|Playa Dorada||Candu2 D||Montreal, Canada|
Just returned 02/11/2003 from nine days of sun and fun at Jack Tar Village Playa Dorada. We flew down from Montreal with Air Transat and back with Skyservice arraigned by Signature vacations. The aircraft was packed on the way down but the seat space was fairly roomy. There was a small scare as we landed. As the aircraft was making its final approach to Puerto Plata the engines wound up and we ascended quickly. People on the ground later told us that two aircraft were on the approach at the same time. Nobody from the flight crew bothered to explain this to us and we all were left wondering what had happened. Once on the ground things moved quickly and we were through customs and on the shuttle in no time. Ignore the men in green jackets who volunteer to take your luggage as they only want a commission. There was only one other couple beside us going to Playa Dorada so we did not have to wait long. It was pouring rain on arrival and did not let up till late that night. Thankfully we brought umbrellas. When we arrived at the hotel check in was quick and we waited for the rain to let up before going to our room. There is a small bar across from reception and Carlos let us in to have a drink while we waited. When we arrived at the room we had been given we found that it had a queen sized bed instead of the king we had requested. Also there was no fridge which we also had asked for. Carlos then went back and picked up a key for another room. This room had a king size bed but no fridge. We were assured that one was coming. After unpacking we went to the main bar where everyone else was escaping the downpour. There wasn't a chance to check out the resort in the rain so we hunkered down and waited for morning. Things did not go well that night as the rain came in under the door and the toilet ran all night. The next day we went to the front desk and were given an upgrade to a deluxe room facing the ocean. Things were looking up. The sun came out and that was it for the rain except for during the night when all were in bed. The food at the resorts restaurants was very good but what really made the dining experience was the service. Beginning with breakfast you were greeted by Delico (spelling?) at the egg station who always had a humorous comment for you. You were also greeted in the buffet restaurant by the resident cat who seemed to adopt certain people and would sit with them during the meal. Lunch was available at the beach, the buffet or at the Pizza/Caribbean Grill. All were good and the waiters would quickly fill your water or beer glass as soon as it was emptied. The three a la carte restaurants were open on a rotating basis as the hotel was not very full. I enjoyed the Itallian restaurant however I was surprised to be served mashed potatoes with my veal parmigiana. The black bean soup and the Mahi Mahi available at the seafood or the Caribbean restaurants were our favorites however. Portions of the entrees were fairly large and made it hard to fight through to dessert. Geronimo the waiter seemed to adopt us and his service was exceptional. The beach was fairly narrow and when the tide was in sometime the waves would wash around everyones chairs. The beach is very long and good for a nice morning walk. Our tour representative told us that we could get to the shopping plaza by cutting across where the helicopter tours land. We did this until the last day when we were stopped by a security guard and told we were not allowed across because we were staying at the Jack Tar. We argued with him and went across anyway. The surf was also quite rough while we were there and there was only one day when people could take the catamaran out. I enjoyed the waves they were great for boogie boarding and kayak surfing, but they were strong, and kept many of the women out of the water. The pools were cool and a refreshing relief from the humidity. The whirlpool tub was enjoyable when it was heated but for some reason they did not always turn the heat on. A nice touch at the quiet pool was the waterfall where you could have a drink and get soaked by the falls. Elvis the bartender at the quiet pool was attentive and mixed a mean 151 rum pina colada. The only down side to the quiet pool was two older Canadian couples from Kitchener who loudly complained about everyone else in the pool area. They had been to Jack Tar 22 times and not learned a word of Spanish but felt they were owed everything. We sat at the other end of the pool feeling embarrassed to be Canadian. Nighttime entertainment varied and was enjoyable except for the Karioke night where only a couple of people sang. Thanks to my wife volunteering me I even became part of the entertainment during the magic show. Beside the show which lasted an hour on average there is Bogart's piano bar although we never saw the pianist, the casino and the disco. The casino was fun but never very busy and the one time we went to the disco they were playing 70s disco music. On the flight home we talked to people who had stayed at higher rated hotels who had next to no entertainment so we were quite fortunate in that respect. Our favourite and most attentive bartender was Cornellio who worked at both the main bar and the disco. While researching the trip prior to going down I found a link to the 'Café Cito'. The café is run by an expatriate Canadian and is located a few hundred metres west of the Playa Dorada gate. The beer served here was ice cold and the food was delicious. We had chicken wings for lunch one day and the lobster tails for supper were excellent. Chad at the bar was very helpful in putting things in a Canadian perspective and he also advised us to try the local bus at $20 D.R. instead of the tour to Sosua. He told us that eventually Café Cito will have a place in a new Plaza being built to the west of Playa Dorada on the beach. While we were there we saw that the land had been cleared but not much else. We took Chad's advice and took the bus into Sosua cars, minivans and even scooters stoped to offer us rides for the same price as the bus and told us that the bus when it came would be very crowded. On the contrary when the bus arrived it was easy to get a seat and as well with all the windows open we had a cool breeze. This was my wife's first experience with third world travel and she was a little frightened of the wild traffic. We made it to Sosua in record time and explored the shops and stores as well as trying the much calmer beach. We also went into Puerto Plata one day by taxi and were taken all around town shopping and to the fort with the driver as our guide. There were many stores here and the prices were better than the Plaza at the complex. All in all we had a very good time for the price we paid ($1800 Cdn for 9 nights) and would go back if there weren't so many other places to see. I don't know how packed it is in the peak season but the low occupancy allowed for some special quiet moments. Thanks again to all the staff for wonderful service. One additional point is that although the resort is all inclusive tipping the staff goes a long way. I was told by sources that many Europeans do not tip. If this is because they are unaware that this is an acceptable practice or not I do not know. Just remember that these people deserve somthing to show your appreciation.