Puerto Plata Village, Playa Dorada, Puerto Plata, DR, March 2011
Things were kind of confused this year, so some background is required before I get into the review. This was not the trip we had planned. If things had gone to plan, this would have been a review of Fun Royale/Tropicale. As everyone who's read my reviews knows, I've always had a fond spot in my heart for that particular resort; not for the hotel itself, but for the staff. Over the years they've become just like family or close friends. The hotel (Fun
Royale/Tropicale) was a three star property at best but we've always been treated well and received five star service. Unfortunately, things didn't quite go to plan. The original booking was with Westjet Vacations for Fun Royale. Shortly after booking, Westjet dropped the property, so that meant no Westjet rep on site. No big issue there. Then the booking got changed to Fun Tropicale because the hotel block was being converted to condos. OK, so I
wouldn't get "my" room. I'll call that an inconvenience. Then, a mere thirty six hours before our departure we found out that Fun Royale/Tropicale would be closing their hotel operations for renovations in the middle of our trip, so we would be moved to Puerto Plata Village for the second week. They expected the renovations to take about 6 months (Dominican time). What we didn't know was that all the staff were also being let go and would be losing their jobs. If we had, we would have cancelled the trip. The emotional issues and
confusion surrounding the windup of operations made for a distinctly unpleasant week one and set the tone and our mood for the second week. This was trip 13 to the resort. I'm not superstitious but .....
Since he previous week was spent at Fun Royale/Tropicale, you might want to read that review prior to reading this one. If not, press on.
When life deals you lemons, make lemonade. I'd have to consider the move between hotels more or less a lateral one. But, in a situation like this, you can't help comparing properties. I liked some things at FR/T better and some things at PPV better. The hotels are both about the same rating, but the trip was NOT what we had originally booked or wanted. To be fair, under different circumstances we could have really enjoyed Puerto Plata Village, but not after
the emotional meltdowns (both staff and guests, mostly all repeaters) of the previous week. Due to the circumstances there's no way I can write a review of Fun Royale/Tropical that will be of use to anyone. My personal feeling is that it will never reopen again, so I guess it's a mute point. Despite this, my review for Puerto Plata Village is on the positive side, despite the upsets.
On arrival, we were greeted by the hotel manager and the guest services manager (OK, I know them both). The staff at reception were friendly, efficient and got us checked in and taken to our room quickly. Speaking of the manager, he is very energetic, personable and outgoing and seems to have some good ideas. I saw him frequently around the property introducing himself and talking to guests.
We had a superior room with a balcony/patio and amenities (read as a bar fridge). The room was basic but serviceable. Just what you would expect from a 3 star property. If you are looking for fancy, this isn't the place. But it was clean and everything pretty well worked. When we checked in, everything appeared to be OK except the toilet which was running on at a slow rate continuously. It was just a tank level problem. The level was set high and
some water was trickling down the overflow tube. I corrected that issue myself; it's just not a holiday if I don't fix something. During the week one CF bulb in the bathroom went intermittent, and one of the bedside lamps stopped functioning. Since we didn't need either, I put off reporting the issues until checkout. Oh, and after four days in the room, the a/c started to drip on the floor. I assumed it was iced over so we shut it off for the day. When I returned to the room it was running again. This is the first hotel I've stayed in that turned ON the a/c when you're not there. Normally they turn it OFF. Whatever, we set the temperature setting a bit warmer and it didn't drip again.
So, no show stoppers here and we had no major complaints. None of the issues were reported until checkout. Oh, and we got wash cloths. I don't know if this is normal or was special for us, but some of the other rooms we looked into didn't seem to have them. Follow the standard DR procedure and take some inexpensive ones with you. Then you have that situation taken care of. If you don't need them and have them it's not an issue but if you don't have them and need them .....
The grounds were clean and well maintained. There's a fair bit of greenery and trees, all carefully groomed. There are a few areas that appeared to remnants of what used to be pools/fountains but no longer used as such and they were empty.
The colour combos on some of the buildings were 'colourful' and in some cases maybe a bit too 'colourful'. One particular shade of green was especially bright.
It's an easy resort to find your way around. All the main common facilities (pool, entertainment area, buffet restaurants, specialty restaurants) are concentrated in the central area near the lobby. The disco is set aside away from most of the rooms.
The pool is nice and appeared very clean and well maintained. It has a very nice swim-up bar. With the exception of a few loose tiles on the pool deck I didn't have any issues.
The only comment here is that some rooms are near this area and may be noisy at night if you wanted to retire early. I'm kind of surprised that the late night entertainment wasn't moved to the disco to resolve that noise issue.
FOOD, RESTAURANTS and BARS
There is one main buffet restaurant and three specialty ones (Italian, Mexican and Dominican). We ate at all three and found them pretty good. I didn't care much for the Dominican one, but that might have been because we were late and the best offerings had been picked over.
Hotel occupancy was down, so some nights they funnelled everyone through one of the specialty restaurants. Other nights both the buffet and one specialty restaurant were open. We found the food to be quite acceptable. There were lots of choices and it was easy to find something that suited. It seemed to me that the chef had one spice combination that he liked and that mix was used a lot. It would have been nice to vary it a mite. That said, no one in our party nor anyone that we associated with got ill.
The tables were well bused and it was a rare event to sit down at a table that didn't have the proper utensils and cloth serviettes (napkins to you guys south of the border) already on the table. The top table cloths were replaced frequently.
The service was quite good. After the first day at breakfast the gals knew we wanted our coffee first thing. We'd no sooner sit down and the coffee was right there. Nice. The only thing was when they replaced your coffee with the second cup they took the stir spoon with it. This 'might' explain the odd missing spoon from an adjacent table. Don't blame the guy busing the table; blame a guest ....
There is a snack bar (burgers, hot dogs and pizza) near the pool and another snack bar at the beach club that served lunch from about noon until 2 PM. There was no rotisserie chicken alas, but most days there was baked chicken. Pretty well all the salads and chicken was catered from the main hotel kitchen. Burgers, hot dogs and fries were prepared at the beach club and the chicken was put on the grill to brown it up a bit. There was also rice, pasta, veggies, fruit and desserts. Quite a complete selection for a small area. I don't recall seeing fries at any of the other restaurants and it might well be that this is the only area where they are served on the resort.
There are bars located in the lobby, near the pool, the swim-up bar and one at the beach club. I believe there's a fifth bar in the disco. Drinks were also available in the restaurants at meal time. Of note, Presidente beer was served and most days Brugal was available. It wasn't the Anejo, but the Carta Dorada which is much better than Normandy or Classico. Pretty well all the other offerings were local.
After all that drinking it's nice to know that there are abundant washroom facilities and they are all pretty conveniently located. They seemed to be clean and well maintained.
Overall the beach was pretty nice and one of the better sections of Playa Dorada. I can remember this area from years past and it has been considerably improved when the beach was built-up a few years back. There is a fair bit of shade for those that want it and there was no shortage of beach loungers. They also had about 5 or 6 of the beach beds.
The beach club is about a five minute walk from the hotel. There is also a shuttle that runs frequently if you don't feel like walking.
Here are my comments about the hotel (in no particular order):
1) For those that care, the ketchup and mustard were Heinz (in the individual packets) and the mayonnaise was a brand called MacDom.
2) The beer served was Presidente on tap. Brugal rum was available but you usually had to ask for it. All the other liquors were local (read Normandy or Classico).
3) All the mix was bottled, not fountain. And yes, they had Diet Coke (called Coke Light there).
4) Bacon was a rare occurrence at breakfast. I only saw it once and that was our last day.
5) The beach club is a good place to have lunch due to the location. The food selection in the buffet was also good at lunch time. We ate most lunches at the beach club, but had several lunches at the buffet as well.
6) The beach party was very enjoyable. They served dinner at the beach club, had a show, put on some music, danced, had a bonfire and played a few beach games (like limbo). It's the kind of beach party I've been trying to talk the 'other place' into having for years now.
7) The pizza bar is quite good. It's different than at home, and the crust is pretty thick, but good. They pretty well cooked up small portions (6 slices or so) to order and you got to select what was on it.
8) There seems to be a lot of useable covered areas to use in the event of rain.
9) There were a lot of locals on the weekend. There were no issues. They behaved the same as the other guests.
10) There were two bottles of water in the room at check-in. When they were empty you could get them refilled at any bar. There were also dispensers conveniently located throughout the resort.
As I stated, this was not the holiday we originally wanted or booked, but when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. So we made do. Even though we were in an emotional turmoil from week one, we had a pretty good time. We tried unsuccessfully to forget that first week.
The accommodation was acceptable, the food was fine, the place was clean and the service was good. There seems to be a great staff. All in all a pretty good combination. We had no major complaints.
Would we return? Likely yes. There doesn't appear to be any vacation packages departing from Toronto (or Ottawa), but there are from Montreal. I'm not fussy about traveling all the way there to pick up a trip. Hopefully one of the tour operators will pick up the hotel with a Toronto departure. Alternately, If I wanted to arrange hotel, flights and transfers separately, that would be a good option too.
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- Also Known As:
- Puerto Plata Village Hotel Puerto Plata
- Sun Village Resort & Spa