I'm not sure how this hotel has gotten such good ratings... I agree with the other person who thought that perhaps they've been buying reviews because this hotel was a complete let down.
OVERALL: Save your money and go to Mexico. It's an outdated hotel, with a teeny tiny buffet. The weekend locals make for an unbearable three days. Everything about Puerto Plata makes you feel like these people consider you an ATM. Waste of money and waste of time. Terrible terrible terrible.
FOOD: The buffet food was good. They had a majority of healthy options. However, the buffet is tiny. The hotel advertises 500+ food options, which is a complete lie. Unless they are counting every item served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including all of the a-la-carte items, AND condiments it is impossible that there are 500 items. They have a small salad bar, one choice of soup, one small dessert area, two rows of hot dishes (maybe ten items on each) and a grill that has a small number of meat choices. Little was offered in the way of snacks, between 5 & 630pm there are no snacks, and between 11pm & 2am you can get a hotdog or hamburger, nothing else.
ENTERTAINMENT: Activities were poorly done, they never had a schedule up of what was being offered or what time. I missed the water aerobics on the two days they had it, and it was offered at different times. The nightly shows were okay, but they only had two actual shows that consisted of dancing (that were very similar). The other nights they had karaoke or just music. Shows lasted an hour at most. The entertainment team however were the most friendly people on the ressort, and were fun to talk to.
ROOMS: We paid for an upgraded suite room. It claimed to have a living area, which was two extra chairs and a small table. Not worth the extra money. The other rooms were just as good. The ocean view is blocked by a lot of trees but is still nice to look at. There is no mini-bar in the rooms. You get two cans of beer, two cans of pop, and a jug of water. (Not bottled water, it's refilled water
LOCATION: The hotel was located in a small area filled with hotels.. It was quite safe, but not much in the way of other restaurants or night life. About 20 minutes from airport.
BEACH: The beach was nice. Not white sand, but still pretty. They cleaned out most of the seaweed and rocks, until about a four foot depth. The venders on the beach were relentless however. You couldn't sit for thirty seconds without someone else coming to try to sell you something. Usually hotels have a line set up where venders cannot go past, this hotel does not. It was so bad that we ended up at the pool most of the time. If you want to swim in the ocean, I would suggest going straight to the water, bringing no shoes or towel, and go straight back to the pool.
MAIDS: Maids were wonderful. They did a pretty good job with the rooms, considering that they are so out dated.
LOCALS: Apparently this hotel gives weekend rates to the Domincan people. On Friday afternoon, hundreds of local families came pouring in. The pool was completely filled, if you looked at the pool, all you could see was a sea of black hair, you couldn't even see the water anymore. Almost all of these people went into the pool with their clothes on, and would then walk soaking wet to their rooms, without having used a towel, leaving all the floors and staircases dangerously wet. I also never once saw a parent take their child to the washroom, not once in SIX HOURS, so I can only imagine how much pee was in that pool. The buffet which is already tiny becomes packed. You can't find a sear and You can't even walk through the crowds. Good luck getting a dessert because these people take twelve at a time. We had to request an additional a-la-carte to get away from the insanity at the buffet. They also completely take up the entertainment seating, which becomes a 100% spanish show for those two nights. The tourists were banished back to their rooms the whole time these locals were there, and only after they left Sunday (they got a late checkout time of 3 and 4 pm) did I see the tourists come back out.
DO NOT GO HORSEBACK RIDING. These animals are not taken care of at all. We had to stop our trip with the horses early because I did not have the heart to make these horses finish their ride. Their bridles don't fit properly and the horses' mouths are rotting out. My horse only had two teeth left. They also didn't stop to give the horses a snack or water and it was over 40 degrees outside.
27 Waterfalls trip - This was an okay excursion. The name is misleading however, because we only went to 4 small waterfalls. This trip includes hiking,stairs, climbing, and a decent amount of swimming, I would suggest it for only the physically fit. We had a few older ladies with us, and an overweight couple, and they struggled a lot. It took us an extra two hours to do this part of the trip, and we were left waiting in freezing cold water while the guides tried to figure out what to do with these people. This trip included visits to see the villages, a cigar factory, and where they make the coffee... Their goal of this is to get you to buy as much as possible, and it makes you feel very uncomfortable. the trip was 6 hours (took us 8) and 75% of it was focused on getting us to buy more things.
NOTES: There are little children without clothes/shoes on all over the place begging for money... DO NOT GIVE THEM ANY. They skip school hoping to get this money... DO NOT GIVE IT TO THEM. Their education is much more important.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Playa Dorada, a gated oceanfront community on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, is home to Gran Ventana Beach Resort, one of the country’s friendliest, most welcoming hotels. Located directly on the beach, our Puerto Plata beach resort boasts three pools, a kids club and an airy, cool and fresh lobby. We also offer a superb, all-inclusive value for families, couples and group vacations. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Ventana Beach Hotel
- Gran Ventana Dominican Republic
- Gran Ventana Puerto Plata
- Gran Ventana Beach Resort Puerto Plata
- Hotel Gran Ventana Beach
- Grand Ventana Beach Resort
- Gran Ventana Hotel Dominican Republic
- VH Gran Ventana Beach Resort Dominican Republic/Puerto Plata