I was called by Apple Vacations the day before our trip (originally to the Ocean Blue and Sand), and told we needed to be moved to Dreams since Apple had over-booked. According to their company, Dreams is a better resort. I had no time to research Dreams, and hoped for the best.
The resort was truly beautiful upon arrival, with a very lovely lobby. We were greeted with champaign. Trusting that everyone in hotel uniform had good intentions we were quickly whisked into what we thought was a "welcome information" discussion immediately after check-in. In truth, it was a discussion about the new property, Zoetry, by an aggressive salesperson, using aggressive and annoying sales tactics. She demanded immediate confirmation that we would attend the "VIP breakfast". Annoyed, we said no.
By the time we left this discussion, and headed to our room, the bellman had already left, and our luggage was nowhere to be found. We had to call the lobby, track him down, and finally received our luggage. NOT a good start!
The only two days that I felt well were the first and last days. I was nauseated the entire trip, and learned that when we were looped into the timeshare discussion, we had actually missed an important talk given by a hotel welcomer about dos and don'ts of staying at the resort. Important things like "Don't drink the tap water", and "Don't leave the premises" were mentioned. I had used the tap water to brush my teeth the first day. I'm not sure if this is why I was nauseated, or if it was the quality of the food, but it would have been helpful to know. We were very upset that we missed this valuable advice, and instead got an annoying sales pitch after traveling for hours.
The incessant selling continued. This same lady approached my significant other, suggesting that he book a "romantic dinner on the beach" complete with the pedestrian "wink, wink, nudge, nudge". Thanks for the help in our romantic life, lady. He really needs help on how to treat me well. Ugh! When we asked how much it cost, she said, "It shouldn't be more that around $100 to $150." What?!
Two of the six nights we were there, the hotel had allowed local vendors to set-up tables on the walking paths and in the lobby. These vendors were pushy, obnoxious, and unavoidable. There is only one way to get to both dinner or the beach, and you must walk through the vendors. Another couple told us the story of how they became the proud owners of a tiny seed bead bracelet because the vendor placed the item on one of them, and refused to remove it. He demanded $20. Ridiculous! We tried to avoid the vendor line by walking by the poolside to get back to our room. During our walk the vendors yelled at us, "Lady, lady! Walk this way! I have something beautiful for you!" We just wanted a peaceful stay, but we felt harassed.
I have traveled to three all-inclusives, and Dreams was by far the most expensive. It was also the worst. My stays in Mexico and Jamaica were both better. The food was definitely better at these other resorts, and there were never any vendors on premises.
The things that I did appreciate at Dreams were the friendliness of the staff, the gorgeous beach, pool, and plentiful chaise lounges and cabanas, and the beachside waitstaff who would bring you drinks. Also, there was a lady who was giving out fresh, delicious mangos on sticks on the way to the beach, and a gentleman with tapped coconuts that you could drink from on the beach. These little extras were awesome.
I feel that I have to make mention of a terrifying story we were told by a group of travelers, especially after reading the last review. This was an unsolicited story that they only told us out of warning after we told them that we left the resort. A lady at dinner had told them that she had booked a sight-seeing excursion into town. The bus that the group was on got a flat tire, and the tour guide told the group to walk a short way down the road to a church they were going to stop at, and that he would pick them up from there. En route to the church, a woman was attacked by a man who jumped from the bushes. He attempted to pull her gold necklace from her neck, but when it didn't snap off, he dragged her down the road by the necklace. Finally, others from the group chased him off, and he disappeared back into the bushes. The assaulted lady was ok, but obviously terrified.
The other group told us this story as caution for leaving the resort. We had walked down the beach to the left off of the resort in search of a local restaurant called Restaurant Coco Tropical, recommended by the workers at the resort, for lunch. Being constantly nauseated, I wanted non-resort food, and have always loved sampling true, local cuisine. Once we left the resort grounds, we were approached by a man attempting to have us see his store. We said no, and continued walking further, and approached what appeared to be a small village on the beach. Here, another young man approached us, and asked us where were were going. He wanted us to see his store, and offered to personally escort us to the restaurant. We walked though his store, which was in his home, and he walked us to Coco Tropical. On this walk, we passed several men with semi-automatic rifles, and I had a horrible "what have we done" feeling. The young man seemed benign, and we asked him who the men with guns were. He told us they were the police there to protect the village. We later discussed this, and wondered what goes on there that necessitates semi-automatic rifles.
The restaurant was awesome, with great food and super-friendly service. However, in hindsight, we obviously compromised our safety, and put ourselves in a potentially harmful situation by walking around we a stranger in a place where no one would know if we disappeared. Really scary when I think of it now. We had tipped the man who escorted us, as well as the waitress considerably. They were very appreciative of this. I would NEVER do this again, and wasn't aware of the safety climate when we did this. During our side trip I felt a strong sense of doom, and will advise all others to NOT LEAVE THE RESORT! Nothing happened to us, but in hearing the stories, and reading the other reviews, it easily could have.
I also think some helpful advice would be to bring bug spray, and use it in the evening. I am covered with several bites that itch horribly, and are very large, red and angry-looking! This happened during an evening outside at the Veranda bar.
We did have insects in our room, one of which was a cockroach in the bed. I do feel this is unavoidable in tropical climates, but if the resort does spray for bugs, perhaps they need to do it more frequently. I recommend keeping all suitcases shut and zipped the entire time. Also, the ceiling in our bathroom leaked after a full day of rain. After sending a repairperson, the only solution the resort provided was to place towels all over the bathroom that we had to clean up later. The leak stopped the next day when the rain did, but the ceiling continued to bow.
Also, this is a family resort. The only adult-only place is the Italian restaurant called Portofino. Other resorts are family-friendly, but have more to offer as far as adult-only pools, beach areas, etc. It is a but of a stroller convention, and probably not the best place for couples looking to have a quiet stay. Granted, this resort states this, and if I have had more time to research this, I would have been better prepared. I acknowledge that this is an issue with Apple Vacations, and is in no way fault of the resort.
I can't help to think that if we'd only heard the discussion about dos and don'ts that we missed we would have avoided the nausea and potentially dangerous situation. I'm very disappointed that Dreams doesn't use discretion when approaching newly arrived guests, and am most certainly annoyed with how much selling goes on in the resort. We went on an all-inclusive vacation to avoid this atmosphere, and were so disappointed to encounter it. If we return to the DR, we probably will not come back to Dreams.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Secluded in a lush tropical paradise, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa features one of the largest free-form swimming pools in the Dominican Republic, stretching from the lobby all the way down to the pristine beach. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dreams Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
- Sunscape Beach Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Sunscape Beach
- Dreams Resort Punta Cana
- Dreams Punta Cana Resort
- Dreams Dominican Republic