My second trip to the D.R., I'll break this down into a few parts; as an FYI, the complaints I have read in other reviews, I can relate to some, whereas others are completely preposterous..(ie. "Vacation sucked because someone stole my stuff" That could be anyone, anywhere!)
Overall, the experience was great. Some of the problems we had were out of our control (a little too hot for me on some days) and some were things I think the hotel can improve on. Compared to our last Dominican vacation the Royal does very very well, I would recommend it and I would go back.
The A-La cartes were mixed in terms of overall experience. Some people we spoke with loved the ones we hated and vice-versa, so I think it largely comes down to personal taste.
The service was always good and at times excellent.
To get the bad out of the way, In our opinion Tapas was the worst one. I had the chicken and my partner a vegetarian lasagna. It was not good at all. That said, some people we spoke to loved it. Tip: if you don't like it, just go to another restaurant, or save room for the snack bar!
The Breakfast buffet (Tahlassa) contained the same items every morning, which was fine; there was a good variety and the food, although sometimes salty, was really good overall (I really liked the Mangu, I'm looking for a recipe now!
The staff in the morning I find are really good and attentive, you don't have to wait too long for a coffee refill (coffee is excellent!) I can't recall the names of the female servers working near the buffet end of the restaurant, but they were sweethearts.
Thalassa as an a-la carte is good. They didn't knock it out of the park, but it was good.
We ate at Sea blue quite often. I found the food there pretty good. The burgers, california roll and mozza sticks are exceptionally good!
We visited the snack bar on the "other side" a few times, nice variety for pizza but some of the toppings had me confused (Tuna on Pizza? And Corn? Ooookay..) The rotisserie chicken is really good as well, so it's worth your while to head over.
Mariachi (Mexican) was pretty good. We had the fajita's, the quesedilla's. The nacho's were so-so, but tasty (good guacamole)
Steakhouse was OK, being a BIG wing lover I was really looking forward to the starter wings, alas, they were flat out gross in terms of texture (slimy) and sauce (boring); the potato skins were not worth it (think cheese whiz and a few bacon bits) The steak was cooked to order and was pretty good. Tip: You'll need to order a few sides, the tempura vegetables was only 2 peices of deep fried cauliflower, 3 onion rings and a small potato.
Italian was really good. My partner called it her favorite. She had the pork and I had carbonara, which was a little watery. The waiter, Luis was excellent, I wish they worked half as hard as he did in restaurants at home.
We were put into a first floor room initially and immediately asked for a change (dark and a bit dank) You need to remind yourself you are in the tropics, it's hot and muggy, rooms can be a little musty.
The room is pretty clean overall and the maids do a good job (tipping a $5 per day got us a couple extra beers and a few extra cookies!) We were facing the other resort, but it was no big deal. I will echo what other reviewers have said and get a room facing the pool side. It's out of the evening sun and you can sit to do some people watching.
We managed to hang with a couple that was in one of the executive suites with splash pool. Cool spot, if you can afford it, get it!
Casino: Nice spot for a game of cards, slots, blackjack, etc., went there one night, it was a bit of fun.
Excursions: We didn't do any excursions. Didn't want to, so no comment.
Beach Party: One night they brought a DJ down on the beach, with a light show and stuff. That was fun to stand around in the sand and have a few drinks.
Pretty darn good for the most part, but after a week, I was getting tired of sugary drinks (ie. Pina colada, Banana Mamma's) and was tired of the Presidente after a few days (I really like a variety of beers)
The bartenders make a special per day which is sometimes good, sometimes not so. (again, up to your personal tastes) but at least it's there and they make an effort. If they aren't busy ask for something blended. The Crazy Monkey is a nice chocolate/banana drink.
As a suggestion to improve, I'd like to see a variety of beer and some less-sugary options.
The Beach Bar is a nice spot to enjoy the view the bartenders are enthusiastic and friendly. It's shady for those who are not sun bathers. But my god, the music was TERRIBLE... Think porn music. I asked the bartender if he could turn it off and he said no and sincerely looked like he'd thank me if I yanked the speaker off the post.
The juice bar (Moo-Loo) is nice, variety of fresh-fruit and vegetable drinks some tasty items there. (Josep, if you are reading me this, can you send me the ingredients to the Bagua drink? Trying to make it at home!)
The Piano Bar/Lobby is really nice, but I wish there was a non-smoking area. If you go in there on a hot day and a few are smoking, it's pretty unbearable with the smoke and heat. It's a great spot for a mid-morning espresso. The coffee is so good down there...
The main pool bar is nice and it has a little more of a party vibe than the other bars. I think that is what the point is for that bar and they are achieving it well. It's nice, the bartenders are having fun and the drinks are good. (Music is better!) We aren't really pool people but we sat by it one day for a few drinks and to take it all in.
I read complaints about the seaweed, but they are preposterous. The staff is always down cleaning it up and if you don't like it, step over it! It's the ocean for gods sake. Bring a snorkel and go out by the cement pipe thing and you can see all kinds of neat tropical fish.
You'll see some people going topless, which can be a mixed blessing ;)
You need to get down fairly early to reserve a shady spot, one morning I was down there at 6:30 and a few were taken, by 8am, you can forget it. We aren't sunbathers, so we spent one morning moving our chairs around to keep out of the sun.
Some suggestions I would like to make to the management:
1) Music at the beach bar. Either get rid of it or give the staff the ability to put something else on. It was really annoying and drove us out of there at one point. That trancey stuff is hard on the ears and gets annoying after an hour.
2) Piano Bar - Have a designated, Air Conditioned non-smoking area, OR get a good smoke-eater. We were breathing too much second hand smoke when we just wanted a cool place to sit.
3) Dress Code - Long pants and close-toe shoes for the a-la cartes is too much. You should alter it to be "Long pants preferred, dress-shorts accepted. No Flip-Flops/Beachwear" It's way too warm for me to be wearing long pants.
4) Gym/Fitness area - A couple of fans would be an excellent addition here. The A/C didn't cool it fast enough for me. After 30 minutes of running I nearly passed out from the heat, had to cut my workouts short.
In summary, If this is your first trip to the Dominican, you need to manage your expectations on certain things. I think some of the naysayers here have probably never been down to the D.R. before. Either way, if you have or have not been here before, this place is definitely an excellent choice!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Enjoy the authentic Caribbean at an exclusive, adults-only resort. Its small details make big your stay and the personalized service you receive will make you feel as if you were in heaven. Exclusive suites, innovative restaurants, dreamlike swimming pools…relax in this tropical paradise and enjoy the best vacation you’ve ever had. Have an extraordinary experience, and leave the worrying to us; we’ll take care of you. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Catalonia Royal Bavaro Hotel Punta Cana
- Catalonia Royal Bavaro Punta Cana
- Royal Catalonia Bavaro