Dominican Republic Trip Reports

Have Baby Will Travel’s trip reports for the Dominican Republic are organized alphabetically by city or region within the country. Simply scroll down to read all or use the fast finder to select a specific location within the Dominican Republic. Each trip report has been provided to Have Baby Will Travel in hopes of giving other parents a clearer picture of what to expect when traveling to the Dominican Republic with a baby or toddler.

(10 reports)

July 2006
Suzanne & Family (baby 2 & 3yrs)

Boy was I scared when we approached this hotel. It’s situated on a very remote road. The lobby of the CCP was open air and very pretty. The lobby is nice to hang out in during the day to get out of the sun. There was a breeze. The hotel was replacing the roof at the time so part of it was blocked off. I saw a lot of people waiting for check in and thought oh no, here we go. But I gave the guy a couple of bucks and he gave us a room right away and promised us a better room the next day. Since I know how they operated I agreed. There were only three front desk people who were nice. The rest were snobs.

We were placed in the Liro building. The room was a dump we had the view of the beach bar. The air conditioner had black mold clearly visible on the grates and I began choking after only a few minutes. The room décor was very basic. Had no fear – patience is a virtue – so and we were eventually given a room in the Carallio buildings w/ a sunken living area. Much cleaner and much better w/ the exception of the bed linens. Talk about poor quality. They need new linens.

The buffet was basic. You had one choice of carved meat (if you were lucky). There was pasta with different sauces (not bad). There were also stations with various types of food that were replenished. One night I found arroz con gaundules. I was in my glory. The white rice was dry and tasted awful. Breakfast seemed to be the best part of the day. Bacon, pancakes, sausage, ham, omelets – one thing that drove me nuts was that you had to depend on the waitresses to get you your drinks. I always tip a dollar for the drink lady and a dollar for the clean up person since my kids do make a mess. But sometimes you are in a rush and it would be faster just to get it yourself. Also take a whiff in between the food stations (by the milk) it smells horrible.

Well I did not like the buffet so much and spent much of my eating at the Brazilian restaurant. Why? Because I love rodizio. You can’t screw up chicken, sausage, steak or fish on the barbie. One downfall was the rice and black beans. Beans were hard as a rock. They could have cooked it more. I’m thinking they used fresh beans instead of canned. I tried the Italian once (wish I could have gone more but the kids drove me nuts) and it was very good. I come from a large Italian neighborhood and grew up making sauce and their sauce was pretty good, even the Alfredo. The staff at the restaurants were wonderful because we always gave them a few $. It goes a long way. As soon as we arrive they have a seat for us, drinks and baby chairs no need to ask.

Very large size pool, clean with the exception of the entry point could have done a better job cleaning it. If you were thirsty you had to walk to the pool bar to get a drink. Loved the beach. It was flat, large and not a long walk to the water. This was the best part of the hotel. They had a party on the beach at night which was nice. The animation staff did a good job keeping everyone involved. The animation staff is not as friendly as the animation at Iberostar. My opinion is that they don’t like Americans.

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December 2007
Tova & Family (baby 21mos)

We just got back from our trip to Punta Cana with our 21-month-old daughter. Last year I went to Cuba with my daughter, husband, my mom, sister, and brother. That was more of a vacation, as we had some help and free babysitting by my family. This year, we went on our own… and it was a lot of work! I would absolutely recommend that you travel with your extended family!

The hotel is quite beautiful and very clean. Yes, it is large, but I enjoyed walking and there are trams (choo-choos, as my daughter called them) running for those not wanting to walk. Sit in the front or very back or you will be inhaling exhaust! I could have actually done without the trams altogether.

We stayed in building 9, which was a perfect location. It is kind of in the middle, within walking distance to the beach and all of the restaurants. We were very close to the mini-club. The room was quite large and had lots of room for our playpen. Last year in Cuba we relied on the hotel to supply the crib (it was a bit of a nightmare)…bringing a playpen was a much better sleeping option. We flew on Air Transat and brought the baby equipment for free. Note- I highly recommend Air Transat or Air Canada, as both are baby friendly.

The food was FANTASTIC! I am a picky vegetarian and my daughter is a pretty impatient diner and we were both ok. We mostly ate at the Punta Cana side buffet (lots of choices, including pasta, omelet bars, etc). It was no problem to get a high chair and the staff were very nice and understanding about the mess! Our tips were according to the size of the mess 🙂 We went to the Mexican restaurant and had fun. I would have liked to try the other restaurants, but my daughter won’t sit still for very long (I believe the Japanese and Gourmet restaurants take forever!). It is all about the dine-and-dash!

The mini-club is excellent and there is a mini-disco at 8pm for all of the kids. Both are really meant for 4+ years of age, but we participated and played at both (lots of little kids did, with their parents). The kids looked like they were having a great time! There were quite a few kids of all ages at the resort.

They have an on-site photographer who takes pictures of people holding a monkey, iguana, parrots, etc. The pictures turn out great and only cost $7. We purchased an awesome family picture of the three of us with a monkey. Very cool!

Bring lots of things to give away (kids toys, toiletries, etc.). The gardeners and security staff were the happiest about receiving little gifts, as they have the least contact with tourists and probably don’t receive as much.

Unfortunately, my daughter required a trip to the doctor and antibiotics while we were there. We ended up seeing a paediatrician at the local hospital (private hospital, I believe). She was excellent! Make sure you have insurance, as I heard a lot of horror stories about people who did not and had to pay thousands of dollars for an operation.

Would we go back? Yes- but most likely without my daughter or when she is older. For us, traveling with a toddler means that you miss out on the a-la-carte restaurants and the evening shows. The vacation was all about her and was not relaxing! Note- not worth the upgrade to Diamond Club, as we couldn’t even the three available a-la-carte dinners. Internet is $10 for an hour. Regular pools and the beach suited us just fine- no need to the Diamond Club pools (but may be worth it during very busy times, like Christmas vacation).

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March 2007
Julie & family (baby 5mos.)

We stayed at Grand Palladium Palace (GPP) from March 16-23, 2007. There was my husband, my 5month old daughter and myself in a loft suite and, my babysitter and friend in a deluxe room. Upon arrival only the deluxe room was ready, but if you travel enough you tend to expect this when arriving before 2pm. We would be in building 91 and they in building 81, not far from each other and not worth changing considering we both had Ocean view rooms (which we did not pay any more for).

We decided to go to the buffet beside building 91 and adjacent to the Palace pool…well this was not a great first impression. The food was not very good nor was the service, but we prevailed and told ourselves that we would enjoy this resort regardless. Our rooms were ready soon after eating and this was a very nice surprise. The rooms are gorgeous. Our loft suite was grand, just like to photos on the hotel website. A bonus was our couch was a pullout bed ( for babysitter when staying). The view in this room was awesome – just a few steps away from the beach, the pool, the bar, and buffet(??) room 9115! Our air conditioner did not work for 3 days, but the staff were there everyday until it was fixed. The deluxe room was very nice as well. room 8118 with the exception of the good ol’ musty smell.

I found the best buffet to be the one in the Punta Cana lobby, “the grill”a la carte has very good steak but be sure to tell the waiter how you like it cooked, we had to send all 4 back the first time. Punta Cana lobby seemed to be the nicer of them all, the Palace pool was the nicer of them all, and has a swim up bar. Thank goodness for the trolley, it comes every 15mins and runs until 2am….The Disco played Dominican style music until 12:30ish then changed to dance, the 24hr sports bar was great for snacks and to retreat to if the disco got to be too much. The staff were friendly and there were many activities going on throughout the day. If you are going to Punta Cana chances are you are going for the beach, because it is a definite highlight. The food and resort standards are a little lower than those of Mexico (which we travelled to in Jan), so don’t expect too much from the food, but to be honest we did always find something to eat and some nights it was quite good. Drinks are definitley watered down – so be prepared to drink a lot if you want to get your dancing shoes on!

I would rate this resort a 4star and if I returned would stay at the Punta Cana resort rather than the Palace.

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April 2008
Jillian& Family (baby 8mos.)

As I relied so heavily on the Internet for my vacation, I want to pay back to all of you out there who are thinking of booking the Iberostar Bavaro.

We had a really good time. I traveled with my husband, infant son (8 months), my sister in law and two kids (13 &4). It was our first time to Punta Cana – but I’ve stayed at several all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, Mexico and the Bahamas.

When you first enter the resort, its really beautiful. Upon check-in they run over to you with a cold drink, which is just so refreshing. Our rooms were already ready (we were there at around 12, so before check-in time) and we headed over. We stayed in room 1115. Very nice room, exactly what I thought it would look like as I’d seen pictures. Very damp feel, as you may have read on other reviews. Even clothes that we didn’t wear on the vacation we had to wash when we got home. The porch was great, especially since we were traveling with a baby and had to be more in our rooms for naps and early bed times. The bed wasn’t very comfortable but that seems similar to other reviews I’ve read about hotels in Punta Cana. If you are a light sleeper, which I am, make sure to ask for a room in the back of the resort, closer to the pool. Our room was too close to the lobby area and the nightly entertainment was very very loud and I had a hard time going to sleep.

Pool and beach were amazing. You’ll never have a hard time finding a lounge chair – whether it be in the shade or the sun. The little huts on the beach are even easy to come by if you aren’t picky on where you sit. There is a great breeze down by the beach and I can’t imagine it not being there as its hot hot hot!

The pool area and grounds are very well kept and you’ll see people cleaning constantly. The restrooms by the beach and pool are very clean and tidy.

If you hang out on the beach you will see quite a few topless women. Not ‘normal’ for us Americans but so not a big deal and you get used to it right away.

I can only classify the food as fair. We ate at the main buffet, buffet by the pool, the Mexican restaurant and the Japanese restaurant. First let me say that the breakfast is

amazing at the buffet. All the fresh juices, eggs, pancakes and waffles made fresh to order. The fruit was as fresh as can be. Hands down the best meal for me. The lunch and dinner just seemed to get repetitive but I think that’s no matter where you go. The a-la-carte restaurants really weren’t that great. The Mexican restaurant served all the same food that you see every day at the snack bar at the pool. Japanese was pretty good although dessert left a lot to be desired so we just hit the buffet dessert after.

I’m not much of a drinker but I love the girlie frozen drinks like Pina Coladas and Strawberry daiquiris while on vacation. Unfortunately, they had those machines for these drinks and they were totally awful. You can get a ‘real’ frozen drink at the lobby bar and you can get real frozen drinks at the other bars as long as they don’t have a fake one in the machine.

My husband and I both had massages while we were there and it was fabulous! In comparison to other places, this was crazy cheap (only $50 for almost an hour) and it was really good. They have huts along the beach for massages but I felt more comfortable having it done at the actual spa. The spa is pretty nice, can’t say its 5 * by any means though.

I hit the gym one of the days but it wasn’t worth it – just walking or running the beach is much nicer. There are a few ellipticals and a few treadmills for cardio and they are on the older side.

If you walk over to the two other sister resorts, you’ll be glad you stayed at the Bavaro. The Bavaro is just so much nicer, cleaner and prettier than the other two.

Tips do go a long way and I think they are expected in some instances. You got better bar service and earlier maid service if you left a tip. Not a huge deal but worth mentioning.

Beware when you head back to the airport!!!! Not at all related to the hotel but worth mentioning. If you are taking a van/car/bus service, provided by your travel agent, to the hotel, your luggage will be picked up by porters before you can even get out of the bus. In fact, we were made to stay on the bus until the porters had the luggage out. They will walk you over to the lines with your luggage (all of maybe 30 feet!) and stand on top of you asking for a tip. Too in your face for something we didn’t even ask for.

Overall I’d really recommend going to the Iberostar Bavaro!

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June 2006
Jennifer & Family (babies 2 & 3yrs)

I traveled with my husband and two toddlers (2 & 3) from May 18th until June 6th. Off to the airport all goes smooth. We took a chance on a standby and there were plenty of seats available left at 8:00 a.m. arrived PC at 11:30. After all goes smooth to the Airport TSA security decides to pick my husband for a random hand check. I had to continue through check in with two kids in a double stroller, two bags and two portable car seats. I was pissed! I also had to fold my carriage. So just picture me it was awful. I went straight to the gate and advised the AA agent I was present and was given tickets right away. When AA began boarding they have three levels 1, 2 and 3. 1 includes priority boarding. I asked if I can go since I had kids and I was row 34 the agent had an attitude and said no! The agent said this is for passenger rows xyz to xyz. Later I found out that I should have been included in the priority boarding. To me the AA agents were miserable. The flight was smooth kids fell asleep after take off so I had time to rest. The airport at PC was smooth not crowded. I purchased my tourist card ahead of time and beat the crowd at the booth trying to purchase them. I did encounter a very rude man who was ahead of me on line with his pregnant wife and daughter. He was stupid enough to stand on line without a tourist card. The lady told him and his family to stand aside and he took care of me. While in the midst of this the man ran, purchased a card and thought it was okay to push his way in between my carriage and the desk. How rude was that! It’s easier to be the last passenger to de-board this way you will avoid jerks like him!

I proceeded to the baggage area and the bags were already on the belt. We were traveling for 2 ½ weeks so I had a lot of luggage (diaper, etc.) and because the max weight for luggage is 50 pounds per piece. I had seven in all. I must have stuck out like a sore thumb because the “El Capitan” came out and asked how long we were staying and where we came from. My Spanish kicked in and said we were from NY and if he can he can get me “ONE GUY ONLY” to carry the bags. It drives me nuts when multiple bag handlers grab the bags. That happened last year (my request was ignored). I paid one guy and told him to divy it up. I gave $1 per bag. The taxi to the hotel was $3 more than last year. I guess inflation. It seems the roads were repaved it was a smooth ride.

Check In: Wow, what can I said having been here last year (and should have gone this year) makes all the difference in the world. It was nice to see that one year later the same people at the front desk were still there. Senor Ruiz, Marcos and many more. Last year we gave $ for an upgrade this year we did not have to. We booked a rack rate standard room and were given a room with sea view by the steak house. I gave the guy money anyway $25 as it was the right thing to do. It was 12:30 pm and check in was not until 3:00 pm. We told him we would grab something to eat no problem came back in ½ hr and it was ready. We were in our rooms by 2:00 p.m.

Buffet: Did not try any of the restaurants because I’ve been to them before and the buffet has such variety its just not worth trying to get a reservation. For some reason they were booked days in advance. It must have been crowded at this hotel that week. The buffet was awesome. For breakfast I had pancakes everyday. They were the best pancakes, better then mine! They had the usual breakfast items to include breads and spreads (diet and regular), nutella (my favorite) fresh juice, cereal, etc. And if they run out just ask they will run and get it for you. Lunch was awesome I ate at the beach bar on the PC side. They had roasted chicken, one kind of carved meat, hot dogs (daughter loved those because they are soft not rubbery), hamburgers, salads and the coldest ice cream you ever had. You can get your own soft drinks. The fruit punch was great. They also had lunch on the other side with more select items like hot food, pizza, fries with cheese, pasta, fish and much more. You can also have lunch at the main buffet. They had all of the same items but included grilled chicken breast and rice and beans – my favorite. I was in my glory because I lost weight at Caribe Club. Dinner was great they had themed nights. Steak made to order, etc. and a large selection. The steak is not like ours in North American but its decent when you throw it on a grill. If you want black beans or anything out of the ordinary, ask the head chef. He will make it for you. Give him a buck or two for his kindness. They are all very hard working and friendly people. Like I said, I’d been to the restaurant before but all the dishes they make there most can be found at the buffet.

Pool/Beach: Nice size and they have two. Standard decent size pool. The Dominicana side is cleaner than the PC side. I’m thinking because the PC side is closer to the beach and there is more traffic in and out of the pool. They can do a better job cleaning this pool throughout the day. There was poop floating from a parent not using a swimmer on their kid. How gross! The Domincana pool is the activities pool. The star friends do an excellent job in this area and the aerobics is pretty fun. The middle of the pool is where you get your towels, books, board games etc. Also there is a guy who spray paints tee shirts for about $20 bucks. I bought quite a few. Dominicana side is cleaner. People reserve chairs but who cares, you are on vacation. Most times I would park my stuff in the shade jump in the pool then head back to the beach. What’s good about Iberostar is that there are plenty of Palapas. A short walk to your right is a kids’ pirate ship in the sand. That proved useful toward the end of the afternoon to take a break from the activities with the kids. My opinion is that they cater to Europeans. They mingled w/ us because we are friendly but animation staff was hanging mostly w/ Europeans. I think because English is not their strong language but German, French, Portuguese I would think probably comes easier to them. They have a pretty decent air conditioned gym. The spa is right below. You can rent the Jacuzzi for a few bucks an hour and it has hot water. I got a pedicure and it sucked but hey better then nothing.

Star Rock Café This was my favorite hang out spot. It was very cold. It’s a restaurant, which has open reservations between 7-11p.m. You can also walk in and get a drink at the bar or sit in a seating area and be served. It has a giant screen TV which plays various sports. Also has a pool table, pinball, football game, etc. Nice to hand out in until the DC club opens. It serves American food, which includes a very good chocolate brownie. The Star Rock is located over by the commercial shopping center. I would recommend being careful walking on that path with small children. The employees ride by with the golf carts and scooters on this path. It’s not lit well at night and during the day they drive too fast (should post speed limits; yeh right we are in DR). One day we were invited to a return guest ceremony to meet the manager, have drinks (they gave us a gift bag w/ t-shirts) and a man on a scooter (chef) fell off his motorcycle (loss control) and nearly missed my son in his double stroller. When he was making a turn he was being careful not to hit anyone and his eye wandered and he loss control of the scooter. I almost had a heart attack. I felt bad for him because he looked nervous (had no helmet) and hit the floor pretty hard. The assistant manager ran over quickly and asked if he was okay and mentioned if he hit any of us and to watch for the children.

The SuperMercado at Iberostar Very expensive. I would suggest to stop at the supermarket or bring various snacks from home if traveling with kids. I noticed upon my return to the airport there is a large supermarket on the right. It’s cheaper then the store in the hotel (much cheaper). I brought from home chips, cookies, peanut butter crackers (all came in little packets), fruit chews, etc. Great for the beach or pool. I also brought juice boxes because in the room they only have soda and beer.

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June 2000
Jennifer & Family (babies 1 & 2yrs)

My family and I enjoyed a two-week holiday at the Iberostar Punta Cana. We flew out of JFK on a non-stop American Airlines flight. It was great! The plane was not crowded. I traveled with my husband and two children ages 2.4 and 1.1 years. Both children did not get much sleep the night before. They both fell asleep about one hour into the flight. Lucky me! The plane arrived half hour early at 11:00 a.m. Once you exit the plane the hot and humid air hits you right in the face! It was a smooth exit from the airport. I was one step ahead of the game because I purchased my tourist cards at the consulate in New York and had them already filled out. I headed straight for Customs. My bags came right away. I did not have ground transportation to and from the airport. I was told you can grab a cab as soon as you exit. The advice was correct.

I had an air-conditioned van for $24 USD. The ride to the hotel was a little scary. However, I wasn’t surprised because the roads are similar to my grandparents’ city of Coamo, Puerto Rico. Going towards the hotels in PC there are two lanes. One going and the other coming. If you want to pass the very slow moving vehicle in front you would have to go into the oncoming traffic lane to pass the vehicle. This is scary. However the Dominicans are used to driving like this so I wasn’t concerned

Of course there was only one person at the reception and his last name happened to be RUIZ which is my mother’s last name. He spoke English but I spoke in Spanish. I gave the guy $30 to upgrade me to a Junior Suite. I could have given him less because he didn’t even ask for money. The Junior Suite was nice but it was not conveniently located. The Junior Suites are located near the front entrance of the property. The front entrance is close to the buffet and Japanese restaurants. The suites have double or king size bed with a small table and chair a sofa and a very nice bathroom with a big tub. The downside of this location is that it is a far walk to the pool and beach. Not a big deal if I was married with no kids. But shlepping beach stuff with two kids in tow is difficult. The same day I went to the front desk and ask to speak with the manager. The manager’s name is Mr. Coleman. He is a very nice gentleman and has a way with words! I guess that is why he manages all three hotels Punta Cana, Dominicana, and Bavaro. I asked if there was any way he can get me a standard room closer to the beach. He pleasantly advised to come and see him the next day around 2:00 p.m. and he will see what he can do. Well patience paid off because he gave us a family suite! The family suite was located on the second floor – a hop, skip and jump from the pool area.

The suite was two rooms. The first had a king size bed, sofa bed, TV and bathroom. The other connecting room had two double beds w/ a TV. Both rooms had a patio with table and two chairs. It was really nice. I also asked for a crib it was clean and it served the purpose. The decor is a little outdated but the rooms serve the purpose.

Pool & Beach & Food There are two pools side by side one for Dominicana and the other for Punta Cana. They were a good size but would have like a bigger pool. But then again who goes to the Caribbean to sit in a pool. The sun is strong to the pool water gets warm. There is a lot of space for kids to play. There is also a baby pool. The pools are kept very clean. The first week of arrival was not crowded so I did not need to reserve a sun shade. As the week past I found I had to wake up in the morning for the prime spot – only because I had kids. The beach is absolutely beautiful. This is where I spent my entire vacation. I set up shop on the first row of huts. So I was two steps from the pools and two steps from the beach and right between the beach buffets! The front of the Dominicana pool is the activity side. They have lots of games provided by the wonderful star friends. I danced Merengue and my 2-year-old son did too! The ice cream at the La Cana is way better than the La Yola Ice Cream Stand. The La Cana has rotisserie chicken that is great better than the other buffet. BUT the buffet near the Dominicana has French fries with cheese, rice and beans, etc. – more of a selection.

Food and Restaurants I was pleasantly surprised that the food was pretty decent. I mean come on you are in the Dominican Republic not NYC! The buffet is an open air restaurant so you will see flies. Some people freak out. They are not swarming all over the food. They basically annoy you at the tables. I have a great tip. Take a napkin and place it over your food while you are eating. Leave a small opening. No flies will come. It worked. I did this the entire week. People must have thought I was crazy. I had low expectations of the food and brought every medication in God’s creation. I only got sick once for a ½ day – took Immodium AD pills and voila – it was gone! At the buffet they have steaks made to order. Rice, Veggies, Pork, pasta, pizza, etc. I stayed away from the salads but I found everything was temperature controlled. I found them checking the temperature of the cold foods often, which is a good thing. They were constantly cleaning up. First couple of days I tipped the waiters for getting me water and soda but it was easier just to get it myself so I stopped tipping after the first week. Another tip is to make sure you eat your food well done. The pork shoulder is cook well. But the little cuts of meat (steak) is not cooked well. They just brown the meat to meet the demand of people. Just ask the cook to cook it more well done and you won’t get sick. This is why I had to take Immodium AD because I ate a raw piece of steak.

A lot of people get sick because they drink too many of those frozen drinks. The frozen drinks are very sweet. Especially the coconut ones; these are pure laxatives! Hey if you drink in the sun and eat a lot you will get sick! I met a couple from PA and he was drinking lots of RUM. I said to him that you better slow down buddy you will get sick. He said nahh! I drink all the time and sure enough he was in his room the entire day – sick as a dog.

Lucy’s Club This club is for children 4-12? The club was small but they do have lots of games, movies and various indoor/outdoor activities. There is a staff of two. During the crowded point of my stay I saw about 12 children walking from one activity to another. There was one girl in the front and one in the back making sure everyone played follow the leader. The girls understand English quite well but speak a little English. They did a great job at the Mini Disco which is held nightly. It’s repetitive but that’s because they want the kids to follow them. They march, dance and do play skits. It’s really cute. My son loved the mini disco even though he was only 2. He danced around the stage by himself at times! and tuckered himself out that when we went back to the room he fell asleep really fast. THAT was wonderful! The girls work really hard because again this is not their end of the day. They start at 10am and work until 10 pm. That’s a long day. Make sure you tip them. One of the girls lived in Santo Domingo and goes home every 11 days!

I would recommend this resort for everyone. It’s a great chain. If you like to party, stay on the Domincana side. If you like peace and quiet, stay on the Punta Cana. Remember the Dominicana side has everything from the shows, casino, etc.

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July 2007
Dan & Family

Background about us: we are a traveling type of family from humid Houston, Texas and have been to numerous Caribbean resorts, this was our first time to the DR – Punta Cana. Please note that we are hardly picky and very easy to please and do not require much. We booked our trip through Carson Wagonlit Travel on Gessner/I-10, our agent was Bette P.–her service was excellent and I do highly recommend her —we missed our flight to the resort and wanted to stay an extra day due to the foul up–she even spoke to us via her home/cell phone and also contacted Go Go Travel and the resort to ensure all would be acceptable, which it was—-took a load off my shoulders.

Me–(36 yrs old) traveled to the Paradisus Punta Cana, along with my wife (31), monster-in-law (55), and my two (2) year old son. We stated there from July 8th through July 16, 2007.

We booked two rooms: Wife and I in Room 2011 which was an Oceanview Royal Service Jacuzzi Suite (OV) and the monster-in-law and my son were in Room 2198 which was a Family Concierge Suite (FCS–the FCS allows the adults to use the Royal Service facilities) . Although the rooms were no larger in size than the other rooms (from what I observed), we did have a great king size bed in the OV room and the balcony was a tad larger as it was an ocean view. Gratefully, as we had requested, there was a nice crib in the FCS awaiting my son.

Even though the Royal Service pool and beach are to be exclusive to adults and the guests in the royal service rooms, no employee nor guest complained that our 2 yr old accompanied us to both. Thank God! I also noticed that the royal service beach and pool were, in fact, exclusive to royal service/FCS guests. We did not try to bring my son into the Royal Service lounge, except for our check-in, but did bring him to our room for a few nights.

I cannot say enough about the royal service and the family concierge service—very speedy and extremely pleasant and helpful with room service, romantic bath setup, pillow menu (fun), and in the RS lounge there is great food, internet access and the Miami Herald for US news:

ROYAL SERVICE AND OV SUITE: Offers private check-in which you will be brought to the Royal Service private lounge upon your request and arrival at the resort—family concierge room has check-in at the family concierge lounge/clubhouse. You may also all check in at the front lobby. Superb service and food for room service, which came in handy when we didn’t want to dress up on the occasional humid night (we are from Houston Texas I even thought the steaks were pretty darn good. My son gobbled up the fries as if no different from McD’s back home—-and my God, one night we actually got a huge and delicious piece of chocolate cake that had cherry paste in between the layers—sinfully delectable. The room was very clean and room service did a nice job of daily cleaning—no complaints at all. We never saw a bug or any in either of our two rooms and the AC worked great–no odor in the room or even on the resort from bug spray or bug problems. My wife loved the Jacuzzi–and the RS butler did a fine, timely and accurate job in prepping the tub with flowers, bubbles, and candles so to have it ready upon our return from a one of the restaurants before she went to bed. I usually then went to the casino (more on that later). STOCKED fridge—no alcohol other than a bottle of local rum but as for soft drinks, juice and water then you name it and they have it in there–room service restocked very well and beers/booze were inserted upon my request and done very timely (within the hour). Bed, sheets and comforter were very plush and nice. The room’s furniture was very acceptable, not new but not worn either. The TV was quite large, and did have CNN and TBS. They also had Hispanic children’s cartoon programming which my son seem to intrigue him when we needed a 10-15 minute break from playing when in the room. The only thing I could even think of to complain about was the room towel situation—they only usually provide 2 smaller hand towels, but always brought 4 each day after our request on the 2nd day there—–so that was nice to see. There were always plenty of larger towels to bath/shower and plenty of towels to use as floor mats in the bathroom/sink areas. We had a safety box, make sure to not lose the key as they will charge ya $50 if you have to replace the lock—we did not lose our two locks or keys! One other small complaint was that I would have preferred a key instead of a door card, preferably a key attached to a wristband—but that is personal choice.

FAMILY CONCIERGE SUITE Room was similar to the RS OV suite, but had two queens and a crib at the foot of the bed nearest the wall—a perfect fit. The 2nd queen bed was used (at our request) as the storage area for my son’s toys/beach toys/floaties.etc. Room service did a GREAT JOB cleaning this room everyday—especially with the mess the two of them made. Every night, without request, the concierge service made sure room service delivered a cold milk box and about 5 small butter cookies for the kid—a nice touch. FYI– previous info I had read was correct in that the milk there is ultra-pasteurized–a tad more thick, sugary and will have bubbles/foam when poured–my son LOVED it–whew! We ran out of diapers on day 6 of 8, no problem–contacted the family concierge via the cell phone provided and she came and got a $20 note, sent a bellman to the stores off the resort and brought both the bought diapers, receipt and change back to me at the pool—–huge tip provided to her and the bell boy, but worth it! The FCS had great AC and the fridge was always stocked and refilled on time—–I do not know if the FC did the bath thing for my mother-in-law, but she noticed how well they cleaned the room and that she never had any towel issues. FCS also provided you with a HUGE list of fun itineraries for the family and/or the kids in your family—-arts/crafts/horseback riding/dance lessons/massage lessons—-we didn’t do many but it was nice to have them if we had gotten bored—the dance class we did do and afterward everyone in the class was provided a free 10 minute massage from one of the spa workers.

BEACH Due to the RS and FC status, not only did we have a quiet beach and a reserved pool area—-we were also provided with a good working local cell phone which allowed us direct communication with the concierges at all times —which worked very well for personally delivered lunches to the pool AND the beach. I recommend the pizzas, but minus the corn that apparently comes with pizzas down there. My son loved the banana milkshakes with chocolate syrup on the inside of the cups for a nice visual effect. FYI—on the menus the term salami means pepperoni down there –yummy!

The beach there is great and the sand is some of the nicest my feet have felt—as you notice the other resorts when you stroll either end of the beach, you made the right choice in going to the Paradisus. Our resort’s total beach was cleaned every morning, before sunrise. You will also notice how much more packed and crammed the other resorts and their beaches are. NOT ONCE did we have a problem getting a great spot, 3-4 beach beds together with end-tables and all under a glorious tree umbrella. We stayed usually in between the RS beach and the RS pool and RS pool bar. RS beach and pool area often has a person coming and going taking drink and food orders if ya need it, we really didn’t utilize that service but was nice when we did. Please remember to tip all people working there a few bucks, perhaps it makes them work harder for you the rest of your stay, they were all very professional and courteous to my family and I—in fact, I never heard a single complaint about the RS from anyone on the resort during our 8 day stay. The RS pool is much smaller than the resort’s main pool but there were much fewer people using it so it was fine–it also had built in beds in the pool (both covered and non-covered). The swim-up bar was also good there too.

CHILDREN”S ACTIVITIES The family concierge lounge is has AC and lots of games and books. There is also a big playground with plenty of slides and has sand. They also have a moonwalk type thing to bounce in but that was too hot this time of year. There is also a private baby pool but the main pool was very close and seemed to have more to offer in entertainment, perhaps it would be better for an infant.

MAIN POOL Awesome pool, quite large–plenty of places to relax in the pool and it even had a few raised ledges and raised islands for playtime with toddlers/infants—-my son loved laying and walking on the ledges and islands—-sometimes he would ask to “go deep” and let me carry him to the deeper areas of the pool—maybe 5 feet deep. One to two areas of the pool have zero depth so you can let the toddlers sort of walk into the pool and play in the very shallow areas too. Plenty of covered chairs/cots—never saw a sad face or heard a complaint from anyone. Swim-up bar was good and the they did activities right by the swim-up bar.

RESTARAUNTS The breakfast buffet was very good, omelets made while you wait–very good food, really!. We went to the French, Chinese, Japanese, steakhouse, and seafood restaurants and thought all were very acceptable.

GROUNDS The grounds are gorgeous—and very expansive. There is a tram that goes throughout the property taking guests from one area to another. Lots of ponds with fish and birds, surrounded by rock gardens which my son liked to pick up and throw in the ponds. There is an eco-walk and a small zoo that my son liked. There is also archery and rock-climbing and horseback riding.

SPA—full service, about $80 for an hour massage—I didn’t use the spa but my wife and mother-in-law liked their services.

BARS—–there is a fun pub near the main bar and lobby which gets going around 11 PM but most people go see the shows in the main lobby or the hibiscus lounge (near the restaraunts). Top shelf liquor and free cigarettes. Nice cigars available for $7 in the casino. Try the Paradisus or the Cascade drink. The beer they serve is a DR beer named El Presidente, it was very acceptable—did the job.

CASINO—-they have 3 card poker, Caribbean stud, two blackjack tables and a roulette table. Max bet on blackjack is $100 and you can double down for another $100. The minimum bet is $5—–but if you want to bet less, you can play in DR pesos. If you play with pesos, you can only cash out with pesos. FYI–the ATM machine there only spits out pesos but the casino will cash your AMEX traveler’s checks with no fee unlike the bank near the lobby which hits you with a small charge of 5% . The only problem I had with the casino is that the dealers were not that friendly – they warmed up after you had sat at a table for a few nights. The other problem I had was that the dealers do not check to see if they have a blackjack after the deal, which means if you have 11 and want to double down, you want to think again if the dealer is showing an ace. Even if you hit a 21 on your double down, you lose both the bet and the double down bet because the dealer’s blackjack beats your 3 cards.

GUESTS I would say that fewer than 20% of the guests were Americans with most being from Europe, the Caribbean or South America. The guests we met were very pleasant and nice, we exchanged numerous emails and numbers —hope to meet up with some of them again in my travels. I would say that this is a laid back resort, not the party animal sort of place but there are plenty of opportunities to drink and be merry at night.

Overall, I would give this resort a strong 4 stars—I leave the 5 star distinction for more upper-crust resorts which really do not cater to families with small children. I would definitely go back again if I ever go back to Punta Cana because I really enjoyed my stay there!!

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January 2006
Andy & Family (baby 23mos)

My wife and I (both 29) and our daughter (2 years less a week – i.e. she flew for free!) went to the Sirenis (pronounced See-ren-us) Tropical for a week from Jan 2-9, 2006. This was the first Caribbean all-inclusive trip for either of us. We flew out of Kitchener-Waterloo which was a very convenient, new service. Because we didn’t know much of what I’m about to tell you, our week got off to a bumpy start. However, by the end, we definitely didn’t want to come home. This review is extremely long (sorry!) but full of good tips, and I’ve tried to divide it into sections to help you find what might be most useful.

Resort Layout – great! The Sirenis Tropical and the Sirenis Cocotal are supposedly two separate resorts but they share everything without restrictions. There’s a long walkway that divides the two halves but everyone has access to everything at the amalgamated resort(s). Each resort is comprised of about 20 buildings that generally have about 12-20 rooms each (see more on rooms below). On the Tropical side, I would highly recommend building Q or S (fight for this with your rep or at reception!), which are very close to the pool and the beach. Of course, that means they are also furthest from the main buildings and buffets but, as discussed below, they serve lunch near the pool so it’s only twice a day you have to make the short hike up there.

It’s hard to describe everything, but at one end (the ‘bottom’) of the resort is the long, free-form pool and the beach/ocean. At the other (‘top’) end are the main buildings, which include reception, the buffet restaurants and some of the other resort amenities (e.g. casino, disco, a couple a la carte restaurants, etc.). The long walkway (about 150 metres/yards) connects the two areas and walkways to all the accommodation buildings run off the walkway.

The resort grounds are really well kept, with lots of nice landscaping (including flowers, palm trees everywhere) and people working on this constantly. As I’ll mention below, I ventured down to the much more pricey Secrets Excellence and, for resort amenities and aesthetic appeal, it’s not better in any way.

Pool – perfect! We found the pool to be perfect. It’s basically shaped like an hourglass. However, it’s nice because buildings (where they serve lunch and have a bar during the day) jut into the ‘waist’ of the hourglass (connected by a bridge that goes over the narrow part of the pool/river that connects the two ends) so you can’t really see the other side of the pool. At our side (Tropical), it was very quiet but on the other side (Cocotal), they were constantly running games and events – rather noisy but appealing to some, I imagine (and you can sit anywhere you want, of course). Both sides have a great swim up bar and easy access down to the beach.

There does seem to be a somewhat limited number of loungers by the pool (especially the kind with backs that go up and down). We were often out to put our towels on a pair of loungers as soon as we woke up (e.g. 7:30 am) and never had any trouble finding what we needed (we never tried to get beach loungers – being by pool was better – but it may have been more difficult there). You can then leave for several hours (e.g. to eat breakfast, sleep some more) and nobody will bother your towels – same for any bag you leave there, though I wouldn’t recommend leaving anything valuable in it.

Beach/Ocean – not bad The beach is fairly wide. The sand isn’t white (but who cares really) and in many spots contains a lot of tiny sticks/brush (not the kind that would hurt anyone, but somewhat uncomfortable for toddlers to walk on). However, those spots are easy enough to avoid. As for the ocean, it’s fairly rough (i.e. waves more than a foot tall if you were more than 10 metres off the beach) and very few people braved any of the watersports that were available. Once you get out about 5 metres, the water is pretty much over your head (no big deal, but just be aware). However, before you get to waist deep, pretty much everywhere that we went, you were walking on coral. Therefore, I’d recommend bringing/wearing sandals. However, if you go to the far, far left side of the beach (Tropical side), the sand in the water is much nicer and it’s quieter over there as well.

Other Stuff At The Resort – pretty good (see info on restaurants further below) There’s a casino with about 20 slot machines and 5 tables (2 blackjack, 2 for a type of poker, 1 roulette – usually $5 minimums). I played one night and met lots of interesting ‘blokes’ from England and France. As others say, drinks are free for gamblers at all times, including after midnight. Didn’t see the disco (opens around 10 pm) or the spa. Tennis courts looked good. Workout gym is adjacent to spa and definitely adequate (about 5 cardio pieces and 5 weight machines – nobody there ever). The so-called sports bar near the front of the resort has ping-pong and pool tables and an adjacent bar – not that great but adequate.

Along the front avenue into the resort are about 8 small shops (clothing, cigars, drug store, convenience store, etc.). However, they really didn’t offer much. The cigar store guy would bargain with you but the others had awful prices and not too much selection. This is unfortunate because there’s not really anywhere else to buy stuff nearby. Somebody mentioned a small plaza a 5-minute cab ride away but, when we went past it on our way back to the airport, it looked like it mostly just sold art and souvenir items (much like the beach vendors do). If you’re looking to buy rum, cigars, souvenirs, I would really recommend going to the ‘gift shop’ on the beach to the left of the resort (left if you’re looking at the ocean). The main guy over there is awesome – speaks tons of languages and easy to bargain with. I got a bottle of good local rum and 10 of the best cigars for $20 (beware that the rum bottle might break easily). They also do massages and braiding over there for about half the price you’ll pay at the resort. As well, you can buy duty free at the Punta Cana airport (e.g. $9 U.S. for a 1 litre Bacardi light!! – much cheaper than on the plane even).

Room Layout – awesome! One main difference between the Tropical and the Cocotal is the room layout. At the Tropical (where we stayed), the space is divided into three rooms. The relatively large bathroom has a toilet, sink and tub, all made of a pretty nice marble-like material. Beside the bathroom is a sitting room (about 12’ x 12’) with a futon-type couch, two small tables, a window, and a desk. The third room (about 12’x 20’ contains two double beds, two night tables, two large closets, and a small desk/dresser – not too many drawers). Both the bedroom and the sitting room have doors that open on to a decent-sized patio that has two plastic chairs and a table. All in all, we were thrilled with the room. We found the separate bedroom/sitting room layout (didn’t see this advertised anywhere else) is especially good for families with younger kids (or for dads or moms who like to come home later and don’t want to wake everyone up on the way in!). One other difference is that the Cocotal is three levels per building whereas most of the Tropical is only two levels each. There’s no iron in the room (or available anywhere) but nobody cares how pressed your clothes are (even less than I thought they would).

Restaurants – not bad, but not great In my wife and my opinions, the buffet food was edible but not great. We actually didn’t really gain any weight, which should be unheard of for an all-inclusive vacation! The breakfast was pretty good if you liked omelettes and the dinner buffet always had a pasta bar and a carved meat that wasn’t bad. But the rest of it was just okay, especially if you’re expecting American/Canadian cuisine (not sure if this is more widely available at other resorts or not?). However, more than a couple people we talked to said the food is far worse in Cuba, unless you’re at the best of the best resorts. And related to that, the food at the Secrets down the beach was fabulous the one time I was fortunate enough to sample it. Anyway, this was one of the biggest disappointments for us, at least for the first few days until we managed to get into the a la carte restaurants for several of our last nights’ dinners (see below).

As for the a la carte restaurants, there were many and we managed to eat at the Italian once, Mexican once, and the Steakhouse twice. All had great food (but beware the rubber cheesecake at the steakhouse) and the service was a very welcome change from the do-it-yourself, sometimes-large line-up buffet. However, as others have written, it is often a very difficult to book into the a la carte restaurants, and usually involves an hour line-up. As well, at least during the xmas break week we were there, there seemed to be no guarantee you would even get into a single one! (preferred booking times were even supposed to be part of the Signature Club package, but that didn’t seem to be the case at all). However, after having little luck (only one 8:30 reservation), I complained to our Signature rep and she got us. We then made friends with Jimmy, one of the head restaurant guys (find him!!! :), and he hooked us up with an extra night in the steakhouse and better times for us for our other reservations. We were sure to thank him with a few dollars and one of the baseballs we had brought to give out to extra special staff. If I can make any suggestion to try to ease the pain of the a la carte process, I would definitely try to get some sort of a guarantee out of your tour company before you go, because it’s tough to work these things out once you’re already there.

Another concern for us was that the a la carte restaurants didn’t open until 6:30 (if you could get that as your reservation time) and the buffets not until 7:00. For people with kids or toddlers (including ours who is in bed by 7:30), this was very inconvenient, especially when they don’t have any sort of takeaway container available.

At the bars, they only have one kind of beer (Presidente) but it’s a good lager/pilsner (especially when it’s free and free-flowing at almost all hours of the day). I’d also recommend the Sirenus Especiale (like a frozen creamsicle) or Banamama (just like the strawberry-banana smoothies I make at home, but with booze in them!). Beware the pina colada because it’s supposedly a natural laxative (and you’re unlikely to need any help in that department!). And if you want alcohol in any drink, you have to ask for it (e.g. “Banamama with run, por favor”).

Other tips:

  • get the safe for your peace of mind (safe is located in closet)
  • One other suggestion is to move the TV from the bedroom to the sitting room if you want (maybe especially if you have kids and you want to watch TV at night).
  • when checking in (it will be pandemonium), get all of the following to save you trips back to the desk later: TV remote control, safe key ($2/day)
  • when checking out, you have to return all of the above items, along with your towel cards so be sure to get these by taking your towels back to the towel hut before it closes (5 pm) on the day of/before your departure (opens at 9 am)
  • air conditioner only runs when room key is in the slot by the door, so leave it there when you go out (we got an extra card at reception no problem)
  • some airlines have strict luggage limits (both dimensions and weight) for both checked and carry-on bags (equivalent to only about one large bag each for the checked bags). Our airline (through Signature) was Skyservice and we almost got charged an extra $7 for each of the 5 kilograms we were over the total bag weight limit for our carry-ons. However, they asked if some of it was food (and it was), and they strangely let us go because of that reason (?).
  • we had no issue with diarrhea or mosquitoes. Watch out though because they tear through the resort on trucks around 6 pm every evening spraying some gas that a farmer said was used to get rid of bugs on crops. It supposedly won’t kill you unless you’re directly in its path, but this is a definitely possibility given how reckless they are.
  • at the Punta Cana airport, food is somewhat reasonably priced (e.g. $4 for pizza slice). Terminal two (look for it) is air conditioned and has a great kids park connected to it.
  • The bus ride to the resort from the airport wasn’t really all that bumpy, but still try to sit close to the front of the bus if possible. On the way to the resort, the bus’ washroom was very dirty and had no toilet paper or paper towels. On the way back, it was locked and nobody (driver, tour rep) had a key! A family sitting about 2/3 of the way back had both of their kids get sick in the aisle as a result. I’d expect better from a Signature affiliate but we managed to survive the one hour trip each way.
  • Similarly, don’t expect too much out of your tour company reps. The Signature ladies were very nice but didn’t seem to have too much influence over the hotel (and I feel that way even in spite of what one managed to do for us with the a la carte restaurants, as described above). They mostly seem to be there to sell excursions and keep everyone organized. As well, we picked this hotel because it was a Signature Club resort, but most of those benefits didn’t really pan out.

Finally, here’s a list of some things you may wish to bring with you that you may not have thought of:

  • ‘umbrella’ stroller if you have an infant or toddler – can be very handy at the airport and around the large resort (at the airport, don’t check it with your baggage because you can keep until you get to the stairs to the plane)
  • (alarm) clock – no clock of any kind in the room
  • cable cord – as mentioned, we moved our TV from the bedroom to the
  • short extension cord – could be handy? (see next point)
  • electrical converter – they don’t mention that this is needed in the brochures and it isn’t necessarily. However, out of the three electrical devices (e.g. shaver, hair dryer, camera battery charger) and two extension cords we brought, none of them would fit into any of the outlets. Some other people from Canada said some of their appliances’ plugs would fit, but others would not. If you look at the ‘tongs’ on the cords of certain devices (at least those in Canada; maybe elsewhere), some will have one tong that is wider than the other. These won’t fit! After buying a $3 converter from the resort store which also wouldn’t fit our cords, we borrowed a cheap converter from another Canadian family that did the trick (thanks you kind folks from Hamilton!).
  • slippers – floor is tile throughout all the rooms and kind of hard and cold
  • water, beach toys – hard to pack, but very expensive and limited selection there (i.e. $14 U.S. for a small bucket & shovel)
  • chocolate, other favorite snacks – in short supply and expensive (e.g. $4 for a tiny can of Pringles)
  • same for sunscreen, medications, etc. (as a general rule, don’t plan to buy anything there unless you want to pay through the nose for it)
  • insulated mug with lid – you’ll read that others recommend this for bar drinks, but it’s also good idea for your morning coffee because the only ‘takeaway’ cups they have at the bars or buffet are tiny plastic ones
  • items to tip maid or others with – e.g. lipsticks, items from your country, etc. – and bring lots of $1 bills for this purpose as well

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July 2006
Suzanne & Family (baby 7mos)

Because of all the helpful reviews we read… is ours.

We travelled to Sunscape the Beach from July 16-July 23. For your information, we utilized a travel agency (Bentley Travel Services) and our trip was booked through Apple Vacations. We had 23 people, ranging from 78 to 7 months, all family. And we have gone all inclusive before, including Mexico, Jamaica (3x), Bahamas, and Santa Domingo.

A few highlights…

  1. The flight on USA3000 was great, both ways. A nice little meal, a movie and drinks. Thanks so much to Bentley Travel for the assigned seating together on the way down. They were a very friendly airline.
  2. The Punta Cana Airport process was very simple and quick. We must have been one of the first planes landing that morning so that really helped. And we were whisked away for our PRIVATE bus to take us to the resort. Right past a bunch of other St. Louis people. Again, thanks to Bentley Travel. It was really nice and appreciated. Same with the private bus leaving. We were just able to get on the bus and go. The bus ride was no big deal. And for the people that complained about seeing poverty front and center, then don’t travel. We looked at is as an opportunity to teach our children that not every culture is the same, not every family has a solid roof over their head, and not every kid has a Gameboy in their pocket.
  3. I think the family as a whole gave the hotel 9.5 out of 10. Very pretty, very spread out, very accommodating. I know I personally didn’t encounter any employees that were not smiling, or asking what they could do to help. Everyone worked very hard. And the Explorer’s Kids Club was outstanding. Very well appointed and the kids loved it. My son wanted to go every day. And they would take the kids for meals – lunch and dinner – if you wanted. Another couple in our group used it a couple of times as well and hired one of the girls to watch their infant for dinner one night. Very trustworthy.
  4. Although no reservations, we just went to the restaurant we wanted each night when they opened. Told them how many, and never had to wait long. I think the majority of people at the resort wanted to eat later so it was not problem getting in early. We tried every restaurant once, and thought they were all great. Not outstanding or gourmet by any means, but pretty darn good, considering you are in the middle of nowhere in the DM. Service was also very good. We tipped pretty regularly. But we never felt like we had to. Just because we wanted to. Probably spent between the two of us $200.
  5. Everyone was very happy with the room accommodations. If the rooms were not ready when we arrived they were within 30 minutes. Nice views of the pools and partials of the ocean. Our adjoining room had a king bed and two doubles, just as requested. Our maid service was consistently good. Our mini bar was always filled, and we had turndown service every night, with little chocolates. I would think the only negative we had was with one required “handicapped” accessible room. Perfect as far as the accessibility goes, but when it rained on Wednesday it flooded from the hall door all the way to the patio doors. Luckily no one slipped but the water did come close to the plugged in charger for her bravo cart, and that could have been dangerous. They mentioned it to the hotel, but good to know. I don’t know how full the resort was, but it never seemed crowded. Again, very nice. The hotel is very spread out, so there is a ton of walking to get anywhere. Again, not a problem, but good to know up front.
  6. We did horseback riding and ATVs off the resort grounds. Lots of fun and highly recommended. The cowboys (Ricardo’s crew) made an extra effort to get us back to the resort on time for our dinner plans after the horseback riding. Totally went above and beyond. I would definitely recommending using them for your outings. You will see them within the grounds promoting their rides. They go along a beautiful stretch of the beach.
  7. We walked up to the huts to the north of the resort. Bargained with the vendors and I think everyone was happy with their purchases. Sure they are pushy, but you just need to move on. Just like any other shopping in any other Caribbean destination. Again, brought the kids (teachable moment) and were able to hand out a few things we brought from the dollar store at home. Tooth brushes, school supplies, glow sticks, etc. Things that may not be available around Punta Cana. The place is very isolated.

I would highly recommend the resort.

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September 2006
Lucy & family (baby 11mos.)

We thought it was great!!!

Just wanted to jot down that we had a small “scare”… 10 days before we left, we found out that there is a malaria warning in Punta Cana. Since my daughter was only 11 months old, I was quite alarmed, so I called my pediatrician. They recommended we put her on preventative medication which we did do. In hindsight, I wouldn’t worry too much about it, as I didn’t see one mosquito during the 7 days we were there. However, I also did not take my daughter off the resort at all, and wouldn’t have as some people in my group did get mosquito bites during their horseback riding excursion. That said, here is my review on STB.

I had heard some complaints about the bus ride in, but it was no more bumpy then any bus I have ridden here in Jersey! The bus was air-conditioned and very comfortable in my opinion. We arrived and received the wet towels, cookies, and fruit drinks as mentioned – this was a very nice touch. Check in was a little hectic, I traveled with 18 family members, and there was much confusion since the majority of us all had the same last name. My sister in law took control as she speaks more Spanish then I do, and after all the confusion was sorted out, my husband & I were upgraded to a honeymoon suite w/Jacuzzi free of charge! The room was beautiful, and my daughter (who was still crawling) had lots of room to roam. All is well that ends well!

As far as the food, I thought everything was wonderful. As a rule we ate at the World Cafe because dinner at the specialty restaurants at least for us was a 2 hour plus experience. Normally this would not be a problem at all, however my daughter got very cranky after about an hour each night, so the buffet was just much easier for her. We did go to El Patio & Oceana. I ordered the chicken at Oceana and it was decent – not the best or worst I have had. I ordered Enchiladas at El Patio and they were WONDERFUL, I also highly recommend the Chocolate sticks for dessert!

The grounds were absolutely beautiful. It felt like Paradise on earth everyday. The beach was beautiful as well, but with my daughter, I preferred the pool. The pool was great. Also just a heads up to any Mom’s out there worried about your baby being in constant sun. We went to the same spot everyday. There is a bridge to building 5, right next to this bridge is a big tree. There is shade on the lounges all day there, as well as shade in the pool. Since the resort was nowhere near capacity, I was able to take 2 of the chase lounges that were on a ledge in the pool, and create a little “kiddy pool” for my daughter, which she really enjoyed.

I didn’t catch any of the shows, so I can’t give an opinion on that aspect. Every member of the staff we came across greeted us with a smile, and Hola, and they ALL made a fuss over my daughter, which was so great. They all worked so hard, we did tip quite often, but NEVER to get service, always for the excellent service we received.

The only real complaint I had was that when we first got there, none of the bars were stocked with basic liquors. This was very disappointing. My husband ordered a rum and coke, and was told to come back in an hour. After that, he had a 10 minute wait as each time he ordered the bartender would go in the back, and come out with only a shot of rum. We asked them why they couldn’t just bring the rum out so it was readily available, and we were told that management decided to hold back on the alcohol since it was a slow week. It was frustrating for all the guests there, as well as the bartenders. They were as upset about this as we were. After a few days of complaints from the guests, this “hold” seemed to be lifted, and not only was there any kind of liquor you wanted, they had top shelf!!!

In summary, my entire family had a great time. I would go back in a second. I highly recommend this resort to anyone, but most especially to families.

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