from Toronto, Canada
Submitted on 23-10-2016
We are couple in late fifties, who travel to Caribbean (Dominican Republic (DR), Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica) 3-4 times per year, usually for two weeks, mainly 5 stars resorts, often Royal Service and accumulated some valuable, in our opinion, experience about Caribbean style vacation. In May 2013 we visited first time Luxury Don Pablo Collection Cayo Levantado (CL) (see our previous reviews) and since then we visited CL in September 2013, October 2014, January and December 2015 and last visit Octobe...
We are couple in late fifties, who travel to Caribbean (Dominican Republic (DR), Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica) 3-4 times per year, usually for two weeks, mainly 5 stars resorts, often Royal Service and accumulated some valuable, in our opinion, experience about Caribbean style vacation. In May 2013 we visited first time Luxury Don Pablo Collection Cayo Levantado (CL) (see our previous reviews) and since then we visited CL in September 2013, October 2014, January and December 2015 and last visit October 2016. As you could see we visited CL during different seasons and in total six times in 3 and half years.
CL is a jewel in the crown of Bahia. Idea to have vacation on the island, probably dream of everybody. If you didn‚??t visit CL before or considering come back, don‚??t hesitate do it. Of course, if you are planning your first visit, you are already learned it is not cheap and you would like get most value for your money. If you are considering coming back, you want to know is it still the same resort which you loved or it changed.
We would like to discuss following topics: why we are coming back again and again and how CL changed in three and half years.
Accommodation: It is pure luxury, clean and well maintained. 5 stars.
Weather and related issues: Even during high season the weather in DR could be hot and humid and rains are common. CL is probably single known to us resort where you are relatively independent from weather (especially it is important during low season), since CL has air-conditioned 3 out 4 la carte restaurants, main buffer restaurant and lobby bar. It is especially important, since mosquitos and other insects may destroy vacation (or creates feature health issues), especially, if people are very sensitive to bites. CL probably champion in fights with mosquitos they are not issue at all. 5 stars.
Location of CL is unique, not only because of idea of staying at the island (dream of everybody), known also as Bacardi island, but because it is very safe, and you are not harassed by local people at the beach, for example. 5 stars.
Beach: if you like ocean swimming, snorkelling and endless sandy beaches you are going to be disappointed. But beaches on the resort properties are very picturesque. One beach has a lot of shade and beautiful tiny island in the front of the beach. Another (windy) beach is perfect for people who love a lot of sun. It appears a lot of sand was brought to the beaches this year and, as result, due to the natural movement of the sand in and out of ocean, the quality of the beaches improves significantly. Unfortunately after storms and heavy rains wood pieces and plastic could flow in the ocean and it takes sometimes for ocean to clean it. Staff rigorously clean beach every morning, but our suggestion would be, please, clean beach more often in days after heavy rains and storms. 4 stars.
Service: It is the main feature of this resort. How management train or select people we don‚??t know but everything always run smoothly, you feel that you are royal! You don‚??t have to fight for attention/service/towels etc. Just relax and you will get it, doesn't matter do you tip or no and how much (little bit idealistic statement, but overall it is true). There are possible many reasons why service is excellent, but in our opinion, for example in buffet restaurant, it was presence of the manager all the time help maintain efficiency and quality of the service.
By the end of 2014 expansion of the resort was finally finished .New restaurant (Rodizio) was opened. During high season, for breakfast, you could use open restaurant (Rodizio) or Buffet Restaurant in the main building. However, during our last visit (October 2016), which is considered low season Rodizio was closed for breakfast and for lunch. And as result Main Buffet was very busy during breakfast. We found service was very inconsistent. In our opinion, reason is absence of supervision by restaurant manager. We learn that previous Spanish manager retired/moved back to Spain. Another supervisor accept promotion in another Samana resort. Staff is still good, but they need somebody permanently in the restaurant, especially during breakfast, who coordinate staff, keep eye on the customers etc. We almost never seen a new manager in the restaurant excluding Gala dinner. We still give 5 stars, but hope our voices will be heard. Service is the main reason why we visit CL repeatedly.
Dinning. Food overall is very good quality with sufficient variety and abundant seafood. (5 stars). One of the features of the 5 star resorts, in our opinion, is presence of the fresh squeezed juices. During breakfast you will get fresh papaya, watermelon and other juices, but there is no fresh squeezed orange juice. For us hallmark of this resort is extremely sweet papayas (improve digestion, important in all inclusive) and especially passion fruit, which available in two varieties every day and any time. Of course, romantic island, romantic vacation could not be without passion fruit, try it you will love it overtime and it has well known benefits. We always believed that Don Pablo restaurant is the best la carte restaurant. Last visit, food was great, but service sometimes could be better. But we learned, that actually Mediterranean restaurant, which was not our favorite before, now is renovated and service is now excellent. We still give 5 stars.
Gala Dinner. Every Thursday, don‚??t miss. Variety of sea food. Colorful presentation of food. Now there is live music in restaurant. Real fiesta. 5 stars, but it used to be even more impressive.
Drinks: House wine is very decent. When you go to the la carte restaurants they have better selection of wines, but they are still low end of Chilean (last visit/October 2016 - Santa Helena Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon blanc). But during previous years some times we had good California and Spanish wines etc. Beer is local in bar and Mexican dos equis, 4.2%, in the minibar in your room; nothing special, except it is cold and refreshing. When somebody writes in review, that they had caviar, champagne, don‚??t be na√Įve. Caviar, during breakfast is imitation. Champaign is 5% alcohol reduced sparkling wine. By the way some people like it very much. There is good selection of liquors. They do have very good Dominican rums. If you like cocktail, especially made from natural ingredients, ask for margarita chinolo, made from fresh passion fruit. Of course we are talking about main lobby bar. 4 stars.
Health issues: DR is not champion in the health based on WHO rating, plus it has border with Haiti. The management pays a lot of attention to hygiene and you will see a lot of staff cleaning and maintaining property. 5 stars
Before and after expansion: expansion didn‚??t create any significant issues. Beach: they increased number of chairs, expand beach area and move volleyball area to the back of windy beach. During high season two restaurants are opened for breakfast.
Value: in our opinion, it had very reasonable value during off the season and of course it is more expensive during high season. October 2016 versus October 2014; we paid almost 40% more and it could not be explained only by poor health of Canadian Dollar. Most likely it is also related to the growing popularity of the resort.
As we said above it is Jewel in the crowns of Bahia. We visited other Bahia Luxury Don Pablo resort, they may have better selection of drinks etc, but we still prefer CL.
Overall it is excellent choice for vacation any time (especially if you can afford it).