My boyfriend and I, as well as another couple stayed at this hotel March 17-24. When I read some of the reviews before we left I got alittle nervous but reminded myself that we paid under 1000 and realistically you pay for what you get. But after a couple of days, the four of us wondered if we were even at the same resort as the bad reviews! Here we go...
Room: We booked the Exclusive club room with Air Transat...not worth the money. Basically you're paying extra for a bottle of alcohol. The rooms were very nice and had plenty of room. Yes 50% of the white towels had what looked like rust stains. Apparently the towels are not washed on the hotel grounds but shipped somewhere. No they don't look the greatest but they were definitely clean. If they really bother you, you can ask the maid when you see her to switch them, she had no problem doing this. The beds were firm, but not horrible. This is coming from someone who sleeps on an ultra plush pillowtop mattress. I didn't have a problem sleeping.
Resort: absolutely beautiful! the grounds for the most part are filled with beautiful flowers and plants. The only area that was lacking a bit of vegetation was near the newest buildings they just opened recently. There are numerous gardeners working hard all day in the sun making this property beautiful. This isn't Costa Rica..You're not in a rainforest so don't expect it!
The pools are awesome and located all over the resort. Workers would walk around and clean them. Never a lack of loungers.
Beach: the beaches are quite narrow in the morning but by midday they were significantly larger. No problem getting a lounger, at least 2 workers constantly grabbing chairs, setting them up and brushing the sand off for you. Water was super clean and warm. Took a couple walks down the beach toward Melia Las dunas. The sand gets much coarser the further you walk way from the resort beach.
Food: I am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised with the food. Knowing how much we paid I figured I wouldn't be eating much. I'm a picky eater so I can't say that every item at the buffet was to die for but I can honestly say that at every meal I found something I absolutely loved. Made to order eggs, pancakes, waffles, smoothies, meat, seafood, pasta, and dessert. How people can honestly say they didn't like ANYTHING is beyond me. Its actually ridiculous! The four of us spent the entire week bringing up quotes from ridiculous reviews and wondering who these people were. Oh and the line-ups...these apparent long line ups? The longest I waited in any of those stations was 10min. The 24hr snack bar will cook you up pizza, fries, eggs or a sandwich at anytime of the day or night. Can't say I received that when I stayed at the Riu Palace in Cancun. The only place i'd have to say I didn't really enjoy was the beach buffet. Food was pretty cold. Apparently they have a menu you can order from but we didn't know this unfortunately.
Employees: I found the staff at this resort were very good. Everyone was friendly and tried to make your stay a good one. Special mention goes to Pascual at the lobby bar and Abel at one of the quiet pools. Mareyi, a manager, was absolutely amazing. She knew it was our anniversary and made our vacation as special as possible for us with many little surprises left in our room. The animation team was pretty good. Michael was amazing, usually at the beach during the day. Lots of dancing lessons and games. The only thing I wished was that they advertise nightly entertainment off the resort like i've seen at other resorts.
Excursions:We did only one excursion, the catamaran dolphin trip. Costs 99 pesos per person. Bus picked you up at 10am. The dolphinarium was the first stop, a 5min bus drive. Went in the water with the dolphins. They did tricks and you got kisses from them and rubbed their bellies. No dolphin swimming here like Varadero. Photographer takes a photo, costs 10 pesos. You then eat a lobster or chicken lunch which was really good. Then there is a sea lion show. At approx 1pm the catamaran picks you up from the dolphinarium. First stop is snorkelling near a reef for approx 45min. After, it makes a stop at a beach where you can walk out approx half a km out and the water is ankle deep. That was really nice. Then you head back to a marina and are back to the resort around 530pm. We weren't on the catamaran as much as I expected but the trip was well worth 99 pesos.
We went to the Village "Estrella". Some souvenirs to buy, food and drinks. There was a spa and bank. Make sure you bring ID if you need to exchange money. There was also a disco and a bowling alley which were fun. Not very busy though. Make sure when you hop on the bus you make sure it is heading towards the Barcelo resort, if its going the other direction you will be on it for a very long time. Bus costs 1 peso per person. If you take a cab its the same cost so we took a taxi for the most part.
Would I stay at this resort again..ABSOLUTELY! Had an amazing time and couldn't have asked for more. We wanted to extend our trip an extra 3 days but couldn't because of work. Looking to come back maybe in the fall.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me :)