So it’s Wednesday already and as usual, I’m behind with everything I have planned to do. Don’t you just wish that you could stop the clock and catch up while the rest of the world is still, no interruptions!
Well you and me both know, that is never possible so here is my, as usual, late weekly blog post about our wonderful holiday experience in the Dominican Republic. I could seriously go on about why it’s so late, but if you are actually getting the time to read this- as we are all so busy nowadays, I don’t want to waste any more of your time.
Dominican Republic was all that I expected, beautiful white sands and the most beautiful turquoise sea that I have ever experienced. My first Caribbean holiday and I hope it will not be the last. It was reasonably priced for a holiday through School holidays, and considering it was a Caribbean island it did not cost much more than a holiday to Menorca, Tenerife, etc.
I haven’t paid the holiday off yet but I’m over halfway, I’m just grateful to bank my parents for helping us out. Interest-free loans are hard to find and we are lucky to have their help. I’m so glad we did it though as it was a lifetime experience for ourselves and our children, and after everything we’ve had to deal with over the last 2 years, it was well deserved.
When we arrived at the hotel we were told we were upgraded to the supposedly more expensive sister hotel because they had overbooked our rooms. We weren’t quite with it after our long flight but it sounded exciting. We didn’t have to wait long at reception checking in before our cases were put on a little train and we also hopped aboard and were taken to our rooms.
It was dark so we couldn’t really see much on the way, it felt really big and I felt excited but unsure about the size of our new home for 2 weeks. I have only ever stayed in small hotels and it seemed huge compared, as I was tired, I wasn’t with it and felt a bit flat after all the excitement of getting there. It was dark, I was in another country, I had to unpack... I had two sleepy, moody over-excited children and my parents that are quite fussy in their old age.
When we got to our rooms we were not blown away, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away but when they said we had been upgraded I was expecting a bit more. The room was very basic and considering we’d gone 4*, Dominican 4* isn’t like U.K. 4 star. It was clean but a bit tatty, wires were not fixed properly and holes in walls filled in but not finished off properly. When I went to put the suitcases under the bed after unpacking, it was dusty and had not been cleaned. We were tired though and everything always seems worse when you're tired. I decided to sleep on it and wait to see it all in the morning.
We had to go and eat and the children were desperate to have a look at the restaurant, they have both never experienced all-inclusive food before and although I could have just gone to bed I had to go take a look for them. We couldn’t be bothered to get changed so we were a bit underdressed. Luckily we didn’t have to catch the little train to the restaurant, our rooms were really close.
It was busy inside and because we were so tired, fighting through the people helping ourselves to the buffet was a bit stressful. There was so much choice it was a bit overwhelming. Zac and Skye wanted everything at once, I helped them both choose and carry their food back to the table. I then sat and had a glass of wine, I couldn’t be bothered to eat. I was so bloated from the flight, I just wasn’t hungry. Another glass later and I was desperate for my bed. The children moaned but we managed to get them back to the rooms and after showers were soon all fast asleep in bed.
In our room we had two double beds, they were not very big, sharing for 2 weeks wasn’t going to be easy but we all slept well for our first night. We were all awake at 4:30 am Dominican time, because of the 5 hours time difference. It was getting lighter at 5 am so we decided to go and explore. My mum and dad had a room next door to us, they were awake too so they came along. I have a video of our holiday that’s attached to this post. You can watch our first morning on video.
Here is some information about our hotel and resort;
Hotel Tropical Princess Beach Resort & Spa set behind Bavaro Beach in the province of Altagracia in the Dominican Republic. The hotel is only 35 km from Punta Cana airport, so the coach transfer from the airport took only 45 minutes and that’s because it dropped a few others at different hotels. The resort is surrounded by a magnificent palm grove and is located right on the beach.
The hotel is rated 4-star with 164 Tropical Superior Suites and 146 Family Suites (with a master bedroom and a second connected bedroom), all fully equipped and perfect for families with children thanks to the full-service and spaciousness of the rooms. You can also enjoy the Free Wi-Fi in the Lobby.
Hotel Tropical Princess has 2 large swimming pools, 5 restaurants, 3 bars, tennis courts, bike hire, children’s clubs, playground, mini golf, all-inclusive spa with hot spring circuits, relaxing massages, treatment zone, Vitality Spa, Garden of Senses, gym, aerobics room and a choice of shops. Free transport is also included so you can move around the resort with maximum comfort, enjoying the natural environment thanks to the carefully-tended plants and gardens and the native animal species that the hotel preserves.
So this is the hotel we had booked but because they had overbooked we had to stay at the CARIBE CLUB PRINCESS instead. The Caribe Club Princess was in the same area and to be honest it was a bit confusing because the hotels looked exactly the same. The Caribe Club Princess also had a large pool with a pool bar. All the facilities were the same and both hotels could share each other’s swimming pools, sun beds, and all the other facilities. I didn’t get to see what the rooms were like in the Tropical Princess so I can’t comment, but I spoke to others who said they were ok, nothing spectacular and very basic.
So what did we think about the hotel after our two weeks stay?
Beds-comfortable but small (we complained about feeling squished after 4 days, my son and daughter were struggling to sleep together they added a single bed for my son)
Food in the buffet restaurant- very good!
Food in the Dominican restaurant-absolutely disgusting-don’t bother!
Crepe cafe and coffee house-excellent coffee and good cakes and crepes.
24-hour bar and snack bar-good bar service for drinks but snack bar was rubbish and food was cold.
Sunbeds- very comfortable and the umbrella sun shades were brilliant and kept the children shaded. There were always sunbeds available if you were up before 730am in the morning. The ones on the beach with shade were all taken by 6 am. Our first week was busier as it was Easter week but our second week was quieter.
Swimming pools- all 3 swimming pools were lovely designs and big with lots of shallow areas for children. The water wasn’t cold, it was a perfect temperature, I do feel like the pools could have been cleaned better. The large pool with the pool bar was the dirtiest, I’m sure that the adults that were stood at the bar all afternoon with their ginormous beakers full of beer were weeing in the pool. We watched carefully and considering the amount they were consuming we didn’t see them get out for hours. This put us off going in the big pool and we moved to the other pool that was the other side of the hotel.
Beach-absolutely stunning, perfect white sand and lots of room for everyone.
Sea- was quite windy every day so lots of strong waves, not good for people who aren’t very good at swimming but perfect for bodyboarding. I got some fantastic waves and thoroughly loved the sea. My mum, Zac and Skye found it fierce and the waves knocked them over and scared them.
Spa- I didn’t even visit the spa but I did look at the cost and the treatments were quite pricey.
Entertainment-very good, the dancers were all brilliant and they were always working so hard getting everyone involved with the activities that were always going on. We went to see a few of the shows that were on the stage in the evening, the entertainment was a bit cheesy but funny and the bum wiggling....well let’s just say, I’ve never seen such good bum wiggling in my life and it will not be forgotten. Beyoncé would look very lame compared to the guys and girl entertainers on this resort.
Mini golf- tatty but fun!
Security guards- were very friendly and constantly walking around checking the area. I did feel very safe whilst on the resort and beach.
Playground-decent size and safe but too hot as not in the shade.
Children’s club- Zac only used this in the last two days. The lady in charge couldn’t speak English but somehow managed to communicate with Zac and he enjoyed himself. It was very basic and let’s just say if it was in England it would definitely not meet childcare requirements. I was reluctant to leave Zac but it was safe and he was desperate to play with other children, even though none of them spoke English.
Teens club- was never any teens in it, but the room looked ok from the outside.
Free transportation- very regular and very good.
Hotel reception area and bar- good service and lovely and clean, comfortable seating but in the evening it’s very busy. It’s also the free WiFi area but it’s so slow. We ended up paying extra to have a special box so we could have WiFi by the pool. It cost $100 dollars for a deposit and $7 a day but all 4 of us could share it. It was still slow though and Instagram wouldn’t work properly on it.
Bikes- didn’t bother the bikes looked 100 years old!
Tennis courts- looked fine but I didn’t use them.
TUI rep- he was very friendly but couldn’t speak good English and I thought this wasn’t very good. I expect at least one good English speaking representative from a big company like TUI.
Outcome-We had a fabulous holiday, the hotel grounds and beach was absolutely beautiful. The hotel was ok but I wouldn’t choose to stay here again, because of the following reasons:
We all had terrible diarrhoea for at least 4 days of our stay, I was the first to get it on my 3rd day, my daughter Skye was the only one who was ok, this was a huge relief as it could have been awful for her with her Crohn’s disease. We are not sure how we got it, we were very careful with food and was washing our hands and being very careful. The buffet restaurant was very clean and the toilets and hotel grounds were well looked after. The swimming pool wasn’t very clean though so maybe it was from there. My mum and dad really suffered and they were ill most of the holiday which was a shame. They travel to different Caribbean islands every year and have never been ill. This would definitely put me off travelling to the Dominican Republic again.
The staff were all very friendly, helpful and hardworking but couldn’t speak hardly any English. The fact that they couldn’t speak much English it made it very hard for us to try and order drinks, my mum could never get her tonic water and we often had something we didn’t ask for. When we tried to book a boat trip and needed to make sure the toilets would be suitable for my daughter with her Stoma bag, the Thomson TUI rep hadn’t got a clue and we didn’t dare book it in case.
We were hassled every day by photographers, staff from the spa, people selling this that and everything else. There was even a market stall set up in front of the buffet restaurant, you had to walk past it and the cost of the gifts was a complete rip-off and the sellers were rude and pushy. I expected it on the beach but I didn’t expect it by the pool and within the hotel grounds. It was very annoying and when you said no thank you they would be quite rude about it. My husband kept getting asked by one of the members of staff if he wanted any drugs. He got hassled nearly every day, even though he kept saying no. I definitely don’t expect this in a family hotel.
There wasn’t many English, my children love making friends on holiday but it wasn’t easy.
The beds were too small and our rooms were tatty. We also had no view from our balcony and all we could see was a wall.
I can’t say I wouldn’t recommend this hotel as we had an amazing time, food was good and the beach and grounds were absolutely stunning. I’m just giving my honest review. Believe me, when I say I’ve stayed in some dodgy places over time, I’m no snob and like to make the most of things. I’m glad we did it, but I wouldn’t do it again, there are so many other places I would like to see, I’m a traveller and going back to the same place bores me. I didn’t like being stuck at the resort, I like to get out and see more but because of all the trouble in Dominican, I wouldn’t dare, especially with the children.
I’m very grateful for this holiday experience and I’m so glad we did it.