We stayed at the hotel from 1/3/14 - 1/11/14. The Westin is literally 2.5 km from the airport which is great and you won't know it. No noise at all. The landscaping is young and needs to mature but will look beautiful in time. It's hard to fault the property for that and there is a lot of upkeep going on. Nothing is neglected. There's nothing immediately to the sides of the property but raw land and some construction staging on the other side. This was not an issue for us as there's no noise and I am sure will change with time. You only see it if you glance out from the walkway to beyond the property as you go to your room. No big deal as it is not visible from anywhere else. Pool and beach area are gorgeous.
We are Starwood Preferred guests and were upgraded to a suite overlooking the pool area. We did ask for a better view and the manager Juan Manual Flores was very gracious about it and we moved to a room with a view of the ocean and pool area. When ever he saw us he asked us how things were going. He is quite an asset for the Westin as he truly cares about his guests. One morning we missed the shuttle to the spa and he got his car and drove us over there so we wouldn't miss our massages. That is unheard of in today's world.
The hotel just opened before Christmas so it's still working out all the kinks but I found the staff very deferential and helpful. No attitude like at the Westin in Cancun.
Our room was spacious with a nice walk in closet area and bathroom that ran the length of the room with double sinks and a nice large shower. It was nicely appointed and we enjoyed sitting on the balcony in the late afternoon. There are plenty of chairs and a nice chaise lounge. We hosted several happy hours in our room.
The in-room cable TV is a flat screen that can be turned so you can view it from the bed and it has everything you would want to watch. WiFi was great throughout the property and worked great pool side.
The pool area is breath taking as is the beach. The beach is a short walk from the pool area. The beach area is well kept with lots of umbrellas and high quality lounge chairs. The staff is plentiful and takes care of all your needs. You only get one towel but I bet this policy will change in time as it's a little impractical. But exchanging towels is easy and effortless.
You are a 5 minute walk away from Playa Blanca and I highly recommend it for lunch or dinner. You can take the free shuttle but the walk is some much sorter and the view is great.
There are 2 restaurants on site. The one by the beach is more scenic in my opinion. The breakfast buffet is $20 and worth it. There's all the typical stuff and an omelet bar. The dinner Buffett is also $20 and not bad. The buffets are the best deals for meals. Otherwise the menu is pricey and the food is average. But we were hard pressed to find any real good restaurants in the area. I posted reviews separately. In my opinion the 'Village' which is a free short shuttle bus ride away is a tourist trap with the exception of one restaurant - El Tablao. The others had attitude and high prices.
There are also 2 bars - one in the lobby and one by the pool bordering the beach. It is charming and a great spot for an afternoon drink. Prices are what you would expect from a resort.
The lobby has an on site tour operator - Gray Line Tours and the guys there were great. We did 3 tours. I highly recommend the zip line tour - the one with 12 platforms and the all day side by side ATV buggy and catamaran tour with meal. Both tours were awesome and our typically screamish wives had a blast.
I thought the location of the Westin was quite good and conveniently located to the Westin Spa and Golf Club where you have privileges. Free shuttles come on a regular basis and take you there or to Playa Blanca and the Village. There's a great modern grocery store at the back end of the Villlage called the Nationale. It has everything! We stocked up on beer (Presidente is the local brew), rum, snacks, fruit, crackers, cheese etc. well worth the trip.
It seems like 99% of the resorts are all inclusive. This makes sense as good restaurants are hard to come by. But Jelly Fish, Playa Blanca, Bamboo and La Yola at La Cana Club are some of the memorable ones in addition to the ones already mentioned. And we prefer the freedom to choose as I doubt that the food at the all inclusives can be all the great - but I am only basing this on my observations of trying lots of places over the course of 8 days. Being from Southern California doesn't help as we are used to good reasonably priced food. There is also nothing particularly unique in the way of island cuisine - unlike Jamaica and other islands we have been to.
All in all we enjoyed our stay at the Westin and would come back. I think the Westin will blossom into an extremely nice resort property and I am glad we were there before it really takes off as the destination resort in the DR.
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