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Mostly Great With a Few Issues.

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alf
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Mostly Great With a Few Issues.

Post by alf » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:36 am

Royal Suites Turquesa - Sep. 29th - Oct 13th 2013

Booking:

We decided to travel to the Palladium Resort several months ago to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. So I booked my flight back in the spring and then discovered that the Fiesta was taking place during the same period that we had planned on travelling to the resort. We were glad to have the opportunity to attend our first Fiesta and meet some of the people who we have met in the virtual world on the forum over the years. In view of the fact that there was a discount offered for the Fiesta, I booked our room through the Palladium Hotel Group directly on line. This “special booking code” offered a 30% discount at the time of booking. Two weeks prior to travel, the 30% discount for the Royal Suites was available regardless if you were a Fiesta guest or not. So I would have been able to book for around the same price separate from the Fiesta discount. Not being able to see into the future however, we booked early and were quite happy with the price. So advice to future travellers, check for specials on the Palladium Hotel site prior to travel. They do offer quite a few specials throughout the year. Of course, this does not affect people who book “vacation packages” via typical travel sites. The price was very reasonable, but obviously the great rate was also in effect because of the extensive renovations and closures at the resort complex.

Travel:

Our flight down was with Air Canada Rouge service. This is the new discount carrier of Air Canada. No frills flying with fees for entertainment and food. But no different than most discount services. Actually the in-flight services and crew were very good. If you want food, it is the same price as regular Air Canada Economy flights and entertainment units rent for $5.00. They also have an app that you can download where you can access a closed system WiFi entertainment service on board the aircraft on your own device. There is a small fee for this. Good thing about Rouge is that they do cover the entry and exit taxes and also give you the full Air Canada baggage allowance of 23 kg / 50 lb. on one piece of checked luggage and 10 kg./ 22 lbs Carry-on. Flights were all on time.

We had a private transfer arranged to the resort which was great. Return, we just got the front desk to call us a taxi. Fixed rate to the Airport from the RST is $35.00. We got there ahead of the buses and check-in and security was a breeze. They do not offer free wifi at the airport now as they did in the past. The airport now has an outgoing “Duty Free” shop in the new section offering North American products at discount prices. Prices were comparable to our Canadian Duty Free. This store not to be confused with the three that offer Dominican products at very high prices. Return flight home was also uneventful and on time again with Air Canada.

Helping the school:

Upon our arrival, I was able to turn over to Mike Bryant (Punta Cana Mike), a Toshiba laptop for his school for the computer lab and as much school supplies as we could bring within our weight allowance. I think it will go to good use. If you don’t know about Mike, check out his website. His tours are excellent and “real” and his commitment to helping the small school that he supports is genuine. Anything that you can contribute is very much appreciated.

http://www.puntacanamike.com/

At the Resort:

If you are a visitor who stays entirely on the Royal Suites property, the renovations would not affect your vacation. We, personally did miss some of the closed a la cartes and the Catedral buffet over at the Bavaro side.We always enjoyed the “Theme Nights” and selection there. The main buffet at the Punta Cana Section was also closed. We didn’t venture over to Hemmingway’s as often as there was not much else was open over on that side of the resort other than the Sports Bar and the Resort Shops. We did hit the Sport’s Bar on our arrival night as we were late getting in and the restaurants were closed. Good quick “pub” food.

It is nice to see the renovations taking place at the resort as each year, the Palladium Resort adds more and more upgrades and improvements rather than just staying the same. The “off season” is the only time they can effectively carry out these improvements. In general, we still enjoyed our vacation with very little disruption due to the renovations.

When we arrived initially, at the resort, it was late in the evening. I had sent an e-mail requesting a swim-up suite (for which I was willing to pay for upon arrival). We never received a reply back from the resort to acknowledge our request. We mentioned upon check-in that we would like the upgrade and would pay accordingly. Also we were placed on the third floor which for a two week stay, was difficult for my spouse and myself to negotiate three floors of stairs several times a day. ( yes we are getting older !) I expressed this concern several times at reception and each day the answer was always “maybe tomorrow”. “Come back to check tomorrow.”.

This stay at the Palladium resort was week 10 and week 11 for us but apparently that carries no level of priority for anything. After 6 days of checking daily for an upgrade, we finally gave up as we were just wasting our vacation time sitting in the lobby only to get the same answer each time. We did enjoy immensely, our stay at the RST but for physical reasons, we really would have appreciated a little more consideration for a lower level room.

Getting away from the structured part of our vacation, I can tell you that we had 14 days of the best weather we have ever experienced in Punta Can despite all the fears of “hurricane season”. Yes, it was extremely hot, but that’s what we go there for. We did have to go down to the beach a little early in the morning to get a palapa for shade but not as early as in peak season. We don’t mind doing this as we only grab two loungers that we use the entire day. So many people “claim” loungers both at the pool and the beach and very seldom use them. We saw many loungers with towels and personal property vacant most of the day. Also, because there are no towel cards used at the RST, people tend to just get up and leave without returning their towels. Then other guests come to the beach and cannot tell which loungers are really occupied or just vacated. We always took our towels back to the hut at the end of our stay at the beach as a courtesy to other guests looking for a spot. Still hate seeing people using the beach as an ash tray! If you are going to smoke at the beach, do it responsibly and with respect to others around you.

We also love to walk the beach each morning after breakfast for about an hour before it gets too hot. It’s a great walking beach and you can walk as far as you like. For anyone who has not been there, you do not need beach shoes on Bavaro Beach as there are virtually no shells or rocks or coral to be found. Just fine soft, white sand. There is an outer barrier reef which also breaks the surf before it gets to the beach in this area and keeps the water from getting too rough at the shoreline.

Beach bar service was great ( thank you Delores), and they always brought down cold bottled water in the morning. A few tips down at the beach are well appreciated as they are in most parts of the resort. Wages are not that high in this country and we don’t mind tipping for great service. We also brought work gloves for the gardeners and beach cleaners. They are not expensive at home and they really appreciate them.

We dined at La Chanterelle and the Royal Gourmet a few times and it was very good as usual. We couldn’t visit without having the Chateaubriand. We liked to have breakfast at the Palace Buffet as the staff there is excellent. We ate lunch at the Bohio Restaurant on the beach by the Palace each day. Service again, excellent and good variety for lunch, hot and cold. They have a new Panini station there which we really liked.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent welcome and subsequent service from the Bell Captain Tomas. He is a true asset to this resort and we have had the pleasure of his company over many years there. We also had a few chats with Octavio who always take the time to speak with his guests on a personal level. Not sure how he finds the time, but he always does. He again, is one of the main reasons for the continued success of this resort. The ability of so many employees to remember returning guests always amazes me. They have probably met virtually thousands of other people since your last visit but still their faces light up when you first meet them. This is one of the main things we love about the Palladium resort. If we did not return to this resort we would truly miss these people. Something would be missing from our vacation I am sure.

The highlight of this trip certainly was the effort put forth by the resort for the Fiesta celebrations. The show, reception and dinner on Thursday night were well beyond anyone’s expectations I think. Meeting some of the Addicts at the beach during the day, at the reception and dinner Thursday night was very nice. On the down side, we had to miss the Friday night activities and the Saona Island trip due to illness. There was a very severe and rapidly spreading intestinal disorder that had spread throughout the guest population. We were victims for 3 or 4 days. The Palladium Resorts are very pro-active with respect to sanitation and prevention with Hand Sanitizers at all food venues and constant food inspection and monitoring. I don’t think the resort could have done any more to prevent the onset of the medical problem as it was most likely a “Norovirus” type illness that spread within the complex. It was not the usual food, alcohol related issue and probably beyond the preventive practices of the resort. This happens frequently on cruise ships and closed environments where there is a concentrated population of travelers. Proper re-hydration and medication was effective to get us through it rapidly and allow us to enjoy the rest of our vacation.

In general, we certainly enjoyed our two week stay at the Royal Suites Turquesa. We always highly recommend this resort to people for its value for the dollar, service quality and staff friendliness. I was a little disappointed at the response at reception for a request to purchase an upgrade. Especially considering the negative physical impact of a third floor room for both of us during a 14 day stay. Also I was disappointed with the fact that we were returning guests with 11 weeks at Palladium Resorts and could not even purchase an upgrade. If reception cannot actually provide you with an upgrade, please say “Yes” or “No” not “maybe tomorrow”. I would sooner have a direct answer up front than spend additional time returning to reception to check on your request. Modern booking systems via computer will tell them whether or not there is an availability and if there is not, just tell me. Don’t forget, we were not looking for this upgrade “free of charge”.

Hopefully, we will be back at some point in time. Actually, seriously thinking about Jamaica down the road (Palladium Resort of course !) just to see another country. Thank you Octavio, Addicts and all the Palladium staff again for a great vacation overall.

Shopping Notes:

A couple of side notes: (shopping) For those who have not been.......Imperial rum at the airport is $48.00 US. At Cusie Boutique (just down the beach to the right)...it cost $19.00 ea....$18.00 US if you buy 3 or more. Cusie Boutique is “no hassle” shopping with fixed prices. Coffee beans at the airport were $10.00. Cusie Boutique was $4.50 per lb. Vanilla at the airport (small bottle) was $10.00....at the resort shops $2.00 US.

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