03.17.2014
By Terry Flanagan

DR Trip Has Potholes

As any New York driver knows, a severe winter has pockmarked the area’s roads with annoying and sometimes-expensive potholes. My recent escape from the cold found its own potholes (of the figurative variety) on the beautiful Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

All-inclusive isn’t a bad thing, but the Paradisus in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic really swindles you into ‘upgrading’ your stay. Upon arrival at this beautiful, sunny paradise, I was informed my room did not have an ocean view. In fact, none of the rooms on the property had an ocean view. For an ocean view, shall we say, a resort on the ocean, I had to shell out another $1,000 to be appeased with the idea that I, in fact, am on the ocean. After I lost that battle and moved onto the ‘Royal Services’ check-in located in another building, steps from the not-so-royal check-in, we were greeted by a wasted hour of talks about the property, offerings, amenities and access to what they consider royal – most of which I thought we would get without an up-sell. I was thrilled to receive a cell phone for an on-call butler, but the phone never worked on the property, so I had to waste another half-hour tracking down the right person to get what I needed.

The rooms, spacious as they are, were not as luxurious as one would expect. I thought the safe was a bit dirty, and things appeared to have not been kept or maintained well. The bathroom did not seem to have a surplus of hot water running in the shower at any given time, not to mention the 18 different knobs and latches on the state-of-the-art install. And the toiletries were lacking.

The room service got every order wrong, sometimes comically so. When asking for a bathrobe, I received two mugs. When asking for Champagne, white wine appeared in the bucket. The food itself in room service was at mediocre at best. In fact, one order, as simple as a cheese quesadilla had to be spit out upon first bite. How on earth do you get a bad quesadilla in Latin America?

The food at the restaurants in the main square of the property was actually not that bad. The sushi place was as tasty as sushi can be expected to be in Punta Cana, and at the restaurant of seven-Star Michelin chef Martin Berasategui, options included a tasting menu with a wine pairing or a three-course a La Carte, including two appetizers and an entrée.

The English at said restaurants was below my expectations, and don’t expect the Sommelier to know about the wine list or the waiters to know that Aperitifs are not in fact Appetizers. Just saying.

The service at the pool bar was extremely slow, as they had just one bartender catering to the entire ‘Royal Services’ section. Once I waited 20 minutes for one coco Loco, which in that heat it made me want to climb a tree, chop down my own coconut and pour the rum myself.

Beware of the casino, for I was not. Finding myself there every night, I saw instances of pit bosses overlooking the dealers’ collecting of money on bets in which the player beat the house or the dealer had not paid put a blackjack or a winning bet. I experienced this first hand and had to have the pit boss check the camera to verify my win. Let’s just say this gambling facility is more of a gamble than U.S. venues.

All in all, Punta Cana isn’t a bad place to get away from the Arctic temperatures of the Northeast. The resort is trying, but they are not quite there yet. Beautiful beaches and pristine waters are not enough to make me return quickly. Perhaps, in another decade a visit will be in order, until then, I may stick to my Mexican loyalty.

Dominican Republic – Punta Cana – Paradisus Palma Real Gold and Spa Resort located on the beachfront of Bavaro Beach


Mademoiselle Wanderlust is a regular contributor to the Markets Media Life section.

Related articles