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First of all, let me clear up some items that seem to be totally wrong about this hotel.
1) It is not 5 star
2) People seem to review it when they didn't actually stay at this part of the resort.
The Royal Suites are 1 of 4 properties at the Grand Palladium resort. The RS is the most expensive and adults only. We found this to be totally worth it for the dining options, premium liquor, private beach, and adults only pool. Now for all of the details:
Booking: We booked this hotel through Vacations Express on a charter out of CLT. We found VE to have the cheapest prices. The Sunwing charter was great, with a snack, champagne, and easy check in at the airport. Plane was new, crew was good, and there were no delays.
Arrival: We arrived in the DR and got through customs within minutes. TIP: Buy the tourist card online so that you don't have to stand in line when you get there! Once through, we picked up our bags and found our private transfer through Dominican Plus. They were great. Paid $56 round trip (for up to 4 people) with no stops at other hotels. Shared rides are $40, so the $16 was well worth it. Booked this online and had a confirmation the next day. They were there upon arrival, as well as picking us up at the end of our trip.
As we arrived at the RS, the lobby was enclosed and air conditioned (unlike other parts of the palladium). Upon arrival we got cold towels and champagne. The check-in took a few minutes, and we were not given an upgrade that VE had said we may get, and our room was not ready. We were sent to the beach buffet where we had a snack and then came back.
Room: We were led by our "butler" to building 58, which is about as far as you can get away from the lobby and pool/ beach. We are young, so the walk was fine, however if older you may want to be closer. We were on the third floor and had no complaints with the room, other than our mini fridge was not stocked on day one. Also, the rooms are kind of an open concept, so if you aren't married, the bathroom experience could be a little weird. As I mentioned above, the room had a mini bar with 2 bottles of water (I would ask for extra to have plenty for brushing your teeth), some snacks (peanuts and crackers) and soda and 4 beers. Also included in the room are 4 bottles of liquor that you can't take with you (Rum, gin, vodka, and scotch). Also, an old fashioned coffee pot for tea and coffee, and a Nespreso machine with pods. I had never had espresso from one, and it was pretty good. The bed was large, the room was clean, we had no real complaints. Soap was also a very good brand. The swim out rooms looked really cool but we didn't want to pay for the upgrade. Also, there is a safe in the room for a reason... USE IT! I have seen other reviewers say they had items stolen, but you should never leave valuables out in the open in any country at any hotel. That is just stupid.
Room Service: Another perk at the RS is free room service. You just call the number and 20 minutes later they slide it into a compartment from outside of your room and turn on a red light. The food was decent quality, and they would even call to make sure you got it.
Pool: The pool was great. Like you have read before, people get up early and reserve chairs, which is annoying. This resort is full of Europeans, and they seem to think they run the place, reserving chairs, keeping rafts for themselves, etc. The pool bar was very good, and the bartenders were great. A bit of a language barrier but they could make any drink I asked for. The snacks are hit or miss, but the Pizza around noon is pretty good. We took Bubba mugs, not for alcohol, but to keep filled with ice and water/ Diet Coke. These were a great $7 investment.
Beach: The private beach area was nice, and not overly crowded. There are a lot of chairs, and plenty of sunny and shady spots for everyone. Their is a bit of a drop-off into the ocean, and there is seaweed, so we only went in a couple times. There wasn't as much seaweed as some people claim, but it was noticeable. The wait staff out at the beach were also very good and came around quite a bit. There were a few outside vendors trying to sell trips, but none were pushy and left after a simple no, I'm not sure where some people get the opinion that they are "all over you, and very pushy". I will say, if you go to the right and off of the property, the shop owners there are very pushy, but just say no and walk past. We scored coffee in a shop there for $5 compared to $16 at the resort and $12 at the duty free.
Shows: We saw none. We are young, but after a day in the sun and some drinks, we usually were ready to just hang out in the room. They are also not very good about advertising the shows, and even the lobby staff have no idea what is playing that day.
Lobby: The lobby was nice, with a great bar to get coffee (and other drinks). The coffee cortados were awesome! The guy who normally works there looked like he hated it, but the drinks came quickly. The front desk staff were OK, but sometimes hard to interact with. They had a machine for coffee occasionally, which I suppose is for when the bar is closed (doesn't open until 9 or so). Also, some people in other reviews seem to not know or don't understand, but you can get a shuttle at any time. We used them numerous times to go from our room to dinner.
Now for the food: This was probably the worst part about this hotel. It isn't "terrible", but it isn't great either. Our first meal was at La Chantrelle and was quite good. We had fondue, Chateaubriand, and crepes. For breakfast, we would eat at the Royal, where it was a buffet style and a few a la carte options. The scrambled eggs on the buffet are runny and gross, but fried eggs from the menu were good. The french toast on the menu was good and the buffet they had a lot of toast, meats, cheeses, and fruits to choose from. We really liked the fresh juice "smoothies", especially the banana one.
Lunch, we usually ate at the Royal, or snacks from the pool bar/ room service. Lunch was just ok. The pastas were mediocre, but the burgers and other beef dishes were good.
Dinner was where we expected a little more. Like I mentioned above, La Chantrelle was good on night 1, but it was mostly downhill from there. The seafood restaurant was decent, but the lobster was terrible. (Note: if you stick to beef dishes, they seemed to be consistently better). The beach BBQ should be skipped. The sides were fine, but the meats from the grill were disgusting. Only the sausage was edible, and I eat almost anything usually. The Japanese show is definitely worth it for the show table, and the Italian was OK. I knew going in the meals would not be "5 star", but I expected a little better than what we got for the most part.
Alcohol: The alcohol selection was pretty solid in the RS section. The Champagne was good, bloody mary's were great, and rum and cokes (brand other than Brugal) were good. Beer was cold and similar to a natural light.
Tipping: We brought $100 in ones, and did not use them all. We'd leave a dollar or two for the maid, and give a dollar to the bartenders every once in awhile and then some at dinner. From what I saw, there was not a lot of tipping going on. This may be due to the population at the hotel this week, but who knows. Which leads me to:
Surprisingly there were a ton of Europeans, and almost no Americans. I figured being so close to the USA (and cheap) that there would be more US people here. It was mostly people from Spain, with a few English, and then some Eastern European folk. It wasn't a bad thing, just different from what I expected.
Language: A lot of Spanish was spoken by guests and staff alike. I never felt "shunned" like some other reviewers, but it was a little more difficult, however nothing some pointing couldn't solve. You should at least know how to say hi, thanks, please, your welcome, etc.
Overall: Overall I would give the resort a 4* rating, with the food coming in at only 3 stars. If we go to Punta Cana again, I will think about returning to the RS for everything else, and for the fact that all hotels there seem to have mediocre food. At least I know what else I am getting at the RS, and for the most part, it was great. I have no idea how you could possibly give the RS section a 1 or 2 rating. I can understand a 3 due to the food, but besides specific situations, it's absurd.