Tag: DM

Beware of the Hidden Mega Resort!

Looks like a beautiful Resort, But beware, it is larger than you think!

Looks like a beautiful Resort, But beware, it is larger than you think!

I am finding a disturbing trend in the resort industry. It’s been known for awhile now that most people don’t really like a resort with 2,000 plus rooms in it. In fact the perfect maximum size seems to be between 6-750 rooms. If you find a resort with say 1-200 rooms, many people would expect to pay a premium for this type of location.

This is creating a dilemma for the resort operators that want to have as many people as possible per square metre of ground space as this means maximum revenues can be achieved. So what is “their” solution? It seems the trend is to still put up these mega resorts, but to simply divide them into smaller sections called … wait for it … Resorts!!

That’s right; they have a layout of say 2,000 rooms, running down to the beach. It has a centre pool area and specialty restaurants at the top and somewhere near the bottom. You know the ones I am talking about. Here is the Steak, the Italian, the Japanese, the Seafood, etc.

So here is what is happening. All the rooms to the left of the pools are called Resort “A” and the ones to the right of the resort are called Resort “B”. Now they can advertise a resort of 1,000 rooms instead of the 2,000 rooms. But wait, it gets better. This number is still too large for that magic figure, so they take the rooms closest to the beach and make them Premium and … you guessed it, these are now another Resort. Let’s say “C” and “D” of 250 rooms each. These rooms are usually “Adult Only” and come with Premium drinks a private small, sometimes very small private pool area and so on.

You are looking at 6 different resorts when advertized to you.

You are looking at 6 different resorts when advertized to you.

Now the main two resorts are now reduced to that magic number of 750 rooms each. Here is where it get’s nasty in my books. If, for the entire 2,000 rooms, there are say 7 specialty restaurants, they are available to everyone at all the “Resorts”. The same goes for the main pool area and sometimes the one pool swim up bar and other bars. So, what is advertised to us, the buyers of these rooms? They will tell the tour operator the following

  • 750 rooms
  • 7 specialty restaurants
  • 2 buffet restaurants
  • 8 bars (only one open at night in the main lounge area)
  • 1 large swim up bar
  • 1 Gym
  • 1 Spa
  • Beautiful beach area.

The problem is that this is all true except all of these services are being shared and sought after by 2,000 room guests or say 4,500 people.

4,500 people competing for

  • Restaurants
  • Seating at the bar areas and show areas
  • Spa appointments
  • And a seat by the pool or beach.

Any experienced traveler knows in these situations, that if you have one person in your party that is an early riser, they are elected to travel to “your” spot and claim your chairs for the day with the old towel and book routine.

But, we, as innocent travelers arrive at our 750 room resort with all of the restaurants and amities, do not feel the need to rush down and select your reservations for the entire week and guess what happens? You are at the buffet for most of your trip, you missed the lobster that you saw in the picture and it takes you 4 days to figure out the towel and book routine.

Of course, the Premium section does not have to go to the main guest services to book the restaurants. They have a special number to call or a private guest services that will either book the restaurants for you or in some cases, sometimes depending on your tip in advance, will watch for a cancellation and get you in whatever night you want.

Have a closer look at the bottom of the map, you will see two of the "lobbies"

Have a closer look at the bottom of the map, you will see two of the “lobbies”

So, what do we do about all of this? Can we boycott it and expect it to change? On a trip I took last year to Mexico, this really became apparent to me and started me on this research. I called the resort and they said this is normal business, I called the tour operator and they said they cannot check on the facts sent to them from every resort and have to assume they are telling us the truth.

Well, that was a year ago and you will still find the same resorts advertized as smaller ones. With a very small amount of work, it is easy to figure out. The resorts do not hid it once you are there, so if you find pictures people take of the resort maps, of the names of the resorts as you drive in, you will pick up on this.  As well all most any resort built more than 10 years ago is most likely a single resort. It is the newer ones that are constructed to take advantage of this.

To give you some examples of this, and yes, I know you are waiting for this part, let look at the Majestic / Colonial resorts in Punta Cana of an example of this done right. Here they have two resorts next to each other. I say next to because everything advertized as being in one resort is in that resort. There are no ads to my knowledge where they include any restaurants from the sister resort.

They have the Colonial and the Elegance resorts. Each has its own pool areas, their own restaurants, etc. but you can walk from on to the other easily.  

In Mexico we have the newer style example. For example, you can book a room at the Grand Sunset Princess but, at least through Canadian tour operators, you cannot book a room or even have a hint that, across the pool the Grand Sunset Riviera exists. I just re-confirmed now and they still advertize that this resort has the following:

Property Amenities : • 672 Room(s) • 12 Pool(s) • Medical Centre ($) • Beauty Salon ($) • Air Conditioned Gym/ Fitness Centre • Jacuzzi • Kids pool • 11 Restaurant(s) • 9 Bar(s)

Once you arrive, you will discover that most of these are shared between over 2,100 rooms. To me, this just does not seem right and YOU need to be aware of this beforehand.

What can we really do? Check out the resorts. I strongly recommend that you read the reviews I have posted here at http://StevesTravelBlog.com and everyone’s reviews at TripAdvisor.com Spend one hour researching the Resort, not for what you want, but what you now know you do not want. Ask questions on blogs and you usually will receive answers quickly.

I hope this has helped you have a great upcoming vacation.

Yes, that is my hand and I was being a "Crazy Gringo!" but having fun at this huge resort.

Yes, that is my hand and I was being a “Crazy Gringo!” but having fun at this huge resort.

On a final note, I am not saying that you will not have a great time at these resorts. Most people have an awesome time, I just want you to get what you pay for. I would guess that up to 80% of travelers go for the fun in the sun, the more the better and only go indoors to grab a bite at the buffet and to sleep. It is for the ones that enjoy the extras and the atmosphere expected that may experience disappointment without this information. At the Resort(s) I am talking about in this article, the staff were all fantastic. 

Enjoy, travel well, and I just might bump into you somewhere this spring season.

 


Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=211

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana — A slice of Paradise

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana --  Awesome Resort

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana — Awesome Resort

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana, Bavro Beach, Dominican Republic

I have tried very hard to figure out how to describe this resort that was by far the best that we have ever stayed at. Was it the quality of detail, the majestic care of the resort? How do you describe a resort that goes above and beyond? A resort that not only gives you everything you would expect but so many things that you would simply not find anywhere else, period. How would you describe a resort that should have more stars than allowed?

Elegance. In this case Majestic Elegance. Can you tell we were impressed by this resort? Truly we were. Okay, this may sound over the top, but I have struggled for days on how to describe this place.

I am torn between writing this as praise to the staff and management and trying to convey how you too can have a wonderful vacation at this 10 star out of 5 star resort. I have to admit that at other resorts, we have always had a great time. My business is property management and real estate sales, so I am used to asking people their names. In this case, I think that this is part of the great service. The simple caring about others goes a long way. You go, you are open happy and meet new people and have a blast.

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana -- Buffet Staff

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana — Buffet Staff

But the difference here is the staff, no, not just the staff. These folks have received great training and support from great management. I watched the management level personal walk around and interact making sure all is well. At restaurants, and the buffets, they are there, somewhat in the background greeting people and making sure that you are satisfied and happy.

I do want you to say hi to these great staff people but, I really did not find any staff that was not super friendly. We were in the club section so the staff included Clora, Ysandra and of course Felix and Mariano. Like in the restaurants, the staff at the bars and on the beach were never far from a supervisor / manager that was also making sure you had a great time.

DM 2011 014

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana — Staff on the Beach

 

 

Check out the photos of my wife, Judy on the beach. She wanted to get one picture of a staff and others literally RAN to get in the photo that turned out to be a series of 4 photo’s with Judy being lifted up by the girls. Again it all comes to great management that produces and maintains high standards that translate in to the great staff and a great experience for you.

I booked the plane separate from the resort. This was to be a special trip for our anniversary and I wanted to fly business class and to have an excellent Club room. (A post on travel points and flying business class verses pre-packaged vacations will be posted soon, if not already)

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana --  Raul Garcia Carpintero, Room division Manger

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana — Raul Garcia Carpintero, Room division Manger

I did have a few questions and needed to arrange for transportation to the resort from the airport. I wrote to the resort and Raul Garcia Carpintero, Room division Manger promptly wrote back with everything arranged. When we landed, we had a driver with a sign for the resort with our name on it. After a quick smooth drive and no stopping at multiple resorts as on a bus, we were greeted by Junior, our butler who looked after our check in and took us to the bar for a relaxing drink. While there, several management personal were there and one made a formal introduction to me to Raul. What a nice touch to be able to shake the hand of the person that personally made me feel comfortable about coming to this resort.

The surprises just kept coming. Our door had a Happy Anniversary banner on it and chilled bubbly was waiting inside our room. Needless to say, we felt like we were in a little piece of paradise from the moment we arrived. I don’t want to make this a huge report, but the level of quality was perfect. We took a walk through paradise down to the Club Pool where they had Canadian Club (A blend of Canadian Rye Whiskey that is usually never found in the Dominican) there for the asking. Then off to rest in the sun and pool.

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana -- Bailey Beds by the pool

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana — Bailey Beds by the pool

We could have reserved a Bailey bed and a few did that week, but there was no real need. In fact we went to the same spot all but one day as there was an ample supply. You could move the wicker pool beds around to get the perfect sunshine or let the palm tree leafs flicker over you in an extremely comfortable Bailey Bed. It was not a tough week. My hat is tipped again to the great staff who were on a constant walk up and down the pool either as a waiter delivering drinks or as management making sure there was nothing else you need. To give you an example of this, we brought a pool float and left it by the pool one night. The next day it was gone, but Benny walked by and in a flash he retrieved it from somewhere safe.

If you only go to the buffet, you will not run out of choices as the variety of food changes and all are delightful. This may sound like a broken record, but again the staff was great and management was there making sure all was perfect. Now, I do want to take a moment here to say, that this is a wonderful country, and the people working here as in any resort have families to feed and a small dollar tip goes a long way to help. So, yes, we tip with joy and gladness. It is our easy way of blessing the staff that work so hard to give this level of

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana -- Staff

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana — Staff

over the top service. I urge you to tip all the people who you come into contact with, up front, not at the end of the meal. A dollar to the greeter, a dollar to the waiters with coffee and water. Three or four dollars and you have made an impact on the lives of 3 or 4 people who are giving their all to you. Also if you can learn just a few key Spanish phrases you will make their eyes light up. To say good morning instead of Hi or when they ask how are you to be able to answer them very good is a game changer. The greeter at the buffet lit up when we came through the door each day. I am so sorry that I do not remember her name, but she asked me in Spanish how I was after I answered her English question the first day in Spanish. She remembered that little detail and was delighted that we tried.

Of course, go to the other restaurants as well. The steak house was great. Look at the pictures to see how great the staff was here and yes I am a steak lover and it was extremely good.

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana -- Resturant Staff

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana — Restaurant Staff

My wife is a seafood lover and the lobster tail was far better than expected. (Remember we are from the east coast of Canada and get Rock Lobster cheap. This was warm water spiny lobster (no claws, really a different animal) and I was not expecting much, but the chef prepared this in excellent fashion.)

We spent days lying in the sun, walking the beach for what seemed like miles, meeting new friends, and just hanging out around the pool. Once we were relaxed we went swimming with the sharks which was fun, but did not compare to this resort. We were booked for another excursion the next day and we cancelled. Drive on a bus or stay in paradise, … real tough decision.
One of the reasons we booked the transportation separately is that on the day we leave, we like to enjoy the resort, not the airport so, we always end up taking a taxi to the airport as the buses leave way too early at all resorts. We got up, ate, went to the spa where my wife got her nails done and I relaxed with a full massage then we checked out of the room at noon, enjoyed a nice lunch and then went to get our cab. As we were leaving the staff and management were doing a professional photo shoot so they are all there to thank and say good-bye to. As we got in the cab, it just happened that all the management were out front talking. We waved good-bye and the entire management waved back. Knowing the level of care that Raul put into our trip I have to wonder …. Was that planned as well??

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana -- Club Entrance

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana — Club Entrance

Go to the Majestic Elegance; if you are a couple 100% do the club (Adults only). It is worth the upgrade many times over. There are so many perks from free internet in the room to the managers party to the premium drinks, to the extra relation you will only only only find in the club section.

Please let me know if you found this review helpful. Look at the pictures, they do tell a story and feel free to contact me with questions, but really why ask me when the management makes it a point to write back look after your needs even before you book the trip. Cheers.

Room Tip: If you stay in the Club, ask ahead of time for the left side of the resort. This is where the management dinners and other club events take place. No biggie as it is only a 2 minute walk around the seafood restaurant.

Ask for Raul. Tell him I sent you and recommended the resort. So far, I know of over 40 people who have been here.

Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=75