This was our first all inclusive resort trip and our first time in Punta Cana. Family of 5, 3 kids aged 8, 3 and 3. We really weren't sure what to expect of the resort
First things first, arriving into Punta Cana was absolutely ridiculous. It took us over 75 minutes to clear customs for no apparent reason other than perhaps island time. The stroller was gate checked but didn't come through until after customs so our kids were pretty wiped, we were hot and sticky and sweaty beyond belief.
After clearing customs we got fairly quickly to out bus which was air conditioned and comfortable and then to the resort. On arriving we decided to upgrade to Preferred Club. I guess we were booked in standard rooms and our AC didn't work, neither did the fridges. They moved us to another section (right by the Preferred Club) as soon as a room was available and I don't know whether it was because it was on the ground floor (fine if you are on the buildings 6-10 side because there is a path that runs through the resort NOT through the accommodations but NOT fine if you are on the other side as the path runs through the accommodation and you can hear everything so on that side you want to be closer to the beach to avoid hearing much noise) but the AC worked like a sub-zero as did the fridge. I'm guessing that these were the preferred club rooms...
So the good:
Amazing facilities - the pool is beautiful and has tons of places for small kids including the swim up bar which is shallow enough for them to walk the length and yellow floating beds which the kids loved (if they'd only used the kids club properly I would have enjoyed them too). Preferred Club beach - incredible beds (palapas?) - the week we were there was apparently 95% occupancy but felt pretty empty to be honest. We didn't have any trouble getting a bed at all but don't know what this would be like if it was truly full.
Amazing service (the best intentioned in any case). Everyone tries very very hard to please although things don't always work out (whether its the coffee, the food, a misunderstood order). We asked for chocolate chip cookies and fresh fruit - they didn't ordinarily have choc chip cookies but managed to find some for us each time. Fresh fruit translated as fresh melon juice. Quite delicious but not what we asked for. Staff members of note in this respect: Nelson who runs the Oceana, Amarius who was our server there as well as at our dinner on the beach (more on that below), Elivira, Carolina and a male manager whose name I have forgotten at the Preferred Club. Diogenes in the Preferred club beach. All the girls at the Kids Club (who also babysat for us) but Maria, Carmen, Evelyn, Perla, Carol, Jennifer to name a few. All room service staff were fantastic.
Kids Club -my oldest had a great time and my younger kids just wanted to hang out with Mum and Dad. But the club had a fun facility with small water slide. They took the kids out a lot. It wasn't open til 10 that i'm aware of - only 9. And they didn't do the overnight camping on the beach which my daughter had been looking forward to but it was definitely a bonus and the kids will use it when they are older.
The food - OK this is a pro and con. The first night we went to the buffet - we were beat. I enjoyed the salads and veggies but my kids didn't enjoy the food and my husband was on the verge of killing me for organizing the holiday. We are both foodies (we live in NYC and eat out for date night). The following day we ate in the Oceana and the food was OK (the tuna steak was cooked rare as ordered but it was a thin cut - why not do proper steak cuts?), the following night we ate at the Seaside Grill and were pretty happy with our steaks (the skirt was reliable - the the rib eye was cut thin again - again, why do this - why not do the right cuts of steak - it's not a minute steak and I understand they are cooking for a larger number of folks and trying to move people through the restaurant but it really shouldn't be that difficult). Desserts - I'd stick to fruit which is amazing (the other desserts were pretty BLAH even if they were nicely plated. Best food we ate was at portofino. My husband was very suspicious of the pasta - we also spent a ton of time in Italy (living and traveling there) and so we are pretty fussy. The world cafe bolgonese he had the first night was "revolting". He asked our waiter there (also deserves a callout but I can't remember his name - will ask my husband and add a comment) if it was the same - he said no and in fact it wasn't. it was actually really good. As was the tenderloin. We should have passed on coffee and dessert tho. Oh and room services was consistently great and they were consistently accommodating of requests that were off menu (but elsewhere in the facility).
Cons: room variability as noted above our first room (2 nights) the AC didn't work nor did the fridge.
Maid service - we had great maid service in the new rooms (again I think these are preferred club area) but still no towel art (about half the traveler photos on the site), and it generally didn't happen before 4.30pm - not useful with kids who get wiped by the sun. The last day I actually asked and it was cleaned in the morning but not sure what would happen if everyone asked for morning service (I think before 1 is reasonable).
Food - see above. World Cafe was good for breakfast. Mains for dinner were apparently pretty sub-par. Pizza wasn't great (too fluffy, too much sauce and too much cheese - pizza at the trattoria by the beach by contrast was thin crust and OK but not great). Variability - greek salad - great greek salad with real feta at the seaside grill for dinner. Really average Greek salad with some processed cheese from the Oceana for lunch - restaurants are literally adjacent to one another with open walls.
Restaurant Wait time - with families - go early. As a couple either go late or be prepared to wait up to 45 mins for a table - not a bad idea to order a salad from room service (I did this or ate a greek salad at the seaside grill with my big kid before dropping her at kids club and heading out to dinner with my husband - we generally ate after 9 - once at 10 and were the only folks there more or less).
- 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