I've just returned from a week long stay at the Punta Cana Secrets Royal Beach. It's my 3rd trip to a Secrets Resort so I have a standard of excellence in my mind as it relates to the Secrets group. The Secrets Royal Beach is certainly not a substandard hotel but it does rate 2nd to it's sister property in Playa Del Carmen - Maroma as well as The Vine in Cancun.
My husband and I traveled to Punta Cana (It's our 3rd visit to the DR) on 07-12-14 for a week long stay along with another couple. We emailed ahead and asked that our rooms be assigned in the same building and Sr. Gomez the hotel manager was accommodating and made it happen. Please note our opinions are based on many travels to assorted All Inclusive resorts around the Caribbean.
Check In: Easy and quick! We arrived right around 3:00 and our room was ready. We were greeted with cold towels and champagne. Both a welcome treat after the rather warm ride from the airport.
Room: Hotel staff accompanied us to our room, delivered our luggage and explained how the electricity and air conditioning operated. The room was lovely, clean and very spacious. It appeared just as the website had shown. The bathroom had a sizable walk in shower and double sinks. There was a separate water closet along with a bidet. The room had all the necessities that anyone could need, iron, ironing board (if you iron on vacation!), hair dryer, mini fridge (stocked with coke, diet coke, orange, club soda, bottled water and Presidente beer). The room had a small love seat and table (great for late night snacking - see Room Service below) and a king bed that we found extremely comfortable. There is an overhead ceiling fan that helps to keep things cool. The a/c is governed at 24.5ºC or roughly 75ºF. I prefer it a little colder but it was certainly a welcome relief when you walked in from the hot Dominican sun. Only issue was that of washcloths and towels. I've been to the DR before and I know this is common so I brought some washcloths from home. We left a note along with a tip "propina" for our housekeeper and towels then continued to appear daily. Problem solved, if you call that a problem. We left our housekeeper a tip daily as she did an excellent job and we always had turn down service along with a sweet left on our pillow.
Hotel Restaurants: We stayed for 7 nights so we had an opportunity to try a considerable amount of the restaurants both on the Secrets side as well as the Now side. Overall the restaurants are what you would expect for an all inclusive. For breakfast we stuck with the buffet where you could have an omelet cooked to order as well as cereal, waffles, fresh fruit, etc. There really is something for all taste. I enjoyed this meal the most I believe during our stay. I had fresh fruit smoothies and omelets most morning along with toast. The overall grade I would give the resort food is certainly not 5 star or 3.5 for that matter but that also depends upon your exposure. We are fortunate enough to live in a city (Atlanta) with a tremendous amount of exceptional restaurants so our standards may be a little unrealistic. I found something good in every restaurant that more than satisfied my appetite. My personal favorites were Gohan, Capers, Oceana, Merkur. We made reservations for the only restaurant required - Spice and that is only if you want to experience the Tapenyaki table. We did this and although the food was tasty the experience was less than you would expect. The chef did little to no show and we were hurried to eat our meal and leave. Apparently they have a 45 min window allowed and then you must go. I literally had just received my dessert and taken 1 bite of it when we were asked to leave the table. I would recommend you eat at the restaurant but not waste your time with the table experience. Most of our service was very good, with the exception of Merkur where we once again had to ask for everything repeatedly and eventually left without after dinner coffee and dessert even though they had been ordered and asked for twice. My husband and I spent many years in the service industry working our way through college tending bar and waiting table so we are tippers. On those two nights, no tip was left.
Room Service: 24 hour availability and my husband took full advantage after an evening of drinks. The presentation was always lovely and the food satisfactory depending upon how much drinking had taken place earlier. We had no problems with room service not arriving as I've seen mentioned here before. I will tell you that after you place a late night order they call your room to make sure you are still conscious to eat it. I think it makes perfect sense as a lot of the time people order and then fall asleep. Just because something is all inclusive it doesn't warrant wasting for the sake of getting your "money" worth.
Beach: The beach/water is lovely but it is plagued by heavy seaweed. The staff are on the beach daily raking and trying to keep it clean but mother nature wins this battle. The water was the beautiful blue/turquoise color you expect but rather rough.
Pool/Bar Area: The pool is large and warm and even has a lazy river attached on one side. The lazy river attaches to the swim up rooms and does not empty into the main pool. The pool side loungers are reserved early as well as the floats that are available. This is something that needs to be addressed by management. Several mornings after breakfast when getting to the pool at 9:00 a.m. all of the loungers/floats had already been reserved. Hours would pass without anyone being in a chair or using a float so we just began using them anyway. Management needs to address this issue for sure. This was not a problem at the beach however. The pool wait staff was exceptional. Fernando waited on us poolside daily and remembered our names and our drinks almost immediately. We did tip but I can honestly say that most people did not and it did not appear to impact the level of service received. At the pool bar we had a great bartender named "Willy Mays" who was on top of what we needed as well. They both always had a smile and were ready to serve.
Entertainment: The hotel had nightly entertainment, from Karaoke night (my husband I both participated as we love to sing) to Circus, Beach Party, Tribute night, etc. These were standard shows you would see at any all inclusive across the Caribbean. Good enough for a couple of hours after dinner to while away and laugh with new resort friends. We had exceptional service each night from our waiter Maximo. He was particularly attentive and we rewarded it with tips that he surely earned. The entertainment ended at 11:30 ish and then it was lights out at the plaza where all the entertainment took place. The only place left was the casino (we were discouraged from going) to the disco "Eclipse". We ventured over a couple of nights to the disco and the music was good but honestly it was so hot (2nd floor and no air conditioning) that it was hard to enjoy. Tips from my husband seemed to get the DJ to see his way to play a few favorite hip hop dance tunes so we tipped away. The alcohol at the disco was atrocious and although I know what I ordered I know for certain it's not what I received. We stuck with water at the disco as I'm not sure what they were serving but I know for sure it didn't resemble any Vodka/Rum we had ever had but more like horrendous moonshine.
Entertainment Staff: The Entertainment Staff must never sleep as they were there from sun up to sun down which obviously explains the ridiculously good shape they are all in. Charlie Brown and Milky Way, as well as Fausto and Cynthia did their best to include people in daily activities but weren't upset if you chose to just watch. There is a foam party at the pool that is really funny (especially if you've had a few MamaJuana's). Rum tastings, daily pool aerobics, Iron Man Contest, volleyball, etc. happens daily and some are pretty fun to watch or if you dare ~ participate!
Alcohol: That brings me to my final and only real sticking point. When we travel we always pick hotels that advertise top shelf liquor choices (as did this Secrets). We've stayed at Maroma and The Vine (both excellent choices) and never experienced the lack of brand name alcohol that we did at this resort. This also applies to beer choices. The only choice at the pool bar is Presidente on tap. No domestics, no imports, no other choice period unless you upgraded to Preferred. I'm not sure if the staff are trained to ignore request but even when I purposely went to a bar and requested a particular liquor, the bartender then picked up some no name Vodka and proceeded to pour in my drink. When I questioned him, he laughed and tossed it away. This was a problem across the board at this resort and one reason I would not go back. If this isn't an issue for you then you'll be fine. If you prefer better spirits then you won't be happy. I thought for awhile we were the only ones experiencing this but soon found many other people to be unhappy with the choices as well. Our friends from London, who were quite fond of Jack Daniels had this problem repeatedly during their stay and did complain. I'm not sure if it did any good as we left before the end of their stay.
Preferred Status: We did not upgrade (we never do) as it has never been a necessity in the past with Secrets Resorts to get top shelf liquor and first class treatment. I did venture over to give the Preferred side a look and found very few people there. In fact, several of the couples we met during our stay were from the Preferred side but found it not worth the money and frankly boring. I will tell you that your drink choices are different with Preferred which is okay but it should be advertised that way. WiFi is also included on the Preferred side but I don't think it's worth the additional money just to get WIFI. Just buy the week WIFI and you should be fine. This is also the first Secrets Ive stayed at that didn't offer free WIFI in their lobby.
Excursions: During our stay my husband golfed twice. Once at La Cana and the other Cocotal. He found La Cana excellent with beautiful water views and the course in great shape. Cocotal was not quite as nice but closer to the resort and more reasonably priced - $50.00 US cheaper and 30 minutes closer. He also did a dive excursion through Seapro (on the beach in front of the hotel). This was a much bigger disappointment as there was very little marine life and for the price the dive (2 tank) was short and shallow. If you're a diver you may want to invest in one of the larger all day dive packages that venture to Sanoa Island. We heard good things about the dive but we felt the price of $ 225.00 per person to be a little too high for the area. Also most people felt it took up too much of the day as they arrived back at the resort early evening. For comparison in Turks and Caicos ~ Provenciales an all day dive excursion was $ 125.00 and much better overall.
Overall this is a lovely resort. The Domincan people always greet you with a smile and a "Excellente" about everything. The grounds/facilities are well above average, pristinely manicured, and clean. I maintain everywhere we go that if you are bound to find a problem (which some people are) then you will find fault at this hotel. We were there however to holiday and enjoy. We did enjoy, and short of the few things I noted above I would rate this hotel about a 3 3/4 star to 4 star. If you go, you won't be disappointed. But if you've stayed at the other Secrets you will find a difference in the resorts and maybe just maybe wished you would opted for Maroma for a second time!
Please feel free to message me if you have any questions about anything I've written and i'll do my best to respond quickly. I rely on these reviews to book hotels/trips so I take reviewing very seriously!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ideally situated on the picturesque palm-studded, sugar white Playa Bavaro beach on the eastern coastline of the Dominican Republic, Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana offers adults all the privileges of Unlimited-Luxury(R). Guests will immediately be embraced within an extraordinary environment where luxury illuminates every detail and our high level of personal service is unmatched. To ensure your romantic escape is everything you've imagined, every detail of your stay will be flawlessly provided and superbly attended to. From the fine quality linens to the daily refreshed mini bar and the unlimited premium brand beverages to the pool and beach wait service. You'll be immersed within a world of stunning architectural design coupled with resplendent views of the lush gardens, crystal-clear Caribbean Sea and dazzling swimming pools. This tranquil, romantic haven in Playa Bavaro is like nothing else you've ever experienced before. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Secrets Royal Beach Hotel Punta Cana