My wife and I stayed here from 12/18-12/23/2011. This will be a long review with both pros and cons.
1. We had read several reviews about the long and harrowing ride from the airport. We were taken by Coco Tours on a prepaid roundtrip. They were very pleasant and efficient. We were driven in a late model Hyundai H1 air conditioned minivan on well paved roads. The drive takes 45 minutes to 1 hour. The "worst" part is the last 10 minutes and is no worse than many county roads in the midwest and MUCH better than roads I've driven in the islands.
2. The staff at the front desk speaks quite good english and are friendly, helpful and professional.
3. The entire staff from cleaning crew, bartenders, wait staff were as friendly, helpful and pleasant as at any hotel, restaurant, resort that we have experienced. We have been fortunate enough to have stayed at many excellent hotels and resorts in the U.S. and elsewhere so have a broad experience on which to draw.
4.We had booked a premium jr suite and were upgraded to a luxury jr suite. It was absolutely first class. We had a plunge pool, nice private patio and were right on the beach. The room was elegant, scrupulously clean and maintained during our stay. The only insects we saw were 2 wasps trying to build a nest under the faucet handle for the outdoor patio shower which I promptly dispatched to wasp heaven with the can of RAID supplied in the closet. You are provided with slippers, robe which were clean and fresh. Bath towels were resupplied as much as needed daily. The water is hot and plentiful.
5.There is a nice private beach which the crew cleans every morning
6.There is a large pool which was very clean.
7.You never have to fight for lounging chairs at the pool or the beach at this resort.
8. There is subtle backround music in the bars and restaurants( so the blaring music that we have found elsewhere is absent)
9. We toured the spa but did not use the facility. It looked clean and well maintained.
10.A breakfast tray including fresh juice, excellent strong coffee and fresh rolls is placed outside the room every morning.
11. An excellent breakfast selection is available at LaVeranda each morning.
12. We opted for the inclusive meal plan. This adds $150/day/person to the bill. Because we don't eat enormous amounts of food or consume enormous amounts of alcohol, it may have been an aditional $20-30/day of additional expense. Food in the carribean is expensive. Alcohol is expensive. Much of the needed ingredients are shipped in. Corruption is rampant and all this adds to the bottom line. you are eating with silverware, on china and linen table cloths. This is expensive to maintain.
13. The grounds are naturalized and beautifully maintained
14. We ate dinner at Tau twice, Gourmand once and LaVeranda once. The appetizers at all 3 range from very good to spectacular. The caprese salad at Gourmand is really amazing.
The desserts are uniformly outstanding in originality and presentation. The main courses are good, but are the weakest part of the menu at all the venues. The tastes are good, the amount is too much for us and the presentation needs work to meet the 4-5 star standard to which they aspire.
15.There were many shrimp entrees on the menu, but no shrimp available during our entire stay.
16.Service is generally relaxed(slow). Dinner will take 2-2.5 hrs. There is nothing else to do here anyway.
17. I am a fair weather cigar smoker and brought my own supply. The bars have a nice selection of excellent cigars. I did not check the prices. The weirdest thing that I found was that at a 5 star resort in the Dominican Republic (1 of the cigar capitals of the world) there were no matches or lighters to be had for purchase or to be borrowed from the staff.
18. If you opt for the inclusive food plan and you like wine, your selections will be extremely limited. No french, american, australian wines are on the list. The only italian wine included is Riunite lambrusco. You will be limited to 1 argentinian white, 5 or 6 argentinian, chilean or spanish reds and 1 argentinian cava. These are drinkable but low level table wines. A number of other wines are available for a significant mark up.
19. Alcohol was included in our plan and the drink menu includes several cognacs(disappeared after I had 1 the first night. Several Dominican rums, Presidente beer is available. Unlike other high end all-inclusives we have been to, no alcohol is on display, so the availability is (I believe) subjective.
20. The temperature was a comfortable 82 F daily with occasional showers. But the wind was constant and horrendous (25-30mph all day and all night for 5 days.) I know that you can't control the weather, but if this is characteristic of the area this time of year you may want reconsider your choice. This rendered the beach unuseable and even made the pool area uncomfortable.
21. This is a very small and quiet place (55 rooms) only 30-40% full during our stay. There is no entertainment, casino, etc. If you need activity or entertainment, go elsewhere. If you desire a place to decompress and relax consider Sivory
we stayed in room 51...excellent choice
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC