Our orientation didn’t quite feel like one. We signed a few papers and were guided to our room but not much else. Didn’t learn which restaurants were more formal where dinner reservations were needed so our concierge graciously assisted. It wasn’t until the 3rd day that we found out most water sports on the beach were free — including kayaks, snorkeling equipment, sailboats & boogie boards (Scuba Quatic). We were finally guided to where we needed to reserve such water equipment. In addition, we didn’t initially know there were pool activities on the deck and in the water. It was only after talking with the staff and getting better oriented with the grounds where we participated in more of the events provided, often our participation came days later of our 7-day stay.
I was quite impressed along the road to the beach and around the beach to see three different recycling/reusing stations. It contained collectors for paper/cardboard, plastics and organic waste (Papel Y Carton, Plastico, and Desechos Organicos). Especially the option for organic waste.
However, didn’t see any recycling containers around the adult or kids’ pool area. I didn’t necessarily expect the organic waste option so close to a large concentration of swimmers and bathers but some option for paper and plastic would have been convenient. Especially with the recommendation of sticking to bottled water while staying in the Dominican Republic.
On our third day, my daughter and I stumbled upon candle making. There were several Russian-Americans working with a staff member, Raynald, on different shapes and sizes of candles. The group immediately brought us in on the fun (and out of the sun) so I had the chance to make candles for the first time. I appreciated his flexibility. In addition, we got to know Raynald better later around the pool area and beach, always friendly and smiling and making us feel welcome.
The Reserve also had several water activities to do. The water aerobics on the paddleboards tested our balance and strength trying to do several stretches and jumps on the paddleboard while in the deep pool water. I earned the reputation of falling the most times but felt the more I fell, the more fun I had.
The other activity we did involved bike spinning in about 4 feet of water. We not only did at least three different spinning activities, we did many aerobics in the process. Wasn’t terribly strenuous but gave us resort goers an excuse to do some actual exercise besides much food and drink.
For one evening, we attended the Michael Jackson which was well attended. We came in towards the end of the performance but I felt the sound and dancing was quite good. I’m assuming these dancers and musicians tour the island’s resort areas putting on their performance. It’s not necessarily something one might plan on attending back home, but was enjoyable nonetheless and definitely a nice change of pace, especially after our evening dinner.
There were several market evenings where visitors could watch men roll cigars or make jewelry. Many of the same items that were sold on the beach although probably different licensing restrictions. Live entertainment was also available but sometimes my hips and shoulders were unable to move in the direction of how the Latin music played.
SUMMARY OF RESTAURANTS AT THE RESERVE AT PARADISUS
Fuego (Asian Fusion) – Fuego’s ambience was quite good, food tasty and the service was very good. Sushi appetizers were delicious and the wait staff had no qualms about bringing out more appetizers and always with a smile. Recommendation – Absolutely.
Vento (Mediterranean) – Great atmosphere and fun wait staff. They were playful, friendly and accommodating. Good food too. Our waiter, Julio, added so much to the fun as we bantered back and forth in English and Spanish. Recommendation – Absolutely.
Bana (Japanese) – Very loud with the constant clanging of knives and cooking utensils. With the small seating area and very close to the chef, the ambience was just Ok. In terms of the food, the chicken and seafood was good as well the veggie rice. One caveat, the chef had a vegetarian request so his focus waned a bit as he forgot to cook the seafood on he grill with the other foods until the group was on to dessert. Recommendation – Questionable.
Aqua (Italian) – The chatter on the street (or beach for that matter) said Aqua could be skipped. Our food was Ok but they forgot to bring bread to the table even after 2 requests. I asked what other beers were available besides Presidente and they brought me a Budweiser bottle (misunderstanding). Tiramisu was just ok, we visited a nearby buffet restaurant which provided excellent desserts as a replacement. Recommendation – No.
Mole (Mexican) – Went to Mole for lunch and dinner and our dinner service was much more attentive and friendly. Appetizers of chips and guacamole and several other sauces hit the spot. Both entrees for lunch and dinner were good. Recommendation – Yes.
Prior to our visit, there was a significant storm that had passed through damaging much of the Gabby Beach restaurant steps away from the beautiful Barceló Bavaro beach. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation during our 7-day visit.
We choose the Reserves at Paradisus as it was highly rated with many positive comments. The one misgiving was the location to the beach. We were a good 10 minutes away and the walk wasn’t at all bothersome, it would have been nice to see the beach and water from our balcony or only be a few steps away from the beach. Regardless, we made the best of the situation by sometimes catching a ride with the shuttle service who came every 5-10 minutes.
Overall, the staff was quite friendly and helpful. Most restaurant or pool staffers appreciated guests trying to speak a little Spanish — they were accepting of the attempt even though it may not have been grammatically correct. I think that added to the ambience of the experience.
I will say that sometimes leaving a $1 to 2 tip for housekeeping or the wait staff for breakfast certainly made a difference. Moreover, giving it to them and thanking them for their service seem to help the type of attention and service we subsequently received.
Would I go back to The Reserve at Paradisus? Certainly would consider it: the staff was helpful and friendly, the food, regardless of the cafeteria or a more formal evening environment had a nice variety to choose from and for the most part, delicious. The grounds were clean and orderly. And enough to do if one got tired of reading novels in the sun on the beach or near the pool. However, the key ingredient missing this time is not being near the beach and ocean — wanted, a value-priced guest room at The Reserve at Paradisus close to the beautiful Barceló Bavaro beach.