Dominican Republic - Puerta Plata

Old Feb 10th, 1997, 01:19 AM
Allison Hass
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Dominican Republic - Puerta Plata

Dear Jamie,
I was just in Puerto Plarta last month. It was my 4th visit to the area, and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed myself. Puerto Plata is a beautiful city! The weather this time of year is @ 85-90 degrees farenheit, and sunny! It didn't rain one day we were there, but I have encountered some rainy days on other visists, also at this time of year. The sun there is VERY hot, so be sure and pack your sunscreen, especially if you burn easily! There is not much of a nightlife in Puerto Plata, except for the local shows at the hotels, casinos, discos and some shopping. The island of the D.R. itself is a very poor island. On the way from the airport, you will see many one-room huts where the locals live. The land is unspoiled and beautiful, with gorgeous mountains always in view, and pure sugar cane growing in the fields along side of the roads. Since it is a very poor island, local people in town will approach you quite often to offer their services for minimal fees - they may offer to be your personal tour guide, or to be your taxi driver, or to exchange your money for you at a better rate than the banks. Small children may approach you begging for pesos, although I didn't notice as much of that this year. Although these people are persistant beyond all belief, they really are all genuinely NICE peole, just trying to earn an honest buck. The people of the D.R. are ALL extremely easy-going, friendly and always willing to help you with anything you may need. Any request from you will almost certainly be met with, "No Problem". Everything is "no problem" in the D.R.! Puerto Plata is a very safe town, especially in the resort areas. In the 4 times I've visited Puerto Plata, I have never encountered a problem with safety. I have walked on the streets at night, always with someone though, for Dominican men will almost surely approach a single female, if only to be friendly! But I have never encountered any violence. The electricity on the island goes out every once in a while. It happened to us twice this time. But almost all of the major resort hotels have backup generators, and the power is always restored quickly - within half an hour. Spanish is the predominant language spoken, but most of the major hotels have personnel that can speak English. There is a huge problem with insect bites there! I would DEFINITELY invest in a few bottles of insect repellent! The beaches are beautiful. The sand is not hard or porous, but soft. The waters are absolutely glorious. You must take a taxi into the nearby town of Sosua, only about a half hour away. The town is full of shopping and wonderful local resteraunts. The beach in Sosua is lined with hundreds of huts, where local souveniers are sold. Never pay the first price you are offered - the local vendors expect you to bargain with them! Suggest half of what is offered, and work your way up from there! You can't bargain in most of the established stores in town and in the hotels though. The beach itself in Sosua is quite small and rocky, but the water makes it well worth the inconvenience! You HAVE to snorkel in Sosua! What a sight to see! You can rent beach chairs and snorkel gear on the beach quite inexpensively, and spend the day, or even a few hours luxuriating in the crystal clear waters of Sosua. It is truely one of the most beautiful bodies of water I have ever swam in! In the Playa Dorada resort area of Puerto Plata, there are many hotels, resteraunts, discos, casinos and shopping. There is a two story mall that is only about five years old, and it is quite nice. Inside are resteraunts, tons of stores, ranging from very upscale and expensive, to your typical souvenier stores. The mall also has a rollerblading arena, a bank, scooter rentals (wouldn't recommend it - there are no traffic lights or signs and no speed limit), and places where you can sign up for tours. You must eat dinner at the Jade Garden, located not far from the mall. It is the best Chinese food I have ever eaten! I have never stayed at either of the hotels you mentioned, so I can't comment on them. I have stayed at the Playa Dorada Hotel and Casino and at Sandcastles. If you'd like any further information about those hotels, just e-mail me and I'd be happy to oblidge! I hope I helped to give you some idea of what Puerto Plata is like. I wouldn't have gone four times if I had not thoroughly enjoyed myself there! I hope you have a fabulous time on your vacation!
Buenos Dias!


Old Feb 18th, 1997, 02:47 PM
Raymond Pe
Posts: n/a

Dear Allison:

My wife, kids, and I were considering the Flamenco Beach Resort in Puerta Plata untill I read a horrible review of Playa Dorada Hotel which is owned by the same company (Occidental). The review described poor service from staff and very unsanitary conditions, e.g. washing dishes in standing dirty water, dirty towels, lack of hot water, etc. Most of the problems seemed to be due to an unreliable water supply and poor hygiene of staff. Did you experience anything like this during your stays?


Old Feb 26th, 1997, 08:43 AM
Posts: n/a
Dear Ray,

I have never stayed at the Flamenco Beach Resort, but I can comment on Occidental Hotels and the effect their takeover of the Playa Dorada Resort has had. The first time I visited the Playa Dorada, Occidental had not yet taken over. The hotel was old, yet the accomodations and customer service were still above board. The second time we visited this resort, it seemed as if the accomodations had worsened slightly. The hotel itself began looking slightly run down and definitely in need of some renovations, yet we were still impressed with the customer service. At this time, they were still not owned by Occidental Hotels. The third time we visited was a virtual nightmare. This time, Occidental Hotels had just taken over, and it seemed as if they were concerned solely with making the most profit from their guests. When we arrived, we were told that our reservations could not be honored because a large tour group from Europe had arrived, and there was no room to accomodate us. They seemed more concerned with honoring the larger tour group's reservations than ours, which we had booked about a year in advance. The manager of the hotel did not seem interested in helping us to secure the room that we were promised. There seemed to be nobody interested in helping us. Instead of honoring our reservation, they arranged for us to be transported to the nearby town of Sosua to stay at the Sandcastle Beach Resort for the whole week. This all happened despite the fact that we were holding the confirmation letter for our reservations in our hand at the time. While the Sandcastle was indeed beautiful, we were highly disappointed with the service we had received at the Playa Dorada, and we felt we had been taken advantage of. When we returned home, we wrote a letter to the main office of Occidental Hotels, which is located in Spain. We described the horrible way in which we were treated, and how very disappointed we were with Occidental Hotels. We received several return replies, both by mail and by phone. It seemed as though Occidental was just as shocked by the way we had been treated as we were. They were also amazingly appalled. So much so, that they fired the manager of the Playa Dorada at the time, and arranged for us to come back next year (January, 1997), for a completely free one week stay! From the moment we arrived at the Playa Dorada, we were treated like royalty! We were escorted to our private suite, which was absolutely lovely. It had two balconies overlooking the beach and the ocean, two king sized beds, one of which they had to bring up to the room for us, two tv's which had an amazing selection of cable channels (they used to only have CNN!), a mini-fridge, and a huge bathroom with double vanity. The new manager himself personally escorted us to our room, giving us a complete tour of the facilities as well and making completely certain that we were satisfied with our accomodations. The hotel itself seemed like an entirely different resort! This time, Occidental had totally revamped the entire lobby and all of the resteraunts - MUCH better! Since we stayed in the deluxe suites, we never had the opportunity to see what they had done to the standard rooms, but upon inquiry of several guests and the manager himself, we were told that they are still in the process of redoing them. They said that may take a while, due to their constant high occupancy rate. The food had improved DRAMATICALLY! The quality, selection and style of presentation was superb, and there was definitely something for everyone! Their buffets were wonderful! They have also instituted an all-inclusive package, which they presented to us upon our arrival. We had no idea we would not only be receiving a free suite, but also all of our meals and drinks as well! What a nice surprise! Occidental seemed truely interested in making sure that we were compensated in the best possible way for the terrible experience we had had on our last visit. We were staying in one of the 15 deluxe suites, which had their own private dining room for breakfast, complete with a beautiful buffet, gorgeous accomodations, and staff who were there solely to serve the needs of the "suite" guests. We also received special attention everywhere we went in the hotel, due to the "deluxe suite" all-inclusive wristbands we were given to wear during our stay. Occidental really made a genuine effort to assure that our stay was superb. The hotel manager checked in with us throughout the week to make sure that everything was to our liking. Perhaps the review you read of the Playa Dorada Hotel and Casino was written during the time we had our own troubles with Occidental (January, 1995). I can't comment on the accomodations during that time, since we obviously ended up staying at another hotel. I can tell you that while we were there in 1995, the public areas of the hotel had really suffered and were in great need of improvement. Now the hotel is like an entirely different resort, complete with nightly shows by the pool that are comparable to small off-Broadway productions! I have never encountered any problems, both in the past or present, with sanitation there. The towels were always clean, and I have never heard of washing dishes in dirty water. I also, however, have never had the opportunity to visit their kitchens, but I can say that the plates and silverware were always cleaned to my satisfaction. They always serve their meals, despite the resteraunt, on linen tablecloths using linen napkins, and they were always very clean. The staff uniforms are all brand new, and extremely stylish, with bold, colorful island prints. The staff themselves are exceptionally personable, and they are ALWAYS interested in making sure that all of your needs and requests are met. In fact, they will go far out of their way to ensure your satisfaction. Some of the staff even remembered us from previous visits, and greeted us as if we were family, stating, "Welcome Home, Amigos!". There has always been a problem with hot water and the lack thereof, but I do not believe that this is exlusive to Occidental Hotels. I can't comment on the Flamenco Beach Resort, but many people I talked to told me they have had similar problems at other hotels. The hot H2O supply on the island itself may be a problem, although I'm not sure. There is hot H2O, but it does come and go! They also have an electricity problem. The lights and air conditioning do go out on occassion, but emergency generators are located in all of the major hotels and resteraunts, and the electricity is usually back on in 1-25 minutes. I hope I have helped to give you the information you have requested. Please do not hesitate to back to me if I can be of any further assistance. If not, I hope you have a great vacation!
Buenos Dias!

Old Mar 14th, 1997, 10:21 AM
Debbie Hoenie
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We will be staying at the new Rui Merengue hotel in Puerta Plata at the end of March and were wondering if anyone has stayed there and can share any information about the resort. This will be our first visit to the Dominican Republic, so if anyone has any suggestions, it would be very helpful! Thanks!
Old Mar 17th, 1997, 10:59 PM
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Was in puerto plata in March '96 and stayed at the Paradise Beach Club & Casino. We hit a bad week temperature wise but still had a great time. I feel this hotel is directed towards a youger crowd wich was perfect for us since we're students. The people at the resort are the best. There is so much to choose from the buffet that they prepare every day for breakfast, lunch and diner. It's so good to. We had no problem drinking their drinks. They told us their ice was purified and we never had a problem with it. Just don't drink from taps. The games they organise are non stop and keep you going. Lots of participation from the crowd. Every day is a theme day. For example, Mexican, American or Italian. The games, food and nightime entertainment all depend on the day's theme. By the way the nightime shows are all worth seeing. You must make reservations to eat at their elegant Itaian restaurant. The reservations are made that morning so get up early because it's a popular place.Anyway I had a great time and that's why I am making plans to return in December '97.
Old Mar 25th, 1997, 12:57 AM
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I don't know about Puerta Plata, but last year we went to Santo Domingo with a very, reputable and popular US based tour company. I was ill for a week upon return. I would never go to Dominican Republic again. Hotel was nice, all inclusive. Food was OK, but the liquor almost tasted like it had formaldahide in it. EVERYTHING (liquor ) tasted the same and awful. We stuck to bottled water and bottled beer. We took a day excursion which was basically a nightmare. There was a 2 hour delay for our tour bus to arrive because driver had wrecked the bus. Bus #2 arrives and the motor blows as we are attempting to drive up a very, very, very steep incline. I would say that some of us actually felt our lives were in danger as the bus started to slowly roll back down the hill. On one side was a steep rock face, the other was a steep drop-off. At the base of the hill was a river!!! The breaks were smoking and because driver spoke no English, we did not know if breaks were gone or if he was trying to slowly back down hill. Needless to say, a few panicked and we all ended up demanding to be let off of bus in middle of road. The sad thing was that an elderly couple were physically unable to walk up steep incline, so bless their souls they made it safely to bottom of hill. After walking up the exhausting hill, we waited for bus #3. The next part of tour consisted of our group splitting up and getting into small boats of which held about 10 people each. There were no life vests of any kind, and quite worried the elderly couple we had. Our boat's motor died as we neared haiti! We waited there again, and tour guide decided to split us all up on the 5 other boats. I'm sure we were over the safety passenger limit for those boats. We finally got to our out island. Free drinks and barbecue. Didn't have much time due to the many delays it took us to get there. On the return trip, once again the boat we were in ran out of gas. So...........we waited until another boat went to get some and fill-er-up. No problem, we are on our way again. But wouldn't you know, our boat's motor dies again.
Once again some of us jumped onto other boats, while the rest of us waited for another boat. It is now approaching dusk and I wasn't sure how I felt about being stranded in little, teeny, tiny boat with no life vests. (especially after our return that turkish airline crashed and most passengers where eaten by sharks!) Finally, new boat arrives and we are on our way. Meanwhile, everyone else has had to wait for our one remaining boat. Now which bus to travel back to hotel in? The bus that finally arrived that had rolled backwards downhill.............or another bus whose tires were so bald, we could see the steel threads sticking out. We finally decided on the bus that rolled backwards down hill. We figured we would be going down this hill and would gain enough momentum to get up the not so steep other side! Sounds almost comical, but it is all true.

Hope you enjoy your trip, but I will never go there again.
Old May 4th, 1997, 02:33 PM
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I was in Puerto Plata two times in the past year and a half and both times I stayed at the Flamenco Beach Resort. I thought it was a wonderful resort. (Obviously - I went back a second time!). The rooms were very nice and the food, I thought, was great. They have a great dining variety; breakfast is in the buffet restaurant; lunch is either, again, in the buffet restaurant, or, there is also a small burger/hot dog type of "grill restaurant" that sits directly over the main pool - this is also buffet style. Dinner, however, is plentiful and there is much variety to choose from: again, the main buffet dinner is available (no reservations required) - there are also three a la carte restaurants (reservations required but well worth it - try each one if you can during your stay) - there's El Cortijo (Spanish cuisine - very nice - air conditioned) and they even have a little band to serenade you during dinner - it's extremely romantic!! - there Via Veneto (Italian cuisine) and Las Reses (steak dinners) - all three restaurants are very good (and air conditioned) and all worth a try (you may even want to go back a second time) (my favourite is El Cortijo!). The beach is very nice (the only thing I found a little annoying were the beach vendors). There is also nightlife - the resort has nightly entertainment as well as a disco (located at the beach) which opens right after the live entertainment ends. If you like to gamble, there are also casinos in the resorts on either side of the Flamenco (within walking distance). Anyway, in summary, I found the Flamenco to be a great getaway, have been there twice and would go back another ten times if I could. (Note: If you decide to go, you have to try the "Flamenco special" - just ask the bartender -he'll now - I won't tell you anymore about it. I'll let you decide what you think!!) Enjoy yourself wherever you decide to stay - I can tell you that Puerto Plata is a fun city with lots to do - HAVE A GREAT TRIP!
Old Jul 5th, 1997, 12:07 AM
Guil Schotte
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Dominican Republic? Beautiful country. I enjoyed it very much during my stay in 1990. I understand that a lot has changed since then, but I'd like to think it was pretty much the way I left it.

You will probably be staying in the resort areas of Puerta Plata. The resorts are very nice; I would visit there frequently during my 5 month stay in the city. One thing you must be prepared for is the poverty of a developing nation. The city itself is not particularly clean, but the warmth and emotion of the people more than make up for any shortcomings.

The diving in the area can be quite good. There is a good dive shop in Plaza Tourisol that can help with outfitting and directions. Unfortunately, I found that the areas around the resorts often have quite a current running that causes a lot of turbidity. For the ultimate in skindiving, you will want to visit Sousua Beach.

Another must is a ride in the only cable-car in the Caribbean to the top of the Teleferico where a 100' tall statue of Christ looks out over the harbour of the city. The increased elevation makes the top of the mountain an entirely different ecosystem, with pine trees and other 'western' flora.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Dominican Republic. Be sure to post your experiences here!

Old Sep 5th, 1997, 10:12 AM
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My wife and I stayed at Hacienda Tropical (20 minutes west of Puerto Plata) this year and had a wonderful time. The grounds are gorgeous, the food is great, and the people very warm. As a diver, I agree that Sosua is good for snorkeling. However, the north coast is not so good for scuba diving. Much of the reef received extensive damage during a severe storm a few years ago. It's fine for beginners (if you're in training or have just received your c-card) but for the more experienced diver (someone who has visited other reefs...), it leaves a lot to be desired. In short, it's pretty quiet down there.
Old Oct 26th, 1997, 09:53 AM
Ann Westra
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We are planning on staying at the Occidental Villas Doradas Beach Resort this February. Anyone ever been there? We have been to Puerto Plata before, but it was 6 years ago. Any info would be greatly appreciated. THANKS!
Old Nov 23rd, 2000, 09:01 AM
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can anyoen tell me whether they have been here and if they think it would be fun for 4 single girls aged 26-30??

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