Dream Vacations Blog - All-Inclusive Beach Vacations
During my recent visit to Punta Cana, I had the pleasure of staying 3 nights at the Dreams Punta Cana. This hotel is located at the northern end of the Punta Cana region, technically in Playa Uvero Alto. It took nearly an hour down narrow curvy back roads for the transfer from the airport. For some, I can see how passing a donkey on a narrow two lane road might cause some anxiety, but for me, it was an enjoyable ride through the native country with an opportunity to see a side of Punta Cana away from the glamorous resorts. This opportunity will be short-lived, though, because the modern four lane highway will be completed by Christmas, cutting the transfer time in half.
I was familiar with the resort prior to arriving and had read the many mixed reviews, so my expectations were divided. Upon arriving, all of my concerns were alleviated when we were greeted with the first of many huge warm smiles and a cool fragrant towel and a welcome drink. The lobby, a large open-air palapa roof with a nice size bar, is the highest point in the resort. We arrived around dinner time and check in was a breeze. The language barrier that so many have commented on was non-existent at this resort, too.
After check in, I left my luggage with the bellhop and had a quick stroll through he resort to see what it had to offer. The resort was built in 2004 as a Sunscape and converted to a Dreams around 2008. The Explorers Teens Club looked like a blast! They offered pool tables, fuzzball, a giant rock climbing wall, a euro-trampoline, archery, pellet guns, and even batting cages. By the time I got to my room, my luggage was waiting for me. That level of efficient service was to be the standard throughout my stay.
I stayed on the third floor in a Preferred Club Junior Suite and it was one of the largest junior suites I have seen. The room was off-white with white tile floors and two aqua colored couches. There was a tube style television in the living area and a flat screen television on the wall of the bedroom thoughtfully located where you could view it from the large Jacuzzi outside on the balcony. White pillars cornered the entrance into the double-sink bathroom. The toilet and shower were located in a doored bath area to the left of the sink and a walk-in closet was to the right. The only minor issue I had with the facility was slightly inconsistent water pressure and temperature in the shower. That very well could have been a result from being on the third floor and the view more than made up for it. I did have a chance to see a standard Deluxe room. They were very small but appointed similarly to the Junior Suites. If you are at all claustrophobic, I would certainly recommend upgrading to the huge Junior Suites.
I was impressed with some of the little considerations that Dreams offered. I had heard complaints of a musty smell in the rooms in Punta Cana hotels. Although there was no hint of foul odor in my room, there was an incense burner on the sink. I was also pleasantly surprised to find an 8 oz bottle of sunscreen, which I have seen in the gift shops at other resorts selling for over $20. The bath products were of very good quality, too. The heavy robe provided was comfortable and the slippers were welcome on the cold tile in the morning.
We had a private dinner the first night on the patio at El Patio. The cool breeze coming off of the ocean was very calming and added to a wonderful ambiance of the music playing softly in the background. The food was on par with any all-inclusive dinner I’ve had. I was not impressed with the beef products, but that had nothing to do with the quality of the restaurant. Beef grown in the Dominican Republic is not treated with growth hormones or steroids, so it doesn’t suite the taste buds of most U.S. travelers. The breakfast buffet was acceptable, but I wouldn’t list it as a strength of the resort. The mangoes were absolutely amazing, though. Because we were in the Preferred Club, we were able to eat a la carte breakfast at Oceana, which I recommend. My favorite meal during my stay was dinner at Mimitsu. Don’t stay at Dreams Punta Cana without eating there. Everything was amazing. I’m not a huge fan of seafood, but the grouper the best I have ever had! Even the beef was outstanding at Mimitsu. It is at the top of my list of any restaurant I’ve eaten at while on vacation outside the country.
The coffee bar is located under the grand stairway coming from the lobby to the lower level where the buffet, theater, casino, and nightclub are located. Not only was the coffee wonderful and the wait short, the barista remembered me after the first morning and had my Americana and whole mango sitting out before I even made it to the counter. This utmost level of personal service was what made my trip so special. Waiters would smile and talk to you like they have know you forever. There were a few times when I felt bad because I thought surely I must have met them before and just not remembered. Everyone was just so friendly and is was quite apparent they enjoyed their jobs and appreciated the guests being there.
Being adults at a family resort, I was pleased with the layout of the pool. The pool snaked throughout the beautiful tropical grounds, meaning regardless of where your room is located you will have effortless access and you can easily find a nook away from the splashing kids or the occasional unruly inebriated adults.
The beach was a wide stretch of sugary white sand and perfect for those who like to take long walks. It went on for as far as the eye could see in both directions. One of the things that stuck out to me was the lack of beach peddlers that Punta Cana is so known for. During my entire stay, I never saw a single one. I will gladly barter the longer transfer for a beautiful peaceful beach. There was a lot of seaweed once you entered the water. I spoke to the manager and he said this is one of the worst seaweed seasons in decades due to the warmer winter currents last year. They did have a grounds crew dedicated to keeping the beach free of wash-up during normal hours, though.
The resort was almost at full occupancy for the duration of our stay. Other than the pool bar, which seemed understaffed for the traffic, the wait for a drink was very minimal. The drinks all tasted as they should and the bartenders had no problem making them as strong as you wanted upon request. The bar in the Preferred Club lounge offered a very impressive selection of top shelf drinks. For those of you who prefer American beer, they have it available upon request, but you have to know to ask for it because it’s not displayed anywhere. I was especially impressed with the disco, Desires. The atmosphere was the best of any all-inclusive I have been to, most likely due to the isolated location of the resort. I went all three nights and it always had a good crowd but never seemed too packed. The DJ was great and played a nice mix of retro and current hits, always keeping the dance floor hopping.
The resort itself is nice, but what made the experience memorable was the staff. Would I recommend the Dreams Punta Cana to my friends and family? Absolutely! Would I ever return? You betcha! I can’t wait to.
I just returned from another amazing vacation at the Iberostar Grand Paraiso in the Riviera Maya of Mexico. I have been to this hotel many times and it is getting better each time. You know the minute you step out of your transfer that all hotels are not created equal. The front desk and the bellman are simply wonderful and the Atrium lobby area is simply beautiful. The main hallway to the garden view room is stunning with marble floors, huge chandeliers and the painted ceiling. Once you make it to your room your are greeted by your butler and at that point it is game on! The butler will be sure that your every need is attended to. They will set your dinner reservations, spa appointments, run the hot tub and personalize your mini bar. If you need it just ask.
The main pool area is a lot of fun with a great swim up bar and a wonderful ocean view. The main area of the resort is easy to manage and the entertainment team will have activities going on throughout the day. The pool has plenty of chairs and covered cabanas and the beach cabanas are plentiful. The Grand has beach butler service so put your toes in the sand and enjoy some nachos and an ice cold bucket of your favorite beverage. Speaking of beverages you can get about any kind of beer you would like and all the liquor is top shelf. Do not forget to spend your morning at the quiet pool. You will probably have it and the the pool butler to yourself.
The food at the Ibrerostar Grand is wonderful. The lunch buffet is the best you will find and they do offer an ala carte menu. You can also order up some nachos and a cheeseburger to be delivered to you poolside. Dinner is always a treat at the Grand and I truly enjoy every one of the restaurants. The room service menu has some special dining options available after 7 pm so dinner in the room is also an option.
This hotel has been rated #1 in the industry for the past 3 years and I agree ! The Grand Paraiso opened it’s doors as #1 and like a fine wine, is just getting better with age. If you want the very best in all inclusive travel then visit the Iberostar Grand Paraiso.
I just returned from my second vacation to the Secrets The Vine in Cancun and it was even better the the first one. I always say the second trip to a hotel is always your best. The Secrets is located in the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone and is a high rise hotel boasting marvelous ocean views.
The rooms at the Vine are my favorite. The room are very modern with a laminate flooring, NO TILE! This might sound silly but the flooring is a big hit. Most hotels are marble or tile floors and they get slippery with condensation from the AC, hot tub or from being cleaned. Often these marble floors can be like an ice rink so no skating around your room at the Vine. The mini bar was stocked every day and the maids showed up pretty early so you had access to your room in the afternoons.
The hotel is so easy to manage. No long walks to your room, beach or restaurants. Everything is a very short walk or an elevator ride away. The lobby area has a real “at home” kind of feel with a fireplace and cool common areas to play
games or just relax. The lobby also has a coffee shop that has fresh doughnuts in the morning and cold cuts in the afternoon and evening.
The Ala’Carte restaurants are amazing and most of them offer indoor and outdoor dining options. The Secrets hotels do not require reservations for dinner so you can dine where you like, when you like! Almost all other brands require a dinner reservation and many can not accommodate all their guests. So at some adult only hotels you can not get into some of the restaurants during your stay. My favorite was the Italian. Ask for Jimmy he was the best waiter I have ever had on a vacation! The Vine also offers 24 hour room service and a 24 hour Sports Bar so you can always find food and drink.
The Entertainment team is the best in the business! They get people involved in the games and it creates such a better
environment. They make sure you meet other guests and I can promise you they will not forget you name. They host a night on the town at different clubs each night so you will see more of Cancun with preferred seating and special rates.
I have been to many of the top adult only hotels including most of the Secrets hotels and this is my all time favorite. The Vine has the best rooms and a beautiful beach. The food is wonderful but the service is even better. This hotel really has it all. Call me today and let me send you to the best All Inclusive hotel in Mexico !