Our arrival at the airport was quick and easy. On board the plane, you'll be given 3 entry documents. One, a small card that resembles a phone card and two entrance documents. All three will be handed off at different points after you've picked up your bags so keep them handy. ( Two of these forms are a real duplication of each other and seems like a make work project for somebody in the DR! I swear these guys must work for the Cdn Gov't! LOL)
Once you have your bags, just follow the signs outside where you'll see people holding your airline sign (mine was Air Canada Vacations) He'll have a list of what bus you're to board for your hotel. IE: my bus was #2 for Gran Ventana.... Once you walk across the parking lot to your bus (30 meters or less) make sure you check with the bus porter to see if you're actually listed to be on "that particular bus". We were directed to the wrong bus but were quickly able to discover the right bus. Just make sure your luggage and you get on the same one.....
It's only a 15 min bus ride to the hotel. Your luggage will come off the bus and be placed near the bell hops desk.... Don't try to collect it just yet.... head straight to check in desk and "beat the line". During check in, you'll be given a slip to hand to the bell hop standing near your luggage; he'll get your bags to your room.
Head to your room and make sure it pleases you. Most of the hotels are only at 60% capacity, so asking for a different room shouldn't be that difficult.
Yes... avoid the Beata building because of the disco behind it. The pool area there is very quiet during the day and in the evening. It's not until after midnight that the disco gets going. We never heard it at all from the Catalina or Saona building.
Two weeks prior to our arrival we emailed the hotel at: [email@example.com] They got back to us usually the same business day with any questions we had and understood our concerns with the Beata Building. THEY even told us our rooms numbers. The rooms are identified by a four digit number.... The Soana building starts with 1XXX, Catalina starts with 2XXX, and the Beata building starts with 3XXX. Second digit is the floor number.
Walking to our room was quick and included a fast stop at the pool side bar for a pina coloda. Caution, all the drinks seemed to be watered down. Looking back, I would have purchased a bottle of room from the mall. (The mall is a two minute walk from the main desk. Just walk straight out and through the traffic gate. Take an immediate right turn and walk alongside the Roadhouse bar....... the mall and court yard will open up in front of you.) ... We stayed in the Catalina Building which is the sister-building to the Saona building. All rooms on the third floor have vaulted ceilings so you get a much bigger sense of volume and grander. Our rooms (2314 & 2315) we're a superior room adjacent to a Jr. Suite. There is a big difference in the size between the two. Can't over state the cleanliness of the rooms and the entire resort in general. The maids and cleaning staff really go overboard in they're cleaning.
Food is really great. Aside from the huge buffet, there are 3 al-a-carte restaurants to choose from. Reservations for the al-a-carts are down at the main entrance to the Beata building and they only open the restaurant reservation desk from 0800-noon. Book your al-a-carte choices as soon as you're able. We found the food at all three really good, but the wine was marginal.
The buffet opens from 7-10am, then 12-2 pm. 630pm-10pm , then midnight until 2am for burgers and fires. Aside from the midnight sitting, the buffets are full of choices but can be a little repetitive. There are three large covered areas you actually eat under, 2 of which are non-smoking. Choose appropriately....
Closer to the beach is the "Snack Bar". It opens noon until 5pm, then closes to become one of the al-a-cartes. I found the snack bar great! The chicken wings were not greasy at all and my kids lived on the cheese burgers and fries.
Side trips... book through James as mentioned many times in the TA reviews. He represents the identical tour company's that you book through the hotel lobby but without the hotels mark up. He can be found in the mall two doors left of Phillips British Pub. (He shares office space with "Caribbean tours") James is about 5' 8", thin with short blond hair and a strong southern US Georgian accent. He's a great guy to sit and talk to... Offer to buy him a beer at the pub... but beware, he loves to talk! (PS .. Thanks James!!!!)
I highly recommend the Jeep Safari tour he offers..... and the waterfall trip. We changed our minds on doing the falls after reading reviews here on Trip Advisor, but when you talk to James you'll get the truth about the accidents that happened. The falls are perfectly safe when you follow the guides and only do the lower 7 falls. Talk to James..... :) We also did the outback safari but wouldn't recommend it. We saw a lot of the back country, but it was a long drive to no where and an even longer drive back.
A little more on the jeep, you'll stop by a village art shop where the entire village gets involved. From cutting the limestone out of the mountain to rough shaping the art.... You'll watch as the first chap rough carves the limestone with a machete. He hands it off to the second guy who carves it into a work of art. The 3rd adds the detail, the forth smooths and sands it, the 5th waxes it etc.... A true assembly line where everyone in the village gets an equal share of the profits. No matter if it's the young boy in the jungle or the salesman at the end. A true success story for this small village and one of the most amazing memories I took away from my trip. if you're thinking of a nice limestone carving this tour is wear you'll find something beautifully hand made for very little ($50 item here will easily be several hundred at the mall)
Check out at the airport.... You'll need to fill out three different forms again for departure! LOL..... and they all have the save information again! Suggest you grab the forms and fill them out while you're waiting in line. Duty free shop prices are no bargain here. Better off buying it before you go to the airport. Air Canada had paid our departure fee of $25 US, if you're package doesn't include this fee you'll need $25 US for each traveler. They won't accept pesos for the departure fee, just US dollars.... Weird huh?
Guess that's about it for the Cliff note version... if you have any other questions no matter how small, please don't hesitate to contact me.
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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