We have been VIP members for five years now, starting at the Presidential level and are now Platinum (one level below shareholder). You can read our first post as to why we joined and forever wrote off cheap, discount vacation sights. That being said, at Lifestyles you get a $6k+ vacation for maybe half the cost, including flight. This was our 10 night trip we just returned from:
Arrive in the new Puerto Plata airport (POP), which has taken a lot of design cues from Europe. Clean, modern, easy access to all gates and efficient. Exterior is the same and can be confusing if you don't see your name right away. Just stay near the doors, and keep an eye out for the fleet of "Lifestyle" shuttles and limos. Enjoy a Presidente beer while you wait. It will be a cool welcome. At our level we get shuttled by helicopter to the resort, but I choose the limo for the return for one last cocktail during the ride and to see the developments in Puerto Plata's center.
Coming off the helipad at the Lifestyles main building, we are greeted with amazing hospitality which never ends. At the Presidential Suites we are checked in at a comfortable pace, and allowed to book our dinner reservations for the first week. Some new options have been added as they expand, more on this below.
The suits are exactly as you see in the management photos - modern, clean, and amazingly well kept considering they are now coming on 10 years old. We were actually placed in the very first building of Suites, this time we had units 001-002, and later added 003 when our friend flew in for an extended weekend (all interconnected). It was the first time we stayed on the ground floor, but still had fantastic privacy, nice garden view, and most impotent, it was quiet. Everything was in working order and Claribella came every day to clean (Thank you). Our kitchen had daily restocking of beverages and the main desk would call every morning to ask if everything was to our liking or if we had special requests for the day. If there was one problem, it would be the televisions receive sub par reception, and the wifi works, but is slow for any serious data transfer (Skype was fine but media files for ftp gets interrupted (I am being picky as I need to transfer gigs at a time)).
Mani the Tennis Pro with his assistant Adam is a MUST every morning before it gets to hot. He really is a professional and we noticed our game improve over the vacation. The court is free if you just want to play, but Mani has to charge per session. Where in the States can you get a personal, or group rate of $20US total? Even with the tips, it is a bargain.
After tennis, we take our breakfast at the Presidential Suite "Blues" outdoor seating area. It is all you can eat buffet style with fresh eggs any way you like them. Nothing ever runs out and I highly suggest anything with the Dominican syrup (it is the land of the sugar cane!). Juan will keep your coffee cup to the rim with a smile and is always helpful. We probably look forward to this meal the most, as the rest of the day is usually beach bound.
The beaches - Here is where you start to encounter "you get what you pay for". We have gold bracelets for full VIP access. Only thing we cannot do is Shareholder (black bracelets) beach next to Serenity. If you have any other color, you are limited to other just as beautiful beaches, but not quite exclusive - that being perhaps a little quieter, or a little more personal service on the beach. We try all the beaches and enjoy them the same, but it is nice to get away from everyone once and a while and go to NV beach, or Serenity. Having been there now for years, they know us by name as soon as we arrive or shuffle up to the beach bar. BTW - Serenity has included a great Crepe place and an Oyster bar. Yum!
Dinner. Here we tend to be VERY picky because, well…. we come from New York City and get some of the best dining experiences in the world, even on a "budget". That being said, we were pleasantly surprised and the jump in quality. Their new resort head chief has really done a great job and obviously listen to their customer feed back. Do yourself a favor and get one evening with Rita at the new Dominican Restaurant. It is very good and Rita gave us the history of the meals. Also get in on Gourmet one night. It is fine dining and has a very romantic setting with the outdoor seating. Other favorites are Jazz, Brazilian, Tapas for a late bite or snack. It is unfortunate that the only two down sides that have yet to be addressed - some of the meals are just WAY to salty, especially at Blue Lagoon, and overall, the wine served across the resort is out right not good. Stick to Brugal Ron, cocktails, and Presidente.
Final suggestions: go to Anja's at the heliport during the week for lunch if you have access. The Salmon and meat burgers are fantastic, as are the drinks. Azul is the Supreme/Shareholder members restaurant, which if you can book, do it. Don't skip out on the Sunday night welcome party. It is a lot of fun and the food spread is like nothing you will see north of the Caribbean. Everything is fresh and so many selections, you will go back for multiple plates. No problem, because you will dance the calories off with the concert under the fireworks!
There is one other point that need to be told - cleanliness. It was immediately obvious to us that they have increased their polices on sanitation. Though I never thought it was a problem before, now every restroom and toilet was spotless every time I went in. I also notices at Serenity there was a time card requiring signature for cleaning to be done every hour! There was one day where a toilet was overflowing due to plumbing, they had it fixed in two hours. At the large concert, there are port a john stations, many of them so the line is minimal if at all. These are not the dreaded Johnny on the Spot toilets at the Jersey shore, but some "luxury" model with foot pump running water for hand washing, soap, towels, and staff handing you a towel at the REQUIRED sanitation jell dispenser. They actually lead you to it and then inspect the toilets after every use for wipe down. To us, it spoke volumes about how the management of the resort is improving their guest experience. Also, the fact that we see employee retention for years tells you something about how they are treated and paid. That being said, we always put down a tip: 1 for simple drink service, 2-3 for lunch and drinks, 5+ for dinners, a few a day for the maid service. These people work extremely hard and deserve it.
In conclusion, get a VIP membership, or just book through a member. We are able to book Suites and Villas, and next time we return will upgrade for the new Supreme Villas. Once you are down there, sure they will ask you to see the resort with a sales guide, but a simple "no" is all you have to say in order to avoid joining if it isn't your thing. But if you go through a discount place, hey… you get what you pay for.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Presidential Suites by Lifestyle are the newest luxury accommodations to be added to the Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort, setting a standard of lavish comfort with 60 scrumptiously appointed two-bedroom suites, filled with dramatic furniture and stainless steel appliances.All suites are dramatically decorated with dark, rich wood, and stainless steel accoutrements and appliances. The smallest details have been carefully crafted to provide guests with every comfort and luxury available, making the Presidential Suites by Lifestyle a one of the most relaxing, enjoyable and satisfying experiences ever.Providing both service and features that are beyond compare, the Presidential Suites offer a unique luxury accommodations experience. As a Lifestyle property, the Presidential Suites provide the easy, relaxed ambience of the Caribbean in an opulent and elegant setting,The Presidential Suites offer a matchless vacation experience for the most discriminating traveler. All suites have air conditioning, cable television, phones, and ceiling fans, while the décor has a distinctive modern design, featuring cherry wood furnishing and stainless steel. Shaded patios and verandas provide a relaxing place to gather.On Property amenities include: a large centralized pool with waterfall; Jazz, a French Fusion Restaurant; Bourbon Street bar; three tennis courts; and a full-press lighted basketball court. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Club Crown Villas Hotel Puerto Plata
- Lifestyle Crown Residence Hotel
- Hotel Lifestyle Crown Residence
- Presidential Suites A Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort Dominican Republic/Puerto Plata