Spacious rooms with AC, safes, free mini-fridges, free Wi-Fi, and iPod docks
Significant erosion and seaweed at the beach; strip is smaller than at competing resorts
Large crowds at pool and restaurants
Dance-club feel of pool won't appeal to those who prefer quiet
Music from pool DJ can be heard in rooms facing the pool
Long waits for tables at restaurants (except for Privilege guests)
Cell-phone service spotty or nonexistent in some rooms
Occasional housekeeping and maintenance lapses in the rooms
This 708-room upscale resort a 10-minute drive from downtown Bavaro aims to appeal to guests of all ages. The focal points here are the large, music-filled pool area and the mock town center -- not the small strip of beach. The rooms are spacious, but not as stylish as one might expect from this category, and not many have ocean views. There are plenty of dining options and lots of activities for kids and teens, and prices are among Punta Cana's most affordable for an upscale resort. Majestic Colonial Punta Cana has a better beach, so it may be worth comparing rates.
A crowded all-inclusive with a hopping pool complex, a restaurant-packed central plaza, and an unimpressive beach
Though it has 708 rooms, the Ocean Blue & Sand isn't that large by Punta Cana standards. It is located on a long, narrow rectangle of land that touches the ocean (about a mile long and 2,000 feet wide). Still, the hotel packs as much in as it can into this footprint. One of the main hubs is a plaza styled after an idealized Caribbean town, centered around a shallow, fish-filled pond; this is where the lobby, casino, theater, game area with bowling alley, and numerous restaurants are located.
The second hub is the long, large pool complex, flanked on either side by the room buildings. The pool is often packed with Latin American and North American tourists splashing along to the insistent "oonce, oonce, oonce"of DJ-led dance-club favorites.
Preteens and teens, on the other hand, can often be found in the bowling alley, loaded with activities out of the rays. Those seeking quiet -- or their favorite team's game on the boob tube -- gravitate toward the small beach or the beachfront lounge, furnished with semi-private TV rooms and a terrace with a view of the waves. Entrance to this lounge is limited to those who pay for a Privilege package. Overall, this resort doesn't have a lot of quiet to offer; those seeking a smaller, more peaceful resort may prefer Alsol Luxury Village.
A 10-minute drive from downtown Bavaro and a 25-minute drive from the airport
The resort is located in Bavaro, the epicenter of beach tourism in the D.R. It is right off a service road parallel to the highway named the Avenue of the United States, and shares its neighborhood with several all-inclusive resorts and real-estate developments. Various shopping destinations are within 10 minutes by car, giving guests plenty of options for off-site activities. (The highway is not a pedestrian-friendly, however, so a car, taxi, or tour bus will be necessary.)
Spacious rooms with occasional housekeeping and maintenance issues; only some Privilege Junior Suites have ocean views
Rooms are located in 10 large, three-story, open-courtyard buildings lining either side of the pool complex. They have a good dose of natural light, typically have a blue and white color scheme, and are decorated with large photographs of boats, beach hammocks, and similar serene tropical themes. The standard Junior Suites aren't quite as stylish as one may expect from an upscale hotel, however, and their tile bathrooms, with have shower-tub combos with jets, are a bit small.
Rooms are spacious enough and mostly clean, though we found some long, alien hairs in our shower, and other guests have complained of occasional housekeeping issues such as mini-fridges not being refilled, towels not being replenished, and even the occasional cockroach. There can also be maintenance issues such as stained or broken furniture and faulty plumbing. The AC can't be individually controlled, which is a nuisance for some.
All rooms have free minibars and free Wi-Fi, though the signal quality tends to be poor. Every room has a terrace furnished with a table and chairs, though most views are unremarkable, either of an unattractive, grass-lined path, other hotel buildings, or the pool area. Those facing the pool may hear their share of rhythmic bass when the pool DJs is working.
Many guests will find the upgrade to a Privilege Junior Suite worthwhile, as these rooms are closer to the beach and have a higher level of decor, as well as two-person whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms and upgraded minibars. Select rooms in this category get sea views.
Cell-phone service is spotty or nonexistent inside some rooms, and those who have calls to make may find themselves spending a lot of time in the courtyards of their residential buildings. These courtyards are built around burbling fountains and are often equipped with cafe-style seating that's often claimed by older guests regaining their energy in the shade.
Two huge pools, tons of restaurants, and a teen center with a bowling alley
There are two spacious pools located in between the rows of room buildings. One is nearer to the beach and has a swim-up bar, and the one behind it has a fenced-off kiddy area. The whirlpool in between them has jets but is not heated, and there's another jetted whirlpool in the beachfront pool. The beachfront pool tends to be more crowded.
There are a plethora of food options, including a main buffet restaurant and six dinner a la carte restaurants. During our visit, an American family argued about whether to go to the burger joint, the Italian restaurant, or the steakhouse for dinner, then decided to go to the buffet, which was having an "Oriental cuisine" night. Other options include Asian and French-Caribbean. Privilege guests get an exclusive breakfast at beachside Cana, where a lunch buffet for all is also served. At dinner, a la carte seating is first come, first served, except for Privilege guests, who can make reservations. For drinks, guests can imbibe at the lobby bar, disco, or sports bar.
After dinner, guests might choose to unwind at the casino, grab a latte at the coffeeshop, or play a game of table tennis by the bowling alley. Staff members proudly brag about the bowling alley -- the only one in the entire Punta Cana region, they'll remind you. The teen center that houses is a good indication that the hotel attracts a lot of families, and offers plenty of activities from foosball to video games to giant-size chess. There's also a live theater next door for evening shows. The kids' club, for younger children, is located closer to the shore, by the water-sports facility across from the monolithic climbing wall on the beach.
A small strip of beach with seaweed and significant erosion
The beach at Ocean Blue & Sand is not the highlight. Strong waves have eroded the shoreline, and the beach is now elevated above a small drop-off, with steps down to the lower level of sand and the water. During our visit, there was significant seaweed build-up. There are lots of lounge chairs, but because of the shoreline loss, they're incredibly crowded together. The beach was mostly ignored by guests during our visit in late July. There are a dedicated section and beachside lounge for Privilege guests.
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