Debbie's Dominican Travel.com Old Reviews - The Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium
Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium
Steve & Vicki 
Bloomington Indiana, USA
May 2008
Arrival and Flight
This was our 11th trip to Punta Cana. We know the drill pretty well. It was our 4th trip to the Palladium complex and our third visit to the Royal Suites.

We flew coach on US Airways scheduled air out of Indianapolis, IN with a plane change in Charlotte, NC. Flights were on time and uneventful. Given the new rules that only allow one checked bag/person and a 50 pound weight maximum/bag without incurring additional charges, it was quite a challenge for my wife to pack for ten nights. She came in at 49 pounds. Good job, Honey! No meals are served on US Airways flights to the Caribbean any longer. Purchased snack boxes (yuk!) for $5 each.

Arrival procedures at the Punta Cana airport were significantly improved over our last visit in March, 2007. Instead of the old mad rush to the booth to buy the $10 tourist visa, there actually is an orderly queue that moves people through efficiently. No form to complete any longer. Just buy your tourist card, walk ten feet and give it back to someone else. Immigration forms were provided by the flight crew on-board the flight. We proceeded to immigration and were quickly processed and sent to retrieve checked luggage. Transport by our tour operator’s representative agency (VIP Tours) was efficient and professional.

We talked the VIP Tours bus driver into taking us all the way to the Royal Suites lobby to be dropped off (they normally drop you at the Palace and then you have to get a bell boy to help you get your luggage over to the RS). Unfortunately, no bellboys were available in the Royal Suites lobby at the time that we arrived so we had to unload our luggage and get it into the lobby by ourselves. Ten days prior to our arrival we sent an email to the email address for the hotel listed at Fiesta Hotel Group’s web site brochure and requested a non-smoking room on the second floor with a king-sized bed. We never received a response.

Check in was quick and easy as we were the only folks there to check in at the time. We were offered a cold fruit punch during the check in process. After applying room identification tags to each of our bags, we were told to go find our room by ourselves and a bellboy would deliver our bags to our rooms. Because this was our third visit to the Royal Suites, we knew the layout of the hotel and quickly found our room. I could imagine this being somewhat intimidating for a first time visitor however. We waited over 40 minutes and our bags still had not been delivered but after a quick phone call to the reception desk they were delivered five minutes later.

The resort complex consists of 4 distinct hotels: the Grand Palladium Bavaro; the Grand Palladium Punta Cana; the Grand Palladium Palace, and the Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium (adults-only hotel). There are currently 250 additional adults-only rooms under construction that will be included in the Royal Suites.

Rooms
We were assigned a standard suite (5018) on the second floor of building 50. The room had a view of the end of the pool bar and the grounds in front of the lobby. Our room was furnished with two double beds, an armoire for the television, a mini-bar that was stocked daily with beer, soda and water, a desk with three drawers, a small sofa and coffee table, one table and two chairs. Closet was large with four shelves and a built in electronic safe. Plenty of clothes hangars were provided. The floors are all marble. The decorations are tasteful but starting to show some age and probably should be updated within the next few years. Rooms are well insulated for sound and we were never bothered by sounds from other rooms or outside

The bathroom is open to the rest of the room. There is a door with frosted glass to screen off the lavatory and a painted door to screen off the spacious, all marble shower. A jetted tub separates the bath area from the rest of the room and is open to the entire room. There was only one sink available in the vanity top. Water was always hot and the pressure was more than acceptable.

Daily maid service was exceptionally thorough and the room was always left sparkling clean and with fresh towels and face cloths. Towel art was changed a few times during our stay and the room was decorated daily with fresh flower blossoms and petals. We left a $4/day tip for the maid and $2/day in the fridge of the mini-bar since a different person actually stocks the mini-bar.

Small bars of soap, bath gel, shampoo and other amenities (shaving kit, tooth brushing kit, sewing kit, comb, etc.) were replenished as needed in a basket by the sink.

Turn down service and fresh towels were provided each evening while we were gone to dinner and out to the shows.

There is a balcony with a small table and two chairs.

A slight leak developed on our last day that dripped from the ceiling panel over the tub. I suspect it may have come from the drain in the bath for the room directly above us because the room started to develop a slight odor of sewer gas that day. Fortunately for us, we were on our way to check out about the time that this problem began to develop.

Restaurants
There are 7 a la carte restaurants and three main buffets available for breakfast and dinner. The main buffet at the Palace is not available at lunch; however, there is another buffet at the Palace located between the pool and the beach that is only available for lunch. The a la carte restaurants include: Mariachi (Tex-Mex); Mare Nostrum (Italian); El Arrecife (Seafood/International); La Uva (Dominican); Bamboo (Asian); El Quijote (Spanish); and, the Royal Gourmet (only available to guests of the Royal Suites).

Premium wines are available in all of the restaurants in the resort complex for Royal Suites guests at no extra cost.

Room service is also included free of charge at the Royal Suites but we never availed ourselves of this option.

We ate in 5 of the a la carte restaurants. The wrap-up is as follows:

Mariachi (Tex-Mex) – Really good Tex-Mex! Quality of food was excellent and the service was fantastic. We were not offered the free upgrade to a premium wine without asking. There is an extensive appetizer buffet. You may also choose both an appetizer and a main course from the menu. Trust me on this: if you eat from the appetizer buffet, you do not need make selections from both the appetizer selection and main course selection on the menu. One or the other will be more than enough food for most people. We both had the house Margaritas to drink in addition to our wine. The Margaritas were excellent.

Mare Nostrum (Italian) – Both the quality of the food and presentation were excellent. Service shared the top spot along with the Bamboo. We were offered the premium wines without asking. We enjoyed the extensive appetizer buffet including peel-and-eat shrimp, 2 kinds of caviar, etc.

Bamboo (Asian) – Truly outstanding service with a smile at all times. The quality of the food was acceptable but not on a par with the Mare Nostrum. Try the vegetable tempura appetizer. It was fantastic! We were offered the upgraded premium wine without asking.

El Arrecife (Seafood/International) – Overall, a real disappointment. We had to ask for plates for the appetizer buffet because none were brought out in over 10 minutes of waiting. It was obvious that the wait staff did not appreciate being told that more plates were needed (even though we did it quite respectfully) and after that they had our number. Our service was extremely poor and the wait time for each course was excruciatingly long. Other guests who were seated well after us were served both courses before we ever got our appetizer. We were not offered any bread until we asked for it, and even then it appeared that it was offered only grudgingly. We were not offered the premium wine. Only after I gently insisted on the Vino Blanco Especial was it provided. Most of the wait staff seemed to have an attitude. This restaurant is in need of employee training and new management. If I were running the complex, I’d bring someone from the Bamboo or Mare Nostrum over to run this eatery and teach the staff what customer service is all about.

Royal Gourmet (International Gourmet) – Exclusive restaurant reserved solely for the guests of the Royal Suites. Absolutely the best quality food of any restaurant in the entire resort complex. Presentation of all dishes was magnificent. Excellent menu variety. Open for all three meals. Service was at times excellent and at times rather mediocre. On occasion, it appeared that there was not enough staff present to provide truly exceptional service. The air conditioning was not functioning properly during the last 4 days of our stay and this made the restaurant almost unbearably hot as it is fully enclosed. I felt quite sorry for the cooks. The Royal Gourmet offers a filet mignon on the dinner menu every day. It was superb cut of very flavorful beef that almost melts in your mouth. Absolutely the very best steak we have ever had in the Dominican Republic in 11 visits!

Buffets
I must also mention the La Catedral buffet at the Bavaro hotel. This is absolutely a grand theme style buffet that offers an unbelievable array of quality foods, outstanding service with a smile and a different theme each weeknight. Everyone should eat in this buffet restaurant at least once.

Bars
Bars were plentiful, fast and efficient throughout the resort complex. There are 2 bars at the Royal Suites - one in the lobby and one by the pool. Both offered fantastic service. There are a few premium liquors available at the lobby bar. We enjoyed Baileys on ice. Waiters provided drink service around the pool and to people on the Royal Suites section of beach. Hemmingway’s bar, located between the Bavaro’s lobby and pool, had the best selection of premium liquors and a true upscale bar atmosphere.

Beach and Pools
The beach is the real reason we go to Punta Cana. The Palladium’s beach offers gorgeous with white sand, plentiful coconut palms, a protective reef offshore to help moderate the wave action and a sufficient number of palapas for shade. The Royal Suites has its own private section of beach that was never crowded. There were open palapas any time of day. True, people got up early to “reserve” the front row of palapas but you could always find one open on the beach when you wanted one. There are new multi-position loungers on the beach and at the pool but they are not being adequately maintained and are rapidly falling into a state of disrepair. The beach is raked of seaweed each day and is kept very clean.

Security on the beach was not as effective as it was during previous visits we have made to the Royal Suites. Security officers were only sporadically available in the area and subsequently a number of people who did not belong on the beach and on the hotel grounds were wandering through from time to time. We even observed a young couple pushing a baby in a stroller up through the middle of the hotel grounds on one occasion and there were dirty diapers left in a trash receptacle by the towel hut. Not good for an exclusive adults-only resort!

The pool is not the largest in the complex by any means but is still of sufficient size. There are a number of palapas and loungers around the pool but they were usually spoken for quite early each day. The pool has several areas of missing tiles and is in need of some repairs. The pool was kept spotlessly clean. The water temperature in the pool was very warm. We did not find it refreshing at all. When we needed to cool off, we headed for the ocean.

Grounds
The grounds throughout the entire Palladium complex are mature and lush and are extremely well manicured. We utilized the tram to get around the complex given the considerable size of the Palladium. At times, it was quite hard to get a seat on the tram.

Activities and Entertainment
We thought the animacion staff did a great job. These young men and women work extremely hard to make your vacation a truly memorable event. The performances are mainly by the staff and although they are certainly not Las Vegas quality shows, these folks do a wonderful job overall. The Michael Jackson show was most entertaining!

Tours
We didn’t take any excursions this time. After 10 previous visits we’ve already done them all.

Departure and Check Out
Check out was smooth and our VIP transportation arrived right on time. Check-in at US Airways counter was fast and efficient and we had a pleasant flight back to the states.

Conclusion
The Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium continues to be an excellent choice for someone looking for a quiet, relaxed, adults-only vacation experience. We would have rated the overall experience 8 out of 10 during previous visits. This time, I’d have to say that we would probably rate it a 7 due to some slight deterioration in infrastructure and services. Our biggest concern for the future of this resort is the fact that 250 additional rooms will be opening soon and we believe that the additional competition for space on the small section of beach allocated to the Royal Suites will make this resort unattractive for us.
Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium
Jim and Debby 
Canada
April 2008
Arrival and Flight
Arrived on Skyservice from Calgary on 24 March 2008. Flight was on time but not the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in. Will go back to West Jet in the future.

Rooms
We were in room 5237 overlooking the pool. The rooms of the Royal Suites are amazing. King size bed, large jaccuzzi tub, separate large shower and bathroom, in room safe, bar fridge and everything you need. A large balcony overlooking the beautiful pool with a view of the ocean made the stay that much more relaxing and worthwhile.

Restaurants
The quests of the Royal Suites have their own private restaurant with combined buffet, al a carte services. The food and service here were excellent. We also ate at all the buffet and al a carte restaurants of the the Palladium complex. Never had a complaint about any of the food and my favorites were the Bamboo(chinese), and Mariachi(Mexican).

Bars
There are no shortages of bars for those who like to drink. We tried all seven beach bars, and our favorite lounges were the piano bar at the Punta Cana, and the quite pool bar at the Royal Suites.

Beach and Pools
The beach is absolutely beautiful as are the pools throughout the complex. The best part of being at the Royal Suites is that when you don't want to be around the noise of the rest of the complex; you head back to your own area, where you have the luxury of bar service on the beach and at the pool. Dani is the head bar tender and an absolute riot to be around. All of the staff are polite and the service is fast.

Grounds
The grounds here are lush and green and the grounds people are constantly doing things to make the place look even better.

Activities and Entertainment
There are all kinds of activities throughout the day for those who want to keep busy but our favorite Entertainment was the Michael Jackson Show at the Theatre. We went to see this show twice during our two week stay. I f you want to see this show, get their early if you want a good seat.

Tours
The only tour we took was to the new Palma Real Mall. A beautiful place that caters to clientel that don't mind spending money. While the women shopped, my brother and I waited at the Hard Rock Cafe where the food and beer were great. Also went Parasailing on the beach and did a dune buggy tour with my nephew, which was a blast. Be prepared to get wet and dirty.

Departure and Check Out
Check out was quick and easy. Check in at the airport was fast. as was security. Fight departed on time for our return trip.

Conclusion
We paid an extra $30US per person to upgrade from the Grand Palladium Punta Cana to the Royal Suites and it was well worth the price. Will definitely return here in the future.
Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium
Jim and Carol 
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
March 2008
Jim and I just returned from a fabulas vacation at the Grand Palladium Place-Royal Suites,Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.We flew out of Toronto on {Taradactal} Air Transat airlines. Only way to fly this airline is first class. What a pleasure and nice comfort. Only complaint is they ran out of food on the way back and could only offer us pasta,so we passed on supper. Good thing we had something to eat before we boarded.

We landed early a.m.and went to our hotel which was very impressive at the Royal Suites. After settling in we returned to the Lobby and were escorted by a porter to the all night Sports Bar to get something to eat as we were hungry. We enjoyed some refreshments and some food.

Upon waking the next morning,we were equally impressed with the beautiful surroundings. We overlooked the pool with the beach and the ocean in view a short distance away.The rooms were gorgeous with shiny marble and very clean.

We went for breakfast at one of the many choices of buffets. The beautiful displays of various foods did not disappoint. We had lots of choices and the staff were very friendly and courteous.

We then toured the large facility aboard a train they run throught the resort. What a lovely way to see everything they have to offer.

Swimming in the ocean was heaven.The water was warm with waves which is just the way Jim likes it. We sat by the pool mostly as there is always a wind but only steps to the ocean. I enjoy sun bathing but Jim is a wanderer and so he went on his way.

Jim enjoys bottled beer which he found in our lobby and soon had the girls having cold beer for him daily. The internet was supposed to be there daily but found it not working most of the time. Oh well! Drinks around the pool were served regularly by waitresses.

We enjoyed massages on the beach twice. Very nice with the rolling serf in the background.

We went four wheeling with the Macao Crazy Wheels and this was quite fun, but be prepared to get quite dusty.

We enjoyed supper at the buffet most nights but did try a la carte at the Mexican and the seafood restaurants. both meals were very good, We had a private restaurant with the royal suites which we enjoyed very much also. Lots of choices and very tasty.Only complaint,is the times. Lunch not until 1:00 pm and supper not until 7:00 pm. We tend to eat earlier.

We enjoyed the casino most evenings, and often took a train ride around. Very nice at night with the lights and excitement. We did not take in any theatre shows as they did not start until 10:00 pm and Jim and I are early risers and much prefer the sunrise on the beach or early morning walk in the peacefulness of the am.

We had a very enjoyable vacation at the Royal Suites. They have no children in the suites and us,being in our fifties found this quite nice to have this choice,

The grounds are very well kept and very beautiful with the trees and the flowers. The grounds workers work hard so don't forget to say ola and to give some little thing. Jim took 200 pieces of double bubble gum , which he handed out generously and they were most appreciative. It doesn't have to be much.

We would certainly recommend this beautiful resort and would definitely return for another relaxing time.
Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium
Steve and Linda 
Ontario, Canada
March 2008
Arrival
We booked Air Transat Holidays flying WestJet which definitely was the way to go. More leg room, leather seats, 53 kgs luggage weight per person and great fun flight crew. Flight times were 3.5 - 4 hours both ways. Only problem was they only handed out 1 immigration form per person and you need one to get out of the country so we had to see our tour rep. at the hotel to get 2 more before our departure date. Check in and out in both airports was no problems. In Punta Cana the Air Transat Rep. was right at the check in desk so no delays.

Rooms
We emailed a few day in advance of our trip our building and room request and were pleased on arrival to find out we got the 3rd floor of building 50 which is what we wanted. Our room was ready for us when we arrived and there was towel art on the bed and around the tub which was nice. The room was cleaned very well daily with fresh flowers and towel art each day. We asked (in Spanish) for 3 bottles of water to be put in the fridge every day and this was done and some days even more was left for us. Evening turn down service was also done about 8:00 pm every night with fresh towels again brought in at this time. We chose to tip the housekeeping staff and bar fridge staff every day and we also left some of our personal items for them when we left. Very friendly staff and they would go out of their way to speak to us each day.

Restaurants
Breakfast was over at the Royal Gourmet daily as they no longer have the buffet set up at the pool bar which was disappointing to us as we really enjoyed eating breakfast beside the pool but we got used to walking over to the restaurant quickly for breakfast. Lunch was either at La Uva or we would get a couple of sandwiches from the well stocked fridge in the lobby of the Royal Suites. Dinner was either at the Royal Gourmet or one of the buffets. We prefer El Behique buffet over the others. This is very clean and bright restaurant and the staff is so great. They talk to us in Spanish and English as we also do and their is a lot of laughter as we all chew up both languages but we manage to get through to each other. The theme nights at the buffets is very nice and there is a great variety of foods to choose from. We didn't go to any of the A la cartes this year because we do prefer the buffets. This year they have started the no reservation at the a la cartes except for the Royal Suite guests. RS guests book a reservation and show the booking to the staff at the door of the restaurant and RS guests are immediately taken in and seated while all the other guests wait for their turn. Long lines outside the a la carte restaurants most evenings.

Bars
We closed the pool bar with the staff ( and other forum members) most evenings. We tried the cocktail of the evening every night and most were very good but some of the drinks were "different". We would sit over at the palace lobby after dinner for a drink and listen to the entertainment for a while before we wondered back over to the RS pool bar to be entertained there by Santo, Danny, Francesco, Ronny ( and Theo during the day). These are a great bunch of bartenders at the RS and you can't stop laughing most of the evening. During the day the staff bring your drinks out to you on the beach or beside the pool. Great group of people.

Beach and Pools
Excellent!!!!!!! Many new palapas and chairs, BUT, the towel game continues. We had to get up as early as 5:30 am to get a chair around the pool and 7:00 am was a safe time to get chairs on the beach therefore we were on holidays so chose the beach most mornings. Towards the end of the week, a manager was out around the pool at 6:00am to watch over the towel game and we even saw him remove some towels to free up chairs around the pool for some elderly clients.

Grounds
The Palladium's standard of excellence still continues. Grounds keepers were always seen out cutting, trimming and watering. The flowers were in full bloom and very colourful.

Activities
We chose not to participate in any of the activities being held at the other Palladium areas. There are no activities held at the Royal Suites. This was a reading a sleeping holiday for us. We did walk the beach every evening before dinner. The new Spa and Fitness centre looks very nice and was well used during the week by guests.

Tours
Again we chose not to take any tours but do plan to go deep sea fishing next year.

Conclusion
We had an excellent holiday at the Royal Suites Turquesa or so their letter head now reads. We are not sure about the name change and we think it is a work in progress. There is construction going on across from the lobby and all the way down the road to the Royal Gourmet. From speaking with the staff, they say it is more Royal Suites being built that will have a pool area but no ocean frontage. We never heard any noise at all from this construction. The staff here a very professional, friendly and out going. We never saw anyone shy away from speaking to us if they didn't understand English. We have learned some Spanish to help with the communication there and the staff seem grateful with our effort and they are more than willing to try to speak English to us. The staff do go out of their way to make your stay is a very pleasant one. One evening, a manager called us to ensure we were enjoying our holiday and to ask if we needed anything which was a very nice touch. We would highly recommend this resort to anyone. If anyone has any questions, feel free to pm me.
Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium
Steve and Angela 
Wheatley, Ontario, Canada
February 2008
My husband and I just got back from a wonderful, relaxing vacation at the Grand Palladium resort in Punta Cana.

We booked through Air Transat Vacations and flew out of London, Ontario direct to Punta Cana.

This is a beautiful resort complex, sharing with the Palace, Bavaro, and Punta Cana sections.

Let me say it was certainly nice to be in the adults only Royal Suites section. Very quiet, no little kids running around, no animacion staff bugging you to come play games and dance if you don't want to. Mind you, you do have the option to go to the other three sections and join in on these activities if and when you so wish. The pool was a little dirty and a little on the chilly side, but over all, refreshing.

The rooms were spacious and very nicely decorated. I did try out the jacuzzi tub in the room...very relaxing! Now some people complained about the lack of privacy regarding the layout of the bathroom/shower in the room. We had no problem with it. The shower was very nice, and very big!

The fridge was always stocked with water, pop and beer. The maid was great, always decorating the room with fresh flowers. We tipped her a couple dollars each day. You don't need to tip to ensure good service....you get that no matter what. But these ladies sure appreciate a few extra dollars to take home to their families. A couple dollars goes a long way for them!

We also tipped waiters, bartenders, bell boys, etc who provided exceptional service.

The whole resort complex is beautiful! Very lush, green, exotic! It is also very big!! They have a little train that goes around the resort complex, making stops every few hundred metres. This is a great way to get to know where everything is!

In the Royal Suites lobby, they have a couple little fridges with sandwiches, pasta salad, yogurt, fruit salads, water, pop, beer, etc...available 24/7.

The food is quite good! Not the best we have ever had, but there is lots to choose from. We ate breakfast every morning at the main buffet across from the Palace lobby, Las Torres. This restaurant is air conditioned which is nice! They have lots to choose from. You can get eggs/omeletes made to order as well as pancakes/french toast/eggs-in-a-nest also made to order. Lots of fruits, pastries, and much more.

For lunch we went down to the restaurant by the beach near the palace section pool. Pasta bar, salad bar, grill, nachos, pizza, etc.

For dinner, we never dined at the ala carte restaurants...we were more than happy with the buffet, Las Torres. They have a theme night every night. We enjoyed the Dominican night the best!!! So many choices every night! Lots of food stations where they make your food in front of you! Some nights they even had a crepe bar where they made you a fresh crepe to order!! On the Dominican night they also had a chef outside the restaurant carving fruits and veggies into beautiful works of art!!! This is the night they also have local vendors come onto the resort to sell their wares.

Over all we had a great vacation!!! Would definitely go back!!!

Our ratings:
Food: 8 out of 10
Rooms: 8 out of 10
Service: 7 out of 10
Beach: 10 out of 10
Amenities: 9 out of 10
Grand Palladium Royal Suites
Julie 

May 2007
We just returned from a wonderful short vacation at the Royal Suites section of the Grand Palladium Palace Resort. I would highly recommend this section for couples (honeymoon) and older couples who want a quieter vacation away from the kids. Keeping in mind that anytime you wish for more "action" you can go next door to their pool or lobby or to any parts of the property (the disco, theaters, lobbies, sports center). There's more on this property to do and see that someone would never be bored...or as we did -- do hardly anything at all and enjoy the beach, the pool, etc.

The Rooms -- Stayed in Building 52. As recommended requested the third floor and glad we did. The high cathedral ceilings made the room even more spacious than it was. Everything worked -- plenty of hot water where and when we wanted it; fridge always stocked with sodas and water; only tipped one time with a note when we wanted extra coffee packets left; They give you quite an amenities package -- soaps, shampoo, bath gel, sponges, razors with cream, combs, makeup remover pads, toothbrushes -- i'm probably forgetting something. Glad I brought a small clock and a washcloth (they gave us some though) and a tub stopper (but didn't really need it) as read here before.

Water/Drinks -- There are signs everywhere reminding you not to drink the tap water. Never needed to cadge any bottled water from anyone/anywhere. Always had enough in the room; Plus could pick up some in the Royal Suites lobby fridge on the way back to the room if needed. Don't know why anyone would complain re: drink strength. The bartender at the RS pool had a very heavy hand. In fact, most drinks were 2-3 inches of liquor plus a floater on the top!! I had to ask for weaker drinks most times. And they were constantly coming around on the beach and pool asking you if you wanted a drink. (As I can't have pineapple, I liked their coco loco especial. But you can order things not on the "menu" of drinks, too.) Just ask for them. Even at the lunch buffets they would refill your wine glass constantly!
I'm a diet coke drinker but think the brand they have is pepsi. It's pepsi light (in spanish ask for coca cola dieta). If you want ice, ask for hielo (ice in spanish).

Royal Suites Lobby -- A quiet respite from all the other activities and other areas. Plus 2 free computers to use to check your internet. Usually no more than a 10 minute wait. The Lobby bar served all your desired drinks including soda and coffees (and if you didn't make it to breakfast they had pastries there in the a.m.). The fridge as mentioned above had water, soda, salads, sandwiches, yogurt, etc. Just help yourself whenever. The lobby receptionist made change, answered questions, handled checkin/checkout, made reservations, phone calls, etc. -- pretty much anything you'd need. My only complaint (which I put on my comment card) was that the free photocopied papers in the lobby (one in each language) did not have ONE US newspaper. Had to make do with the Canadian one in English or check online. Also there is a stack of books (many in German) and magazines that people have left and from which you can choose should you need. Kind of like an exchange "library".

Restaurants -- One of advantages of Royal Suites is that there is no limit to what you can book when you want to nor where you can go. Booked 2 ala cartes on checkin at the RS Lobby Desk.
Had booked Mare Nostrum (Italian) based on websites but we didn't think this restaurant was very good. Limited selections, slow service, and not that great entrees. The one entree I had wanted to order was not available. The couple next to us (from France) told us their lamb (mutton) was tough. The "large prawns" i had on linguine turned out to be regular size shrimp (camarones) -- okay but nothing special.

Felt the best ala carte was the Arrecife (gourmet) which had a wide selection and variety on their menu and more upscale salad bar selections including carpaccio and blue cheese chunks for the salad. Had their extra cost lobster dinner. My husband had the lobsters dominican style (a tomato based sauce with peppers etc) and i had it plain grilled. Each dinner was huge -- 3 half carribean lobsters plus vegetables. Extra cost was $33 per person for a dinner that in Florida would cost a minimum of $45. Well worth it.

Each morning we walked over to the Royal Gourmet restaurant for breakfast. This was private for Royal Suites guests. Enjoyed fruit and juice from the buffet while waiting for our selection of eggs (they also have pancakes and french toast) to be cooked to order. Then we would add to our plate from the buffet our choice of bacon or sausage or potatoes or whatever. Very amenable staff and good service here.
Ate dinner the first and last nights here and had excellent meal each time. Would recommend the beef filet (my husband's choice twice) or the wonderfully flavored churrasco (grilled flank steak) highly.
As usual house wines are included and poured constantly. For desert you can choose from the menu or have a few cookies and small cakes from the buffet (or both!), plus an after dinner drink is also included (my husband had Gran Marnier).

While waiting for our room to be ready for check in we walked over to the Behique, airconditioned buffet restaurant, to have lunch. Huge buffet -- several stations -- with many choices of meats, grilled foods (including lamb chops, steak, etc etc.), pastas, seafood paellas, etc. Very good quality and selections. You choose your table and turn the card over on it to say "occupied". They have a nonsmoking section (look for the no ashtrays) if this is important to you. Also went there on FRIDAY NIGHT for their GALA night dinner (based on web recommendations). VERY GOOD!! And would highly recommend this dinner that night.
Again huge selection -- duck, lamb, turkey, roast beef, -- think of a meat or seafood and they had it.

In general, we would leave a dollar for breakfast and a couple singles as a token after dinner, but we got good service even without tipping.

Activities/Entertainment -- Can't help too much here. We were going to take the rifle shooting and archery clinics one mornings but after riding the tram over to the sports center felt it was too hot. Stopped by the small casino each evening and played the 5 cent slots for a couple hours. Wound up winning about $10 total. My husband likes roulette and black jack but the minimum table bet was $10 -- which he felt was too high for a basically empty casino. We would pass through the Palace lobby to hear the entertainers. We went one night to the Sunset Theater. Started at 10 pm. Very smokey inside for us. Watched the pseudo Las Vegas review -- found it very hokey. The funniest part was that the MC made the same announcements and introductions in English, Spanish, French and German. None of the languages was understandable (either the pa system or his accent) and we speak the first 3 languages!! We poked our heads into the disco next door as they were opening, but it was already 11:15 PM and we figured we'd leave this for the single crowds. Did pass one of the dance classes on the beach on the way to lunch one day and stopped to join in -- it was merengue. Fun! They give you lists of activities some are daily and some each week -- if you need the english one and get it in another language just ask (we got the french one first time around). Some times at night we would just ride the tram around and enjoy the breezes and the ride -- stopping to check out different places.

Beach/Pool -- No problem by the Royal Suites section getting chairs on the beach; if a chickee hut wasn't available we'd just pull our chairs into the shade of a palm tree. The beach at the RS section is a LOT less crowded than any of the other hotels/sections. Liked the roped off swimming area -- which kept the boats out. The water was lovely -- clean and wonderful. Depending on the tide either flat/calm or with a few small waves. The sand is the powdery white stuff -- very soft. We spent hours in the ocean. After lunch (we'd just throw on shirts and sandals and walk over to lunch down the beach), we'd either go back in the ocean or head up to the pool. The pool was not crowded at the RS either. Pretty sedate (except for a group of drunken Canadians one time that kept falling off their inpool stools!). Only complaint was that the pool looked a little cloudy by the end of the week from everyone's suntan lotion and beach sand. By the way, you are given 2 towel cards on check in . You exchange these at the pool towel hut for 2 towels. Each day you can exchange these for clean towels. Before you leave/or on your last day, exchange the towels for cards (which you turn in on check out). This keeps people from taking the towels (the fear of being charged for them!).

Transfers/tours -- Warning!! One thing to say -- Do NOT USE PRIETO tours!!! Ever! They handled our incoming airport tranfer okay, although it took 45 minutes to get from the airport to our hotel as we waited in the van. When we met the rep (per instructions) the next day in the Palace lobby to arrange our return pickup, he refused to believe us when we told him when our flight left (2 PM), was rude, and insisted on scheduling a time that we felt was too late based on international check in requirements. The day before we were to leave, we called the Prieto office and spoke with someone else who "guaranteed" we could make it to the airport in 20 minutes and that there would be no stops after our pickup at 11:40 a.m. Needless to say when PRIETO DIDN'T SHOW UP AT ALL. After waiting 10 more minutes, we had the receptionist call us a taxi. The receptionist told us he had heard of problems with Prieto before. It cost us $35 and the cab driver "drove like the wind" but safely -- but with the road under construction and slow vehicles, we still took about 30 to 40 minutes to get to the airport. We lucked out as there was not a big line for Spirit (flight by the way was great each way) -- first they hand inspect your luggage -- then you check bags and get boarding passes. Also lucky it didn't take too long going through immigation or security considering. And had we had time, there's a Wendy's and a pizza restaurant near the gates. Plus a cafeteria type place to buy sodas and sandwiches. Note: candy bars cost $3 (eek!). The plane boarded early (1:05 PM) and left 15 minutes early as all passengers were on board! Thank goodness for trip insurance but didn't really want to have to use it for a missed flight.

Happy to answer any questions via email -- jwfoxx@aol.com
Grand Palladium Royal Suites
 
USA
May 2007
We went on this trip to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, and had an excellent vacation. I am 31 and my husband 32. We have been to Mexico 3 times staying at the Moon Palace (twice) and the Aventura Palace. We have also been to Las Vegas multiple times.

Over all, we were thrilled with our selection of the Palladium Royal Suites and had an excellent vacation.

Here’s a breakdown of each part of the hotel and resort:

Flight
We booked charter air with USA 3000 as they fly direct out of Cleveland on Fridays and Mondays. We landed up booking the air and the hotel separately (each direct) because it was cheaper for us to do this (and because the Honeymoon suite that we wanted wasn’t available to be booked through Apple). The flight was on time leaving. We took off at 6am out of Cleveland Hopkins and landed in Punta Cana at about 9:30am.

Arrival & Punta Cana Airport
We paid the $10 per person entrance free upon arrival. Our bags were out nearly immediately and we were through the airport in 10-15 minutes. We took pictures with the Dominican ladies (but when we were coming home strangely the pictures weren’t amongst our flights to buy.) It took 5 minutes after we had our bags to be in a cab and on our way. We made sure to ask how much it would cost to go to the Palladium Royal Suites before getting into the cab, and the cab driver agreed to $30.

Check In at Royal Suites
There wasn’t a line to check in (probably because we were there so early). We were served glasses of champagne and red juice in the reception area. We had booked online the Honeymoon suite for the entire trip, but we found out from Abelino at the desk, that the Honeymoon suite wouldn’t be available until Sunday, 4/22. So we spent the first 2 nights in the Junior Suite. It was nice to be in both classes of rooms and to be able to compare them to each other.

Our keys were not given to us right away, because they were having a mechanical problem with the key machine, but they let us in the room without them. We hung out it the room for about an hour and a ½ waiting. When they still weren’t ready, we were going to just leave and go get lunch, but then when we went back to the reception desk, we found they were ready and waiting there for us. Not a huge deal, but we were excited to be there and wished they had told us when they were ready, as they said they were going to.

Junior Suite
The Junior Suite room number was 5009 – on the first floor, North Building. The location was nice – close to the beach and pool, but we were far enough from the pool for it to be on the quiet side. A large plant was in front of our balcony, which provided privacy.

The king bed was on the firm side, but I still always fell asleep soundly in it, and never stiff in the mornings, so that was good.

The room was spacious and had the Jacuzzi separating the main part of the room from the bathroom side.

Honeymoon Suite
Sunday when we moved to the Honeymoon Suite, we were in AWE! We were in 5232, in the south building, closest to the ocean. If anyone is trying to decide between the Junior Suite and the Honeymoon Suite, and wants to know if it’s worth it – IT IS! For the price we paid, we really don’t think that anywhere else would have given us this fabulous location without spending twice as much as we did. During our trips to Mexico they always say it’s an ocean view room, but in the end you’ve got you position your head just so, and see a sliver of ocean and sand in the end. But not here. You can sit up out of the beautiful canopy bed, and feel like the ocean is practically at arm’s reach. I mean, it’s RIGHT there. So amazing, and we were so thrilled with the room. The sound of the ocean rolling in at night with the doors open at night is the best natural form of AC. You could have the hardest bed in the world and still feel like you’re floating on a cloud because the room is so great.

There are 2 sliding glass doors to the balcony and then one full-length sliding glass window, so the air really flows through nicely. Whenever we were in the room we kept all doors and windows open, and just let the ocean breezes cool things off, and it really worked.

The balcony is the length of the entire room – it is huge. The Jacuzzi is out there, and you can even see the ocean from it. This Jacuzzi is also bigger and roomier than the one in the Junior Suites.

Needless to say, I really recommend this room. If you can ask for 5232 or 5332 (the floor above ours) I would say these two rooms are the best in the entire resort.

Pools
Surprisingly, the Royal Suites pool seemed the least maintained of all of the pools, as we saw cloudy water and film on the water. Because it had rained more than usual the first few days (especially Sunday 4/22 at dinner time) part of the reason for the Royal Suites pool problems was probably the dirty water that leaked in to the pool with all of the rains.

My favorite part of the pool was the large circle pool at the Punta Cana Palace. This one seemed to have the most action and fun going on. There was lots of sun at this pool because there were less palm trees.

At the pools the beer is served in plastic glasses and gets warm very quickly. We brought 32oz. Bubba Kegs with us and kept our drinks super cold. The bartenders had no problems filling them up for us.

We also brought Springfloats with us to use in the pool, and those were great. They don’t provide any floats at the resort so we brought these for relaxing in the water with. They travel well and are only $16 at Target.

The pools are very nice but can’t compare to the pools at the Moon and Aventura Palace.

Beach
This is the best beach we have ever been to. It really is fantastic!

If you would like good beach chairs, you will have to wake up on the early side – 7am by the latest. Many people were early birds while we were there. Many people reserve their beach chairs early in the morning, and then go back up to the room to sleep.

Miscellaneous Comments
If your light on your balcony is out, it probably means that someone just unscrewed the light bulbs. It was fine with keeping them off (eliminates any bugs being drawn to the light) but we didn’t figure that part out until about the last night. We wondered why half the lights seemed off at night, and why there was no light switch to turn them on and off!

The hot/cold water did pose an issue a few times. We tried to fill up the Jacuzzi one night but the water was cold. A couple of the mornings the water was barely luke warm, and taking a shower wasn’t the best. It seemed like the worst times to try to get hot water were in the mornings and before dinners (everyone is showering of course) but I am surprised that they have not somehow worked around this issue to provide at least warm water at all times of the day.

There are no clocks in the room, so make sure to bring a watch to be on time for dinners. CNN has the time on the TV. It’s nice though to be on vacation and not hear the evils sounds of the alarm clock going off. Enjoy that! That’s what the normal grind and work week is for.

There are TV stations in English – CNN, USA, NBC, and CBS. There are more channels to watch at the Sports Bar. The best is watching all the old cartoons on Boomerang in Spanish. We watched the Flintstones and Smurfs and it was like time travel watching that.

Don’t drink the tap water. They give you 2 large bottles of water for the room, and then there are water bottles at all bars, and in the lobby bar (in the self-serve fridge.)

We have Razor Phones from Verizon. If you know about the white dot , red dot pertaining to water damage on the phone, be aware that the high humidity can cause the white dot to turn red. This happened to us.

The room has a standard hotel safe.

There’s a slight musty smell in the room (we noticed this more in the Junior Suite) but you just get used to it and it was not a big deal.

The floors are marble so be careful when they get wet.

The hotel turns off ALL the lights in the hallways and stairwells at night. If you get up for an early morning walk (5:00 am), you might want to bring a little flashlight for the stairwells.

Men in Speedos and topless women are very common.

The work out facility looked to be reasonably modern and fairly new. The work out machines looked on the newer side. Since the spa/work out facility was on the beach, you were facing the ocean while working out.

They do have massages on the beach as an option from the spa. There’s a hut on the beach we saw, and couples can get a massage at the same time on the beach. I believe it is approximately $100 per person for this.

The Palladium allows the local vendors on to the property on Thursday nights to sell their goods.

You may want to pack any extra carry on to bring back and souvenirs or anything fragile.

The staff speaks Spanish and most spoke understandable English and German.

If you want to take a picture with the little monkey that they take around to the beach and pools, make sure to go on a Thursday or Friday, because those are the only days that he is out.

We walked into the little town next to the Palladium. If you are looking for cigars, go to Alhambra Cigars, which is on the very first street, all the way at the end. Miguel in store poured us some mamajuana while we were choosing which cigars we wanted. They have quality cigars at reasonable prices.

In conclusion we would recommend the Royal suites to anyone considering a beach destination for their vacation. The adults only atmosphere is very nice and laid back. Additional pictures of our vacation can be viewed at this link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/89918755@N00/
Grand Palladium Royal Suites
Jeff 
Canada
January 2007
We are a little over 50 now and this was our third time in the Dominican Republic.

Flight: Air Transat:
Ouch! Size will make a difference. If you are bigger than 175 cm (5'-8") and if you are a wee bit on the wide side then you may feel a little bit uncomfortable for the ride. From Toronto it was roughly 4 hours. Unfortunately our 11:30 return flight was delayed another four+half hours so for many of us it was an all-nighter on the way home and the plane was packed.

During our stay I learned from a guest that there are a few seats on the plane available known as "Club Class". They may or may not be available and carry an additional reasonable fee which to me sounded like a very good deal considering a list of benefits. A few of these are "no line up or waiting, ample seating space, drinks included, private washroom, special meal etcetera while the others are packed in like sardines eating a sandwich".

Arrival: 11:30 PM
Everything looked fresh, clean and inviting. 10 out of 10 marks for presentation. No bugs anywhere. This proved to be a common thread throughout our stay. For some reason the Hotel could not give us a room in the area where we though we should be. We were travelling with 4 other couples. Since we booked at a later time we suppose that is the reason they split us up from the others. They upgraded us to the Royal Suites. This is an exclusive area connected to the rest of the property but exclusive with it's own buildings lobby, bars, pool, champagne and snacks. The other guests on the property are not allowed in. This meant our friends could not come to visit us. Only we could visit them. I'm sure they were aware of this when we were checked in. There is good and bad in everything.

Hotel Room: 5201 (Royal Suites)
The room was very clean and presentable. It is the same size as many others that are not a Royal Suite room. I think the main difference is that the shower is larger. Of course we had the Jacuzzi in the middle of the room too. So romantic. Mini-bar and coffee maker in the room.

We thought the lighting was too dim in the washbasin and closet area. A little flashlight would of been handy especially to see inside the safe. We received washcloths for a couple of days and didn't realize until they were gone that they were so illusive. Best to bring your own. For more comfort bring your own toilet paper and tissue paper.

For some reason our A/C could not get lower than 24 although set for 11. There was a ceiling fan in the room and we were comfortable on a large king-sized bed.

Leaving $2.00 for the maids everyday on a pillow was suggested. Our room stayed immaculate.

Food and drink:
First keep in mind when judging this 5 star resort that this is a third world country. The people who work here are genuinely friendly and sincere. The service was always good, great or excellent even though most of the staff speak very limited English.

There are several restaurants with a la carte menus to choose from with nice decorations. We went to a couple of them but they were just okay. Nothing to write home about. There are many food buffets and more grilled food at the beach. Always the food was good and plentiful with a wide enough variety to satisfy everyone. When considering this 5 star resort do not expect a 1" thick steak that cuts with a butter knife or fancy French cuisine. No. Not even close.

There are bars everywhere. Two kinds of beer. Most of your regular basic bar drinks available. The regular grade wine was poor at best. Because we stayed at the Royal Suites we were entitled to a better grade which barely cut the mustard. There was a wine list available at the a la carte restaurants which would come at additional cost and that's where we drew the line.

Snack foods like BBQ, pizza, fresh popcorn, nachos, salad and bar available 24 hours a day at the Sports Bar. We didn't try all the places to eat as there are so many to choose from. As always at this resort the presentation was perfect.

Hotel Property:
This is a big place. Again the presentation was perfect. There are over 100 buildings with accommodations on these beautifully landscaped prestigious grounds. Everything is well maintained and comfortable. This is a very large resort with only one other that is larger on the island. There are approximately 1500 people working at the Palladium.

There is a couple of mini trains that travel around throughout the complex. The train stops many places. Breathing in the diesel exhaust fumes that the tractor produces is another story that goes along with the one that claims that almost every guest smokes. No Canadian cigarettes available.

There are no Lifeguards anywhere but the grounds and beach are well guarded with Security Guards. Generally everything was always safe. You could leave your camera and or cash and or other valuables in your bag by the pool or beach and go swimming without worry that someone would try and take it. We used our safe in the room but I doubt we needed to.

There are numerous sporting activities like tennis, badminton, basketball, bocce ball, mini golf, archery, soccer, volleyball, beach volleyball and more. You will get a schedule of activities in your room.

There are several night spots to go to. We had fun at the Disco for a "Tequila Night Party" as well as cabaret style shows and and evening with much audience participation.

Knowing how to say Hola and Gracias will get you through 90% of the communication challenges. Having a Spanish translation book would have been handy to have. Another thing to have that would have been handy to have would be a good set of walkie-talkies. This place is so huge one could almost walk their legs off.

There is also a mini medial clinic. There are clean air-conditioned shops the property that sell items at reasonable prices considering their location. You can take a taxi and shop elsewhere is you feel like doing some bargaining although the end prices will be fairly close to the price you would pay at the resort shops when all is said and done.

There are a multitude of excursions to choose from. Sorry to say that we didn't take any.

Beach:
This gorgeous picturesque beach is one our main reasons for returning a third time to this area. We have been to many places in the world and this is one of our favourites. The water was warm as was the gentle breeze. There was a guarantee that everyday was going to be the same. Our big bold beautiful sun was shining brightly through an array of scattered clouds. The sand was soft and clean. There are plenty of tanning beds and a fair amount of little beach huts. There are servers walking around taking your drink order.

The neighbouring beach to the south was unguarded, less clean, less wide and we found many people wanting you to buy something. Also this is where the fishing boats were parked. They use diesel as well and often would flood the beach near the Royal Suites with their foul fumes while they warmed up the engines.

There was also beach volleyball and beach soccer on the Beach.

Conclusion:
This is a great place to stay at. We are happy that we didn't pay for the price for the Royal Suites as that probably would not achieved for us the value we would have expected. It was nice to try the Royal Suites out but if there is going to be a next time then we would be happier being located nearer the centre of the resort.

Tipping is not required but helps. In the last 10 years the workers wages have not kept pace with the cost of living. Bring plenty of $1.00 dollar bills with you as well as any items of clothing that you could spare. If giving any leftover clothing, or toiletries to the staff it would be wise to give them a small note with it stating what it is and you are actually giving it away to them. Security it tight.

If you are planning to go to the Palladium be prepared and you can plan on having a GREAT holiday
Grand Palladium Royal Suites
Anne 
Canada
May 2006
Hi Debbie,

I was at the above resort during the time period April 19th - 26th, 2006. My friend and I were there for a wedding. We had originally booked a loft, but we were very pleasantly surprised when we were upgraded to the Royal Suites. Very nice! The one thing I cannot over emphasize is the friendliness and helpfulness of the resort staff. The suite was very nice, the amenities of the Royal Suites made me feel like a VIP. It was wonderful having our own private pool and beach area, I wish I had made more use of the beach - oh well, next time!

The food was good and plentiful. I felt relaxed knowing the water was purified, in that the fresh fruit and the ice cubes in drinks were safe to eat and drink.

The wedding (for me) seemed to go off without a hitch, although I know the bride did a lot of her own footwork in organizing what her guests would like for appetizers and entres for the wedding dinner. The wedding dinner was good.

I unfortunately had a minor accident when swimming at the Marinearium, and had to visit the doctor at the resort. Again, I cannot stress enough how kind the doctors were on staff and very thorough.

The shops on the resort were good, and I ended up buying most of my gifts from them.

As Royal Suite residents, my friend and I were allowed to eat at five a la carte restaurants. We only made it to three, the Dominican, the Fish Restaurant (El Alceriffe) and the Tex Mex. Of the three, I would have to say the Dominican was, for me, the best. The only complaint I have is that they should invest in proper steak knives in the a la carte restaurants. I guess the meat, although flavourful, is a bit tougher than I'm used to, and I found it frustrating not being able to cut the meat properly, and I wasn't about to pick it up with my fingers.

I really loved the Buffet Restaurant in the "Punta Cana" resort area. Although El Torres (in the Palace resort area) was good, the Punta Cana resort was brighter, and seemed a bit newer. Also, they had a bigger non-smoking area (a big plus for me).

I would like to mention Cesar and Edwin, the excellent front desk clerks in the Royal Suites lobby. Extremely efficient, although, again, I have to say all the resort staff were great!

I would definitely recommend this resort to my friends, and if they can afford it - the Royal Suites!
Grand Palladium Royal Suites
Janice 
Canada
May 2006
Let me start be qualifying where we’re coming from. We are a married couple in our forties/fifties from Pickering, Ontario. Between the two of us, we have previously travelled to the Bahamas, Barbados, St. Martin, St. Kitts, Columbia, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Mayan Riviera, Huatulco, Puerto Plata, and Uvero Alto. Our closest comparison to the Punta Cana area would be Secrets Excellence in Uvero Alto, where we have stayed twice previously.

We stayed at the Grand Palladium Palace Royal Suites from April 12th to the 26th. The short of it is that we intend to return. After reading some of the earlier reviews, I have to wonder if some of the writers stayed at the same resort!?! Perhaps some of our success was due to staying in the Royal Suites. We can’t complain about a lack of lounge chairs or palapas, because there were plenty of both. We can’t complain about the music being too loud around the pool or beach bars, because there wasn’t any music there. Our area was beautiful and serene. Although we were at the beach earlier in the day, I saw palapas available as late as 1100 hrs; and sometimes all day! And beach lounge chairs were so plentiful that some of the lazier folks actually had several on the go at once...apparently they didn’t want to be bothered having to move their chairs in and out of the sun. As distasteful as I found that practise, there were always empty lounge chairs to be found. The service of drinks on the beach was outstanding. With this crew hard at work, we never had to wait for a drink, or get one for ourselves unless we wanted to stretch. Whether you were at the beach, around the pool, at the swim-up bar, or pool bar area, the service was great! The rooms were beautiful, very large, and immaculate. It seems to me that there wouldn’t be a bad view from a room in our complex, as they all face inside towards the pool and ocean. From the front desk staff, bellmen, wait and bar staff, grounds keepers, and housekeeping staff, all did a fabulous job, were very professional, friendly, helpful and prompt. We enjoyed the bathrobes and slippers, premium drinks, the ease of a la carte reservations and air conditioned lobby that are all part of the Royal Suites.

We were also impressed with the a la carte restaurants. The short story is we ate at the Italian once, the Dominican once, the Mexican once, the international grill twice, the Asian twice and the Spanish twice. Neither one of us ever had a bad meal. We enjoyed all of our choices. In addition to the food, we were pleasantly surprised by the attention paid to the décor, including the dinnerware, and the uniforms of the servers. It’s clear that they put a lot of effort into delivering not just the food of the country, but a more complete experience. The Spanish and Asian restaurants in particular get extra points for décor. We did go to the beach barbeque one night. Again, from the welcome drink, to providing a wind break with a palm fence of sorts, they certainly tried, and, for us, succeeded in providing a fun and comfortable atmosphere in which we gorged ourselves on ribs. In regards to the rest of the food, if you can find a way to go hungry at the buffets, then you’d best just stay home. We have never stayed anywhere with as much variety. As an aside regarding breakfast, we so enjoyed our little pool side morning eats that we only went to the full buffet once.

The beach is one of the best we’ve ever seen. The guards that keep the Royal Suites designated area for its guests only do a fantastic job. No problems with coral or rocks, just smooth, soft, white sand. A big bonus for me was no bugs, as compared to getting eaten alive at Secrets. Another bonus was the grounds are large enough to run around without feeling like you’re going in circles. Even though there’s a treadmill, how often do you get to run on paths lined with palm trees and exotic plants?

I would like to say a special thanks to the breakfast service crew William, Rosebel, Jesus, Benito, and cook Juan Ramon. They did such a fabulous job. And Danny, Theodoro and Melvin kept us going through the day and were awesome! Santa was our late afternoon/evening girl, who was always smiling, and patient with the late night folks...the pool bar for the Suites is open until 2400 hrs. In the lobby, Cesar and Ursula were very helpful and a pleasure to deal with. No question went unanswered, no need unmet. Thanks to everyone who made our stay such a pleasure and hope to see you all next year!
Grand Palladium Royal Suites
 
Canada
March 2006
this place is awesome and we were up graded to the royal section which was a bonus. we travel two or three times a year, so we have been to the caribbean alot. i think the rooms were the best we have ever stayed in. the royal section rooms are the same as the regular in the place and the bavaro section, we viewed both. i would not pay the extra for the upgrade, not alot extra , fruit basket, 1 extra dinner, private beach, service on the beach was different, but nice little extra. breakfast by the pool was always cold, but it was nice to sit there every morning. we had champage when ever we wanted. the place is big and lots of food choices. very clean, beach is wonderful. it was our first time at this place and i would go back in a heart beat. we got it for 1099.00. it was well worth it, i would pay 1300.00 for it. i am going to the gran bahia prinicple on march 23 to 30 th. i hope its just as good because i really would have gone back here, wanted to try this spot. but i will be back next year for sure. the people in punta cana are wonderful. it was the best place ever. my husband golfed every second day, it was a bit expensive. on friday nights they have gala night and the food is out of this world, turkey, lamb, rabbit, steak.pork.roast beef and so on. if your thinking about going here , dont think about it , book it, its amazing place, doesnt matter what section your in, place or the royal, or the bavaro, beach and the rooms and the food are the same.
Grand Palladium Royal Suites
Allan (Allan is a regular contributor to our websites!) 
New Brunswick, Canada
February 2006
This was our 9th trip to the DR and the 6th to Punta Cana. This time we stayed at the Royal Suites (RS) section of the Grand Palladium Palace Resort, part of the Palladium complex, for 2 weeks from Jan 24- Feb7 2006 and in short we had a very good time at this resort and would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice relaxing quiet get away. However having stayed at other resorts in Punta Cana which offered VIP packages we were a little disappointed with the RS. There were not a lot of extra services offered for this upgraded section and with the lack of a RS restaurant, I’m not sure it is worth the extra cost unless you really want to pay for a nice quiet adult only section. Overall rating 7.5/10

Beach and Weather – The weather while we were there was great. We had a few very windy days, very little rain and mostly very hot sunny days. The Palladium beach section is very nice. Although not the widest section of beach it is very long with plenty of good swimming areas and lots of spots for sitting in the sun or shade. There also was very little seaweed when we were there. 9/10

Room – we were in room 5144 on the third floor in the main building right off the lobby. This turned out to be a very nice spot for us. Even though it is the farthest building from the beach the room did have a great view overlooking the grounds, pool and beach! From anywhere in the room you had the same view- it was great! I stepped out of the shower in the mornings to this view! The room included bathrobes, extra bath amenities, washcloths, a good size closet with plenty of hangers, an iron and board, a sofa bed, 2 chairs and table, as well as a normal height table and lounge chairs on the balcony. The safe was programmable and included which we liked. No key to worry about. There was plenty of hot water (most of the times) and good water pressure. The room was kept very clean and tidy with clean towels daily. The bedding was even changed quite often during our two weeks. Rating 9/10

Lobby – The suites had its own small, quiet, enclosed lobby with a bar cart and server, as well as mini coolers with sandwiches, beer, pop, etc. Service here was very good and the staff was very friendly. They even got to know our drinks and would bring them to our table as soon as they saw us come in. There was also a self-serve coffee machine, which I really enjoyed! There were two Internet stations with free usage in 30 mins intervals. Most of the time these were quite busy but we never really had any trouble using them during our stay. You just have to be patient. The lobby was never busy and was a nice quiet place to sit and relax before heading off for supper or upon returning. The front desk staff was very accommodating and spoke very good English. This is where you would do you’re a la carte bookings. They had a copy of the menus so you could check them out before you booked. We had no problem doing bookings. Sometimes you had to book a different restaurant for a different night than you wanted but it was no big deal since we could book as often as we wanted. In fact I had to change our bookings on several occasions and it again was no problem. Rating 9/10

Food – Food overall we found to be quite good. In all of the Restaurants the food trays were constantly being replenished and we noticed a few times that the temperature of dishes were tested. However many food items were not labeled and sometimes it was hard to tell, especially with the meat dishes. As well a lot of the food dishes in all the restaurants we ate at were very salty. Neither of us had any stomach nor related problems the two weeks we were there. A small breakfast is served at the RS Pool Bar area. Most mornings we found this good enough for us. A couple mornings we did venture over to the Las Torres buffet where there was a greater selection of items. Breakfast however was the only food served at the Suites except for the snacks in the lobby cooler. For us one of the biggest problems with staying at this section was the lack of an on-site restaurant of some kind. At first I did not think it would be a problem but it turned out to be one, especially with staying for 14 nights. We didn’t seem to mind the walking, the waiting or train ride itself as much the first week, but by week 2 it was getting kind of old! It especially would have been nice to stay at this section for lunch rather than have to make our way to the other section of the complex to find food. In the evenings it also proved to be a headache some nights because of problems with the train schedule or lack thereof. It was not just a matter of deciding to walk over to dinner 15-20 mins prior to your booking. One had to plan to be dressed and down waiting in the lobby well in advance to make sure you were there to catch a train over to the other end of the resort complex to make your dinner reservation. So although it was easy to make an a la carte reservation it was not as easy to get there. Rating 6/10

Buffet Restaurants – We ate breakfast at the palace buffet a couple times as well as dinner 3 times during our stay. We found the selection very good and the quality good. Service as well was pretty good most times. One thing we did notice that we never had before was that you had to wait in line to get into the buffet sometimes. Our first 2 lunches were eaten at the palace beach restaurant, El Bohio, which had a pretty good selection and quality of food, but which we found quite crowded. So we were glad to discover Le Bejigue, the Punta Cana buffet, which was open for lunch. This had a greater selection including a grill station with various items to choose from, various selections of pizzas, pastas, salads and deserts. We really liked this buffet but again it was a little walk from our side so a couple days we just did the burgers at the beach grill so we could spend more time around the pool. We tried the Catedral buffet one day for lunch and found it almost empty and not as good a selection as Bejigue. 8/10

A La Cartes – There are 6 a la cartes throughout the complex. We went to each of them. Men are required to wear long pants at each and we did see this being enforced.
La Uva – Dominican restaurant located at the Punta Cana beach restaurant. We ate here twice and both times it was good but not great. The fried chicken and shrimp dishes were both good. The biggest surprise here was the fact that it has a very limited menu, (there were only 2 appetizer choices) which we found strange since we are in the DR. 7/10
Mare Nostrum – Italian restaurant located on the side of the Palace buffet restaurant. We really like this restaurant. We ate here twice and both times were very good. We had a 3rd booking but it was for a late hour so we changed it with no problem. The restaurant was a good size, the food was good and the service was very good. This was one of the few restaurants where the staff actually took time to ask if you were enjoying your meal, and they were always smiling. We also arrived about 20 mins early and there was no problem being seated. The dinners here were well spaced and we never felt rushed. Note the appetizer dishes (except for the soup) are a large portion. I was sorry I didn’t just do the appetizer bar and a main course the second time we ate there. The appetizer bar here was one of the best. 9/10
La Arrecife - Seafood restaurant located at the Bavaro beach restaurant was again ok but not great. We found the place to be too busy and too big for an a la carte. As well, being located on the other side of the complex, away from any bars, lobbies, etc it was a hassle for us to get there since we had to time the train just right. Although service and food were ok, for us it was not worth the hassle so we only ate there once. I had the Seafood grill and it was good but way too much food I had to send half back. 6/10

The next three restaurants are all located in a nice area, connected by a bridge walkway, off the side of the Bavaro lobby. There is a nice Meeting Bar where you can sit and wait before going for your booking. When we were there this bar was rarely used. Some international drinks were available here.
Gran Cantina Mariachi –Tex-Mex restaurant. We only ate here once. We were not impressed. The food was just ok, the appetitizer bar was nothing special and service here was very poor and very slow. We even debated leaving before our main course because it was taking so long. The appetizer dishes, chicken fajitas, burritos etc, were enough to be main course and probably would be just as good or even better. My friend had the veal and he said it was very tough. 5/10

Bambu – Asian restaurant. We ate here twice. We had a third booking but we cancelled it. Although the food here was good, the service was terrible. The first time we ate here we had Chinese Spring Rolls brought to the table but the second time we didn’t, even though the table next to us did and they even ordered seconds. Servers would walk right past our table even though we had empty glasses. I ordered coffee one night that never arrived. The Sushi and Peanut Chicken appetizers were both very good though so that’s why we gave it a second chance, but after the second night of poor service we decided not to go back. 6/10

El Quijote – Spanish restaurant. We went to this restaurant 3 times. The first time was the best – good food and great service. Second time the service was a little spotty and the third time it picked up again. We arrived once 30 mins early and the hostess said we could go in whenever we were ready. The Garlic Shrimp appetizer was very good although quite salty the third time we had it. The Orly Shrimp was good too but a little too much batter. All 3 times my friend had the Crackling Pork and it was good. I had the Salmon and it too was good! 9/10

Few Things we really liked here:
- Didn’t have to sign for international drinks at any of the bars.
- The Free or Occupied cards on the buffet tables
- Desserts at the a la cartes (except for La Uva) were brought around on carts for you to choose from.
- Quiet pool and lobby areas of the RS – no loud party music playing – no animation staff after you to join in activities
- Unlimited a la carte bookings
- Size and layout of the RS section
- No problem finding loungers at the pool or beach at RS
- Hemmingway’s Piano Bar (non-smoking) open in the evenings and located between the Bavaro lobby and pool area- this was a nice quiet spot with game tables, international drinks and good service. Most times we went, there was hardly anyone there.
- Cleanliness of the whole RS section
- Bottled water was available everywhere and bottles were usually left on your table at the restaurants to help yourself
- Gala Night at the buffets is not to be missed; they really have a huge variety of everything on this night. Of the 3 buffet nights for us 2 of them were the Gala Nights

Few things we didn’t like
- The isolation feeling of the RS
- The lack of a regular train schedule – sometimes in the evening they would be 5 mins apart and then 20-25mins apart. This could be a problem since they only hold your a la carte booking for 10 mins.
- No restaurants at the RS
- Size of the whole complex – it really was not walkable
- No consistency with regards to drink selection at the various bars
- No restaurants at the RS (oh did I say that already – well for us it was a big downfall)
- RS swim-up bar was not well attended to– could sit there for quite a while before getting served

Now for the biggest let down of all – Transat Holidays and Air Transat. Both were terrible on this trip and if at all possible we hope to never have to use them again! From the service on the planes and the snacks they serve for meals, to the chaos at the airport coming and going, to flight changes, to booking several people in the same seat, to Reps who are rude, condescending and unhelpful, to early check out times and late buses to down right very poor service and the ‘we’ve already got your money so who cares’ attitude, Transat is swiftly going down hill. Unfortunately for us in Atlantic Canada we have few other options for our wintertime vacations.
Rating 1.5/10 and that’s only because they did get us to Punta Cana in the first place, and then back to Halifax an hour earlier.
Grand Palladium Royal Suites
Jill 

February 2006
We stayed in the Royal Suites of the Grand Palladium Palace in Punta Cana the last week of January. It was a wonderful, quiet and relaxing experience for both my husband and myself (we're in our late 40's).

Our check-in was fast and we were immediately taken to our room. We requested, and got, a room on the third floor overlooking the pool, with a great view of the ocean. The room was spacious, clean and nicely furnished - marble everywhere. Our jacuzzi/bathroom area was all decorated with flowers left by the maid.

A short 30 second walk away was our private beach - reserved solely for the guests of the Royal Suites. There was never a need to wake up early to reserve chairs. We were served our drinks directly from our beach chairs - what a nice treat. The bar beside the pool as well as the lobby area was stocked at all times with water, alcohol, soft drinks and sandwiches.

A champagne breakfast was served pool-side every morning. Buffet meals were available at the other resorts, either a 5 minute walk to the Palladium, or short train ride to the Bavaro. These buffets had a different theme each night so it was never boring - and the selection!! We heard some guests saying that they did not enjoy having to leave our little area for meals, especially at lunch time, but the Palladium lunch buffet was literally a 2 minute walk down the beach. Their only request was that you cover-up your bathing suits while eating! It was our feeling that after sitting for several hours in the sun, we really SHOULD get a little exercise before we eat!

The dinner buffets always had a different theme - Mexican, Dominican, etc. The "Gala" night was overwhelming - the staff really outdid themselves on this particular night. It was quite a challenge to try and taste a little of everything that evening.

The beach is simply breath-taking. Every morning I walked along it to take in the sun rise. You can literally walk for miles along this white-sand beach. What a way to start and end our days.

We found all the staff to be extremely pleasant and helpful. Our Spanish is limited to a very few words, but we were always able to find a way to communicate. We were one of the very few English speaking guests (or so it seemed), but that was fine by us. We were looking for a quiet, relaxing holiday and that's what we found.

We will seriously be considering a return trip to the Royal Suites next year.
Grand Palladium Royal Suites
Chris 
Edmonton
December 2005
Just returned 2 weeks Nov 17 - Dec 1, 2005

Air Transat Club seats - An extra $300 each from Edmonton - We loved it. It was worth not having to stand in line to check in, the extra weight allowance (88kgs each), they didn't even ask about our carry on. You can board any time after the flight is called. Choice of 4 gourmet meals and wine, orange juice and wine is provide before takeoff. Blanket, pillow, and headsets provided at your seat which is wider, reclines further, has more leg room and is cushier.

Arrival at PUJ is a bit unnerving the first time there but when we do it again if wouldn't bother me at all. First you hit the picture ladies, which you can purchase when you go home for $7, then customs - have your tourist card and passport/ID ready. Make sure you hand them your tourist card intact and be careful with it if it has been folded up on the perforations as it can easily be separated. A lady in front of us had hers become separated and lost the bottom half without knowing it. She was panicked and it held up the only custom line open. Once through customs, follow the crowd to the luggage and then it gets crazy. It is noisy and everyone is yelling to get your attention for your bags, so keep your wits about you, if someone is going pick your pocket, steal you purse or luggage this is where it will likely happen. But I gotta say the luggage guys know the routine, so I can't say don't use them. We didn't because we were worried about them taking off with our stuff, because we had read a review about that, but on the other hand they know what bus is what and swiftly take you to your bus. but make sure you don't lose sight of them either, they move quick.You are busy trying to adjust to the heat, the noise, find your rep, so you are a bit over stimulated. Once you find your rep they will give you your bus number, proceed outside and there are tons of tourist buses to the various resorts and they are not lined up numerically, you just have to find yours. Once you do, put your luggage next to the bus, but make sure it gets loaded. It is a piece of cake from there.

The Royal Suites are an adult only area with its own pool and beach that are patrolled by security for "outsiders". It is very quiet and never had to jockey for position at the beach or pool. The pool bar has a continental breakfast everyday from 6:30am to 10:00am, we had no trouble getting coffee and pastries if we were late. The wait staff are great, bringing you whatever you ordered, drink wise to pool or beach.
BTW: Don't worry when the bus drops everyone at the palace - You won't find your name there. Let the front desk know you are at the RS and they will have a bellmen take you over by a shuttle cart. It is there you check in.

Room 5208 - Ground floor; terrace faced pool, entrance door faced wall that borders the village of Corticieto. Pretty quiet, very convenient to pool and beach. Would recommend bld 52 if on the ground floor, but not if you are on the 2nd or 3rd floor because you will be higher than the wall and the lovely people of the village are very social, so you will hear everything. Bld 51 has the lobby incorporated into it and faces the beach, but furthest from beach/pool. Bld 50 is parallel to the beach as is bld 52, thus the 3 form a horseshoe. Rooms are equivalent to a deluxe room at the palace, you are paying extra for all the great amenities provided. Here is a delicate matter.....If you are going on a romantic trip for the 1st time together and don't know each other that well, you will by the end of the trip. THERE IS NO PRIVACY. The toilet is enclosed in the same type of cubbie as your typical high school cubicle. You will know each others bathroom sounds, if you know what I mean, by the end of the trip. The upside of this is - If you still like each other at the end of the trip, after hearing and smelling each other for a week or more. you will be able to marry each other, as you will know the human side of your roommate very very well. It wasn't a problem for us as we celebrated our 18 wedding anniversary while there, so been there, done that.

Lobby at the RS is the only air conditioned lobby at the Palladium resorts and provides 24 hr sandwiches, pop, beer, and premium hard liquors. 2 Internet connections available unlimited usage in 1/2 hr intervals. Remember all these extras are included in the cost.

Staff at the RS are really good. When we checked in to our room, we were not happy as we always like to be higher, so we went to talk to Octavio about switching. With all of the hurricane refugees, the entire property was booked solid our 1st week and he asked us to check back in 48 hours. We understood the position he was in, so we waited. But oddly enough, everytime we came into the lobby (for whatever reason) he would calmly walk out of the lobby. We thought the first few times it was a coincidence, but as it became a routine, we assumed that he just didn't know how to tell us that the change wasn't possible. As the holiday gods were with us, we soon figured out the room location wasn't so bad and was only a short distance to the pool and beach so it was all good. The front desk staff was very accommodating, special thanks to Francisco, Ursula and Ramone. The lobby wait staff were great, especially Edu she is a sweety. Don't get me wrong about Octavo, I have heard great things about him and I am sure he would bend over backwards to accommodate anyone, this is why I think he kept out of our way, He is just not used to being unable to fulfill guest requests and it is hard for him to so no. Special thanks to CD at the pool bar at breakfast, always greeted with a smile and knew what we wanted. Get to know him, he will spoil you.

The whole resort is very big, but the train is only 20 mins away and there are stops every 500 feet, so just jump on and it will get you where you want to go. It took awhile to get our bearings, but that is part of the fun, poking around. So don't think of it as a negative thing, just grab a map and get exploring. I never did figure out from just the looks of the place which was the Punta Cana, which was the Bavaro, but here is a hint. Read the welcome mat as you go into each lobby! There was a live band Tuesday to Saturday at least 2 of the lobbies, and you can cut a rug if you wish. We did and had a ball. Saw more than one bride and groom have their first dance.

Food is plentiful. The buffets are typical, and a free for all. Just learn the plate-in-hand dance! Accept the fact that people can be rude and pushy and just jump in with them. I am not going to critique each one. They all have theme nights just check the boards outside of each buffet for what each nights fare is and plan from there. The ala carts are good too. We ate at them all but 4-5 nites. Our fav was the Bamboo we did it 3 times, once by invite because there was "no Sushi" we had fun with the staff over that, teasing them that they had run out of sushi on our 2nd visit, so they invited us back and it was fun being teased by them about "NO SUSHI" We had the whole restaurant looking at all of us and laughing.

BTW lobster is extra at the seafood ala carte Be aware it is 850 pesos (approx $30 US - using the 27 pesos to $1 US rule which is what everyone uses when converting) and is billed to your room. We had it anyway and it was great.

There is a new ala carte called the La Uva. DR fare. We enjoyed it. Remember the DR's food is bland (not what you would think with Spanish influence) but we enjoyed it especially the fried chicken; red beans and rice. I liked the pumpkin soup, my husband was iffy about it, but try it for yourself. The service was a bit shaky, but I think it is because it is new and everyone has to find their way yet.
The Italian restaurant is good, but it is not what you think Italian is, it is the DR's impression of Italian. Food is good, but strange. Service impeccable, best of them all.
The balance of the ala carts are all good choices and you can critique them all day if you want, but there really isn't a bad one in the lot. Some nights are better than others, but who can't say that about any restaurant. So stop being the NY Times food critic and enjoy.

The animation staff works very hard to please their audience. Plus we walked by the theatre during the mornings and they were always there rehearsing, and the show wasn't until 10pm. BTW there is a new theatre just opened while we were there next to the disco at the Barvaro. I think the resort has consolidated all the shows there, as the theatre at the Palace was never used after the new one opened, but I could be wrong about that. My husband seems to think I am wrong about that. The shows were not our cup of tea, but all around us were enjoying them and we did enjoy the one at the new theatre. So go and appreciate the extent they go to please you.

The ocean is quite rough. The surf is not as gentle as we thought it was going to be, but with a bit of practise, you get the idea. Yes there is seaweed, but I think that comes with the deal. You are in the ocean!!. Yes it wraps around your ankles, yes you will think it is jaws, get over it and enjoy it. It beats the hell out of anything we have around here. I was jumping around whacking my ankles and getting weird about it touching me, and then I just relaxed and pushed it away.

Shopping: Two choices - the resorts stores, where prices are fixed and higher. (Vendor night is Thursdays. They get to set up in the open air areas of each of the Palladiums. They are just as aggressive as at the huts) or the hut vendors. Once you leave the property, turn right on the beach you are facing the ocean and you are free game. walk up to Captain Cooks (you know you are at Captain cooks by the shuttle boats moored in the surf. As you move along the beach they all come up to you and shake your hand and ask you to come in, but if you are not interested, just smile shake their hand and say no no Gracias. They love to make you feel guilty, but that's part of the charm. Cut through CC's and you are in Corticeto. Check out the market for pricing. Coffee was 85 pesos for 1 lb. Check out the prices on other consumables, rum and souvenirs. They have fruit, fresh lobster, crab, etc. From the market you can turn left or right. When you are facing the market, turn left. We found a shell vendor on the left (beach side) he was great. I bought a huge conch shell for $12 (he started at $40) he had lots of them plus two beautiful black ones (he wanted $60 each) but didn't deal on them, but am kicking myself now. We were worried about getting them out and back to Canada, so if I had my conch taken away, I was only out $12. Then we wandered down the street and stopped in at Ramonas cigars. We watched them make cigars and they let us into the humidor by ourselves, not worrying if we were going to steal the loose cigars. We took a bunch of pictures and bought one single Churchill for $5. We don't smoke but wanted a sample. It smelled so good in there. We can't vouch for the quality but they were very accommodating to us even after they found out we were not going to buy tons of cigars.

Next to Ramona's was the hut vendor we dickered with. His name is Henry and it was easy to fall in love with him! His vendor number on his shirt is 136. We dealt on the following: 4 thin long paintings, a medium size terracotta incense burner, a small DR plato, a 26 oz bottle of Brugel; 2 tee shirts, 3 lbs of coffee. He started out with $225 US and we ended up shaking hands at $60 US and 2 $10 cdn Wal-Mart watches. Everyone was happy, when we got to the nitty gritty we didn't do the obligatory walk out and him coming to get us. So use that as the max for a mix of stuff and if you do better let us know in the Punta Cana forum. We were all happy, so isn't that what its all about? When we were adding everything up to make the offer we gauged the paintings at $10 each, probably that's were we could have done better, but maybe not. That size at the resort was $12-$15US, so who knows. We intended to use the watches as a bargaining tool, and we didn't lie about their value. I think Henry appreciated that. We had so much fun with Henry. There were hand shakes and hugs, back slapping and air kisses all around. Before we left Henry had already paid a debt to a fellow vendor with the mans watch. Henry's boss ended up with my watch her name was Laveta. So if you go, I would say deal there. We didn't feel uncomfortable at all. Some of vendors' approach made us not want to go in to look, but not at all from Henry. Make sure you tell him we sent you. No we are not getting a commission. haha. We read somewhere that you shouldn't pay anymore than 25% to 50% of the initial asking price and that seemed to serve us well. Carry a small pocket calculator and have a price in mind before you start the bartering. We didn't have any trouble borrowing one from any vendor, but you get to do your figuring without them looking over your shoulder. A word to the wise. We dealt on some coffee on Vendor night at the resort and my hubby started to walk away once and the vendor adding 2 1/2 pounders to sweeten the deal and he dropped the price, so my hubby agreed, then when we got back to the room, we found the vendor had smoothly removed the 2 1/2 pounders. So get the bag in your hand check it then hand over the $$$. And I have to say that at Henry's I didn't feel that was going to happen, even though there was several people wrapping, talking, and laughing. But keep your wits about you, though as you never know and just cause it didn't happen to us at Henry's.......We only saw a couple of streets in the village, and we get the impression there is a lot more, but we ran out of pesos and got what we wanted, so home we went. Not sure if you want to be there at night, says my hubby, but I had such a good experience with Henry, I would be more open to that now, but of course, nothing bad happened to me. So use your own discretion.

Tipping. Everyone has advice for this......At the buffets we did if we got things quickly - $1 in the hand. Wait staff at pool/beach $1 every other drink/water in the hand. Ala carts - $6 to $10 under the coffee cup. There are move people involved here and it is all pooled. Maid - $2 per day plus goodies on the pillow with a note of thanks signed by one of us with our room #. On the last day we gave her $8 plus the balance of the goodies, plus leftover shampoo, deodorant, our insulated cups, Ziploc bags. I gave it to her personally because we had a 4pm check out and I was afraid someone else would be cleaning the room. She cried, I cried, Hubby cried. Don't forget to sign and put down your room # on the note, they have to show that to security at the end of the day to prove they did not steal the goodies. Bellmen $5 coming and going - we had 4 bags. Last day tips - We left CD a nice tip in relation to his spoiling us. And we acknowledged 2 of the front desk staff that were on when we left. I know we tipped others too, it is hard not to - first of all they don't expect it, are very humble when you give it too them, and it rattles me to know that you may be giving a huge boost to their monthly incomes. A fellow traveller told me that the majority of the staff make $15US a month and work 6 on 1 off or 11 on 3 off 12-15 hours per day.

Other stuff Man I packed 14 of everything. STOP THAT!!!! We wore our bathing suits and cover ups 98% of the time. Remember that when packing. Unless your religion requires you to wear socks, leave them at home. I can guarantee you will not wear any except the ones you came down with. Underwear, well.....You wear them maybe an hour aday when you go to dinner, so do you need 14 pair? hemmmmm.......Shoes - same thing, I wore my sandals to dinner, who wants to wear heals when you don't have to. The guys do need long pants, we saw people refused at the ala carts with shorts. But we were disappointed to see muscle shirts at the ala carts. id rather see shorts! Take Pepto rather than Imodium solves more problems and takes up less room (Thanks to Kara for the advice). We had few tummy troubles, more from too much sun and the rich food than anything else. Take mossie spray. You will need it, and if like me you take it and forget to use it, something for the itch, it is relentless. The bumps blister, then ooze then crust over then do it all over again. I am covered, hubby is not. It don't know if they are all mossie bites, never saw a one, but what ever they are, they loved me. Take minimum 45 sun screen, the sun is at a different angle than home, and it is hot. It is more relentless than the Nevada sun. Take and use a hat. You are only 10 degrees off the equator. We had it, but at first we poo pooed it, and paid the price. Hubby in bed all one day just from the sun. Even in the shade use it. and reapply more often than the bottle recommends. Beware of 151 proof rum and the sun. I was in bed all the day before hubby, and all I had was one 151 drink and 4 regular rum. I drank the 4 no problem. Then they gave me the 151. I thought I had been drugged. It hits you NOW!!!!!!. I went from having fun to on my butt and hardly made it to bed. Best advice - join the forums and ask questions. We read everything we could on them and by the time we got there, we felt we had a good grasp of the DR. Other advice - Remember that you are in a 3rd world country that does not hold our materialistic values near and dear. The DR people are genuine and gentle in nature and it is true that if you smile and greet them with a genuine Hola you will be received with a greeting tenfold. And if you are doing more than passing them by, ask their names, tell them yours and tell them you are pleased to meet them. We acknowledged everyone, even the guys on the roof who were painting the red tiles. They all stopped to say hello and as we would more around, they acknowledged use again and again. It is truly infectious. When you come home, you will never again, tell someone to "have a nice day" robotically. You will grab them, hug them, kiss them, tell them if they ever need anything, it is theirs, and keep in touch......I know that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my drift. I was reminded of how cold we have become in our lives shortly after landing. The custom guy grunted at me after my warm hello and smile, and was pissy because he had to add something little to my declaration, when we handed our declaration to the next guy and tried again a smile and hello, it was met with an icy stare from him and the RCMP that was standing with him, and we couldn't engage them at all.......Welcome home.