Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Review of Paridisus Punta Cana

Overall: B-

Arrival & Check-in: A
Public Spaces: A
Beach: A+
Room: C
Food: D
Golf: A

Dan and I went to Paridisus Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for three nights while the kids were off at camp at the end of June.

Paridisus Punta Cana is a large property arranged in two halfs. The front half has the large reception/admin building and restaurants and guests' bungalows are on the back half near the beach. These two areas are separated by a large naturalized area with indigenous vegetation and a mangrove swamp.

You arrive in a beautiful open-air reception lobby area with fountains and large fish ponds. The area also houses a lobby bar with cozy bed-gazebos, a business center, pricey shops, a small casino and a club with shows in the evenings. We didn't go to any shows but we did lose some money at the roulette table one night.

Check-in went smoothly, after which we and our luggage were driven to our bungalow. The bungalows were arranged back near the beach with plenty of space between, each had eight rooms on two floors. The bungalows closest to the beach were reserved for the royal service guests. We were farther back and had about a 5 minute walk to the beach and the restaurants.

The beach is wide with beautiful white sand. At a lot of resorts you will have to put your towels out at the crack of dawn to save a beach chair. This wasn't the case at Paridisus. There were plenty of lounge chairs available at all times of the day in the sun as well as under large thatched roof umbrellas. They even had double wide beach beds to lounge in. Punta Cana is a popular destination of European tourists which means many women have no qualms about sunbathing topless. We saw very few topless sunbathers at the Paridisus so it would be a good place for families. The picture I posted two weeks ago of the senior couple was taken about a mile up the beach, not in front of our beach.

Our room was nice on first glance, but I've given it a C because of the little annoying things. The room was pretty, the beds were on one level and a sitting area was one step down, but we had two double beds, not queens or one king bed, so it was an awkward (annoying) arrangement. The electricity was supplied based on occupancy, which meant the AC, the fridge, and the alarm clock all went off when you left the room. (Annoying.)

The Paridisus is an all-inclusive resort and you can't drink the tap water so water and soft drinks were available in the rooms (and the bars). However, we loaded the fridge with our drinks, but they never really got cold even with the fridge running all night. (Annoying.) The two other annoying things were the coffee maker didn't work, and for some reason the bidet wasn't bolted to the floor.

The bars had cold bottled water available at all times which was nice since our fridge didn't work well. They also had a house cocktail that could be ordered sin alcohol. It was served from a slushee machine as was the piƱa colada mix. The house drink was good, very refreshing, especially sipping while lounging on the beach.

The food was mediocre at best. There are several restaurants on the property and I'm sure there was a schedule posted somewhere, but we never really figured out which were open for dinner on which nights. We ate at the Italian restaurant one night and I think that was our best meal. The setting was lovely, situated on stilts over a pond inhabited with flamingos and biting insects. We also ate at the Chinese place one night. I've cooked better Chinese myself, and I don't cook well. Our other dinner was at the seafood grill. My fish came burned on the outside and not quite done on the inside. For lunch I found enough palatable food on the buffet to keep myself alive, but barely. The desserts were better, we even had some corn ice cream. It wasn't bad.

Breakfast had the best selection, but had the worst service. Dan would get coffee every morning and they never came back in a timely manner to refill his cup. The coffee girl would walk around the dining room refilling cups, but managed a path through the dining room that didn't lead back to our table, no matter where we sat, in the middle or on the edge. I successfully ordered tres huevos solo blancos from the guy at the grill.

Dan picked this trip out from the Spirit Air packages because of the "free" golf. The greens fees were complementary but the cart fees and club rental were extra. The club rental balanced out with the $25 checked bag fee Spirit charges. If we stayed another day and played golf another time, bringing our own clubs and paying the checked-bag fee would have been worth it. The included golf was located at a nearby resort, the Cocotal, and there were free shuttles to and from the course, as well as to the local shopping mall and other attractions.

The course at Cocotal was beautiful. We had a tee time at 1:30, but arrived early because of the shuttle schedule. After checking in and getting our rental clubs, we got to start right away. We never saw another golfer, no one behind us rushing our play, no one in front of us to hit into or stall our pace. It was the most relaxed game Dan and I ever played. The course was in great shape, the fairways provided great rolls, so you could have a "normal" drive and get 50 more yards out of it. The front nine was a lot shorter than the back nine. For me, from the forward tees, it was about 800 yards longer. Even with the extra yardage on the back, I would have played again if we had an extra day.

All in all, I'd recommend the Paridisus for a short stay of fewer than five nights. I think you'd get tired of the food if you stayed longer. Plan your dinners so you're not stuck with the buffets. Use insect repellent in the evenings and strong sun screen during the days.


Maddy said...

Ooo I just experienced the 'snort' upon reading 'the bidet wasn't bolted to the floor.' That's not annoying but thoroughly hilarious.....sorry.

Glad you had a break in any event.

Maddy said...

p.s. as to the coffee girl? Next time do what my dad used to do = stand on a chair, fold your arms and whimper 'help' until someone is brave enough to come up and ask........you can see what kind of a childhood I had.....I plan to embarrass my children even more if I possibly can.