My goal in posting this review is to provide as balanced a review as possible in an effort to help other travelers decide whether or not to stay at this resort or to help those of you who’ve already booked the trip to make the most of your stay at Dreams Palm Beach.
I have read many reviews of Dreams Palm Beach and most are either hot or cold – love it or hate it so to speak.
I rated this resort rather poorly primarily for this reason: They boast “unlimited luxury” but miss that mark in many ways. Not a “bad” resort, but one that has several misgivings with no apparent quest to significantly improve. More on that below…
The Resort in General
Generally pleasing to the eye. Easy walking to everything on the property -- no need for a tram as is the case with some larger all-inclusive resorts. Lots of palm trees, grounds are pretty well manicured – not stellar, but very good.
The buildings that house the rooms are relatively old. As you may know by now, this property in the early part of 2008 was called Sunscape Punta Cana. So the rooms appear to have some new upgrades such as bedding, LG flat panel TVs, iPod dock alarm clocks, coat of paint perhaps, but the same older structure. More on the rooms below…
Several of the buildings appear to be relatively new – all of the restaurants, shops, and lobby.
Occasionally walking down some of the sidewalks I could smell a slight sewage smell coming from what looked like large manhole covers painted light green.
We checked in at around 9:45 PM and to our displeasure the room was as “musty”, “mildewy”, and “wet” as I have read several times in previous negative reviews. At that point I had one of those “darn, I should have took those negative reviews seriously” moments. People, let me tell you something… you could put your hands on the sheets and they truly felt wet. One cannot dismiss this as “the Caribbean”. I have stayed at other resorts in the Caribbean and I have never experienced anything like this. We were so tired we slept in the wet that night. Additionally, after one flush, the toilet broke and it “ran” all night long. I tried to fix it but could not – the toilet was visibly very very old – likely original. Disgusting is probably the most appropriate word here.
The next morning I explained the broken toilet and very wet room. I was told the hotel was booked and that they could not switch us for a day or two. After a bit of a heated discussion, it wasn’t until I explained my son has a “medical condition” that I was taken seriously. My son has asthma, severe at times, and was up much of the night coughing. His condition was definitely aggravated by the musty, mildewy air. While I was at the desk a family of four checked out – bingo, I finally got a commitment that they would move us – they told me to come back at noon – I did and was moved to a third floor room with a partial World Café/partial pool view. A huge improvement with almost no smell of mildew and no wet sheets. I suspect the first floor rooms are the rooms where they have more of a moisture problem – so the tip I will give you is request a third floor room. They are also the only rooms that have nice high ceilings.
The bathrooms are odd. True, water gets all over the floor which is kind of annoying – constantly throwing towels on the floor to mop up all of the water. The frost glass door dividing the bathroom is a pain and poor design. The bathrooms do not look like they were upgraded at all.
A problem I have with this resort and a key reason why I rated them so poorly (…the ugly) is because of our wet room experience along with the many “wet room” reviews I have read on trip advisor. If this is a problem and so many people go to the front desk to ask to be moved/complain, why doesn’t the hotel 1) not rent out the problematic rooms until the issue is fixed, or 2) purchase dehumidifiers? There is absolutely positively no excuse for giving people a wet room. People are paying hard earned money, thousands of dollars, and a wet room is simply unacceptable. PERIOD! If you get a wet room, fight tooth and nail to get what you deserve – even if you have to sleep with a pillow and sheet at the front desk. Do it until you get moved to an acceptable room.
**** A MESSAGE TO THE GENERAL MANAGER OF DREAMS PALM BEACH – MR. JOSE CORLETTO ****
Mr. Corletto, where are you? Do you not “get it”? Time and time again people are writing negative reviews on TripAdvisor.com and complaining about the same things over and over again, such as wet, mildew filled rooms. Are you powerless to take positive action?
Ok, time to change up a bit…
Very good! Two very large pools. They get pretty cloudy by the end of the day – perhaps because of people spilling their drinks – so many people, even kids, take their drinks with them into the water – nothing wrong with that in my opinion but with that will come spillage. Also, the resort needs to add more chairs around the pool – simply many more people than chairs, at times.
I cannot comment on the Preferred Club pool – I walked passed it every time I went to the Seaside Grill – did not impress me too much. Miguel at the front desk tried to up sell me $150 extra a night to be upgraded to the Preferred Club. When I said no thanks he immediately came down to $100 a night. I offered him $60 a night and he didn’t take me up on it – I’m glad he didn’t because I get the impression it’s not a great value.
Towel Game (as it is commonly called)
I don’t really know what the issue is and why so many people comment on this. I think the people that are writing negative reviews about the “towel game” are the ones that are probably propagating the problem. The resort prohibits (in word only) the saving of chairs – at the pool and beach. So if you see a towel on a chair, it’s yours – how do you know if the towel is one that someone is using to save the chair or one that someone left behind? – you don’t, take the chair. It is quite a different story if someone has left behind their personal belongings – you might want to leave those as is and move on. We never really had a problem finding chairs –even at 95-100% occupancy. You just have to work at it a bit. So be patient. And don’t compound the problem by saving chairs yourself.
Oh boy…honestly, not bad, but not great either. It was “ok”. Some things were better than others – things that stood out as pretty good were the coffee, orange juice, and fruit. Everything else was not very memorable. Again, not bad, but certainly not “gourmet” by any stretch. So adjust those expectations if you’re a foodie. You came for the drinks anyway right?
As for the specialty restaurants – we ate in all but the French restaurant – again, they were not bad, but not great – about average food you might get in suburban America. A few additional observations – there are probably an average of 1000 to 1500 people staying at this resort at any given time so bear in mind that you are eating food that is mass produced – institutional food you might say – so it’s hard to get the kind of gourmet quality food you might want if it’s not made for you personally. Also, I didn’t “get” why you fly to the Caribbean to go to a French, Italian, or Mexican restaurant. I guess all of the all-inclusives are doing it so they have to keep up with the Jones’. I got the impression that the restaurant “frontages” (Mexican, Italian, etc.) were mere facades because all of the food seems to originate out of the World Café (they are all attached) which is the primary restaurant at the resort.
Beach burger/hot dog shack left something to be desired. Did not try the hot dogs, but twice I had burgers that were charred on the outside and blood red on the inside. E coli anyone? I stuck to the grilled chicken (bone-in was only option) and fries.
Not too bad but they were very conservative with the rum and alcohol – I’m sure they are trained to do this. I did not ask for more but I’m sure they would give it to you if you ask. This was quite different from the all-inclusive I went to in Barbados – there they would practically fill up your glass with rum and add in a dash of fruit punch – I guess that is the difference when you have the Mount Gay Rum Distillery right down the highway.
If you’re a beer drinker you might ask for it in the bottle vs. the more common draft they like to give you in a small plastic glass.
There is a beach bar/table but they serve everything small plastic cups – kind of like asking for samples.
The Beach and Sea Water
Nice beach but not spectacular. Seaweed particles often floating in the water and washing up on shore, as has been commented on several times before. It’s a shame there are a zillion beach chairs and bodies crammed in on an otherwise nice stretch. Lots of palm trees. I was surprised as to how many topless women were walking around all week.
The water was fairly clear – had a light green tint to it and certainly was not anywhere near gin clear blue as I’ve seen in the Bahamas. Was not a very exciting place to snorkel as many of the fish have been scared off by all of the water sports and boats constantly going back and forth parallel and not far from the beach. The boys at the Dive Shack will take you out to the coral reef for an hour for $10 per person. I promised Francois Marcotti at the Dive Shack I would say a good word for him. He’s a red headed Caucasian Dominican from Santo Domingo – nice. Reminded me of Spicoli, the surfer dude from the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The Dive Shack is not part of the Resort but they work together. I suggest bringing your own snorkel gear as they only want to loan you a snorkel and mask for an hour with a $25 cash deposit.
There is something “off” with the ecology of the water and coral reef. I went scuba diving on the coral reef several hundred yards off the beach. Here is my theory – could the lack of fish in the area have thrown the ecology somewhat off track? The coral lacks color and the fish were quite sparse – which seemed odd. It’s hard to describe – the water and marine life just didn’t seem as healthy as it could be – at least right off the beach in the resort areas.
Pretty good, although not “knock your socks off good” as some seem to indicate. Like any hotel or resort, there are those that do a great job and others that are just not too enthusiastic about their jobs. I felt a little pressure to tip in many instances because of hearing how low the wages are for the workers. Front desk staff was my least favorite. Not the friendliest. Others however, were memorable – thanks Tony! (World Café).
We did the Outback Safari and the Saona Island Speedboat/Catamaran excursions. Both cost about $275 to $300 for each excursion (2 adults/2 children). Both very tiring. We liked the Safari because you really got to see the island, venture into the mountains, etc. Saona was nice but the downside was the bus trip to where you get on the boats – took us almost 2 hours to and 1.5 hours back. Was a very long day.
Not very good. Limited shopping. We personally did not feel all that safe walking down the street to the vendor shacks. Other times we went to the Caribbean we had a car rental and could go/see/do whenever we wanted. We felt a little stranded at the resort – not much at all on Punta Cana – just all-inclusive resorts, that’s about it.
The day we got back to the US of A, two of us came down with a wicked bout of Montezuma’s Revenge. Five days of severe you know what – we eventually went to a doctor and were prescribed a heavy duty antibiotic. That did the trick.
Additional Annoyances & Suggestions
-Gift shop in lobby charges up to $28 for suntan lotion – bring your own and lots of it – the sun is wicked hot down there.
-Gift shop will not give you a receipt when you charge items to your room. That is their policy. Complain – if everyone complains maybe they will change their policy.
-Front Desk staff was probably the most unfriendly of all of the staff on the property – not sure why, maybe they are tired of having people complain about wet rooms, etc.
-Most of the staff doesn’t speak English well. This gets old.
-Punta Cana is very “touristy” – from the time you get off the plane until the time you get back on someone will be trying to sell you something or trying to carry your bags, etc.
-The Dreams Brochure advertises Giant Chess – they do not have it. Not sure why they advertise it.
-Resort does a very poor job of enforcing any rules. Kind of strange. There is like mini chaos at times. There was almost no management presence at this resort.
-Don’t expect the Apple Rep to be your advocate. They and the Dreams staff appear to work for the same parent company.
-Many of the shops on the property are privately owned/operated which means you cannot charge to your room.
-Housekeeping will rarely deliver towels to you when you call to request extra – out of about seven calls, we had towels delivered once. It was quite amusing and when comparing notes, other guests said the exact same thing. You will learn towel preserving strategies at this hotel!
We had a fair to good vacation because we made the best of it. Far, far from a "Dream". If you can get into this resort at a bargain price (Apple Square Deal) such as a $599 for 7 nights, it MIGHT be worth it if you can overlook A LOT and deal with many of the things I outlined above, but personally, I would not return to Dreams Palm Beach or try a Dreams resort ever again. They just make too many fumbles and are not all that apologetic when they do. As for Apple Vacations, they are catering to the masses and I just didn’t like feeling like a head of cattle.
It was an adventure. Sure glad it’s over!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facing the Caribbean Sea, white sand beach and lush gardens, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana boasts 500 spacious rooms and ample suites surrounded by swaying palm trees and views of endless blue waters stretching to the horizon - the perfect setting in paradise. Take advantage of all the unlimited luxury activities Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana has to offer. Swim, sail, snorkel or windsurf in the turquoise Caribbean, enjoy fine a-la-carte dining, sip favorite cocktails at one of our bars. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
- Occidental Punta Cana
- Occidental Allegro Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Occidental
- Sunscape Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Dreams Palm Beach
- Punta Cana Allegro