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Picked up by Dominican Plus on time in a nice van. Got charged $10 for 2 beers by our driver, not sure, but I felt ripped off a little bit, but oh well.
Check in was a little weird, got to Punta Cana lobby around 3pm, our names were on a table with a room # (4123) and keys. We did get the building we requested. Then we were told room is not ready, go grab lunch. After lunch we were told room still not ready, then a guy came up and grabbed our stuff and said follow me room ready. We we escorted to building 4000 room 4123 and were happy with that. The room was very basic but in a great location. One note to anyone going for the first time. Upon arrival it is hard to get your bearings down. It was weird for me due to the fact that the beach is to the right of the lobby not behind it.
Our friends coming on Swift Air out of Columbus arrived on Monday and had much the same experience as we did. We noticed there envelope in the lobby and they were given a room in building 74 in the Punta Cana. We had requested to be in the same building. We were told nothing was available at that time and to come back later and talk to Louis the MGR. After lunch with our friends I noticed a guy walking throuhg the lobby with a name tag Louis. I asked him about getting them a room in 4000, he said check back at 5 pm. So we went for a swim at the adult pool (more about that later) and went back at 5 and he got them moved two doors down from us. Their room was same as ours, however the AC didn't work as well and their TV would shut off randomly and there rooms key cards worked some days and didn't others. They had to go to the lobby 3 or 4 times to get into their room.
Our daily routine was to wake up around 7 head down to the adult only pool grab some spots in the shade and head to breakfast. The adults only pool is the best pool there hands down. We didn't step foot in any of the other pools. They were horrible to say the least. I'd compare them to pools at rundown motels in the states as far as condition. They must address those pools ASAP.
Food: Not very impressed overall with the dining options during our stay. Never had anything that was great and never had anything that was awful, well maybe a few things. But we all managed to find things we could make do with. We attempted twice to make reservations at the Steak House. The first try was our fault we went there at around 7 and were told they were all booked for the night, come back tomorrow at 5 they told us. So my buddy and I went over at 4:30 the next day, waited in the line and were told at 5 that they were all booked for today come back tomorrow. Well that wasn't happening, I'm still trying to figure that out. My best guess is that they filled all the spots with guests in the Royal section. We did manage to eat at the Brazilian and Japanese. The Brazilian was ok, I guess it would of been better if all of us weren't fighting some stomach issues. The Japanese was good, and a very good time. Our friend Wilmer who was our waiter every morning at breakfast was our waiter there as well. He saw us waiting and somehow got us in pretty fast. The best buffet for dinner was at the Bavaro. Our friends said they tried the Mexican ala carte their last night and they said it was decent.
Drinks: No problem with the drink selections, loved the Rum and Presidente. Having more premium drink options for non Royal guests would be nice but I get it. We never made it Hemmingways for a drink as it was closed for our first few nights and then reopened, but we never made it.
Grounds & Beach: Lovely and well manicured all around. Did notice some trash outside our building that was there the day we arrived and was still there when we left. Beer cans that just sat there day after day after day, that was weird. No problem finding chairs on the beach, the place was no where near full. The vendors on the beach can be annoying but just be polite and keep walking if your not interested. My wife did buy some jewelry from a walk up vendor while sitting under a palapa. She picked out 5 things and asked him how much? He said $200 US, she said ya right and he said "just kidding I'll give you good deal" 1/2 price $100. She ended up paying $20 for all 5 items. So work your deal.
I did end up with some type of skin rash/bites while there and after getting home. I have no idea exactly what it was but it's almost all gone now. My best guesses were sand lice/fleas or something from the ocean or bed bugs. I did some research on all of them and the bites were too similar to tell which it was. My wife didn't have any bites so I guess it was something in the sand or the ocean that my skin didn't like. Overall we all had a great time and the positives outweigh the negatives. For the deal we got threw Vacations Express we would go back in a heart beat.
Last notes: the construction of the Palace was getting underway during our stay. They spent a few days putting up a temp fence all around it. They were ripping out all the tubs and other fixtures to start. I hope they shut down that pool and remodel it as well. Feel free to ask me any questions and thanks for all your help.