With great anxiety, we booked this trip with retag vacations and it was an AIr Canada Vacation package. I had read a ton of reviews on this site and was a little confused on how so many people could have excellent reviews and so many poor. So, do what I did, take a look at the number of reviews and work out % of excellent and very good ( it's greater than 90%)
So, 1 week, off we went for our 20th anniversary. The resort met every expectation we had. If you are looking for a 5 star downtown major city North American hotel, this is not it so don't benchmark against it. If you are looking for a 42" plasma TV, don't benchmark as this is not it. If you are looking for modern, 2010 furnature and fixtures, well again this is not it. If you are looking for Vegas style entertainment, go to Vegas.
But, if you are looking for a great beach.....( tons of space, huts and loungers), great poolside, pretty good food, decent drinks and a great and friendly staff and clean environment ( no bugs in rooms or in resteraunts that we saw, and my wife is a CLEAN freak), then this is it.
At this time of year, hotel was only maybe 60-70% occupied and other bordering hotels were closed for low season, but that made this trip even that much better.
1) book a la carte restaurants every other day ( that way breaks up the buffet dinners). The breakfast is great every morning. You can have make to order eggs or omeletes and tons of cheese, breads, fruit and other things. Lunch is decent ( pizza was pretty good) and the snack bar by the beach had good wraps and pizza.
2) bring bug spray for beach if you do get bit by things....there are sand mites that bit my wife ( but not me..hahah)
3) do not buy the day trips from the hotel....for example, they were asking $75/person for Paradise Island, one beach guy asked for $65 ( I did not even try to barter) where as Maroposal Tours at the Plaza asked for $50.....I would go there and ask for Dani ( German woman)...they has 3 tours for $100 each ( remember Paradise Island, hotel wanted $75 for 1 trip)
3a) we only did one...Safari adventure...it was $31 + $8 for entrance to park each, so $39 each...awesome climbing the falls and then sliding/jumping back...however, on the way, they detour through a couple tourist trap type activities...it's ok, but they expect you to buy stuff.....bunch of kids run after the truck yelling for candy...so bring a bag
4) negotiate any beach vendors....they ask ridiculous money at first and even at 1/3 price you feel you might be getting jacked......so, take a walk to Orange Market...turn left as soon as you walk out to beach..it's a 15 minute walk to an area which is, surprise orange coloured....there's about 30 8'x10' stalls all selling similar stuff...negotiate with them too, but they start way lower than beach guys
5) the plaza I mentioned is about 2-3 minute walk as soon as you leave resort desk entrance
6) ask where to book a la cartes ( as you face tennis courts), Left hand side, go into reception type area
7) they say you can't reserve loungers at beach or pool, but of course everyone does it...to get your spot, you'll need to be out early as my wife went one morning at 6:45 and saw lots of towels out....now, that does not mean they are ALL gone, just maybe prime positions
8) if you take air canada vacations ...the $10 entry fee is included( you get your ticket on the plane), your ride to airport is in coach bus ( included...we took a taxi for $33 as we did not know!), your ride back is free and you don't pay any $20 departure tax either!!!!!...so, the $120 extra I had could go to buying sea shell necklaces
9) tips...well, I gave up trying to figure that out...I brought a bunch of US $1 and used them all...who ever knows what should be appropriate should post it...I gave $5 at each a la carte, and $1 from time to time at the bar and at breakfast ( guy who kept my coffee cup full)
10) it feels like 20 degree difference between beach and pool area ( beach has slight breeze)
11) ah, be prepared for some topless visual affects
12) if you have late flight out, they will look after your luggage in secure area and you can shower up in "hospitality suite" for free ( or maybe a tip) and enjoy the day
bring books and cards...the entertainment again is not vegas, but it's there if you want it....
...this was a great, great place to chill out, decompress for 7 days and just enjoy the weather, food and drink....( the people that put 1 or 2 stars on here...I don't know where they normally vacation, but if this was a dump in their opinion I wonder what is their 5 star----for sure I can't afford anything that they might think was excellent)
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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