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“A hidden gem!”
Review of Villa Serena Hotel

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Villa Serena Hotel
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Las Galeras
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 2 August 2014

Family vacation at the Dominican Republic. 7 people, 3 rooms. First of all the place is amazingly beautiful, breathtaking vistas of the sea and the mountains, right on the beach, quiet, quiet, could not be any more different than the usual resorts/beach hotels all included that populate the touristic offers for the DR. In the far end of the northern peninsula, where the whales come to nest from November to March, is where this charming hotel is located. Every room is huge, has its own AC and fan, you can use both, one of them or none. Breakfast included. Food is very fresh, menu changes every day. The staff is friendly and really want to make sure you are happy with your room, with the food, and that you feel welcomed. Five of us went horse riding and came back exultant about the experience, galloping along a huge untamed beach called Playa Rincón, after riding along a path in the mountains, not too far from the hotel. Snorkel: they provide the gear and recommendations as to where and when to go. Massage in a cabana next to the beach: excellent, superior, paid one hour and got 30 minutes extra "because I was very tense". Just like that. Far from the crowds, you can see the stars at night and will not hear anything but the silence. Could not experience the yoga or the zumba clases, because the instructor was on vacation. Heard they were very good. WiFi comes and goes, but they were already fixing the inconvenience, but again, who wants to work? Highly recommend!

Room Tip: Did not see all rooms, but know they all have ocean view, have balconies and are very big.
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
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3  Thank Rachel M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 11 August 2014

Hi Rachel! Thank you very much for your review, we are happy that you had a great time!

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63 - 69 of 196 reviews

Reviewed 7 July 2014

This is a lovely, friendly, clean, quiet, affordable, relaxing little gem on the northern peninsula of the DR. It is off the beaten path in an area that is far from the maddening crowds. You will not hear a single steel drum or be hassled by anyone trying to sell you something on the beach or near the pool. I believe there are only about 20 rooms, and being the low season it was barely half full. My husband and I just returned yesterday. We were traveling with our 20 year old, college student daughter. She had her own room, and after 24 years of marriage, we took a honeymoon suite as it was our anniversary. (Do pay the extra $10 per day for A/C.) (And BTW, when your 20 year old kid still likes traveling with you, you take her, because this won't last forever.) The place was quiet as could be, which was just what we needed. There is a small, private beach and the water is crystal clear. The pool is perfect for soaking, but the low season is really very hot, so the pool is not very refreshing. No big deal, were happy to be on vacation! The staff always have smiles on their faces and are constantly accommodating, even if your spanish is terrible. The rooms are large and comfortable. Each had a balcony with chairs or chaise or hammock. We didn't spend much time out there on this trip, however, because it was just a bit too humid at night in July.

The bathrooms were also large, simple, but well appointed, and we never felt cramped at this hotel.

There is free wi-fi in the lobby area and a few sweet spots on the property, but not in the rooms. This, I think, is a plus, especially if you want a respite from technology. It IS a vacation, after all. But if you MUST check in with work, you have options, just not in your room. (I'm thinking about banning wi-fi in our home bedroom now. :)

Our room was in the corner close to the reception area. At first, I wasn't crazy about this, but is was so quiet and private that it didn't matter at all. I made our reservation on-line directly with Marina, the hotel manager. We emailed each other back and forth, she even called me at home once, and made sure that we had all our questions answered. I was skeptical and worried when she did not take a deposit, but that is just a testimony to the kind of people you will meet in the DR. All friendly, helpful and honest.

Fernando was our "go-to" person when we had questions or needed ANYthing while there. He has been with the hotel for years and knows the place backwards and forwards. He is a gentle man, as well as a gentleman, and was always eager to help us arrange for whatever we could think up. He found us a place to watch the World Cup, he arranged reservations at restaurants, had car services pick us up, and even went out himself and cut/peeled me some aloe when we got sunburned. (and it works, it just needs a few days of application. Keep it in the fridge.) Each room does have a small fridge. You will find a huge bottle of water each day when they make up your room.

The hotel food is okay, some days better than others, but not very innovative. Sounds funny, but I think it would have been more enjoyable if the restaurant decor was updated. It is a bit outdated and although very, very clean, it could use a fresh facelift, as could the waitresses in their old-fashioned, circa 1983 ruffly caribbean uniforms. Enough said about that. Its' really no big deal. Again, we were happy to be on vacation!

The hotel is close to town and there are several little restaurants to choose from if you want a change from the hotel food. (However, I recommend fresh-caught beach food, more on that later.)

There is a little cabana near the beach that offers massages, facials and manicures. People were smiling when they walked out. My daughter got a very nice manicure.

For us, the only thing lacking at this hotel was a "real bar". The drinks are made in the kitchen, there is no walk up or swim up bar. So, if you want something while at the pool, or lounging near the beach, or in your room, you have to find someone to bring you a drink. (and keep in mind, you are on "Caribbean Time". We are from NY, so nothing is ever fast enough. But that's why you go on vacation!) We didn't realize that the ice was safe for drinks until late in the week, so at first our drinks were not as cold as we had hoped. Once we realized the ice was safe, the pina coladas got a lot better! :) So for us, the only reason this hotel does not get 5 stars is because of the lack of a bar. I think they are missing out on a profitable opportunity.

Helpful notes:
A short walk from the hotel, down the fabulous jungly road toward the beach is a small beach called La Playita. You have to walk to the end of the road and go through the sign that says, "No Trespassing". We were told and quickly learned that there are no rules in DR.

At La Playita you will find fresh fish which you can choose yourself out of an ice-packed cooler. Locals gallop up on their horses and grab lunch while their horses wait patiently in the shade. I always think, "If the locals eat here, it must be good." It was. And the beer was icey cold.

While there, we met a beautiful Spanish woman who arranged boat excursions for her boyfriend's company. She told us about the different beaches we could choose to visit, offered us lunch options and was helpful without being the least bit pushy. Excellent saleswoman. :) We arranged a trip for the next day, and although the water was choppy (very choppy, actually, I said several Hail Mary's trying not to look at the 6 foot swells which I imaged would swallow our boat), the day was great.

While on the boat ride, our guide pointed out a restaurant built right into the cliffs, called el Cabito. We made a reservation for dinner there our last night. The ride to the restaurant is up a steep hill, over ditches and boulders, and is not for the faint of heart. Do go. The view is incredible. The food is great. Don't wear heels of any kind. :)

Actually, everything in Samana is very casual.

If you like to ride horses or go on a quad excursion and see the sights in Samana, there is only one guy to call: Rudy, from Rudy's Rancho. I will make my comments directly on his page. And I want to adopt him.

I highly recommend Villa Serena as a place to relax, unwind, unclutter your mind and get away from it all. You can do as much or as little as you want and never feel like you are missing anything. (And when they tell me they have a bar, we will be back!)

Room Tip: It didn't seem to me that there was a bad room in the place. Everyone we spoke with loved their...
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
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8  Thank AJDirt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 16 July 2014

Thank you so much for so many kind words! We're happy that you had a great time and for sure we'll give our best to make a bar and inform you when it's done so you come back :D

p.s. Fernando sends his best :*

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Reviewed 7 July 2014

I went with my family (total of 7 people) and split up in 3 rooms. Right away the staff made sure we liked our room and made sure everything worked. The beach is extremely relaxing, especially the sand. It changes corresponding to the tide (high or low) but it is beautiful and you can even snorkel (they provide the gear) towards the left and immediately see coral and exotic fishes. I also kayaked to the nearby island and its a very nice brief workout.
The second day half of us went to the nearby beach Playa Rincon by horse and the other half hiking.
The food in the hotel is amazing (i would suggest eating anything with fish or tuna since it is so fresh there) and the staff is very nice and accommodating.
Definitely want to go again!

Room Tip: Room upstairs with a balcony was very well located
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled with family
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2  Thank PuertasV
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 16 July 2014

Thank you so much, we had a great time with you guys! Hope you'll come back! :*

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Reviewed 12 June 2014

My husband and I like what we call "hotel de charme". These hotels are usually very romantic, elegant and very personalized. Villa Serena is perfectly like this. Each room is decorated differently according to the style of the hotel. The garden and the beach are very beautiful. It is just wonderful to find such an hotel in Las Galeras, one of the most beautiful site we have visited in Dominican Republic. I hope I will return.

Room Tip: Very important to have a room with view on the sea, preferably in the upper of central building.
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Renauld J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 14 June 2014

Thank you so much and we hope you will be able to come back soon, too!! :*

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Reviewed 29 May 2014

Villa Serena first and foremost had the most accommodating staff that I have ever experienced at a hotel. (Better than Disney World). They were willing to help my mom and I organize boat trips, restaurant reservations, and accommodate our late check-in. The kitchen staff was kind beyond words. They were happy to be at there and served us gladly. My Mom had unfortunately gotten sick on her trip and they even made her a special Dominican herbal tea remedy for her belly; that seemed to have worked miracles!

The beauty of Villa Serena Hotel can not be captured in words. A beautiful grassy yard with the ocean leading up to the shore of a perfectly white, soft sandy beach area. The virgin islands surround the Semana/Las Galeras area are breath taking and a quick trip on a boat. The pool on site is a great way to rinse off and refresh in the evening. The kayaks were another great addition to the adventure.

The rooms were exceptionally clean and were supplied with water for the day. The staff was more than willing to supply extra necessities if needed.

I have recommended this hotel to friends here in the DR as well as I would highly encourage others to visit this place. Honestly, my favorite place in the DR thus far, and I am an expat living here.

Room Tip: The second floor was wonderful, right above the lobby. No noise and an amazing view. However, I don...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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1  Thank Laura S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 4 June 2014

Dear Laura,

thank you so much (especially this- better than Disney World hahah)

we are sorry that your mom was bad at the time, but we hope next time will be ok :)

Un abrazo!

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Reviewed 3 May 2014

It’s a truly beautiful setting, and after visiting Las Galeras and other hotel sites, where there is a lot of noise from loud music, and vehicles, we were extra-glad we chose Villa Serena.

The hotel is extraordinarily well-maintained and cleaned. The little beach is lovely, at all hours, even when subsumed by the tide. The handsome grounds are a treat. While at least one reviewer complained that they don’t remove the seaweeds from the water in front of their beach, they do have a guy who harvests all the coconuts so they don’t fall on people’s heads. (And if you're lucky they may hand you one, opened and with a straw).

Most meals, we ate in their restaurant. The food was, each time, as good as at any top-quality restaurant at home or other travel destinations.

This is not a hostel-budget accommodation, but overall the prices were reasonable. For example, the hotel arranged driver transfer from the airport, and we later saw a sign board at a competing all-inclusive resort nearby that suggested theirs was a much heavier markup.

The staff were universally pleasant, and most were warm; not overly-familiar like U.S. service workers are, but pleasant in conversation and in the ordinary exchanges of hotel stay. It probably helped a little that one of us is a native Spanish speaker.

We loved the fact there are no TVs and internet in the rooms, and no music in the public areas either. This made for a very peaceful, tranquil, and refreshing vacation; and a better night's sleep as well. When guests want internet they sit quietly in the hotel lobby, absorbed in their devices.

Las Galeras is small, so we couldn’t help but encounter the other lodging options. For us, Villa Serena seems the best place to stay here. The others appeared not quite as well maintained (cleaned and painted and kept in good repair), and are too proximate to public beach – like the handsome Hotel Todo Blanco -- and roadways -- like Plaza Lusitania -- where it’s clear that many Dominicans, we learned in our first trip here, apparently love noise and are in a continual competition for who can have the loudest and most earth-shaking car stereo systems. Villa Serena is a good enough distance from the public beach that even when the music is blasting, it isn’t unpleasant.

There were only two negatives. First, the hotel's web site represents “Villa Serena has twenty-one spacious and comfortable rooms, all with a large private terrace and a stunning ocean view.” In fact, the room we received did not have an ocean view, but a recessed view of the main front of the hotel and the garden, and there was a small balcony big enough for a single upright chair, not a terrace. The only way to see the ocean was to go onto the balcony, and stand in its very far corner. (So, ask for room #15 if you want extreme privacy, I guess, where you can stand nude on the little balcony without much risk of exposure).

That leads to the second negative: the female manager is mostly absent, has a smile like the cat that ate the canary, and is as warm as her Russian homeland in winter. We arrived in the night, so in the morning asked if a room with the advertised ocean view could be available. No one but her, evidently, had authority to answer, because we had asked two others at the desk before she finally appeared on the scene. When she arrived, she put a book on the counter, threw it open dramatically, raised each arm high with open palms upward, and with a hard little laugh of derision pronounced, “People are booking a year in advance for this.” Okay, so they’re full.

But, on our very last day, I encountered her coming out of what was evidently her own room at the very center of the building, with a bag over her shoulder, freshly dressed and headed out. The manager herself, I saw then, occupies one of those advertised rooms with the ocean view and large terrace, which meant that this pair of guests couldn’t have one.

Hotel managers often get a room or even a suite, and sometimes these are among the very best rooms, but I have also traveled the world enough to have experienced that when a hotel is truly full – especially a self-described boutique hotel with only twenty-one rooms -- a manager will sometimes cede the room to a paying guest. Not this manager. In that moment I saw that the negative comments about her on Trip Advisor are right on target. If it weren't for the negative experience of her, I would rate the hotel "Excellent."

The manager may be a piece of work, but we'll be back.

Room Tip: Room 15 does NOT have ocean view, and the balcony is small. But if you want a room that's out o...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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3  Thank ryan61562
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 15 May 2014

Dear Mr. Ryan,

thank you for the review, we really appreciate each comment :)

Well, I will try to explain what you saw as a negative of the hotel.

Rooms 14, 15 and 16 are the biggest at the hotel, containing 2 double beds plus extra beds, so we are always trying to give those rooms to people who are arriving with their families.
I'm really sorry if you found it as a negative.

On the other hand, I really believe that I tried to be helpful, not dramatic to any of our customers.
I doubt that previous comments were written about me, as I'm here just a couple of months.

Also, I have to disappoint you about manager's (mine) room at the hotel. I do not have any room at the hotel, I actually live in a house nearby, which was also rented to one family at this time when you were at the hotel. To tell you the truth, "manager" was sleeping at the laundry floor these few days, except for one night, when there was room nr. 20 available at the hotel. I guess, the same day when you saw me going out of a room in the middle of the building.


Anyhow, please, accept my sincerely apologize for any inconvenience,

best regards,
Marina Vesanovic-Dvornik

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Reviewed 28 April 2014

This was a perfect spot for a romantic getaway. My husband and I had never been to the DR before and we didn't know what to expect. A driver picked us up from the airport and took us to the Villa Serena. We were welcomed by charming and gracious staff. The hotel itself is gorgeous and everything is beautifully maintained. Our rooms (and every room - as far as we couild tell) had a wonderful view of the sea. They considered every detail - a complete breakfast every morning and flowers in our room every day. It was a find!

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank debfromvermont
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Villa Serena Hotel

Address: Las Galeras, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Samana Province > Las Galeras
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Las Galeras
Price Range: £87 - £140 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Villa Serena Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 21
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Also Known As:
Villa Serena Hotel Samana, Dominican Republic

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