I booked this trip for my fiance & I through CheapCaribbean.com a couple of months ago. Since it was a quick decision, I didn't read through the reviews until after we had booked. After reading recent reviews, I was really nervous about our trip. Everyone kept saying how horrible the rooms were, how the food was terrible, how the people were rude... So, I want to set the record straight (from my point of view, anyways.)
We arrived at the airport in Puerto Plata onThursday afternoon. A gentleman asked us where we were staying and showed us to the CheapCaribbean.com desk outside of the hotel. We had not signed up for the hotel transfer, but there was room on the van, so they let us pay up front and took us to the hotel. On the way to the hotel, they give you a "Welcome Packet," as well as instructions to meet at 9:30am in the lobby the following morning. The meeting is with the CC.com representative, Dioby.
We arrived at the resort and check-in was quick and easy. I had emailed the resort and asked them to place us in Building 5, on the 2nd or 3rd floor. I had read reviews saying Building 5 was relatively quick and away from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, workers, etc. I'm happy to say we were given a room on the 3rd floor of Building 5. The room was fine. Nothing fancy or special, but it was not a dump. Our bed was not very comfortable, but we made due. Yes, what everyone says about the shower is correct. Ours did not drain well, but we just rolled a towel up and put it on the floor to prevent the water from reaching the rest of the bathroom.
We walked down to the VIP Beach to check it out and get some sushi. The VIP Beach is AMAZING. There are a bunch of beds, a couple of little pools, and stairs down to the beach. We sat at the bar and had a view drinks. We talked with people who had been there to get the scoop on the good restaurants, what time to get in line to get reservations, etc. Now, as for the sushi bar...You have 4 choices: Calamari, Fried Fish, Crab Stick, & "Spicy" Crab. I was expecting a wider variety, but, no such luck. It was decent. My favorite was the spicy crab. And, there is free Wi-Fi in the sushi bar, although it wasn't working the last two days we were there.
There is a "party" around the main pool. It's buffet style with a wide variety of food. To be honest, there were only a few things we enjoyed. We didn't stick around for the "show" because we were exhausted from a full day of traveling, so we called it a night early.
Friday morning we ate breakfast, which was the only meal we ate at the buffet the whole time we were there. They have fresh fruits, breads, smoothies, an omelet station, waffles, etc. After that we went to the VIP Beach around 8:30 or so and found a bed and stayed there until the meeting. Now, I did not want to go the meeting since I had read it was just a sales pitch. But, I was told that if we wanted a transfer back to the airport, we had to reserve it after the meeting. So, we went. And I was so glad we did. We gathered in the lobby and walked to the Blue Lagoon Restaurant. Dioby filled us in on what was accessible to us at the resort via CC.com, told us about the different restaurants, and explained the "excursions" that were available. They have all sorts of things, from a tour of the city, to a waterfall tour, to snorkeling, to zip lining. The meeting was over in an hour. No mention of time share. A man did approach us about going to get our "Welcome Gift", but we knew he wanted to sell us a time share, so we just said we weren't interested and headed to the beach. We at lunch at the restaurant on the VIP beach. The menu isn't stellar, but we heard it was better than the buffet. They have salads, sandwiches, chicken wings, things like that.
As far as getting a bed at the VIP beach, the earlier you get there, the better. The beach opens at 8am, not always exactly, though. I got there about 15 minutes early and still had to wait in line on two different days. If there are particular beds you want (ex. double decker, a double, one with curtains), then I would suggest getting there early and being prepared to run. It's like running of the bulls sometimes. I just threw a towel on the bed and some magazines and went back to eat breakfast, and never were our things bothered.
They know do dinner reservations between 1-3pm. I was under the impression they were taken in the morning, but no. There is also usually a line for that. I got there about 15 minutes early each time and had to wait, but was still able to get the restaurant we wanted. Also, remember you can only eat at each restaurant once a week. I didn't know that until I tried to make reservation for the same place two nights in a row. Blue Lagoon (Seafood) is by far the best restaurant. I had the Rock Lobster (an extra $25, but I deserved it!), and my fiance had the pasta with shrimp, and both were very good. The next night we ate at Trapiche (Mexican). I'm not a big fan of Mexican food, but was told it was better than the Italian or Chinese place. So, I ordered the Filet Mignon, and was very disappointed. It should've been called roast beef and gravy. At least the mashed potatoes were really good. My fiance had the Grouper, and it was okay.
The best food is the buffet at the Welcome Party, which was Monday night. You take a shuttle from the lobby to a peninsula where they have a huge stage and tons of tables and big tents that house the buffet as well as the bar. They had beef, a few varieties of fish, lobster, oysters, duck, veggies and fruit, pastas, desserts, and just about anything else you wanted. A group of us sat at the very back to be close to the bar. We didn't have a server, so it was convenient to be close to the bar. We tipped about 150 pesos and were given two bottles of champagne and glasses, and when we ran out they would bring us more bottles.
Which brings me to the tipping...I had read to tip the servers at the VIP beach and they would take really good care of you. I found it really difficult to get steady service. Most of the time we had to flag someone down or go to the bar to order our own drinks.
Some of the workers were really rude, but others were really nice and wiling to help. Every place will have a few bad apples. There was some maintenance work being done around the resort, and that was annoying, but nothing that was too noisy.
Overall, the trip was really worth it considering the $10 per person, per night deal. However, I wouldn't go there and pay the full price.
I know this review is long, but a lot of what I had read prior to our trip was very general, so I wanted to give a review that cited examples. Hope it's helpful!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set within the sprawling Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort, The Tropical offers a classic hotel vacation experience set within quaint, two- and threestory, Mediterranean-style buildings. The mood is laid-back and distinctively Caribbean. Guest enjoy all resort facilities and amenities (excluding the V.I.P areas) including swimming pools, a choice of excellent restaurants, exercise rooms, tennis courts, windsurfing and so much more. The Lifestyle Tropical is Ideal for couples seeking a private island hide-away with all the advantages of a world-class resort. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with 5viajes2012 S.L., LoveHolidays, Hotels.com, TripOnline SA, Cancelon and getaroom.com so you can book your The Tropical at Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort And Spa
- Lifestyle Tropical Beach Hotel Puerto Plata
- Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort Spa
- Hacienda Tropical
- Hotel Lifestyle Tropical Beach
- The Tropical At Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort Dominican Republic/Puerto Plata