Can someone please give Rafael (entertainment) a major raise?
Reviewed 23 July, 2021
We have spent 14 days there in July 2021. Three adults and one child, all in one double room.
====== Overall value for the money =====
You get what you pay for. For their affordable price, the services were quite adequate. If you want a real scooped ice cream, go to a five star resort. If you want top-notch rooms, go to a five star resort. If you want Italian food to taste like Italian food, go to Italy. :)
===== Internet ====
If you want to work while staying at Occidental Caribe, be prepared that the internet (we got it for free) is not fast enough for any ZOOM calls or any real work. You might be ok browsing Facebook but you can not rely on the internet to work at all hours. You would need to re-enter credentials to log-in about 2-3 times a day.
===== Food =====
Disclaimer: I am a snob/foodie from San Francisco, a fan of Michelin starred restaurants.
The food here is just okay, you get what you pay for. The best deal is the French restaurant (serves real foie gras), but it is only open on Thursdays, so make your reservation one week in advance. The second best are Mexican and Dominican -- not surprising, since the latin cuisine is just something they are familiar with. On the other hand, if you go to the Italian, you realize that the quality and authenticity of the dishes is way off. And if you go to the Japanese, you will get served a pineapple sushi roll (for real!). It is what it is, it has a Caribbean flavor, even for Japanese food. Just relax and don't come in with any expectations, and you will have fun. The seafood and Pizza restaurants were closed for dinner due to COVID.
Get garlic mofongo or sancocho at Dominican Restaurant.
Get garlic shrimp or fajitas at Mexican.
Get seafood linguine at Italian. They were always out of burrata.
Get foie gras and onion soup at French. Their lobster bisque was terrible. Get duck confit or lobster crepes.
Buffet uses low quality ingredients (the desserts do not seem to contain real butter, the fish is too fishy, etc). But it is what it is. We spent another night at a 5 star resort by Barcelo (Occidental Punta Cana) and their food was a step up in terms of quality.
Avoid ANY AND ALL fish anywhere in the resort -- it is not fresh, appears to be previously frozen and tastes fishy. Avoid salmon carpaccio at Italian.
Shrimp and chicken dishes were good in all restaurants.
If you want a great ice cream, take Uber to the Jumbo Mall or Blue Mall, each has the ice cream kiosk called Valentino, with phenomenal ice cream. Blue Mall is way nicer and bigger, so go there. When in Blue Mall, spend the extra money at Bachata Rosa restaurant for dinner, and order a fish there (fresh, amazing experience).
====== Drinks =====
Google “popular all-inclusive drinks” and do your own research into the options you have. They do have a QR code with drink menu, but they are more than happy to make any drink you instruct them to make. Tipping goes a long way. My daughter always ordered hot milk from the bartender called Alexis. Everyone was so sweet to her, ordering her "leche caliente".
====== Entertainment ======
Rafael Corsino himself comprises 90% of all the fun. The other entertainers are skilled (amazing saxophonist Joel, phenomenal female singer, pianist, etc) but Rafael actually brings in the show, whether it is during his poolside Zumba dance instructions or during the weekday nights by the bar. He is beyond hospitable, for example he brought us a small side table all the way from the pool deck to the bar, just so we have a place to put our drinks while listening to music. My daughter keeps talking about Rafael and misses him greatly. If it was not for Rafael, I would have given a much lower star rating. Occidental management, please give Rafael a big raise!
There were no big mid-week shows when we arrived before 4th of July, and most guests were from Spanish speaking countries. After 4th of July, the whole vibe changed when Americans started rushing in. More English music started being played, the entertainment was more robust and frequent, lines at a bar started forming, etc.. If you want a quiet vacation, visit before 4th of July.
====== ROOMS ======
We changed the room mid-stay because we noticed mold in multiple places in the bathroom. Please examine the bathroom in great detail before you unpack, and ask for a different room if you see something you don’t like. My daughter has asthma so we did not take chances.
A/C is very weak and rooms are humid, if you expect the room to cool to 72F, you should go to a different hotel. Expect wet clothes to take multiple days to dry. Bring anti-humidity spray for your hair, or keep them braided or in buns.
The hotel staff quickly responded to all requests (fixing, later replacing the safe, getting pediatric medications at 4am, etc). They are working with old equipment, the building needs repairs, but they are doing their best.
===== EXTRAS =====
AguaMenta boutique has amazing swim suits. I dropped about $400 there.
Kids show was great, acrobats and other entertainers, just go grab a seat by the pool at least an hour before the show starts. Or watch it from the pool.
The big shows in the theatre start at 10:30pm (they tell you they start at 9pm but you just end up waiting for an hour and a half for it to start).
We did the glass bottom boat trip, great with kids. The party boats were too loud/annoying.
We spent a day at Scape Park, best day ever. Ziplining, blue hole swim, cave swim, monkeys, etc. Great for the whole family.
Take Uber to downtown, and know that Punta Cana does not have a real downtown (with a square or something). It is only the CocoBongo area, the Jumbo mall and few shops at Plaza San Juan Shopping Center. But the best shopping is 15 min away at the Blue Mall.