The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real Review

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Boy, 2020 has been a crazy year! After having to cancel numerous attempts at international vacations, my wife and I were finally able to get away for some true all-inclusive relaxation and we made The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real our home for 8 nights in mid-October 2020.

We really enjoyed our stay at RIU Palace Bavaro in August 2019 so we decided to make a second trip to the Dominican Republic. Here is my resort report and review of The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real.

Getting There

Just like our trip to RIU last year, we flew out of JFK as it was far more economical than flying out of close-to-home Albany. We flew on JetBlue which had a direct route from JFK to Punta Cana (PUJ). We always prefer direct flights as it’s far more convenient but sometimes the cost is prohibitive. In this case, it was quite affordable.

JFK Sunrise
Sunrise from Terminal 5 at JFK

The flight itself was non-eventful (good) and we landed in the beautiful DR nearly 4hrs later.

Even during these crazy COVID times, there were no restrictions or testing once we landed. Simply get off the plane and enjoy your vacation! Once we got through customs and security, we agreed to hear a sales pitch from one of the excursion sellers right outside of the arrivals gate. We ended up getting a Saona Island excursion for significantly less than it originally cost (at the expense of trying to be sold on a ‘not-a-timeshare’ at Dreams Macao) but after that we were greeted by our previously arranged transfer driver from Otium Tour who would be driving us about 17km to our resort. You can see a video recap of the Saona Island excursion at the bottom of this page.

Checking In

After arriving at the main entrance of the resort, we were greeted by Caroline who pleasantly got our bags checked with the bellhop and took us to reception around the corner. The check-in was smooth, we were given wrist bands which acted as our room keys and our room was ready and waiting for us. All in all it probably took around 15 minutes. The bags arrived at our room about 5 minutes after us arriving.

Entrance View
We were greeted by this relaxing view as soon as we got out of the transfer
Neat architecture in the main entrance foyer

The Room

We had requested a room away from the entertainment center as we aren’t really ‘partiers’ and The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real was happy to accommodate. Our room, 1406, was located on the south of the resort in building 1, 4th floor. The room was very clean and orderly when we arrived and housekeeping checked in on it multiple times a day.

My wife and I were both very pleased with the cleanliness of the room and the overall modern feel of it. There was plenty drawers, shelving, etc. to accommodate us. The room also had the typical safe setup which I use religiously for my GoPro, etc.

The view of the living area of the room when you first walk in

The mattress was a Beauty Rest and was probably one of the best hotel mattresses I’ve ever slept on. There were plenty of pillows as well which made getting into bed a great feeling.

That bed looks comfy, don’t it?

Lastly, the 4th floor view of the resort was great.

The view from our room

Unfortunately, being in a building so far away from the main pool and restaurant’s didn’t prevent us from hearing the party until about 11PM most nights. Additionally, the walls were surprisingly thin and there was a family with infants in the room next to ours which we could hear pretty easily.

The Pool

Pools. Do you like to swim? Because The Grand Reserve has options. So many pools. Seriously though, I’ve never been to a resort or a hotel that had so many pools :).

The amount of pools at the resort made it easy to find one to relax in far away from others and enjoy some quite relaxation in the water. If you wanted something more lively, the main pool was always ready. If you wanted something more quiet, you could walk 50 yards to one of the other long pools near each building.

The main pool at night

The resort offers various activities by the pool most days. One day they had aqua gym, another day they had a water spin class, etc.

The Property

The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real is a very nice resort. All of the walkways, lawns, gardens, etc. are well manicured and taken care of. There was no issue getting around. Even in spots where maintenance workers were making daily repairs or cleaning the flower beds, the work was confined to very small areas and the areas kept clean for guest passerby’s.

Beach

During our research process though we saw many beaches that had a LOT of seaweed. The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real struggled a little bit in this regard at least on one of the days we went to the beach. Granted, it was after a night/morning where it rained pretty heavily so perhaps the ocean kicked up more than usual but they eventually got it cleaned up. The ocean waves were a bit surprising but were mostly only bigger in the evenings.

A particularly bad seaweed day at the beach

This particular area of Punta Cana beach was absolutely amazing sand wise. It was very soft, clean and free of shells, rocks, etc.

Seaweed aside, just look at that clean sand. Like glass.

The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real Dining Options

This is probably the worst part about the whole resort BUT it’s not bad. It’s just not 5 star.

The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real offers many choices for food on the all-inclusive plan. We tried a few of them but liked the Domenica buffet the most. The Kao Asian Fusion restaurant left a lot to be desired. We didn’t like it at all. The Mina Meat House was decent but even in the Meat House or the Buffet, the resort cooks had a tendency to not cook the meat to request (burgers, etc.). I rarely if ever send food back and i had to do it twice during our stay. The Rubi Rocks sports bar was closed during our stay and I attribute that to COVID perhaps causing staffing issues at the resort.

Overall, the food was good enough to enjoy but not great enough to rave about. We probably gained a few pounds, so there’s that :).

Some typical breakfast choices. I particularly liked the beef and chicken fajitas.
One of my breakfast plates

We did like the ‘half chicken’ and ‘prawns and rum’ at Mina Meat House though.

The Prawns & Rum…tasted like mini-lobster

Similarly to last year, the fruits being served are locally grown and taste pretty great. I’ve never eaten Pineapple that was so delicious and juicy. Even the watermelon was much better than back home. The ones you can buy in the states at the local grocery store just don’t compete. The deserts were also pretty good although I pretty much just stuck to the brownies as that is my weak spot even at home.

An example of some sweets and fruits

Service

While all staff were friendly and kind and always eager to help you, the only problem with service was that at times, there wasn’t enough of it. Sometimes it took too long for wait staff during lunch or dinner to bring drinks, etc. I attribute this to COVID-19 and possibly having staff that wasn’t as experienced or staff that wasn’t available due to the virus, etc.

Each guest/couple is assigned a concierge who communicates with you via WhatsApp and our concierge Hector did a pretty good job in providing us with the daily activities list, making reservations for us (due to COVID) at the restaurants, spa, coordinating departure back to the airport, etc. The reception desk staff was very good at their job and made the process of check-in and check-out painless.

The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real Video Highlights

A tour of the resort
A tour of our room
The Saona Island excursion mentioned at the beginning of the review

Overall Thoughts on The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real

Having been to the Dominican previously, I’d say that The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real is a very good choice overall. We had no complaints about our stay there and would definitely consider going back. Getting there wasn’t hard and the beach/pool/food (main components of a good tropical vacation) were largely of high quality.

Have you stayed at the The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real? What did you think? If you were to go again, would you do anything differently? Tell me in the comments below and let me know if my review of The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real helped.

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