My family and I (9 people total, ages 20-87) traveled to the D.R. for a long overdue family vacation during the last week of July. This was our first all-inclusive experience and we stayed a total of 6 days. We got a great deal and the trip was well-worth the expense!
We were blown away by the beautiful, extremely-well kept resort and grounds. Everything was immaculately clean and well-maintained. The lobby is beautiful, but un-air-conditioned, which made it a little toasty in late July for sitting and checking emails with the free WiFi or kicking back with a drink from the lobby bar. Get a seat on a patio instead, if you don't mind the smokers. The lobby bar is the only bar in the Ambar section of the complex and has a large variety of alcohol included and a nightly themed drink and entertainment as well. However, this bar is only open until 11pm, so if you are a night owl and seeking a little excitement, I'd head over to the Bavaro complex. That's where you'll find the nightly shows, overpriced souvenir shopping (bargain with them!), discoteque, casion (tiny!), and other bars open later.
Ambar is only one part of a much larger complex, but the resort was very good about providing both maps and reliable tram service for treks to other parts of the complex. My only complaint was the trams were often very full and it was hard to snag one that could accommodate our larger group. The drivers also didn't pause very long at each stop, so you had better be ready to jump off. We saw an older gentleman of around 90 almost dragged by a tram when he was too slow to get off and grabbed onto the handrail to try to get back on as the tram sped off!!
The rooms were gorgeous and were usually cleaned several times a day. Every time we came back from the pool or beach our bed was made or turned down in a different manner and there were hibiscus flowers all over the bed, dresser, and bathroom! Everyone agreed that while the rooms were large and beautiful, the beds were pretty hard. Good motivation to get up and get moving in the a.m. though!
The food was pretty awesome. We were lucky enough to speak with a manager before our arrival and were able to book dinners at some of the exclusive restaurants before we arrived. We ate lunch/breakfast at the Palmyra buffet each day. The selection varied, but there was always something delicious to eat and trays were always refilled quickly when they ran low of an item. You MUST try the fresh mango at breakfast. Best mango I have ever tasted. We also tried the buffet at the Bavaro complex a couple times, which had a wider selection, but tons of kids running around and grabbing things off the buffets, cutting in front of other guests, etc. As for the exclusive restaurants, if you had to pick one, I would go for the extra-fancy Don Pablo Gourmet Restaurant. It had the best food and was most unlike the buffets. The Portofino Italian Restaurant the Garden Grill Restaurant were just a buffets plus a themed entree. The Maiko Japanese Restaurant was also excellent and featured Tepanyaki style dinner. Of note, you can drink the water/ice in the restaurants, as they come from a purified supply, but we were told to use the bottled water in the rooms for brushing our teeth and drinking.
The pools and beaches were also very well maintained. We never had trouble finding a little cabana on the beach if we went out right after breakfast (as late as 10:30-11am). The earlier you went out, the closer to the water you could get. Finding a chair by the pool was quite a bit harder, but again, if you went out right after breakfast, you were fine. If you tried to find a single chair to put all your stuff on in the afternoon, it was next to impossible. Juan at the pool bar (walk up side) was excellent! We tipped well the first day and he took care of us all week. He made us extra-boozy drinks if we asked, added special ingredients, and even made special drinks for my grandmother! He was the best! They also have daily dance/exercises at the pool, which were energetic and fun. A good way to try and burn off a few of those "Banana Mama"s.
I speak a little Spanish and was able to get along well with the most of the staff, by my other family members ran into a few issues along the way. My dad called the special room staff to order a different pillow off the menu and some ice, but neither arrived. Multiple times our key cards stopped working and we had to walk all the way to the lobby to have them re-set. Once my husband and I found our door was opening without inserting a key at all! Maintenance staff came and replaced the batteries in the key reader right away and it worked then, but was a little unnerving to find our door had been unlocked all day.
Overall, our week-long vacation with 9 adult family members of all ages went extremely well and we all had a great time. The all-inclusive setting was great for us and allowed different groups to do different things each day and not worry about one another. The resort and beaches were gorgeous and you can tell a lot of time and effort are put into making every guest feel welcome and appreciated. I would highly recommend this resort for a group of adults looking for an all-inclusive experience for a great price!
Of note, we stayed in building 67, which is the closest to the pool/beach, but further from the lobb...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC