Hello la touristas. My husbad and I booked a week-long vacation to this resort through Cheap Caribbean at the Extravaganza price (= crazy cheap), so of course that plus the negative reviews made us a little anxious about the trip. BUT - we Loved this vacation. We went with another couple and met lots of great people while we were down there. Instead of staying at what felt like a nice hotel with multiple restaurants and some nightly entertainment, which is what we had in Cancun, we really enjoyed being on such a sprawling estate and having both Lifestyles and Cofresi resort pools and restaurants at our disposal. It made the difference between wanting to get out of there every day (Cancun) and wanting to stay every day (D.R.) Another thing that made the difference for me was the VIP Beach at Lifestyles - they had delicious blended frozen drinks, a great snack menu (11-5) and the shady beds and cool pools. That place spoiled me and I loved it. Also loved the mamosas every morning. :)
Room / Service: We were in Building 6, lower level. No complaints with our room. Actually,
I'm not the kind of person to spend really ANY time in my room, so I don't need anything super chic there. We didn't even turn the TV on except to watch the morning news for less than an hour. We tipped our maid every day, a couple times in person, and always had a neat bed and clean towels. We changed reservations and had late eating times, but got the restaurants and nights we wanted with a group of 4 instead of 2. Worked out okay. We thought the Dominican Restaurant was Way Too Hot when we ate - all of us were uncomfortable with the temp. Always try to sit on the very outside edge of the restaurants, closest to the ocean and the open air! We should ave said No when they led us inside and to the middle of the restaurant - ugh!
Other Food thoughts: We only ate breakfast at the Casablanca buffet at the Lifestyles Resort, which made fresh omlets and smoothies every morning with whatever you requested. Best snacks were on the VIP Beach. Best lunches were at the Cofresi buffet (cooked right in front of you and not brought out in pans and kept warm.) BEST DINNER was the buffet with swordfish and fillet mignon at the Welcome Party. Everyone traveling here should make sure to stay over on a Sunday night. This event was highly entertaining - we will never forget it.
TIP: If you have a chance to shop somewhere local before you get to the resort, buy your bag of Doritoes or whatever you need there and not in the Gift Shop. We paid $14 for Tostitos and a small jar of queso! Yikes!
Other Shopping thoughts: They have several small shops along the beach and set up vendors on the resort a few nights / week. I bought from both, haggled prices with both, and liked what I brought home.
All the hoopla about Buying In: We seemed to pick the perfect time for our VIP sell. We took a beautiful golf-cart ride through the resort and were perfectly honest about not wanting to buy in, and at the end of the tour we were let off at the VIP beach wit no guilt or hassle. I know some other couples had more challenging / exhausting stories to tell about their experiences, but we were happy with ours. And the free gift was the Dominican Roots & rum for some Mamajuana shots, which we would have wanted to buy as a gift for someone anyways... Not bad for us.
Excursions: The Olympus Tours sold at the lobby are pricey - but tempting. I'd suggest, if possible, join in with some other people on the resort for a Taxi and go by yourselves. (Our Taxi for 6 was a minivan - comfortable and clean. We should have rented a car though - that is a super cheap option but of course they drive like crazy down there!)
27 Waterfalls Tip: Take a Taxi from the resort to the Waterfalls, and do all 27 if you're up for a climb and some crazy terrifying jumps and the most beautiful ravines, clear water, fun slides - most amazing excursion ever. Our Taxi ($80 without tip) was split between 3 couples, we paid I think $20 per couple for the waterfalls, then tipped our taxi and two guides at the end... Much better than the groups of 30-40 that left from the resort at triple the price. Also, the Taxi stayed at the Waterfalls and the driver kept any belongings we didn't want to take in the van. We didn't pay him until we made it back to the resort. It was all pretty reasonable and super easy.
Snorkeling at Sosua Beach: We booked a cheap excursion from Manny, the local guy on the beach. Worth the drive to see and feel this beach - so much more clarity and life in that part of the ocean than in front of the resort. Our negative from this experience was Too Many People on the Bus. We wished it was more like the free snorkeling at the resort, with no one kicking right at us, but the beatiful fish and coral at Sosua Beach were worth it.
Like I said, this has really opened my eyes to what I'm looking for when I book my next vacation, and it's not the most elaborate suite to stay in, it's the most elaborate resort to explore. Loved it.
Building 6 was the newest, was quiet, had a great maid, and we loved our room on the bottom level...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC