Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort, Confresi Beach, Puerto Plata, D.R.  Reviews

Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort, Confresi Beach, Puerto Plata, D.R.

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An all Inclusive Resort in Dominican Republic that needs improvement

Nov 23, 2011 (Updated Dec 10, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Very lovely setting, ambience  and environment.

Cons:Customer service, menus and amenities.

The Bottom Line: I lived the "Lifestyle Tropical" for a week in D.R.. It was mostly enjoyable but, when things started to fall apart, the positive experience came apart at the seams.


I attended a wedding between one of my uncles and a Dominican Republic woman in Puerta Plata’s city center Catholic Church.  This is the first time I’d attended a destination wedding and despite many setbacks, I had a great overall experience. 

  
The new couple picked Lifestyle Tropical Resort & Spa as the meeting point where my family from the states and her family from Santo Domingo would stay because it was an “all-inclusive resort” environment  and not far from the points where the wedding ceremony and reception would be held.     




THE RESORT


Lifestyle Tropical Resort & Spa is located at Cofresi Beach 1 in Puerta Plata and their phone number is (809) 970 -777.


The resort is simply beautiful with 3-story Mediterranean style buildings that contain over 230 Caribbean styled rooms with Air conditioning,  king/queen sized beds, refrigerators, basic (very basic) cable TV,  safes,  ceiling fans,  cobblestone/marble walkways  and terrace views with beach chairs.

 
Our rooms cost either $250 (for 5 days with the wedding discount) with 2 queen sized beds  or $250 for one king sized bed.  Thanks to standard AC and ceiling fans, the 86 degree weather outside was bearable.  In November the average temperature is in the 80’s so unless you enjoy scorching heat, I wouldn’t come here during Summer.  A week's stay is typically $500 for a regular room (without discount). 



There are numerous activities offered such as Spanish lessons,  nonstop beach swimming, nonstop pool swimming,  dance lessons, aqua aerobics,  tennis courts, kayaking,  scuba diving lessons, snorkeling,  nightly shows and music entertainment,  a fitness center, jogging and a kid’s sandbox to name a few.
Helicopter rides are offered for $130  and you'll get to see a close aerial view of the area.


You will, however, end up getting cabin fever and want to get out on the town to see the townsfolk. Unfortunately, this is where things get problematic.  Lifestyle Tropical is located almost 70KM from the airport  and at least 3KM away from the city center. In between those things, you are surrounded by farms and abject poverty.  You can’t simply leave the resort and go out alone if you look like an obvious tourist because you will be harassed for money by transient beggars from Haiti or even D.R. itself.  “Security” in Puerta Plata consists of police/militia scattered about holding mean looking pump shotguns and assault rifles. It’s a very disconcerting feeling to be a tourist waiting on a street for a taxi and having a man with an M-16  or a SPAS-12 walk next to you just to ensure someone doesn’t try to snatch your iPhone4S or your purse.


I did manage to venture out into the city center and do some adventuring through the streets trying to score a pair of swim trunks and some souvenirs, but, in order to do this, I had to spend at least $30 on a guide and a round trip taxi ride.  I wanted the guide to take me to “a mall” to buy a watch and some souvenirs but, apparently his idea of “a mall” was to visit his friends stores and oversee them overcharging me on whatever I was going to purchase.  I didn’t mind walking the streets with him since I’m not a Spanish speaker and at 6’6 – dressed well -  I stand out a little too much as an American tourist, but, I didn’t end up seeing what the D.R. idea of “a mall” was until my newly married  aunt took me to a department store named “La Serena” which was roughly 4 miles from the resort.  “La Serena” has fairly priced souvenirs and was similar to a Walmart/Pathmark  in design which made shopping for food or items more like what I’m used to here in NY.  La Serena automatically made my list as a must go place because the regular town shops have mostly the same items and prices are relatively high. 


I personally would rather give my money to the townspeople than a corporate store, but, it was nearly impossible to safely walk the streets at night if you weren’t in a group.  There were many handmade items the town stores had that La Serena didn’t.


You can rent a motorscooter or a small car (we rented a Kia small sedan), but, gasoline there is nearly $9 a gallon for regular and the roads are treacherous unless you are experienced driving there. The roads have deep ravines which you could accidentally slide into. A wrong turn could mean a kidnapping or robbery if you aren’t careful.

 
Lifestyle Tropical is essentially a barrier where tourists must stay in – designed to keep transients out.



MY ROOM


I had a lovely room with marble floors, natural sunlight through sliding glass doors and a big beautiful wooden bed.  I found the beds to be universally comfortable – neither soft nor firm – and I easily got rest on them.  Thanks to the AC – which I ran nonstop – the room was cool despite the omnipresent tropical heatwave which exists even in Puerta Plata’s Fall.  The bathroom was airy and nicely detailed, but, the vented window for it could easily be peaked in by someone my height.


Though the rooms had a small cableTV equipped television, I barely watched TV because #1 the shows were mostly Spanish and #2  there was no on-demand service.   You’d most likely be too bothered on the beach or drinking to bother watching TV anyway.


Room service was basic. They come around early in the morning, clean the rooms and sometimes leave fresh fruit for you. It helps if you know Spanish because the majority of them don’t speak English and communication is therefore hindered.




THE FOOD and DRINKS


The armband you are given determines where on the resort you may eat and drink.   Basic armbands are allowed to eat/ drink in roughly 5 bars scattered around the resort, while V.I.P bands are allowed to eat/drink anywhere on the resort-  including a sports bar, a vodka bar next to the helipad building, and a special restaurant in the V.I.P section.


I probably consumed two gallons of alcohol between the Pina Coladas, Bahama Mamas, Margaritas and wine.


Food quality was quite good, but, the same food options were served every single day with very little variation to the menu.  Breakfast typically consisted of sautéed salami, “Mangu” (mashed plantains) , light&fluffy scrambled eggs, potatoes  and bacon or sausage.  There were also bagels, cereal, smoothies and an omelet bar available.


Lunch typically consisted of a choice of pasta (penne or linguini) and a choice of marinara, meat or Alfredo sauce.  There were thin crust pizzas, chicken (with light barbecue or sugary fruit sauces) and mixed vegetables, but, this menu didn’t deviate either.


The dinner menu was roughly the same as the lunch menu, but, typically included a pork or beef brisket being sliced by a chef.   There was a soda machine, an iced fruit smoothie machine and a constant choice of coffee, orange juice, iced tea or pineapple juice,  but, with the exception of the aromatic coffee, nothing really stood out.  What surprised me was that there were no bars in the main dining area. In order to get a drink with your food, you’d have to go to one of the bars, get a drink and come back.


Another major disappointment I had with Lifestyle Tropical’s food service was that there was no single eating area serving food 24 hours.  There are a few small eating areas such as a Sushi bar and a beach front eating area that serves hotdogs and hamburgers, but, none of these are open past 11. The problem with this is visitors who arrive on late flights (or early flights) may have to wait long periods of time before being able to eat. Since the flights to D.R. from the US’ eastern seaboard are relatively short, the air crews don’t serve meals and you’ll be hungry upon arrival.


I was also surprised how little seafood I ate here. DR has many agrarian farms growing fruits, vegetables and raising livestock for slaughter, but, considering this is an island in the Caribbean, I expected more seafood.  No shrimp, crab or lobster – just chicken, pork and beef.   Typically, an all you can eat buffet consists of freshly caught, unpeeled shrimp with cocktail sauce. Had they offered this for at least the dinner menu, I’d complain less about the linear food lineup.



THE BEACH


Lifestyle Tropical shares its shores with villas and a few other resorts located on Cofresi Beach.  There is a non obstructed view of the ocean and the only sights to see are an occasional oil tanker or cruise ship.  As far as water quality is concerned, I didn’t detect any garbage at all even though city drainage and nearby shores at the city center did have some debris scattered about.  Pictures I’ve seen of this beach make the water look brighter/clearer  than it is. The water was darkly colored and lacked the “white sands”  I’ve seen in Barbados and Aruba.


I saw a flounder swim by, but, fortunately there were no signs or evidence of pest animals such as Jellyfish. I looked for crabs and shrimp, but, never found any.
There is plenty to do on the beaches. Parasailing, speed boating and scuba diving are just a few of the many options. The only downside to this is that your life is in your own hands and there isn’t much regulation to ensure safety. 




DISAPPOINTMENTS


Lifestyle Tropical is far from perfect and several standout problems reared their ugly heads.


#1  On the wedding day we had a rainstorm that lasted all day and the power went out before we’d returned from the reception.   When the power goes out, the AC and the plumbing does too. Sinks don’t work, the shower doesn’t work and toilets don’t flush.   You’d think that a resort located in a place that can experience outages would invest in backup generators, but, apparently, they didn’t.


#2  When the power did go out, all ambient lighting around the resort does too. Walking in the dark around these buildings with their slippery-when-wet marble floors and the  plethora of steps is hazardous even during daytime. Trying to do this in pitch black darkness is frightening. You’d think the rooms would also include a flashlight or that the staff would have emergency flashlights to pass out?  Well… no luck there either.


The only light to be found during this outage was over at the VIP building. Perhaps they had special power allowances because they had a helipad with a touring helicopter atop it, but, it made me feel cheated to know people in that building were looking down on me like I was a poor slob, just because I didn’t want a business class room or want to buy into a time share.

#3 Speaking of “time shares”, the staff at Lifestyle Tropical harasses you round the clock to purchase a time share.  They wait around with clipboards and unless you know to say no immediately, they’ll bring you back to the VIP building and try to get you to become a shareholder.   I must admit, I did get a gift bag that contained a bottle of hooch, a bottle of Mamajauna, a t-shirt, and a keychain out of the deal, but, purchasing a time share is a waste of money unless you come to D.R. frequently and I felt bad having to let the staff down.


What they should have been soliciting were trips into the city center for shopping, or trips to other parts of the city for tourism.   If they were trying to make money, I’m sure they’d make more doing that. Cabin fever sets in relatively early once you realize you are penned.



#4  There is no WiFi coverage!  How could there be no standard WiFi this day in age when internet access is almost a basic necessity?    You are expected to pay (a small fee) to use one of 3 desktop computers in the reception building, or, to pay to use WiFi in the reception area. Even if you pay for WiFi, it is limited to the reception building. Why can’t I use it in my room?  Why is there no Ethernet link for a laptop computer in the rooms?


The only way I was able to check email and send pictures to my Facebook was to sit near the “VIP building”  which had an open WiFi, but, whose signal was extremely weak  unless you were in the main sitting areas or a bedroom inside the building.  I ended up having to clandestinely WiJack the building every single day which was neither convenient nor efficient for my iPhone4S or my Lenovo netbook computer.  Many of the bartenders and workers were quick to tell you that you couldn’t be in the area once they saw the color of my armband and I typically waited till nighttime to sit down and use the internet.




CHECKOUT SHAKEDOWNS


The major problem I noted with my trip came during the checkout of my family members. It seemed as if they were trying to shake us down for as much money as they could possibly get before we left. For example, my uncle’s daughters “supposedly” used two of their room’s blue towels and didn’t return them. They didn’t steal the towels, but, they might have taken them to the beach and lost them somehow.  Apparently, losing a towel will cost you $30 per towel and my uncle was presented with a $60 bill. You aren’t allowed to leave until you’ve paid and security will be called if you attempt to do so.


There was never any indication during check-in that we needed to be careful not to misplace towels. Had we known it would cost that much, we could have just gone to the nearby stores and bought our own towels for a few dollars.  The only things we were told during check-in was that if we lost our arm band it would cost $100 to replace, and if we lost the room cards, they would cost $50.
What bothered me more was that no one visually checked the towels to ensure they were in the room before we entered and no warning.  They never had us sign off on anything!


I’ve stayed in Holiday Inn’s in Asia where chocolates, tea, alcohol and soda in the room refrigerators are specifically and clearly explained to you to cost extra if you choose to use them.  Here, soda and water bottles are free for you in the room fridges. But, no one actually told me this directly at the front desk. How am I to know what I am responsible for?


The second shakedown we experienced was my mother’s checkout. Apparently, she’d stayed one more day than she was scheduled for and the counter wanted $75 from her.  No one ever came to my mother to explain to her time was up and she’d have to pay for an extra day.  If she’d been told in advance, she’d have gladly accepted the responsibility and been ready to pay. Why wait for the guest to check-out and then hit them with the subtleties? 
 

Is it because they want you not to hesitate to pay when you need to leave for the distant airport to catch a flight on time?  I’m sure it is!





OVERALL 


Besides the setbacks and a few disappointments, I managed to have a decent first time in D.R.  This resort needs customer service improvement, but, it’s not a totally bad experience.  The beach it’s located on,  the lovely buildings and pools will keep you entertained and relaxed if you choose to stay here, but, just know, there are better options available such as the rentable Villas or the more expensive V.I.P service.  To be frank, I’ve had better customer service experiences in your average Holiday Inn.


I’d definitely like to see improvement to the day-to-day menus,  off site tourist daytrips and their handling of inclement weather.


Recommend this product? No

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