Before I start writing my review, I find it necessary to provide you with some background information about me, because people and their expectations are very different, most times depending on their origin, environment and travel habits.
I am originally from Austria, and moved to the Caribbean four years ago, where I lived in Barbados for a few months, and then moved to Grenada, where I live for over three years now. Before I moved down here, I was traveling 3-4 times a year, most of it overseas (Caribbean, Central America), and I have been to the Dominican Republic several times already. I have spent vacations in Punta Cana, Samana and Bayahibe, stayed in 4 and 5 star hotels, so I believe I have some experience with the all inclusive resorts in this country. I also spent a lot of time in Cuba and other smaller Caribbean islands, made my experiences with both, luxury resorts and really simple establishments (Casa Particulares, guest houses etc.).
Having said all that, and living a quite simple life now, I know to appreciate a good hotel with all the luxury amenities, but more than that, I do appreciate and honor hard working and friendly staff, going out of their way to make the guests happy and their stay most enjoyable.
Prior to booking the Be Live Carey, I was looking for a nice, clean, quiet and rather smaller 4 to 5 star hotel, which also doesn’t cost a fortune. Eventually I stumbled over the Be Live Grand Ambar, that’s how it was called before the opening (it’s still this name, but from what I found out, only for Nolitours Canada guests, which is a separate section of rooms). I travelled from Dec. 15 – 30, together with my 14 year old daughter, “single with child”, which is always a challenge to find affordable resorts. I paid EUR 850.00 (USD 1,100) for the two weeks for my daughter and me, in a “low-cost standard room”, for the room and all inclusive (flight was separate). The price, and you will agree, was not to beat, not for a brand new 4 or 5 star resort in the main season. We booked with a German tour operator, which I find, is always cheaper than any of the international travel websites you find on the web. I am a quite experienced “booker”, so I do know where to book to get the best price ;)
Before the Be Live Carey we stayed 4 days at the Be Live Hamaca in Boca Chica, and I will upload a separate review for that hotel shortly.
Since I booked flight and hotel separately and on my own, we didn’t have a transfer, so, coming from the south (Boca Chica/Santo Domingo), we just took the Caribe Tours bus from Santo Domingo to Puerto Plata, which was cheap and no problem at all. Their buses are air conditioned (well, too much to be honest), and the one-way trip cost RD$ 330 per person (~ USD 9) and took 4 hours. We arrived in the afternoon, and since it was only one day after the resort was officially opened, we obviously were the first guests to arrive! Once we stepped into the lobby, two employees walked over and greeted us with our first names! I was surprised because I didn’t say a word yet, but then they said we were the first guests so they knew ;) Then we got a welcome cocktail, shortly after we got our room keycards and then we were directed to our room by the manager on duty himself. I really must add how extremely friendly and welcoming everybody was, we immediately felt home there, even though the weather was not that good, rainy and quite cold.
Our room was #30404, it was a standard room right below the main pool area, close to lobby and restaurants, and was one of the renovated ones. It was not big, but beds and furniture was new, the mattresses were the best ones I have slept in for years (and brand new too!), there was a flatscreen TV, phone, an ottoman, a desk with chair, and the bathroom was nice too with new sinks. I believe the toilet was new, but the bathtub/shower was only refurbished. There was also a huge balcony with two chairs and a table (not the cheapie, but nice ones!). Everything was extremely clean, of very good quality and I was very happy with our room, even though the dresser could have been more spacious. We also had a safe (we had to pay for it, I think it was USD 3 per day) and a fridge, stocked with two beers, two sodas (coke & sprite) and two bottles of water. What was a nice feature, we found a bottle of Spanish sparkling wine in a champagne cooler with ice, together with nice champagne glasses and some type of “hors d’oeuvres” on arrival. Not sure if this was only because we were the first guests, but it was very nice.
The tiles in the bedroom and bathroom seemed to be new as well, and in general, I have to say, the room was more than ok for the star rating, and to know we were sleeping on a thick, brand new pillow top mattress, covered with brand new, warm and fluffy duvet felt so great!
I have to emphasize again on the extremely friendly and helpful staff, throughout the resort and the whole stay, there was not only one single person who did not treat us like queens! I have to add though that I speak Spanish, so maybe that helped, but in general, I am simply friendly and polite to everyone and that only earned me friendliness back. For me, this was by far the best staff I ever experienced in a hotel in the DR. Starting from the receptionist, the waiters at the bars and restaurants, and then the animation team, outstanding, all of them very well trained, working very professional, and always so nice and friendly. I remembered all their names after only a few days, and I always greeted them by name, which earned me additional smiles ?
Resort in general
The resort might seem not that lush and full of plants like other resorts I have visited, but due to the elevated location, there was a lot of tiling (natural stones), and also a lot of stairs, which makes it not so suitable for people who have problems walking a lot.
There is a huge lobby with reception area, an internet room (internet use was free while we were there since they didn’t manage to install the Wi-Fi for the rooms as yet), one shop (two more shops were about to open), then the Teatro for the shows with the Cocktail bar, open in the evenings.
Close to the lobby there was also the main pool with pool bar and additional “grotto bar” within the pool (was only open the last few days while we were there), the disco, the Brazilian a-la carte and a bit further down the steps the Buffet restaurant and the Asian restaurant with attached “Gourmet Bar”.
Further down there was another pool area with waterfall, the kids pool and close to it, the Kids Club, again further down a few more steps another pool (very quiet) with separate pool bar (wasn’t open during the time we were there).
Directly at the beach, and close to the new junior suite buildings there were another two pools with pool bar, the Mexican restaurant and the snack bar. Also at the beach side was the watersports office, and two more shops which were not opened yet, one of them to be the Ice Cream Parlor.
For people who didn’t want to walk you can just call the reception to be picked up by one of the many golf carts. Really wasn’t a problem at all for us but it was quite some walking, especially ones we were moved to the beach side junior suite building:
On our second evening, we had suddenly HOT water coming down from the ceiling and from the air condition unit, the room was flooded within a few minutes. I was quite shocked but managed to call the reception and they sent three people within a very short time, I was stunned how quick they reacted.
They immediately told us to pack our stuff, and told us we were moved to one of the brand new junior suites at the beach! I was very surprised how quick and nice they reacted, especially after we did the tour with one of the Lifestyle Vacation Club guys and saw one of these junior suites.
We hopped onto a golf cart after packing our bags, and were brought to our new room, which was AMAZING! Huge room, bright and contemporary furniture and tiling, king-size bed, huge bathroom with double sink, shower room for at least 4 people LOL, separate toilet, and the best of all, huge Jacuzzi, dividing bathroom area and bedroom! No wall! Please also have a look at my pictures.
The color scheme was white and orange, with nice stone-like tiling in the bathroom. All together, very very nice! We got another bottle of sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvres, as apology for the “inconvenience of moving” LOL – well how could we complain?? Now we were almost directly on the beach, the only slight drawback was that we had longer ways to the restaurants near the lobby, but again, nothing to complain since we got a free upgrade for the remaining 12 days!
We ate at all the restaurants (Buffet, Asian, Brazilian, Mexican, Snack Bar) and it was always excellent, of very good quality, variety was good, service outstanding. I don’t know what other guests say, but I was expecting way less than that and I was more than satisfied. If I had to say which food I liked least, it was the Asian. Breakfast was very good too, especially the first days when it was a-la carte and only at the Mexican restaurant due to the low guest number. Brazilian was my favorite, the meat was awesome, cooked perfectly and very tasty, and the additional salad/starter buffet very good as well.
I can’t say anything negative at all about the food! I loved it and put on some weight… ;)
At the buffet restaurants you can get 24hours snacks, so you can always get fries, burgers, sandwiches, salad and pizza all night long, which is nice after being in the disco and shaking legs LOL
Well, I knew in advance that the beaches in the north are nothing compared to Punta Cana, Samana or Bayahibe, and I didn’t book this resort because of the beach anyways. It is rather dark, rough sand, the sea is rather brownish and the water was quite cold as well due to the season. But, I live on an island with beautiful Punta-Cana-like beaches, so I was OK with that and spent most of the time at the main pool, which was quiet and exactly what I was looking for. The beach was great for activities though, and the animation team had always something going on. I played Beachvollyeball most of the days, which was at 11am and 4pm every day except when it was raining.
You can walk down the beach a bit, but not like Punta Cana, so if you expect a mile-long beach, you will be disappointed. Also, if you expect warm and turquoise water, go to Punta Cana, because in the north you will not find such beaches. The sea was quite rough most of the days as well, due to the winter season, and my daughter found it very disappointing that they didn’t have any surfboards, because to me it seemed to be a perfect surf spot! Many waves, rolling in gently to the shore, my daughter was really craving for a surfboard LOL
Once more, outstanding people, working extremely hard for the little money, always smiling, greeting you by your name after a few days, very professional, great service.
Roxanna, Merlyn, Jose, Jose (two of them), Rudolfo, Kenny, Gabriel, Daniel, Marcellino, Inocencio, Marcus, Leonel etc. – all of you were just great, please don’t change!!
Wow, what to say. I am normally NOT the animation type person, I never participate in the games, but this time I just had to, they were such great people, and even though sometimes the jokes of Tony Montana (LOL) were getting on my nerves ;) I really loved all of them, they are all working so hard, trying to make every day an unforgettable experience for the guests. Lorenzo and his team, Tony (alias Wilfin), Machello (alias Luis), Ronaldinho (alias Belguis), Rolando, Jorge and Jenny, you were all simply GREAT!
Keep in mind that these people work seven days a week, from early morning until midnight, please honor them not only with tips but some “Thank You’s” and smiles now and then, they will appreciate it and make your stay a memorable one.
The evening shows started at 9:30pm and most of them were really good, some of them the usual games with guests which were OK. Best of all was the Michael Jackson show with a separate dance group who performed there a few times. Don’t miss that show!
One night the animation crew did a show as well, a comedian show, which was fun as well, even though not as professional as the shows of the dance crew, but again, keep in mind they are working very hard and the effort they all put into these shows is amazing.
I apologize for this long review, I hope I could give you an overview, and if you still have questions, feel free to send me a message.
I can only emphasize again what an amazing time we had there, and if we can still afford it we will definitely go back there. Number one reason is the amazing staff, no doubt.
A last note about the Lifestyle Vacation Club:
Yes, the whole resort is part of a Timesharing company, the Lifestyle Resorts, and there are many guys at the BeLive Carey, waiting to show you their product. We did the tour through the whole resort with them on our second day, and it was very informative. Their “VIP” villas, presidential suites, restaurants, beach/pool areas etc. are of outstanding quality, but yet, I didn’t find the price for the package appealing to me, so we took the tour, but of course, never got back to them with a purchase on mind. They never bothered us again though, because we simply told them we did the tour already and weren’t interested. Done. Yes, I have seen some of them being quite “sticky” to other guests, but as for us, I didn’t have a problem with them, because even though they new we wouldn’t buy in, they were still greeting us politely every day. So what? You don’t want it, tell them, and they won’t bother you.
Please also keep in mind that the hotel just opened, so there might be some issues still to be fixed, but for me there was never an issue too big to be worth complaining about. Also, for the low price I paid, I was more than satisfied with my choice.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort – Dominican Republic is the newest jewel in the Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Club. Nestled along the Cofresi beach shores, and overlooking the sparkling Caribbean sea, this resort caters to the luxurious enjoyment of both families and couples looking for that perfect getaway. With 468 well-appointed accommodations that range from Adult Only Spa Suites, to Standard family friendly rooms located in a quite setting between the ocean beach and spectacular pool, this is a paradise worthy of the Lifestyle name. The resort was created with space and comfort in mind, making Cofresi Palm a relaxing, enjoyable and satisfying experience for all guests and their families. All rooms have air conditioning, cable television, phones, and ceiling fans, while the decor has a distinctive design, featuring dark wood furnishings. Shaded patios and verandas provide a relaxing place to gather in some of the units. Providing both service and features that are standard for a Lifestyle property, the Cofresi Palm offers a unique luxury accommodations experience. Cofresi Palm provides the easy, relaxed ambiance of the Caribbean in an opulent and elegant setting. Experience the array of beauty and excitement that Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort has to offer. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sun Village Puerto Plata
- Sun Village Hotel Cofresi
- Dominican Republic Sun Village
- Sun Village Dominican Republic
- Sun Village Spa
- Sun Village Resort Dominican Republic
- Sun Village Resort Puerto Plata
- Sun Village Beach Resort
- Sun Village Resort Spa Puerto Plata
- Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort Dominican Republic/Puerto Plata