Occidental Grand Flamenco
|Location: East Coast
|City: Punta Cana
||Value for money: Above average
A wonderful (actually awesome) and perfect vacation (with a little problems here and there but nothing serious). My boyfriend (25yrs) and 2 female single friends (26 & 27 yrs) and myself (25yrs) all had an awesome vacation and would return to Punta Cana and even to this resort. Our travel experience is Phillippines, USA, Jamica, Mexico, Cuba. Basically, by the end of our trip we were all sad to leave and my friend was hoping that our plane would be delayed/cancelled so we could stay longer). Here's our review and some tips:
1. $$US dollars is the way to go. Peso isn't needed b/c everything is converted into US$.
2. This resort is for couples and older people (30yrs and up). For those who are single, there may be a small number of girls and guys but it's nothing like Cancun Mexico. Basically, my single friends hung out with the people who worked at the hotel b/c they were young. If you're female and single and pretty, everything works in your favour. Let me warn you though, guys will comment and stare.
3. Learn basic spanish words and french is good also. People speak spanish, french, german, and then english (in that order). Basic words such as: hello, please, thank you, how much, you're welcome, good morning/evening, water, and the numbers from 1-5. These will get you very far.
4. Going to Punta Cana. Have a change of summer clothes and sandles/flipflops ready to change into.
5. People are so nice and friendly there!!! For the single ladies, the workers at the hotel will try to pick you up.
-If leaving from Pearson (toronto), they suggest arriving 3 hrs before depature time. I would strongly suggest making it 2-3 hrs ahead because Skyservice had over 10 flights leaving that morning (all around 6-8am) and there were over 1000 people trying to check in. It was pretty fast service though (15min wait in line) and customs was about 15mins also.
-Skyservice was great!!!
-Punta Cana Airport: arrival was fine and customs was a breeze and no one lost their luggage (overall about 1 hour at the airport from leaving the plane to boarding our bus. The mere volume of people trying to find the luggage was crazy). They actually greet you with a band playing music and they also take a picture of you arriving and when you leave Punta Cana i.e. a week later, you can see the picture and buy it ($5US). A perfect way to start a vacation.
-there is also $10 airport fee that we have to pay before leaving Punta Cana. Cash only.
-Once you get your bags, look out for your Tour Operator (ie. Sunquest) and there's a shuttle bus waiting for you to drop you off at the hotel.
-time to hotel is 30mins on the shuttle bus (like a greyhound). and they pass out information that you need.
Hotel:**have the hotel voucher ready***
-check in is at 3pm and no ifs ends or buts. We arrived early at 1pm, so we were prepred. We changed into our bathing suits and sandles and had lunch and wander around. Do not have a heavy or huge carry on b/c you will be carrying it around everywhere. They also keep your lugguage outside with the other luggage (so have it locked). My friends fianlly got their keys at 3:30pm and me (5pm--i came back at that time).
-hotel itself is beautiful and clean. One cocroche in my friends room and we were on the 1st floor. We all stayed in Building 13 (closest on to the beach) but quiet. Building 26 is also the closest one to the beach but they were closer to the music, watersports etc.. Overall, the walk from our bulding to the lobby was 3-5mins. It was a pain walking back and forth at times.
-there's shops (market) walking distance (15 mins walk) Go on the beach and walk right. You can get your hair braided there for $25 (resort charges $50). Ask for "LOVE" booth #18. She's been doing this for 15yrs and did an amazing job. If shopping, be prepared to offer a price and negoiate and people will bother you until you look at their stuff (it was very annoying and we lefted annoyed). One of our problem is that we forgot to check the prices of cigars and alcohol in US$/Cdn$ before we left, so we weren't too sure if we got a good deal or not. So do this!!!! There is also a shopping mall with an ATM and people here are like hawks, they greet you with a smile but in the end just want you to check out their store and buy stuff. It was an experience in itself. It's about a 2-4 mins walk outside the hotel on teh same road.
-oh and the resort is huge.
-this is the best thing and it will be hard to describe. Beautiful and soft sand, blue water, low waves, and it's super clean, no sea shells or rocks on the sand or even in the water. My friends have been to Cuba, Jamica, and Mexico and they say this is one of the best beaches. -to get a hut (umbrella thingee) go there early in the morning before 8am. People reserve chairs with towels and no one steals anything there. Trust me because i've left towels, clothes and even my bag there for a good half a day and when i returned, it was still there. Bring your own beach towel if you want because the towles there are blue and everyone has a blue towel. -you can walk to other hotels along the beach -beach towel: you get it from a person & they give you a ticket. Return the towel and ticket or you will be charged. People suggest getting a new towel at the end of the day just in case they run out or if there's a line up. The line up was usually 5mins long the next day.
-Leave $1 or a small gift (that's what we did) with a note in spanish on what you want and when you return it is done. Eg. You only get 2 towels, we asked for 4 and got it. We asked for 2 1 litre waters and got it etc.. Write it on a paper in spanish and leave it on your pillow. Anything on a pillow means it's for them.
-you have to pay to use the in-room safe (approx. $15 US) and you pay when you leave. You can either get the safe or lock up stuff in your luggage. We all had no problems b/c some stuff i left in the safe and others in my luggage.
-there's no carpet
-there's a mini bar and it is literally a mini bar (only 2 beers, 2 soft drinks and 1 1litre water).
-there an "A/C POWER CARD"....basically this card acts like a key and turns on/off the air con & lights in the room. So if you want your room cool when you come back, leave that card thingee in the slot. Tip--just bring in an old library card or something the size and hardness of a credit card and you can use that instead to activate the lights and aircon and you can take the key everywhere instead. Weird eh?
-Main buffet place doesn't need reservations. They have theme nights (oriental, gala, mexican, spanish, dominican). Tons and Tons of food and overall it is okay-good in taste. All of us ate and tried everything. Some people say avoid meat or fruits b/c of the way they may prepare it or wash it in....but we didn't do it. No one got sick sick, but 1 person had "bathroom" issues for a couple of days and a couple of us had stomach aches here and there. Basically, it was mainly our fault because we tried everything even stuff that looked wierd.
-A la Carte restaurants for dinners require reservations (there's Mexican, pizza, Italian, steakhouse etc..). Book on your first day. We didn't and we tried mid-week and it was all booked. But if your pretty, just chat away and try convince them, we did and we ate at the steakhouse (wonderful!!!!!). Mexican and pizzeria does not need reservations and we didn't figure that out till our 2nd last day. People say the a la cartes are better then the main buffet. Oh and service is slow at the restaurants. -overall, food is mixed reviews to good, decent, awful. Everyone has their preferences and the snacks are good and there's ice cream and the french fries at home rum are wonderful.
-must try their "banana mama" and rum and cokes. This country is know for their rum.
-specify w/alcohol b/c if you order a pina colada...they may give you a virgin pina colada.
-water comes in bottles there (wonderful eh)
-no complaints about the drinks and they make it strong.
-3 pools and they aren't busy b/c everyone is on the beach. -windsurfing and catamaran lessons are at 9am. (you have to take a 9am lesson, pay an insurance fee $3US, and then you can use it.) -water activities run only till 5pm. We tried the kayaking (super fun) -my boyfriend is a scuba diver so he was diving all week. My friends and me tried the in-pool scuba(free)and i did one dive ($60). It was fun!! -snokelling gear is free to use but there is nothing to see. -Parasailing (45$ for one or $85 for two-cash only) -snokelling at a site (20$ per person) -banana boat ride ($7 per person) -night shows at 9:30pm and they range from cheesy to good ones (disco night, broadway show, taino show etc...)
-disco's music is salsa, merang, top 40s but only gets happening around mid night and my friends tried it 2 times (thursday & Fri) and i tried it once with my bf on Friday. Drinks aren't free.
-they offer tours there & it ranges from $60-90US. We did the Punta Cana Jeep runners and it was worth the $70 each. We visted a cave, beach, plantation, school, typical dominican house, ate at a ranch and went horse back riding. Food and drinks (rum also) are all included. When doing any tours (if they are visiting a school--please bring things for the kids from home. Pencils, candy, school supplies etc...)
-there's also a shuttle bus to the casino (there's a cost i think) -they have a beach party the day we arrive and that's the only one.
-the pace of life there is SLOW--so expect SLOW service (its vacation) and having to repeat oneself over and over again if they don't understand English. They may also forget your order.
-there's a hand full of topless women walking around and sun bathing.
-not much night life and everyone hangs out at the lounge.
Overall, a wonderful vacation and bring your camera because there's tons of places around the resort to take good pics and people who work there are so nice and try to cater to your needs.
||Review date: 01/20/2003
|:November 26, 2003
Air Transat Holidays
My husband and I are two of Air Transat Holidays unfortunate clients who spent the week of November 7 to 14 in the Dominican Republic staying at the Occidental Gran Flamenco, Punta Cana. Thier brochure and website rate this hotel as a four and half star property, but at the time of our visit it did not meet the standard of a three star property. At the time of our visit, the buffet, beach club and several restaurants were under renovation.
Our decision on this property was made based on the information in the Air Transat Holidays brochure and the Occidental Gran Flamenco website, neither of which mentioned any renovations. The renovations to the buffet resulted in the buffet being served in the stage area and the Grill Restaurant. There was not enough seating for the number or guests and because the buffet was divided into two sections; it was necessary to go to both lines to obtain a complete meal. The result was if you ate at the buffet, you had to wait for a table and stand in two lines to obtain your meal. Not once during our stay were we able to enjoy a hot meal from the buffet. We had to eat at dirty tables, surrounded by dirty dishes to consume lukewarm or cold meals.
It was very difficult to obtain a reservation to dine at the a la carte restaurants. The reservation system allowed only you to reserve for the current day or the day following. There was so much demand that all spots available were filled before 9:00am. During our stay, we were able to obtain reservations for only two dinners. For our meal at The Grill restaurant, my husband was served tenderloin of beef that was rancid. The staff at the restaurant were unapologetic and made no effort satisfy the problem. We reported this incident immediately to guest services at the hotel, but there was no further response from the hotel. It was at this time we tried to contact the Air Transat Holidays representative for Punta Cana, she did not answer at the number we had been given at any time between 7:30 to10:00 pm. We left a detailed message the following morning but received no response that day and the following day was her day off. If we had been able to contact her, we would have requested a change in accommodation. Since we were not able to do so we remained at the Flamenco, where the next morning a note under our door informed us that more renovations were planned which interfered with the operation of the both the Mexican and the Italian restaurant. That made all their restaurants under some degree of renovation with no clear plan on how to provide food services to their guests.
In addition to the problem with food services at the Flamenco, we had one complete day with no running water in our room and the service at the beach left much to be desired. Often we were not able to obtain beach towels, some days the wait was an hour, on others days the staff had no idea when more towels were coming. We had to keep our dirty towels or go without. The brochure advertises that windsurfing, kayaking, and sailing are included. During our stay, despite many requests we were never able to persuade the staff to put a sailboat in the water. The constant explanation was that it was either too windy or too wavy. The resorts on either side of us must have completely different weather as their sailboats and kayaks were constantly in the water. The beach staff at the Flamenco were interested only in selling us the motorized sports that were not included in our package.
If we had been informed about the renovations at the Gran Flamenco when we were making our reservation, we would have chosen a different property. I spoke directly with Air Transat reservations to assist in choosing a property because this was our first visit to the Dominican.
The other services we received from Air Transat for this vacation were exceptional; the staff at the Vancouver airport was helpful and polite. The flight crew on our flights were wonderful. The transfers worked smoothly and our accommodation in Vancouver was just as advertised. However, what should have been the best part of our vacation the time in Punta Cana fell far short of our expectations, because of the inferior food service and inadequate service at the beach.
I am sure that our complaint is not the only one they will receive about the problems at the Gran Flamenco, Punta Cana as there were many unsatisfied guests there. Neither the staff of the hotel or your representative in Punta Cana showed any interest in resolving any of the problems we encountered; we certainly hope that this is not indicative of your company policy. The problems at the hotel resulted in our having a vacation from hell instead of a vacation in paradise. The complaints we have expressed in this letter are a brief overview and do not constitute a comprehensive list of the problems we encountered at the hotel. If you wish to hear more details, please contact us and we will be glad to provide them.
Frank and Suzanne Wilman
|Author: Sue Wilman
||Posted at 3:31 11/29/2003
|Author: gabriela bellotti
||Posted at 20:46 09/21/2003