2009 Punta Cana - Paradisus Palma Real Resort
2009 Punta Cana - Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Days 0 to 3
Here we go again, another stint in the Caribbean. AC Flight was great in the cushy seats up front. Arrival at the "kontiki hut" (airport) was great. Seems the airport keeps getting bigger (more huts), but no windows or walls etc. Short ride to the resort by bus. And at the entrance to the resort, across the street, was the El Cocotal Golf and Country Club. Excellent! This is going to be the year Geno gets his game back (even if it takes new equipment).
Anyway, off the bus, we were the only ones coming to this resort, into the Royal Service lounge for check in, rules and regs, and off for a short tour by our butler. It is a small resort, looks to be about 50% empty at this time (sweet). Oh, and the Paradisus rep at the travel did as he said. He ask them to treat us special, and they told us we were upgraded to an ocean view room. How cool is that.
Here are a few of the features...
* Largest pool in the Caribbean, Bruce and Judy, you'd love it. Depth is 4'8" in most places. So you can swim, almost for miles, well maybe not but 2 or 3 Centennial pool lengths!
* The sand of the beach is a mere few feet away from the main (and Royal Service) pool. So you can enjoy both within feet of each other.
* They have Bali beds (large shade structures with a king size bed type of thing underneath, with lights for evening use). Talk about shade, and privacy.
* Towels. Not sure about all guests, but for us, we are not held to ransom if you lose one. In fact, there are 2 in our room, yet to be used, and a towel area where you take one when you want one. So we use 2 or 3 to line the bed, and a couple for drying or sitting out in the sun on these huge double (padded) recliners that also allow one to sit up more when reading.
* Banana Mud Slide... Yummy. They use real fruit in their drinks here, unlike the last few places we visited.
So a banana, Vodka, Kahlua, Bailey's, cream, ice ... blend. WOW!!!
* Banana Mamas, real ones, with real fruit.
* And other booze, good rum, brandy, whisky... You ask, they have it, premium blends.
* Internet wi-fi everywhere, pool beach, lobby, etc.
Royal Service adds (among other things)...
* Private pool, bar, restaurant, preferred al-la-cart, personal butler who makes handles not only all your requirements but also all your wishes. Included... Horseback riding, golf, water sports...
* Our butler has been great, books our al-la-carts, golf, Bali beds (not getting up to put a towel on it) (and they have them on the sandy beach as well).
* In our room daily Corona, wine of our choice, fruit tray, fresh flowers, assorted nuts etc etc. And Lisa likes a bucket of ice at both 5pm and 10pm.
* In room internet via CAT5 and or wi-fi - though our wi-fi seems to be on the fritz.
Anyway, Saturday was a get settled day. Sunday we Bali bedded, swam pool and warm ocean. What a beach, powdery Punta Cana sand and turquoise water. To the gym (for Geno) for 30 minutes (19km) on the spinning bike. Japanese Tepanaki for dinner.
Monday was a late sleep in, late breakfast, stretching, and off for a game of golf at 1pm. Yep they told us 9pm would be cooler. Hey, 32C wasn't that bad on a cart with a slight breeze. I got a set of rentals, Taylormade. Hate Taylormade. Regardless, no choice. The woods had shafts that were so whippy I had no control over them so after putting a few (4) balls on and over the roofs of the adjoining retirement villas (ala Florida) (and counting all those strokes) (of course), I decided to hit irons. They started with a 5 and went up to SW. Suffice to say even I can't reach all par 4's (esp when they are over 400 yards) with 5 iron, 5 iron. Made some brilliant shots, including an intentional slice around a tree on my second shot into a 398 yard par 4 (yes tree was kind of in the middle of the fairway) onto the green. Of about 7 birdie puts, none went in. My survey stats are still rock solid. Over 99.9% of birdie puts that are short will not go in. Taylormade putter. Hate Taylormade. The irons were Taylormade Burner irons. I haven't hit 5 irons and SW they way I did for years. My Pings suck! I knew it wasn't me, it's the clubs!!! I don't think Geno will be buying Taylormade irons soon. Too many other better options out there. Anyway, game ends, Geno records and signs a 92. Geno was happy. And tired, and hot, and thirsty. Lisa played golf as well.
Today, we spent another day in a Bali bed. Swimming in the private pool, the ocean, and we even slummed it in the grande everybody pool. In we went, first stop the swim up bar, banana mud pie, then off to swim to the far end and back. Took a good 20 minutes, we are not fast swimmers. Judy, Bruce, it would take you guys a good 5 minutes. Read and reread my two 2009 golf equipment magazines, too many options. I'll be back to Golf Town for yet another try out session in a few weeks. Another visit to the gym today, another 30 minutes, another 19k. Dan, Sylvain, Stewart, start sweating, I was down a pound from 2 days ago. After a late dinner, a few games of backgammon, back for an early night (10pm) and this web publishing.
Our nightly routine thus far... after dinner we head up to the Royal Service lounge for a few games of backgammon and a drink, then off to the lobby bar to have Demetrio make me a BMS and then we hand there, take a walk and head for the room.
First impressions of this place. Top notch. This beats the 2006 and 2007 Princesa Varadero resort in so many ways. Except in 2006, the music, the Havana musicians that played in all the a la cartes while we dined, and the dining there was a bit better, more sophisticated. But that is a small price to pay for the service and attention they are pampering us with here.
Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Day 4
Today was a day at the pool, under a Bali Bed, with trips to the from the ocean (a mere couple hundred yards). Read and reread again my two golf equipment magazines and I am no further along as to what I need.
It was made official today, Miguel is our butler and not Juan. He drops in on me several times a day to talk to "Mr. Geno" to ask me how I am, and what I want or need. Do I want the jacuzzi filled, including drinks, snacks etc for a particular hour. He asks about the jacuzzi, the drinks, the fruit in our room, he asked which bottles of premium booze I want in the room - I said why not a bottle of Absolut and Baileys (to add to the Rum and Whisky we already have). My golf is booked for tomorrow. My a la cart moved to a later time to allow sufficient time after golf to relax and have a drink. He asked if I wanted more pillows. I did. I got them. He is always around, always pleasant, he looks like he wants to be here and is enjoying his work. Makes a big difference.
Anyway, for lunch we went to the Gabi Beach Restaurant on the other side of the resort, 5 minute walk. Great food. The menu had prices... $6 enchilada, $12 hamburger, etc. in US dollars. But N/C for Royal Service guests - good thing or I was walking. LOL.
Then back to the RS pool and RS exclusive portion of the beach as well. Yep, it the portion with the bali beds on the beach that can also be reserved. Stayed at the pool later than usual, well after six, since dark falls later in April than March and it is still light, hot, and nice. More people around today, but the resort is no where near full. I like that.
Tonight we ate at the RS restaurant called Vento, I have the "pato", Lisa the pork. Then off to the lounge for a couple games of backgammon, to the lobby bar for a BMS (I am limiting myself to 2 a day). Sounds boring? Routine after a mere few days down here? Maybe. Try it!
Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Day 5
Today was so hot and so nice, unbelievable. We canned our golf reservation and moved it to Saturday. We hung out at the pool, the beach, the pool, the beach, etc. Miguel again was fantastic, actually superman. Everywhere we went on the resort, we bumped into him, he was working very hard. As he always does, he catches me relaxing in the Bali Bed and asks me what can I do for you. So today I decided to give him a few items... cancel golf, rebook golf, book a catamaran for tomorrow (why walk over to the water sports hut on the beach), book some more a la carts, book horseback riding for Lisa for Sunday (included - N/C), and a few other things. He said, no problem, is that all, anything else. So I said that Wisconsin couple (Joe and Sue) over there have a couple of his and hers Paradisus hats, where can I score a couple. He said I'll take care of it.
Later I spoke to Pedro who actually scored the hats for Joe and Sue (they are in the video), and asked him to snag me a couple, getting them tomorrow. I forgot I asked Miguel.
We took a long walk down one direction on the beach. It goes forever. White soft powdery sand, blue and turquoise seas, sun and trees. I think I found heaven on earth! Seriously. Paul and Coco, David and Patty, Bruce and Judy, the place is amazing. You can do the RS. You can do the family RS with the kids. Or you can do the regular service with the kids and I still think you would (and your kids would) have a great time and be amazed. And Wayne and Linda, Jim and Angela, Ian and Anne, RS is for you. Like nothing you've seen before.
After pool time, I hit the gym for my third 19k ride on the spinning bike. Dan, Sylvain, Stewart, stop sweating, I'm up 3 pounds from the other day and I am being "good".
While out for dinner, I had the duck, it must have been three times the size of the one I had last night, we bump into Miguel. And after dinner he's at the RS lounge working. Then back at the room he calls and delivers a hat asking is this what I wanted, only having a "hers" with him, YUP, the "his" he'll deliver tomorrow. He is superman. He also said that the resort is currently about 75% full, there are many 4 day conferences that come and go. However, he says this is unlike other resorts, esp the RS, where they keep the numbers down so that it is not crowded, so one can really relax and enjoy. And one does pay a premium for this feature, but a worthwhile feature.
No pictures for you today, enjoy this movie...
Missing from the movie are images of the main pool but you can see it on
Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Day 6
Today was another hot one. Cancelled catamaran, a bit too windy for Lisa's taste and that's OK. Pool. Ocean. Corona. Pool. Banana Mud Slide. Pool. Scored both sets of ball caps. Had them make me vodka and grapefruit after I scored my grapefruits. Ocean. Dinner... I had the duck. The best one yet. And biggest.
Then off to the poker tournament.
Story short. I went in all in as short stack with 4 of us left with a K 10 as the blinds were getting to me and I was to be big blind next. I'm called with an A 3 and an A flops. Then the manager said game over, pay the top 3 since there were only 3 people left. You don't play tournament poker that way. Since I was out, I still made my point and left, no longer my problem. This is a casino?
Payout was in US dollars as follows - $850, $525, $325. 4th place (me) - $0. At this time the blinds were 800/1600. The game could last another 8 hours with the blinds creeping up this slowly.
Previous to my last hand I was probably the chip leader. I had AQ, me and another bet... Flop comes up ? ? 5. He bets big, I call. This was my only mistake of the night. First, AQ is dangerous, you lose more than your win. Second, even Doyle Brunson says he always throws away AQ. Thirdly, I fell asleep, he raised or reraised after the flop. Even with a poop-load in the pot, FOLD was the correct move, I know that. Had I folded, I could have waited the others out and got at least 3rd place. Then again, I never play for third, I play to win.
An hour earlier, I was just kicking out a couple of players with some good play to become chip leader before we merged tables. There were two tables with 10 and 7 players I think. I started on the table of 10.
A half hour earlier, I was down half my original chips not having played more than 2 hands to that point, my best hand being an A9 - and when I played it I lost. I was patient. I was disciplined. I was trying to read the others. A couple of guys thought they were pretty cool. Betting wildly. One guy called me sir. At 50, I was the oldest at the table by at least 2-1. :)
So the game is about to start. The dealer announces that the blinds are 100/200 and the small blind will go up 100 every 15 minutes (the big blind always double the small). And, get this one, in 1 hour, the tournament is over, the person on which ever table with the most chips is the winner, and by count they would also decide second and third. Again, WHAT? We said no, you play until there is ONE winner.
Wind time back to the start. There were 17 that wanted to play. They have one poker table. So the casino suggest that we'll play two games. What? The 7 would have to wait 3-5 hours for their game to start? Then they said, the 7 would sit to the side and join the table when others busted. What? That makes no sense! We told them you need 2 tables, that is the only way to play a tournament.
At 930pm, I paid my $110US entry fee.
Did I mention I had the duck? Did I mention I'm a still a bit ticked.
Both a learning and character building experience (so they say).
Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Day 7
It is 0800, Lisa is sleeping, I am bored. And still a bit ticked to say the least. It is going to take a few BMSs and Coronas to settle this feeling. Did I mention I had the duck last night? Did I mention I'm a still a bit ticked.
I did notice for you family people that the Family Royal Service has moved (as the web site says) to new and even more luxurious buildings at something called the "Reserve". While it may be nice, as the pictures show, it is 1/2 km inland in front of the main lobby on the way to the main road and shopping mall. This means you better like the pools up there (adult and kiddie) and you better not care about easy and quick access the resort and ocean. I don't see this practical for the extra extra money. I'd stick to the main regular section.
We met a couple from New Jersey at the pool today, Lyn and Ray. This is their 5th trip here in a row. The said that they love the resort and could not find a better one. We agree.
Today was more pool, ocean, and some time spent on some photography. The buffet did Mexican again tonight and we lucked out since we planned on eating at the buffet. Lone Star is nothing compared to this spread. After dinner, I took off alone to do some more photography, night photography.
Hmm, as I publish, I hear it pouring pouring out. It has rained hard almost every second night, they say, for about 10-15 minutes. If you don't hear it, you notice the dimples in the sand on the beach in the morning. Like a think crust on the sand. And as the heat and people come over it, it goes back to that very light, white, powdery, warm, oh so beautiful Punta Cana sand...
Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Day 8 and 9
Today Fidellaneven and I went golfing. It was hot, but we were teeing off at 1:08pm so as each shot progressed, it got cooler and cooler. I practically kept to 5 iron off the tees, got the same whippy Taylormade woods - hate them. It made 400+ yard holes unreachable in regulation, so I played them for bogies. Character building and discipline practice. Pulled the driver out twice. One the first occasion I did hit it on the par 5, 7th hole, 475 yards. It ended up 310 yards down the middle of the fairway, 6 iron to pin high, 25 feet left. Rolled the put 3 feet or so by, and got the comebacker for birdie. Heard a rumour about the drink cart on the course, seems if you want a vodka for example, it is $40US but you get a new unopened pint bottle. I guess mix and ice are exra?
We we got back to the pool bar, Francisco made me a BMS and before I had it done, another and another. Big mistake... Back at the room, a fruit tray ala Miguel awaited us and was needed since we hadn't eaten since breakfast.
We ate at the Markey Grill on the beach tonight, it was excellent. Lisa got her rare steak, a huge one, huge portions, and I had the lobster and steak, or surf and turf. After a 2 out of 3 at backgammon which Lisa won (finally) and a BMS in the lobby bar, off to bed. Lisa has to get up at 7:30 to go horseback riding. I'll do something different as well tomorrow. Pool... Ocean... BMS... Ocean... Corona... Pool...
Overnight (it usually rains for 10 minutes or so), but last night instead of rain the wind was strong. The beach today had sand dunes around tree trunks, behind the large two person loungers. Some of the dunes a couple feet high. It really was windy last night. Didn't hear it, but we see the effects of it.
This morning (Monday) (we think) (who knows) (who really cares), Lisa did go horseback riding and had a great time. The ride there on a trailer pulled by a tractor down some bumpy roads was another matter. Sue and Joe were her riding companions. Quiet day at the pool, did some reading. Did some swimming, too many BMS - I am off them (for at least the rest of the day).
I convinced Joe to hit the gym at 5:30, it has been too long for me. Another 19k on the bike while he ran 5k on the treadmill. He used to be a marathon runner and so this was a breeze for him - even at near 55. :)
Meanwhile, back at the room, Lisa was doing the jacuzzi and relaxing reading, and there on the desk were our a la carts for the next few days - again without prompting, and again Miguel got it right. He listens, he knows what we said we liked, what we prefer, and he nails it.
Tonight we want to buffet it, it is great here as well, and go to the lobby and lounge and maybe meet up with Joe and Sue there. So that's it, I'm signing off for the day. Cheers.
Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Day 10
Today Fidellaneven and I spent a quiet day around the pool. Tonight we are going to dinner at Passion.
Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Day 11
Today was the last days for Sue and Joe, Lynn and Ray. Great people. Joe, Sue and I did a one hour catamaran today, they only allowed 3 people on a 4 person catamaran and so Lisa graciously bowed out. And so, I booked it again for tomorrow for just Lisa and me.
Spent much time at the pool, running to the ocean, back to the pool drinking some Mamajuana. Home made booze in a jug that has wood and roots and who knows (bugs) and other stuff in it. Also has honey so it is a cross between brandy and moonshine, the honey making it go down sweeter but still warm.
We had dinner with Joe and Sue while Lynn and Ray had a romantic dinner n the beach. I have the duck. After dinner we all met in the Royal Service lounge for a game of high stakes poker, $5 buy in winner take all. Sue elected not to play and went to the lobby bar area and played piano for everyone - she is really good! She is a teaching pianist.
At one time I had 99 and Lisa went al in with 3 of us left. There was nothing on the fop that could hurt me, and knowing Lisa, I could take her. I called. She had AA. I was out. Eventually she beat Joe out and took the $25 purse. So in the Dominican, in poker, I and 0-1 and Lisa is 1-0. Go figure.
All week Francisco kept stepping it up one level, when I mentioned I like vodka and grapefruit, each morning before I got down, he hand squeezed me a jug, and placed it aside in his fridge for drinks for just me. Lisa wanted Sangria, each day he made it, each day he improved it. His final creation was to make it and have it sit inside a watermelon. Today the resort had their quarterly employee awards ceremony. He won employee of the month or something like that. Got a plaque, recognition and a cash prize. It is so well deserved. Your pool bartender is one of the most important people in the resort, he is a great guy, nice guy and a never say no kind of guy. You want something, he makes it happen. And always with a smile. He works 11 days on, 3 of. Tomorrow he starts his 3 off, we will miss him.
Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Day 12
Play Today's Video (quality reduced in order to keep download fast)
Today was moving day for many, including our friends Lynn and Ray and Joe and Sue. Joe and Sue were off before we were out of our room, but we got to spend some time with Lynn and Ray before they departed around 2pm. After that, Lisa and I catamaran'd. Again skipping lunch for the third day in a row. Well not really, we replaced it with liquids and not just water.
Then we took the catamaran out. We had a problem with the traveller/sail sheet. It would not lock in place, the sheet was worn and/or too small in diameter. I had to hold on to the sail for the whole ride. Got tiring. I reported it and hope it is fixed for tomorrow. A 10 minute repair job. Here you book catamarans for 1 hour rides, not the usual 30 minutes you get at a most resorts.
Francisco was there when we arrived at the pool after breakfast. The 11 days on 3 days off was just not to be. Seems when the season slows down, they lay off staff, thus creating a shortage of staff especially in bartenders.
Breakfast today was my usual, 2 toast on the bottom, 3 eggs easy over on top, with a couple of bacon on top of that. Followed by a plate of fruit including papaya, pineapple, passion fruit, melons and a small pastry with a hint of chocolate inside to taste. The protein keeps me hunger free until dinner which is usually around 730pm.
After dinner we did our usual walk up to the lobby to get change - ones for tens etc - for tip money. Lobby didn't have it, casino would only give me five ones. Then I said to Lisa, let's play the slots. Dan, SB, you'll like this story. The machines were 1, 5 and 25 cent machines. We placed $5US into a 5 cent machine and started pushing spin (after setting a few betting options). We were betting about 50 cents in total at a time. We were done to $2.50 when we struck it big and landed back at $5. We had no clue after a win why or how we won. Confusing game. I think we had 3 of a kind once, not sure. Anyway when we got back down to $2.50 again we struck it rich again. Ding ding ding ding ding ding... $18.50US. I then pressed another button I had yet to press. CASH OUT. Done. Finis. The house only wins while the money stays in the machine, me being a bit lucky, always, decided to run with the $13.50 US windfall. I then went back to the cashier and asked for 18 ones. Still wouldn't give me ones.
Dinner before the casino was great, Market Grill is like a cross between Montana's, Outback, etc. Huge steaks, great appetizers. We had some wings and ribs, steak and of course a lobster tail. Lobster at this resort is unlimited. And for warm water lobster - yes Bill warm water - it is really good. Fresh, tender, really good. Dad, you and Paul would like the ribs. Pork ribs, bbq'd. But they taste like your smoked ribs. Lisa didn't like them of course, I had to eat hers.
At the lobby after the casino, we got our usual drinks from Demetrio, then headed for the RS lounge for more drinks and some backgammon. Met an annoying guy and his wife from Philadelphia at the bar. Annoying! After 2/3 three at backgammon, tonight was my turn to win, back to the bar, a few drinks and home we went. One day in paradise left.
Paradisus Palma Real Resort - Day 13 (and 14) - Last day in Paradise
Yesterday while swimming in the ocean, we watched a pelican floating, looking, searching, then all of a sudden getting airborne to do more searching - then dive bomb - hurling himself into the ocean and voila - a fish. We watched this bird do this over a dozen times working his way up the beach. I'm sure the success rate was more than 50% if not near perfect.
Today was our last day, and we got up early, got the prize shade shack and sun bed (Ray and Lynn's), and decided to add a bit of luxury - well a bit more than usual. We draped them with ten towels. It was so nice, lying on soft towels and always having a dry soft towel to dry off with.
Winds were up a bit today, a fair bit, but the cats were still going out. We got the same catamaran as yesterday but with a new mail sail sheet. They listened. We tore up and down the beach for 30 minutes, it seemed like so much longer because of the distance we travelled; but, it was the wind. It was the speed I had that sucker going at. I know don't end a sentence in a proposition. I know preposition. I'm running out of funny clever over-the-top witticisms. We are winding down what we feel was the most magical and luxurious vacation we've had in the Caribbean. Then Miguel gave us a tour of one of the two presidential suites. Ocean view top floor, they take up the space of 4 or 5 of these nice rooms we are in now. I forgot to bring my camera, so I'll describe it, for myself at least, so I won't forget.
As you enter, washroom, sink, shower, toilet to the right, closet to the left - for guests of course. Walk in a bit more, straight ahead is a dining room, to the left a rec room with a hug bar where you could sit 6 people. It's almost like a small lobby bar. A bit to the right is the living room, couches, chairs, plasma on the wall and a patio door out to the 5 times larger deck with Jacuzzi, table to seat many, loungers, etc. and another patio door to the bedroom.
Now picture yourself back at the dining room, to the right, the bedroom through some large double sliding wooden doors. In it the king size bed, plasma on the wall, a separate office area with desk and chairs, and lounge area with chairs and coffee table and the patio door.
One thing I can say now, the people here are great. I used to say the people of Cuba were the best, the people here at this resort are just as great. They have a can-do-attitude, they sincerely want you to have a good time and enjoy your vacation. And they will do what it takes to make it happen. To the right of the bad, a corridor lined on both sides with closets end with a wall of closets and a door to the right to the bath which has the standard shower enclosure, toilet enclosure, double mirrors and sink and another Jacuzzi.
Enough said, I want it, can't have it, however, they would allow 4 adults to stay there we think - of course two on the pull out couch?
Drank some Coronas, Francisco keep special ones for me in an icebox - I like them colder. Skipped the BMS in favour for vodka and grapefruit, vodka and orange, and a fruit smoothy - fresh fruit - and vodka (a vegetable) (potato).
As I type, Fidellaneven packs. Off to the Market Grill tonight for steak and lobster, then to the lobby for some ones, then a BMS, then maybe even splurge $5 in the casino. If I'm keen, Sunday will be my report on tonight and the flight home. And this site will appear on my home page menu. Then Lisa will read it, as she likes to read it upon returning, and correct all my grammar and possible speeling errors. There should be none, Bill Gates helps me with it. LOL