water at all time (AM & PM). Towels, face cloth, soaps and all necessities including bath salts and bubble bath. Everything was re-stocked daily. On our 2nd day, we requested 1 extra pillow. Within 5 min. 2 pillows were brought to our room. We received nightly turn down service. Fridge was also re-stocked daily. We left a little note, in Spanish every morning, requesting 3 water bottles, along with our daily tip to the water/bar person as well as $$ tip for maid+small gift. Beach towels were also in the room. Spacious closet and dresser space. We brought extra hangers as we both like to hang just about everything. There is an iron and ironing board in the closet as well as shelf which we used for small items rather than the dresser drawers. Upgrade to Paradise is well worth it, especially for the view which is very important to me. We ran into our maid and water/bar person every morning on our way to breakfast and their smile and friendliness is ever so refreshing. A simple Hola automatically brings a beautiful smile and a Hola in return. We used room service every morning for some hot milk mixture to accompany our morning Santo Domingo coffee. The coffee was re-stocked everyday; however the sugars was hit and miss. We simply ordered it with our hot milk. Room service is very prompt and efficient.
Restaurants and Bars:
Wow, we thought last year was great. This year, the food was outstanding. Shawn even requested to see the chef to comment on the food. Plenty of variety for breakfast, form fresh fruits to probiotic yogurt, large variety of breads, muffins, cheeses to Spanish omelettes (my personal favourites) to tender/well prepared scrambled eggs, roasted tomatoes with basil, baked beans, bacon and so much more. Let's not forget the beautiful fruit shakes/smoothy prepared to your specifications, again presented with a smile. Service for coffee was prompt; however we found that the coffee was not as good as last year. It appears to be watered down. Evening buffet was equally as impressive. Ossobouco, pastas, roast beef/pork, lots of coleslaw, salads and condiments, good variety of salad dressing or simple oil and vinegar dressing, flavourful pizza, specially the olive pizza, cappers pizza, pepperoni etc. Maui-Maui was absolutely delightful as the calamari and much more. One evening we cancelled our A la Carte as it was Seafood night at the buffet restaurant. They have also adjusted the AC in the Buffet section. Last year, it was so cold that even the plates were cold and your food never stayed hot. This year, this issue had been resolved. Our A La Carte were all booked on our 2nd day, through Paradise Club. We visited the American Grill, good food, great service, although I found last year's food much tastier. The Japanese Hibachi was better than last year as our "chef" was very entertaining. The shrimps were absolutely fantastic. Cooked to absolute perfection as was the beef and the chicken. We had a great time with new our new Friends, Daisy and Mike. The chef invited anyone to have their picture taken with him. Our friends had a chance to enjoy the Sushi bar with which they were most impressed. The Romantic//French restaurant was good and again the service was most impressive. We arrive a few minutes late and our friends were already seated. The waiter, with a big smile was most courteous in accommodating our lateness and brought us our appetizers promptly while holding our friends main course so we could all eat together. My appetizer of escargots/mushrooms/sausage with a beautiful sauce topped with a butter pastry crust was amazing. The highlight for us was the Italian, my favourite food. Both Shawn and I absolutely enjoyed the food, well prepared and seasoned. I had the Veal Marsalis done to my liking (medium rare).Again, very prompt, courteous and efficient service. The wine however was a big disappointment this year. It appeared watered down at every restaurants and bars of the resort. I considered purchasing good wine bottle from the gift shop and bringing it with me to the restaurant but never did. I will stock up at the duty free next year and bring my own. The beach/pool restaurant, The Olas was also much improved over last year in terms of variety. The BBQ chicken was very tender and juicy, cooked to perfection. Lots of fries, onion rings, vegetables (carrots, leaks, potatoes, corn).
Salad/condiment bar was also very impressive as were the pizzas. Ask with a smile and you shall receive is the motto for the pizzas. If they notice that only a few slices remained in the warmer, the pizza guys would immediately ask you the wait for 1 more minute as fresh pizzas were coming momentarily. Shawn requested a pizza with specific ingredients and they are more than prepared to accommodate any requests. What service we received from Daniel, our favourite waiter at the Ola. He always made a point of coming to say hi, if we missed him and always ensured that we had plenty to drink. More often than not, he noticed us and would bring us our drinks before we could even ask. Then there's Danny and Rafael of the Paradise Club bar. Danny is always having a great day. He is most entertaining, always signing, encouraging everyone to join him in singing songs. Rafael would always come to see if we needed anything to drink. He knew that in the morning, we both preferred water bottles which he brought to us before we could even ask. He would also suggest a new drink and ensured that there was plenty of spirit content in all drinks. One morning, we forgot our towels and he noticed that Shawn was going to run back and get them. He would have none of that. He brought us towels. For us it's not the actual service that we receive that makes the difference, it's the genuine desire to please, their professionalism, the humility but most of all their smile and genuine happiness that turns a good trip into a wonderful and rewarding trip despite the 1st 4 day of on and off rain
The beach was as I remembered from last year so wonderful, white sand and beautiful views. We were informed early on that there's no chair games ad the resort added an additional 250 chairs & 100 palapas this year. The beach was cleaned early every morning and free of debris/seaweed etc. I only wish that smokers (and I am a smoker) would use a container/empty glass with sand in it or the ashtrays randomly placed for their cigarette butts. Although we sat at the Paradise Club pool occasionally (as we both much prefer to hear the sound of the waves etc), we never swam in the pools nor use the swim-up bars. I have some concerns with people sitting at the swim-up bars for hours on end and never leaving to go to the bathroom......there was absolutely no issues with misbehaved/loud/crying children neither at the Paradise Club pool or the beach. In fact, watching these children play brings a smile to your face.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Activities are plenty, if you need it. Aerobics in the beach shore, volleyball nets, trampoline, coconut tree climbing, complimentary kayaking and catamaran etc. The Sports Bar became a favourite due to the rain. We are both much better pool players now than we were when we left. We were a bit disappointed one evening when the Sports bar was closed for a private function without any notice. We then proceeded to the Aliza bar (lobby bar). All was great with background music until the loud thump thump 20 something music started. We left as we could not carryon a conversation. Based on the average age group of the guest, I would suggest more mainstream tunes such as rock & roll. Hip Hop is only attractive to very small group. We attended the Romantic night in the Auditorium however, this was not our beat so we let and called an early night.
We had the opportunity to meet and befriend a resort employee last year, better known as Punta Cana Mike. His dedication to support many impoverished area schools and orphanages is so very hearth warming. We had brought a few bags of school and other necessities with us. Mike Offered to take us to the school and meet the children. Wow, what an experience. To watch the smile on their faces when they saw Mike brought tears to me our eyes. After chatting with Madeleine and some of the locals, we were asked to distribute the donation which is such a rewarding and humbling experience. I was amazed that between colourful pens/pencils/makers/paint brushes and colouring books and hair barrettes/elastics/clips the kids were treasuring their new children's tooth brushes. All are so forthcoming with hugs and kisses, I was sad to not have brought more. I wish I could go everyday. It really reminds you of how fortunate we really are.
After a few hours with the kids and tears when we left, we proceeded to Steve's corner bar. Another most excellent adventure. Some of the Tropical Storm staff joined us and a large group from Wisconsin. Again, more donations.
It was nice to see the Tropical Storm group when we boarded for our Tropical Sunset & Lobster Catamaran cruise. We had only met a few of them and hung out for a few Presidente and we were greeted with hugs and kisses for me and genuine warm hand shake for Shawn. As safety is first and foremost, Olga, the leader of the pack instructed everyone with the happenings to come and also reminded everyone that if we were smoking (cigarettes only) we were to ask the bartender/staff member for an ashtray in order to protect the water. She then also advised that no cubalibre or Cervesa were to be served until AFTER the snorkelling was done. As only 60% of the passengers were enjoying their snorkelling excursion, the cubralibre started flowing. With everyone back on board with drinks in hands, we proceeded to our next destination, the Natural Pool, complete with floating bar. For me, this was the best part. To be in the middle of the ocean in only 3 to 4 ft. of warm, warm water surrounding you is amazing. Last year, we encountered many star fish but not this year. Back on board to a snack and mamajuana. After the snacks were devoured, we were prompted to join Andy, the entertainer into a dance, which Shawn referred to as the 6/49 dance. We had some much fun and met so many nice people from every corner of the world. We also had a chance to purchase our own bottle of mamawana roots, complete with our photos (couples and/or entire families) at the low cost of $10.00USD. We were also advised that the on-board paparazzi/videographer would produce a DVD of our day and the cost is 35.00USD (I have watched this DVD everyday since our return). On our way to the most beautiful lobster dinner ever. The garlic butter served was almost like an emulsion with butter, garlic and a hint of lemon. I am definitely going to try to replicate this one. As the sun was now down and our dinner was complete, we proceeded to our bus for drop off at the hotel. BTW, the same staff we shared Presidente's with the previous day, invited Shawn and Ito join later that evening at Steve's Corner Bar. Unfortunately, we were tired and did not quite make it. We walked over the launch point the following day to apologize for not going and again were met with hugs, kisses and hand shakes.
Eden/HN Real Arena has worked very hard to work to achieve the second to none status some of the small concerns present last year had been totally resolved. I would highly recommend this resort to anyone. The quality of the staff and management, the food, the beach etc. make this resort the best vacation we have ever had, again despite 4 days of on and off rain.
Special thanks to Mike B. Clara, Felix, Daniel, Rafael and Danny. To the bellboy who I forget the name, hope your little girl is healthy again and back home from her 9hrs away stay in the hospital. The all the maids and water/bar people, thank you for accommodating our every requests. to the gardeners, thank you for working so hard to make this place like haven on hurt and to all the behind the scene staff from the kitchen, to laundry and any other necessary support, Shawn and I say THANK YOU, UNTIL NEXT YEAR.
"I loved the food everywhere!"
John from Nova Scotia on Feb 1, 2009 >
2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
346 people found this review helpful
We arrived around midnight, with an easy check-in. We got to our room: perhaps the previous guest was a smoker, and the room attendant was trying to purge the smell of tobacco by using way too much disinfectant, but the odour when the door opened was overpowering. Coupled with non functioning air conditioning, we should have gone straight back to the lobby to ask for a new room. Plus there were two small beds instead of one big one (which , you know, couples might prefer...).Thus, we spent a terrible first night. When morning broke, we saw our room overlooked the construction of a new hotel next door. Great! We took it up with the manager, and although there were no rooms available looking into the centre garden and pool area, we were moved upstairs to a room with a view of the beach AND the construction, but with functioning air and a king size bed. When this hotel expansion is completed, the view of the ocean from this room will be mostly blocked. If booking, INSIST on room looking inward, over the hotel grounds.
Rooms are fine. Nice flat screen TV's. Mattress was very firm. Air conditioning was quiet and efficient. The toilet is in its own, um, acoustic chamber. With only partial walls separating the bathroom, noise can be difficult to hide. The balconies have jacuzzies, although we didn't bother. And when that new hotel is built 50 metres away, who wants to be cuddling in a tub with people staring at you?
Restaurants and Bars
Why do they chill the vino tinto (red wine)? Perhaps to mask its mediocrity. We stayed in Puerto Plata five years ago, our only other trip to the DR, and I remember the wine then being consistently good; nothing spectacular, but fair to the palate. Some of the wines at this resort were coming from bottles that had obviously been refilled many times. Good wine shouldn't have a ring of suds around the surface of the liquid. I have been making wine for a decade, and the white wine I manufacture in my kitchen is vastly superior to MOST of what we were served. We had upgraded to Mirage class, which enabled us to go the room off the lobby reserved for us and Paradise Club members, and help ourselves to top notch brands when the stiff is laid out daily around 4:30. The restaurants have wine lists of course, and if you don't mind paying extra, you can select from a good list of quality wines. We splurged for a good bottle of red for our meal at the French a la carte, and it was worth it. Now, I loved the food everywhere! The only problem (which everyone talks about) is keeping the stuff at the buffet warm. The omelettes in the morning are wonderful; the fresh pasta in the evening at the buffet is incredibly good; the coffee is rich. The beach grill is great, although not a lot of variety. Wonderful pork chops for lunch, or fried chicken, chicken in sauce, hamburgers, hot dogs, and delicious fries! There is even a salad bar.
The grounds are, in a word, spectacular. The beach is wonderful as well, but you have to get there fairly early on to get the shade and two chairs together. Some people go down really early to reserve their space by draping towels on the chairs; to me that's not good enough. You want the space, you claim it by showing up and staying. But that's what you can expect in a lot of places today. The swim up bar is a lot of fun, with a very talented and funny bartender who is often run off his feet to serve the customers. Tip: offer a buck when you arrive and you will always get served prompltly. If you're adventurous, ask him to "surprise" you when he asks you what you want to drink.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went to the Marinarium. Have you ever seen a depressed shark? Coming into the enclosure, I saw this 5 foot long nurse shark swimming toward me, hugging the bottom as nurse sharks do. Pretty cool. But then I snorkel along, come over the top of the reef that's inside the (I'd guess) 4500 suare metre enclosure, and there are 3 more nurse sharks lying on the bottom,together, their snouts pressed up against the mesh, seeminly gazing at the ocean beyond their reach. I didn't bother getting my photo taken with a sting ray either. But, the excursion was a lot of fun anyway, with a stop to have drinks later in an area of unspoiled coast, in 4 feet of warm Caribbean ocean. Lots of reggae music playing, and lots of fun chatting with the other 40 or so on the catamaran with us.
The weather was beautiful the entire week. We saw via the Internet that there was rain the week before we arrived, so we lucked out. I would come back to this resort if I was sure the "cheapy cheapy" things (like asking for Kahlua and getting from an unmarked bottle what tastes like coffe flavoured rum) had been addressed. The staff was wonderful, and we really felt that they were always doing their best for us. There is still a learning curve; I understand that competition for experienced staff is stiff among resorts, and some resorts, if not full when the summer months come, are forced to lay staff off. This, of course, means hiring and learning anew.
"The staff here do a wonderful job."
Steve on Feb 1, 2009 >
13 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
358 people found this review helpful
Beach – this was the best beach I have seen in the Dominican. Truly white sand that was soft and easy to walk on. I enjoyed my daily walks on this beach. There appeared to be plenty of chairs and palapas to suit everyone.
Grounds & Amenities – the grounds are beautiful and very well kept. I personally would like to see some more colourful flowers added but that’s just me.
The resort has nice places to spend time including the lounge bar, the sports bar which has a four-lane bowling alley in it, a large indoor theatre with nightly shows. I saw a couple of them. The usual fare but very energetic and colourful. The Tahntra Bar is a rooftop bar that has a very cool vibe to it with canopy beds and a chill pool up there as well. Great spot for a night cap.
Excursions – I finally went on the Saona Island tour that I had been thinking about for a few years. It was a great trip. It takes about two hours by bus to get there but there is lots to see along the way so it’s not too bad. The catamaran ride is lots of fun with music and dancing and lots to drink. The island itself is more beautiful white sand and we stopped for a very good BBQ lunch and more drinks and dancing before boarding a speedboat for the return trip which included a stop at the natural pool for a swim and then back to the dock. A fun trip and well worth it.
Overall – Once again I would like to tell the naysayers that continue to put up negative reviews of this hotel to please do us all a favour and stay home or at least don’t come to the Dominican because obviously you are too hard to please. Is everything perfect here? Of course not, but there are no deal breakers and the staff here do a wonderful job and are truly concerned with ensuring that everyone has a great vacation. I hope to be back soon.