This was our third trip in 3 years to this resort, and, I would go back again next year without hesitation. The staff are fantastic, polite and friendly, from the management right down to the staff who sweep the paths or cut the branches from the trees or who are doing maintenence work. the staff work very long hours but are always smiling. They certainly put all hotel staff throughout Europe to shame.
This year we stayed in The royal Club, although the other 2 trips we were in the normal rooms. On each occasion the rooms were always clean with fresh towels. Small attention to detail such as making a swan from the towel and putting a flower on the bed added to the whole experience.
The food in the Royal Club was superb. cooked to perfection athough the head waiter was a little aloof. The main buffet was fantastic. Anyone who can't find something to eat in there any day has serious food issues. Again, the staff were polite and friendly and very helpful. The ladies who greet you at the door are wonderful. Victoria has worked there on all 3 of our visits and recognised us last year and again this year, she also remembered our names which given she has only met us for 6 weeks and knowing how many faces she must have seen over the 3 years made the holiday a bit more special.
The grounds are kept fantastically tidy and there is also an ashtray close to hand, but they are cleared of cigarette ends numerous times during the day and to see them you wouldn't think anyone uses them.
There are 3 pools. the first is just outside the main lobby and is a very sporty pool and a bit louder than the rest, but it is not unpleasant. The second pool, just past the pond towards the beach, is very quite and if you have young children it has a seperate section. the third pool, by the beach is a mixture of the 2, its not quiet but not loud. This is where they do the scuba diving training and also the water aerobics. The only problem with this pool we found was that a lot of the little tiles on the bottom were coming off and also, when you enter the pool at any of the shallow areas it is very very slippery. I did a fantastic front flip into the pool eaarly one morning when I slipped and although i wasn't physically hurt (my ego was somewhat bruised!) a number of other people during the 2 weeks did injure themselves. the only other problem with this pool is the ignorant guests who come straight off the beach, past one of the many showers available to wash the sand off, and clean the sand off in the pool.
the beach is kept very clean and we felt for the guy whose job it was at the end of each day to go round clean the sand off the beds and put them all back into groups under the umbrellas. He was also up early checking them before most people had even thought about having breakfast.
A good thing is that they do a sweep of the beach and the pools late at night and again before 7 in the morning and any beds that have been reserved before 7am are cleared. It gives everyone with a young family a fair chance of getting a bed with some shade.
We have learnt over the last couple of trips that it is worth tipping the bar staff well at the start of your holiday, and if you bother to pick up a tourist guide booklet at the airport on arrival they advise this as well.
the entertainment is good although it hasn't changed much at all in the last 3 years, but the staff work damn hard here as well and it is worth seeing the occasional one as they are very athletic dancers.
The departures area of the airport is very hectic and slow initially, however they are in the process of modernising. it is worth remembering that Punta Cana has not been a major destination for tourists for that long and as the money is coming into the area they are starting to improve a lot of things. The new highway leaves a bit to the imagination and is taking a long long time to complete, but so what, you don't get a real taste of Dominican driving unless you are on the little roads! They have no fear.
We loved it here and as i said, we wouldn't hesitate to return.
the only downside for british tourists at the moment is that if you are doing a flight only deal it is very very expensive to fly to Punta Cana as Thomson are the only real choice and the are extortionate prices, we paid nearly as much for the flights only this year as we did for an all inclusive holiday last year. If you are doing all inclusive deals then I think it is well worth the money.
Also bear in mind that on entry at the airport just after you have your photo taken you have to pay 10 US dollars entry tax for each person and when you are on your way home you have to pay a 20 US dollar departure tax per person, children included. Check with your tour operator as to whether they include this in the price as when we flew from germany with TUI all inclusive meant all inclusive and the entry and departure tax was included, but Thomson are tight.