We went for a family vacation, during President’s week school break (2/15-2/22) my husband, 7.5 year old daughter and myself.
We stayed in a swim-up room in the building 43. We could not book the swim up room online or over the phone because of our daughter, not sure at what age they will let you book it. But it was offered to us when we arrived and we took it! It was WONDERFUL. It was so nice to walk out onto our private patio with its own sun-benches and tiki hut. Right beyond the patio was a large crescent shaped pool that lazily meandered the length of 4 resort buildings, it also had several bubble-jet tubs (not hot tubs, just the jets). The downside of the swim up room is there is no way to lock your door from the outside. We took a chance and entered/exited all day, all week, from the unlocked door and it was fine—valuables/passports were locked in the room’s safe. Housekeeping did lock the door everyday so we had to make sure we had a key on us.
The room was nicely appointed, and pleasing to the eye. There’s a little fridge stocked with water and soda (no alcohol). A few bags of chips and coffee are also provided in the kitchen area. Housekeeping made up the living room couch into a bed for our daughter. They basically unfold the cushion so the bed is very low to the ground making it appropriate for very young children too. Beds were comfortable, a/c worked perfectly but we thought the rooms could use more light, they were a bit dark. Showers were rain-head type and though we were asked to let the hot water run for a minute it was not necessary.
If you want easier walking access to the main resort/beach stay in building 43 or 53. We found the walk to the main resort a nice one, about 5-8 minutes and never waited longer than 5-8 minutes for a golf cart to take us back and forth. The main lobby area of each building has an espresso machine, have a coffee while you wait.
When we booked the swim-up room at check-in we were assigned a concierge, Gabriel Bobodilla. At first we thought no, we already booked our restaurant reservations so what could/would he do? But if they want to assign him to us, ok. He was SOOOO helpful! We are total do-it-yourselfers and were blown away by this service. My daughter got a little mixed up walking around and before I even knew she was lost, Gabriel was walking her back to us. I left my camera at the KidZone and he brought it back to us. I made a mistake with our dinner reservation one night, Gabriel fixed it. The KidZone made a mistake and didn’t take my daughter to the beach painting activitiy—Gabriel fixed it!! He was so nice and friendly that even very private people like us warmed up to him right away. He would check on us once a day then leave us alone. When/if we needed him, he was only a phone call away. If you get a room with Concierge be sure to ask for Gabriel Bobodilla.
The room we originally booked did not come with a concierge and knowing that President’s week is a heavy travel week wanted to make sure we got the reservations we wanted so booked all our restaurant reservations before going down. They will take reservations 1 week before your scheduled arrival.
The food is very, very mediocre. The upside to that—you won’t gain a ton of weight! The breakfast buffet at Gabi Club in the Reserve was ok. The better lunch buffet is on the beach at Naos. The poolside lunch restaurant at the Reserve, Hydro, was bland food or fried food. Make sure you put on your shoes and a cover up before going to lunch—no bare feet or uncovered bathing suit bottoms on women/girls, boys need shirts at the restaurants. Mole (Mexican) was the best dinner. Bana was terrible! No matter what you ordered, you got it served fried with sweet/sour sauce. Every restaurant was missing the one thing we thought would be in abundance, grilled fish with some sort of sauce. Everything was very “American”. Passion was by far the best meal but not sure it was worth the $80 upcharge.
The grounds are lavishly planted. Incense burns in the lovely gardens planted in the open-air center of each building. Very cool, hip, European music is piped throughout. The resort is laid out in a way that it absorbs crowds and you feel like the place is 1/4 full when it’s 100% booked. When we arrived, the resort was at 95%, and later 100%, occupancy but it felt nearly empty to us; we camped out in one of the many private nooks to soak in the sun. My husband and I didn’t hear or see any crazy kids and enjoyed a peaceful quiet week despite the fact that this is a very family friendly resort. Even at 100% occupancy you didn’t have to run out at 7:30am to get your pool chairs. Sure there were some people who did, but there was still plenty of availability at 9:30-10:00. The chairs around the main pool were taken faster (people who need/want to watch their kids) so do get some towels on your chairs if there’s an absolute spot you must have. Others noted an issue with a lack of towels. In your room you will get a beach towel for each person in your party. There are more towels stocked around the pools, but they run out by early afternoon. Just ask housekeeping if you want/need more, they are happy to get them for you. Speaking of housekeeping, Wendy Doran took care of us and our room while we were there, what a lovely gal. Nice as can be and took very good care of us and our room.
Mosquitoes. Yes, they are there. It’s a tropical climate you have to expect them. We were not bothered by them except for the couple of mornings when it was rainy and we camped out reading in our little tiki hut.
Tipping. It is not expected but is appreciated. We tipped $1 (U.S) for each drink, $4-$5 (U.S) at our table after breakfast/lunch and $8-$10 (U.S.) after dinners. We loved our Concierge, Gabriel, and gave him a generous tip before we left.
Kid Zone was great. At check-in they give you a schedule of the week’s activities. My 7.5 year old daughter was sure it was “for babies” and not going. I talked her into trying one activity and she was hooked. The area where my husband and I camped out for sunning everyday was close enough that she could come/go as she pleased and she did. The staff seemed nice enough and the activities were varied. Painting, tennis, rock climbing, some sort of wired-up trampoline, pool games, scavenger hunts, the list just goes on and on. It’s air-conditioned and kids can just chill out and watch a movie, play video games or help themselves to the kid’s buffet—hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fruit salad, ice cream. They kidzone has its own little shallow pool with a few small slides.
The beach is really nice but loaded with seaweed. We did not notice any attempt to clean it up. The sand is soft and has a nice sandy color with bits of terra-cotta colored sand I have not seen anywhere else. There is a separate beach area for Reserve Guests that has many palm covered shades spaced out enough that you are not on top of each other. You will get one/two people from the hotel attempting to tell you about day excursions or spa treatments. But once they speak to you they do not bother you again. There are no peddlers on the beach. If you head toward the water and make a left and walk for a while you will come to some security guards who keep the peddlers off the Resorts’ beach. Where the security guards are, there are some women set up in the public beach access road that do braids. They are a bit pricey but will negotiate. My daughter with really long hair had her whole head done for $60.
Downsides: they know they have you and will charge you a FORTUNE for things like sunscreen. It was $30 U.S. for one, regular sized, bottle of sunscreen. There are no lifeguards at the pools Tipping the guys doing drink service around the pool will NOT get you better/faster service. I think the alcohol in drinks is weak—we were drinking daiquiri’s and rum punch all day with no effect. The house wines are ick, and you pay for any other wine you want. At some point will be asked once or twice if you want to attend the time-share presentation. They do put a little pressure on you but a polite, firm no will be taken. But it may be worth looking into on your private time. They have a lot of partner hotels across the world.
However, those are minor complaints—just bring your sunscreen. I would go back and recommend it to anyone.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Explore The Reserve, our new boutique resort within a resort, designed for those whose stay in a luxury suite is as important as sun, sea and sand. Including three pools and a la carte restaurants, YHI Spa and gym, Swim up Suites with direct access to the pool Family Concierge Suites. Take benefit of your stay at The Reserve and use its facilities and services as well as the ones in Paradisus Palma Real Resort. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Reserve At Paradisus Palma Real Hotel Punta Cana