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Reviewed 6 March 2016

Could Easily Be a Four Star But Didn’t Quite Make It…

The property is rated at 3 to 3.5 stars and that’s about right. It could easily be 4 stars. There are a LOT of things to like about this resort and some things that are not to like. Interestingly, most of those would be super easy to fix. Over-all, we were pretty happy and think we got great value for our money. With a little tweaking, it could be a whole lot better.

First, the bad. After that it gets good ….

They seemed to have supply issues. These may be isolated incidents, but they did happen while we were there. For example, one afternoon, they ran out of beer, rum and vodka (resort wide, all bars). This was for several hours. I felt sorry for the bar tenders because they were taking the heat and it wasn’t their fault. They also ran out of beer on three other occasions during the two weeks we were there, although I’ll admit that those incidents were for a short period.

Service issues were also apparent. At the buffet, I don’t expect a whole lot of service. It’s a buffet; pretty much a do-it-yourself operation. You get your own food. But, what I do expect is to have my table properly bused with a knife, fork, spoon, water glass, and a napkin. What happens seems to depend on the server you get. Some were really good, others weren’t. Sometimes the table was bused, sometimes not. Once seated, we usually waited for a few minutes. If the table got bused within that time, then we were away. Otherwise we did it ourselves. Sometimes you had to fetch a knife, fork or glass yourself. No big deal! Other times someone was right there, bused the table, filled your water glass, and asked if you wanted coffee, beer or wine. Some remembered your likes and dislikes and were right there without being asked. Guess who got the tips ….

Fortunately the positives far out-weighed the negatives and we had a great vacation. That leads to the question “Would we return?” The answer to that is YES.

The property is not exceptionally large, but it is very pretty and natural. It’s a pretty quiet resort. There are lots of trees, grass and shrubs and it’s very scenic. The groundskeepers do a good job of keeping it nicely maintained. There are only about 400 rooms. It seemed to be pretty easy to meet, socialize and make friends here. Then you meet their friends and so on and so on and before you know it you’re almost never without someone to chat with over a drink or three. Very nice.

We requested and paid for a deluxe oceanview room. We think it was worth the slight additional cost. The room we got seemed recently renovated and in pretty good repair aside from some very minor issues which I didn’t bother reporting until we left. It had two double beds (weird dimensions 54 inches wide x 85 inches long), one bedside table between them, a set of drawers, closet, safe ($15US per week), flat screen TV (the remote was already in the room), refrigerator and a pretty nice bathroom with the usual amenities. It should be noted that they ask you not to put toilet paper down the toilet but in the waste receptacle instead. Dominican plumbing is somewhat on the anemic side. This is a minor inconvenience compared to an overflowing toilet. Some people didn’t heed the sign and paid the price. There were washcloths when we arrived but they weren’t always replaced, so we hid the ones we had. There was good water pressure and we always had hot water when we wanted it. The patio outside the room had a tremendous view. My wife thinks this one is the best rooms we’ve had in the last 10 trips.

I don’t think I had any magnets in my pocket, but we lost the programming on the room key a ‘few’ times and had to make trips to reception to get them reprogrammed. Reception was always courteous and friendly.

It should be noted that the dim room lighting is as reported in previous reviews. The bedside light is not only dim, but located such that even with a bright bulb, reading in bed would be difficult.

We were offered the VIP/Select package. I feel the deluxe oceanview was worth the extra cost, but not so the VIP package. We did see a few that went for it.

The food was far better than we expected. No complaints here. It was plain but there was plenty of variety and they had a different theme each night (Mexican, American, International, Seafood, Dominican, BBQ, Italian, France, Asian, Chef’s for example). Each night there was an excellent carving station. We got served baked chicken, some very nice roast beef (surprise, it was even tender), carved whole turkey, roast piglet, several varieties of fish, BBQ chicken. There were also a lot of interesting offerings in the chafing dishes as well. Sauces, where present, tasted like a light citrus base with a hint of cinnamon. I liked it. The vegetables were consistently served slightly al dente and had a nice firm texture. Sure, sometimes they were slightly on the cool side but I’d rather have that than hot, overcooked and mushy. The breads and buns were excellent, as were the sweet rolls. Each night there was a good selection of salad. None had any dressing on them so you could pick your own dressings and amounts from a selection of three or four types. The lettuce was consistently crisp, but a few times some of it was frozen to the bottom of the chafing dish. There was a good selection of desserts and several nights they served ice cream. And it was good ice cream.

There was pretty good variety in the buffet at lunch as well. The beach club was rather limited in choices but acceptable. It was pretty well sandwiches, burgers, fries, and something on the grill. We ate most of our lunches in the buffet because there was a much better selection.

Breakfast had a pretty good selection that didn’t vary much from day to day. But bacon was a rare event. We got bacon once in the two week period. The omelette station was a pretty busy place. You could pick from ham, cheese, onion and tomato fixings. Surprisingly, we saw few bananas on the fruit tray but there was lots of pineapple, melon and mangoes.

We didn’t try the a la carte restaurants but it was reported that they weren’t worth the effort.

The beach is quite nice, but a little strange. There’s a thin strip of sand (pretty thin at high tide and slightly wider other times) with a larger bordering grassy area. Most of the loungers were situated on the grassy area. A little strange, but you got used to it quickly. The water was blue, but a little murky most days. The sand on the bottom seemed to be slightly finer than the sand on the beach (coarser) and stayed in suspension for a while after being stirred up. Overall, the bottom was sandy with a few coral patches and a few flat topped seaweed patches. There was a little, but not a lot of seaweed. The seaweed looked a lot like crabgrass leaves so it wasn’t terribly nasty. Once washed ashore, they were pretty good about cleaning it up and hauling it away.

The hotel was about full up. Loungers seemed to be at a premium around midday. Unfortunately the towel game was in full play. Getting loungers early morning or late afternoon didn’t seem to be an issue. The better (newer) loungers were in the pool area. The ones on the beach were older and getting near the end of their service life. The sun is slowly doing them in.

There are 3 pools. None of them are large, but otherwise they are pretty nice. Two are located in the same general area and the third is out by building 5. They seemed well cared for and the water had a nice blue colour.

They had the standard beach volleyball net, bocce ball, shuffleboard, archery, a hobie cat and sea kayaks. They also had a mini-golf course (sort of), but no golf equipment (???). There’s a booth on the beach selling snorkeling tours to what they refer to as a natural aquarium, a roped off enclosed area a bit off-shore. You’re not likely to wander in by accident, but they get pretty vocal if you do.

We didn’t associate with the activities staff much but it appeared that they were working hard to keep people happy. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. We also noticed that on many occasions the activities staff joined guests for meals.

We only went to one or two shows. The best one was the fire and water one staged in the pool. The rest were pretty standard fare that we’d seen before and we decided we’d rather socialize at the beach bar. Our loss (maybe).

Off resort, it’s an easy and safe walk along the beach into town (Las Galeras). The walk along the beach path is an easy 5-10 minutes at a Dominican pace. It’s pretty scenic. Take your camera. Oh, if you use the road instead of the path it’s a lot longer walk and not very scenic.

I don’t normally do this, but several staff made our vacation memorable. I know I’m going to miss some and misspell others. Some names were heard verbally and others were read off name tags with pretty tiny lettering. Those I do leave out, my apologies. You know who you are, but here goes. Noris Silverio (reservations manager, great follow-up service, before, during and after our trip), Joelissa (waitress, breakfast/lunch buffet, great service), Benito (bar tender, pool bar, excellent), Evylyn - (bar tender, beach club evenings, super, great gal), Fausto (waiter, buffet dining room evenings, attentive and good service), Maribell (our maid, kept our room clean and supplied), Caesar (bar tender, sports bar evenings), Victor (restaurant supervisor, man, this guy seemed to be around, smiling, EVERY meal, I’m impressed).

PROS:
Nice location and property / older, but overall pretty well maintained.
Great food, lots of variety.
No one got sick except for self-inflicted (at least in the group we hung with).
View from oceanview room is very nice, gardenview rooms seemed good too.
No time share / vacation club.
Nice beach - unusual arrangement, but nice.

CONS
They seem to have supply issues.
Service could be better (with exceptions as noted).
No toilet paper to be used in the toilets.
No swim up bar in pool.

There seems to be a lot of repeaters at this resort. That speaks volumes. I think we’ll be joining them.

This is the short three bear’s version of the review. I had prepared a (much) longer version and I’ve left out lots of details. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Room tip: Great variety of room types, some far better than others
Date of stay: February 2016
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
13  Thank BobFromCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sanu_11, Manager at Grand Paradise Samana, responded to this reviewResponded 26 March 2016

Hello,
Thank you for sharing your comments regarding your stay in our property. It is pleasant to know that you have had a delightful stay and that you have enjoyed your time with our friendly staff.
We look forward to seeing you again on our property.
Best regards.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 March 2016

Best part of the trip was the excellent service from Danny the maid. She made sure everything was in top knotch and we were satisfied.

I had read where people were stating that all drinks were in plastic containers. Well, I saw them make a bunch of drinks from scratch which took a lot of work and then they used the plastic containers as storage in the freezer so the glass bottles wouldn't break. The wine came out of giant bags and transfered to plastic containers. The same can be said for the drink mixes, as a lot of work went into chopping up limes, juiceing oranges etc. Don't be fooled by the plastic container storage, they do that for a reason.

It was just fine.

Jose Luis was a bartender at the quiet pool and he was very nice and spoke good English.

Food for lunch is best at the beach grill.

If you like seafood, this resort will be a treat for you.

Make sure you go to the town and buy what you want, it's cheaper than airport by far.

Quiet pool is nice.

"Hello" by Adele is played 400 times a day. They need a new playlist.

They really need service at the breakfast, even coffee brought to the table. It's hard to balance a plate and a cup of coffee with tourists pushing their way around and bumping into you.

Date of stay: February 2016
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
7  Thank JamesfNovaScotia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sanu_11, Manager at Grand Paradise Samana, responded to this reviewResponded 26 March 2016

Dear guest,
On behalf of Grand Paradise Samana, we sincerely appreciate your comments. We are glad that you enjoyed your stay at our Hotel.
Thank you for your wonderful comments and for spending your holidays with us. Your comment is very important to us as it encourage us to improve what we do and to do a better job.
We all look forward to welcome you back in the nearest future.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 March 2016

We flew from Halifax, NS direct into Samana. We travelled with Air Canada Vacations (no issues whatsoever) and paid $1200 per person. We are very avid Cuba goers, so there were some pros and cons to each.

When booking, we booked a 'deluxe garden view room' but received a bungalow facing the busy pool. The bungalow offered a tiny kitchen with fridge, counter top, cupboards, and sink. There was a 'safe room / closet', double sink room, bathroom, living area and a loft containing a twin / single bed. I suppose most would use the loft for travelling with a child, but the stairs appeared steep and the lattice railing wasn't very high. On the deck there was a day bed, a table and two chairs. We also pulled a lounger up onto the deck for the week. The main bed in our room appeared to only be a double, and that was difficult for the two of us to sleep in for the week. Despite it being small, it was likely one of the more comfortable beds we've ever received in a resort. There was only a single sheet on the bed and four pillows. The reason why I suspect there was only a single sheet is due to the fact that the air conditioner isn't overly powerful, but suffice. The air conditioner was kinda like a heat pump type fixture and was right above the bed; fairly noisy but drowned out any noise from outside while trying to sleep. There were no bugs in the room despite there being a 1 inch gap under the doors leading outside. There were a few little gnats that came up the sink drain in the kitchen, but I just put a bit of body wash down the rain and didn't use the sink for the week; that seemed to fix it. We were in bungalow 3144.

The resort seems to 'shift' power around daily. For example, one day there may not be power to the quiet pool, and then the next day no power to the busy pool. There is also something that they do with the air conditioners ... they can kill the air conditioner units from pumping out cool air without actually shutting them off. They tend to do that every other day in the early afternoons until roughly 4 pm; it really didn't affect our trip, but of course every times we thought we had an air conditioner break down.

Speaking of air conditioners; ours pretty much bit the dust on day 3. I called reception about 5 times during an afternoon and nobody showed up to fix it. I think it was on one of the days where they had cut the power to 'coolness', so in their defence they likely just ignored me. However, our air conditioner was actually broken; making banging sounds. Soooo, for the 6th call, I rang front desk again and told them that if they didn't come and fix it, I would post all about it on TripAdvisor; oddly enough, almost immediately there were 4 guys who worked on the sucker for roughly an hour and a half until it was fixed.

There was no bathtub plug in our tub. We ALWAYS had hot water, and we showered at many different times of the day.

We got 2 bottles of water, 2 bottles of regular coke, and 2 bottles of sprite everyday ... that was prior to threatening TripAdvisor action, and then we ended up receiving cans of beer daily until our departure. I do genuinely believe that they were trying to improve any discomforts we may have experienced; but it wasn't really a big deal. Mojitos can be found at the quiet pool bar ONLY.

I won't lie, I was super crazy sick for one entire day with stomach issues, fatigue, etc, but as quick as it came, I was 100% the following day. I can't really say it was heat or alcohol related, and I don't believe it was food related either as I had eaten the same as another person who didn't experience anything. I did not take any medications for diarrhoea because I had a feeling that whatever was in there HAD to come out ... I drank ONLY water that day, and like I said, I was fantastic the next day.

The food was decent. I strongly suggest having lunches at the beach restaurant that is open from noon until 3-4 pm. The food there is limited, but is of good quality. Oddly enough, the breakfasts at the buffet were not outstanding. It's kinda self serve; get your own drinks, coffee, etc. Bacon one day out of the week and it wasn't great ... but TONS of fresh fruit and breads every morning ... and of course the omelette station.

Suppers were not bad; one will always find something they want! Lots of salad selections which were FRESH and some decent dressings. We didn't do a single Ala Carte while there as we didn't really feel we needed to, and didn't want to be tied down. We did however book the Asian, but only the sushi (as we really like it). The Sushi was $5 USD per person and very much worth it; it was excellent. It was held in the same restaurant as the Asian Ala Carte where people pay $15 USD per person. I actually found the guy doing the cooking of the hot food rather annoying. He thought he was funny, but he kept meowing like a cat while cooking the food and then when people started eating. He was beating on the grill and the range hood trying to put on entertainment.

As for the "Select Section" ... I think it could be a serious waste of cash. The infinity pool there is a joke; it's tiny. There is a small bar area for people to sit, and of course that restaurant; but other than that, save your cash. You will stay in the exact same rooms as the regular guests and only gain a fancy little bracelet and access to their roped off area that is certainly not to write home about.

The quiet pool area is nice, and actually, pretty quiet at times. There were times when we had it ALL to ourselves, and times when some would just lounge around the outside of it. The busy pool is busier, but not overly 'swamped' with guests.

The beach is nice, nice for the Dominican. There are clear swimming areas where you won't have seaweed issues; but it's no secret that you have to walk through 5-6 feet of washing up seaweed in the water to get into the ocean - honestly, it's really not that bad and is a very minimal issue that is affecting the entire region.

The beach isn't an ideal snorkelling area, but there is a guy who has and area roped off that he calls an 'aquarium' and he charges money to allow people in there. It's a joke actually, save your cash. Some guests saw sea turtles in the water, and I saw a few fish swimming around a couple of times; but not overly abundant with sea life.

There are 'photo staff' that walk around with an iguana and a macaw parrot. They charge you $10 per photo if you decide you want to buy them after they download them. Actually, the female photographer was VERY nasty to me. She approached me wanting to place the parrot on my head for a photo. I'm not really into exploiting animals for money, and the bird certainly wasn't having fun being lugged around the heat and placed in uncomfortable and stressful positions on strangers. I told her nicely that I would not support the exploitation of the macaw; she started yelling at me and made a scene. The following day, I witnessed the photo staff placing the bird an approx 7 year old girls head, and the parents took a photo with their iphone. The staff ripped the bird out of her hair, the talons were caught in her hair and she screamed; then the photo staff proceeded to start yelling at the parents telling them that they had no respect for the bird and left the little girl crying. I'm sure they take nice pictures, but after the treatment I received and the little girl situation, I cannot support that kind of thing.

Duty free at the airport is an expensive JOKE. Go to Las Galeras (takes you about 10 mins to walk there along the water / to the left as you head out of the lobby and across the grass). It's a Dominican town, so it's not gorgeous, but it's very safe. There are grocery stores there, just go in and buy your cigarettes, rum etc, a LOT cheaper than on the resort and much cheaper than Duty Free (just remember to pack liquids in your checked baggage). We bought an insulated reusable Sobeys bag with us as their plastic bags can break with rum etc. Also, go first thing in the morning before the heat (it will still be smoking hot early in the day). Stop into the "End of the Road" cafe for a coffee etc, they have English speaking staff who speak PERFECT English. They are VERY helpful.

I'm glad we bought Dominican Pesos from the bank before we left; as we seemed to get a much better deal that way. We could have gone without any USD cash at all. We didn't leave the resort until 5 pm, so we paid to extend our room from 1pm to 4pm. They wanted $15 USD per hour, but in Pesos, it was roughly half of that.

Nobody at the resort seemed to tip at ALL. Seriously, NOBODY. We always bring about $200 for tips on every trip. So we kinda felt like we were making up for everybody else being so cheap. The staff were working their butts off, but never a tip was dished up. Please tip these people.

English speaking staff are next to non existent on this resort, as for guests. There were a TON of German guests, Europeans, and French Canadians. It kind of explains why there were so few English reviews posted on TripAdvisor when we watched for reviews.

Speaking of monitoring reviews; we noticed many many many reviews mentioning the names Wilson and Youseff. They appeared as if they could have been posted by themselves; and oddly enough we never met these fine folks which are boasted about on TripAdvisor. Ha! We did hear their names when they were introduced as part of the entertainment team one night. I believe my suspicions were dead on.

The absolute BEST employee ever that we met was Danny. She was our maid and she was amazing. She took time out of her day to make sure everything was okay and that we didn't need anything extra. She even checked in on me the day I was sick. She did all this without speaking a lick of English. She's pretty special. Although the Dominican's don't have the Cuban touch when it comes to interaction and friendliness, she certainly have amazing qualities that the resort should be proud to have on their team.

Somebody PLEASE go to your local vet clinic and get some revolution flea medication and treat the half dozen cats roaming the resort. They are full of fleas and constantly scratching. Even if 5 people treated these cats in the same week, there wouldn't be any adverse affects of over treatment.

There was a 15-20 minute window around 6 pm where mosquitoes were present, but not overly bad. They did tend to go away rather quickly.

There was wifi that was pretty much accessible from anywhere on the beach. I am unsure of the cost as we were not interested (we are on vacation); but I do remember previous reviews stating it was super slow. I don't think that is the case as I noticed a lot of people using FaceTime, Skype etc and there didn't appear to be much lag.

Our room had an alarm clock that worked via bluetooth, so we could play off of our iphone playlists. It actually had very good sound quality. Too bad I had to keep resetting the time on it due to the power outages.

Some of the interlocking brickwork was uneven due to tree roots etc, so be cautious when walking after dark.

Believe it or not, I think a non smoker / person who hates cigarette smoke would do okay at this resort. The rooms are apparently non smoking according to our maid (except on balcony) and all restaurants were smoke free. There didn't really seem to be any area where there was an over abundance of smoke.

There is no smoking areas after you clear exit customs and enter the departures lounge at the airport. HOWEVER, there IS excellent food (some of the best food we had all week) at Mango Burger restaurant. It's not cheap, but it's VERY good. Roughly $15 USD for a HUGE burger and fries with pepsi.

As always, guests always seem to leave their manners at home; don't be one of those guests - be respectful to staff and to other guests. Oh, and don't let your 3-4 year old run around totally nude, I saw that a lot and thought it was quite risky given the fact that 99% of people carry cameras on vacation and creeps tend to be a dime a dozen these days.

Overall, a CLEAN and COMFORTABLE stay. If you have had doubts about staying at this resort or booking it; you'll be just fine. The weather is fab there, a wee bit of rain in morning and sometimes overnight, but afternoons are ALWAYS smoking hot with lots of sun.

If anybody has any questions, you can send me a private message on here, and I'll be glad to do whatever I can to help you out.

By the way, we emailed the resort 3 months before we left, 2 months before we left and 1 month before we left and we never once heard back; so don't be surprised about that ... but they did accommodate our requests.

Save travels and don't forget to pack a positive attitude, a reusable drinking glass and lots and lots of sunscreen :)

Room tip: Don't waste your money on ocean view rooms or the select section.
Date of stay: March 2016
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
5  Thank FundyCoast
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sanu_11, Manager at Grand Paradise Samana, responded to this reviewResponded 26 March 2016

Dear guest,
On behalf of Grand Paradise Samana, we sincerely appreciate your comments. We are glad that you enjoyed your stay at our Hotel.
Thank you for your wonderful comments and for spending your holidays with us. Your comment is very important to us as it encourage us to improve what we do and to do a better job.
We all look forward to welcome you back in the nearest future.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 March 2016

It was our second time to samana grand paradise...great service, beach is one of the best. Every year they are making overall improvements to the grounds, food, bar selections, etc.
The thing that makes this resort special is it's staff and they will become like family. A heads up to several people at the hotel as they are worth to be mentioned for there great work: Samuel Vasquez, the manager, what can I say, he gave us wonderful service.
All the entertainment staff Carlos,Youssef a Papo and others, were fun as usual, they work so hard and are always in a good mood! The animation staff will make your stay so much fun! . He was wonderful and a pleasure to be around. All the staff at the beach bar were amazing and made any type of special drink that we requested The workers interact with the guests a lot and make everyone feel great, amazing resort the show at night was very good at night the night club was very turnt up.
The food was very good, the taste and the variety were very nice! The rooms are very clean. It is a family environment! This resort is awesome!
There are several excursions available to you at this resort so depending on you adventure level you can be adventure seeker or a beach bum. You can book a taxi for the day which can be a great adventure. Just google Las Galeras and there is a endless amount of information on things to do.
I can't have enough good words for this place. It just feels like home and it truly is a Paradise! do not hesitate to go! You will love it!
I had a wonderful, an amazing experience at Grand Paradise Samana!

Date of stay: February 2016
Thank Atinka147
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sanu_11, Manager at Grand Paradise Samana, responded to this reviewResponded 26 March 2016

Hello,
Thank you for sharing your comments regarding your stay in our property. It is pleasant to know that you have had a delightful stay and that you have enjoyed your time with our friendly staff.
We look forward to seeing you again on our property.
Best regards.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 March 2016

I had a wonderful, an amazing experience at Grand Paradise Samana! The beach is a true paradise! It is gorgeous! The only problem there are some seaweed at the shore, but is nothing that really bothers. The rooms are very clean. It is a family environment! Our special thank you to the waitress at the buffett restaurant, her name is Mari, very friendly! Big Thanks also to waiter Jose Javier at the Buffett restaurant, very friendly too!; and to the bartender at Buffett restaurant, his name is Danel, very nice! The food was very good, the taste and the variety were very nice! The shuttle from the airport to the hotel is about 1:30 hours, if you really want to rest and being far from cities, this the place! I am definitely going back!

Date of stay: February 2016
4  Thank Claudia H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sanu_11, Manager at Grand Paradise Samana, responded to this reviewResponded 26 March 2016

Dear guest,
On behalf of Grand Paradise Samana, we sincerely appreciate your comments. We are glad that you enjoyed your stay at our Hotel.
Thank you for your wonderful comments and for spending your holidays with us. Your comment is very important to us as it encourage us to improve what we do and to do a better job.
We all look forward to welcome you back in the nearest future.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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