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The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real
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NH Punta Cana(Punta Cana)
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5,409 - 5,414 of 7,839 reviews
Reviewed 28 August 2010

My husband and I just returned from a week-long stay at the Reserve at the Paradisus Palma Real. After reading some of the reviews on TripAdvisor, we were admittedly a little nervous but all of our concerns were unfounded and we had one of our best vacations.

Arriving in Punta Cana - Our arrival at the Punta Cana Airport went smoothly. After disembarking from the plane, we were ushered off of the tarmac and into the arrivals section of the airport where we purchased our "Tourist Cards" for $10US per person and then quickly cleared Immigration, Customs, and Baggage Claim in about 30 minutes. We had arranged for round-trip transfers through Conexion Tours, www.conexiontour.com, and the driver was waiting outside of Customs when we arrived. For the two of us, it was $70US round-trip for a private transfer to the Paradisus.

Check-In - After a 25 minutes drive from the airport, we arrived at the lobby of the Reserve. We had arrived a few hours before check-in so our luggage was quickly checked at the bellhop stand and we proceeded into the registration area to check in. We agree with some earlier reviews that the check-in process doesn't run as smoothly as it should. The registration area seems vastly understaffed with only two people to facilitate check-in and answer any calls to the front desk. After providing the front desk staff with our name and being given the registration packet for someone else, we quickly got things sorted out and a "concierge" was called to show us to lunch while we waited for our room. Our concierge gave us a quick tour of the facilities at the Reserve before handing us off to the staff at the Gabi Club for lunch. Our biggest disappointment of the trip was returning to registration after lunch at about 2:30pm only to find that our room still wasn't ready. We sat down with our concierge to make dinner reservations for the first half of the week (we were told by the concierge and by the phone reservation staff that we couldn't make them for our full stay, only for 3 days at a time). At 2:57, we inquired about our room again and our concierge told us that "check-in isn't until 3:00 so you will have to be patient." After almost 12 hours of travel and waiting, we were anxious to get to our room to change and head to the beach so that our first day wouldn't be a complete waste. We expressed this to the concierge and front desk staff and we were finally shown to our room at about 3:40 and our concierge's only comment was "are you happy now?" I really thought that this comment was uncalled for - yes, we understood that check-in was not until 3 (which was absolutely fine with us) but we were a bit annoyed that around 3:30, they continued to tell us, "a few minutes." As many TripAdvisor users have mentioned, the first order of business upon entering our room was to be given the Vacation Club pitch but after a firm no we were left alone for the rest of week. Now admittedly, the first 3 hours of our experience at the hotel were not a good indication of the week ahead however, our trip very quickly turned around.

Room - We had booked a One Bedroom Suite but we were upgraded to a One Bedroom Suite with Private Patio and Garden. The Suite was great with a large seating area in the living room, a nice sized bedroom, and patio that included a Jacuzzi and a private Bali bed and canopy. As other reviewers have noted, the bathroom was not designed as well as it could have been. The toilet is isolated in its own room, but they used a glass wall and door that doesn't reach the ceiling to enclose this area so it really isn't possible to use that section of the bathroom while someone else is showering or using the sink. The private patio and Jacuzzi were nice features but there were a lot of mosquitos in the garden area that kept us from using it as often as we would have liked. I'd also note that the stories of people having things stolen from their rooms were concerning to us and we contacted the hotel several times to inquire about the size of the in-room safe to determine if we should bring our laptop and we were told that it wouldn't fit however the safe definitely would have accommodated our 15" MacBook.

Beach - The beach was a 10 minute walk from the Reserve or you could take a golf cart shuttle from the lobby that got you to the beach in half the time. There is a section of the beach that is reserved exclusively for guests of the Reserve and members of the Vacation Club. We always arrived at the beach early each morning so we never had any issues getting chairs and a palapa (thatched hut/umbrella). Throughout the day, seaweed would wash up on the beach and each morning it was bagged, collected, and hauled away by groundskeepers although this process typically took most of the morning, it really wasn't a problem. The water was clear and seaweed free for about 25 feet and was calm with fairly small waves. Service on the beach was pretty good with several servers walking around to help set up towels and take drink order throughout the day.

Pools - The pools at the main resort and the Reserve were both very nice. Both pools had swim-up bars, built in lounge chairs, and built in jacuzzi areas. There was ample service at both of the pools.

Food/Drinks - Let me begin by saying that the bad reviews of the food are inaccurate. While the restaurants aren't going to rival any fine dining location in the U.S., it certainly isn't as bad as it has been made out to seem. The food was a little over-seasoned, but nothing that could be deemed as "horrible." For breakfast and lunch, guests were forced to rely on the buffets, grills, or room service which were all good provided that you order the right options. For dinner, the À la carte restaurants which require reservations were actually quite good. Some people have noted issues with getting reservations but we typically opted for later dinners and our concierge was able to make reservations for the first half of our stay and we called the reservations extension to make the rest of our reservations without a problem. Drinks throughout the property were certainly plentiful and in many cases great, depending on the skill level of the bartender.

Gabi Club (the Reserve) - Gabi Club provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Reserve. We had the breakfast buffet which provided a wide variety of options including a made-to-order omelet station. We also had lunch here on our first day which was good although they didn't have many light lunch options.

Room Service - We had room service (included in the all-inclusive) breakfast once during our stay and it was delivered quickly and was very good.

Hydrogrill (the Reserve) & Market Grill (Main Resort) - Both of these locations had hamburgers, salads, and a variety of grilled entrees that were good for a quick lunch. The off-menu carnitas at the Market Grill are actually one of the best things on the resort - you just have to ask for them.

Naos Buffet (Main Resort) - Skip it - one lunch at Naos, the "international buffet" was enough for us.

Bana (Main Resort/Reservations Required) - Actually three restaurants in one - you can opt to reserve space at the Teppanyaki table, the sushi bar, or the asian fusion bistro. We ate at the Teppanyaki table (yes Teppanyaki can be a bit cheesy) but the food was actually one of our best meals. Also to note, the bar in Bana probably had the best cocktails and bartender on the property.

Passion and Vento (Main Resort/Reservations Required) - Billed as the "international" and "mediterranean" restaurants, both restaurants provided quality meals and a good variety of menu options.

Gabi Beach (Main Resort and included for guest of the Reserve/Reservations Required) - Variety of grilled entrees, outdoor setting right on Gabi Beach, and good service.

Mizu (The Reserve/Reservations Required) - The Reserve's Teppanyaki restaurant wasn't quite as good as Bana but still provided a nice meal with good service.

Entertainment/Nightlife - Although the nightly entertainment in the plaza can be a bit cheesy, we had a blast nonetheless and attended many shows. The Michael Jackson show was interesting, "Retro Night" was a lot of fun; they had dancers on site and a DJ playing music from the last four decades. Many of the shows were earlier (the "Cirque" began around 7:30, the Jazz show began at 9:00) - if you have a later dinner, you may miss the shows. There was live music and dancing each night in the plaza, and it always appeared to be the place to be.

Leaving Punta Cana - Conexion Tours arrived at our hotel right on time for our return to the airport. We arrived at the airport about two and a half hours before our flight which we thought might be allowing too much time until we realized what a disorganized mess the departures section of the airport was going to be. Immediately after the van pulled up to drop us off, we had people opening doors and taking our luggage while urging us to follow them - these folks were actually there to help us get through luggage pre-screening to ensure we didn't have any plants, animals, or other restricted agriculture items but without knowing what was going on, this added to the confusion. We waited almost an hour at the American Airlines counter to check in and check our luggage before heading to their slightly disorganized security screening. Going through screening involved a lot of merging lines and security officers that weren't very clear in their instructions. We then were rushed to fill out immigration forms (the same forms that you had to fill out before clearing immigration on the way in) and it remains unclear as to whether these were really necessary since they didn't look at them... The departures section of the airport is actually split between two different terminals (one terminal is open air while the other is air-conditioned so if you need a cool place to grab some food - head over to the air-conditioned side).

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank littlthng3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 August 2010

One of the Best family resorts we have been in, so far.
We had master sweet bedroom, it was amazing, 2 rooms kids sleep separate, the hot top outside makes it very romantic. If you are lucky and get Leidy Laura Sautava when check in, your vacation will start in the excellent mood. If you get family concierge, ask for Samira Lee, she made our stay unforgettable and kids could not stop talking about her. To get in the restaurants is a little hard, but Danny the capitan (manager) from Bana restaurant took care of all our needs and made our dunning experience a pleasure.
We think the spa is overrated tried it 3 time, different people and was not impressed with any of them. Overall for a family vacation it is a great experience.
We would definitely come back here again and again.

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank TravelFromPhila
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 July 2010

The hotel was absolutely beautiful. The all inclusive made it even better. The beach are was breathtaking. I had a wonderful time. Thank you.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled with friends
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Thank kat8275
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 July 2010

We just arrived home today. The hotel was beautiful and really empty considering it is July. We stayed at the Reserve but I would have saved the money (we used time share points) and stayed at the main resort instead,. Rooms were big, king bed with a jacuzzi on the balcony. Living room sofa opened to queen size. Thought the food was really good. Alwa ys had a good selection. Ate in all 7 restuarants would say Gabi Beach & The Japanese were our favorites. The Reserve had limited (actually VERY limited) poolside service. Where as the Paradisus had numerous people roaming constantly.
Over all the place is beautiful as was the ocean. But bring bug spray & ask the maid to spray the room. My poor daughter came home with 40 bites. Me only 4! Any questions please feel free to ask. PS save a lot of money on your transfers look on line for Conexion $70.00 for 4 people round trip. Great service! Terrific Spa....OMG pls go treat yourself! Free wi-fi limited.

Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
3  Thank reenabean
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 July 2010

Where do I begin?
Just as most other people have stated the greatest part of this resort is the landscaping and groundskeeping. The rooms are very nice as well. They feature two plasma TV's, a fantastic comfortable bed, nice hot tubs and shower, and a not so comfortable set of couches. The drinks are plentiful and for the most part very good! It really is an absolutely gorgeous resort.
The worst part of my stay personally was dealing with management and staff. My fourth day there I got a terrible case of food poisoning from either the Hydro Grill or from some hors d'oeuvres that my wife and I found near the internet cafe. The food poisoning was so bad that I was rushed to the doctor and had to spend the night in a Dominican hospital. Upon getting discharged we decided to ask management for an extra night being that we lost almost two days spent in pure agony. Management told us they would look into the matter mainly because they couldn't prove that I ate the food at the resort. After threatening them multiple times they finally gave in and were able to give us an extra night, which they tried charging us for at checkout.The hospital stay cost almost $2000 for less then 24hours and the hotel did not even want to give a few $ dollar a night room. I would go as far to say that this place had some of the worst upper level customer service I have ever experienced at a hotel. The fact that they basically called me a liar and told me that it wasn't their food that made me sick just rubbed me the wrong way.
Other problems we encountered are very similar to what others are saying on here. The three concierge buttons on the phone are useless. Nobody answered them the entire time we tried them. It was very difficult to communicate with most people and I felt like everything had to be asked for multiple times.
We tried multiple times to get our mini-fridge restocked which took about 4 days to complete.
One huge disappointment that stood out for me was the "all-inclusive" golf. Its "all-inclusive" as long as you don't mind paying $35 per golfer for a golf cart!!
Even though the resort was basically empty and a ghost town we were told we couldn't book reservations at certain restaurants. When we finally complained and asked for a manager we were given reservations. Once we arrived at the restaurant we were one of maybe five couples there with about 20 empty tables. Which brings me to my next complaint. The food.
For the most part the food is bad. The ketchup is whipped up behind the kitchen door then shoved back into a three year old Hines bottle. Even though its the wrong color and taste. Everybody and their landlord knows its not Hines. The safest things to eat for lunch are burgers or pizza unless of course you want to roll the dice and spend some time in a foreign hospital.
The wi-fi at the reserve was also lacking. It was available in the courtyard and near the pool, however I could not get a signal inside the comfort of my room and in air conditioning.
Like most people have said it is a gorgeous resort, but the customer service is terrible. I would not go back for this reason.
We did do the dolphin explorer excursion which was amazing. I could count on one hand the amount of helpful people located at this resort and Daniel at the excursions counter was one of them.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank mrsbattista
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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