Stuff I wanted to know and searched around for ahead of time, some of which was on trip advisor. Email me with questions. Then I'll give a short review.
Disappointments: So few I'll mention first. Towel Game (covered under pools), Reservations are a bit of pain, I prefer to be able to show up and get a seat. The boards in front of the boat are buckling, some severely, this has evidently been an issue and a hazard for a while and needs to be fixed soon. They do have conventions there which I was a little surprised at a luxury resort since it can change the atmosphere of the resort from super relaxing to a little more party/loud, but still good, I felt that they did tend to cater to larger party more on the days they were there.
-Decent size room safe, held all of our stuff including a 15 inch screen laptop (with a bit of room to spare). I didn't have a measuring tape but it might hold a larger one.
-Electrical will support north american plugs, you should be fine, we had no problems.
-Wifi in the room and around the resort, we had a router in our room with 4 ports in back so you could plug-in as well, but not every room has that so you might want to request, I think they use them as repeaters but not in every room.
-I specifically asked for a inner view room on an upper floor and they delivered perfectly. The outter views look at resorts/buildings, while inner views look at the manicured pool and lagoon area, with views of ocean better the closer you are to the beach. The resort is shaped like a "U" and their are only 12 ocean front rooms. Some people I spoke said they would have preferred an inner view, others couldn't care as they weren't ever in their rooms. We like to chill on the balcony at times and liked the garden/pool/ocean view. If you want a swim-up you need to request it, as it is on bottom floor outerview only, it might be more.
-Yes the do have free suntan lotion at the towel shack and many people took advantage of it, but they have limited spfs.
-Pool Area- Towel game can be an issue.(I will discuss more later)
-Bars: Pool, Lobby, Cigar, Theatre, Buffet by pool area and bar in the ship.
-The work out area is decent, 3 of each (eliptical, treadmills, bikes), full sets of dumbells 5 to 50lbs, curl bars 10-110lbs and approx. 11 lifestyle (plateweight) stations.
-Free Room service not a huge selection but 24 hr, refills on mini-fridge,whatever you want daily.
-Back room behind lobby, access to computer to print boarding pass, no problems.
-Tipping-Some do, some don't, I researched avg pay and domincan lifestyle (make $75-$200 a month) depending and decided to bring a couple hundred in ones. $1+ means a lot to them. You will get better service if you tip, no doubt, but the service you receive w/o is still top notch.
Toiletries-they have shampoo, conditioner, lotion,soap, bodywash in dispenser and you can get shaving kit, dental kit, probably other stuff. But if you have a preference bring it.
Reservations: Try to email in advance to get some set up, otherwise go right down to the conceirge desk to make for 4 restaurants and get your tickets 1st day you are there, otherwise you could be out of luck.If not show up anyway and see if the have cancellations,which happens. Airport-$10 tourist card fee, I read there was a $20 departure tax, but we didn't get charged, evidently some airlines charge upfront others don't, search the forums, for more info. Don't be surprised if a local tries to take your bags for you, they live on the tips. You disembark on the runway and a shuttle bus picks you up, but you probably could walk while waiting. There is a skinny line to far right for people who already have tourist card, don't get in it. There are 2 lines for the rest of us, usually one is shorter than the others, get in that one, pay for your cards and the go through customs. If you can try to arrange a transfer shuttle don't use a private taxi, safety in numbers. You'll be greeted at hotel with a cool towel, choice of pina coloda or champagne.
D.R. Peso to u.s. dollar-39/1
STAFF AND SERVICE: Its like a cast of 1000's. Cleaning, maintaining, entertaining, serving, they are everywhere and and seem genuinely happy. I can't say enough about them, many reviews go into that, but everybody was great. It does help to speak a little spanish but you can get by without. Shout out to Boom-Boom and Justo.
FOOD: You have the a la carte 4 main resturants (http://www.thegrandcollection.com/) the main buffet( breakfast/dinner) and the pool side/ocean view buffet for lunch and snacks only. The restaurants are all decent, were not talking 5 star maybe 3 1/2-4at best, but even so I don't know how you go away disappointed., if you want variety though go to the buffet. Everynight is rotating menu (American, Mexican, Oriental, Dominican,Italian etc) The lunch, breakfast and dinnner has a huge variety, I made a point to try everything I did not recognize and then also ate my favorites. They have different request stations some are regulars some vary on the night for crepes, omelets, ribeyes, tacos, pasta, desserts etc. Fresh international cold cuts, cheese, (some pricey stuff as well) fruits, all the meats are covered at some point, lamb,veal, duck, sushi, carribean lobsters(not as good as Maine) shrimps, so much more. We missed Domincan night(wed.) which I regret. The hamburgers were awesome, better than most gourmet burger chains in U.S.
POOL/BEACH: Beach is right next to the pool, decent amount of thatched huts and chairs, tables, short walk to water clear blue warm wonderful water. It is in a resort area so you do have people walking down the beach, but we weren't bother once, plus they do have security so that was an added relief. They also have a massage area on the beach with plenty of drink service. The pool area is beautifully landscaped so you don't feel overcrowded. 2 pools plus activity pool, not huge but big enough. 1 closest to ocean has infinity, but can't see over sand hump from beach area. 2 large jacuzzis not hot all. 1 pool bar (in and out). About 50 covered mattress (cabana areas) fake wicker, same w/lounge chairs, little tables, some ashtrays, and some pillows. The down side is everyone wants a cabana and when the resort is near max (272 rooms) it means people showing up at 6:30 a.m. to reserve one by 7:30 they are gone, there still is chairs the sad part is many people don't show up all day long. Pool is open 7 to 7.
BARS: 6 as noted above. There is top shelf liquor but you have to ask for it, also I found the drinks are made better at the lobby bar, got some drinks there during the day even though I had to hoof it. They have some international beers along with local stuff, there is plenty to drink. My wife wasn't in love with most of the house wines in the restaurants, some seemed better than others, she did like the small bottles we got in our room though.
ROOMS: Huge King Size bed, booked through expedia, I'm not sure if they are all like that, make sure to get one, as very comfortable, they do have a pillow menu, didn't use. Large Balcony with Couch, table/chairs, Wet stuff rack, Fan. Bathroom Tile/Marble, double vanity sink , jacuzzi tub with view over balcony to whatever view you have from room with auto blinds, Large rainfall shower head, Frameless glass, toilet right next door to shower also with glass door, couldn't figure that one out, pardon me while I sit down as your in the shower wglass partition. Lounging sofa, table, chairs, wall mounted 40 inch flat screen, (3-5 English channels, Yike!), strange towel creatures show-up if you leave a small tip, min-fridge with snacks, stocked with what you want. You can adjust A/C on the wall, but if main door or sliding glass is open it won't run. Make sure you dry your feet well, as tiles get slippery in room. Ipod dock alarm clock.
ACTIVITIES: Honestly we didn't take part in many activities as we were just chilling out. But they have things going on all day long if you want. The night is a little slow, they have music on the boat a couple days a week and shows in the theatre. The theatre is actually pretty nice with drink service, we only watched one show, is was above average for this type of venue. They have nice tennis courts, soccer field, and the golf course is nice from what I hear, 2 free rounds for a 7 night stay, bring your own clubs or pay to rent.
OTHER STUFF: The grounds are beautiful as people mentioned, they are constantly maintained. We got a kick out of the flamingos and assorted birds, turtles, lizards, etc.. The guy trimming the coconut tree will hook you up with a fresh coconut, yummy, They lobby area and seating is pretty cool, they have a open air fountain right in the middle of the main entrance way. Decent seating while you are waiting to leave. Prices in the gift shop aren't bad compared to some places I've been. The have billards room, internet area if you don't have a wi-fi device, some various shops.
OVERALL: They recent updated their website now to focus on the grand collection of resorts and it provides better info then when I booked. The are billing these hotels as super luxury which is stretch but they are definitely luxury compared to a lot of other places. There are so many nice touches all over the resort that puts this place into a different level. The service levels set it apart as well as the beauty, layout and spacing which makes it a very relaxing place to be for a week. The food is the best we have had at an all exclusive. As a reference mentally I compared this place to Sandals Whitehouse, this place beats it in almost every area(barely), except for the 2 mile beach there and the fact it is remote. Definitely will go back at some point.
Get an inner room view if you don't want to look at the resorts or buildings next door.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC