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“Beware beach and timeshare vendors!”

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Grand Paradise Playa Dorada
Ranked #7 of 40 Hotels in Puerto Plata
Reviewed 6 November 2011

This hotel has so much potential. You can't ask for a better location... the beach is great - water is clear and warm, snorkeling is right off the shore and long romantic walks along the water are calling you.

However, this is all spoiled by the vendors whom you can't escape = not only the beach vendors but the various hotel timeshare vendors - whether trying to relax on the beach or going for a walk along the water's edge. It got to the point where we no longer took walks or simply turned back as soon as we saw a vendor approaching us.
We've been to other resorts before where vendors are part of the environment, but this was the worst we've ever experienced. Even if they pass you by as you relax on the lounge chairs (we learned to avoid eye contact or pretend to be asleep) many of them simply disrupt the peace and quiet by shouting out their wares. It just became tedious to keep on having to say no - especially to the rude horse & carriage ride guy.

The resort timeshare vendors are even worse, starting with registration. Even though I indicated on my form that we did not want a presentation, we were guided to an area to meet with a hotel staff who would "show us what the hotel was about". Needless to say it was a high-pressure, snake-oil situation. We got up and left in the middle and were then pestered the next few days by other hotel vendors asking why we didn't want the presentation. We learned they earned a commission for doing this. During our 2 week stay we were constantly bombarded by these vendors. We tried to avoid our "assigned" vendor, Louis, after my husband witnessed him chewing out (very loudly & in front of guests) some of the excursion vendors.

Food was so-so. There was a lot from which to choose, and usually something could be found which was fairly good, but it was rather repetitive. One good thing was all 4 of us ended up losing weights, which is something that doesn't usually happen at an "all-in"! I don't think hygiene was a big concern with at least 1 of the cooks as after one of the serving tongs fell on the floor, he simply picked then up and placed them back on the serving plate for use again (until we asked for a clean pair!).

The a-la-carte restaurant was only so-so as well. However if you want to escape the extra crowds during dinner times on weekends when the locals arrive, you may want to reserve a table instead of fighting it out in the buffet.

We didn't have any problems with them, it was just quite a bit noisier and more crowded.

Rooms were average - comfortable and clean on the surface, but with little things that took away from the quality: 1 wall plug beside the bed was simply a hole in the wall, limiting what you could plug in at night.
We had booked a 2-bedroom room which was made up of a 1-bedroom suite adjoining onto a regular hotel room. the regular room was not large and the bathroom was very small. There was no TV in the living room of the suite although there was 1 in each bedroom. This just meant that the odd time we wanted to relax in the room watching TV, the 4 of us couldn't do it together.
We sometimes sat on the balcony reading at night but be careful as it was easy to lock yourself out.

Excursions were sold by vendors on the beach - they all worked for the same company, but prices were somewhat negotiable. Also make sure to read exactly what is involved since you are not told the details up front. Most of the excursions include the "free" extra stops along the way where you are encouraged to spend your money to support the local crafts people. Not a bad idea on the surface, but most of the stuff for sale is the same stuff you see at the hotel.

My sister & I went on the waterfall trip with my husband & brother-in-law only going as far as the bottom (they had no plans to climb it). However, no-one had mentioned that water shoes (or shoes that weren't hurt by getting wet) were necessary just to get to the starting point since we had to wade through a number of streams to get to the bottom of the falls.

The climb was really amazing and much more than we expected - very physical, requiring a lot of heaving & hoisting up from the guides. My sister ended up falling after completing the very last fall & broke a rib and tore soft tissue in her shoulder. The guides were incredible in their help getting her back down again. If you are physically fit this is a great excursion, just know what you are getting into.

There is a medical facility in the shopping plaza which serves all the hotels in the area. We had good service there with my sister after her fall. Again though, just walking to the plaza (a 2-3 minute walk) you are bombarded by vendors.

The beach as I said was very nice & clean. The lounge chairs were on the grungy side though with several that were broken. There was lots of shade from trees for those who
needed it (no little thatch "huts)".

If you are a non-smoker like us, be prepared for a lot of smokers everywhere - even in the dining areas.

There were so many staff just "in your face" so much of the time, that the beauty of the place was lost. It was stressful trying to relax on the beach! We heard a few guests being a lot ruder than we were in dealing with them.

We will not go back again.

  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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10  Thank Quillj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 1 November 2011

First off I want to say I read all of the reviews on this site before going down on my honeymoon with my new wife. Needless to say I was worried!
The hotel was fantastic, we had a suite, and had no complaints! Never ran out of hot water, and the maid service was excellent. Air Conditioning was a god send and we always had a comfortable room, and being from New England we like it chilly!
I was expecting the food to be low grade based on reviews, but the first dinner at the buffet was much better then expected. However over the course of the week, the limited selection got tedious, however I expected that from any buffet style dining. The separate restaurants were nothing exciting, one night we hopped back to the buffet only to see the items we had ordered at the restaurant were available at the buffet! For people talking about not being able to go more then a few times, simply make friends with the staff and let them know you want to go and they will hook you up no problem. We only made reservations once through the "appropriate" channels.
The aggressiveness of people selling things on the beach is greatly exaggerated... If you say no or pretend to be asleep they will keep walking past you. My wife did take a look at some jewelry and that was like blood in the water for the vendors, she had about 6 or 7 switch off trying to sell her things. However when she was done, they weren't too bad about parting ways.
We went to the 7 Waterfalls, went horseback riding, and visited Paradise Island. The waterfalls were great but be prepared to make PLENTY of stops at different local places before actually getting to the falls. Horseback riding was great! It was my first time, however my Wife knows how to ride and said what we did was not for beginners, so be careful if you have little ones! Paradise Island was very very beautiful, however the bus ride is very long so bring something to keep you busy!
Be friendly to the staff and they can find anything you might be looking for! Everyone we talked to while we were down there had a stomach bug at some point... Welcome to a third world country, water will somehow make it into your system if you ever leave the resort so just bring some Pep-to and you'll be fine!
This definitely wasn't 5-Stars but for the money is was an excellent trip, and I would recommend it to friends and family. Also we were there the week after labor day, and it was the "off season" which basically meant we had the place to ourselves. Even with the weekend groups of locals we never had any issues finding chairs by the pool or on the beach! Perfect location for "Hurricane Season" as we watched the big black storm clouds bounce back out to sea, which apparently is due to the close proximity of the mountains to the resort!

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank NickP1984
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 October 2011

Very good location - on the beach. Loved the open air restaurant, also on the beach. The rooms near the pool may be a little noisy, but that's ok if you like the fun.

  • Stayed: April 2011
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2  Thank Bogdan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 October 2011

Me and my partner are 24 and stayed here from the 26/09/2011 to the 10/10/2011 the hotel is located on a lovely beach and the grounds and rooms are really nice. Me and my partner are not very fussy and think a place is what you make of it and normally stay in 3 to 5 stars places.
The weather reports were worrying us as they were reporting storms every day, it is safe to say do not go by these it was 32 to 40 and hot hot hot. At night there was sometimes storms but it was pretty to watch and the weather was not effected by them. I think it rained twice for 15 minutes so the weather was great.

The food in the hotel is really bad and the only place with shops etc is the plazma 5 minutes down the road which has a pizza hut only and costs 30 dollars for a pizza and two cokes. The buffet food made me ill for the first week and I even ended up on an IV drip and lots of tablets to take. The Edens restaurant is really good but you only get to eat there 3 nights a week so breakfast, lunch and the other dinners is hard to find something as eggs and meat etc are not cooked properly and there were dead insects on the trays :(

The staff is not very helpful, even down to being ill they would not allow food to the room instead made me go to buffet even though it meant I was sick each time in the seating area.

The locals come at the weekend from Friday to Sunday, it is a nightmare as the hotel can not cope with the amount of people, hot water runs out, food runs out and drinks even run out! They are nice but the make you feel very awkward and all the English etc end up staying on the beach or booking trips and edens dinner for the weekends, which in my mind is not really right.

All said though it was not the worse holiday due to the trips and the lovely beach but food and lack of entertainment on the complex was a major problem for us as we like to party and go for walks etc. The trips we did were the royal dolphin and sealion swim which was amazing, the buggys which was really good but they had no mirrors or brakes and you start off on a motor way lol, catamaran, bravissimo show, blue lagoon (don’t do it is 10 hours and 6 is on the coach)

Defiantly go to the Dominican but go to a 5 star hotel on a different resort  we will go back but not to here :)

Room Tip: do not choose this hotel pick a 5 star one
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  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank Essex_ukDan1987_
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 October 2011

Booked Grand Paradise for a cheap and cheerful holiday and that's exactly what we got. Room was exactly as described. Had problem with water coming from A/C but it was quickly fixed. Good variety of food - people complain about the food but I felt that for a buffet they made a good effort to mix it up. Amazing view from the Hibicus buffet. Try and sit near the edge as it can be pretty hot in the centre of the restaurant.

Hotel staff were all friendly and accomodating, except one (there's always one!) Animation team were very entertaining and took the time to speak to everyone. It was your choice if you wanted to join in or not. Pink Panther of the team was great fun!

Be sure to take lots of high SPF sunscreen. I tan easily but found myself using the small tube of 45 SPF most of the time. $25+US to buy in the gift shop.

Also be sure to take plenty of small bills if you plan to tip regularly as we found it very difficult to get 20 and 50's broken down.

Got suckered in to the time share speech after playing a Coconut Game!!! Once we figured out what was going on I quickly told them we weren't intersted. The reps are deceiving as they wear brightly coloured shirts that say STAFF on them. The first few days they were an annoyance but after that they left us alone (I think they look for isn't tanned or burnt yet)! haha

To subsidize income in the off peak times, they let the Dominicans buy 1 or 2 night packages to stay over the weekend. Be prepared for a LOT of people and kids. They started arriving around noon on Friday and were gone by around 3pm on Sunday. We just stayed on the beach out of the way. May be a good idea to book one of your excursions for the weekend if possible.

We decided to do the Dune Buggy excursion and it was a great way to see the countryside and was great fun. Be sure to take shoes with straps or they will make you 'rent' water shoes at $2 US. They also recommended we purchase the bandanas for our face at $3 each and we were sure glad we did. You will get VERY muddy. Be sure to take eye protection too.

All in all we got our CHEAP AND CHEERFUL holiday.

Room Tip: We were in block 7 on the 3rd floor. A little extra for the Superior Oceanview room but well worth...
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  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Halsam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Grand Paradise Playa Dorada

Address: Complejo Playa Dorada, Puerto Plata 332, Dominican Republic
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Puerto Plata Province > Puerto Plata
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Puerto Plata
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Plata
#7 Family Hotel in Puerto Plata
Price Range: RM396 - RM2,291 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Grand Paradise Playa Dorada 3.5*
Number of rooms: 425
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Also Known As:
Grand Paradise Playa Dorada Hotel Puerto Plata
Paradise Beach Club Puerto Plata
Paradise Beach Resort Casino
Paradise Beach Puerto Plata
Paradise Beach Club Casino

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