Debbie's Dominican Travel.com Old Reviews - Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Mary 
Kingston, ON
December 2008
17 Nov to 1 Dec 08

This is our 9th submission (and I appreciate it !!!! - thanks from Debbie) to Debbie's fantastic site. We have done the all inclusive thing now for the last 9 yrs. Seven of these holidays have been to the Dominican Republic. We had previously traveled to Iberostar Cozumel, had a fine time there, and so decided to check out this sister resort. We would consider returning here! Bus ride from La Romana airport was 30 mins.

Room
Our two maids did a great job. Never a shortage of anything. Towels (including large face cloths), shampoo, shower gel, lotion, soap, toilet paper, shower cap, sewing kit, blow dryer, fridge, coffee maker, iron, ironing board, full length mirror. Everything worked, water pressure great, enough lighting even in the bathroom. Pillows and king size bed comfortable. Also had a day bed/sofa.

Electronic safe for US$2.00 per day. Air conditioning control switch is by the bed. Cannot turn off light on balcony as it is centrally controlled by the resort. Small expanding wash line on deck to hang up bathing suits. Rubber flap under the door to the room which is a very nice touch. I guess it is to keep lizards etc from coming into your room. We got into the habit of pushing a towel up against the door, nice not to have to do so this trip. Some sections of the bldgs have rooms on 2 floors, others on 3 floors. Bldgs all have an inner courtyard and you enter your room from this courtyard. They are all very pretty and all very different, check them out. The only room improvement we could suggest is adding a clock or clock/radio.

Beach
This is where we were very disappointed at the start. When we arrived, there were lots and lots of small rocks/coral/shells in a good portion of the swimming area. However, by our second week, this improved. Most times there was about a 12 inch drop into the ocean, but we got used to it. Entrance to the ocean was also sometimes quite rocky too. We spoke to a couple who had vacationed here 3 yrs ago, and found that at that time, the ocean was rock free and very smooth. Not this trip, things change with the hurricanes. Ocean is a lot warmer now than in Feb, which was nice. One morning we found 3 jelly fish washed up on shore. They were not Portuguese man of war, we are familiar with those. These were clear. My husband ended up burying them to prevent someone stepping on them. Beaches are public property and so Sunday’s there were several locals that came out to play in the ocean. Lots of shade from trees and small palapas. Lots of chairs as well, however they filled up very quickly our second week. There are signs advising you that chair reserving is not allowed, however, when in Rome..... There would be no problem if folks who reserve chairs would actually show up sometime in the morning instead of in the afternoon! Pool is very nice and kept very clean, but water was very cold the one time we used it.

Cannot enter the ocean east of the lighthouse bar (left when facing ocean) because of the slabs of coral. It is not an ideal area to swim, plus you would need water shoes. The swimming takes place west of the bar. Straight out in front of the bar there is an artificial reef. Easiest way to describe it is, take a tea cup and turn it open side down. Slice off the bottom, which is now the top; and make holes all over the cup. There is a row of these “cups” which are approx 4-5 ft high each. Ocean was not overly calm, some waves, but on most days it was still fine for snorkeling. My husband saw a nice variety of fish, not as good as he has seen elsewhere, but still decent. There were some of your typical garden variety of fish who will eat bread or banana from your hand near the shore line for those who do not snorkel or cannot swim. Then there were angel (plain and the yellow/black variety), needle nose, sargent majors, spotted trunk, trumpet, 2 eels, parrot, clown, octopus, ray, flounder, lobster, blue headed wrasse, etc. On one occasion we saw a dark colored fish a foot or so long, but we did not get a good look at it. Some folks who were in the water at the time were saying it was a shark.

Lighthouse is just a bar, no washrooms attached to bldg. Beach washroom is a small yellow bldg, near the towel bldg. Doors face the beach. There is also a bigger washroom in almost the same vicinity, however the doors face the pool. It’s just over from the towel bldg and is pink in color. Music is not annoying or overly loud, nothing blaring. The animation team set up a speaker near the lighthouse for a few hrs for dance lessons, aqua fit and games. The lighthouse bar is definitely understaffed. The pop is not self-serve, and so that adds more work for the one bartender.

Food
No problems here, neither one of us was sick. You have to use common sense and not over indulge in food and alcohol that you don’t normally consume. You wouldn’t want to do this at home, so why do it here and then pay for it! Breakfast, as always, is the best meal of the day. Steak house (La Goleta, a-la-carte), near the pool, is also open for buffet lunch. Dress code will be enforced. Women are fine with wrap or coverup over bathing suit, anything goes. Men will have to throw on a t-shirt. Must wear shoes of some sort. Nice mid afternoon treat at this restaurant is the popcorn and soft serve ice cream. The a-la-carte restaurants are mexican, japanese and steak house. Men have to wear long pants to the a-la-cartes, and yes, jeans are acceptable.

The only alcoholic beverages you will be served at the buffet restaurant at dinner are beer and wine. You have to pick up your mixed drinks at any of the bars. This was odd, we’ve never come across this at any of the other resorts. The food was all good. However, I found that no matter how the rice was prepared, it was always dry. There was one time where I noticed the cold cuts were discolored.

Two negative things to say about the buffet. One is the awful smell where the yogourts are at breakfast, and this is where the desserts are displayed for dinner. Was not pleasant. This problem definitely needs to be addressed! The other negative has to do with dirty dishes. We often found the big plates were not always scrubbed clean as well as they should have been.

Grounds, Bugs and Miscellaneous
Resort is architecturally very nicely laid out and appealing. Landscaping is also very nice. Resort is now 7 yrs old and so trees are mature. Bldgs 4 and 7 are furthest from lobby and all restaurants except for La Goleta/steak house. Resort is wheelchair accessible. The main walkways to the restaurants and shops, as well as one section of the lobby are in serious need of repainting. They were starting to work on that when we were leaving. It wasn’t very pretty with peeling paint.

Bugs, found a few tiny ants(?) in our room on dresser. We probably brought them from the beach in our beach bags, towels, etc. No way to avoid that. It didn’t help when we had a soft drink because the bugs were then attracted to the sweet syrup. They weren’t really a problem. Mosquitoes, I had 1 bite, my husband had 2; so bugs were not a problem this trip. Never saw anyone fumigating. Very few wasps flying around the beach in comparison to Feb travel.

Book exchange libraries, there are 2. One is in the internet room, off the lobby. The other is in the pink washroom bldg by the pool. If you are looking for north american best sellers, you are going to be very disappointed as majority of english language books are british. It wasn’t our cup of tea!

A bit more lighting along the paths would be an improvement, especially around the south end of the pool. The walkways along the edge of property by bldgs 5, 6 and 7 need better sweeping and collecting of garbage as this area seemed to be ignored.

Shopping
Several gift shops. Harrison’s Fine Jewellery, the name says it all, beautiful expensive gold pieces. Excellent price for vanilla at the hotel gift shop Licoreria, which sold alcohol. Vanilla was 40 pesos, approx US$1.25 for 8 oz bottle, much cheaper than you could barter on the beach. A few local vendors are set up in huts in both directions on the beach. Twice a week vendors peddle their wares at hotel.

Conclusion
We had a wonderful time. The resort is very nice, the staff even nicer, everyone was very pleasant, no complaints! Would we return here? We probably will, however we will avoid the american thanksgiving timeframe. Don’t know if it is like this at all times of the year, but the resort was over-run with children, most of them being under 8 yrs of age. Don’t get me wrong, we love kids, have 2 of our own. But this many whining and screaming kids was way too much. You couldn’t escape them, not at the beach or restaurants. We go away to get away, to relax and enjoy ourselves. With so many kids, it wasn’t always easy. Like my husband said, there are smoking and non-smoking sections in the restaurants, maybe there should be kids and no-kids sections as well. Guests were mostly europeans from Germany, England, Spain and France. Many Russian Americans (very loud), and very few Canadians.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Brochuville 

March 2008
IBHD- what can i add that hasn't already been said , we went down from mar 3rd to 17th the 2nd week we had 24 more people come for our daughters wedding the resort did a great job for that. we are not fans of all inclusives but this place could change our mind if we had to do it again . we had requested a room on top floor but didn't get it we went with the idea that there will be some things not perfect so when they gave us a ground floor room in building 3 oh well , after 1 night i wouldn't change rooms it was spacious, clean, king bed, bath/shower iron/ironing board .it faced the garden and was quiet- perfect. we never had any problem getting a palapa on the beach and we didn't reserve at 7 am either. the staff is fantastic, star friends become your friends get you involved but aren't pushy. the evening shows for a resort troupe do a great job, never seen a repeat show in the 2 weeks . the food was a little too good since i came home heavier than when i left and i believe that's the chef's fault if it wouldn't have been so much choice prepared so well i wouldn't have eaten so much lol. the drinks were not watered down and the booze was premium quality even the wine was ok. the only problem we had was the salon she wasn't too friendly but that could have been from over booking and check out was a little messed up but all ended well. we tipped and it was much appreciated altho there were more guests who didn't no offense to anyone but a certain european countries visitors were rather pushy and created some problems for the staff but they handled it quite tactfully. all in all it was a great place to be for 2 weeks of sun and sand you will not regret going to this place
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Jon 

March 2008
My wife, children (age 10 and 8) and I just got back from 14 fabulous nights at the Iberostar Hacienda Domincus. 2 other couples and their children joined us for the 2nd week so we were 12 in total.

We visited from Feb 8 – Feb 23rd, 2007. This is our 3rd trip to the Dominican Republic.

We live in Ottawa, Ontario but flew out of Montreal airport. We booked through Selloff Vacations, the package was provided by Signature vacations and flights were with Air Transat. These were all excellent, no problems at all. We saved over 10% for the 4 of us by booking through Selloff vs. booking on Signatures website for the same holiday.

We have visited the Caribbean almost every year for the last 12 years. We had stayed at 3 different Iberostar resorts (Iberostar Costa Dorada – Puerto Plata, Iberostar Bavaro – Punta Cana, and the Iberostar Cayo Coco – Cuba).prior to this visit.

I had visited the Hacienda Domincus in 2005 for a diving excursion when I stayed at the Iberostar Bavaro. I liked what I saw and the diving was excellent (compared to Punta Cana), so we decided to give it a try next chance we got.

The hotel is very nice, we really appreciate the layout of the grounds, size of the rooms, etc.

Beach
The beach was very good … it could benefit from more shaded areas and more space but was still very nice. The beach is not huge so long walks aren’t really possible but if you want to swim, sunbathe, or play in the sand it is very nice. Our kids thoroughly enjoyed it and we all spent time in the ocean. There isn’t much snorkeling nearby so keep that in mind, if you’re an avid snorkeler.

Pool and pool area
Well kept, spacious, separate dedicated pool for sports, swim up bar, walk in area for small children. Loungers can be hard to come by.

A la carte restaurants
In 2 weeks we didn’t actually try any of them (kids prefer the buffet) but people we were traveling with said they were very good.

Buffet restaurants
Very good to excellent … lots of variety of food, made to order eggs (breakfast) and pasta (lunch/dinner). Fresh dishes of food arriving constantly so you never have to worry about them running out. The food tends to have more South American and European dishes than North American’s may be used to, but this is a good thing … experiment!!!

Rooms
Our room was excellent. My wife emailed the hotel in advance and requested a ground floor room in building 3 or 4 facing the pool, with 2 extra beds. We arrived in the middle of the night and everything was as we had order except they put in an extra bed and a crib, instead of 2 extra beds. It wasn’t a big deal and they fixed it first thing in the morning after we mentioned it to them. The room was nicely cleaned every day, by our housekeeper – Jonny … first time we’ve ever had a male cleaner … he did a very good job. Our room did not have a bathtub nor did the other couple of rooms we visited, but it did have a very spacious and high pressure shower … great for us.

Shows
We must be getting a little jaded because we skipped most of the shows. The two we saw were fine (Chicago Show and Broadway Show). The singing, dancing and acting were all good ‘resort’ quality. We’ve seen a lot of the shows before and they weren’t really our priority this trip.

Hotel Check-in
excellent, very quick, only issue was lack of porters at 3:00AM … it took a little longer than we expected to get our bags to our room.

Hotel Check out
We had problems with this since we were leaving the hotel at midnight and wanted to keep the room as long as we could. We were first told we could keep it until 6pm and pay $40 for the extra time, and then at the last minute they said no, we couldn’t keep it. We didn’t get back from our failed excursion (see above) until after check-out time and they got mad at us and charged us $40 for the extra hour we had the room. I think part of it was a language issue so if you have special requests and don’t speak Spanish, make sure you double-confirm they understand what you are requesting so that no misunderstandings occur.

The hotel chain should handle this situation better (where people depart late in the evening) since we seem to always run into this problem when we go to an Iberostar. We end out camping out in the lobby after 4pm or so since there is nowhere else to go and with 2 small children in tow it is tough. Not a good ending to an otherwise great vacation.

Off resort Excursions
We booked 1 excursion on for our last day. It was supposed to be to San Pedro de Macoris and Cueva de las Maravillas (Cave of Wonders). The tour operator booked us on the wrong trip, a town tour of San Pedro de Macoris instead. I had double checked everything with the agent, and the bus guide (who only spoke French and Spanish). By the time we found out, we were in San Pedro de Macoris on a plantation tour. The tour guide (Arnold) who spoke English, Spanish and German, made a few phone calls and tried to help us out. We had to keep at him to try and get it fixed. We had 6 angry adults and 6 upset children at this point. After the plantation tour, we returned to San Pedro. Arnold helped arrange a taxi and we paid another $240 for the taxi and cave tour. The original payment was on my credit card, so we won’t be paying that. The caves are definitely worth the trip and I would highly recommend them to anyone at all interested in caves.

Kids Club
The kids club was excellent … nice building, great play structure, nice staff, and a very small pool area to cool off in. Our kids wanted to hang out with us most of the time so spent very little time at the kids club, in total I think they probably spent 14-16 hours there over 2 weeks.

La Romana - Airport Arrival
Excellent, no complaints, fast and efficient. All the paperwork was given to us on the plane, and we filled it out in advance.

La Romana - Airport Departure
Very good, we arrived at 1:00AM for a 4:00AM flight, I was pleasantly surprised that Duty Free, the gift shop and restaurant were all still open. Our only complaint was that there was no where to lie down … the seats were such that there was no way you could lie down comfortably … with a 3 hour wait this was painful.

Scuba Diving
This was the number one reason, we chose this resort. Both I and our friends had visited on previous trips to dive with Dressel Divers while staying in Punta Cana (in 2005 and 2006). We’d been impressed with the diving conditions, marine life and quality of the dive center.

In 2 weeks, I did 14 dives including 6 dives during all day excursions (Saona Island and Catalina Island (twice)) and 1 night dive. I dove on the St. Georges wreck 3 times; each time was slightly different as the conditions changed, as did the marine life. I did the Catalina Island excursion twice, once by myself and once with my family and friends. I think this is the best choice if you only do 1 excursion, the wall on the first dive is very nice and the Aquarium on the 2nd dive has lots of marine life. On this excursion both dives were done before lunch, so you had the afternoon to relax at Catalina Island and on the boat ride back. The trip back includes a cruise along the River Chavon and a visit to “Altos de Chavon” which is definitely worth the climb of 300+ steps … be sure to bring your camera.

My wife did 7 dives and enjoyed them all. My son (8) and daughter (10) both tried the scuba pool experience which they enjoyed. My daughter took to it like a fish and decided she wanted to do the Discover Scuba course. She ended up taking the course (1 hour in the classroom, 1 hour in the pool) plus 2 open water dives to 40 feet with an instructor (Renaud). She really enjoyed this, and thanks to Renaud’s careful direction is now a budding scuba diver. She ended up doing two more dives with us (both with an instructor) when we did the excursion to Catalina Island.

The daily diving is very organized … 2 dives per day, 8:45AM and 1:30PM … Deep dive in the morning, shallower dives in the afternoon. The dive center operates 5 boats and depending on the day and number of people will determine which boat is used. The boats were busy but not overloaded while we were there. The boat rides are relatively short 10 – 20 minutes, so the briefing and gear assembly is generally done at the dive center, so be there on time.

Divers are generally separated into 2 groups – experienced and in-experienced, each with it’s own dive master/instructor, even if they are on the same boat. This lets each group do what they need to without slowing the other group down.

Gear rental and storage Very good, there is a dedicated room for customers equipment, we left our gear there (except computers and camera) and felt it was quite safe. Our daughter rented gear and it was very good. 72 liter tanks are available on request (useful for my wife and daughter).

Dive Center Staff
The dive center staff, instructors and boat captains were all excellent. Yannick runs the front desk and speaks about 5 different languages, Bobby, Renaud, Yoram, and even the new guy, Ryan, are all excellent instructors who speak several languages. Andre (the crazy Brazilian) is the leader for most of the excursions. The boat staff and captains are all very helpful.

The marine life is plentiful and the reefs are in good shape; we got some good underwater photos (we took about 450 in total) and saw some unusual fish. Notable sightings: Barracuda, Octopus (night dive), eels (green and spotted), trumpet fish, rays, lots of ballonfish (some very large), lobsters, crabs (several different kinds), large schools of fish (grunts, parrot fish, jacks, needlefish), flame scallop, bristle worms, garden eels, many different groupers, etc …. Too many things to list. We didn’t see much large marine life, it was lots of small and fascinating things that made for a great diving and photography experience.

Some underwater photos: http://flickr.com/photos/eagleknees/sets/72157604037542962/

Note:
I’m sure everyone knows this but keep your eyes on your bags during transfers. One of ours didn’t come off the bus when we arrived at the airport to leave, I had to go searching for it, it was buried in the bottom of the bus. I’m sure it was an honest mistake but it would have wrecked an otherwise great vacation if I hadn’t found it.

Bottom line:
We loved it, we’re ready to go back any time. A fantastic combination of price and quality, exactly what we’ve come to expect with Iberostar.

Questions … email us at jwheatca@yahoo.ca

Some land photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eagleknees/sets/72157604056214247/
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Jon 

March 2008
The kids club was excellent … nice building, great play structure, nice staff, and a very small pool area to cool off in. Our kids wanted to hang out with us most of the time so spent very little time at the kids club, in total I think they probably spent 14-16 hours there over 2 weeks.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Paul 

January 2008
Arrival:
After a greuling 2 hour transfer from the Punta Cana Airport to Bayahibe via taxi (and this is no fault of the resort) we arrived at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus. Walking into the lobby area, one word best describes it WOW. The decor is luxurious with an abundance of big comfortable couches and chairs throughout.

Reception:
Upon our arrival we were met by the very friendly and personable Miguel (Mr. Baseball) at the reception counter. Miguel made the check in process very easy and very quick. After a refreshing beverage (while doing the paperwork), Miguel escorted us to our building. Our luggage arrived shortly thereafter.

Room:
We were situated in building # 6 on the 3rd floor. The room itself was spacious with a king sized bed, lots of ceramic tile throughout, which kept the room cool and tastefully decorated.
The bathroom was an average size, with just enough room for 2 people to move around when getting dressed. The housekeeping staff did a great job of keeping our room clean, tidy and provided fresh towels everyday. The towel art was a very nice touch.

Grounds:
The grounds of resort were fantastic, with lush, well manicured grounds with excellent and interesting foliage. The resort was always clean, never any litter on the ground and the staff seemed to take pride in their work surroundings.

Restaurants / Buffet:
All were good, we never had a bad meal during our stay. The choices of food at the buffet were just enough and each night there was a different theme. The sea food was excellent , fresh and cooked in front of you to your liking. We really like the "steak house" and would recommend ordering the filet mignon (tenderloin) as your main course.

Beach / Pool:
The beach area is lovley, lots of palapas for eveyone. a quiet area, should you not choose to be around lots of people. The pool is very large and not too deep. The swim-up bar is a fun way to meet new people. The bartenders Raul and Benjamin 2 are lots of fun and are interesting to talk to (they have lots of stories) and never let your glass go empty.

Entertainment / Star Friends:
Each night there is something different in the type of show that is offered. The dancers are good and the sets well done. Their version of Chicago and the Lion King were excellent, but my favourite show was the "Broadway review". The "star band" is very good and play a variety of music and the singers are exceptional. The "star friends" were fun and very pleasant even though they work extremley long hours for little pay in very hot conditions.

Lobby Bar:
This is my only dislike / gripe to the whole resort, there are not enough seats available for all of the patrons and you have to get there early to get a place to sit.

Scuba diving:
If you are a scuba diver, Dressel divers (located on the resort) offer a variety of dive sites to choose from at decent prices. The staff are excellent, friendly and knowledgable. The equipment (if you didn't bring your own) is 1st rate.

Overall we enjoyed our experience at this resort and would not hesitate to return there at a future date. I would recommend this resort to all.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Jason and Beverley 
England
December 2007
y wife and I have recently returned from a fantastic holiday to the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus in Bayahibe. This was our sixth trip to the Dominican Republic but our first time to the south of the Island. After enjoying a holiday at the Iberostar Punta Cana last time, we decided to use the Iberostar group once again.

Airport / Flight
We flew from Gatwick airport travelling on the 10.45am flight. I booked NCP airport parking online for nine days at a cost of £77.00. The car park exits directly into the south terminal. Check in was fine, just the usual safety precautions of removing shoes, belts etc for the metal detector and all liquids in bottles no greater than 100ml and in a clear polythene wallet provided at the terminal. I pre-booked our plane seats which were next the window. We flew with our tour operator Thomson who, since our last trip to DR, has upgraded the seating on all of their planes. The seats now have more leg room and each passenger has their own TV monitor in the headrest of the seat in front of them. There is a big selection of films, documentaries, comedy, sport and children’s games, with an optional upgrade of £5 per person for even more films. It was by far the best flight we have had to the Dominican Republic. Flight time approx 9.5hrs.

Arrival in DR
We flew into Punta Cana airport which has been renovated since our last visit. Once off of the plane you enter the terminal to obtain your entry visa. These cost $10. We purchased ours from the DR embassy in London before our trip which saved us queuing and allowed us through passport control first and onto the air conditioned coach much sooner. The coach transfer to Bayahibe normally takes 1.5 to 2hrs. However, on this occasion we were told by our Thomson rep that the main bridge we were to cross was closed for repairs and that our journey time would be 2.45hrs. Shortly after setting off our coach driver Domingo announced that he knew a short cut that would shave an hour off of our transfer time. Wow, what an experience. He took us off of the main road and across country on a dirt track full of holes through a sugar cane plantation. He was however, true to his word and we did arrive an hour early.

Check In
We were greeted by the reception staff and bell boys who provided us with our arrival packs containing our room key cards, towel cards and room details but more importantly an ice cold cocktail. They also gave us brief details of where we could eat that evening. The bell boys took our cases along to our room, 2010. At the Hacienda, the room numbers represent the following. The first 2 = the block number. Next the 0 = floor number, 0 being ground. Lastly the 10 = the actual room number. We had originally requested a pool view but unfortunately did not get it.

Room
Our room was excellent. Very clean, tastefully decorated with mini bar / fridge and satellite television. We had patio doors onto our veranda which overlooked beautifully kept gardens. We also had air conditioning and a ceiling fan. The bathroom had a huge walk in shower and a hair dryer. The water pressure was excellent and we never ran out of hot water. The tour operator specifies that room sheets and drinks are only replaced / changed every other day. We tipped Carmen our maid every day, and every day our room was spotless with clean sheets and mini fridge stocked.

Reception / Lobby Bar
The reception opens out onto the lobby bar. Both were exquisite. Beautifully decorated and very clean. Around the corner from the main reception is the telephone area, toilets and also an ATM machine. The bar has a baby grand piano and most nights there is a pianist and saxophone player. We also had guests getting up to play the piano which was great. You can order drinks from the bar or one of the waitresses will take your order.

Gardens
The gardens are beautifully kept. There are a number of large water features, home to a selection of flamingo’s, swans and the odd turtle. I will say that we did have some problems with mosquito’s which I believe are mainly due to the water features. Make sure you take spray and even a plug in type repellent for your rooms.

Pools
There are three pools at the Hacienda Dominicus. The first is a very large freeform pool that slopes gently at one end up to a depth of 1.70mtrs at the other. This pool is ideal for children (with adult supervision) The pool has an island in the middle with a Jacuzzi in it. I will say that this pool is always freezing. You can also swim up to the pool bar and enjoy one of the many cocktails served up by our favourite barman, “Mr Smith”

The second pool is a medium sized round pool 1.5mtrs deep. I didn’t really see anyone using this pool.

The third pool is rectangular and used solely for pool games such as volleyball, basketball and water polo. This is great idea as it allows guests to relax in the main pool uninterrupted.

The hotel provides towel cards to all guests. These are exchanged for clean towels everyday at the pool area. If lost, they will charge you $20 to replace.

Beach
The beach is only about 150mtrs long but has plenty of beds. However, you will need to get there very early to secure one right next to the sea. The hotel operates a “no reserving “policy but does not really bother to enforce it. I have to say that I found the beach at Bavaro much better than at the Hacienda Dominicus. A large part of the beach is rocky, mainly around the lighthouse bar but also along the bathing area. The sand is also very coarse. If you try to walk along the beach you will be stopped by security as soon as you try to enter another hotels space. Technically this is wrong as all DR beaches are public. They are strict on it however and I guess it does keep out undesirables.

Food
I have to say that the food at the Hacienda Dominicus is the best we have ever had anywhere in the DR. There is a huge variety all of which is excellent.

The main buffet restaurant is open from 7am – 10am for breakfast, from 1pm – 3pm for buffet lunch and from 6.30pm – 9.30pm for evening meals.

The Palapa / grill restaurant is open from 10am – 12noon for breakfast, from 12noon – 4pm for buffet lunch and from 4pm – 6pm for snacks, cakes and afternoon tea. This restaurant is also the Steak House speciality restaurant from 7pm – 10pm.

Other speciality restaurants, the Mexican and Japanese are open 7pm – 10pm, by appointment only.

The hotel management are very strict on dress code whilst in any of the restaurants. Strictly no bare feet or swim suites during the day. Men are also requested to wear long trousers in all restaurants for dinner. They do relax this for the main buffet restaurant and allow tailored Bermuda shorts but you will be turned away from any of the speciality restaurants without trousers. This is a 5 star rated hotel and the majority of people, including ourselves dressed very smart for dinner.

Drink
What can I say, the El Presidente never tasted so good and the cocktails really hit the spot. All local brands but all excellent.

Spa
The hotel provides a variety of treatments including massages, facials etc. My wife had a full body massage which cost $50. All charges all billed directly to your room and settled on check out. The spa cosmetic is open from 9am – 8pm. The Jacuzzi and steam room are open from 8am – 11am and 3pm – 8pm.

Sports Centre
This is located on the beach and it is here that you can book your free scuba lesson, or maybe even a wreck dive. They also provide banana boat rides, kayaks, snorkelling equipment as well as parasailing and catamarans. I did go parasailing. A word of advice though. Make sure you go on a nice calm day. I went up when it was windy and it was more of a white knuckle experience. It was great though and only $50 which is good considering you are up for over 20 minutes.

Entertainment
The star friends work tirelessly to provide all of the guests with as little or as much entertainment as they want. They take pride in their work and are always happy. The shows in the main hall were excellent as were the water aerobics and daytime games to name but a few. They are not at all pushy and will happily respect the fact that some people just want to lay on a bed by the pool all day recharging their batteries. Happy Lenny was our favourite.

We spent a couple of nights at “Nemo’s Discotheque”. It was great fun and we danced to everything from Michael Jackson to 50 cent. It opens at 11pm through to 2am.

Kids Club
There is an excellent kids club at the hotel located adjacent to the Palapa grill restaurant. It has its own club house, adventure playground and also small splash pool, all enclosed by a perimeter hedgerow. The club operates between 10am and 5pm and has the following groups.

Lucy’s mini club 5 – 7 year olds
Lucy’s maxi club 8 – 12 year olds
Lucy’s teeny club 13 – 16 year olds ( this club runs between 1st July and 15th September)

Staff
There are lots of staff at the Hacienda Domincus. You will always see the gardens being tended, communal areas being cleaned and maintenance staff and chamber maids cleaning the rooms. None of the above will intrude on your holiday but do show just how dedicated the Iberostar group and hotel management are to providing the very best hotel accommodation.

Return Flight
We checked out of our room at noon ready for pickup at 1.30pm for a 6pm flight. However, we were told that our flight was going to be delayed by 6 hrs and that we could stay on at the hotel. This wasn’t a problem for us and we enjoyed a leisurely lunch followed by drinks in the lounge bar and several games of cards. We were picked up at 6pm and taken back to Punta Cana airport. We first paid our $20 departure tax each, checked our bags and walked through to the duty free area of the departure lounge. Please note that they are very strict on your baggage allowance which is 20kg. You will be charged $20 dollars for every kg that you are over. Our flight home took 8.5 hrs and I have to say that I slept the entire journey.

Summary
The Hacienda Dominicus is quite simply excellent. I have never had such beautiful accommodation, such mouth watering food or brightly coloured cocktails all provided by such wonderful people. I find myself sat at home looking at the clock wondering what I would have been doing now. This was our first trip away without our three girls, all of whom are teenagers and preparing for exams at school. We loved ever minute. So, would I return…………….. You bet I would. In fact I will be booking again for next year soon after Christmas. This time for the five of us.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Jason and Beverley 
England
December 2007
There is an excellent kids club at the hotel located adjacent to the Palapa grill restaurant. It has its own club house, adventure playground and also small splash pool, all enclosed by a perimeter hedgerow. The club operates between 10am and 5pm and has the following groups.

Lucy’s mini club 5 – 7 year olds
Lucy’s maxi club 8 – 12 year olds
Lucy’s teeny club 13 – 16 year olds ( this club runs between 1st July and 15th September)
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Rudy 
Boston
November 2007
was just there for 9 days. this was our 6th trip to this resort, best value for your money.

beach area is great, grounds are continousy worked on, food is always good and the staff has always been great.

if you go ask the bartender for a "shot" of "Mamajuana", that will get your vacation started just right.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Steve 

June 2007
OK ,where do i start?

I have today just got back from the IHD and i'm gutted to be back home.

Our party consisted of 2 couples, and we stayed at the IHD from 1st of June to the 15th and had a fantastic time.

Flights - We flew with First Choice from Manchester to Punta Cana ( why they dont fly to La Romana which is only 20 mins away as opposed to 1.5/ 2 hours away i don't know.)

We upgraded on the flights to Star class Premier, think it was around 200 quid more but it was worth every penny. I did some research first before deciding who to fly with as some other tour companies seem to have less thatn favourable reviews when it comes to the flights. I honestly couldnt fault ours, the food was great ( for airline food) plenty of leg room, free drinks, a 'pamper pack' (contained lip balms, tooth paste, wipes, socks etc) blanket, eye mask and a cushion. it really was worth every penny i would never consider flying for that lenth of time now without upgrading. Its got to be worth it to get away from the majority of screaming kids!!

At Punta Cana be prepared to be harassed by porters trying to carry your bags, its your choice at the end of the day but if you keep telling them no they get the message. Coming home, i let them cos i couldnt be arsed to, and it was worth the 2 dollars i gave the guy.

The transfer to the hotel was on some old rickety battle bus with knackered suspension. We got stuck in traffic in the towns making a 1.5 hour trip in to a 2+ hour trip. Still, we got there in the end.

Check in was painless and the rooms were fine. I cant believe people moan about having seperate double beds as opposed to a kingsize, seperate beds are great i've never slept so well !
As per previous posts room was clean and tidy ( until i opened my case an unpacked) Maid did a great job in keping it clean.
TV had a green tinge to the picture, i was too lazy to complain and you get used to it, besides you dont go on holiday to watch tv do you. I filled in the defect card the day before we left, dont know whether they will fix it or not or just leave it for someone else to complain.
Air con worked ok, shower is huge and quite powerful!

The hotel itself is amazing and its grounds are beautiful. the team of gardeners are out there all day everyday maintaining them and it shows. On the whole the whole hotel is kept very clean.

The beach is fantastic and kept clean, as previously stated the best sun loungers get 'reserved' by certain people very early on and stay empty for most of the day, mentioning no names..cough...Germans..cough..... I wish the hotel would do more to prevent this, but they dont. So if you cant beat them, join them and try and get down there before they do ( you snooze you lose), or just burn their towels.

Restaurants - Japanese, went twice, the sushi was beautiful, the beef cooked tepenyaki style could have been cooked a bit longer but thats personal choice, on the whole at the time we thought it was pretty good. Went back a second time a week later and we had a different chef, a guy called 'Bassillo', wow what a difference he was 10 times better than the first chef and we had a cracking group of people around the table, 2 french couples, a Columbian couple and a group of around 8 people from London. You all know who you are and thanks for a cracking night, probably the best night we had all holiday. Lots of singing involved, apologies to the americans on the next table if we were a bit too loud ha ha!! you should have joined in!

Mexican - mexican food isnt really my thing but it was tasty and we all enjoyed it, no complaints.

A la carte ( colonial) - Fine food and very tasty, those salmon parcels are to die for. Everything cooked well, again no complaints.

Steakhouse - Hmmm, went once service was terrible, wrong orders, food not cooked great, i had a rib eye, it wasnt the best. didnt go back although talking to others who went there most apeared to love it, maybe they were just having an off day.

Main buffet restaurant - Lots and lots of choice, if you cant find something you like in here then you are beyond hope, food is of a pretty high quality considering its catering for the masses. Yes some of it might be a little different from what you are used to but just deal with it and realise that these people with limitied resources are doing there very best to help you. Live life on the edge and try something new, you never know you might like it rather than moaning about how it not like granny used to make.

Service - in all the restaurants (except the steakhouse) the service was exceptional i don't think that i ever managed to get my water or wine glass past the half way mark before it was topped up.

Activities - There isnt really a great deal to do outside of the hotel, so you either sizzle in the sun all day or do the activities. Theres all the usual stuff, ping pong, archery, pool, rifle & pistol shooting, football, volleyball , baseball, etc etc and its all good fun so give it a go. All the activities are supervised by the star friends which brings me nicely on to my next topic..

Star Friends

- what can i say, whatever these guys and girls get paid it isnt enough. These people are fantastic, some are exceptional Lenny, Shakira, Ricky, Bethania, Carlos, I salute you, thanks for making a great holiday even better. You will be missed. The effort that these guys put in to their work is remarkable, they are always happy and willing to talk. Last Thursday they did a new show called 'Broadway'. I dont know how long these guys were practicing for previously in the week but i do know that on the Wednesday they practiced most of Wednesday. this was inbetween still doing the activities. They then did the usual Wednesday night show and when that finished they were practicing until 3am that night. The next day they were up early again to organise activities, practice the show again then perform it.
So to all who have said that the shows aren't that good you make me sick and i ask you to try and do better. These people in my opinion do a fantastic job and work very very hard. Show them some respect and give them your full support.

Star dancers/singers - These guys also do a top job , although they dont get involved in the day to day stuff like the star friends (appart from the BBQ and Paella parties) these guys are really good. One of the singers ,Beatrice, is in particular is very talented.

Excursions - the only trip we went on was a trip to Saona island. It was booked through our First Choice rep and was around $70. Talking to a couple who booked the same trip through their Thomson rep paid over $120, so you Tomson travellers, you have been warned. I went to Saona in July 2002 ago and it was beautiful, not many people and thousands and thousands of butterflies going up and down the beach. 5 years on and there were more huts on the beach, loads of boats and people, a volleyball net and lots of loud music. No butterflies, although it maybe the wrong time of the year for them.. Such a shame how such a beautiful place has in my opinion been ruined. My advice, book a different trip.

My mate and i also booked a deep sea fishing trip through the hotel which was $100 for a mornings fishing. Hasten to say we caught nothing. Typical.

Weather - the first week was great, most of the second week was cloudy although it did pick up the last 2 days, still warm though.

Complaints - other than the tv being overly green, the only complaints i have regarding the hotel are that sometimes there is a dodgy smell around the poolside bar, sometimes it smells of sick, didn't seem to bother most people though. It didn't stop us from getting drinks there either. Also there are alot of birds (the feathered kind) which, during the day, go in to the restaurant by the beach ( the one which is the steakhouse at night) and actually peck at the food, particularly the bread. I think some fine netting around the windows would pretty much stop this problem.

These are really minor issues and on the whole the hotel is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone. We picked this hotel because we had such a fab time at the Iberostar Costa Dorada last time and i would say that this place is better.

To all at IHD, keep up the good work.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Mark (themarkel) 
USA
March 2007
Easy check in at Boston Logan, 9.00am excellent fight with North American Airlines, plenty of room in seats and even a Turkey Croissant snack.

ARRIVAL AT PUERTO PLATA: When we arrived about 5 other planes came in so the Immigration lines were VERY long for the three Agents working - after a while 2 more windows opened. Proceeded through Immigration to pick up luggage - more wait. Once you get through Customs, there are porters that literally want to rip your bags out of your hands - AVOID THESE PEOPLE - as they are not really needed unless you have heavy bags. A GWV/APPLE rep tells you which of the many buses/vans you need to take.

BUS TO LA ROMANA: Once the bus finally has all its passengers, off you go. The Guide asks who wants to buy beer or soda for the ride. $3 for a beer - $1 for a soda - He stops at a store along the way and returns with the beer and soda ordered. The trip to the hotels was over an hour and three quarters - A LOOOOOOOOONG ride, as most of it is on two lane roads where both sides race to see who can win at chicken.

ARRIVAL AT IBHD: Upon arrival a little confusion as only two desk clerks on duty for about thirty arrivals. A wonderful open air lobby area. We finished the paperwork, got our key cards and off to our room.

HOTEL: The place is HUGE - the landscaping is exceptional. We were located in building 3 on the top floor (European method of Ground Floor - 1st Floor - 2nd Floor) 3225 a room with a King bed. Private Balcony with two chairs and a table, sofa, armchair, mini bar (stocked with 2 beers, six waters, 2 Cokes, a Diet Coke and a Sprite, replenished every other day.
Large closet with an electronic safe (you have to go back to the Front Desk to get the key to program it - included with GWV/APPLE). Large bathroom, all done in marble, with a full tub, soap and shampoo dispenser in tub. There is a hair dryer, but very weak at best. No iron or ironing board though. Everyday the maid leaves Towel Art on your bed and in the bathroom. We left the amid a couple of dollars each day as a thank you. YOU CANNOT DRINK THE TAP WATER - A GALLON JUG OF BOTTLED WATER IS PROVIDED.
We never had a problem with hot water for showers - even at prime times. Nor did we lose electricity.

RESTAURANTS: BEAR IN MIND YOU ARE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY - WHAT WE IN AMERICA TAKE FOR MILK, CHEESE, FRUITS, BACON, MEATS ARE NOT NECESSARILY WHAT THEY ARE IN DOMINICAN REP.

There is the main buffet restaurant - Breakfast - Eggs to order, and every conceivable meats, fruits, cereals and fruit smoothies that you could ever come up with.
The fruit is the freshest you will ever have outside of a field.. LUNCH - Never had there.
DINNER - Changes nightly, yet similar food.

You can reserve three restaurants at a time with Guest Services each day. NOT THREE TOTAL - BUT EACH DAY!!

Japanese Restaurant: Benehana Style - Sushi Appetizers, Chioce of Soups - White or Fried Rice - Choice of Beef, Chicken, Shrimp or Octopus - Mixed Vegetables - Choice of dessert (get the Banana Fritters), SAKE with a little dance thrown in!

Gourmet Restaurant: Very elegant, Service exceptional
- food OK.

Mexican Restaurant: Not what Americans would necessarily think as Mexican (It is authentic!!) Good food - try the special tacos - beef, chirico, onions awesome!

Steak Restaurant/Lunch Buffet: Lunch has hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and on and on. The choices are endless again. At night it transforms into the Steak Restaurant. Choice various cuts of beef, pork and chicken. Orger TWO potatoes they are incerdible.

In order of OUR preference: Japanese, Steak, Mexican and then Gourmet We tipped a couple of dollars at each meal to the server as a token of appreciation - the Europeans NEVER left a tip.

POOL: We never used them but it/they are everywhere around the centre of the hotel.

BEACH: AWESOME!!!! Yes you have to get up at 6AM to get a front row Palapa, by 7:30AM most of the beachfront huts are reserved with towels, books and articles of clothing. There are at least six rows of huts in some places. The beach is LOOOOONG. and wonderful soft sand, you can walk out over 100' and still be just over your waist. Topless is allowed at the beach so beware if you have kids. To the right as you face the ocean is a row of shops on the beach selling all the tourist stuff. IF YOU GO BEHIND THESE SHOPS AND GO TO THE RIGHT THERE IS A DIRT ROAD THAT LEADS TO TOWN (seven minutes maybe) JUST FOLLOW THE ROAD BEHIND THE WYNDHAM. Prices in town are less - but for a Caribbean Island the prices are high and even when haggling down the price it is still expensive! A T Shirt for $15 - and then he switched it for a different one when he put it in the bag no less!

BARS: You can drink for morn till morn! There is a Beach Bar in a lighthouse to the left (facing the water). Lobby Bar is busiest at night, gets loud and smokey. Swim up bar in the pool. Try a Caipirina - Rum with lime juice and sugar - UMMMMM Good! Again give the bartender a dollar or two - he WILL take care of you, not that it is really necessary as you can drink until you fall down if you want. No limit on how many drinks you can get at a time.

DISCO: Never went, but reeks of smoke and old liqour.

SHOWS: They try hard - Animation Crew seems to work around the clock - sure they cannot make enough for the work they do;.

The grounds are huge and it takes a while to get the lay of the land. There should be more signage at the buildings as to which direction leads to what. The buildings are in a reverse "V" layout (Lobby at point and beach between the lines at the end) so if you keep heading left or keep heading right you get to the lobby or beach eventually.

There are a lot of Germans and French here and to say they are rude would be an understatement. They DO NOT stand in line! Just cut right in and plead ignorance when confronted!

Dominican Rep. is a POOR country - Haitians work at the rate of $10 a ton (about a days work) to cut Sugar Cane (Dominicans don't do it ) that's a lot of Sugar Cane!! So one can only imagine how lucky the people that work in the tourist industry must be.

We did not take any tours as when we stayed in Puerto Plata we did the tours.

This is the BEST All Inclusive we have stayed at in over 8 years. Staff is freindly, food is very good, hotel is wonderful. Only downside is the distance from the airport - You waste two days travelling. Our return Bus departed at 10A for a 3PM flight.

Again at the airport the porters are there to take your bags literally 25 feet! Again aviod them.

In closing: If you do not have a good time here it is your own fault. Remember though you are in a foreign country and IT WILL NOT BE "JUST LIKE IT IS AT HOME" - if it were you would not need to travel.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Diane 
Oakville, Ontario
March 2007
Our first visit to La Romana, we would definitely pick Iberostar over any other resort. We booked through itravel2000, Transat Holidays Mar 5-12/07 – 4 adults in our mid 40’s & 6 kids age 11-17. La Romana airport is only 30 minutes to Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus with one stop at Sunscape resort. The flight down was delayed 3 hours, arrived at resort at midnight, no problems checking in. No room service but snacks were available at the Mexican restaurant. The flight home was delayed 2 hours. We left the resort at 5:30 p.m. as scheduled with no knowledge of the delay and didn’t fly out until 10:30 p.m.. Even with the delays we didn’t lose any suntan time, Air Transat should have notified Iberostar so we didn’t have to sit at the airport for 4 ½ hours. The airport is air conditioned, food and drink are expensive and your bottled water is confiscated at security.

Last year we stayed at Iberostar Bavaro in Punta Cana. We love both resorts and are impressed with Iberostar high level of standards. The resorts are very similar in décor, entertainment, pool areas, bars, restaurants, buffet selection. Hacienda Dominicus is smaller, only the one complex, not 3 in one as Punta Cana resort. The majority of guests appeared to be a crowd older than us, older than Punta Cana Iberostar Bavaro, not many teens, less children. We enjoyed the European travelers.

There is a disco which opens at 11, 2 pool tables, internet café, casino type games room, shops and a live show each evening. The disco has an odour of stale smoke and is musty. One of the evenings the local vendors set up shop on the resort.

The resort is more beautiful than any photos we saw on the internet. When you view the aerial photos on google earth the resort looks sparce. It has grown up a lot since the satellite photos were taken. The grounds are full of mature foliage all beautifully maintained. We were in Block 3, pool view, 1st floor, (not ground floor) connecting rooms. One room with kingsize bed, 4 beds in the other room, clean, spacious, well appointed, no bugs, airconditioned. Our friends had 2 rooms ground floor same block just as we requested by fax. The fumigation notice was slipped under the door to give ample time to prepare. We brought bug spray but did not need it. The rooms are not much smaller than the junior suites. Mini bar fridge filled daily, we requested extra bottled water. We brought pre-translated phrases in Spanish with us to leave notes for housekeeping. We tipped housekeeping US cash each day along with a few small items like school supplies, blue jay and Canadian souvenirs, make-up, baby items. There is a safe for rent in each room. No iron/board, no clock, no coffee machine in rooms. Each block of rooms has a beautiful interior courtyard where you enter your room, the balconies face outside either pool or garden view. Very private balconies, lots of palm trees, hard to even see the pool. Only block 4 would see a bit of the ocean. Block 2, 6, or 7 would also be great. Everything is close by and all rooms have a beautiful view, garden view would be quiet at night.

The staff were amazing, talented, multi-lingual, always willing to please. Senior management and security was very visible at all times.

The buffets were great, not as elaborate a presentation as Punta Cana Iberostar Bavaro and maybe a little less selection but excellent, always fresh and full. We were greeted with mimosas at breakfast. I missed the health bar at the pool that Punta Cana which has the fresh squeezed fruit and juice of your choice but the breakfast buffet has a similar offering. It was fabulous to have the dress codes enforced at the lunch beach buffet and dinner restaurants. We ate at all the a la carte even had the Mexican night twice. Book 3 a la carte nights, go back and book again. They were all excellent, favourite was the Japanese. They had a few beach party days. Our 2 favourites were the mejillones (mussels) day and the paella day.

Always activities to join in, the Star Friends work hard to encourage you to participate. We played a game of basketball on the court at the front of the resort beside the tennis courts, tried the rifles, played baseball with the Star Friend team, water polo, pillow fight on a surf board, scuba lessons, dance lessons and step class. Be sure to take the bicycle tour in the morning with a Star Friend into the town. The local cigar shop is most interesting – great tour. We walked into town on a second trip through a public beach between the Wyndham Hotel and Iberostar but didn’t feel as safe as when we were with our Star Friend. Wyndam Hotel was bland, two small rectangular pools, no landscaping, no security. There are 2 public markets on the beach one each end of the Iberostar resort. The beach is clean for swimming only on half of the waterfront west of the lighthouse bar, not as windy as Punta Cana, no sand in your drink, calm clear water, little or no seaweed washed up all the time. Lots of shade and lounges available. Beach not as busy as Punta Cana, a lot less resorts in a row. Didn’t see as much parasailing or motorized water traffic as Punta Cana. Beach walking traffic in Punta Cana is non-stop. The beach bar is a unique lighthouse, no food, just plenty to drink. There are 3 pools, one sports pool, one kids pool and then the huge free-form pool with swim up bar and a jetted portion (hot tub style but not hot). Pool has a gradual walk in area, nothing over 5 1/2 ft deep. The free form pool is showing it’s age, needs some repair, missing several tiles. Scuba lessons available every day. The pool did leave some of our bathing suits with green stains on them. We didn’t try any excursions but heard the snorkeling is excellent. We did miss the lack of a clock in the room. Be sure to bring lots of sunscreen, first aid kit (band-aids, bactine) small bills for tipping, watch or alarm clock for the room. We have had excellent vacations at both Iberostar resorts. Our next vacation we will try another Iberostar. The last day at the resort is the toughest especially with Raul at the swim up bar serving bottles of champagne for our last day. We thought we would never remember to get to the airport, wish we were still there.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Charlotte 
NC
February 2007
My husband and I visited this resort in La Romano for ten days in early February. We flew from Charlotte, NC to Punta Cana and had a 1 1/2 hour drive to the resort. Roads are paved and good but they are only two lanes. The drivers are fast and pass each other all the time. It was a bit nerve racking but better than our drive in Costa Rica last year. Check-in was fast, friendly and we were given a welcome non-alcoholic frozen drink.

Through our travel agent, we had requested a non-smoking room with a king bed. A week before our arrival we called the resort and requested a room on the upper floors of buildings 3 or 4. Unfortunately, they had no record of our requests and took us to building 7, first floor, a smoking room with two double beds. They claimed the resort was full and they did not change our room for four days.

The later half of our stay was spent on the second floor of building 4 with a king bed but it was still a smoking room. Maybe all the rooms are smoking but it didn't matter because neither room had a smoking smell. Both rooms were nice but lacked alarm clocks, iron, ironing board and coffee pots. The gift shop did not have any electrical plug adaptors to fit my US curling iron (The kind with one prong bigger than the other.) until five days into our stay. Instead, the hotel front desk gave us a huge electrical outlet which we plugged into the bathroom one. Cumbersome but it did the trick. We also received an iron but they don't have any ironing boards.

The room was nice but it was just a hotel-type room. The bathroom was spacious and we loved the size of the walk-in shower in building 7 and the big tub/shower in building 3. Our view from building 7 was out the back of the building facing the side of the property looking toward the next resort. It was all landscaped nicely and very quiet. Our view from building 4 was onto the pool. It was very pretty at night with the pool lights but it was very noisy in the afternoon. I really don't think you can get a bad view anywhere on the property. Building 7 had a mosquito problem; standing water behind the building. The front desk told us to be sure and keep our doors closed. No such problem in building 4. I would only stay clear of building 1 if you don't want to be disturbed by the noise of the evening disco.

The grounds are beautiful. We only wished that the smokers didn't leave so many butts on the beach. We were quite surprised by the number of smokers. I don't think they were US because they walked around the resort with cigarettes burning and they ate breakfasts with cigarettes burning and they sat in the pool with cigarettes burning and they just smoked everywhere. It wasn't a problem because most every place is open to outside air. It was just something we weren't use to.

Same for the topless beach. About one sixth of the women were topless. It wasn't permitted at the pool.

I think about 80% of the tourists were European, 15% Canadian and 5% US. Most could speak English which I appreciated. My Spanish is very limited. It seemed that Europeans were not inclined to say hello; they usually did not make eye contact.

We enjoyed the food in all of the restaurants. We ate in each specialty restaurant two times. Every morning, we went and make 3 more restaurant reservations with the guest services desk. Our first night, we even went to one without a reservation and got right in. Our favorite was the Mexican. They house specialty was tacos and they weren't like Taco Bell. Chicken was overcooked at the Japanese restaurant and at the beach barbecue. Lots of variety everywhere and many foods that we were unfamiliar with. We had fun at every meal. We laughed as we compared opinions with other guests. We would like one meal and they wouldn't. Then they would like one meal and we wouldn't. Overall, it was all pretty good. We liked it better than our last year's trip to Paradisus in Costa Rica.

We were never sure if we should be drinking the water poured to us at the restaurants. We drank some of it and never got sick. Tried to ask a waiter if it was bottled and we didn't think he understood us or we didn't understand him.

Had to go to the gift shop to order daily newspapers. They cost $4.85 for the following day.

One of the jewelry stores in the hotel only took cash or American Express. I think all the other shops took several kinds of credit cards.

The resort is gated and there is a guard on the beach. We were at the pool one afternoon and saw him escort three adults off of the property. They had on different wristbands and obviously weren't staying there. We always felt safe and did not see any problems.

On the beach just right of the resort are a row of shops with local artwork, souvenirs and jewelry. Each shop basically has the same merchandise. It was fun to take a break from the sun and walk through the shops but the earrings that I was interested in were very, very cheap wire and they wanted $20. They try very hard to sell to you and do come down on price. A little farther down the beach and behind Viva Wyndam Resort are a couple of streets of shops which are fun to walk through also. Much the same merchandise.

We too were unhappy about how people reserve beach and pool chairs very early in the morning and then leave then for long periods of time. But we always were able to find chairs in places that we wanted to be in. Before the week was over, we were rushing down to the beach to do the same thing! I wish they could control that system more. We preferred the beach side closest to the watercraft area. It was less crowded with people. The water was wonderful. The beach, however, has small bits (some large chunks) of concrete in it and I stubbed my toe very badly the very first day. You have to be careful walking.

My husband and I got massages together in the spa. They were very good but must be of a European style. We weren't covered by sheets, only small towels. Our buttocks were massaged and so were my breasts which isn't done that way here at home.

We loved the resort and would look forward to staying at another Iberostar. We would return here again.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Patrick 
USA
January 2007
I recently stayed at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus January 1-8, 2007. Last January, I stayed at the Iberostar Punta Cana (which I loved) and visited this resort in Bayahibe during a snorkeling excursion. During that walk-thru of this resort, to get to the Dressel Dive boats on the beach, I was determined to return to this property. After my stay, it’s hard to say which property I preferred—both were great. Punta Cana has more nightlife- has a casino- karaoke bar & more options with the adjacent Iberostar properties. Bayahibe has prettier grounds, nicer rooms- and the calmer waters of the Caribbean make water sports more enjoyable. So, it’s a toss up!

My flight was via USA 3000— from BWI to Punta Cana. Great flight- first trip with USA 3000— nice new plane, great service- definitely a step above the other commercial carriers. Quick immigration process (have your $10 ready & get to the desk quickly)—then luggage arrived in no time! I was the only guest going to other side of the Island, so I had a mini-van transfer all to myself! I enjoyed the countryside—DR is really beautiful with the mountains—and all of the cattle ranches, sugar cane fields. The cities / towns are sad in my opinion- but it truly makes you appreciate what you have back home. As we approached Bayahibe, the road winds down a ridge & you can see the Caribbean sea glistening on the horizon- gorgeous.

Pulled into the hotel—this place is spectacular--- and decorated for Christmas made it even more incredible. The lobby with its dramatic chandeliers and draperies—open air with all the rich furnishings puts Ritz Carlton to shame. Front desk was so pleasant—I had called ahead with hopes of a room with a view. They had me ground level in bldg 2 with a view of the pool—but quickly bumped me up to a corner unit—2 balconies & wonderful side window—I could have stayed in that room forever! I asked for 2 towel passes- to which they obliged. The room was immaculate- well maintained- and was nicely decorated. I did notice that there was no hot water in the mornings (perhaps they heat via solar?).. but not a big deal. Also, you need outlet adaptors (not converters) as US plugs do not fit into the insets of the outlets. They’re $1 in the gift store… wish they’d just put them in each room- but no big deal. As someone else said, be sure to walk through all the courtyards—each is different. Building 2 has large avocado trees with big ripe avocados just hanging there—pretty little fountain, vases, urns- very nicely done.

If you appreciate gardens & architectural design, you’ll love this place with all of it’s integration of water within hardscape. The free-form lake in middle is filled with flamingos, swans & other water fowl. Fountains spin & fly in just about every corner of the main complex. At night, this place was more beautiful than Disney & Bellagio combined—all the trees were wrapped in white lights, making for an enchanting walk to dinner. I think this is the most gorgeous hotel I have ever stayed in (prior, I gave that ranking to Maui’s Grand Wailea resort & spa).

The buffet / main eating area was a bit stuffier than Punta Cana—not as good air-flow so it gets hot (no air conditioning). It was very crowded during peak dining hours (7:30 or earlier was great)—hard to get to the food. But the food was good—a nice variety. I ate breakfast in this buffet area only twice—if you just get up- go to the beach—and can wait until 10am, you can eat with less crowds in the main palapa / steak house. I ate lunch in the main palapa by the beach each day—and enjoyed the 2 beach bbq’s—the paella party is fun with the free flowing sangria! Also, be sure to try the Cairipinha (sp)—limeade with rum- very refreshing.

I do not like dealing with the whole reservation thing—so just tried my luck 1 night at the Mexican restaurant. I had a nice corner table out of the way—traveling alone can make one apprehensive— but I refuse to let that hold me back. I was somewhat insulted as a couple adjacent kept looking at me – not sure what their problem was—I smiled & said hello but they were very rude & kept looking at me, talking. I’d estimate 80% of the guests were European, 15% Canadian and 5% American.

I am not an early riser but got up & to the beach by 8am each morning—easily had a “front row” palapa over by the aquatics area. It’s a little harder to swim on this side of the lighthouse- rockier shoreline. But its fun to watch everyone try to come & go with the Hobie Cats (2 sets of sails completely shredded during my stay). I kayaked in the morning to check out the winds—went to the far left beyond the Hilton- beached the Kayak & collected some of the most amazing shells. During one of my morning jaunts, the winds were quite strong—I heard a loud crash & witnessed the mast crash down on one of the Saona Catamaran excursion boats—people were hurt—how many, I am not sure—very upsetting though. After kayaking, I’d break for lunch—and then took out a Hobie Cat in afternoon (wind usually stronger in afternoon). I was so tired after all the watersports I was barely able to spend time in the amazing pool area! The pools were crystal clear and went on forever—with plenty of seats, shade & a swim up bar. Each evening, do not miss the best free show—the sunset over the Caribbean. We had a special treat as the full moon rose adjacent to the sunset. Spectacular weather & star-filled skies each night. Go out on the pier & feed the fish hot dog rolls!

Was so tired could barely make it to the shows! Don’t get there too early- all they do is “diplomas” from the days’ activities. The shows start between 9:45 & 10pm- never a problem finding a seat on the far side by the windows. Much better air-flow over on this side (left of stage). Half of the shows were really outstanding- the “Latin Show” showcased dancers & music from all of Latin America—really Vegas quality. “Chicago” had really nice sets but was a bit cheesy with the lip synching. I’d prefer local culture / folkloric shows vs broadway. I always tipped the waitstaff so had drinks coming from left & right—at one point I had to say no more! Went to the disco twice—and managed to stay out past 1am—but really recognized this property was more about the daytime / beach vs night activities. There was a very small area with slot machines, which was quite funny. I won more than the machine could payout (so this caused quite a commotion for the slot room attendant).

The Star Friends were all so nice. They recognized I was traveling solo—but were courteous— realized I didn’t want to participate – but always asked how I was doing & tried to joke around.

I had to get out & about mid-week so asked the excursion hut what they’d recommend. The Catalina VIP tour was a perfect mix – in fact it was a bit too much! For $89 I toured a cigar factory, La Romana, took a speed boat to Catalina Island (much prettier than Saona)- where we snorkeled for 3.5 hours & had lobster lunch—then we went shopping. Next stop, Altos de Chavon—beautiful and a trip down the Chavon river on an amphibious vessel (aka duck boat). Take bug spray—I have some nasty bites and am hoping I don’t get malaria. I still can’t believe we did all this in 1 day! Just a quick tip- I bought the rum & cd with my picture on it—but don’t forget, you can’t carry on liquids so I lost it at the airport (still kicking myself). I highly recommend this tour.

Since it was peak holiday time, there were a lot of kids. I love kids- but what’s up with today’s parenting style? Just let them run amuck is the standard- truly no manners.

All in all, loved the resort- loved the staff- food was good. Upon departure from the Punta Cana airport, I learned from others that it rained the whole week in Punta Cana & was very windy—so that’s something to keep in mind. Much nicer weather on Carib side I think because of the Mountains. I have to be honest, the other guests got on my nerves after a week. I think I prefer cruises- more variety- but would definitely return & will continue check out other Iberostar hotels.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Barb & Gord 
Canada
December 2006
We flew Club Class with Air Transat from Vancouver. We were 40 minutes delayed, weather related, on departure and late arriving in Puerto Plata. The flight crew tried to arrange for us to stay on board to make up some time rather than deplane and reload for the short leg to Punta Cana but no such luck. Our departure from Puerto Plata was further delayed by an incoming plane with a flat tire blocking the runway. In total, we were about 1hr. and 40 minutes late.

We received our entry and exit cards to complete on the plane, (a.k.a. blue cards) so raced to join the long line-ups. Our wait was about 25 minutes.

Priority class luggage was waiting for us, as was our pre-arranged taxi from Silva Travel Services. Our taxi was a fairly new mini van and sparkling clean - also for the pre-arranged return trip. The driver for the return trip was 20 minutes early.

The transfer was 90 minutes as promised and check in was painless. It was about 11:30 pm local time, and food available was only some tired-looking sandwiches in the lobby bar. The entire lobby area is beautiful and a cold drink went down really nicely as we opted to wait there 'til midnight when "Snack Service" begins in the Mexican restaurant. Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Pork Chops and some salad fixins plus a few fruits and a pastry or two were the offerings. Our burgers were great.

The long travel day caused us to request a ride to our room in the bellman's cart. The front desk staff were willing, the equipment failed. One cart was on the charger and the second got a flat less than 1/2 way to our room. I was tired and cranky and the remaining walk seemed to take forever on badly swollen feet.

Our room was clean and cool and quite spacious. We left unpacking for the a.m. and showered quickly and crawled into bed. The additional pillows we had requested at check in beat us to the room and were a welcome sight.

We had some programming problems with our safe the next morning, be wary of the "battery" light - a set does not even last a full 2 weeks. Secondly, we had a bad key and had to retrieve another from the desk. The security officer who attended to assist came promptly and carries the batteries.

We were ground floor with a shower/bath combo. Liquid soap and shampoo provided in the shower, bar soap, mouth wash, comb, sewing kit, shower cap, lotion and shampoo were also on the bathroom counter. We got one facecloth on most days, but I had packed some so did not bother to change. There is a low power hairdryer. We had late maid service a few times and finally requested that our room be completed by 2pm each day as we enjoy a siesta. No problems after that. Tipped the maid every other day. Requested our minibar be stocked a certain way and it was until the staff changed. Another note, and it was restored to the way we wanted.

We were in building 3 - close to the pools and one building away from the beach. The noisiest building, closest to the theatre, would be building 1. Building 1 or 5 would be closest to all restaurants except Steakhouse. Building 4 closest to beach on right of lighthouse, Building 7 on left of lighthouse. 4 and 7 would be the longest walks to most restaurants and the lobby.

The hotel grounds are beautiful, and expansive. This resort requires a fair bit of walking though there are some benches on some routes from rooms to lobby/restaurants to rest if required. As with most Iberostars, many of the plants are named, fountains abound and pools and pond often contain exotic/interesting birds. This resort included flamingos, assorted ducks, swans, coots and even a chicken/rooster somewhere that we heard but never saw. One other note, while not a direct route, it would be possible to travel from the furthest building right to the lobby under cover if you happened to have a rainy day. We didn't. Any rain came briefly through the night or as short sun showers passing within 15 minutes.

The beach is a little rocky getting in and out of the water on the left of the lighthouse (beach bar) if you are facing the water. The beach has been "enhanced" (sand added) so it is soft and difficult to walk on for any distance. There are some boardwalk paths to assist with some navigation. Most animation team activities on the beach take place to the right of the lighthouse. The staff are good at trolling the beach to recruit participants for archery, Spanish lessons, crazy games, volleyball etc.. The row of palapas closest to the water are gone by 6 or 6:15 am. You can always find a chair, or have the staff find one for you, and there is some good natural shade from beach vegetation. The water is calm and you can walk out a good distance and stay only chest deep. Snorkelling is possible, but limited to a dozen or so varieties of fish - this is not Hawaii - but still fun. You don't even need a mask to see some, schools of needle fish are well fed by guests and we even saw the odd flying fish. Vendors are down the beach just off the property line to the right of the lighthouse if you are facing the water. We're not shoppers so never went.

This is the best resort I have seen for lots of shade poolside. There is lots of opportunity for sun too, but palapas are 3 rows deep on some areas of the pool deck. The pool is very large, and quite deep - 4.5 ft in most areas. There is one gradual sloped entry - good for kids and one fixed tile stair entry. Otherwise, you can dive/jump in or use one of the swim ladders. A "jet" pool is located on an island in the middle of the pool. There is a pool bar, just watch out for dive-bomber swallows nesting in the bar's thatched roof.

The Steakhouse/Beach restaurant has a good buffet for lunch starting at 12noon. Full salad bar, daily soup, rotisserie chicken, burgers, dogs and pizza everyday plus 4 or 5 other entree selections, plus hot veggies and french fries. Full bar service is available here too. Twice weekly there are beach parties and an outdoor cookstation rev's up plus a band plays allowing you to practice the dance of the day taught at the lighthouse. This is a 1 pm start.

Iberostars offer great food and this one was no different. The main buffet has a great selection and variety at all meals and a picky eater like me always found plenty to eat.

We tried and really enjoyed the Japanese and the Steakhouse. We did not try the others. We never saw a show, as we are early risers.

We tried and really hated the "Casino" trip to Santana. No. 1, the trip was to be 40 minutes, even without the stop at Casa Del Mar it was close to 90. No. 2, the van was beat up and filthy and overcrowded for our ride out once the tour operator and the driver's girlfriend were added to the van. No. 3, the 12 slot machines were all quarter games with little variety. If you really want to play 21, it might be worth it to you, for us it was not.

It was 3 days later that we found the unadvertised room in our own hotel with a fun selection of 20 or so slot machines, including some nickel and penny slots. No table games. This room is halfway down the hallway next to the disco.

This is a beautiful resort, immaculately clean, where a good and quick attempt is always made to meet your request. We had a fabulous holiday and would highly recommend this resort. If you have questions you may send a pm to 'bargo' or post in the South Coast on the forum, I check there frequently.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
John 
USA
December 2006
just left 5 day vacation at Bayahibe, DR
stayed at Iberostar
GREAT
GREAT
GREAT

Great fun
Great Food
Great accommodations
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Janet and Ian 
Surrey, England
August 2006
We have just returned from 2 weeks at the Hacienda Dominicus, and it was great. It is by far the best hotel we have ever stayed in.

The food was really good. There are four restaurants that you have to book for, Mexican, French, Japanese and Steak House, but as the buffet restaurant was so good we didn't bother trying the others. There was a large choice of food on offer, all well cooked. There was a lunchtime buffet in the restaurant near the beach, which was also the Steak House restaurant in the evening. The lunchtime buffet was equally as good as the buffet restaurant.

The lobby bar was open from mid morning, and apart from the bar service you could help yourself to coffee and biscuits or cakes. There was a mini bar in our room which was restocked every day with Cokes, Sprite, Fanta, beer and water.

There were plenty of sunbeds around the pool, we never had problems getting them, even if we didn't get to the pool until 11 am. The pool bar was very good, its nice to have a drink when you are in the pool. To get a sunbed on the beach you had to be early to get one near the water but we were quite happy further back as there was more shade. There is also a bar on the beach.

There was always plenty of activities. The entertainment staff come round and ask if you want to take part, and they didn't mind if you said no. There was always shows on in the evening and the disco was open until 2 am.

We only had one very slight problem. One day the maid came really late to our room, they are supposed to come before 4 o'clock. She must have rushed around, and forgot to leave us any loo rolls. I phoned reception to ask for some, the receptionist did not speak very good english, didn't understand what I was saying, and he sent a plumber.

All in all this was an excellent holiday and we will definitely be going back.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Meg 
USA
July 2006
Great time, wonderful resort !!

My family of 5 stayed at IBHD from June 24-July 1, 2006. We had 2 rooms in the same block, they weren’t able to give us rooms right next to each other but we were close enough. Fortunately for us, we have teenagers 19,18,an 17. I had emailed the resort prior to our arrival and requested the rooms next to each other but they did the best they could.

We flew into Santo Domingo and had a 2 hr ride to the resort in a torrential rainstorm. The ride was interesting to say the least. They drive very fast even in the rain. But we arrived safely to our beautiful resort. The rainstorm lasted all day so the resort spent all day trying to keep everything dry. They did a great job sweeping the water off the tiles, since they become very slippery when wet.

Check in went quickly and smoothly. Our luggage arrived to our room 5 minutes after we did.

The rooms were very nice and clean. They gave us plenty of towels and what a nice touch having shampoo etc. in the bathroom.

Aside from the rain on the day we arrived the weather was very hot and humid. Most days it rained for a short time. It never ruined the day. Sometimes it was a relief from the humidity.

Pool – They have 3 pools (1 for watersports, 1 round deeper pool for relaxing and the large main pool with the swim-up bar)

Swim-up Bar – Raul is the bartender and he is wonderful. He speaks 4 languages, so he can help anyone even with a language barrier. He was so entertaining. We really miss him.

Everyday around 3pm at the swim up bar area they had a contest. One day was the sexiest man and the other day was sexiest woman etc. Each day the contests were very entertaining. It was a great way to spend the late afternoon in the pool. Everyone had a really good time.

We never had a problem getting loungers by the pool or at the beach. If you want a lounger close to the water you might need to get up early to reserve. Many people had reserved by 8am. But there was never a problem finding something under a palapa.

We ate lunch at the beach grill every day. It was the same food but with lots of selection. The food was very good. We really liked the pizza. Unfortunately, the soft serve ice cream machine broke our 3rd day there but they made sure there was ice cream in the case.

Buffet – great breakfast, everything you could possibly want. Never went to the buffet for lunch and dinner was very good they had a different theme each night.

Ala Carte Restaurants – Mexican was very good. Japanese was great. We don’t like sushi very much but the other food was great. The Gourmet was very good, very limited menu but our family tried all the entrees and they were all very good. We never got to the Steakhouse but heard it was good.

Shows – very entertaining, the staff works very hard and do a great job.

Disco – never went myself, but my daughter and friend went every night and had a great time.

This was one of the best family vacations we ever had and I would go back in a second. The only thing we could complain about was the temperature – it was in the mid 90’s everyday and only dropped into the 80’s at night with very high humidity. This is no fault of the resort but for us we won’t go back in the summer. We would rather go in the winter/spring. If you are considering this resort you won’t be disappointed. Have a great time.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Russ 
USA
April 2006
My wife and I stayed at the Iberostar Hacienda the week of April 8-15 and had the time of our lives!!! This was our third trip to the Dominican Republic. The first two times we stayed at the Palladium Bavarro in Punta Cana, which we thought was great, but the Iberostar Hacienda puts it to shame! We arrived Saturday night; we flew direct from Baltimore to La Romana. We arrived at the hotel about 7:30PM and check-in was the smoothest I have ever had. We got a ground floor room in block 4 which I had requested in advance. It was great, we could walk directly either to the beach or the pool. IT was only a 5-minute walk to the lobby! The buffet restaurant was open until 10PM so we were still able to get dinner!

The beach was spectacular, the sand was pure white. The water was crystal clear. You could literally walk 100 yards out in the water and still see your feet. They have a man made reef which you can walk out to and snorkel.

I can’t say enough about the Iberostar staff, especially the Star Friends. “Chicken Legs” was hysterical, one day he was dressed as a woman, another day as Superman, and they always had activities going on at the beach or the pool.

We especially loved our favorite bartenders, Jose and Raul, every time they saw us they would hand us our favorite drinks. We met a lot of people from Boston and England and had Happy Hour with them at the swim-up bar every day.

The food was great, the buffet restaurant is a little small, but the food was fantastic. We also ate at the Japanese restaurant, the Seafood, and the Steakhouse restaurants. All the food there was great, except the steak was a little tough at the Steakhouse restaurant, but hey your on vacation don’t complain!

We had no problems with our room, my wife would tip the maid a couple of dollars each day and we found that our room was cleaned early and our mini bar was always filled.

I read reviews about people complaining about the pool area having missing tiles. I noticed a few of them, but if this is all you can complain about then you are really picky!

We cannot wait to go back to the Iberostar hacienda next year and hopefully take some of our friends with us!!
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Patricia  

March 2006
Hubby and I just returned from 7 glorious days at the IHD. We have traveled with 2 other couples over the past 10 years and we all agree that this was the best resort we have visited.

IHD is truly a paradise. The grounds are beautiful, like being in an extensive garden. The 7 buildings are spread out over such a large area that in spite of being 500+ rooms you are never in a crowd. The restaurants were all excellent, food was good and the drinks in the lobby bar in the evening were the best. We spent every day at the beach even thought the pool area was also beautiful. The sugary sands and the numerous Palapas were very inviting. The water was cool enough to be refreshing but warm and inviting. Because this is a manmade beach the depth of the water was shallow enough for non-swimmers and children to enjoy as well as snorkelers who had a manmade reef at their disposal right off the beach. 3 days during the week they had a beach barbecue. They made paella on the beach and other seafood dishes. If you’ve never had paella, you’re in for a treat. It was glorious. They also had a drink of the day every day at lunch time which usually consisted of a fruit mixture, one day we had sangria, again very tasty and very refreshing. There are plenty of activities during the day or you can just sit on the beach and watch. The rooms were nice, clean with lots of hot water. We had a walk in shower that was so good we’re thinking of putting one in our home. There are shampoo and body wash dispensers in the shower. They provided all the little incidentals that you would need in the bathroom. Each room has A/C and a ceiling fan as well as a patio (first floor) or veranda, which was nice for reading or just watching the sunset. Plenty of towels as well as beach towels at the towel hut provided every day. In room safe, which you program with your own password. We went with a local tour company charter here in Massachusetts, we flew into La Romana out of Boston, direct flight, great flights on time and comfortable seats. We shared the plane with a charter group going to Jamaica. They got off after us in Jamaica and we picked them up on the way back. It worked out well. My husband, the golfer, always wanted to play “Teeth of the Dog” so we played the course with another couple on Tuesday. Great course, fantastic views of the DR and the ocean, several of the holes are right on the ocean abutting beautiful villas owned by very wealthy people. We had a great caddy and hubby had a great round of golf. Wednesday afternoon we ventured out with our friends to Altos de Chavon for (believe it or not) pizza.

We met a gentleman at the resort from NY who raved about the views and the pizza at this location so off we went. We rented a taxi to take us on a 30-minute ride to this place. It is a reproduction of a Spanish village built by the owner of Casa de Campos for his daughter. It is a true gift to the DR and it’s people. Here is the URL http://www.altosdechavon.com/fs_village.htm. It is breathtaking and the Pizza Place behind the church was excellent. I can’t recommend this side trip strongly enough. They filmed the movie “Apocolypse Now” on this river it is truly a magnificent location and worth a trip. (There is a $3. charge per person to get in, worth every penny.) We met a lot of New Englanders on this trip and are planning on going back to IHD in the near future with our new friends. We loved the resort, this was our second trip to the DR, we love the people, they are very friendly and can’t do enough to make your trip enjoyable. I would highly recommend this resort to anyone, it is truly a 5 star. My tan is fading and I’m longing for the beach, wish I could go back tomorrow!
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Helen 
England
February 2006
O my god

This holiday was amazing all the staff were friendly the food was fantastic the rooms were clean and tidy and well equiped and the beach was out of this world with white sugary sand and the bars were all fab. The grounds were large and had a pool running through reseption

GO GO GO ITZ FAB
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
John, Ann & Johnny 
Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England
December 2005
We (a party of 3!) have just returned from our second 2 week stay at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominucus (17.10.05 - 31.10.05). We stayed there last year on the same dates. We had great weather 29C -31C, with a little rain at night and a few little spits during a couple of the days.

FLIGHT
Booked a flight with Thomsonfly and flew from Gatwick to Punta Cana. The aircraft going out was fine, but coming back they used a different plan and the seat was very tight and I am not a big person. The food both ways was basic and not very good. Having spoken to people in premium, my understanding was that the food was not much better.

TRANSFER
On arrival at Punta Cana, we had a speedy exit as we had already arranged our visa through the embassy. We found our rep and coach with ease, help was at hand from porters if required but no grabbing of bags took place. The transfer from the airport took 1.5 hours, but as we travelled with Thomas Cook, there were only a handful of people with them, so they transported us in a very basic 30-40 year old bus with a driver that was pretty laid back. In fact, on the return journey, the driver picked up his mate and gave him a lift. .

HOTEL
This hotel is very well appointed with walkways all marbled with tables and vases and impressive flower displays it has amazing tropical gardens are immaculately kept by a busy team of gardeners. The gardens surround the 7 apartment blocks and all the blocks are inter linked with a covered walk way in case of a shower and each has its own unique courtyard. Since our visit last year we noticed that the “bar” had been raised even higher, and it was very high last year. Service is outstanding, rooms are immaculate, it is very highly maintained.

ROOM
The rooms are generous in size and we had a room with two queen size beds and a single for my son. Each room has a balcony, TV and Minibar. The mini bar is free and contains 2 beers, coke, diet coke, sprite and fanta which is refilled every day.. The bathroom was large with a powerful shower/bath and large mirror. Maid service was every day with loads of fresh towels arranged in the shape of swans/flowers and the mini bar refilled. All rooms have a very efficient air conditioning system. The TV has HBO and other movie channels from the USA.

POOLS/BEACH
As this is the main reason you come here you will not be disappointed, we spent most of our time with my daughter around the large pool. There are plenty of beds although the best are taken early on. The main pool slopes gently and is huge rarely feeling crowded, it has a whirlpool in the centre and the swim up bar. The beach is wide and again has plenty of beds, the sea is warm and clear and the fish will feed from you hand. The main focus on the beach is the lighthouse bar from which you can watch the sun set, well worth is and great for photos. A fresh beach towel is provided daily from the beach hut. THE BEACH IS OUTSTANDING !!!!!! and is a very big selling point for Bayahibe.

ACTIVITIES BY DAY
The Star team host a range of non obtrusive activities by day in a separate pool and on the beach. They try hard and organise games and competitions. many sports are catered for such as water and beach volley ball, water polo, football, tennis kayaks and windsurfing. The star team always have a smile on their face and have a great catch phrase which stops the kids in the tracks, "remember no pee pee in the pool." By far the most entertaining of all is Freddie (It's Freddie time, Is everyone ready for Freddie?" This crazy guy dresses up in a different costume every day, our favourite was his skiing costume, he advised us to get inside as it would snow in 1 hour. (it was 30*C) The hotel also has a professional diving centre, a free trial can be arranged in the pool.

Went on a trip and rode ATVs through the countryside. For $75 per person or $110 for two, you got about three hours of ride time. The guides were both young so we had a lot of fun. After you learn how to drive, they take you out into the sugar cane fields. We stopped for some fresh sugar cane and soda and then it was back on the road. The best part was when they took us through a river. We rode through some tin-roof neighborhoods and that’s when the glaze of the resort peels off and you see the true poverty of the island. On the way back we stopped at this tiny hut where this guy was rolling his own cigars. Overall, it was an incredible ride and you should definitely check it out. EXCELLENT !!!

ACTIVITIES BY NIGHT
The only down side, is that the animation shows put on are a bit hit and miss. Sometimes they are good and entertaining and sometimes complete rubbish. They need to think this one through in my opinion. Also, it would be good if they had beach parties and a bar open away from the main area for those who want a bit of piece and quite.

ACTIVTIES WHEN THE WEATHER IS INCLEMENT
Caribbean being the Caribbean, it can rain and you need to be prepared to keep busy and occupied when you get rain. There are board games and books available, but most people end up in the bar.

FOOD/RESTAURANTS
We dinned at all the al a carte restaurant well as the buffet.

Buffet (breakfast): All the food was well cooked and presented in all. We mainly took breakfast in the main buffet with every breakfast combination known to man. Our favourites were the eggs from the egg man on the hot plate and the sweet pastries and pancakes. Tea and coffee was served to you table. Note: Omelette are cooked very watery to accommodate the French guests, so if you do not like it that way, then ask for it to be well done. Don’t forget that Sunday morning is champagne with breakfast as a Kir Royal or Bucks Fizz.

Buffet (Lunch): For lunch we ate in the steakhouse buffet by the pool, this was great with seafood pizza, burgers, steaks, chips and salad. Desserts were self service with a very popular soft ice cream machine, and popcorn. Each week also had a beach BBQ and a paella party on the beach. This was always excellent.

Buffet (Dinner) - The evening meal in the buffet was good with a speciality roast and a themed section each night. House wine was served at you table and was of very good quality, as soon as you glass was half empty is was refilled.

El Colonial, A french themed restaurant, good service and great service and surroundings. The caesars salad was limp and poor, the soup and was good and the lobster main course which was OK. 7/10

Mexican, A good selection of appetisers and authentic main. Corona beer also available upon request. Excellent meal 9/10. P.S: an interesting fact. We were told that between 12 midnight and 6 am, that some food was available if you were hungry and could be found in the Mexican restaurant, This is an understatement as myself and my sister in law where out at the nightclub until 01.30am and fancied something to eat to find that a full buffet was laid up in the Mexican and a chef standing by to cook, chicken , steak, chops or anything that you wanted. Excellent service 10/10

Steakhouse: Steakhouse, relaxed atmosphere with a choice of steak cuts, ribs and chicken cooked to order. The appetisers could be better 6/10

Japanese, the most entertaining and enjoyable as this is something I would never try at home. Food cooked at you table on a hot plate by a flamboyant chef. A nice meal and an experience to remember. 9/10

DRINKS/BARS
You soon come to love your wristband in a hotel like this. By far the best bars were the lobby bar, quick service and well mixed drinks. Big brands were available like smirnoff, JB and Johnny walker whiskey. The pina colada was the best i have tasted and champagne was also good, waitress service was available.
Theatre bar, a great bar man but overworked, he could do with a hand at peak times. The best value Cohiba cigars were available here. During the day i did visit the pool and beach bar but found the self service coke machine in the steak house buffet easier and dispensed better quality drinks with your own measure of ice.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Iberostar Hacienda Dominucus is very well run hotel with staff who will do anything for you with a genuine smile and "hola". The hotel is very well maintained and makes you feel like royalty during your stay. This is my third visit to the Dominican republic and the all inclusive concept,this is by far the best yet, my only fear is will I ever have a better holiday again. I would visit again but doubt it would be the same as all the group would not be there, I would recommend it to anyone you will not be disappointed and I will look for the Iberostar brand of hotel in the future.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Samantha 

December 2005
We just returned from our fabulous honeymoon (Dec. 4-11). First, thanks to all of you for your postings that helped us decide on the Hacienda Dominicus--it was really wonderful. I apologize in advance for a long posting, but I found the details really helpful during my planning.

We were the only people there when we arrived and Jimmy at reception took great care to explain everything to us. My only suggestion I have for travelers is to verify your room type before they whisk you off. They had us listed as honeymooners, and when we got to our room, the complimentary bottle of rum and flower arrangement were there, however, they gave us a room with 2 double beds. The bellman who drove us to our room took care of it very quickly and we were moved to a king bedded room on a different floor. I had originally requested a room in building 4, as suggested by so many people, but we were in 3, which I actually preferred, afterall. We were next to the pool and! the beach was right there, too.

The rooms were clean and spacious with pleasant decor and a nice balcony. The marble and tile bathroom was also large with a nice tub/shower. There are shampoo and bodywash dispensers in the shower and various bottles of conditioner, etc. provided. The hairdryer was not what I was used to and sort of difficult to manuever, so if you rely heavily on your hairdryer, bring your own.

The grounds were so beautiful. The pictures I'd seen before the trip don't do the resort justice. My husband remarked that it was like being in a tropical theme park. There were multitudes of paths with trees and flowers and fountains. You should walk through each building, like someone else had suggested, as each of the courtyards is completely different. I really enjoyed the beauty and appreciated the care taken to plan such beautiful buildings and landscaping.

The weather was perfect. It was mosty sunny, lower to mid 80's, low humidity (except a! fter it rained) and breezy. It rained occasionally, but only for a few minutes or, at the longest, a couple of hours. If it rains, the buildings are connected in an arc, so you can walk from your building to the restaurants just by following the walkways through the courtyards.

Now to the part that worried me a little due to the scattered reviews....food. We were able to eat at all of the a la carte restaurants, as well as, the buffet. The Japanese restaruant was, by far, our favorite. We were fortunate to be able to eat there twice. The appetizers weren't great but the soup and teppanyaki style food were excellent. The Mexican restaurant was fine--the appetizer buffet had alot to offer and the entrees were decent. The steak house was ok--the appetizer buffet was limited but the entrees were decent. The gourmet restaurant was our least favorite--the lobster was cooked to mush and the grayish muck was all over it. We really enjoyed the main buffet. We ate breakfast and lunch ! there every day and had dinner a couple of times. There was a wide--and often strange-- variety of foods, so there was something for everyone. Many of the items were quite delicious. Since the resort visitors tend to be mostly Eurpoean (we heard more German than anything and quite a bit of what sounded like Russian) the buffet had to cater to many different cultures and I think they did a pretty good job. Don't miss the soft ice cream machine in the steakhouse lunch buffet--the cones are stale but it's what's inside that counts, yummy!

The animacion team was really friendly and upbeat. They made their rounds at the pool every morning trying to recruit people for activities, but they weren't pushy. We stopped by for the evening shows a couple of times but they were not appealing to us at all. They would be great for kids.

Service was phenomenal, especially at the restaurants. There were a couple of people on staff that could have been much more friendly and helpful,! but I hope they were just having a bad day when I encountered them. We tried our best to speak a little Spanish but we had no problem communicating with the staff...the other guests--yes, the resort staff--no. You get to know some of the wonderful people who work there because you see them so frequently. They work very hard and it made us feel good to have them take such great care of us. We made some new friends and we hope to see them again.

When we checked out, they let us keep our wristbands so we could eat since our transfer wouldn't pick us up for a couple of hours. We really appreciated that since we didn't know what to expect when we got to the airport.

It was a wonderful experience and we highly reccommend the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Parke and Diane 
Iowa
November 2005
Arrived at La Romana from Chicago without incident. On our last visit to the DR we flew into Santo Domingo and we can say that flying to La Romana is much easier (though little more expensive). One negative note: We had hotel transfers through Prieto tours and had problems with the process. On our trip to the hotel, the Prieto rep tore out the transfer vouchers for both transfers (without telling us). We didn't notice until we were leaving the hotel 7 days later. At that point we had no voucher, no one at Prieto had any idea what we were talking about, and they were unwilling to admit any possible wrongdoing on their part. We wound up paying another $30 dollars out of pocket to get back to the airport. It was a frustrating end to an otherwise enjoyable vacation. My recommendation: Don't hand your voucher packet to anyone you don't know well. Make them point out the tickets they need and tear them out yourself after you verify they're the correct pages.

So, as far as the hotel, awesome!! We stayed last year at the Viva Dominicus Palace, right next door, and while waking the beach one day we wandered into the Iberostar. It blew us away and we decided to try it the next time we went. We were not disappointed. It is a truly beautiful facility and they expend a great deal of time and energy keeping it clean and 'new'. Every room, walkway, staircase and public gathering area was swept and mopped daily by a small army of cleaners. It's funny how that much that level of cleanliness meant to us. The DR as a whole is not a clean place and the hotel grounds were an oasis of beauty in a struggling country. We spent a day in Santo Domingo visiting friends and got to see the entire gamut of the country, from the rich grounds where the pampered Americans, Canadians and Europeans play, to the very stark living conditions of most of the locals. If you like adventure, a trip to the capital will give you plenty. If you drive yourself be prepared for some really hair-raising encounters... Bring along a Spanish speaker if possible.

Back to the hotel. The food was better overall than the Wyndham, though not perfect. Our favorite place to eat was El Hacienda, the Mexican restaurant, though we also liked the Japanese restaurant. I recommend eating your dinners at the formal restaurants rather than the buffet. The buffet is good, but doesn't change much day to day. The staff went out of there way to be accomodating and it was appreciated. One night we asked for Pina Coladas at dinner, a drink that's not normally served in the restaurants. Our waiter's response was that 'anything is possible here, given a little time'. He was right. Six Pina Coladas arrived in about five minutes. They really do cater to your every whim.

The beachfront area is smaller than the Wyndham, but the sand and view are very nice. Topless sunbathing is common, and interesting if you like seeing your grandmother without clothing... The crowd was noticeably older than theWyndham, but there were still a lot of semi-nude Europeans. We found it inappropriate, but our opinion doesn't seem to be shared by most of the guests. There is a sand shelf that extends well out into the ocean so you can swim quite a ways off shore and still stand up. It made my wife and daughter more comfortable in the surf and allowed you to wander out and try to body surf the breakers withhout getting over your head.

We went on one snorkeling expedition and three scuba dives, all through Casa Daniels in Bayahibe. We recommend Casa Daniels highly. They charged half the price that the hotel did for scuba diving ($37 per dive, including round trip transport from the hotel and all equipment) and took good care of us. The owners are Swiss and have been operating the business for over 15 years. My personal recommendation is the St. George shipwreck, though it may be too deep for beginners (40 meters or 130 feet). On my second dive to the St. George we entered the ship and toured the engine rooms, the living quarters and the bridge. It was surreal swimming through a sunken ship, but very interesting (especially since I was a sailor myself once). The dive master's name was Fabricio, but I would also recommend Martin. The snorkeling trip was a half day affair to Catalina. The first stop was great, lots of fish, coral and great visibility. The second stop was a beach with limited off-shore snorkeling.

Overall a great experience and we plan to stay there again on our next trip to the DR. It's more expensive than the Wyndham, but we thought it was worth the extra money. Maybe in the future we'll try the Casa De Campo, but until that day we think the Iberostar is the best hotel we've seen on the island.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Chris 
UK
November 2005
We (a party of 24!!) have just returned from the most enjoyable 2 week stay at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominucus (17.10.05 - 31.10.05) We had great weather 30*C+ and only one morning of rain.

We booked through Thompson 15 months earlier as my sister had booked the wedding package and we all wanted to be there.

FLIGHT
The bad things first, the 8 hour flight from Manchester to Punta Cana (BY421) was long and stressful, the cabin was mixed between party animals drinking from start to end to people trying to read a book and sleep. I was in the middle of all this and was just happy to land without an air rage incident. The cabin crew just let everyone get on with it and dished out two of the poorest meals i had ever eaten on a flight. The bar and duty free service was poor especially on the return with many items out of stock.

TRANSFER
On arrival at Punta Cana we had a speedy exit as we had already arranged our visa through the embassy. We found our rep and coach with ease, help was at hand from porters if required but no grabbing of bags took place. The transfer from the airport took 1.5 hours by air conditioned coach. It's not what you need after a long flight but sit back hold on tight and watch the real dominican republic go by you will be amazed. This transfer is one of the most memorable bits of my holiday.

HOTEL
We finally arrived at 5pm and we were all open mouthed at what we found, the reception is grand with chandeliers and marble everywhere, we checked in quickly, left our bags with the bell boys and enjoyed a refreshing drink while Mickey gave us a tour of the hotels public areas. The main part of the hotel is situated around a lake filled with ducks swans and flamingos. The walkways are again all marbled with tables and vases and impressive flower displays. Down one side is the reception, restaurants and buffet and the other is the theatre, nightclub and shops and internet access($5) and the impressive lobby bar.
Leading of the main hotel building is the Gardens, these tropical gardens are immaculately kept by a busy team of gardeners. The gardens surround the 7 apartment blocks, most of our party was in block 3. All the blocks are inter linked with a covered walk way in case of a shower and each has its own unique courtyard.

ROOM
(3010) The rooms are generous in size. We had a large king-size double and a single for my daughter. Each room has a balcony, TV and Minibar. The mini bar is free and contains 2 beers, coke, diet coke, sprite and fanta. The bathroom was large with a powerful shower/bath and large mirror. Maid service was every day with loads of fresh towels arranged in the shape of swans/flowers and the mini bar refilled. All rooms have a very efficient air conditioning system.

POOLS/BEACH
As this is the main reason you come here you will not be disappointed, we spent most of our time with my daughter around the large pool. There are plenty of beds although the best are taken early on. The main pool slopes gently and is huge rarely feeling crowded, it has a whirlpool in the centre and the swim up bar. The beach is wide and again has plenty of beds, the sea is warm and clear and the fish will feed from you hand. The main focus on the beach is the lighthouse bar from which you can watch the sun set, well worth is and great for photos. A fresh beach towel is provided daily from the beach hut.

ACTIVITIES BY DAY
The Star team host a range of non obtrusive activities by day in a separate pool and on the beach. They try hard and organise games and competitions. many sports are catered for such as water and beach volley ball, water polo, football, tennis kayaks and windsurfing. The star team always have a smile on their face and have a great catch phrase which stops the kids in the tracks, "remember no pee pee in the pool." By far the most entertaining of all is Freddie (It's Freddie time, Is everyone ready for Freddie?" This crazy guy dresses up in a different costume every day, our favourite was his skiing costume, he advised us to get inside as it would snow in 1 hour. (it was 32*C) The hotel also has a professional diving centre, a free trial can be arranged in the pool.

FOOD/RESTAURANTS
We dinned at all the al a carte restaurant well as the buffet, all the food was well cooked and presented in all. We mainly took breakfast in the main buffet with every breakfast combination known to man. Our favourites was the eggs from the egg man on the hot plate and the sweet pastries and pancakes. Tea and coffee was served to you table. For lunch we ate in the steakhouse buffet by the pool, this was great with seafood pizza, burgers, steaks, chips and salad. Desserts were self service with a very popular soft ice cream machine, and popcorn. Each week also had a beach BBQ and a paella party on the beach. The evening meal in the buffet was good with a speciality roast and a themed section each night. House wine was served at you table and was of very good quality, as soon as you glass was half empty is was refilled. El Colonial, a french themed restaurant, good service and food, lobster the main course which was good. Mexican, good appetiser buffet and authentic main. Corona beer also available upon request. Steakhouse, relaxed atmosphere with a choice of steak cuts, ribs and chicken cooked to order. Japanese, the most entertaining and enjoyable as this is something I would never try at home. Food cooked at you table on a hot plate by a flamboyant chef. A nice meal and an experience to remember.

DRINKS/BARS
You soon come to love your wristband in a hotel like this. By far the best bars were the lobby bar, quick service and well mixed drinks. Big brands were available like smirnoff, JB and Johnny walker whiskey. The pina colada was the best i have tasted and champagne was also good, waitress service was available.
Theatre bar, a great bar man but overworked, he could do with a hand at peak times. The best value Cohiba cigars were available here. During the day i did visit the pool and beach bar but found the self service coke machine in the steak house buffet easier and dispensed better quality drinks with your own measure of ice.

EVENING ENTERTAINMENT
For some this was not there thing and spent their time in the lobby bar but we on the hole found the evening show to be good, The dancers, singers and bands all work hard to produce an effective show all under the watchful eye of Vinney the producer. The evening kicks off with a Kiddie disco for half an hour with Carolina the kids rep, then its competition prize time (time to get your drinks in) and then a show, the best was The Lion King in which the kids took part. The enthusiasm more than the professionalism is was makes it and deserves more credit than it gets. The show finishes about 11pm after a chance to dance a meringue with the dancers(special thanks to Mercedes, you made my Holiday)
The nightclub opens at 11 and goes on until 2. Most of my party enjoyed this end to the night with a few more drinks and a dance, the professional dances also come through which spices things up. After all this if you are still hungry you can nip over to the mexican which opens all night for a hot dog or burger cooked to order.

WEDDING
Apart from a 1 hour delay for the judge the wedding was well organised, it took place in the decorated gazebo on the lake.The weather was perfect and the rep translated into english. Photos were taken on the beach at sunset and a celebration meal in the french restaurant, the flowers and cake were beautiful and the champagne flowed freely. The girls had there hair done in the on site salon ($20-$30) All agreed its a great way to tie the knot.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Iberostar Hacienda Dominucus is very well run hotel with staff who will do anything for you with a genuine smile and "hola". The hotel is very well maintained and makes you feel like royalty during your stay.
This is my third visit to the Dominican republic and the all inclusive concept,this is by far the best yet, my only fear is will I ever have a better holiday again. I would visit again but doubt it would be the same as all the group would not be there, I would recommend it to anyone you will not be disappointed and I will look for the Iberostar brand of hotel in the future.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Gemma 
UK
September 2005
Hello! Just returned from a great 2 week holiday at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominucus (24/08/2005 - 07/09/2005).

We flew with Firstchoice from Manchester airport. I must say that this was the best airline that we have ever flown with. They have taken 50 seats out of each of their long haul planes to allow for extra legroom (and that's in standard class)! The cabin crew were great (especially Helen), the food was really good too. Enrique, our Firstchoice rep at the resort was also very helpful. We left our memory stick from our camera (derrrr) on one of the boat trips that we went on, obviously we thought that we would never see it again, but Enrique managed to track it down and got it back for us! We also had some concerns regarding the attitude of one of the crew on one of the boat trips - Enrique got statements from all the people on the boat trip and we ended up getting $10 each back and an apology.

Pools and Beach
The pools and the beach are always the first thing that I look at when booking a holiday, that's why I booked this holiday! I was not disappointed. The sand was pure white and the beach was really big with lots on sun beds and palapas. The water is clear and very easy to swim in. The water when we stayed wasn't as calm as it usually looks on the photos, but we were told this was because of Hurricane Katrina which passed just before we got there - you could still swim in it though. I read in lots of reviews (including Mr Fauxluxe - whatever that was supposed to mean!) that the beach is fake??? - I find this very hard to believe and they made a very good job of it if it is!

The pools were great, one big lagoon style pool with a Jacuzzi in the middle and a swim up bar, one large round deep pool (actually my favourite as it was cleaner and quieter and one activity pool.

Lots of sunbeds also by the pool - apparently the hotel was 60% full when we arrived and only 25% full on our second week, but I am sure there would still be enough sunbeds even in peak season.

My only concerns with the main pool was that it was in serious need of maintaining - lots of tiles missing which made the edges sharp. Some days we also noticed lots of rubbish including bird poo in the pool (you will see what I mean if you take the scuba lesson). The big pool however is very good for children and people with walking difficulties as there is steady sloping access.

Rooms
Our room (3014) was great! Huge bed and nice bath tub as requested! The mini bar was re-stocked everyday (not every 2 days as stated). Bloke 3 hasn't got a great view, but is nice enough (looks out onto gardens). I think its blokes 4 and 7 (or could be 5?) that looks out onto the Sea. I wouldn't recommend bloke 1 as this is really close to the entertainment which goes on until 2am! My only little niggle with our room was that there was a slow leak from our bath, which soaked the bathroom floor if you stayed in it for too long. We reported this on numerous occasions, but never had a response or an offer of a new room. However when our hairdryer broke someone came and fixed it straight away.

Food and drink
The food was also really good at this resort. I must say I had a dodgy tummy for the first few days, but I think was down to the heat and too many coco locos rather than the food. Enrique did inform me before hand that coconut milk is a strong laxative - guess I should have listened!
Buffet - Always lots of choice at breakfast lunch and dinner - can't go wrong really! I especially enjoyed Asian night! Yum Yum. The dress code isn't as strict in any of the restaurants as its made out - woman can wear pretty much anything and men are fine as long as they wear long trousers (jeans/ combats and trainers are fine).
Steak House - This was our favourite! The food here is as good as in England or anywhere. I recommend the pork ribs! Breakfast and lunch is also served in the steak house. The omelette chef however in the buffet is better as we had 2 very raw omelettes in the steak house - yuk!
Japanese - This was also really good. I'm not sure what that guy was on about in one of the reviews before mine...but the sushi you get at the start is the sushi appetiser....and very good it is too! You also get soya rolls which are good. You then get a choice of either fish or veg soup - both very good! All the stuff was available on the menu when we went, but we stuck to the teppanyaki menu which is cooked in front of you.
Mexican and El Colonial - Didn't think much to either of these. To be fair I didn't really give the Mexican a chance as I wasn't feeling too good that night. But El Colonial really isn't much, you don't even get a choice on the menu and you will probably need a trip to the buffet afterwards.
We never had a problem getting into any of the restaurants; the hotel was very quiet whilst we were there. However (apart from at the steak house) we did find that if you turned up 5/10 minutes early they would not seat you until about 10 minutes after your booking time even though the restaurants were empty.
There are also Paella and BBQ parties on the beach which were good, only problem is that you don't know where the line starts for the food - it wasn't until some very rude Spanish guy pushed me out of the way that I realised!
The drinks at the bars are really good! I recommend the Alexandra! Watch out for the 151 though (almost 80%)! Don't have too much coconut milk either (see above)! They also have Smirnoff and Baileys along with other top shelf brands - but you have to ask for them.

We didn't have any treatments, but we used the Jacuzzis and the steam rooms which are part of your AI package - very nice too! The only thing I didn't like was that they were separated into men and womans sections, which seems silly as most of the people there are in couples.

Trips
Saona Island and Catalina Island - Both well worth it. I suffer from sea sickness, but I was fine on these trips as the water is really calm. We also did the speed boat safari and crazy wheels (quad bikes) - both excellent! Make sure you where old clothes for crazy wheels as you get caked in mud. We book al our trips apart from crazy wheels through our firstchoice rep. Crazy wheels was booked at the activity desk between the pool and the beach.

Dressel Divers
We took our free dive in the pool and then went onto do the sea dive. We highly recommend dressel divers. I was very nervous as we went into the sea and almost had a panic attack as my goggles kept filling up with water, but our instructor managed to calm me down and I really enjoyed the trip. Unfortunately I can not remember his name, but he was German. We also brought a DVD of us under the water at shallow reef park so that we can remember it. Hopefully when we return next year to get married we will take the full diving course that they offer.

Service
All in all the service was good. Our only niggles are if you turn up to breakfast after 9.30 (its open until 10) then you do not get offered Tea or coffee and its hard to find a laid table as the staff are too busy clearing away ready for lunch.
Also -we took our Catalina Island trip the day before our Saona Island trip - when we returned from Catalina Island we found that the towel changing facility had closed and we needed dry towels for the trip that stared before the towel facility opened the next day. We phoned reception and asked then where we could get dry towels from and they said that we couldn't and that was that. That's not the 5* service that I'm used to!!... but then again we did stay at a Palace resort last year.
There is a language barrier, but they are still very helpful and I guess its our own fault for being too ignorant to learn Spanish. I must say that the star friends deserve a special mention. These people are there all hours - they are there if you go on the beach at 9am and you will still find then dancing in the disco into it closes at 2am! There people are very very talented and they do not hassle you like most animation teams do when you're away.
We also found that people aren't constantly hassling you for trips in DR like they were in Mexico. Obviously we did tip as they really deserved it and they seemed really grateful when you did. The service was generally good and in most parts excellent whether or not you tipped.

Weather
We were very lucky for the time of the year that we went. It only rained once in the day during the 2 weeks and it didn't last long. Apparently it rained most nights, but we didn't notice. It was very hot and humid and we have both come back with very good tans!

The good points out way the bad points of this hotel and we will be returning in June with 15 friends and family to get married! We have to bare in mind that we compare this holiday to last years in Mexico, however the trip to Mexico did cost us twice the amount of this holiday!
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Felipe 

September 2005
My experience at Hacienda Dominicus

At arrival we got the wrong kind of bed, we had requested king and they gave us two small beds, when I said that I needed to change, the person from the hotel tried to convince us to take the two beds saying that “I would be lest tired if we sleep on separate beds” what I thought was really of bad taste.
After that, we went to try to make reservations for the Japanese Restaurant, but they told us that the only day we could would be the last one at 7pm, I understand is a popular place but I learned later that you allow some people to make reservations everyday, I really believe that’s not fear for the rest of the guests.
the bedroom was actually very clean and nice, the only problem is that the toilet wasn’t working properly and I requested for it to be fixed, but they never did it, is not that it didn’t work at all, you just had to flush three times, what probably is not very good for your water bill...

At the beach there was a guy picking up dirty glasses and trash, what I think is a good thing, what I believe is not that good is that when a glass (plastic glass) had some liquid left (any liquid) he would just throw that left over to the sand right by where he found that glass, what included right next to the chairs where we were laying down.
In the four days that we spent at the Hacienda nobody ever offered anything to drink or to eat at the beach

At the mexican restaurant we had a reservation at 9:00, we arrived at 8:45 and at the restaurant there where only 4 tables with people on them, the rest of the tables was ready for new guests, but we were informed by the person at the door that we had to wait outside, where there were no seats available, but that was the rules and he couldn’t do anything about it, when we asked to talk to his supervisor he just refused to go get him.
When we finally were let inside they brought me a Margarita that was very very bad.
The buffet for appetizers was pretty good, but the main course was seriously burned, I requested to change it but the waiter said that it was “mexican style” and that it would be the same thing if I change it.
To top this, at same point I’m guessing a sewer pipe broke underneath the dessert buffet, because some liquid appear and the worst smell you can imagine invaded the whole restaurant, so we left right away.

Japanese Restaurant , they cook Tepanyaki style without air conditioner what makes almost impossible to seat thru dinner We didn’t get the sushi appetizer that was on the menu And even what we got (six pieces of sushi) that was for each couple
When the waiter came to explain the rest of the menu he mentioned that they were out of the Wok, but that was OK, and not to worry because he didn’t recommend it anyway.
The couple sitting next to us mentioned that they hat eaten at that restaurant for the past three nights in a row, I find that not very good when we almost couldn’t get in

At the gym...
Half of the universal machine didn’t work
There was no supervision at the gym.
People were using the equipment without shoes and wearing bathing suits There were no towels available and when you asked for them you got an attitude, I was even asked why I didn’t bring mine... I was on the treadmill when the cd got stacked (started repeating a small part of a song) I walked outside to ask the girl that is at the front desk to see if she could do anything and her answer was that it wasn’t her problem Half of the fans (the ones for ventilation) only worked on the slower speed. It’s really annoying when you try to use a gym where you have to wait for the employees to finish using the machines

You guys have a very nice pond with ducks and swans, the water on that pond is not exactly clean, I asked and you don’t have a filtering system for that water, what I think is OK for the birds, but I don’t believe using that water to clean the floors (as I saw your employees doing), is a very good idea, that is not exactly clean water.

Anyway, as you can see it wasn’t the best experience for us The final thought that I got after those four day is quite simple

“A wide and bright smile is not enough”
your employees smile a lot , but their attitude is really, really bad to the customer.

I hope this letter helps so your next customers get a better experience
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Kay 
Warwickshire, England
June 2005
We arrived back in the UK on Friday 17 June after 2 fantastic weeks at this resort, travelling with Thomsons from Gatwick.

Confusion reigned at Punta Cana airport on arrival – did we need the visa forms or not ??? Well half of us had to complete them while large numbers of people were waived through and told they had to pay $30 on the way home instead.

After almost 2 hrs we arrived at the hotel tired, hot and a touch uncomfortable after such a bumpy ride and we were met in reception with long cool drinks, smiles and an unbelievable welcome. I could feel my stress levels dropping further with every step ! Check in was a breeze and the walk to our room took us through elegant gardens, with mini lakes, fountains, swans and even flamingos.

The hotel is really well laid out and the main lobby and lounge areas were immaculate and very comfortable.

As far as the food goes, the buffet restaurant was very good - we were spoilt for choice – and the waiting staff were friendly and helpful, but not intrusive in any way. Buffet style was very relaxed but we preferred taking lunch in the steakhouse rather than the main restaurant. Beach BBQ was excellent. The quality and presentation of the food was very good although I didn’t rate the El Colonial specialist restaurant that highly (staff were a touch surly and the food was quite ordinary !!) Atmosphere in the Mexican was excellent and the food top quality, as was the Japanese. We visited the Steak House on 2 evenings – everything was cooked to perfection and I personally enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.

OK so the pool area – mainly clean but they could have tried a little harder in keeping the areas around the sunbeds a little cleaner – although glasses were collected regularly there seemed to be drink straws strewn around and a quick blast with a hosepipe around the beds wouldn’t have gone amiss. Having said that, the pools were clean, safe and well maintained. But …… and I point the finger at fellow Brits here ….. in the 2 weeks we were there, despite there being signs saying not to reserve the sunbeds, yep, people were out there at 6.00 am hogging 8 or so in rows right by the edge of the pool, and then not turning up round the pool until after lunch. There were threats that towels etc would be removed but nothing was done – some people were reserving beds on the beach AND round the pool and swapping between the two – Selfish ? Yes !!! Come on folks, make up your mind where you want to spend your sun time and give others a chance !!

The guys at the pool bar were good fun and could mix a good Coco Loco … One criticism .. every day, same music around the pool …… could someone please invest in some new CD’s !!!

The beach area was exceptional … well maintained, very clean and the security guards were really helpful finding us beds, moving stuff around etc – and making sure the beach market traders didn’t hassle or harass anyone on the hotel’s section of the beach.

It’s difficult to explain just how good this place is ….. I think it’s a combination of the beautiful surroundings, the fact that everyone wants you to have a good time while you’re there and the total lack of pressure of any kind. We loved it !!

Travelling with a 74 year old mother and an 11 year old daughter … would the holiday suit us all ?. My daughter enjoyed the kids club and the Animacion team were very good (although we did get a bit fed up of the “handing out the awards” ceremony each night !!). Top bloke is Freddie (“is everybody ready for Freddie ??”) and we liked Elvis and Antonio too. Thanks to Carolina and Lily from Marielle xx

So for some hints and tips for anyone who’s interested !!!!
1. Don’t bother with peso’s if you can avoid it. We took a pile of US dollars for tips and dollar travellers cheques but you can pay for everything in dollars and get a better rate. You can only change the cheques to peso’s.
2. We tipped our maid a couple of dollars a day and our room was always immaculate but she also refilled our mini bar every day.
3. If you’ve got kids make sure you bring you own high SPF sun screens – the hotel shop did have a good selection but no high factors.
4. Don’t bank on being able to get your high % proof rum at the airport – they don’t have much choice and we wished we’d have bought it from the hotel instead !
5. Make sure you take a $10 and $20 bill for each of your party - Tuck your $20’s exit payment into your passport on arrival along with your visa form. They won’t accept any other currency and you’ll find it very difficult to obtain dollars when you’re there.
6. If you go snorkeling via the Dive Centre at the hotel, they provide the equipment. However, if you go on one of the organized trips via your tour operator or the travel agent in the hotel (ie Saona) they don’t always provide them.
7. If you do want to buy snorkeling gear at the hotel – buy it – and underwater camera’s – from the hotel NOT the Dive Centre – same stuff but much cheaper !

For UK travellers only …..
1. Don’t bank on being able to buy on the return flight – they were virtually sold out of a lot of items because of high sales volumes on the incoming flight.

There’s not much to do outside the hotel complex …. You can walk along the beach or along the road to a small village but other than a couple of shops (where the sales pitch is very aggressive – particularly the cigar shop), there’s not a lot there – we felt it was a waste of time.

The day trip to Saona was okay – including speedboats down the river and along the cost – but it’s a horrendous walk down almost 200 steps – if you’re a bit unsteady on your feet then I’d recommended asking your tour guide to let you head off 10 mins earlier than the rest of the groups so you don’t feel rushed or pressurized walking down them. (Thanks Paul !!) We went on a Thomson organized trip and were disappointed with the lunch on that day – the trip itself was pretty expensive and the lunch was very poor. Take your snorkels with you for definite. Talking of snorkeling, you can go via the Dive Centre – they take you in a speedboat about 10/15 mins down the coast and it’s well worth the trip – the reef is beautiful. Help yourself to fresh pineapple from the restaurants to feed them.

We also did the helicopter ride from La Romano – well worth the money – you can also make the trip to the airport by helicopter instead of the coach on the way home ….

Well, this has been the first holiday for a long long time where I’ve not starting my packing of Day 10 … I could have stayed another 2 weeks and more !! It’s a fabulous place, with excellent service and facilities – we’ll definitely be back.

Special thanks to Grisel and Victor in Guest Services; Hector our waiter in the buffet restaurant and our lovely maid Faustina. And extra special thanks to Kelly and Paul from the 3 of us.

Stayed 2 –16 June 2005
Via Thomsons.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
June and Tony 
England
June 2005
We stayed at the Hacienda Dominicus from the 16th May for two weeks.We actually got an extra night due to a flight delay which really suited us, we would have liked another week!!! We thought that the hotel and grounds were really beautiful, really well kept. Our room was in block 1, I had requested a sea view which is block 4.At reception they told us to ask about a room in block 4 the following day as none were available when we checked in but we settled in to our room and couldn't really be bothered to move. I really love sea views but really you do not spend much time in the room. The room was spacious and very clean and maid service excellent. The beach is lovely, and the lighthouse bar is a nice place to sit and watch the world go by.We experienced 3 types of sea, quite rough for a few days, not so good to swim in for me but great for messing about in. We also got rolling waves which were great and eventually the really calm Caribbean sea that we expected. Food was good although initially we thought not quite as good as the Iberostar Punta Cana. I think they spoiled us there a year ago with the fantastic big steaks you could have even in the buffet restaurant. However there was plenty of choice and we always enjoyed our meals. The steakhouse, Japanese and Mexican were all good too. All the waiters and waitresses, in fact everyone are really friendly as I have always found in the Dominican Republic.We have tried the Iberostar Costa Dorada too and all three hotels are excellent. The beach in the north is not as pretty as Punta Cana or Bayahibe but we had a great time there.At all three resorts we have done lots of hoby catamaraning. Bayahibe was the best as regards less rocks when you get out to sea although you had to get by a few to actually get on the catamaran. We would go back to any of the three Iberostars that I have mentioned, they have a really good reputation in the Dominican Republic and are really lovely. If we had to choose any favourites they would be Bayahibe and Punta Cana just because of the beaches but would recommend all three, particularly depending on which one has a good deal on. That's what we have done and they have all been great value for the money.

PS Thanks for the laughs John and Barbara, see you at the City Ground.
PPS. Hello to the two Mikes, Jan,Brenda and Krystle who we met at Costa Dorada you would have liked it here too.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
 

June 2005
My husband and I just returned from a week (May 28-June 4) at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus. We traveled through Santo Domingo which is not as convenient as flying into Punta Cana. Our bus ride to the resort was delayed for a couple of hours and on the return trip our bus broke down and we waited on the side of the rode for about an hour. Nonetheless, we did arrive safely. We have stayed at all of the Iberostar Resorts in the Dominican Republic and choose them for their consistent quality, mostly in food. The Hacienda Dominicus was not disapointing. It is a large resort but seemed more compact than Bavaro in Punta Cana. This worked in our favor as my husband does have some walking limitations. The sand on the beach is hard to walk on and was impossible for me to take my long morning beach runs. However the water was gorgeous and you could swim for quite along ways safetly. The climate seemed a little hotter than Punta Cana, as they do not seem to get all of the trade winds.

This resort is outstanding and we had a wonderful time. The food was quite good and the specialty restaurants were better than many of the all-inclusives we have stayed at. I think if we did return we would forego the direct flight and take a connecting flight directly into La Romana. All in all it was a great trip and I would highly recommend this resort.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
 
New Hampshire, USA
March 2005


This was our second time in a row to visit this great resort. The place didn't change from last year. The food drinks and staff were great. Say hello to Malfredo and Yan at the pool bar they are a lot of fun. The dominicans are a lot of fun even though we don't speak spanish (there english is so so). This resort is our third Iberostar resort and we think highly of this chain.(so for we like this one the best but can't wait to try the one in Puerto Plata) As most of you read other reviews of this resort you will see that most are very good and for the ones that are not then maybe the should have paid 2 to 3 times the price and stayed at a Sandels resort and still not be happy!! For the money you can't go wrong with this place.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Terry & Terry 
Cambridge; ON. Canada
March 2005
Our intro meeting with the Signature Rep. was done on the bus enroute so we didn't have to waste part of our day at a meeting, good idea! Check in at this beautiful resort was fast and effecient. This is our fourth trip to the Dominican so we know what to expect and what not to expect. The rooms were beautiful with a king size bed. No complaints. Fresh towels everyday arranged with tropical flowers, very nice touch. A special thank you to Dominga for taking such good care of us. We have never stayed at a 5 star before, and now I feel we have been spoiled. This place is absolutely beautiful, so grand and elegant in every way. The staff is very pleasant and always willing to serve you. The food at the buffets was very good, something for everybody. The a la carte restaurants were excellent, we really enjoyed the Japanese one. It was something we probably wouldn't have tried at home, but are glad we did there. The steak house was also great, many cuts of beef to try as well as chicken and fish. The Gourmet Restaurant was very well done, the only one we didn't get to try was the Mexican, but have heard it is excellent also. I would recommend all the a la carte restaurants. The beach is the nicest we have been to so far. There are miles of white sandy beach to walk on with resorts all along the way, the swimming was nice and sandy and the water was like bath water, so warm. Lots of fish to feed and if you like snorkling there is a reef out front of the resort. We spend the last half of our week around the pool. Very nice pool area, lots of chairs and umbrellas but I would recommend saving one very early in the morning as the chairs with umbrellas usually get scooped up very fast even on the beach, and it's nice to have an umbrella as the sun can be very hot. We even had waiter service occasionally by the pool and on the beach. There is plenty to do and see here, there are side trips available if you wish to do so. My husband and I did the side trips many years ago, so we come for some much need R & R. Now I think we can face the rest of winter back in Canada. My over all review would be to try this one you won't be disappointed.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Connie 

March 2005


Just returned from a glorious vacation at the Iberostar resort at La Romana. This place was so gorgeous. The beaches were wonderful. The hotel is great as well. No complaints at all. I would recommend this resort to anyone who is interested in visiting. ENJOY!
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus - Bayahibe
Mike & Susan  
NYC
January 2005
November 16th – 23rd

My girlfriend and I are both in our mid-20s and for our first vacation we did buckets of research. After reading all the glowing reviews, we decided on the Iberostar HD and it turned out to be a brilliant choice.

Travel
When we landed in Santo Domingo, we were met with smiling faces and a guy handing out the Brugal in the airport lobby! For the uninitiated, Brugal is one of the rums of choice down there. I’m not a Rum kinda guy, but I grew to love it. I even ended up bringing seven bottles home with me.

At immigration, we needed to fill out entry visas, which cost us $10 each. I had my birth certificate not a passport, and that cost us time. IMPORTANT: Make sure you check the date when they stamp your passport or you might have problems leaving, Our stamps read 2003, not 2004. Thankfully, we had our flight stubs to prove we weren’t there for a year! We made it out, saw the sign for our connection and hopped in the van. Two hours later we pulled up.

Hotel
The hotel is inside a gated-community and even the guard out front greeted us with a huge smile. The grounds are magnificent from the moment you pull in. All of the buildings are wide open, so the breeze & the sun mingle with the guests. While we were checking in, we were greeted with fruity drinks that were quite appreciated. Check-in was a breeze. We wandered the grounds a bit before we unpacked.

The grounds are spectacular. It was like strolling in paradise. I had never been on a postcard vacation like this before and it completely blew me away. I literally walked around with my jaw on the floor. The entire campus is well-maintained and there were always people pruning or gardening or touching up some paint.

The room itself was wonderful. Spacious and bright. The king sized bed was quite comfy, the balcony was beautiful and the bathroom was great too – very nice water pressure. The only thing was that there wasn’t a clock, so we missed dinner a few times. The room has the same outlets as we do in the US, but they’re recessed so you need to buy these weird extenders. This might be standard elsewhere, but we’d never traveled before, so explains that. You can pick them up in the gift shop for like $1.40. The gift shop takes US Dollars – bills, not coins - but gives change in pesos.

Beach
The central pools were beauitful, but we were interested in the beach. The beach is beautiful. Wide, soft sands and a with plenty of recliners. The beach bar was great. The guys don’t speak much english, so I ended up having them make me something different each time. I’m usually a vodka & tonic kinda guy, but I embraced the pina colada! The ocean was incredible. The water was always warm and clear. We brought rolls from the dining hall and the fishies swam right up to us all week. There was non-motorized stuff to do, but all we wanted to do was sit and bake in the warm caribbean sun.

Service
Service everywhere was top notch. The entire staff worked real hard to make sure our vacation was nothing les than sublime. Everyone always greeted you with a smile. The best part was that it always felt genuine. They really took pride in their hospitality and it was definitely appreciated.

Meals
Sue & I agree that the only thing that retracted from the trip was the food. It wasn’t horrible, but the rest of the resort was so superb that the food didn’t even have a chance. Dinner reservations can be made up to three days in advance at the reservation desk in the main lobby.

There are four a la carte restaurants and the buffet. Breakfast and lunch are in either the main buffet or the steak house which doubles as a buffet. Buffets are what you’d expect them to be. If you caught the food when it came out fresh, then it was great. If not it was just average. There was a lot of variety though. The drinks flowed freely at all meals and deserts were always plentiful and tasty. Speaking of drinks, embrace the Mamajuana! I’m brewing my first batch at home and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. There were also BBQs on the beach and those were great too - Beef, Chicken, Pork and Seafood kabobs.

The Japanese
First the bad. This restaurant was pretty bad. I hate to come off like the snobby NY’er, but this was not Japanese food. Everything was crushed with salt. They tried really hard and we appreciated the effort, but unfortunately it didn’t work out.

The Steak House
We hit this place twice. The first night I had the ribs and Sue had the Salmon. We’re still not sure why she had fish at a steak house. They let you hit the appetizers first, which I think were pretty decent. The ribs amounted to three bones trapped inside a plate of fat and the salmon was dry. But, whatever, desert was great. The next time we were there we actually had steak and it was wonderful. Juicy and made to order.

The Mexican
We didn’t have high expectations after the Japanese place, but we were pleasantly surprised. The appetizers were plentiful and the main courses were really flavorful. Push away the Coronas and go straight for the Presidente. This restaurant was definitely the best after the Gourmet.

The Gourmet
This truly lived up to it’s name. Soup, salad, appetizer, main course and desert were all superb. You could tell that the chef had time to prepare individual meals instead of a bucket of food. Go here twice or three times if you can stand the formality.

Entertainment
Aside from drinking, there really isn’t anything to after the sun goes down. We went heavy on the activity in the daytime so night was for relaxation. We grabbed a few drinks in the lobby bar and played some backgammon to pass the time.

Excursions
The first four days we spent on the beach. The last three days we went on excursions off the resort. Our travel agency was partnered with Prieto tours so we booked everything through them. The excursion desk is behind the gift shop in front. There was a lot of variety for activities and it was all reasonably priced.

On the first trip we rode ATVs through the countryside. For $50 you got about three hours of ride time. The guides were both young so we had a lot of fun. After you learn how to drive, they take you out into the sugar cane fields. We stopped for some fresh sugar cane and soda and then it was back on the road. The best part was when they took us through a river. We rode through some tin-roof neighborhoods and that’s when the glaze of the resort peels off and you see the true poverty of the island. On the way back we stopped at this tiny hut where this guy was rolling his own cigars. Overall, it was an incredible ride and you should definitely check it out.

The next day we went horseback riding and that was a gigantic dissapointment. Sue had never been before, and it sounded like a great trip. Ride along the beach, swim in a cave, blah blah blah. The ride was through this rock & garbage strewn back road. There were parts along the path that were garbage dumps that had been set on fire and were just charred holes. The beach? Yeah, we passed the beach and got right back onto the crap expressway.

The next day, our last full day, we went out on the best excursion ever. It was a two-part speedboat drive and snorkeling dive. We were the only ones on the two previous excusions, so It was nice to go out with other couples for once. Every couple got their own speedboat and we raced along the shore. The guides made it a lot of fun. We must have drove for about thirty minutes straight before we hit these mangroves, or floating trees. It was beautiful. The water was the perfect depth and always clear. At that point, we hopped out, had some drinks and did some snorkeling. Aside from some starfish there wasn’t anything to see. It was still nice to get in the water. We hopped back in the boat and at that point, everyone realized you couldn’t flip ‘em over so we all went a little crazy in the waves.

When we got back to the shore, the guide asked us to fill out the suggestion cards. So, I thought we were done. Oh no. After we rested, we hopped into a larger speedboat and raced out to their set space in the ocean. He threw some bread into the water and hundreds of beautiful fish raced to the surface. It was breathtaking. We jumped into the water with our underwater cameras and swam. It was completely breathtaking. Hundreds of different beautiful fish swimming all around you. It was incredible. Overall, we had about twenty minutes underwater, which was definitely enough time. I think next time we’ll take a longer day cruise

A few tips that we picked up:
• Tip EVERYONE. We brought $40 in singles for the week and that wasn’t enough. The island is disturbingly poor and they will appreciate your $1 more than you will know. Leave a dollar for the maid and slide one to every bartender, waiter, bellhop and busboy.
• Outlet extenders. Get them in the gift shop for about $1.40 US
• Bring an alarm clock but forget your watch
• If you like to swim and like the ocean, bring your own snorkels to the island. Before we left, we picked up snorkels & masks and four underwater cameras. Collecting seashells was a favorite afternoon activity.
• watch you don't get lime juice on your skin...lime juice+sun = harmless skin discoloration that could give you a good scare. (ie. photosensitivity ...bleaches your skin) • it pays to ask for another room if you are unhappy with the one you get on arrival.
• while you are checking in, ask about the safe right then and there, saves you a second trip.
If anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me clarus84 AT hotmail DOT com

Pictures:
http://mikelightman.com/images/DR
http://mikelightman.com/images/UnderwaterCamera/UnderwaterCamera.html