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Punta Cana,Mexico or Jamaica AI's

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Been to the Sandals in St. Lucia ten years ago and also Barcelo Los Cabos three years ago.
Husband and I going with another couple mid to late October 2012 to celebrate 35 year anniversaries. Thought I wanted to try Punta Cana, but, the more I read Trip Advisor and other sites I'm not hearing good things about the resorts in PC. It seems like the customer service is non existent in PC as opposed to Mexico. In Mexico it seems like the workers from room attendants to waiters to bar staff are very congenial and ready to help whenever needed. I'm hearing quite the opposite about Dominican Republic.
Never been to Jamaica.

Just want a place with a nice room and good beds, good pools and beach and decent to good food (know you can't expect NYC dining in AI's) and drinks.

Please tell me which AI's you really loved and would go back to in any of the three destinations.

Thanks for your suggestions.

Karen from NJ

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    for the destinations you tried....check out Punta Cana, Majestic Elegance (get Elegance Club)....Iberostar Grande or Secrets Wild Orchids - Jamaica. I went the Majestic Elegance last Feb...if you have any questions.....

    I loved Sandals Grande Antiqua...and based on time of year and specials, I plan on going to Sandals Exuma...

    I've also been to Sandals Ochio Rios Grande Rivera..but the beach isn't big...but I loved the resort...and I've been to Beaches Turks and Caicos...but that has kids....

    just mentioning that in case you have specific questions.

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    I just read reviews of Jewell Dunns River in Ochos Rios, Jamaica and everyone raves about the rooms and how clean they are and the bedding is great and the food is really good. As I hear it normally at a AI food is normally mediocre. This sounds like a great place.
    I do know a young guy who just came back from Majestic Elegance and he really enjoyed it. Some of the reviews though are just horrible.
    Rooms very musty, bathrooms directly in room, beech is rough and lots of seaweed and food not so good and drinks watered down.

    The other couple we're going with were leaning towards it because of what they heard from this guy and because of the price.

    Since you were there what are your thoughts about the comments above.

    Thanks for your time and suggestions.

    We are Disney Vacation Club owners and we're used to their on site resorts. Neat and clean and regularly maintained.

    It is not easy to pick the right place when just from photos.

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    Majestic Elegance - My observations:

    Rooms Musty - I was in the Elegance Club, first building by the beach, it was not musty. I had a swim up room

    Bathrooms directly in room - on the back wall - there is a double sink. There is a separate showere - which has a rainshower spout and then spouts from the wall - I LOVED the shower. The toilet is a separate room too, the weird thing is the toilet is square. I didn't mind it, my sister hated it. I liked the bathroom set up and several people could be doing something and the other person didn't have to wait.

    Beach - the sand is like flour....Unless you go to La Romana, you won't find calm tranquil water in Punta Cana....I would not describe waves as rough - we would go in past the wave and wade around for a while.

    Beach - seaweed - we were there for a week - for 6 days there was not any seaweed...the beach was beautiful - the water aqua blue. Then late in the day, we could see the seaweed coming in (around 4pm).....there was a lot of it, it was weird. The next day it was completely gone - no evidence it ever happened.

    Food - the food was average. We liked the french place and the sushi - everything else was good - not fantastic - not bad. I love to eat/fine dining....Since I knew what to expect going in, I was not disappointed.

    Drinks - I thought the drinks were fantastic. William the bar tender in the lobby made the best drinks I ever had (margarita one day and martini the next). At the pool, I had an excellent mojito and caprihina (brazilin drink)I completely enjoyed the drinks at the Majestic - more than at the Sandals, but I am not an all day frozen drink girl either.

    Regarding The Jewell...While I was in Sandals Ocho Rios this past April, we took a Catamaran to Dunns River Falls and passed by this place...might be nice on the inside, I did not like the location and outward appearance at all....including the beach..that's just me though.

    Anyways - I hope this helped. Another thing you can do is go to these are real pictures people take of hotels, The Majestic Elegance is there.

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    If you like Sandals, you might enjoy Couples Resorts in Jamaica, too. They are smaller, more romantic and quiet and people really enjoy these resorts for special anniversaries. I also enjoy the Secrets Resorts - especially the Maroma in Mexico, Zoetry Resorts, Karisma's El Dorado Resorts in Mexico (great food!) and Excellence Playa Mujeres is always lovely and good for the romantic travelers. Most of these resorts have locations in all of the major Caribbean destinations. Also, the BodySport in St. Lucia has outstanding food, probably comparable to the excellent restaurants in NYC and Los Angeles....

    Have a great day!

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    We have to been to 14 AI's over Mexico and the Caribbean, but I have not ventured back to the DR, and I won't. Not the type of destination that interests me as we are too active on vacation. I can not just plop down at a resort for a week and call it a vacation. Too boring for us. I agree that the reviews on almost every single resort are terrible.

    We have also been to 2 Sandals, and I am not a Sandals fan. I rate the Sandals Grande St. Lucia at the bottom of my list. Horrid service and terrible food. At that price point, they have go to be kidding. It's like all the money goes into all the remodeling and updating of their resorts and not anything else. I'm not paying for that. I also noticed that staff caters to return guests and ignores everyone else. They are overrated, over priced hype IMHO :)

    My number one AI, is the Royal Playa del Carmen in Mexico. That resort had the best food of any other resort we have been to. It was even better than any place we could find on 5th Avenue. Service was great also. All rooms are Junior suites with a jacuzzi in the room. The price points are location. The closer to the beach, the higher the price. I do have to say the swim up rooms are not worth the price and don't get a room on the first floor. The location of this resort is prime. Just a 5 minute walk down the street to 5th Avenue. Tons of things to see and do off property.

    In 2010, we decided to return to Playa and stay at a boutique hotel on 5th and not go AI. It was one of our worst mistakes. I was kicking myself, we didn't go back to the Royal or thier sister resort next door, the Gran Porto Real. There is also privledges with the Gran Porto Real. Their resturant Marias was so good.

    Other highly recommend resorts in Mexico are Secrets Maroma, Iberostar Grand Pariso and the El Dorado Maroma. There are several more really great lux resorts there.

    My second choice is the Jewell Dunns River in Ocho Rios. I was so happy when Sandals sold that resort and a good company came in and took it over. We went in December, 2011 and loved it. Good food, good service. American Airlines screwed us on our flights and we didn't get there until 2am. Mgmt team, not just a person, was waiting for us with welcome drinks in hand and we got a very nice upgrade. The grill was still open and DH went and got us some great hamburgers. The beach party and the pier dinner is not to be missed.

    In Jamaica, the Couples resorts get lots of recomendations. However, they are not a lux as what you will find in Mexico. There is an Iberostar and Secrets resort in Montego Bay. Unfornatunatly, Montego Bay is not the recommended area to stay in, but after staying in Ocho Rios and Negril, I wouldn't hesitate. Sunset at the Palms in Negril it a cute hotel in which their rooms are like little treehouses. Nice and quite. Their beach area ia across the street, but I wouldn't have minded that. We stayed at the RUI Tropical Bay, which I rate #1 in the worst AI we've ever been too with Sandals Grande as #2. Again, kicking myself we didn't stay at Sunset at the Palms. Live and learn.

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    Just wanted to add, I have pics of our vacations since 2000 on my site if your interested. It's at:

    For this years trip, we decided to return to Mexico again. Been going for the past 12 years, but chose the Western side this time; Cabo San Lucas. We like fun and lots of activity on vacation and wanted to try something new and different. We chose the Marina Fiesta and like that the AI includes restaurants on the pier that are also open to the public. I have found in the past that resorts that offers AI plans in which some guests have paid for AI and some will go ala cart, the food usually is better.

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    At Jewell Dunns River everything sounds fabulous and I'm ready to book through B2C Vacations as they seem to have a really good deal.

    One thing that someone said was that the pool was really cold, did you have that experience. We would be going mid to end of October. Also, they weren't thrilled with the beach. What are your thoughts on the beach area. Water warm & calm?
    Thanks for your input.

    If you haven't already gone to Cabo, check out a restaurant near the Marina, I think that is in a cave. I heard it's excellent.
    When I get the name I will send it.

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    Karen59, I have never heard of that travel company. I either book with Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz depending on who has the better deal.

    Most of the comments we read about the beach was it's small. So if you like to long walks on the beach it's really not an option here. Other than that the beach is very nice. No seaweed or rocks. I also read about the harrassing vendors, but we never saw any.

    We went in December, 2011 and the pool water was fine and I am very cold natured. We have stopped going to Mexico in December because the pools there are too cold for me. Except, I have learned that Cabo resorts have heated pools which is one of the reasons we chose that destination.

    We are going to Cabo in December. I have heard of a cave restaurant, but that was in Playa del Carmen. If you do locate the name, please let me know.

    We were supposed to have gone to the Jewel for our 10th wedding anniversary in July, 2010, but that was the time it was closed and changing mgmts from Sandals. The Jewel has a resort photo opportunity. They tqke you around the resort and take pics and burn to a disc. We got like 30 picture for $60. It was so worth it.

    If you're interested I have my pics of our vacation there at:

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