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“Wow! Amazing!”

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The Palace at Playa Grande
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Rio San Juan
Ivoryton, Connecticut
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
“Wow! Amazing!”
Reviewed 17 June 2013

My husband and I spent 5 days at the Palace -- what a treat! The property is astonishingly beautiful and incredibly well maintained and the level of service was fantastic. We've stayed at many five star hotels in the US and Europe, and we've never experiences such a caring, thoughtful and cooperative staff. The manager was waiting for us when we arrived and quickly served us a delicious fruit punch to welcome us. Our room overlooking the ocean and pool was bedecked with fresh flowers everywhere! In addition, the food was fresh, healthy and very tasty. We are both vegetarians, and the cook quickly offered to adjust his recipes to accommodate our needs. We also took a wonderful day trip to two amazing freshwater lakes and another spectacular beach. We would highly recommend the Palace and can't wait to return! And . . . only a 3 1/2 hour flight from NYC!!!

Room Tip: All of the rooms seem to be fantastic, and of course, an ocean view is the best!
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank suzyburke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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89 reviews from our community

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English first
Boston
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 June 2013

My husband and I stayed here from 6/13-6/16/13. It's a bit of a trek out but well worth it. The service is outstanding. We were pleasantly surprised by the food and the rooms. The grounds were spacious, the beach was private, and the cliff views were outstanding. We flew in from NYC for a weekend getaway and it was perfect. Would highly recommend.

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank wut5880
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rochester, New York, United States
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 June 2013

We found this place on Groupon and booked our honeymoon at a steep discount during their "off" season (Dec-May I believe). For a reasonable additional fee we were offered the ocean view + Jacuzzi room by Mark Lahood. At first we were worried about the weather conditions being in their "off" season but we got rave reviews from a friend who had been there in December last year. From the moment we landed in Puerto Plata we knew we had made the right choice. We rented a car and took Route 5 (an easy and scenic 90 minute drive on a well kept road) - a good alternative to the hotel's shuttle service which is $120 each way. No need to get rental car insurance if you have US and/or booking agency insurance (eg Priceline, etc).

When we arrived at the magnificent gates we were immediately impressed by how beautiful and well kept the place was compared to the rest of the buildings we saw on the drive over (including other resorts). We parked our car inside the armed security guarded locked gates and were ushered into the palace by the manager Juan Carlos, who was courteous and very helpful. We were handed delicious fruit punch as we went on a quick tour of the palace. Then we were shown to our room, which must have been about 1800 sq ft total with the bedroom + bathroom + balcony. It was breathtaking. There was a four-post king sized bed with mosquito net, a sitting area, another sitting area on the balcony, two-person jacuzzi on the balcony, two sink bathroom with enormous shower big enough to fit 10 people, a huge WC with toilet AND a bidet, and a closet for hanging clothes and lots of drawer space for everything else. They decorated the room with fragrant flowers that grow on the grounds and the place looked, smelled, and felt like heaven. This is the best room in the house. We took a look around at the other rooms, and while all of them have king sized beds and roomy bathrooms, the pool view rooms are significantly smaller, not all of them have AC and not all of them have bidets. However, the common space is so well kept and low traffic that you don't have to spend much time in your room at all. The common space includes multiple sitting areas with TVs, a billiard table, a ping pong table, the pool, the beach, the gazebo, the patio, the cliff-side area, etc. This place was built by some Sri Lankan guy so you can see the cultural influence on the decor and details.

The beach is exquisite. We took a boat tour and along the entire coast line and no other resort in that area has a private beach. The public beaches nearby (Playa Grande, Caleton) all have wild dogs and vendors and debris scattered about making it a potentially uncomfortable experience but the private beach at the resort is clean, free of wild animals and vendors, with a few secluded hideaways too ;)

The service at the Palace is top notch. Our room was turned down twice a day - in the morning they would open the curtains and put the decorative bedding on the bed (duvet, shams, etc), as well as renew all the towels and take your dirty laundry. In the evening they would draw the curtains, remove the decorative bedding and leave only what was necessary for sleeping (pillow, light blanket), and return your clean laundry. The food was also excellent, with a mixture of typical American fare (garlic toast, eggs and bacon, chicken sandwiches) and Dominican foods (mahi mahi, fried plantains, yuca, etc). The mangoes and pineapples in the DR are succulent, sweet, and juicy. I had them with every meal. Our servers were top notch, very responsive, timely, and friendly. We tipped them generously (which probably encouraged them to treat us well).

As soon as you arrive you will be visited by Felix or some representative of EuroHispaniola tours. They will offer you open-back Jeep-chauffeured tours of all the attractions, complete with optional ATV tour and horseback riding tour. These are extremely tiring but the views are beautiful and you get to see how the locals live. You can go this route, and for $450 my husband and I participated in ALL of these tours, which took 3 days to complete. We were also the only couple taking these tours so we essentially got private tours all 3 days. Alternatively, the hotel staff will plan excursions into town for free if you just ask them. You just won't get the play-by-play history of the DR that the professional tour guide will give you. (By the way, our tour guide Tinto was awesome.)

You can get by with only American money if necessary. Do not exchange currency at the airport (which is true for any country) - do it ahead of time at your bank or ask the front desk to do it for you. They will go into town somewhere and get exchanged at the current rate without crazy markups. Bring plenty of small bills for tipping and small purchases (we gave everybody $1-3 each time they provided a service but we ran out of dollar bills after a few days and just ended up giving larger bills to everyone on the day we left). Purchasing souvenirs in the small town of Rio San Juan is very affordable compared to buying at the airport or the bigger towns, and they are essentially the same exact stuff (Larimar jewelry, hand carved wooden statues/boxes, cigars, coffee, etc). The prices for goods/merchandise is essentially what you would expect to pay in the US (eg 1lb Dominican coffee for $4-5 which is what you would pay for a 1lb bag of Maxwell House). The food is very cheap. I recommend going to Playa Grande for the fresh caught fish which goes for about $10/lb, complete with complimentary rice, fried plantain, and salad. Bring Purell and toilet paper if you go to any public beach.

If you are a fitness buff and want to work out while you are on vacation - this is not the place for you. There are safe places to run without risk of being run over, the fitness center at the palace is very out of date and in the basement with no windows, but there are a few old treadmills you can use. I suppose you can also run on the beach but the sand is so soft and fine that it melts under your feet and may be hard to run on.

The spa offers full services ranging from facials to massages to mani/pedis. We got the Swedish massages under a special tent by the beach overlooking the ocean and it was the most relaxing experience I have ever had in my life, especially after the horseback riding tour. It was very expensive (as are all their services). For the thrifty traveler you can get a massage at half the price from a random lady at the public beach - caveat emptor if you choose to go this route.

Overall we had a fantastic experience and 6 nights was definitely not enough. Usually at the end of a vacation I start to feel homesick and by the time I leave I am ready to go home. This time, now that I am home, I am Balaji-sick and ready to go back immediately! We hope to go back next year and hopefully we'll get the same deal we got this time because for the price we paid the experience was out of this world. HIGHLY recommended for honeymooners and anniversaries and just any vacation. Do not bring children because they will annoy other guests and yourself. This place is perfect for a romantic getaway with your loved one.

Room Tip: Choose an ocean view room for the best views and bigger sizes. There are two Jacuzzi rooms in the pa...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Elaina C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
caribbean
Level Contributor
251 reviews
75 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 124 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 May 2013

My husband and I stayed there last weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary and we spend a wonderful time there, I want to thank Mark Lahood to arranging for us the Ocean front suite with jacuzzi on the balcony and the manager Juan Carlos Villa was very nice and always in great spirit and willing to accomodate all of our needs. The place is exquisite and gourgeous, we went to India for our honeymoon and being in this hotel it truly felt like we were back in India in one of those magnificent palaces, the place if full of beautiful details and the decor is of excellent taste, the view is breathtaking from everywhere in the property, there are even some peacocks walking around, the ocean is so nice. We will definitely go back there. Is a place that we will go back again, and we are even considering celebrating our son's wedding there

Room Tip: request room with ocean view if possible, although all the rooms have excellent views be it to the g...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank rosannar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cary, North Carolina
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 May 2013

I don't know if I can add much more than what others have said. First off I feel like such a loser for waiting so long to finally write this review. Once I got back from this AMAZING vacation the reality of everyday life set in and well, its just taken me a while to actually sit down and take a moment. This vacation was soooooooo relaxing and just as EVERYONE has said, the staff is incredible!! Everyone bends over backwards to make sure you are enjoying yourself. If you want to just sit back and relax and enjoy the location you have so much free personal space and if you want to go out and adventure there is plenty of opportunity for that. We rented a car and drove from the airport which was nice because it gave us more freedom but I would not recommend that for everyone. The traffic is CRAZY and seemingly no laws. I felt comfortable enough because my boyfriend is from India and familiar with this type of chaotic traffic and rough roads but if you are timid at ALL, let the professionals drive. I also recommend doing stuff with Felipe. He is wonderful and it feels more like you are going out with a buddy. He along with one of the kitchen staff, Donny took us out on a horseback ride through the country and we got the opportunity to meet Felipe and Donny's family. We also got to try coco nuts. The fruit of the coco nut is really mild and actually kind of reminded me of marshmallow. We also went to the lagoon and I went off the zipline a few times with my boyfriend, Felipe and Donny cheering me on. Apparently I was the only one brave enough to jump. If you do the zipline into the lagoon I would recommend some sort of ear plugs. I had annoying water stuck in my ears for weeks. We also went as a group with the other couples at the hotel on a day trip to the other zipline adventure. This really did take the entire day but it was lots of fun and we really enjoyed spending some time with the other couples at the hotel. Several of us were nervous about the zipline and we each cheered one another on. I have to say it is a little scary signing a waiver that says you're not going to hold the company responsible if you die! But just make sure you follow their instructions. Once I got started I felt fine. My boyfriend gave me a scare when he put his hand on the rope IN FRONT of the mechanism. FOLLOW THEIR INSTRUCTIONS. There is also a place to feed monkeys. Get the camera cause this is fun and not as death defying. Back to the hotel, like pretty much everyone has said, the staff is AMAZING!! If you want something specific for your meal they do everything they can to accommodate. One morning my boyfriend asked for something specific for breakfast and they didn't have the ingredient needed so they went out to get it. I don't know any other place that would go to those lengths. Most people just say "oh we're out of that". To sum it up, the palace is beautiful, the food is good, the staff is wonderful and I can't wait for the opportunity to return.

Room Tip: I read a review that the peacocks can be loud and to get a room away from the peacocks but I was nev...
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  • Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Amanda S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Phoenix, Arizona
1 review
Reviewed 19 March 2013

Work, kids, family can overwhelm our lives, but when my husband and I needed a getaway, we chose to stay four nights at the Palace. We left the week first week in March, and are counting the days until we can return to this place. The picturesque views are awe-inspiring, and bring you closer to nature. We paid additional to have a seemless arrival in DR, customs and were greeted by Juan Carlos and Javier with delicious fruit punch drinks when we arrived at the palace. We were given a tour of the facility and they have cliffside apartments, oceanview suites, and garden villas. The hotel is a Warwick hotel- which are the top of the line hotels for international and domestic travel. The hotel itself was immaculate! I consider myself a clean freak and everyday the staff were cleaning the grounds, bedrooms, laundry service etc.. They cleaned the floors with a solution that smelled wonderful. The staff: Juan Carlos (manager)Javier, Cynthia (guest services), Ramona, Felipe were all great. They must have mind reading powers (esp) because they would address our needs before we had a chance to ask. The 3 course meal dinners were delicious! We had fresh mahi-mahi, soup, plantains. My husband and I embraced the DR menu which was amazing. There were only 2 other couples during our stay, which made it an intimate getaway. No phones, no tablets, just a chance to reconnect. I know for us it will be a place that we come back to for years to come. If you are considering staying at the Palace, I would say to go for it, but dont tell too many people, that way it can remain "our little secret hideaway."

Room Tip: All of the rooms are beautiful, it would come to a matter of preference. Do you want to hear the oce...
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank tenuredtraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Austin, TX
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviewed 17 February 2013

We took our first trip to the DR without doing much research, and we chose the Balaji Palace on a whim. We couldn't have been more pleased with the results. The grounds were immaculate and welcoming, and the staff was so professional and friendly. We felt like we were spoiled rotten every minute of every day by Juan Carlos, Felipe, Charlie, Javier, Cynthia, Romana and Ruby. We felt like part of the family - a very nice family who attended to your every desire.

This part of the DR is far enough away from the tourism to be a real escape, which was a huge selling point for us. We heard stories that development is making its way to that part of the island, which is a shame, but sadly inevitable. This is a glorious place with the kindest people you'll ever meet. Don't hesitate to go, just don't tell too many people. :)

Room Tip: All of the rooms are nice, but the ones away from the pool are quieter. The cliffside rooms are glor...
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Stephanie_WW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Palace at Playa Grande

Property: The Palace at Playa Grande
Address: Calle Rio San Juan | Playa Grande, Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Maria Trinidad Sanchez Province > Rio San Juan
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Rio San Juan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:4 star — The Palace at Playa Grande 4*
Number of rooms: 13
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Also Known As:
The Palace At Playa Grande Hotel Rio San Juan

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