Debbie's Dominican Travel.com Old Reviews - Gran Ventana Beach Resort
Gran Ventana
Roger 
England
December 2008
Arrival: October 2008
Reception and book in was absolutely seamless with friendly and polite staff with an arrival cocktail. The bell boys were immediate in taking the luggage to our room and were very efficient.

Rooms:
Immaculately clean and spacious (Junior Suite)in Catalina building around main pool.

Restaurants and Bars:
Great selection of food in main restaurant with choice of 3 further A la Carte restaurants which are included in the holiday price. Beach bar serving lunches. Late night hot dog bar till 2am. Main bars open till 12 midnight Swim up pool bar

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Beach is ideallic and spacious. A polite ''no gracias''will deter the beach vendors.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Full activities daily by 'in house' animation team. Local disco's and bars 500 meters outside the resort

Other Comments:
Superb value ''all inclusive'' resort. Been four times in two years and booked again for June 2009. Need I say more !!!!!
Gran Ventana
Bianca 
Holland
October 2008
Last week 1 returned from a 3 week stay in Gran Ventana

It was my 8th visit in the last 3 years to this beautifull hotel.
We came with Martinair from Holland, not the best carrier, but we have to get there, and from Holland there is not much choice.
Upon arrival the bellboy was waiting for us already with a cocktail. We got special check in and a free upgrade from a standard room to a junior suite with ocean view.
We know most of the people working at the hotel after 7 stays from average 3 weeks, so yes we do like the hotel a lot. All 3 buildings are refurnished lately, and this time we where surprised by the new furniture of the lobby and the reneal of the beachbar (and we where only there 3 months ago)
Occupation was around 75% and that is perfect, not to crowded.
The hotel has 3 a la carte restaurants and a buffet restaurant. When you are a repeater you can also use the facilties of the nearby Victoria hotel (which has also 3 restaurants) Quality of food is always excellent and a lot of choice. 2 swimming pools and children pool, the hotel is at the beach with free towels and parasols. Beach is always very clean Service at bar (especialy lobby bar with Pasqual as mainbartender) is splendid, service in restaurants is also very good.

Rooms are cleaned every day and the maids decorate your room with flowers.
Free minibar in your room with Coke, Sprite, beer and water

Only the animation team was less then the times before. In the beginning we did not like the animation team that much, but early this year David came on board as the new animation manager and in April and June animation was great, always very enthousiatic, good shows and you could see they really enjoyed their work. When we came back late September we noticed a different in the spirit already when we just arrived and said hi to everybody. Next day we found out that David was gone and there was a new animation manager. I hope this manager will be gone very soon, so the animation will be back to where it was in the time David was there.

Nightlive
Gran Ventana has no disco, but you just walk out of the hotel (just 2 minutes) and you are in the plaza. There are 3 nice places to go Coco Bongo, Roadway and Hemingway. The last time I was there Coco Bongo was the place to be, but that change sometimes, just check all 3 of them when you are there, they are all in a distance within 5 minutes walk.

Medical care
Just outside the hotel there is the Medical care center. I hope you will not need it, but if you do, it is very nice and clean, all speak very good english and doctors are very good.
We will hopefully return by the end of January, that will be my 9th stay since November 2005.

if you have any other questions regarding this amazing hotel, please do not hesitate to write me an email
chicabianca@hotmail.com
Gran Ventana
Martin 
Durham
September 2008
Arrival and Flight
The 9 hr flight was no problem, the aircrew were very attentive and the in-flight entertainment with the seat-back TV's kept everybody amused, even if I did get beat at battleships to many times!. On arrival at Puerto Plata airport we were whisked through immigration and baggage reclaim and were on the bus to the resort in no time.

Rooms
On arrival at the hotel we were allocated a room in the Beta Block, which from previous reports I had read, was to be avoided. How true they were. The room smelt damp and the view was of a road. I went to reception and asked to be moved. This was done in an instant, after having the rep confirm that we could, because my son is 12 and they do not have children on the 1st or 2nd floors. The bell boy showed me a room in the Souana Block and it was superb, pool and ocean view.

Restaurants
You cannot fail to be impressed with all of the restaurants, the buffet always has fresh food and plenty of variety, the 3 Al a carte are superb, but be warned , you have to book a week in advance if you want a certain time to eat, as they are very popular.

Bars
All the bars are very good, the swim up pool bar is great during the day for a refreshing drink when the sun is out, and the staff are all very good and they just top your drink up when ever your ready, the Brandy Alexander from the pool bar is very nice!!! As is all the cocktails.

Beach and Pools
The main pool does get a bit crowded, but you can still get a sun bed, even mid morning, if you want a bed by the pool and a parasol then to beat the crowd you have to be up very early to put your towels out. The water can be a bit dirty from all the sun cream and leaves but a pool attendant is always trying to clean up.

Grounds
The staff are all constantly sweeping and cleaning the whole grounds and the place reflects the fact.

Activities and Entertainment
The animation team do their best to keep you busy, from volley ball to water polo, plenty of things for the smaller children to do but as mine are 16 and 12, not so much. The evening entertainment is a bit on the cheesy side but can be good, it all finishes around 11 so not much to do after that, apart from have another drink, if you haven't had enough during the day.

Tours
We went on the Outback Jungle Safari , Ocean World and the catamaran. The safari was superb, albeit a little rough with the jungle roads, but great and very entertaining. Ocean world is a great day out, we swam with the dolphins, a brilliant experience, be sure to ask for the dolphin swim and not the dolphin experience when booking as you don’t swim with them on the experience, The catamaran trip was excellent, after a gentle ride to a bay, you get to snorkel and feed the fish, there are hundreds of them all wanting your bit of bread, you then have lunch and sail to another bay to do it again, all with free flowing drink !!!!!

Departure and Check Out
Check out was hassle free, the bellboy rang our room to ask if we wanted help down with our bags, which we did, and he was there in a flash, the front desk was very helpful and the next time we saw our bags was to check them in at the airport.

Conclusion
I would definitely recommend this hotel, the staff, all with a happy 'hola' every time you saw one, were brilliant, the surroundings were excellent. All in all, a great place to holiday.
Gran Ventana
Jenna 
Scotland, UK
August 2008
Dates Of Departure- 15th july 2008 (2weeks)

Arrival And Flight- I was totally dreading the 9 hour flight, but to be honest it wasnt as bad as i thought it would be. Just slept as much as possible and it flew by quite quick. Arriving at the hotel was great and everyone was so helpful. Within 15mins of arriving, we were showen to our rooms. 5 minutes later the bell boys brought our bags up to us. Just give them a smal tip and its great. All of the reception staff and Bell boys spoke some english which was great and helpfull. i couldnt fault these guys at all.

Rooms- The rooms are very clean and tidy! decent size aswell but not enough storage if your staying for the 2 weeks like we did.
The maids were ovely, and always said hola as we passed them in the corridor. They would put little flowers on your pillow and make swan shapes out of your towels. cant fault these guys either.

Restauraunts- Your couldnt go hungrey on this holiday at all. There was the main resturaunt which was buffet style and you were gaurenteed to find something you liked there. If you wanted to go a bit more fancy, there was the 3 other al-carte restaraunts you could try. you can order a 3 course mean which was served out quickly. Always say hi to the chefs behimd the counters as they are very funny and have a joke with you.

Bars- the bars and the bar staff were great. as i remember, there were 4 bars altogether. you could easily go up, order what you want and then leave (or in my case, keep ordering) the only downfall was that the bar didnt open until 10 in the morning so all you could drink was water till then! no juice for the kids. Apart from that it was all great.

Beaches And Pools- i could see the beach from my room which looked amazing. it was always kept clean and tidy, and to my amazement, the even brushed the leaves of the sand for you. you do get alot of looky looky men comin up to yopu, but if you see them coming all you do is keep your eyes closed and they didnt bother you. if your upfor looking at what they have, you will see they are really nice guys just doing their job. they walk about singing, cheapy cheapy, asda price and things like that! they are funny. if you decide to buy something, offer to pay half what they want, if they say no, walk away and trust me, they come back and you get it for your price.

Grounds- The grounds were kept clean and tidy all day. you would always see a cleaner sweeping or cleaning up. they also sing little songs as they do it!!! very happy people. lol. Security is always about aswell but not in to much view to make you feel uncomfy. i was very happy with the way this was done.

Activities And entertainment- during the day the animacion staff were there to entertain and play stupid funny games. if they saw someone not joining in, they would try their best to make you have fun. every now and then you would see the odd staff sitting away on their own, but i dont blame them. they work whole days, 6days a week for some stupid amount of £120 per month.
Evening entertainment was good. the animacion staff would be on stage doing funny shows. there was a mixture of shows to watch which kept you entertained. they are great at getting you up on stage and involved aswell. (trust me it embarissing)
The evening ents finish about 10.30 then you are left to entertain yourself. i found this fine as there is a couple nightclubs 5 minute walk from the resort, which is very safe and full of holiday makers from other hotels aswell. the animacion staff would often be there also which was great to chat and dance with them. all in all, they were great at there jobs. (one warning though is if you have a teenage daughter, lets just say the staff love the girls attention).

Tours- i didnt do much of the tours but some of my family did and said they were great. I did the catamaran trip which was fun alothough i felt sea sick. the guys on this keep yo so happy and entertained. My family thought paradise island was a waste of time saying they were bored and not much to do. apart from that, its worth going on something if your up for a full day in the sun.

Departure And Check-out- Checking out was so simple. handed keys back and waited on bus. the bell boys always put your bags on the bus for you but luckily my brother went to check and noticed his had been left. always double check yours is on the bus.
I finally said goodbye to people which was so hard. I gave all my spare money, which wasnt alot, to the staff as tips. rememer all the bell boys and bar and maid staff get tips but the animacion team dont. they were so happy when i gave 5 of them $10 each. this is like a days work for them!

Conclusion- I loved this holiday so much im already booked back up for october 2008. this is one of the places you go to and fall in love easily with. i would recommend this holiday to familys but not with only one child as they may get bored. Apart from this, this holiday was AMAZING!!!!!!!!
Gran Ventana
Arto 
Montreal, Canada
June 2008
We were at the Gran Ventana from June 15 - 22. This was our fourth time at the Gran Ventana. My wife and I have been going there with our two boys (now 8 & 11) since 2005. We keep going back because we've been impressed by the cleanliness, the food quality, and beech (snorkeling). Also doesn't hurt to have a medical clinic 2 minutes away; took our youngest there for stitches our first year. We were back in our room in less than 45 minutes!

Arrival and Flight
Flew Air Transat from Montreal. We left about a half hour late due to last minute cargo. We were met at the Puerto Plata airport by the Signature transfer rep. who escorted us to the hotel. Since we arrived at around noon, our room was not yet ready. However, we were given our towel cards, and bracelets immediately, so that we could get lunch, drinks, and take a dip.

Rooms
Since the Catalina building was undergoing renovations, we had asked for an upper floor room in the Seona building, which was renovated last year. We avoid the Beata building since it is a bit further from the pool and beach, and has a (noisy) restaurant/bar on the street just behind it. The room initially assigned to us was a first floor room. When we asked to be moved to an upper floor, we were told that kids were not allowed on the upper floors. After a bit of arguing and discussions, we managed to get an upper floor room by signing a hand written waiver that the hotel would not be responsible... We have had upper floor rooms each of the previous three times at the hotel. Anyhow, the renovated rooms in the Seona building basically got a minor facelift. New curtains, bedding, bathroom wall tiles, and shower curtains. However, the sink and mirror had not been replaced. As others have mentioned the furniture in the rooms is nothing to right home about, and drawer space is limited (especially for a family of four). But, with a little re-organization, we coped just fine. We noticed that the mini bar, which was loaded (daily) with a galon of water, a couple of beers, and a few soft drinks, was not very cold. Called the front desk, and someone came up to check it. He thought it was normal, but when I insisted that it was not, he indicaetd that he would need to speak to someone, and would get back to us. By the next afternoon, I called front desk again, and then again that evening. Still no response. The third evening, at the managers cocktail, I mentioned our fridge problem to reception manager. The next morning, the manager called to ask when he could come by for the fridge. When we got back from breakfast, the old fridge was gone, and was replaced by another slightly larger one. The A/C was plenty cold, but we were unable to adjust the temperature, since the temperature control knob would just spin round and round (due to user abuse). Anyhow, we were ble to adjust the temperature using a small screwdriver. Rooms were always clean, and stocked with towels, soaps, etc.

Restaurants
The main buffet restaurant had a huge variety of food. Never had to wait for a table. We at breakfast there every day, and couple of dinners. At breakfast there was the egg station, and the smoothie station. There was always bacon, sausage, pancakes, scrambled eggs, croisants, french toast, oatmeal, and cereal, along with a bunch of other things. A selection of breads, fruits, cheses, cold cuts, and yogurt were also there. At dinner, there was always a couple of types of pasta, with a few kinds of sauces. There was a pasta station, where you could select your ingredients, and have them cooked/mixed with your choice of pasta. There was also something on the grill (chicken, beef, pork, fish), pizza (at least the nights we were there), as well as a multitude of other choices, including two kinds of soup. Each of the nights we were there, there was something being carved fresh (lamb & roast beef). Several kinds of deserts were available at each meal. The hot food was always hot, and the cold food was always on ice. The a la carte restaurants (Octopus & Sapore Di Mar) at the GV were also quite enjoyable. A good variety meant that we had no problems finding something that the boys would like. We often asked for substitutions/changes, and had absolutely no problem. The staff at the a la carte restaurants really try to accommodate you. The third a la carte (the Ocean Grill) was still closed for renovations, so we were allowed to go to the Mexican restaurant at the GVs sister hotel nearby. Again, the food and service was very good. As repeat guests, we were also able to eat at the GV's Victoria restaurant at the Victoria Golf and Beach Resort. Once again, the food was great, as was the service. By the way, we were taken by golf cart when we left the GV for dinner, since the other hotel/restaurants were at least a 10-15 minute walk. As mentioned, the Ocean Grill restaurant at the GV was still closed for renovations. This restaurant also serves as the beach bar & lunch restaurant. It reopened (during the day only) starting Wednesday. The format has changed from self service to partial service, meaning that you ask for what you want, and they prepare it, and give it to you. Even though the hotel was only at about half capacity, the new format meant that lunch will take a bit longer than it used to. One final note: reservations for the a la carte restaurants are made with Anna (at the Beata building). We weren't impressed by the service she provided. She's been doing the same job for several years, and still doesn't seem to know what she is doing.

Bars
Just somewhere to get something cold to drink.

Beach and Pools
The GV's beach is great if you like to snorkel. There are rocks/reefs all over the place, especially between the water sports shack and the beach restaurant. Bring along some bread or banana, and have the fish nibble at them from your hands. They were also recovering many of the palm umbrellas, and seem to have added several new ones since we were last there. Plenty of lounge chairs for everyone. If you like to swim in deep ocean water, then you might need to go off to one of the sides, since much of the beachfront area of the GV is quite shallow and/or has rocks/reefs. For us, the beach is perfect. The pool is a three ring, walk in pool, great for the kids. It has a swim up bar, as well as vollyball and water polo nets. Unfortunately, many of the lounge chairs around the pool seem to be 'reserved', from early morning, even though the hotel warns you not to do it.

Grounds
The grounds were always kept exceptionally clean. This includes the common areas, as well as all of the public washrooms(including the one at the beach).

Activities and Entertainment
The hotel has a kids club, a small gym, a couple of pool tables, a ping pong table, as well as some books. The activities staff did their best to get people involved, but it all depends on the crowd. They work long hours, but sometimes are fighting a losing battle. If you are looking to party, then the GV is probably not for you. We only watched a couple of the nighttime shows, since we have basically seen it all before.

Tours
We finally went to Ocean World after 3 years. My wife and kids did the dolphin swim ($165 & $120), while I just took a general admission($55). The price includes transportation from the hotel. The park is not all that big(excluding the marina & casino). You could probably get from one end to the other in about 5 minutes. The shows (bird, shark, sea lion, and dolphin were a bit weak (esp. the bird show). There was a snorkeling tank, that we really enjoyed, a couple of bird 'cages' (where you can feed the birds, and get pictures of them all over you), and a tiger grotto (where the kids could swim around and watch the tigers from behind the glass). My wife and kids loved the dolphin swim. Even though some of the shows were a bit weak, We were not disapointed over all. The food was reasonably priced, as were the souvenir T-shirts, and underwater cameras. Lockers, bird seed, as well as snorkeling equipment were all provided free of charge!

Departure and Check Out
Check out was a breeze, and the trip back to the airport was short.

Conclusion
Even though we had some minor issues, overall, this was a great trip for us. Absolutely no hesitation in recommending the Gran Ventana to friends. As mentioned, if you're looking to party, you might consider another hotel. However, if you want good food, a clean environment, with a nice beach and pool area, accompanied by great service, this is the place.
Gran Ventana
Lisa 
Manchester
May 2008
Arrival and Flight: this was excellent couldn't fault anything here

Rooms: The room was excellent we were upgraded to a junior suite as we were on our honeymoon it had a fridge with well stocked pepsi, sprite and beer very spacious in the Beatta building over looking the quite pool we could hear the disco banging after 11.00 but somehow managed to sleep through it

Restaurants: The resturants were excellent my favourite was the ocean grill followed by the italian and then the octopus the main buffet resturant was really nice as well, breakfast was good with an omlette station, smoothie station cerials etc. the beach restuarant in day was nice but was a bit of a nuisence with canadian children eating all of the pizza but it was nice and easy as we spent most of time at the beach

Bars: the bars were excellent as well the one we spent most of our time at was the quite pool bar i think that this was because our room was near there it was very nice the cocktails are a must but be warned they are very very strong i had 2 pink ladies and i was drunk. be warned of the 151 rum too this is lethal - good if you want to get drunk quick

Beach and Pools: again these were excellent the swim up bar in the main pool was great but we found it full of american's so we decided to go the beach where we found it alot more relaxing the vendors coming round made me laugh they all had saying "i've got the monkey" was my favourite but they left you alone once you said no. the snorkelling is very good at the beach we saw and fed all sorts of fish with bread and bananas

Grounds: again these were excellent everytime we walked around the complex there was always someone brushing, mopping somewhere very very clean

Activities and Entertainment: we didnt see much of the entertainment but what we did see was very good

Tours: we did dominican mega trucks and oceanworld this was well worth the money it was a shame for the local children we saved our soaps and shampoo for them. me and my husband went to Ocean World to do the sharks and the sealions this again was fantasic

Departure and Check Out: again was good but we wished we had pay $25 and gone to the VIP departure lounge but again we had no trouble

Conclusion: excellent all round we will deffinatley be returning again it was well worth the money everyone was always happy to see you always saying "hola" wherever we went the reception area is excellent the noise from the disco was a nuisence but nothing to major we still managed to sleep through it overall a honeymoon we shall never forget!
Gran Ventana
Neil 
Southampton, UK
May 2008
Rooms - Room was great, Big room,great views,very quiet, room service BRILL!!!, fresh fruit,fully stocked fridge,spotless cleaning.

Restaurants - All restaurants were great, best for us was octopus really good food,A1 service. Buffet was good only one problem here Canadians need i say more.

Bars - The bars were very good fast,efficient service,always smiling, best by far was Willian at the pool bar backed up by his mate johan,all the other staff were good but we spent most of our time here.

Beach and Pools - Pool was always spotless, maybe a few more umbrella would be good, but could normaly find somewhere to sit in the shade not as much problem as many people say. Beach was always clean, traders dont bother you if you simply say no thanks, or just ignore them. Beach does get quite windy in the afternoon so is quieter than in the morning, good time for walking.

Grounds - the groundkeeping staff work so hard to keep everything perfect, it really is amazing how they do it, look out for the older groundsman if you ask he will climb a tree on a bit of old rope,get you a fresh coconut, then shell and prepare it for you he does it all with a huge machete god knows how he still has all his fingers.

Activities and Entertainment - Didnt really take too much notice of the shows, having too much fun with william and johan at pool bar, The michael jackson show was good what we heard of it

Tours - we did the drive your own jeep safari booked with elvis in reception well wpth it you get to drive in a convoy through rivers,mud,sand etc a good full if tiring day. did whale watching at Samana that was a real long day pick up 06.00 return at 22.00 but woth it saw a lot of whales and had lunch on Bacardi island.

Departure and Check Out - We checked out early in the morning as my sister lives in sasoua, we spent the day with her then she took us to airport no need for the cattle trucks(sorry busses).

Conclusion - Hotel reception staff were fab special hello toasst manager Juan Eric and Jonny, if you have any problems speak to Katya on guest services if she cant sort it for its not worth sorting, cant wait to go back on 13/11/08
Gran Ventana
Wayne 
Hampton, Ontario
May 2008
Let me start by saying that reading the reviews on Debbies reviews helped my wife and I pick this resort. We went there last year same time beginning of April. It was the first time that I have ever been to a resort let alone leave the the country. I am a very picky eater. But there is so much food that by Tuesday I could only eat two times a day or less.

The resort is very clean. All the employees are very friendly. We went down with Signature Vacations and Sky service. they were all great. Seating on the planes was just a little tight.

Guy from Signature was excellent. He and Buddy helped me get my Coke Cola from town.

They only serve Pepsi at the bars and dispensers. I like my rum with coke. Oh as read in another review. If you ask for a rum and coke they will give you the house or cheap rum. You could drink it all day and not get drunk. If you ask for Bragal Rum you will see that they will pour less in the glass or mug. If you want to go into town by taxi go to your rep and ask for Geronimo. He drives taxi for the resort. Great driver and friendly. $35 up to 5 people into Puerto Plata. All prices are on the sign in front of the resort. Or just ask your rep.

The diving is awesome down there. If you want to try it see Paul by the hut were you get your beach towels. If you are a diver then try the Wall it is 85ft and it to is awesome. Take a camera.

This resort is great for the first and maybe the second time but if you are only their to relax it is great. But then it gets boring. Yea sun sun sun does get boring.

The beach gets cleaned every morning. But even then there is hardly any weeds on the beach. It is one of the best and cleanest beaches on the resort.

When you read about it being noise in some of the buildings. this it is true. If you don't like loud music until 11:30 don't get a pool view or a room that faces any bar. thee are at least two of them. Ok pool loud - out side of the Soana building - Out side Catalina building.
If you are facing the ocean it is quiet. If you don't like were you are staying then just ask to be moved and they will take care of you.

Now for the most important part. The resort sells you a key for a safe in your room I think it was $16 dollars you must and I do mean must get one. Why you ask ?

The people that work their don't make a lot of money. But they are one of the better paid people in the Dominican. That being said you can NOT trust them. Maybe not all of them.
But there are some that will take it if it is not nailed down. It has happen on other resorts.
In fact I read about one just before we went down there. Let me tell you it is true.
I found out the hard way. My own fault. I was Ina rush and I put my $ 700 dive watch in a drawer and two days later I went to look for it and it was gone. I looked every were - high and low. We went to are rep and he talk to the front desk. They said they would check into it. They called in everybody head of security - head of house cleaning and they checked the room. If they had found it I would have been very happy. I have had that watch for 30 years. Anyway by the time they finished they made me feel like I was trying to blame them for the watch missing. I Now for the best part - two days before I found out the watch was missing I was in my room cooling off around 11:00 am and a quick knock an in comes a maid not the one that cleans our room another one. She was surprised that is there and then walked over and used the phone. Yes used the phone. First what was she doing in the room and second why was she using the phone for. After we reported the watch missing and told them about the maid that came into the room they made sure that they gathered all the maids for that building and took them to the room well I was their to see which one it was in the room. I could not tell which one it was in the room that day. Anyway after that this is the best part. They treated both of us like crap. Yes as I said it was my fault be you know what I paid over $ 4000 this trip and if you can not trust the staff why go.

So if you own it and you do not want it to be stolen then lock it up. It may be a pane in the butt to lock it up everyday. But I promise you this - If they want it they will take it and then it is gone forever.

Awesome resort clean and friendly. Relaxing nice beach good food clean rooms.
Would I go back ? Now no. If it didn't happen yes in a New York minute.
So read the reviews look at all the pros and cons and if it does not sound good don't go.
Anyway just to show you that anyone that has a key can get into your room. So lock it up or take it with or they will. This goes with any resort any were.
Gran Ventana
Jason 
Winnipeg, Canada
March 2008
Rooms
Nothing special, clean and adequate. Noise was a huge issue. All three buildings are surrounded by resorts and bars, including the Gran Ventana’s. I would recommend getting an inward facing room (pool facing) as the noise will only be an issue until 11pm. The outfacing rooms just get noisier after 11pm as the bars and clubs get going. The rooms in the building that contains the Gran Ventana’s club were so noisy that the doors were vibrating very loudly. The Soana and the Catalina buildings are the best but just make sure you get the location you were hoping for. We asked for 2nd or 3rd floor to help avoid roaches and other bugs in the room. They fumigated the building while we were there so I guess they try to keep it fairly sterile.

Restaurants
Ocean grill was by far the best – best atmosphere and food. Octopus a close second and Italian last. Overall, some of the better a la carte restaurants I’ve been to on these holidays.

Buffet:
One of the better ones I’ve been to. Pretty good selection however, the seafood is lacking and is often the same daily. Deep fried fish fritters, mixed chewy and overcooked seafood casserole and watch our for the bones! The fruit was good – bananas, papaya, cantelope, guava. Something for everyone and it was one of the first times I wasn’t sick of the buffet in 2 days. Yay.

One problem was availability of food during the day. There are 1-2 hour gaps where food is unavailable (10:30am – 12:00pm, 4:45- 6:30pm and 9:30pm onward). We found this to be an inconvenience as we were traveling with a 2 year old and they often needs snacks as they are running around constantly. I also found it annoying that late night snacks were unavailable. Hard to get rid of the munchies after many rums with no food at your disposal.

Bars
Not bad. Again, very limited hours. Only the main pool bar was open most of the day. The beach bar, the quiet building bar and the bar by the stage and swim up bar all had limited hours. Also, none were open 24 hours so you couldn’t have drinks until the wee hours of the morning. There was always somewhere to find a drink during the day but not always was it very convenient.

The fruit juices are not real. The alcohol is the local no name brand and it tastes like it. I could drink 6-8 rums and not feel a thing. I think they are watered down. The beer was great though! The pina colada mix is sweet and fake tasting, the bahama mama mix is the same thing with simply grenadine poured in. Overall kind of disappointing and made it hard to be excited to go to the bar after a couple days

Beach and Pools

Beach
Pros – clean, beautiful, nice sand and very pretty – good snorkeling because of all the reef structure.

Cons – Corral and weeds growing close to shore, not like Varadero, Cuba where you could walk for miles and not step on something pointy. Very, very, very windy in the mid to late afternoon. Great for paragliding but not for sunbathing. However, the wind is a Pro too because you never feel overly hot, which is very nice in the middle of the day. That being said, you can get a burn that much easier because your skin doesn’t get that hot feeling when it starts to fry. The tide goes out mid day on, so it gets very rocky and shallow for swimming. The waves and undertow were so bad on the first day they shut down the beach.

The beach has little palm huts, all the resorts to the west of us didn’t, most to the east did. It’s a nice touch. If only the people wouldn’t reserve the entire hut with one towel, show up half way through the day and curse at you in French, as if you took their property away from them. Many rude people at this resort, let’s hope it was just a bad week or something in their water. Interestingly, we were a bit of a minority at this resort. Many Dominican locals were there, many French, German and British, very few Canadians. Some of the cultures have similar boundries and manners but some do not, so don’t be surprised to have people giving you dirty looks for putting a lounge chair in the shade beside them and muttering something in a different language. Comes in handy to know a few different tongues.

Pool – Clean, nice temperature and large. Can’t complain. Only thing to complain about is the people who reserve their lounges with towels at 7 am in the morning and don’t use the seat till late morning or after lunch. They drive me crazy. The hotel policy is that it is against the rule but I think many people are just plain selfish and inconsiderate.

Grounds
Clean and Beautiful! For a large resort, the facilities are a bit cramped. Very limited entry and exit points means that all people have to go through the main pool area to get anywhere. Has a cramped feeling. There are few other places or corners to hang out in so if you are not one for relaxing in large crowds around a pool area, this might not be the best resort for you.

Activities and Entertainment – Nothing special, good kids show every night.

Tours
Safari outback good. Deep sea fishing – depends who you book with. Cheap tour at the Dorado Plaza shopping centre - $60, rickety boat, poor snacks, outdated equipment and poor guides. $100 at the resort, nicer boat, better guides and better food. Careful what you book. Also, they expect tips everywhere – the cab driver to the boat, the boat captain and helpers and then the guys who moor the boat when you come back in. Annoying and it got to the point where I had to say no. $100 for a half day was more than enough for the tour. Be careful not to be ripped off. My friend was so sea sick on the entire boat ride that he didn’t fish, eat or drink, just puked and lied down on the floor. Then the guy had the nerve to poke him while we were still at sea and try to get a tip out of him in between puking sessions. Rude.

Departure and Check Out Nice and easy, great plane ride and transfers.

Conclusion
Staff were mostly friendly, food was good but not always available, beach beautiful but not the best for playing in the surf, bars were adequate but tiring and the hotel was large but cramped feeling. We would probably not go back, having experienced better value elsewhere. Overall, a good resort but not a great one. I wouldn’t tell you not to go, just to make an informed decision based on the facts. Some people we met were here for their 4th time. Everyone has different needs I guess.
Gran Ventana
Louise (29 ish) and John (39 ish) 
Ottawa, Ontario
March 2008
Let me start by saying I used this site during my research to find a just the right location and I have found it very useful – and will use it again (in about 10 months!)!!

Our room was in the Saona Building, first floor

We arrived quite late Sunday (early Monday morning actually 01:30) and we were off to our room within a few minutes with rum and cokes in hand! (BTW – the small pool bar closes at 02:00 in the morning so load up before then). The only thing about our room was that it was too close to the Coco Bongo Disco and the noise kept me up for a bit on the first night. The next morning we asked for a different room and within a few minutes we were on our way to the Saona Building. Cris (posted somewhere below – to keep this short I won’t say what has already been said) is on the mark about cleanliness – no need to overstate the obvious…. Ok – REALLY CLEAN!

The staff… I cannot agree with Cris more on this - a big enthusiastic DITTO!

The food…This one I have to say was a definite highlight to our vacation – we love to try new foods and new restaurants! The “A la Carte” restaurants here were amazing! Special mention should go to the Octopus Restaurant for the food and to the Beach Front Restaurant for the atmosphere (very romantic!)

The shows… My wife is a Belly Dance teacher so she really enjoyed seeing the variety of dance and costumes. I also appreciated the time all the staff put into these shows!! It was great to watch and always full of infectious energy! The Coco Bongo Disco was a great place to go after the shows – the music is loud and beat is great!

The beach… Our beach experience was not as good as we would have liked – it was very windy when we were there. So we spent half our time by the pool. But everything positive said (in posts below) about the beach also applies (clean, beautiful, great snorkeling - lots of fish just off the beach).

The pools… We spent no time at the “Quiet Pool” or the bar there. We were always at the main pool (& bar). Spent great times playing volley ball and water polo with a great group of people! Chairs were not abundant – but we always managed to find something.

Tours… Our first outing was the “Dominican Night” – it’s not published yet – buy we decided that this would be one to try – and we were not disappointed! Guy the guy who people call Guy or guy (Signature tours) was the organizer of this animated bus tour and was at the final destination (our dinner party in a little restaurant in Puerto Plata – across the street from the Ocean). I cannot express how much I enjoyed this night out! But remember – your group makes up part of the fun – so make sure you’re with a fun group!

(Thanks to all at our table – Zarah & Paul, Bernie, Ms Malone and all the others! – and a special thanks to Guy the guy… Guy, for making that outing so memorable!!!)

Our second outing was the Paradise Island Snorkeling Tour! Again no words for the beauty we were able to see – truly awesome! The pictures we took cannot do the colors justice. (Note to self – I should have brought water shoes) Then on the way home we stopped at a small store that had lots of things to shop for – but we were too exhausted from the snorkeling to even look.

To sum up – I would return in a heartbeat! There were really no negatives to this trip (the wind was only an inconvenience and cannot be predicted – it’s weather) and I would recommend the Gran Ventana to anyone!
Gran Ventana
Cris 

March 2008
Catalina Building, second floor

I was standing in line to check in at the Gran Ventana for a matter of 2 minutes before I was greeted by a staff member and received a drink while I waited in line. Check in was a breeze and no problems. Since we were early we had to wait a couple of hours to get into our room however we went right to the buffet, enjoyed some lunch and drinks and then went to check out the beach!

Our room was in the Catalina building …room was a typical hotel room with 2 double beds! Nothing spectacular but we did not care as we were not there to spend the week in our room watching TV. I will say I cannot stress enough at how CLEAN everything in this resort is! There was always someone scrubbing and cleaning no matter where you went throughout the resort! The grounds are spotless! Every day we would wake up to staff raking the leaves that had fallen throughout the night! The food …awesome! You would have to be a very picky eater not to find something to eat. There was always a vast selection of meats, fruits, and vegetables not to mention omelets stations, waffle stations, smoothie stations and desserts! The a la carte restaurants were also wonderful. I can’t say for sure which would have been my favorite as they were all fabulous. We booked our reservations for our dinners the day after we arrived. We weren’t picky about the times and days that we ate … we were on holidays! We had two 8:30 meals and one 6:30.

The shows…some good some just okay! We enjoyed the ones that involved the audience the most. There was a certain song that they would play throughout the shows and at particular times of the day. It was real upbeat and the staff would get up and dance. Loved the song so much and missed it when I got back to the snow in Ontario that I emailed Guest Services to get the name of it. It is called Latinos performed by Proyecto Uno. Being in our 30’s we would have liked some later entertainment as the shows ended around 11. Once the shows were over things got pretty quiet. However there are a few bars/discos within walking distance so we went to Coco Bongos a couple of nights for dancing.

The staff….truly amazing people. They are always smiling! No matter who you talked to they were always friendly, ready to please and always with a smile. Loved breakfast time, as the gentleman mopping the floor was always singing in a soft gentle voice! Gran Ventana is full of polite, courteous staff and I cannot say enough about that and how hard they work!!

The beach….definately one of the nicest and biggest in the Playa Dorado complex! We enjoyed walks everyday along this spacious beach area and loved walking past the other resorts to the left and right of us. Seaweed was always swept up and there are plenty of loungers. It gets quite windy on the beach by noon so the beach tends to be busier in the morning. We loved the breeze however and spent a lot of our afternoons on the beach, as it wasn’t near as hot with the wind as it was by the pools. There are vendors trying to sell you things but do not bother you if you just ignore them or say no thanks. They are not pushy at all. We walked the 15-20 minutes down the beach to do our shopping at the Orange Market. There you can get overwhelmed as the vendors all want to escort you into their shops…everything is “cheapy cheapy” or “almost free today.” Most of the shops all carry the same thing…once you have seen one you have pretty much seen them all. We “looked” on our first visit and got to know some of the shop owners and then went back to shop on one of our last days there. Surprisingly, the vendors we had met previously could remember us and thanked us for returning.

The pools were very nice. We did not spend much time at the “Quiet Pool” or the bar there. Seemed to be by the larger pool, the pool bar and swim up bar for the most part. Always seemed to be adequate amount of lounge chairs around the pools when we needed them.

We did not do any of the tours offered as we were having so much fun just relaxing at the beach and the pools. We did go to the shopping plaza but enjoyed the bartering at the markets more so. Friends we had met did the zip line down the mountain and the pictures they took looked absolutely amazing! Will definitely do the zip line when I return.

All in all I cannot say a bad word about this resort. We will return again and next time we plan to take our young daughters. This resort is great for couples young and old. The children who were there were so well behaved we hardly knew they were around!! If you are looking for a great holiday in a safe and clean resort this is the place for you! Great food, great place, great people! Gracious!
Gran Ventana
Jen 

March 2008
Date of Stay: Feb 1 – 15, 2008, Catalina building, 3rd floor junior suite.

Keep in mind that this was our experience. We do not wish to offend anyone with our comments, but feel that some of the postings we read and used to help plan our trip were not exactly what we discovered when we experienced the resort for ourselves. We really just wanted to express our opinion of our vacation.

Over all impressions:
The resort is too large for its self. We wondered if the third building was added later on causing the over population of the resort. It would be interesting to hear if this is the case.

Buffet:
The crowds at the buffet were hard to ignore as you attempted to get your meal. This is where we really felt the impact of too many quests and not enough space and facilities to go around. I usually have no complaints fending for myself in the buffet by clearing a dirty table and collecting clean cutlery, but after two weeks of scrounging for a place to sit and locating utensils, I’d had enough. In other destinations we’ve stayed at there always seemed to be a central location you could go and get clean cutlery. At the GV there wasn’t. We found that the biggest problem was the kitchen couldn’t get the dirty dishes cleaned fast enough for the demand. Not a fault of the employees, but a fault of the capacity of the resort. Granted, the resort was at or near capacity during most of our stay. However this experience was quite consistent at all meals in the buffet.

We found that getting a cup of coffee with breakfast was way too difficult and often went to the automatic dispensing machine for ours (again, longish lines at the machine due to demand). In hindsight, there was a drinks station at the pool side entrance to the buffet and it likely would have been easier to poor yourself a cup there before going in to find a table…but really, do you think you should have to resort to this? After all, this place isn’t exactly the cheapest resort around so you should get proper service for the price you paid. Sounds so silly to complain about clean tables and clean cutlery, but if you were at a restaurant in your hometown, be it moderate or expensive, you would expect that this would not be an issue.

I will say that there wasn’t a lack of staff at the buffet. But I really think they should investigate some better system practices to keep up with the demand (it’s a management issue, not a worker issue).

I won’t comment on our impression of the food at the buffet as everyone will have different opinions of what tastes good or not. I can say that having booked the junior suite upgrade was beneficial as we were entitled to use the Victoria Hotel (short walk away) for everything including meals at their buffet (excellent), two a la carte choices (didn’t try), and drinks. This allowed for greater variety which was important to us as we were there for two weeks.

A la Cartes:
It has been said that once you arrive you should make your reservations right away to avoid being told they are booked. We enjoyed all three but our preference was the Italian restaurant.

Pools:
We found the main pool with swim up bar was often too busy to really enjoy. It is a bit small for the number of guests at the resort and with the volleyball net and exercise sessions taking place it was often too crowded for our liking. We found the water quite dirty with debris as well as human hair, etc. most days. As a result, we spent our time at the beach. Not too hard to take as we don’t have the luxury of an ocean at our doorstep at home and we certainly didn’t travel to the Caribbean to hang out at a pool!

Since there didn’t appear to be very much shade around the quiet pool we opted not use it.

Tip: we recommend you bring a travel mug to fill up at the pool/beach bars. Your drinks will stay cooler longer and what we witnessed with cleaning the cups they provide made my skin crawl on occasion.

Beach:
Read lots of comments about seaweed at this part of the beach. It is more like a sea grass and we didn’t find it bothersome. There was a crew each morning working hard to clean up what had washed ashore over night. The beach is great for talking long walks in either direction in front of the hotel. Great for a change of scene and people watching!

Comments about the vendors patrolling the beach are accurate. They will leave you alone, but it was a bit of a pain at times. At other times, it was a source of entertainment to see what deals were happening. Some of them are quite the salesmen!

Being the north side of the island, it is no doubt, a very windy beach. Some days the wind blew so strongly the sand would be kicked up causing unpleasant conditions. But the wind would also keep you cool during the 84°F temperatures however! We quite enjoyed watching the kite boarder’s zip across the waves! Exhilarating if you have the nerve to try it!

There is a bit of reef in front of the beach. We attempted to snorkel but found it quite rough and really not a lot too see. However, one day a man came out of the ocean with a small octopus! He was standing in the water feeding the fish bananas and the creature decided it wanted some too! Really cool.

There were always plenty of loungers available at both the pool and the beach and with the trees at the edge of the beach, you could always find a shady spot if you weren’t lucky enough to nab (i.e. get up at 6am and put your towel on a chair underneath) a palapala hut. You would only have to drag a lounger a few feet to a pleasant spot to hang out for the morning/afternoon/day. While I usually sit in the sun, my husband is quite fair and needs to be in the shade. We normally will attempt to locate a spot on the edge of some shade so we can both be comfortable. Everyone knows there won’t be enough palapala huts for each guest to use, right? Well, we had one comical experience with some other guests one day who didn’t want to “share their beach”. We had pulled some loungers over so that my husband was in the shade from a hut. And yes, these people had put some stuff under the hut but were currently lounging in the full sun on the other side of the hut from where we were locating ourselves. There was still plenty of room and more shade left under the hut after we sat down. But once they looked over and saw we were sitting nearby, they started getting quite upset. They actually accused us of stealing their shade! Funny, I thought the beaches in the Dominican were all public??? J. On the bright side, we did meet a couple from England who we enjoyed sitting with almost every day, who had no problem what so ever in sharing “their” shade. Too bad for the other folks who missed out on meeting some new people, eh? Oh well, it was some good entertainment for another group sitting nearby watching all of this unfold. What a laugh!

The beach security would start stacking up the loungers around 3pm. They are also responsible for picking up and returning the plastic cups to the bar throughout the day. We witnessed them toss the straws into the sand on a regular occasion. As a result the beach is littered with straws. Really sad.

Rooms: We were in the Catalina building on the third floor in a junior suite. The room was quite outdated and had 2 double beds and not the king we had requested. Since our flight was delayed leaving Toronto our check-in was at 2am. We could hear loud music playing from a disco, or so we assumed. We attempted to be reassigned to another room but as usual were told nothing was available and to come back in the morning for a room change. Of course, when we did this we were told that still no other room was available and we could try again the next day. As the second night we were not disturbed by the music, we decided to stay put. It actually turned out great as we faced the Barceló complex but the angle of our room turned us towards the green space behind the sports center on the beach, so it was quite private.

The junior suite is a fair size and ours had vaulted ceilings as we were on the top floor. When we checked out on our final day, we used the courtesy room which was a junior suite in the Saona building on the main floor. The room was updated in fixtures, had a king bed, over looked the wedding gazebo, had a smaller closet, didn’t have the vaulted ceilings, and was quite a bit smaller square foot.

Funny thing about the 2 main buildings, there is only one entrance to the building. If you are assigned a room at the top end, possibly with a glimpse of the ocean, you have to walk to the other end to exit the building. A pain if you are headed to the beach for the day. It’s a small thing, but it would have been nice.

Housekeeping was great except 1 day there were no clean towels left and after a day at the sandy beach, it is necessary to have a shower before dinner. It took 1 ½ hours, many phone calls and trips to the front desk before towels were produced. I still can’t explain it.

In the bathroom there are little signs that suggest to conserve clean water you can choose to hang up your towels and reuse them. As I don’t change my bath towel at home each day, I am more than willing to participate in these types of programs. Unfortunately, I don’t think housekeeping is aware of the program as towels were changed each day, regardless of where they were left.

The water in the taps is not safe to drink but they suggest that you can brush your teeth with out ill effects. Experience has taught me to use the purified water to brush my teeth. However, we did get a little concerned of the 4 liter jugs of water left in the bar fridge as we noticed that the same jug was reused once it became empty. The scary thing was that a sealed cap (you know the blue ones with the tabs that break once the bottle is opened) was put back on the jug. It actually could be removed intact by lifting it off the jug. We asked about this but couldn’t get a straight answer. There were water coolers around the complex so some suggested that they refilled the water from there. As we are cautious of getting sick, we managed to get 500ml bottles left in our room instead.

Playa Dorada Complex:
We were choosing between this hotel and the Iberostar Costa Dorada hotel. We decided on this hotel as it is located within the gated complex. We felt that it would be a safer location for going off resort and also it is within walking distance to the golf course. We enjoyed the complex and often took the bicycles from the hotel and rode around for some exercise and change of scene. The bicycles are an adventure in themselves, they appear to be at various stages of repair and the resort should consider replacing them. We saw people from other resorts with much newer bikes and they would give us such looks of pity! Anyway, made for some laughs, that’s for sure! Having the golf course run through the complex was interesting. Although it’s posted not to enter, we did anyway. Having met several caddies over our stay, they would welcome you and as long as you didn’t interfere with the golfers on the course, no one really minded that much. Same goes for walking around as well. There are several restaurants and discos throughout the complex that we did not use. The shopping center is located just before you reach the GV entrance, so it’s quite convenient. There is several tour companies located in the center but we chose not to use their services. There are lots of shops to browse and you could likely find anything you needed, but at a price I’m sure. If you don’t like the haggle games, you could get plenty of souvenirs to take home from there. The golf course pro shop has a small selection of hats and clothing along with the usual assortment golf equipment at pretty decent prices. In fact, my husband needed a new hat and after touring the shopping mall and settling on one for $20 US he found a much better quality (and looking!) hat at the pro shop for $25.

Throughout the complex there are taxi’s, horse and buggy rides and tour company reps offering their services. Be prepared to politely say no thanks and they will leave you alone for the most part. It was quite funny several times to be riding the bikes and have a taxi driver ask if you wanted to go into town. Not sure why they would think you would be headed that way on the bikes, but hey, he’s got to earn his living!

Golf Course:
My husband is the golfer in our family. We always go somewhere near a course and try to book a resort that either includes or offers a discount as some of these courses can be quite expensive. Our travel brochure listed a 10% discount for GV guests. I also checked the courses website and discovered they have multiple round packages available. I emailed for some specific rates and received an answer for my first question but when I replied back for further details, we never got an answer back. When we checked with the hotel’s front desk, we were actually surprised to find the hotel offered a 20% discount – even better for once (or so we thought!). We arrived at the course with our discount ticket in hand only to find out that it could not be used in combination with the discounted package deals. In fact, the discounted package deals were 20% off the regular price. So really, we were getting the same deal as the next guy; staying at this hotel had no impact what so ever on the golf. My research really failed me this time. We golfed anyway (how could you not?). The course itself was in pretty good condition. Another golfer we teamed up with who is a frequent traveler to this area commented on our price experience as they always have a deal that changes when you get to the counter… years of experience there my friend!

The package was $350 US for the 5 rounds and the cart cost an additional $35 US each day. You have to hire a caddy regardless if you are walking or paying extra for a cart. The cost was $15 US payable directly to the caddy office and the pro shop made it very clear that they were no way what so ever connected to the caddies but at the same time they enforced the mandatory caddy rule. Hum, there must be more to this story. My husband played a total of 5 rounds. I jointed him for 3 rounds but only as a rider as I don’t golf. A bonus of this course is that I didn’t incur any extra rider only costs. The other 2 times he golfed he also took a cart so the caddy didn’t have to carry his golf bag. At the end of the round it is customary to tip your caddy for his service. Signs are posted that tips are at your discretion. Sadly, when my husband gave the caddy the tip, it was often met with a little comment and implication that it wasn’t enough. The 3 times I was present I witnessed this and was quite taken back. I’m not sure what other golfers were giving as tips but we did feel our amount was quite generous. I know he would have tipped slightly more if the caddy was carrying his bag, but it didn’t justify the behaviour.

Tours:
We only did the one tour to Paradise Island. Snorkelling is my thing. One thing they don’t warn you (and also instruct you not to share with others at your hotel) is that it takes a long time to get there and even longer to get back to the hotels. We were picked up at our hotel lobby at 7am. There were others already on the bus that we learned were picked up at 6am. We then proceeded to stop at 2 other hotels (Iberostar and the Rui chain) before reaching the boat launch. You are loaded up into speed boats in groups of 10 – 15 or so. They insist you were lifejackets. However, the jackets provided merely slip around your neck and most only had 1 working buckle at the neck. If you went overboard, I seriously doubt it would help keep you afloat. Anyway, the ride out to the island is about 35-45 minutes. They teased us by saying if we were lucky we might see dolphins or even whales. No such luck. The island is small. Really it is more of a sandbar than “an island”. There is no vegetation but they have erected several huts to set up camp. There are several tour companies who use the island simultaneously so each group is set up in a specific hut. Sandwiches and open bar are set up as well as for those who don’t have gear, they provide it. We purchased our tour from the Sunwing rep at the hotel for $90 US each. He told us that breakfast was included. As we are picked up at 7am we understood this to mean something would be served on the bus (a bun or something). Nothing is brought out until you reach the island so make sure to take something from the buffet the night before to tie you over. It was mid morning before we could get something (ham or cheese on a bun). The snorkelling was not bad. They lead you out through the reef and one of the guides dives down and baits the fish. There are hundreds of fish all around you! Very cool. The reef is not as colourful as you’d like to see it. Hopefully, it is not dying, but it wouldn’t surprise me as there must have been 80-90 people there on that day and the tour runs 6 days a week. The guides baiting the fish carry the bait in plastic wrap. The first time I noticed it in the water I thought it was a jellyfish. However, when they are done with the bait, they let the plastic go in the ocean. As we made our way around the reef, we saw it happening again, and again. Really too bad as they brief you before you get to the island that in order to protect the natural habitat of the reef, you are not allowed to removed or touch anything in the ocean. Sad.

Following the approximately 2 hours on the island you are loaded back into your speed boat to travel over to the coastline to see the mangroves. I did a mangrove boat tour once in Margarita Island, and it was a blast. Traveled through lagoons, saw lots of wildlife, the guide would stop at the shore and show you shrimp and starfish. However, this part of the trip seemed to be about going as fast as possible and getting the tourists as soaked as they could. You couldn’t take pictures as the waves were crashing over the side of the boat. Your dry clothing you had hoped to change into was now soaked. I guess it might be considered fun for some, but I didn’t care for it at all. Once they reach the shore, they do slow down, but there are really no lagoons, only pockets of coves where they drive into so you can get up close to the mangroves. They stop and explain the importance of the mangroves to you which is interesting, but it is all over in about 15 minutes and they are off as fast as they can go again. You end up at their beach facility where they serve a decent lunch with open bar (beer extra for some reason). You can get somewhat cleaned up (outdoor shower) and washrooms where you can put on your soaked clothing for the bus ride back. The bus ride back takes you through the rugged natural park that you are in. The road is dirt, so quite a rough ride! They stop part way back at a shop where you can buy the same souvenirs you see everywhere and they make a big deal out of the mamajuana. Cigars are rolled in the hut to the right of the building, beyond the washrooms. After 30-45 minutes, you are back on the bus headed for the hotels. We arrived back at our lobby around 5pm. Interesting day, nice to see some of the country side, but way too long of a day for an hour of snorkelling.

Would we go back?
Although we don’t think this is a bad place and don’t want anyone to think we are saying to stay away, no we would not return to this resort. Perhaps one day we’ll try the Punta Cana area if we decide to return to The Dominican. But we think there are better resorts (bang for your buck) in Mexico or Jamaica in our past experiences.
Gran Ventana
Sally & Kevin 
Ottawa,Canada
February 2008
We stayed at the Gran Ventana resort from January 30th to Febuary 13th 2008.

The resort is very beautiful and very clean.We stayed in the soauna block room 1330,the room was very spacious and the maid who was a sweetheart kept it very clean.We left a note requesting extra beer and water in our fridge everyday along with 2 dollars and our fridge was kept well stocked.

The food was good and plentiful always a large selection.At breakfast there is an omelette station where you can also get eggs,also try out the smoothie bar.

We tried all 3 ala carte resturants the octupus and the Italian were our favourites while the ocean grill sat right on the beach the food was just okay.Service in all the resturants including the buffet was very good.

All staff were very freindly & helpful a big mention to Jackie at the quiet pool during the day,she is so funny,a great sense of humour and fun to be around.

We went to puerto plata for a tour,rum factory,amber museum,the port but the highlight was the cable car.Once up the top you have an amazing view of puerto plata and the ocean,there is a statue of jesus and lots of wonderful platation and gardens(go on a clear day you can see for miles) The evening entertainment was hit & miss loved the African show along with the dominican and the hits from the past.The entertainment team work all day untill 11pm and are always smiling i do not know where they get there energy from.

We loved our stay at the Gran Ventana as did my parents who travelled from England to meet us there.We are all planning on returning next Febuary.
Gran Ventana
Harry 
USA
February 2008
Arrival - Good went in January 8

Rooms - Good

Restaurants - very good. as a previous guest victoria and mexican restaurants were available and outstanding

Bars - OK

Beach and Pools - pool water cold but everything was nice

Grounds - Very Nice

Activities - Good

Conclusion - had a very bad experience at a nearby paradise casino. run by scam artists of the highest degree. obviously not controlled by any gaming commission and they will take full advantage of you!! i would strongly suggest staying away!! as a matter of fact the moment you leave the hotel grounds be aware as many things occur immediately. prostitution is prevalent. cab drivers are suspect . i will not return to the dominican. i have had too many bad experiences
Gran Ventana
TK & WH 

February 2008
What a wonderful feeling leaving all that snow behind for Christmas in the DR. We left on Dec 22/07 from Toronto, and when we checked in at airport for a 6:10am flight, it was already delayed 1 hr. We were then delayed another hour, as when our plane finally arrived, they were in such a hurry to unload it, the baggage crew took one of the trailer bins of the departing luggage and 50+ bags that should have been on our flight were going round & round on the baggage claim carousel. Once we got on our way, 2 hrs late, the rest of the flight was fine. No one else was in the POP airport, so getting through was no problem. It was so much fun to be greeted by the band that is always in the hall on the way to immigration, especially playing their island version of "Dashing through the snow"

We got to the resort quickly, only 20 minutes from airport. The reception area had a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, there was a lovely nativity area set up and huge Nutcracker Soldiers. It did seem odd to us to see all the decorations knowing that Christmas was only 3 days away and we were only dressed in shorts & tank top (not too hard to get used to) They had special wristbands for us as we were repeat guest. (they said they had heard about us and these bracelets meant no alcohol at the bars....LOL) The reception staff were VERY attentive and friendly and a great big smile for us. As usual the rooms weren't ready until later in the afternoon but no problem, we were in bathing suits and poolside with cold drink in hand within 30 minutes of arrival at resort.

Our room was in the Catalina building (were we requested) and only 2 doors down from our room on our last visit, so location was just perfect. The rooms are plenty roomy enough and kept well cleaned. We had a lovely fruit tray and bottle of rum waiting for us, with a lovely note welcoming us back. Our maid made us fancy towels swans etc, which enhanced our Christmas decorations that we put up for a festive feeling.

The main buffet restaurant had a huge decorated tree in it as well and the tables all had little poinsettia flowers in vases. It was so nice to see a familiar face, Enrique still in the buffet restaurant, and he was so happy to see us again. He even came over and helped sing Happy Birthday to me the first night at dinner, it was very sweet. They put on a HUGE GALA buffet for Christmas Eve, it was really nice. Although we had to stand in line earlier in the week to sign up to get our pick of times. The waiters all had red Christmas bows on their dress shirts that night and we were escorted to our tables that had lovely Christmas tablecloths on it. I've never seen quite a buffet display as this, down in the DR. There were apples, pears, nuts, candies, desserts just overflowing and beautiful ice sculptures throughout. There was so much food, I especially enjoyed the shrimp and lobster. The beach restaurant was just a fantastic for lunch with a view. It had your basics everyday, hotdogs/hamburgs, fries, chicken, pizza, soup, salad.

Christmas Eve day was a so much fun!!! Kids and adults alike (me included) ran around with Santa hats, reindeer headbands on. Christmas songs with a bachata beat never sounded so good. Santa visited the kids that night at the show and we were treated to live bachata, merengue, reggae music.

The staff were fantastic as always. Jorge and Eva at the pool/swimup bar were just awesome, then Pasqual at the lobby bar, it just amazing with all the people that they do remember want you want. They all made Christmas away from home (I do consider the DR my home away from home) an awful lot of fun. We met people there to celebrate Christmas, from all over ie. England, Iceland, Holland and fellow Canadians. Everybody was very nice and was just enjoying the celebrations.

The beach was lovely, always being cleaned in the mornings when I went for a walk. I love the beach for walking and viewing but it got far to windy to sit down there. I spent more time trying to keep the sand out of my drink, my eyes, and everywhere else.

I highly recommend this resort, its so well located, close to the airport, right on the beach, steps away from the plaza. Can't wait to go back in April for a third visit.
Gran Ventana
Kate 
Canada
February 2008
Arrival - Great flight, flew Air Canada, arrived in Puerto Plata, customs a breeze as usual, no problems.

Rooms - Stayed in the Beta Building, rooms where wonderful, had great view of pool. This area is much less busy than the main resort. Check in was easy and very quick.

Restaurants - Didn't feel the need to go to any of them, found the food in the buffet very good.

Bars - Prompt service, you get what you ask for. Do bring thermal mugs, the only way to keep drinks cold!!

Beach and Pools - The beach is about 3 times wider than our last visit. What a difference, alot more people on beach. It was clean and well kept. Always lots of lounges.

Grounds - The grounds are gorgeous, don't know how they keep everything so clean. Never seen any garbage laying around, every thing kept very tidy.

Conclusion - We love this resort, have been there 5 times and will go back again. The food, accomodation,the drinks and the atmosphere is just great.
Gran Ventana
Mike and Marilyn 

February 2008
We got married on Feb 5, 2008.
Wedding coordinator was great.
My mom and I met with her the day before the wedding and decided on flowers, etc.
Groom went on an excursion that day before and the morning of the wedding.
Price was exactly what we were told.
Pictures were perfect. We got 24 5"x7" and a disc with all of our pictures for $400.
We had dinner at the Italien restaurant. we had the terrance which is covered. All 52 of us got to pick off the menu what we wanted to eat. Which was perfect. They even made a special dinner for my nephew who has allergies. They made a sponge cake for the wedding that was big enough for everyone to have a piece. no extra charge. Instead of champagne we had a local drink made up to serve a the gazebo where the wedding took place. At the gazebo the hotel had the ceremony, first dance to two guitar players, small speech by groom and dads, cake cutting by wedding party. So afterwards the video guy left but everything was recorded.
While we got pictures the guests went to the quiet bar/pool area where the restaurant was and had a drink. After dinner as there is no disco we watched the entertainment, a little on the corny side and then danced to the music they played afterwards. It wasn't a late night as the bar closes with the music at about 12am. overall everything was perfect. Just no real dance if that is important. Wasn't to us as we having a dance in our hometown. We purchased travel mugs for everyone which was a big hit. Since not everyone knew each other before arriving it allowed everyone to know who was with the wedding group. They were drinking out of the same mugs.
Gran Ventana
Debbie 

January 2008
Just got back from a great vacation in Puerto Plata at Gran Ventana.

Flight - we traveled with Signature Vacation and flew via Sky Service from Toronto. If you're looking for edible food - bring your own. They served us some kind of egg sandwich with uncooked turkey bacon - disguisting. Flight home was the same - disgusting sandwich with grey turkey meat - yuk. Other than that the airport in the Dominican is very quick to go through - no hold ups. Some of the Canadians waiting in line on the way home were quite inpatient as there were only 3 counters open (not like in TO where there about 20). Don't know what everyone was in a big rush for - chill out!

Check in - quick ride to the hotel (15 min.) and check in was a breeze. We had our luggage in our room in 5 minutes. Check out was fast as well. They were very accomodating in our room request (as we had asked for 2 rooms near each other as we were traveling with our children)

Resort - very clean, staff were excellent (although I was very surprised that most of the staff were male - but there were awesome!). There is the main hotel that has two sections of rooms - The Catalina and Sanoa building which are around the main pool and then there is a 3rd section with the "quiet pool" away from all the action. Couple words of advise - take a travel mug as the drinks come in tiny 5 oz cups and you'd have to drink 3 to get a whole beer. There are plenty of loungers by the pool and it didn't matter what time of day you went there, you could always find a seat. The staff were great, inviting people to join the activities but not to the point of harassing people like in other resorts that I have been in. The week that we were there it was filled with Germans, Sweds, & British people - Canadians definately were a minority. All I can say is that there was an over abundance of topless women. There is no disco or night club in this resort so if you are looking to go dancing after the entertainment you will have to either go into the city or down the street to Coco Bongo. There is a shopping plaza at the entrance to the resort complex (5 min. walk) where you can get lots of things. You won't get as good as price as on the beach though. If you walk along the beach towards Puerto Plata (20 min) you will run into the orange flea market and you will get your best deals here - "happy hour today - cheapy cheapy!

Beach - was beautiful and clean unlike others that we saw on our walks that had plastic cups everywhere and looked dirty. There is a small coral reef right in front of the resort that you can snorkel in. The fish are amazing, just watch out for the sea urchins. Take some break or banana from the restaurant and feed them. There are vendors that walk the beach but if you say no, they won't bother you at all. Prices were ok.

Food - the main restaurant was ok. I am not a picky eater so I was able to find at least a few things that were fine. It is what it is - food produced on mass, cafeteria style. I would highly recommend that if you would like table service you book in one of the 3 other restaurants that are included in the resort - but book them when you get there as they book out 4-5 days in advance. Unfortunately we never got to each at any as we left it too late to reserve.

Excursions - do not hesitate to buy excursions off the vendors at the beach, they are much cheaper than through the hotel or your vacation group. We did the Jeep Safari for $50 pp. The was amazing and I would highly recommend for the adventurer at heart. Caution - the waterfall walk and climb is quite the adventure so if you don't like extreme don't walk up the falls. You will need closed toe shoes and if you don't have them you have to rent them for $2 US when you get there. They helmets and lift jackets are provided. They also take you through the countryside to "mama's house" to see how coffee is made, you stop for lunch to have a true Dominican meal which was better food than the hotel. We were lucky as we got to go through Puerto Plata on our way to pick up people from another hotel so we got to see it.l You also go to a reptile place and get to hold a boa and turantula. It was fully worth the money and an entire day of laughs (8:30 am - 5pm). We also did the banana boat catamaran for $55 pp. Try to book your trips through the same person and bargin with them. The day was great, sailing was amazing, went to Susoa Bay and snorkeled over the reef. Lunch was good and you could drink all you wanted. We left around 9:30 and got back around 3pm.

I found the Dominican a bit pricey (souviners, etc) more so than Mexico or Cuba. As a family of 4 (2 of which are teenagers), we spent $1000 while we where there, no problem.
Gran Ventana
cjoxheyboy1 

October 2007
well we have just got back 16th oct and have both had a wonderfull holiday in a fantastic hotel.the gran ventana was perfect.from the bellboys to the manager everyone just so friendly.the minute we arrived everyone was there to help.check in was smooth, the room in the sanoa block room 1323 top floor sea view was exellent clean fresh bedding cool beer in the fridge along with a pepsi and sprite.the shower was also a suprise it was hot water all day unlike some we have stayed in.the food was very good in the restaurants to we could find something to eat at every meal(and im very picky)but not a problem here in any of the restaurants.the hotel entertainment team were superb never stopped working (dont miss the playback show or michael jackson)both by far the best shows .dont worry about reports of lack of sunbeds we got two every day any time of the day with plenty to spare.my only complaint was that younger children were not entertained as much during the day as we were they l ooked pretty bored after a couple of hours in the pool.the games were very much orientated to the grown ups .to sum it all up would we go back 100per cent yes tomorrow if we could 10/10........
Gran Ventana
Dina 
Canada
July 2007
We just came back from Puerta Plata and stayed at the Gran Ventana Hotel. Hotel was beautiful, clean, gorgeous resort. We had stayed in the Playa Dorada Complex before so we knew where this hotel was. The staff is wonderful.

Rooms are great. We got a room in the Catalina Building and had a view of the beach which was nice. My only complaint would be the food. One of the a la carte restaurants was great but the other 2 were horrible. The buffet was awful. Breakfast wasn't so bad but the lunch and dinners weren't all that great. We would have our lunch at the restaurant at the beach everyday and it was same stuff everyday. The buffet for dinner was horrible.

I would definitely go back to Puerta Plata but I would stay at a different hotel. I've been to the Dominican 5 times and would definitely go back.
Gran Ventana
Tanya 

May 2007
My boyfriend and I stayed at the Gran Ventana from March 23-30, 2007. This was our first time in the Caribbean and it will definitely not be our last. I've already started planning the next trip!

Flight - We flew from Halifax, NS, with Signature Vacations and everything went very smoothly. I was surprised at the snacks that they gave us, a good portion of food and it actually tasted ok. When we left Dominican, the plane was boarded early and we almost missed the flight so even though there are a lot of shops to keep you entertained while waiting in the airport, I'd recommend being in the pre-boarding area early.

Check- in/out - We arrived at the resort around 11:00am and even though this is well before regular check in time we were given a room right away. Everyone was very polite and we weren't in our room that long before our luggage was there. Our room was on the second floor and when we stood on the balcony we could see the pool to our right and the beach to our left so it was a perfect room for us. Check out also went very well.

Resort - The resort is beautiful, it's small so it doesn't take long to walk around it and only takes about 2 mins to walk to the beach. It's kept very clean, it rained a few times while we were there and there were always workers out sweeping the water away and keeping everything beautiful. There are 2 pools, we only went in the main pool and that was just because we wanted to use the swim up bar. There were never any line ups at the bars, maybe only 1 or 2 people ahead of you and the drinks were amazing, make sure to get the Banana Mama, yum! For any Canadians make sure you go to Canadian Tire and buy the Bubba Kegs, they keep your drink cold for hours and it limits your trips to the bar. We normally went to the pool bar, the bartender there was really good and always put as much rum as we wanted in our kegs. The staff are all so friendly and there is a good staff/guest ratio, for anyone who goes make sure you say “hi” to Ruby, Chocolate and especially Julio…. (we miss you Julio!! –he’ll be the little guy running around saying, “Oh my God!!”). They are amazing and made our time at the resort so much fun. It’s crazy though that you will see the same people working from early morning to late at night when the evening shows are done. The only complaint that I have about the resort is the bathroom in our room had a leaky ceiling; it wasn’t bad and only seemed to happen when it rained but other than that our room was very nice. (our friends who stayed at the room down from us never had a problem) That aside, we would never go to any other resort in Puerto Plata except Gran Ventana. We felt it was the best place and based on all the comments from others on the plane who stayed at other resorts, we definitely were right!! Gran Ventana Rocks!!

Entertainment – The staff always put on great shows in the evenings and with most of them involving the audience. My boyfriend and I and the couple that we went with were part of the entertainment most evenings. There were contests; guys against girls, guys competing to be the Gran Ventana sheriff (my boyfriend won that one) and lots of dancing. We laughed non-stop and loved every minute of the entertainment; just make sure you end it by walking on the beach at midnight, that really makes the evening unforgettable.

Food/Restaurants - The buffet was amazing!! Especially the breakfast, they had everything to choose from. We were never disappointed with the food at the buffet, there was always a huge selection and it tasted great, make sure to try the ice cream -that was to die for. We did try the 3 a la Carte Restaurants and enjoyed those too, nice to get dressed up and get served at these fancy restaurants with free flowing wine. The Italian was ok, we enjoyed the Seafood restaurant more (try the Shrimp/Chicken soup) and our favourite was the Ocean Grill restaurant, we got Salmon steak and it was delicious, just watch out for the small bones. It really spoils you for when you come home and have to start cooking your own meals again. (note: many people on the plane complained about the food at the other resorts next to us so we were really happy that we picked Gran Ventana…their food was awesome!!)

Beach - We loved how the resort was right on the beach and the water on that area of the beach was the best! (Gran Ventana beach was by far the best) We walked up and down both sides of the beach and to the left, especially in front of Tropical Playa Dorada, there was a lot of seaweed. On our beach though, there was nothing but clear water and no jellyfish or anything in the water to worry about. They also regularly have a tractor going up and down the beach cleaning anything that does wash in from the ocean. There are lots of vendors on the beach too but if you politely say “no, gracias” they would leave you alone. I actually liked the vendors; it was fun doing some shopping on the beach and bartering for the price you want. If you want to buy some stuff from the locals, I’d recommend walking to the left down the beach about 15 mins and there is a nice flea market. We got a lot of nice things there. Or if you prefer a mall atmosphere, a 5 min walk down the main road will take you to a plaza with lots of really nice shops. You will actually get some things cheaper here, for example we bought a painting on the beach for $35 and then at the mall we bought one for $20.

Off Resort Excursions – We went to Ocean World and even though the Dolphin Swim is a bit expensive, I’m sooo glad we did it. Being able to touch the dolphins, have your picture taken with them and then be pulled by 2 dolphins though the water was an experience we’ll never forget. The park also has a little tropical rain forest to walk through, a Tiger Grotto, a tank to Snorkel in and a nice gift shop. I’d recommend watching both the Sea Lion and Shark shows; it’s amazing what they can do. We booked on-line a few weeks before we left and paid when we got to the resort, this included transportation to and from Ocean World but not the buffet lunch while there, that was $12 each. We also took a day to go on the Outback Jungle Safari We seen a lot of the local countryside, one stop was going through a typical Dominican home and we stopped at a school. We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant, got to hold a (small) crocodile and then we took a wooden boat down a river. We also went to a private beach and tried boogie boarding, that was so much fun and this beach was beautiful. I would highly recommend this day trip; it shows the real beauty of the DR.
Gran Ventana
Manuela 

May 2007
Now i´m back from 2 tweek Gran Ventana. It was great. Like all the times before too. I stayed now at all 7th time in this area. 3th time in Victoria Resort and 4th time in gran ventana. this are the same company.
The Hotel is very nice, clean and beautiful with all the flowers.
The People from Recepetion, Restaurant, Bar are allways so friendly and helpful.
A lot of things to eat and so great.
The drinks are the best sometimes too strong :-)
The rooms are big and clean too.

The Entertainment work a lot and hard. 6 days for less money.
They make all the time a great time with Everybody. Love greetings to Chocolate, Ruby, Julio, Pepé, Kojak, Hiro, Rita, Jesé, Angel, Carlos, Rolando, Ramon, Mandy, Polanco and the Entertainmentbos Fernando. And it´s right if they say: Animation-Ecellenté.

love greetings also to Maureen from Ontario
Gran Ventana
Wayne and Sara 
Ontario, Canada
April 2007
We stayed at the Gran Ventana April 14 - 21st. We requested an oceanview on the 2nd or 3rd floor away from the Beate Building and that is exactly what we recieved. Oceanview, 2nd floor, Saona Building.

We have absolutely nothing but praise for our stay. The food at the buffet was amazing, as was the food at the Octopus Resturant and the Sapore di Mare Resturant. Our room was always clean with extra touches like towel swans and single flowers placed on the bed. The hotel grounds were constantly being groomed and the lobby areas were constantly being cleaned. The grounds workers even when as far as scubbing the cement walkway around the wedding gazebo before laying out the red carpet for each of the weddings held there (four that we know of). All of the staff was incredibly friendly and tried to meet our every need. Thony and Bert, our contacts with Signature Vacations, were available to answer questions and book our tours and help in anyway they could.

The vendors on the beach were consistant and somewhat persistant but usually a simple 'no gracias' sent them on their way. The beach itself was the cleanest of all the beaches - we walked 45 minutes each direction from our hotel more than once during our stay so we can honestly say we compared ours to those neighbouring on either side.

We went scuba diving - arranged through Paul near the towel hut. Our two dives were 80ft and 50ft deep, with amazing visibility. Our dive guides were very helpful with our equipment and made sure the dives were safe and enjoyable.

Outback Jungle Safari - what can we say - Rudy and Scooby were just incredible. We did this tour on Tuesday - the only day it rained all week. Rudy could not have been a better guide. He made the pouring rain so much fun. It cleared up in the afternoon for the boogy boarding in Cabarete. Scooby knows where every bump in the road is (and made sure he hit them all) and sure knows how to 'doctor up' a pepsi. This tour was very educational as well and fun. Next year we will be sure to bring lots of school supplies and candy for the children - they have so little. If Rudy is your guide, be sure to ask about the carwash!!

The Northern Highlights tour was okay. I would have liked longer at the fort to learn more about the history and much less time in Susua - the vendors there are so pushy - almost demanding - it was difficult to get away. But the beach was nice as was the lunch served at the resturant . The Rum Factory, Amber Museum and the Cigar factory were interesting as was the short walk we took down the street and back again. Again - the store keepers seemed a little too eager to have you come into their store. We were met by a couple of Haitian ladies who really wanted us to buy thier goods but we didn't. One tied some beads on my wrist and asked for a couple of pesos for her trouble - I guess tieing those knots was hard work - anyway Wayne had a 100 peso bill (just over $3 US) and gave it to her, she was so happy she literally danced down the street. Next year we will take a more history based tour.

We have only one complaint about our stay - we had to come home.

Would we recommend this resort? Absolutely!! Would be book this resort again? We are already planning for our stay next year - same hotel but twice as long.

Thanks to all those who left reviews, they help us decide where to stay and we hope anyone who goes to this resort has as wonderful a stay as we did.
Gran Ventana
Dara and Gerri 

April 2007
We just returned from a 7 day stay at the Gran Ventana, I have to say this is one of the nicest resorts that I have had the opportunity to stay at. Some of the sights rated it at 4 1/2 * some at a 4*. We felt that is was definelty a 4 1/2. First of all it has 3 pools, one is for kids, the main pool does get very busy but if you want to get away from all the hubbub then go to the quiet pool. There is plenty to choose from at the main buffet and also if you wish, there are 3 a la carts. We chose to go to the Italian and beach grill for our a la carts and were not dissappointed.

The staff were very friendly and always there if you needed them. I had requested a room with a king size bed about 2 weeks before we left, when we got to the resort we were told because of our request we would have to wait about 2 hours for the room to be ready. This certainly was not a problem with us as we had bathing suits in our carry on luggage and the bell hop looked after our luggage for us until the room was ready. We were in the Catalina Bld. on the 2nd floor with a virew of the ocean,very nice. The mini fridge was stalked daily with water, pop and beer and if for some reason the maid forgot to fill it all we had to do was call the front desk and it was there.

Friends of ours were in the Beata Bdg., and did have a problem with the noise coming from Hemmingways Bar every night, as said before it can be hard to get a good nights sleep if you are in this building. So recommend trying to get in one of the other 2 buildings.

All in all we have to say this is a great resort, very kid friendly as well, so if you are planning a vacation to take your kids with you this is the palce to go. Great food, Great fun just a Great place, will definetly go back.
Gran Ventana
 

March 2007
We stayed at the Gran Ventana from March 3 - March 10, 2007.

First of all, Kudos to Ella from Wholesale Travel.com who booked our trip for us. I had dealt with her before in 2005 and have to say, she is friendly, quick and efficient. She was the person who recommended this resort to us the first time, and I thank her for this. She knows her stuff!

This is our second time to this resort, the first time we went was in 2005. We brought some friends with us this time (another couple) so there was 4 of us. Two couples in the mid-forty age range. I have to say it was an awesome resort then, and it's even better now. You can tell it's grown in popularity because there were certainly alot more people there.

Our check-in at the TO airport, getting on the plane, the flight,(Skyservice) disembarking, getting luggage, immigration was smooth as silk. We didn't waste any time, as soon as we found our bus, we each had our customary "Presidente" beer to get cooled off - after coming from this cool Canadian weather, the humidity and warmth is a shocker, but I'm not complaining. Within minutes we were arriving at the GV, checked in, and although they said our room wouldn't be ready until after 2, we didn't care. (we got there at noon, check in time IS 3pm) we headed for the bar. It didn't take long, after a few drinks, and we were checking into our room. We had 1124 and 1125 in the Saona Building, first floor, and I had sent an email requesting a king size bed for us, and they granted our request.

First of all, I cannot believe that anyone could think of anything negative about the resort, or the Dominican people for that matter. I have seen some comments to the negative about vendors, or taxi drivers outside the resort. Vendors in the mall. Hey...wake up folks....this is their LIVELIHOOD....this is all these people have, and they work hard to earn it. They are poor by our standards, quit complaining and take pleasure in their eagerness to please. The sooner you do this, the happier you'll be!!

We like to give honorable mention to Rocky, who works in the buffet area. What a sweet, wonderful guy. He made great buds with my boyfriend, and when we made mention of the fact that my boyfriend's birthday was in a couple of days, he remembered. He reserved our "favorite table" and sprinkled it with flower pedals. We also ordered a cake at the guest services counter in the Beta building. The staff sang happy birthday, my boyfriend was pleasantly suprised.

Honorable mention at this point goes to the young man working at the swim up bar. I do not remember his name, but it starts with an "M" (Marcianno I think) and he was amazing. We made sure both he and Rocky got "rewarded" before the week ended. They both were very, very grateful!

The animation team has totally changed, but even so, they sure work hard. They are there sun-up until sun-down, and they deserve great praise. I wish I had their energy. Like to say hello to "Coca-Cola" and "Mosquito"...they were awesome.

We took in 2 ala cartes. The Ocean Grill and the Italian. Both were great, but it wouldn't matter much to me, I would be happy with the buffet all the time. The food is even better than I remembered, and what variety! My favorite meal was breakfast, no man, woman or child would go hungry this time of day. There was something for everyone. Food was hot and fresh.Omlettes, scrambled eggs, waffles, cereal. Fresh coffee....you name it, they had it all.

A highlight of our trip was the Outback Safari. It was awesome. You get a glimpse of the life of DR and Cabarete beach, a boat ride, a tiny alligator. Hats off to our guide "Junior" and driver "jose" they were awesome. Junior adopted us right away, lovingly named us "Junior's family" oh we had a blast. Nice as well to know the money you pay, some of it goes to the local school etc. Good job guys! Thanks for an awesome time! (stay away from the CAR WASH....)

The grounds at GV are beautiful as always, we had sun all week, a little rain, but all in all, another fantastic week. The only thing we neglected to do is to tell them we were "repeat offenders" so we could get the VIP treatment, but we'll remember, because we'll be back.

Departure: heh, well, they messed up the time the bus was leaving by an hour. Had some angry people. Huge lines at the airport. Who cares! It was a little annoying, but certainly not the fault of the GV staff. These things happen. All in all, a geat vacation!! I will be back to Gran Ventana for sure!
Gran Ventana
Francis & Ellen 
Nova Scotia, Canada
March 2007
We had been to the Gran Ventana resort last March, and actually hadn’t booked for it this year, attempting to go to Wyndham Viva Tangerine instead, since we wanted to get back to the Cabarete area. However, two evenings before our flight (and just the evening before we left for an overnight in Halifax to be closer to the airport) we got a call from SellOff Vacations informing us that there was flooding at Viva Tangerine and we were being offered alternate accommodation. That was, of course, a shock at that point. Fortunately we were offered the Gran Ventana as apparently the only option, other than being offered a refund of our money. Agents should realize, of course, that refunds a day or so before you depart, when you have booked off vacation time, have your bags all packed, etc., is not a reasonable alternative! We had been to Gran Ventana the year before, as mentioned, so knew it was a good resort. I don’t know what we would have done if our only option was the Wyndham Playa Dorada, in the same complex, because I don’t think that resort compares favorably with Gran Ventana or Viva Tangerine.

Anyway, at the last minute we kissed Viva Tangerine good-bye and traveled to Gran Ventana. Skyservice was the airline, something we have not always been happy with in the past (last year we roasted in the rear of the plane all the way home due to faulty air conditioning). The trip down was not that pleasant, but not totally the fault of Skyservice. By chance we were seatmates of a very large gentleman, who unfortunately occupied a section of the middle seat as well as his own. While we sympathize with his difficulties with the ridiculously tight seating conditions of these charter aircraft, it also made for an unpleasant situation for us. I don’t know if Skyservice can take more of a lead in assigning people who require more space to rows with additional leg room and even possibly wider seating…. Not everyone can be accommodated by the tight quarters, and I’m sure he had a very unpleasant trip himself.

The climate control on the way down was a bit on the warm side (which added to our troubles) and although the attendants mentioned it themselves several times and said they would be requesting the pilot to turn on more air, not a lot of change was made until one woman collapsed on the floor waiting for the washroom and they had to give her oxygen. Then suddenly the air became cooler! Hard to think that they are saving on the cooling bill when the outside air temp is -58!

The flight back was quite pleasant, good on space and temperature… one of our most pleasant ones.

Gran Ventana provided a good week, though a little exciting with the weather. We had indications from Raashid from SellOff when he called with the news of our change of resorts that we would have the option of making a switch to Viva Tangerine in mid-week if conditions there allowed (and other customers were told similar things), but when we got to GV, of course, this seemed to be a puzzling concept to everyone, and notions of that rapidly dissolved. We exchanged a couple of emails with Raashid, but our last “Reply” click ended up in an email return that the address did not exist…. ?????

Signature Tours handled the actual stay, and staff on the Resort (Thonny) were very helpful, but seemed out of the loop on the return to Viva Tangerine notion. That seemed to be a SellOff idea. Thonny did fortunately tell us (a couple of days in, our fault) when he discovered that we were at Gran Ventana for the second year that we qualified for the “Fidelity Club” and to go and enable that at the desk. We did that and were issued different armbands and from then on became VIP’s! We were treated to a cocktail party with other Fidelity Club members, visited the sister Victoria Resort near the golf course for a walkabout and meal, got free T-Shirts, and generally seemed to get a little quicker attention when we (accidentally) flashed the white armbands! We were promised a fruit basket, which normally would have been delivered to our rooms the first day, but that never arrived, perhaps due to the fact that we did not discover our status until about day three. Being in the “club” also apparently allows us to pre-book our room or room area if we decide to return to Gran Ventana next year (which we well might do if pricing allows).

Finally--- to the resort. We have little to say bad about it…. We had been there before, and enjoyed it both times. We did a fair amount of walkabout around the other resorts in the area, and frankly would only stay at Gran Ventana or the next door Occidental Grand Flamenco. We managed quite a walkabout of the Grand Flamenco, since a mini-mall shopping area near the GV opens a back corridor onto the main grounds of Grand Flamenco… we walked into there (“lost” for anyone who inquired, but no one did) and walked about the pools and such there… quite impressed, as good as GV. (We later went around to the main entrance to Grand Flamenco and asked if we could go to the desk to get at least a map of their grounds, and were soundly told that we could not even venture that far (while we laughed inside since we had already walked about the place!) An attempt to take a picture of the pool area of the Occidental Allegro from the beach resulted in a rather rude order from the security guard near that area.

The beach at GV seemed superior to that of the others in the area, both in the care they took in cleaning and in the natural location. On either side of us, particularly to the east where the Allegro and other resorts were, there was much more debris onshore each morning, including things as large as tree trunks (probably a particularly bad week for debris due to nightly thunderstorms). The water is tricky and like many northshore beaches, you have to be cautious about drifting out past your depth if you are not a strong swimmer. The waves build in intensity (though nothing like the ones at Cabarete, due to the reef area offshore at GV) and particularly in the afternoon the surface waves take you to shore, but the deeper water (undertow) tends to want to take you out.

We had an unusual time with weather…. Each day began with hot sunny conditions in the morning (thankfully), but developing showers in the later afternoon and particularly evening. On Friday we had a tremendous thunderstorm time, and flooding was considerable. Umbrellas were an early week purchase at the local shopping mall (a convenience of the Playa Dorada area) but even they were not the complete answer as we slopped through ankle-deep water to get to the buffet, as lightning crashed overhead (good time for an umbrella sticking up!). Friday’s rain did a lot of flooding damage to Puerto Plata, and as a result there was a lot of garbage debris washing up on our beach and in the water on Saturday afternoon, ending any swimming for us on our last day. That was a freak occurrence.

Staff were helpful at the GV, and we enjoyed the meals at the buffet (we like variety and will try most anything), and at the two a la cartes that we attended. We were also booked for the Octopus Restaurant, but dropped that on our last evening. Our visit to the Ocean Grill was good, but marred by racing through another thunderstorm to get there, and sitting wet and cold near the shore for the meal (hadn’t purchased the umbrellas at that point). A waiter kindly supplied a tablecloth for my wife to dry herself somewhat.

We like the Playa Dorada complex, since there is shopping within minutes of the resort at the local mall, and the whole area is quite safe, being restricted. We did a few deals with some of the beach sellers, who were not too annoying (the “I got the monkey!” man was still there). One day we walked up the beach to the west and visited the rows of shops at a seller’s complex there. Many of these shops sell the same things, so you make your choices and you make your deals. My wife is troubled by these “deals”, but like many men I like the challenge… realizing, of course, that if they take your deal at all they have made at least a modest profit--- and if you take their original offer, they have made a huge profit!

On the whole, the Gran Ventana is a good resort and offers a nice week. We would return without hesitation in a future year if we find a good deal for it.
Gran Ventana
Bob & Mary-Jane 
Nova Scotia, Canada
March 2007
"In a word = AWESOME !!!"

Gee, where do I start ??,

Check in very good, fast and painless. We called them the day before our flight and requested a second floor room in the Catalina Building, facing the pool and that is what we received. Great room facing pool and pool bar, looking out the balcony window you faced the core of the resort (room 2267).

The food was in my opinion Excellent. The breakfasts, dinners and suppers were great. A huge selection, and very tasty. I spoke with alot of people on my trip and everyone raved about the food, so you should have no complaints there.

CLEAN, that is what I could not get over, just how much time was spent cleaning, a very nice change from my last trip. Every time you looked around there was workers picking up glasses, straws, paper etc. that may have just been left. Every morning the staff would mop and scrub the entire pool and concrete areas.Every second day they would splash what I considered to be possibly an insecticide/antibacterial solution on the entire pool area and they would even go so far as scrub this solution in between the expansion areas of the concrete. This place is clean, clean , clean; certainly NOT understaffed.

The entertainment, staff, food, beach, rooms, pools etc. were first rate. There is absolutely nothing I can add in a negative sense on this resort, and I'm NOT going to add some lame negative example just to say I did. Everyone I met during my stay at this resort boasted about it. I always do some research on a resort before I book it, the Gran Ventana was no exception, people raved about it and now I know why; this is a beautiful, beautiful resort, in my opinion.

I do not know where my next vacation will take my wife and I ?, But I DO know this much !!,,, when I return to Puerto Plata, I WILL be returning to the GRAN VENTANA BEACH RESORT without question !! This place is AWESOME !!!
Gran Ventana
E&G 
Birmingham UK
February 2007
I would just like to write a quick message to thank all the staff who helped to make our Honeymoon a wonderful experience.

Yes ok, the hotel is a little on the tired side but you couldn't fault the cleanliness, the helpfulness of all the staff and how welcome they all made you feel.

Firstly, Ana was our rep from Coco Tours, she was a fantastic girl who helped out with any request even cashing travellers cheques!! And when she wasn't there Thonny would great you and help you out as much as he could and another guy who's name I never got was just as wonderful!! So thank you very much.

The food was great, enough choice even if you are vegitarian, there were fresh veg and salad gallory as well as a number of vegitairian options such as fried plantain etc you just had to look and it was there. The Al carte resturants were gorgeous, the view from the Ocean Grill was romantic and peaceful.

The entertainment staff such as CocaCola, Chocalarta, Simon and the football guy greated you everyday with your name, and made you laugh spending time sitting with you chatting!! And we didn't really spend much time watching the entertainment, althought the husband won most of the ball games on the beach and now I have more coffee than Starbucks!! But they still made the effort.

The weather was perfect, just enough sunshine, no rain and a warm clear sea.

The beach was clean and the Surf Pro guys were equally perfect, thank you to Alfonso in particular!!!

Even the vendors, we had a good giggle with and didn't spend a penny! Its amazing how a little politness and banter works, they even gave up trying to sell us stuff and just stopped by each day to have a chat!!

The only down side to this holiday was I have to say, and I really don't like grouping or sterotyping people but the Canadians in the complex at the time we were there were incredibly rude to the point where, I even saw a younger guy with his family, treat a elder gentleman with such disrespect i.e. offering to take him outside!! that the man was scared to walk past them in the resturant and complete his meal. Further to this the way the staff were treated also by these people was shameful. I am sure that this applies to only a few but it seemed to be the majority and I am sorry if I offend anyone.

on a happier note...... a very big thank you to all that looked after us and made our holiday a wonderful and happy memory. we had a fantastic time.
Gran Ventana
Ruth & Dave 
Addison Ontario
February 2007
Flight: Ottawa to Puerta Plata on Thursday January 4 2007, using Sky Service flight # 5350, with Sunquest. Flight was to leave 4:35pm but was delayed until 5:15pm, thus putting us into Puerta Plata at 10:15pm. Immigration and luggage retrieval was smooth & we were out to meet our transfer within 30minutes.

Arrival: We arrive at the Gran Ventana at 11:05pm and our check-in was smooth as silk. A request for a bottom floor room with king size bed & ocean view was emailed to the resort 5days before our arrival. Two out of the 3 requests were met…we were in ground floor room #1139 in Saona Bldg & we had a king size bed. Out on the patio in the morning, we could just see the waves on the ocean if we stood on tippy toes!!

The Gran Ventana, located in the Playa Dorada complex, is a nice intimate & compact resort...having some of the best staff & food that we have encountered in our 6 trips to the Dominican Republic. The grounds were immaculate, the rooms spotless, the staff very efficient & happy to be working at the GV. Of course we observed things that could be changed or improved upon to make the stay even better:

The Rooms: Were spacious, with comfortable beds. Yes, the bathrooms were a bit dated & needed a bit of a spruce up, but that was being worked on while we were there.

Cleaning Staff: What can I say…they were always busy. Our room was spotless and there was always some new towel decoration waiting for our return. Even though we did not find out our maids’ name, I had a gift bag of necessities for her, with a note written in Spanish & English thanking her for all that she had done for us. A tip of $2/day was left for her, as she did the filling of the mini fridge too.

Room Safe: RD$700 for 2weeks (about $22.50US)

Laundry Service: was very reasonable. To have 16pieces of clothing washed & pressed cost us RD$680 or $20US. Cheaper than a dry-cleaners here at home

Food: The food in the buffet restaurant was plentiful, pleasing to the eye & absolutely wonderful. There was always something there even for the most choosy of eaters. My favourites were the homemade soups & the rice pudding. We ate at 2 of the a la carte restaurants – The Italian & The Octopus. Both were excellent meals.

The Dining Room Wait Staff: too few people doing too many things, therefore you didn't have a chance to get to know any one waiter. They were more intent on clearing tables than assisting you with your needs. Don’t get me wrong, some one was there to pour water & wine, but that was about it.

Bell-hop/Porters: very rarely saw a Porter assisting a vacationer with their luggage

Front Desk: had no problems with anyone on Front Desk. All spoke English very well, but found room directions that they gave were very vague & a lot of vacationers were in a daze as to where their rooms were located.

The Managers: Lots of them wandering around the resort, but no one wanted to stop & chat....how else are you suppose to learn about the resort? We did manage to talk with Max who is the new Beverage Manager....he has only been there for 5 months, having worked at Jack Tar for 16years. He told us about his job & how he managed to come work for the GV

The Bar Staff: We met Jacquie at the Tikki bar & she is quite the character. If you needed a good laugh all you had to do was find Jacquie & you would feel much better….a drink or two helped too. Our other favourite person was Claritza, who served in the Lobby area during the evenings. By the 4th day at the GV, Claritza would watch for us & our favourite drinks would appear on the table as we sat down to relax after dinner.

Public Washrooms: Those off the Lobby were kept pristine, while the one at the beach was a little to be desired.

The Beach: A beautiful beach!! The governments' beach restoration project was a huge success and the sand is just perfect. The only thing that we didn't like were the vendors that were allowed on the beach to ply their wares. A "no gracias" didn't cut it! We couldn't just lounge around & read or watch the water without being bothered every 5 minutes to buy something. What we should have had was a big printed sign posted at the end of our lounger that said "no gracias"...maybe that would have worked? .

Internet Service: 750 pesos or $3 US for 30 minutes. The internet café was upstairs from the Lobby & there were 4 computers available when all of them worked.

Off the resort: As soon as you step outside the GV gatehouse, you are bothered by taxi drivers & Vacation Club personnel from the Occidental chain...these too were a pain. Going to the plaza, all the tour operators are trying to get your business....just reading all the different brochures tells you how much of a markup there is with the excursions. Please be careful & choose your tour operator carefully…make sure that they have insurance & they show you their papers. Then when you leave the plaza area, you get hit upon by other taxi drivers, horse buggy drivers & Time Share people. AAAAHHHHH!

The weather was not one of the best. I think we had 6 complete days of sunshine out of the 14 that we were away. But the temp managed to stay around 82F even when we had rain. It wasn't whole days of solid rain, but 5-10 minutes at a time, 4 or 5 times in a day. And when it rained, it poured....big puddles in our courtyard at the Saona bldg.

Excursions We did 3 excursions while away, using the facilities of Martin Espinal of Isaira Tours. We did a day trip to Ocean World taking in the sights of birds, tigers, sharks, fish etc & the antics of the sea lions. No we didn’t swim with the dolphins as we thought it too expensive but we found a vantage point from which to sit and watch everyone else having their encounter. Our 2nd excursion was a (private) shopping trip to Santiago...driving Hwy 16 thru the mountains...now that was an experience, especially with the rain storm that we encountered on our return to the resort. The Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración (Restoration's Heroes' Monument) and the history attached to it is quite interesting…the panoramic view of the city is breath-taking. While in Santiago we went to a ceramics factory where we could watch the clay being mixed & formed. The bowls, pottery urns, plates, trays were all fashioned, finished & painted, ready to be sold. We shopped for our rum at the Supermarcado in downtown Santiago and this is where things got a bit interesting….the Supermarcado did not accept US dollars at the checkout. Our driver/guide figured out the exchange & then went to the Western Union Kiosk in the store to change money for us. The exchange rate that day was 33.20 to 1. 40oz bottle of Brugal cost RD$209.95 or $6.36 US, & a 40oz bottle of Baileys was RD$499.95 or $15.00 US. Our 3rd trip to Puerta Plata/Sosua was also a private trip, where we went up the mountain in the Cable car. We did as was suggested & arrived early in the morning in order to get the benefit of the scenery. The sun was shining when we got in the Car and the view was spectacular as we ascended. But when we got to the top the view was obscured by a rain cloud and it poured for 20minutes plus. Descending the mountain, we came out of the cloud and could locate all points of interest that we had been to. We had, in the past, been to the Brugal Factory 3 times, so we decided to by-pass that stop & go directly to Sosua to see Mark & Colleen at Checkpoint Bar.

Departure: Thursday January 18 & we decide to take a 6:35pm taxi ride to the airport for our evening departure of 10:35pm. Cost of the taxi was $25US + tip. There is only one other couple in line with us at 7pm when Sky Service opens their queue and we are able to get our emergency row seating. Our plane was delayed and does not arrive in POP until 10:10pm. They do a quick turn around to get the plane cleaned up and loaded for the return flight to Ottawa. By 11pm we are taxiing down the runway on our way home and arrive in Ottawa at 2:10am. Luggage is retrieved and Immigration is just a straight thru procedure, taking all of 35minutes.

All in all, it was a good trip. Lots of time to read, people watch and just plain relax. Would we go back to the Gran Ventana? I don't know. But for the money that we paid at the time, it was excellent value.

If you wish any further information please contact me ruth_ainsworth4@hotmail.com or send a private message to mra on the travel board.
Gran Ventana
Dre 
Canada
January 2007
My husband and I stayed at Gran Ventana in Puerto Plata from January 18-25, 2007. This was our first trip to a carrabian destination and after reading all the positive reviews for this place, we knew we made the right choice.

Flight: with Skyservice and even though we left Toronto 20 minutes late at 6:30 a.m., our flight was only 3hrs and 15 minutes. On the way home, our flight was also 20 minutes late but we had to fly to Samana to drop off and pick up more people and the flight in total was almost 5 hrs. Seats were small and we were a little jammed in there together but that is what you get when you book a chartered flight. Food was OK too!

Hotel: Was absolutely beautiful! It had everything we needed and more. It wasn't rated a five star but it was fantastic. There are 3 buildings: Catalina & Senona are close to everything like the beach and the main pool. The Beatta is accross the street by the quiet pool and although is is very quiet during the daytime, it can be quite noisy at night as it backs onto 2 bars, Roadways and Hemmingways which stay opend until about 4 a.m. or later every night. I didn't want this building for these reasons. But please keep in mind that if you have a room in this building I would recommend to get one with a pool view as the noise would not be so loud. If you have a room that backs onto the road (not the road that seperates the Beatta building from the main hotel, but the further road that is where the 2 bars are located) expect to be awake until all hours of the night. Check in was horrible! They put us in the Senona Building on the second floor which was good because I wanted to be close to the pool and the beach. But the room had 2 double beds and I requested a King bed. My husband sent me to the reception to get a room with a King Bed. That took almost 1 hour in total. They did not have a room with a King Size bed in the whole pace even though I booked it about 3-4 months ago. They said that I could just keep that room for now and check in the morning to see if there were more rooms available. That didn't fly with me so they gave me keys to a room in the Beatta Building which I didn't want becuase of what I read. Bit I went to see the room and it wasn't that far at all and was quite nice with a beautiful view. We dicided to take it. Besides this mistake, the staff are the friendliest and funiest people you will ever meet. We made friends with 2 of the bartendars, Joel at the swimup bar and Ramiro at the Tiki Bar by the quiet pool. These guys were the best! We left them some gifts and souvenirs when we left. The Signature Rep is Thonny and he is awsome! He was very helpful and the meeting the next morning that you arrive is very worth while attending.

Restaurants: There were 3 a la cartes and 1 Buffet. The Octopus I heard was awsome but we never tried it. The Italien restaurant was very good, we had the lasagna. The Ocean Grill was also delicious, we had the steak and onions with baked potato. Make you reservations early enough if you want to choose you day and time. The Buffet was amazing! I was told that the food in the DR was quite bland but I guess they never ate at this resort. The food at the buffet was very good and even though my husband is a very picky eater and was very worried, he really enjoyed eating here.

Pools: There were 2 pools. The main pool was quite large and had all the activities in it like water arobics, water polo and vollyball. The animation crew also had there club dance by the pool a couple of times a dance...it was quite entertaining. The pool was where we spent the most time in as it was very refreshing, not too cold and not too warm. This pool was noisy from about 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. with all the activites that go on during the day and the shows during the night. The quiet pool over by the Beatta building is great for reading a book or just sunbathing or swimming without any kids running around. Even though the sings say that there is no nude sunbathing by the pool, people still did it. The pools were being clean by the staff so many times during the day.

Shows: They were a little cheasy but on the funny side. The animation staff try really hard to entertain you and you really appreciate they efforts. These people work all day around the resort and then put on a show for you. They are very entertaining and give their 100% even though they are not professionals.

Beach: Was pretty nice even though we didn't spend too much time there. People are always coming by to try and sell you stuff so we didn't like hanging out there. Just a polite no thank you will get them on their way, for now. They do keep coming back to ask you if you would like to buy something again. The breeze was really nice by the ocean as when we sunbathed by the pool there was not a breeze at all. As we walked up the beach by the other hotels, we did notice that our beach was one of the nicer ones.

Bars: There were 5 bars in total. 1 at the beach, 2 by the main pool, 1 in the lobby and 1 at the Beatta Building at the Tiki Bar. 3 of these bars stayed opend until midnight. The Miami Vice was my favorite drink even though it wasn't on the menu. Keep in mind that they do put 151 proof rum in alot of their slushy drinks. If you don't want the 151 rum, just ask them to use the regular white rum.

Excursions: We went to the mall beside the hotel and booked with Wet and Wild Tours and got a private City Tour of Puerto Plata. The cab driver picked us up at 9:00 a.m. and took us whereever we wanted to go. We went to the Brugal Rum Plant, Cigar Facotry, Jewellery Factory, downtown market, looked at the rich part of town and went to the Cable Car up the mountain all for $26.00 US per person. We were back by 12:30 p.m. and still go to enjoy the rest of the day by the pool. We heard that the Outback Jeep Safari was the best but we never did it. Someone we met booked it through the mall and paid half price and he said it was OK but we did hear horror stories about some the trips through the mall. It is your choice but just be careful. We also sent to the old Jack Tar Village to see Yuk Yuk's at the Mangu Disco. It was pretty funny and we hung out with the Canadian comedians the next day as they were staying at our hotel. We paid $30 US per person for the show and drinks.

Before we left for this trip, I swore that I would never go to the same place twice, but after haivng such a wonderful time and experience at this resort (with the staff and people we met), we just might return to see our freinds Ramiro and Joel.

If you have any questions at all or want to see pics, please feel free to contact us at dre.syl@sympatico.ca and we will be happy to share our experiences with you.

P.S. You will love this resort, we sure did!!!
Gran Ventana
Rick, Caren and girls  
Ontario
April 2005
Room location - We were first given a third floor room over looking the main pool in the Saona building. This is an awful location if you have kids. Due to the compact layout of this resort all of the entertainment (daily and nightly) can be heard loud and clear from these rooms. If you or your kids need an afternoon siesta or want to turn in earlier than 1 am in the morning do not stay in a room over looking the pool. We requested a move and they were very accommodating. We were moved to the Catalina building facing away from the pool (request 2nd or third floor) and it was much quieter.

Food - There was always something at the buffet for the girls to eat. They have good pizza’s and pasta everyday. I also saw hamburgers and hot dogs. The food was very good – roast turkey, beef, pork. For breakfast there was omelette and waffle stations and just plain cereal everyday. We tried the Italian restaurant and didn’t love our selection (lasagana) – we heard after that the chicken stuffed with parmesan and risotto is really good.

Pool/Resort layout – if you are pool dwellers like us, then this one is great for the kids. It has a gradual slope for the little ones and is quite large with the pool bar in the middle. The resort is compact, so you can always see where your kids are if they want a little freedom to roam around the pool area. Get out early to save a lounge chair – everyone does it.

Kids Club/Entertainment – The staff in the kids club is great – the kids can wander in and out as they please so if they just want to get out of the heat for an hour and then come out for a swim that’s ok. They can do crafts, play games, clay, video games, draw etc. I don’t think that it would appeal to children over 8 years old. For the older kids, there is a large room above the main lobby with ping pong and pool tables – I think the boys aged 10 – 14 hung out there. Every night they had a mini kids disco on stage at 8:30 (before adults show at 9:45) – my girls and all of the other kids loved it. On Wednesday they had a party in the kids club at 3pm in the afternoon and then they rehearsed for a fashion show that night on stage. Again, my girls loved it.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this resort with kids. We went March 24 – 31st, 2005 and there were lots of kids from the UK (their spring break is apparently around Easter every year). My kids met some good friends and had a great time. P.S. My girls got their hair braided on the beach for $25 US each and it takes along time, but was so convenient to just wash and go. If your daughter wants it done, you might want to consider just getting the front done for the sake of time.