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Ocho Rios vs Punta Cana for honeymoon

Old Apr 16th, 2013, 07:07 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 4
Ocho Rios vs Punta Cana for honeymoon

Planning a honeymoon for end of November. While we're still open to anything, we have our initial search narrowed down to 3 places, based on budget (all three are looking to be around $1,600 per person all inclusive for a week stay, with airfare).

- Riu Palace in Punta Cana
- Jewel Dunn River Falls in Ocho Rios
- Riu in Ocho Rios

For those that have been to these places, was hoping to get some opinions. The internet can be a great research tool but sometimes it is 'information overload' when trying to sift through websites.

Key points for us in making a decision.
- We're both around 30. While we're not looking for a spring break type atmosphere, we still a enjoy a good time every now and then.
- My fiance has never seen the ocean before. While any ocean view will be incredible for her, we definitely need a resort with a decent ocean/beach
- Her other 'want' is a great swim-up bar. While it may seem trivial, this is just one of those things she has wanted to do for a long time.
- Other things we'd be interested in doing would be snorkeling and/or scuba diving...swimming with the dolphins... perhaps taking a day trip off the resort one day to some kind of local attraction... nothing in particular, just something interesting.

I would assume any of the resorts listed would cover these points well, so I'd love just any general feedback that might help us with a decision. Thanks in advance!
jb2sprint is offline  
Old Apr 16th, 2013, 08:11 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,210
I think an important point to consider is food, which isn't on your list, but Riu resorts in general are not particularly known for their food. It will be best at a Riu Palace resort, so for that reason I think Punta Cana is a better choice than Ocho Rios, which is just a ClubHotel.

Punta Cana has the best beach---I've stayed nearby but never at this Riu resort, but the beach along there is pretty good. However, I also like the beach at Jewel Dunn's River, where I've stayed (though it was a Sandals at the time), but it's a rather small beach.

You must reserve and pay extra to get a sea view, so keep that in mind as it may change what you pay. Most of these big all-inclusive resorts are huge and sprawling, so a "sea view" may still be from 100 years away from the beach at best.

I don't know if your budget is at all flexible, but you are going to get something on the relative low end of the scale at this price, so you have to keep that in mind. You're paying little more than $100 per night for an all-inclusive resort, and you tend to get what you pay for. But in general, I think the product offered in Jamaica is generally superior to the DR.

You might also look at the Iberostar in Montego Bay to see if you could get something comparably priced there. That's a very nice resort, particularly the adults-only section. But it might be a bit out of your price range.
doug_stallings is offline  
Old Apr 16th, 2013, 08:30 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,210
Sorry, 100 "yards" not "years". I recommended the Iberostar in particular because it has an expansive swim-up bar area in the main pool. I don't know about the other resorts.
doug_stallings is offline  
Old Apr 16th, 2013, 08:53 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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Thanks Doug. The ocean view room isn't terribly important. I probably worded that wrong in my question. The big thing is just a nice beach area at the resort, which I think they all have. Although I've heard good things about the PC beaches.

Would love to hear other opinions of others who have visited these places. Thanks!
jb2sprint is offline  
Old Apr 16th, 2013, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I don't know a thing about those resorts, but I love love LOVE Jamaica (3 trips all to Negril) and don't much care at all for the DR (2 trips to Sosua and Puerto Plata).
suze is online now  
Old Apr 16th, 2013, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 36
I love Jamaica, and have been numerous times to several areas, and am not a fan of the DR (been to both Puerto Plata and Punta Cana several times as well). While I don't know these resorts, specifically, here's my take: for off property trips, I'd go with Jamaica. I personally believe the tourism/hospitality infrastructure is much better, and I find it very easy to get around. But, I would probably go for the DR in regards to beaches, as I think they're better than in Ochi. So, I guess it's a matter of prioritizing what you'd like to do/what the property offers.
J1821 is offline  
Old Apr 16th, 2013, 03:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,077
I have stayed at the RIU Tropical Bay in Negril and the Jewell Dunn's River in Ocho Rios. My choice is the Jewell hands down especially for a honeymoon.

The RIU chain is for low budget family friendly and large groups vacation. Definitly not for a honeymoon. The food is beyond dismal. Their reservation system for the ala cart restaurants is a true test of patience.

The Jewell used to be a Sandals. However, we found the food and service way better than the 2 Sandals we stayed at and the price much less also. No reservations required in their restaurants except the Japanese place because they have to make sure they have enough people to go around the table. We did the resort photo shoot and it was a wonderful keepsake.

We went the first week of December, 2011, which is low season. We booked the lowest catagory room and got a free upgrade to oceanview. We paid $2,200 for air and hotel for the both of us for 6 nights. Much less expensive than the Iberostar in Montego Bay. If you go during Thanksgiving week, you will probgably pay double that if not more.

You need to book off site excursions either on-line before you go or at the hotel. We hired a private driver with A-J Jamaica Planners on-line before going. This is done so they can keep the overly aggressive vendors at bay for you. The local in Ocho Rios are way more aggressive than in Negril in our experience.

My review is on this site if you are interested. Just click my user name.

I have our photos of our trip at:
KVR is offline  
Old May 26th, 2013, 07:34 AM
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 1
Coming in a little late on this But, Jamaica mon. Jamaica's got a vibe to it that you just can't get any place else. That Said, RUI, BIG NO.. Dunns River BIG YES. have stayed here 5 times when it was with Sandals. Hear its even better now. Great pool w/swim up bar. nice beach.
Keithmc55 is offline  
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