We visited here in March 2009
I booked this hotel as it was the best in the First Choice brochure and on the Island. After reading the reviews after I booked it back in April, I wasn't too worried as they were all okay, but from December 2009 onwards the reviews went drastically down hill. The worry then set in, but we went anyway.
We emailed the hotel prior to arriving, asking for a room in the blocks near to the reception as they seemed to be getting the better reviews. Upon arrival we were put in a room on the bottom floor of block 35 which is amongst the blocks near the main gate of the resort. Words cannot fully describe the room, but I'll give it a go. The room was very small, dark, smelly and damp. There was a door leading out onto a so called patio which overlooked all I can describe as a small building site, the door did not lock leaving the room insecure. We immediately complained to reception, they informed us that they were unable to move us until the following day as the hotel was full. We refused to stay in the room and they eventually moved us to a room on the bottom floor of block 36 which is also by the main gate. This room was slightly better than the first, it didn't smell as much, was much bigger and looked out onto the fountains and main entrances to the block. It was still damp and musty smelling, but after a journey totalling more than 11 hours, I was shattered and feeling rather ill, the room was somewhere to collapse and sleep. We returned to the reception and insisted on being moved the following day.
The cut the story short, we changed rooms at 1600 hrs. the following day into block 18 room 25, which was opposite the reception building. The room was okay, the air conditioning didn't work and there was no water from the hot tap or shower. The air con was fixed immediately, but we had to wait 2 days before the water was fixed. We sacrificed the hot water in fear of being moved to a worse room.
There were loads of people complaining about the hotel. Some said they had fleas in the bed, no lighting, tiny rooms, no water, no air con and many many more complaints. If you make your point at the reception, they will help by either moving you or fixing the problem.
Other than the room, the hotel is very good. We found it to be very clean but tired. The staff were friendly and helpful. The food was okay, the best nights were BBQ and Oriental nights. Obviously this is personal choice as they have theme nights each night. We found that lunch was best taken at the main restaurant, this meal was better than dinner. The beach restaurant was good, but got a bit repetitive as its the same menu each day. I particularly liked the Caesar salad and chips!
The beach is fantastic and there are always plenty beds and shade for everyone. The sea can get very rough so if you're not a strong swimmer be careful. One criticism is that you have to pay $1 for a cushion which I think is a bit much and should be included.
We didn't watch the entertainment, but I believe that it is pretty much like the entertainment in all inclusive resorts around the world.
I would sum the hotel up as a 2 star not a 4 star. Having spoken to numerous people around the island, the Dunes is the best hotel on the island. If you are used to staying in 4 or 5 star hotels, you will hate this place. Go with an open mind and make the most of it. We did and had a great holiday. You will not get a flashy hotel on this island!
Our rep from First Choice was Anna, she is a lovely lady and try her best to help. She will be leaving the island in 3 weeks when First Choice pull out of the resort.
After this date, the only way to book a package to Margarita will be by going through another country as they are the last UK package company on the island.
Although I have ticked I would not recommend this hotel, if you have set your heart on visiting Margarita and need a hotel, then I would recommend the Dunes, as I have already said, it is the best hotel on the island.
Don't take beach towels, the hotel provide them.
Don't forget your Marmite!
There is a fridge in the room, so take empty bottles to fill at the bar and keep in the fridge.
Take your mosquito repellent and room plug.
Change your currency on the beach, the guys are okay and honest. You get 2.14 blv to the dollar at the bank or hotel, the guys will give you anything from 4.7 to 5.0 blv to the dollar. They change US dollar travellers cheques at a rate of 4 blv to the dollar and UK pound for 5.7 - 6.0 blv.
If you pay for trips in bolivar then they increase the price so work out which way is better for you, cash is better than credit cards.
Trips are cheaper if you book with Marcos on the beach. Ask any of the traders for Marcos and they will call him for you. He does not take credit card, so if you want to do the 2 day jungle/Angel Falls trip then take plenty cash to cover it. You will need about £600 for 2 people to cover this trip alone, or end up paying £750 on a credit card through First Choice. His other trips are the same as First Choice, just cheaper.
We did the jungle (through First Choice), the Jeep safari and Coche Island catamaran trip (through Marcos). I recommend all of these.
Take a bin liner, its easy to chuck your beach bag and clothes in it should you have a down pour on the beach. (They don't last long so its not worth leaving the beach)
If you do the jungle trip, take a waterproof or a bin liner each. It rained whilst we were on it and we got soaked! A bin liner makes and excellent waterproof.
Pay your departure tax in bolivar changed at the beach. This makes it half the price if you were to pay it in dollars.
The duty free at the airport is rubbish. Limited amount of alcohol available which isn't that cheap. The only cigarettes sold are Marlboro, they are 88 blv for 200. Check the price in local supermarkets, I heard that they are cheaper, or buy on the plane.
Take a photocopy of your passport with you. The nearest British embassy is on the mainland in Caracus. If you lose your passport then you in the poop. It will be easier to replace with a photocopy, you can also use it as ID.
There is a high crime rate on the island, be careful when out of the resort. Don't flaunt your jewellery or high value equipment. Hire a safe a the hotel.
If you are doing any trip out of the island via the airport, be prepared for extra fees. There is departure tax at the airports and seaports. The prices vary at each airport.
Anyway it seems I have written war and peace here. Go to Margarita and enjoy yourself, just don't expect luxury, I don't think they know the meaning of the word. As I have already said, we had a good holiday and made the most of everything.
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- Also Known As:
- Dunes Hotel And Beach Resort
- Dunes Hotel Margarita
- Dunes Resort All Inclusive Beach
- Dunes Beach Resort
- Dunes Hotel & Beach Resort Margarita Island, Venezuela