This was our 3rd trip to Punta Cana in July 2005. The first was to Paradisus in 2001 (very nice, exotic -- icky towels), the second to Ocean Blue in April 2005 (very nice, brand new). Although my family had a very nice time on this trip, I will not return to this resort. We chose this resort for the family activities and were satisified in this regard.
In reviewing the web sites, etc. we were led to believe that this was a "luxury" hotel. It was far from it. When we arrived at the airport, our transfer was not there (with dominicana tours). We waited for an hour before we were shoved in the back of an old van with another couple who had just arrived. Our transfer back to the airport at the end of our stay, left the hotel without us after waiting only 5 minutes -- we paid for our own cab back.
On arrival at the hotel, we had to wait another hour in the sweltering heat to check-in, then an additional 20 minutes to track someone down to point us in the direction of the room. The room itself was satisfactory at best. The linens were awful! This isn't something that I usually notice, but the sheets were very old and thin and so pilled that they were uncomfortable to lay on. The pillows were clean, which is a good thing, but so lumpy that we ended up requesting 5 extra pillows so that the 3 of us could find a decent one to sleep on. There were sand fleas in the bathroom (which, admittedly, I have seen in nicer hotels located on the beach) -- the maids sprayed when I requested and as long as the wet towels were hung, the bugs weren't a problem. There was also mold/mildew around the sink and in the shower. All of our clothes (worn and unworn) had to be cleaned to remove the mildewy smell when we came home. Again, for what we paid to stay there, the room was definitely not what was expected!
We found the food to be very good. The reservation system is horrible; however, if you show up at 6pm dressed for dinner, you'll very likely get in. The beverage cups at the bars and in the buffet area are quite small -- consider taking your own cups for lounging by the pool.
Overall, we had no major problems, just many small and irritating incidents.
1) An alarm went off during the night three nights of the week that we were there -- this was terribly annoying.
2) In order to open a line to make a phone call, we had to go back down to the front desk to leave a deposit with a credit card -- why was this option not offered to us at check in? (It took 30 minutes at check out to process the refund on the deposit.)
3) Before I figured out the dinner reservation system, I waited in line 45 minutes (outdoors and very hot). There were about 10 people were in front of me. By the time I had a turn, the hostess came out and said that there would be no more reservations for the night -- I feel that she could have stepped out earlier and informed us (or put up a notice) that the restaurant was booked for a wedding party and only a few reservations would be available -- what a waste of time!
4) When eating at the buffet or at the poolside grill, we learned to go to one of the bars and wait to be served our drinks there so that we would have something to drink with our meals (this included water as well).
5) The disco -- which is where the nightly kids shows were smelled sooo bad, that we never saw any show.
6) The garbage cans always had a foul odor and the ashtrays were never cleaned. The grounds; however, were very nice and kept clean.
7) Before going down to the lobby to check out, we wanted to take showers before our day of traveling home -- NO HOT WATER -- how miserable for all three of us! At this point we didn't bother calling to ask for a porter, we assumed that we could move our own luggage more efficiently.
Aside from the hotel, we chose to go swim with the dolphins -- lots of fun, but you'll only spend about 10 minutes in the water with them. Manati Park was very clean and organized and offers lots of shade. We also went horseback riding which was fun. The horses were great and we loved our guide; however, we were taken to the public beach on our ride (lots of garbage). In April, I went riding with a different ranch and went to a beach where there was nothing but sand, sea and palm trees -- it was beautiful.
I hope this helps someone in deciding where to stay on their next trip...