Punta Cana Journal - 2011

We spent two weeks in Punta Cana during the srummer of 2011. A review of the resorts and some of their amenities are included in this journal

Occidental Grand Punta Cana - Timeshare Exchange

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Cantin2 on July 23, 2011

When a 2 Bedroom exchange became available to Occidental Grand Punta Cana through RCI for mid-July, we were excited – I called both the resort and the US Reservations number in Miami and was told that 2BR Master Suites were located in the Royal Club with a special dining room, private beach, international brand name liquor, newspaper, free internet etc.
It was quite a surprise when we received an e-mail and phone call from The Vacation Club representative offering us discounted transportation from the airport and the option to pay our All-Inclusive fee ahead in order to save on the exchange fee. When I asked him about the Royal Club, he informed me that RCI exchanges are not to the Royal Club but in a few buildings in the main part of the resort. The Royal Club was reserved only for Occidental Time Share Owners. A bit of a disappointment, but we did pay the $65/day PP fee and $25 each way for airport transfers for two people ( a $10 each way saving over a taxi fare).
At check-in, we asked for a room with an ocean view and were assigned to a 2BR direct oceanfront on the second floor of building #26 – perfect for us in a quiet location. Most timeshare exchange guests were in building #17 behind the Royal Club. It was casually mentioned by the concierge in our building that we should attend a timeshare presentation to receive a small gift and to get discounts on future vacations – we were never bothered again.
As guests of RCI, we did have access to free internet and brand name liquor if we went to the Vacation Club Office located above the main lobby – It’s where they have their presentation. They have two computers for guests but wi-fi available if you bring along your own. There was a limited amount of brand name liquor – a small bar with three stools and two high top tables – not as appealing as the lobby bar but the cocktail waitresses were willing to give you plastic cups for take-away.
If you are eating at the Pizzeria, Taco Bar, Italian or Mexican restaurants – all in the main building – it’s worthwhile to get wine from the bar – It’s from a bottle instead of a box and a bit better than the house wine.
We spent a nice vacation, but Occidental Grand Punta Cana does not compare to the Occidentals in Cozumel or Xcaret. It’s an older resort catering mostly to Germans and Canadians – the food and drinks are not of the same quality as their Mexican resorts but the beach is far superior. Activities are plentiful - entertainment is enjoyable and the staff very pleasant. The slack service that many complain about seems to be due to under staffing rather than attitude – they all work very hard and long hours.
The rooms are spacious, although starkly decorated – tiled floors, stucco walls, granite countertops in the kitchen but the stove top and sink fixtures needed replacement. The A/C in all rooms works well. Again – some maintenance is needed in the Bathroom – rusting of fixtures is a major problem in the islands, but we had plenty of hot water.
Our 2BR consisted of a master bedroom with King bed, three full baths, a living room, dining room, kitchen with full refrigerator, micro and a two burner stove. The second bedroom was a twin lock-off and each room had a balcony. We had a brand new mattress delivered on our move-in day and we saw others brought in as rooms changed over.
With the proper expectations, you will enjoy this resort. Many owners are repeat guests. If exchanging through RCI, I would prefer Paradisus or Dreams instead if they became available. I’ve written other reviews describing the rooms, activities and dining in more detail.
Occidental Grand Punta Cana
Calle Friusa Arena Verde 125
Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, 1809
(809) 221-8787

Overview of Occidental Grand Punta Cana

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Cantin2 on August 20, 2011

We've been to Punta Cana for three vacations and have stayed at Occidental chain in Nuevo Vallarta, Cozumel and Xcaret. Having enjoyed those experiences, we accepted an RCI Timshare exchange for July at Occidental Grand Flamenco Punta Cana . I've devoted another review specifically addressing timeshare - this one will focus on the resort as a whole.
The entrance to the Grand Flamenco is along a pot-holes dirt road - not as impressive as other resorts we've been to. It's mid-afternoon and the very large lobby is bustling with activity - people with luggage on their way home - others returning from excursions, others planning excursions and some just hanging out at the lobby bar. We are promplty greeted but not offered champagne or cool towels.
After a quick lunch, we are taken to our room......It's vacation time!!!!...The resort is attractive - three story buildings - all of the rooms have balconies but hardly any have oceanview. They are built in three parallel columns starting at the main entrance where the restaurants are and going on down to the ocean - so most have views of the three pools or lovely lushly landscaped grounds. All is neat and clean.
ROOMS: The rooms are rather spacious with tiled floors and stucco walls with either a king or two queens. Decor is simple with heavy rustic wooden furniture. An armoir with TV, DVD and storage drawers in the bedroom. The one bedroom units have a CD player in the living room with sofa, two chairs, a dining table for 6, full refrigerator, a two burner stove set in a granite counter (ours didn't heat up but not necessary as the resort is all-inclusive), a few dishes, utensils and coffee maker. In the closet, you'll find a safe, umbrella and ironing board.
The balconies have plastic table and two chairs. All units have a stocked minibar with beer, sprite, coke and water and a welcome fruit basket. The bedroom has either a wicker or upholstered chair and coffee table. - iron and board - umbrella
The bathrooms have corian type countertops, porcelain tub with shower. They could use some updating - lots of corrosion on the fixtures, diverters and drains. Bring along a rubber stopper if you like to take a bath. soap and shampoo are in a large dispenser - If conditioner is a must, do carry it along. Hair dryer is acceptable.
POOLS: The three pools meander along the property - quite a few palapas for shade. The largest is the activity pool with volleyball net, swim up bar two jacuzzis and access to a snack bar. A more quiet pool is located near the children's playground and a third pool is close to the ocean and Royal Club - much of this one is quite shallow for children.
BEACH: This is the main attraction to the property - the beach is very long with soft sand - lots of palm trees and palapas. There are two private sections - one for Air Transat charter passengers from Canada and another for the Royal Club (for Occidenal Grand Vacation Members). Many of the lounge chairs need to be replaced but you can find many in good condition. The water is relatively calm and the bottom is sandy with no rocks or coral.
ROOMS: All rooms have balconies or patios and large bathrooms. The tiled floors and stucco walls give it a Spanish feel along with the heavy wooden furniture. Not many have waterviews because the resort is designed perpendicular to the beach. The view of the pools and landscaping is very nice.
RESTAURANTS: The main restaurant is a buffet serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Italian, Mexican, Asain and Steak House require reservations that can be made three days prior. The beachfront restaurant is open for buffet lunch only. The snack bar serves hot dogs and hamburgers until 6PM. You can read more about the restaurants on their website by clicking here..
An innovative concept here is a pizzaria open from 6PM to 6AM and a Taco bar with outdoor dining until 11PM.
I'll devote another review to food.
STAFF: We found all the staff helpful and pleasant - there is some language barrier but a few Spanish words, a smile, hand gestures and a good attitude go a long way in making your stay more pleasant.
This is not by american standards a 4* resort - a 3* at best. The clientele is mostly Russian, European, French and Spanish - very few Americans - therefore, the food, entertainment and decor is geared to them and they are perfectly happy.
As Americans, we expect to be pampered and served while on vacation - this resort is best described by me a "self service" - Everything is there for you, but get it yourself....there is no beach service except in the private areas - you go to the bar, ask for rum, it's given to you in a plastic cup - you then go to the fountain for your ice and coke. Wine and beer are served in the dining rooms, but if you want a cocktail, you must go to the bar. No brand name liquor familiar to us from the states. At the specialty restaurants you order a main course and serve yourself appetizer, salad, soup and dessert from a buffet table.
You can enjoy this resort if you go with an open mind, and European type expectations. This Occidental property is not of the same caliber as those that we've visited in Mexico.

Occidental Grand Punta Cana
Calle Friusa Arena Verde 125
Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, 1809
(809) 221-8787

Activities and Entertainment

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Cantin2 on March 5, 2012

Occidental Grand has activities for both kids and adults - the schedule is full from 9AM to 1AM. Rain or shine it doesn't seem to matter - the actviities staff is young and energetic. They keep the kids busy with the little ones in a gated play area near a shallow pool and the older ones playing volleyball, bocce, horseshoes, darts and beach games.
Adults have stretching, water aerobics, step classes, Latin dance lessons, Spanish classes and competition games. Tennis courts, archery and basketball courts are close to the main building. At the beach, snorkeling, kayaking and catamaran sailing are included. For an extra fee there is scuba, wind surfing and water skiing available.
Outside vendors walk the beach daily selling tours off property and a massage tent is set up on the beach - on quieter days they offer "specials". In spite of all the activities offered, you can always find a quiet spot either on the beach or by one of the quiet pools.
In the evening, there is only one entertainment venue. At 8PM they have a kids show that was well attended. They dance, play games and sing - the kids have a great time on stage and off.
At 9PM there may be a band for dancing, a more or less professional show that appears at a different resort each evening or the in-house entertainers either dance and sing or present an interactive audience participation show. The staff is energetic and many guests join in. It would be nice to a a quiet venue - such as a piano bar or even a beach bar opened late - the beach bar closes at 5PM.
Following the show, the entertainers accompany the crowd inside to the large lobby where a DJ plays for everyone to party into the early hours. If you prefer a local disco - "Mangu" is at the edge of the property adjacent to the parking lot. There is an admission charge but RCI exchange members and Occidental Vacation Club members enjoy free admission - but you do have to pay for drinks. Mangu is small and crowded but everyone's having a good time.
The choice is yours at Occidental Grand Punta Cana - a busy holiday or a quiet week on the beach.
Occidental Grand Punta Cana
Calle Friusa Arena Verde 125
Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, 1809
(809) 221-8787

Bars at Occidental Grand Punta Cana

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Cantin2 on March 5, 2012

Occidental Grand Punta Cana has 9 bars - three are private and only two serve top shelf liquor - Most are not traditional bars to socialize at, but rather almost self-serve service bars - by that I mean that you order the liquor from the bar staff - then you put in your own ice and mixer (pepsi, juice, sprite etc) from a dispenser. The lobby bar, beach bar and pool bar serve brands of liquor that most Americans are not familiar with. All drinks at the pool and beach are served in flimsy plastic cups. This also holds true for the two bars that service the restaurants and entertainment pavillion. There is no waiter service except at the Royal Club and Air Transat's Preference Club beachside.- It's do it yourself.

ROYAL CLUB - This private club for Occidental Time Share owners located at their private beach club is the nicest set-up. It's rustic and beachy with about 10 stools and serves brand name liquor with beach service by the lounges. They also have a bar ear their private restaurant but we didn't have access to ti.

VIP - Vacation Club Members lounge. This is a very small private bar - it only has three stools and is restricted to RCI members. Brand name liquor is served here until 10:30PM. Adjacent to this bar is the sales room for timeshare presentation (used in the morning). You can sit at those tables at other times. There is free internet on two computers or wi-fi if you bring your laptop.

PREFERENCE CLUB BAR - This is a private area at the beach especially for Air Transat guests from Canada. It's open until 5PM and serves domestic brands only - no top shelf. Waiters provide service including bottled water.

BEACH BAR - located in the beachside buffet dining room - this is almost self service. Approach the bar - order the liquor (domestic only) - then go to the machine and add your ice and mixer. They also have a large bowl of Sangria on the counter. This bar closes at 5PM - It would be nice to open in the evening to have drinks in view of the water.

POOL BAR - Swim up bar with stools in the activity pool - domestic brands served and closes at 6PM.

HOME RUN BAR - Located in the palapa above the pool bar, this bar services the snack bar and closes at 6:30PM.

LA BODEGA - This is the lobby bar that again serves only domestic drinks. They have about 10 bar stools and offer table service in the evening. Open from 9AM - 1AM.

LA BODEQUITA and LA FONTANA - These bars are open in the evening from 6PM - 12PM or so depending on the show for the evening. They are located near the restaurants and entertainment palapa - domestic drinks only and no waiter service. Unless you want to stand at the bar, your drink will be served in a plastic cup.

The restaurants only serve beer and house wine. Bottles of wine can be ordered starting at $24USD. If you want a cocktail, you order at the bar outside the restaurant, carry it in in a cup and transfer it to a glass. Don't worry about watered down drinks - They will pour as much liquor as you want. Ice melts very quickly in this hear - We even saw them fill insulated cups for people to take to the beach.

Occidental Grand Punta Cana
Calle Friusa Arena Verde 125
Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, 1809
(809) 221-8787


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