Best Things Nearby:
We spent two weeks at the Fun Tropicale, a three-star hotel which shares its grounds with the Fun Royale. It is located in the Playa Dorada Resort complex, or compound as I like to call it, which is also home to about 15 to 20 other hotels. The Fun Tropicale is built right on the Robert Trent Jones 18-hole golf course. The beach is a scenic 10-minute walk along well-groomed grounds, or you can take a shuttle that runs every 15 minutes or so. The hotel is about 15 minutes from the airport. The nearest town is Puerto Plata, about 10 minutes away by taxi or bus. The beach towns of Sosua (popular for snorkelling and scuba diving) and Cabarete (known for its windsurfing) are also around 30 minutes away. A shopping mall, with a couple restaurants and about 15 to 20 tourist-type stores, is located inside the Playa Dorada complex, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. The hotels, as well as several booths at the mall, offer numerous adventure tours around the countryside, everything from horseback riding and quad trips through the countryside to snorkelling and catamaran tours.
Best Things About the Resort:
The units are more like condos than a hotel. Each two-story building had about four units in it. The condos were built around the main reception area and the pools/activity center/restaurants. Our one-bedroom unit, which featured a queen size bed, bath tub and shower, a small kitchen, air-conditioning, cable TV, a safe (extra cost) and a terrace, was clean and tidy, although a little worn around the edges. The staff were friendly and the maid service excellent (provided every day). The grounds were pretty and well maintained, with lots of tropical flora and fauna, including orange and banana trees outside your door. There is a daily sports and activities program offered, if you wish to take part in things like volleyball, darts, archery, tennis and aquasize. The hotel is all-inclusive, although we opted out and chose to cook most of our meals in our room. There is nightly entertainment by the main pool. Here's a rundown of the amenities offered onsite: three swimming pools, a buffet restaurant, Italian and Brazilian speciality restaurants, a swim-up bar at the main pool, a disco, evening entertainment, two tennis courts and a gym. Non-motorised watersports are available at the beach. The hotel has its own little area on the beach, where there is a beach club bar and snack bar, as well as lounge chairs so you don't have to lay in the sand.
Overall, the hotel was well-maintained and offered many activities to keep guests busy. We preferred to spend our days on the beach. At the main pool, the music was always blaring, and the activities staff was always making annoucements over the speaker system looking for people to participate. For us, it was not very relaxing, but the pool was always packed anyway. I suspect the two bars in the vicinity had something to do with that. There is another pool overlooking the golf course that was smaller, but quiet, and a children's pool.
We would walk to the beach, rather than sit around and wait for the shuttle. We felt a little unwelcome sometimes, as there was no place to buy food or drinks at any of the hotels along the beach, which are all-inclusive.
We were very disappointed with our options for eating out for dinner and supper -- within the resort complex, there was one Chinese restaurant, a restaurant at the golf course, a Pizza Hut and a lounge/restaurant at the shopping plaza.
We weren't aware until we got there that the complex was so isolated from any towns -- in Mexico, our hotel was right in town within walking distance of more than 50 places to eat, and there were several bars and restaurants on the beach. So most days in the D.R. we would either bring our own drinks to the beach, or walk about 15 minutes up the beach away from the hotels to where the locals had set up their own little restaurants. We could get a nice cool Presidente (the national beer) or a frosty Coke, for $1 or $2.
The beach was clean and calm, although there was good body surfing in some spots where waves breaked. There was also lots of coral in front of the Fun Tropicale's beach bar, so if you wanted to swim you would have to walk a little ways down the beach to find sandy bottom.
In the evening, we enjoyed relaxing by the pool with a rum and coke and watching the nightly entertainment. Local entertainers put on some lively, well-prepared Broadway-style shows. They would also try and get hotel guests up on stage for various contests, which was funny as long as you're not the one they select.
For our last three days, we opted in to the all-inclusive program and felt so special when they wrapped that blue plastic bracelet around our wrists! Now we belonged! We enjoyed being able to order fun tropical drinks. We weren't too impressed with the food at the buffet -- it was rather tasteless and bland, although there was a good variety. It really was geared towards a North American palette and featured things you would find at your local Buffet World. We thought it was rather ironic that they had a Mexican theme night one of the evenings we were all-inclusive, with tacos and other Mexican food, but no Dominican dishes to speak of.
We ate one night at the Italian restaurant, where the meals were prepared on a smaller scale and you could order seafood, and it was quite delicious. The pizza snack bar by the pool was good, and the snack food served at the beach bar was also okay.
While the hotel itself was great, we didn't like being inside the compound that was the Playa Dorada tourist trap, a sanitized representation of the D.R. that gives visitors absolutely no idea of what the country is really like. I'm sure there are people who never left its well guarded gates, but I would highly recommend getting out -- take the bus, take a taxi, take a tour and get out. Don't travel all the way there to just sit at your hotel!
- Unit Type: 1 Bedroom
- Activities: Very Good
- Amenities: Good
- Unit Satisfaction: Very Good
- Family Friendliness: Very Good
- Service: Very Good