> Destinations > Dominican Republic > Trip Reports > Trip Report
First of all, I will preface this review with two things. This was not our first trip to the Dominican Republic, nor our first trip to an AI resort. We enjoyed our other trips so much that we decided to bring six of our friends with us. So after four months of planning, this is was our experience January 13 to 20, 2004.
Puerto Plata Airport
Speedy, no problems with luggage, a Sunquest representative was there to greet us and efficiently directed us to our bus to the resort.
Hotel Grande Flamenco Check In
Check in was efficient, we were the last in line, but no problem, although the “welcome” drink that was promised did not happen (not a big deal really), but would have been nice while we were waiting. Our group had planned to meet in the lobby bar once we were all settled in. We were taken to our room and assisted with our luggage. Only to discover that we thought we had one queen bed, instead, two slightly larger than twin beds. The bellhop attempted to call the front desk from our room only to discover that our telephone did not work. Another couple in our group had the room next to us and he opted to use their phone. Nothing could be done about the telephone until the next day. No problem…only a minor one.
We then went to the front desk, and while we were asking about our beds at the front desk we were promised that they would look into the situation. We then met our other friends for a cool beverage and found them to be upset and angry. Of the four rooms, one was very dirty (bathroom toilet had not been cleaned and it appeared that the sheets had not been changed from the last guests), one had a leaking roof (it was raining when we arrived at the resort) and mold half way up one of the walls, the other was flooding in the bathroom and of course the common problem, no queen beds. All went to the front desk, and we were all told that the hotel was full and nothing could be done about it until perhaps the next day. We returned to our room and someone had come in and pushed the two beds together. This would have been okay, except that one bed was three inches taller than the other.
As directed by the Sunquest representative on the bus to the resort, we all reported to the lobby by 8:45 am for a 9:00 Sunquest briefing. 9:00, 9:10, 9:20 we waited. Until finally at 9:30, a very nice young woman (Mirabella) strolled by sporting a Sunquest logo on her shirt. I told her that we needed to speak to someone regarding the problems that we were experiencing. She directed us to another woman who “is just finishing a briefing.” What? Admittedly, we were very frustrated at this point, and when we confronted the representative about the meeting, she replied, “it’s not my fault the hotel did not tell you where the meeting was.” (By the way, her name was Laurie) Never mind the 15 or so people that were waiting just like us in the reception area. Suffice it to say, that even after a number of phone calls to our travel agent, we were stuck. We could however, opt to pay an additional amount to change rooms. We were shown another room for an additional fee of $35 per night which was exactly like the ones we already had. We were then taken to the “Club” where we could change for an additional $100 per night. At the time that we were shown the rooms in the club we were told that they indeed did have four available. However, when we mentioned that we felt the price should be negotiated, we were suddenly told that gee…we don’t have four rooms in the “Club”. But they did have one for the two in our group who agreed to pay the full $100 extra per night.
So, we spent the first day and a half, parked in the reception area trying to get something done about our situation. Finally we conceded and opted to accept the situation or let it ruin our vacation. We opted for the former.
Will mention first, that neither my husband or myself are picky eaters at all.
Each morning we stood in line at “our own personal concierge” took a minimum of thirty minutes each time, to attempt to get a seating for one of the al la carte restaurants. Each time only to be told that there was no room, and all were full. Finally, on the day before we left, we could get a 9:00pm seating for the next day. Guess what…we had to leave the hotel by 6:15. Now I will say, that the couple in our group who paid the extra $100 per night, had no problems getting seated.
The buffet restaurant
Clean & neat, white table cloths on the tables. I would give it an overall rating of 4 out of 10. Every day, every meal were lines. That in itself is to be expected given the time of year of our visit, so no complaints about that. You go through the food line, find a table, and low and behold, you need to go to another line (on the other side of the dining area) to get your water, juice coffee or what ever you plan to drink. So, by the time you get back to your food it’s cold. No one around to bring this to you. So, we tried the reverse, get drinks first then food. Problem with that…by the time we got back to the table, drinks were gone, table was cleaned. Or…your coffee is now cold. Food was marginal at best. Although one evening, we had a pretty good dinner. We finally just stuck to eating an omelet for breakfast each morning.
The Disco Restaurant
Not bad, we had our “we’ll compensate you” dinner from Sunquest to make up for one of the al la carte restaurants being closed. ˝ Cooked to death burnt on the grill lobster tail and boiled carrots. We did have one of their buffet style lunches that was quite good, although due to the lack of seating, we found ourselves balancing on a stone curb eating our lunch.
Hit and miss, most of the time, hamburgers, hot dogs. Again, very marginal, the occasional pasta dish was not bad.
By this time, we decided to only eat breakfast and spend the rest of our time eating off of the resort. We could eat very well, for not very much money.
La Bodega Bar (Lobby Bar)
The gathering place in the morning for many including us. A television with CNN to catch up on the news. Problem is, the TV would be on (by the way the TV is no big deal), and many would gather to enjoy the morning but you could not get juice or anything until 10:00. So, if you wanted to skip breakfast, and just have juice or coffee around 7:30 or 8:00, forget it off to the buffet restaurant you go. Now I will say that, sometimes, they would have the coffee machine ready early so you could get a cup.
The Single Biggest Problem
We all know by now that the water in the country is not potable. Therefore, one would assume that bottled water should be readily available as it is at other AI resorts that we have stayed in. Not so at this resort. You could get a glass of water anywhere. In each of the buildings there was a “culligan” type water cooler on the lower entry level. Guess what, no cups. So if you enjoy that morning drink of water when you get up in the morning forget it. There were cups in your room, so you could trot up the stairs, go to your room, grab your cup, trot back down the stairs, get a drink, and fill your cup again to bring it back for the morning. We finally bribed one of the bartenders to give us a plastic jug that we partially filled to keep in our room. Don’t even ask to have a bottle of water, because they say they don’t have it. Now get this one, someone in our group ordered a premium whiskey drink with water (of which they paid for, no problem there). Low and behold a bottle of water appeared. So when we asked if we could have a bottle of water, we were told that they didn’t have any. Mind you, we were all sitting at the same table staring at the very bottle of water they claimed they did not have.
As mentioned, this was not our first visit to the Dominican Republic, nor our first visit to an AI resort.
Never, never again, will we ever stay at an Occidental Hotel, nor will we ever book another trip using Sunquest again. They were of no help, nor did they even care about the problems that we had, nor did they make any attempt to rectify the situation(s) unless we were prepared to pay the $100 additional per night. Oh, remember the “briefing” it should be noted, that the Sunquest representative never did mention that they would hold another if we could care to attend that one.
It should also be noted. Each and every morning you could count on a line of people standing at the front desk. Complaining, complaining, yelling etc. Same thing in the line for “your own concierge”. We spoke to a number of people that were unhappy, with many of the same complaints about Sunquest, their rooms etc. We also met others that were bumped from their original hotel into this one and to say the least were very unhappy, and again, were stuck, just like the rest of us.
Thanks to Brad & Becky for this trip report ...