We went to Lifestyles for a week on 1/3/12 - 1/10/12. We were a group of 12 staying with owners. (my aunt and uncle have owned there for 3 years) We had Gold VIP bracelets and stayed in two villas next to each other. I have stayed at all-inclusives in Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Puerto Vallarta in the past.
Property- The property itself is very large. We had a golf cart with the villa, which was really necessary to get around the large property. There are also villa shuttles that you can call to bring you places. The property is very pretty and nicely maintained. It is nice to see the lush mountain views and flowers all over the resort.
Villa- Our group had requested one large six-bedroom villa, but we did not get it. We got two three-bedroom villas that were next to each other. The houses were very nice- each bedroom had it's own full bathroom. We had a few glitches with the a/c in some rooms, some plumbing issues, and some wear and tear, but overall the houses are very nice. Every day, the pool is cleaned, and you have a housekeeper come in to cook breakfast for you and clean the house. I would say that the cleaning standards are not that of the U.S. but that is common when you travel. The house was stocked daily with booze that we had ordered the first day we arrived, and soda, beer, and water. We requested diet soda and didn't get that until the end of the week, so there is some miscommunication. (again, when you travel to a different country, that is understandable with the language barrier) Our housekeepers were great- Ellgracia and Maria- kind, hardworking, and did a great job!
Dining- There are many restaurants at the resort and we had no problem getting reservations at the VIP establishments for dinner- those were all above average in menu, service, and quality. Our faves were Jazz and Simply Gourmet. The buffet Casablanca was not good at all. The bars all had lunch menus that were similar to each other- burgers, sandwiches, etc. They were good. The ice cream shop was pretty good. You can't get room service delivery after 5 p.m. which is odd to me. (especially since you have to pay a delivery fee for it, and it is a small menu) The weekly VIP party had great food- but unfortunately it was raining out so hard that put a damper on it as people were huddling under the food tent and were pushing and shoving.
Beaches- Beaches were okay. Serenity beach is by far the nicest. Sand is full of crushed shells, which isn't optimal but it was okay. The water color was nice, but not the gorgeous teal blue of the Caribbean like you get in Cancun. (also- the water was churned up from the weather/storms that we had) There were workers constantly raking the beach for sea weed, so they do try to make it very nice. There are shops at the regular beach, which were kind of cute, and they didn't pester us too badly.
The beds at Serenity were great- they will dust the sand off for you, move them, and give you food/drink service.
Weather- We had bad weather the entire week we were there. It rained every day. We had a few hours of sun here and there and one decent day, but the rain kind of overshadowed everything. It down poured every night which made you not want to go out in the evenings!
Sickness- Most everyone in our group got a belly ache at one point or another. (this is another thing that I think is common with travel to other countries as food is prepared differently, etc.) 4 people in our group got severe diarrhea and stomach cramps while we were there and my 9 year old daughter got so sick with constant vomiting and fever that she had to go to the onsite doctor two days in a row. The first day they gave her stomach cramp meds and nausea meds. 24 hours later she was back in the office as she was even worse. They gave her an iv for dehydration, gastroenteritis, and a bacterial infection from something that she ate there. They kept her at the clinic a few hours, then transported her back to the villa with the iv. The doctor came back to check on her at bedtime and the next morning, when she was starting to feel better, and he removed the iv. The doctor was very nice to our daughter and helpful. He gave us a bill, medical report, and other info to send to our insurance at home. (not sure yet if we will have coverage for this or not) We did have to pay the clinic upfront. I think that we got sick from the food or water at the resort. We were very cautious in what we ordered, but did get sick. Also, one person in our group got a skin rash and another got an eye infection. I think our group supported the financing of that onsite clinic while we were there! (maybe they will name an addition to the clinic in our names ;)
Ocean World- 10 of us went to Ocean World. It is a nice, small park with lots to do. My kids did the Sea Lion encounter- they got to feed, pet, kiss the Sea Lions. Adorable!
Also- one night a group of us went to their casino. It is small, but had a great time.
Zip line tour- 5 in our group did the zip line tour and had a GREAT time! Highly recommended! This was booked right through the resort.
Private bbq party- we had a party at the villa on our last night. This was the BEST meal by far. A chef and waiter came to the house and served and cooked. We had fish, steak, pork chops, chicken, salads, potatoes, veggies. They also brought a cake to celebrate my grandmother's birthday. If you have a chance to have this, you won't be disappointed!
Shops- there are quite a few shops on the property that have everything you could need from souveniers, swim wear, inflatables, candy, magazines, sunscreen, medicine, etc. Prices are decent.
Overall, I don't think that I would return to this resort or to Puerto Plata again. For my preferences, I like the resorts and activities in Mexico more. If you do go, make sure you have the VIP bracelets! Without those, the restaurant/dining choices would be terrible. At all location on the property, the service seems to be hit or miss. Drinks are good, food is okay, service so-so. I am also leery that almost 1/2 of us did get sick. My aunt and uncle who are owners seemed let down- food/service was better in years past. I think possibly this resort has grown too large too fast to keep up with what they promise.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Crown Villas are the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity, as each is a small estate home with sumptuous, private three and four bedrooms that offer guests a unique and exclusive vacation experience. All of these villas are a classical Spanish Mediterranean style architecture, with red tile roofs, stucco plastered archways and distinguished stone columns with generous tropical gardens where hibiscus, bougainvilleas and other magnificent tropical plants abound. All have a private swimming pool, shaded terrace, veranda, kitchen, and a full private bath leading directly off each bedroom. The villas are furnished with rattan, elephant bamboo and a natural Caribbean wattle work and are equipped with air conditioning, overhead fans, and cable television. The Crown Villas are part of the all-inclusive Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort and guests have access to all the facilities of the Resort (excluding the V.I.P areas). A personal maid and an exclusive menu in each of the seven Resort restaurants complete these perfect accommodations. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lifestyle Crown Villas Hotel Puerto Plata