My wife and I stayed for a week at the VH Gran Ventana in February and were, with a couple of reservations, extremely pleased. The trick is not to have expectations of granduer - its an all inclusive. The resort is right on the beach with an option to stay at the smaller building behind. Its the North coast of the DR, so not the powdery beaches of the Caribean, but still lovely. Great breezes all the time keep the beach cool. Beatiful buildings with some nice architechtural touches and well kept grounds - terrific pool and swim up bar. The side building has a lovely courtyard with a quiet pool (ie, no kids). Nowhere on the resort are you more than a two minute walk to the beach. The staff, while not entirely cracker-jack, were very nice and enthusiastic. While most packages include gratuities, I suggest tipping; these folks work hard and after a day or two handing out NY style tips, we didn't wait or want for anything ever. Ask for a room as close to the beach as possible and if you like to get bed early, avoid the area around the courtyard - party noise until midnight at least (we know, we were part of the party). There are souvenier vendors on the beach. They are lisenced and not at all agressive and will move on with a "no-gracias" and after a day or so, they know who is buying and who is not. They also have some interesting merchandise along with the usual stuff. There are families and couples so some kids, but we never felt overrun (tough to get any time on the billiards table, though). The resort is frequented by folks from Northern Europe and Canada.Consequently, the food in the buffet dining room tends towards their tastes. Plenty of meats, starches, pastas, potatoes and pickled stuff -beans with breakfast that sort of thing- and most everyone seemed pleased. They do have fresh food stations - make your own tacos, fresh fish, carving stations, etc. - at each meal, highly recommended. Phenominal fresh fruit and deserts. The three on premises restaurants are excellent. Not Michelin star excellent, but far above what we expected and three dinners were included in our package so we did every other night - be sure to make reservations early in your stay. Wines by the bottle are reasonably priced (we brought a special bottle from home and they were happy to open it for us). I would guess VH puts their best staff in the restaurants; very attentive and smooth service the food was fresh, well prepared and presented. You cannot go wrong with the fish or steak. Dinner at the beachside restaurant at sunset with a bottle of Chamange was a life memory; breeze in the palms, candlelight - very romantic. OK - cocktails!!! Cocktails were pretty easy to come by - there were a couple of public beer taps - but some patience is required at crush times (this is where the tipping shows its value - they were waiting for us). The tiki bar in the small resort was quiet and lovely. CAVEAT - I'm not fussy, but the house wines are literally undrinkable. Just awful. The local brandy is not bad, but I believe doubles as jet fuel. Be very careful. We dubbed it "the velvet hammer". The activities, games and dancing around the pool are fun,but predictable. The shows are little campy, but earnest; some real local talent. The local disco is fun enough, good to burn off dinner. If you're going to do anything off resort, we highly, highly recommend the day-long snorkling trip on the catamaran. Just an outstanding and beautiful experience. Music, magnifiecent coast, dolphins in the waves, way, way too much rum. Great snorkling. Just a terrific day. The crew were outrageously funny, helpful and seemed genuinely to enjoy what they were doing. CAVEAT - IF YOU ARE PRONE TO SEASICKNESS, DO NOT DO THIS!!! We dropped one poor wretched passenger at a distant resort to take a taxi back. The truck trip and dune buggying were expensive and very poorly reviewed by our fellow guests - enough so for us not to bother. Nice tennis court, though. Our room was clean, neat, though not luxe and the housekeeping staff were very pleasant. Really, aside from sleeping, showering and other more happy extracurricular activities, we really didn't spend too much time there. Try to get an ocean view, very sweet from the balcony. If you want a five star resort, spend the money and stay in a five star resort. The VH Ventana was clean, pretty, well run, fun with kind and helpful staff. All in all, we had an absolute blast and will return as soon as is possible. We highly recommend it. John and Christina - NYC
The VH Gran Ventana's all inclusive resort is a small, clean and lovely place. We can't say enough about the wonderful staff - every single person we met was friendly, multilingual, service oriented. The resort has done a wonderful job of restricting local vendors from the hotel itself and the folks on the beaches had name tags, uniform tops and clear instructions to ask once and not again. We were friendly, answered to the best of our ability in Spanish and they were true to their instructions - even on second and third appearances on the beach! Our room was clean and small. The air conditioning was welcomed and absolutely functional. Nice bathroom with plenty of hot water. We loved every single meal we had. The cafeteria was excellent, full of fresh veggies and fruit, local and continental hot food and grill items. The restaurants were excellent as well, yet another step above the cafeteria. So good. All service was wonderful, especially that associated with food. We took $100 in one dollar bills. Tipping just $1 - $2 per meal guaranteed us incredible attention. It's not much money for us, but its about 90 pesos in Dominica, which is a lot of extra cash. Well worth it. The weather is warm, the beaches are beautiful. What more can we say?
Just returned from, a great family vacation which was arranged by Cheap Caribbean. They did a great job coordinating the trip which included flights from various locations and hotel stays with arrivals and departures on different dates. All documents were provided with great efficiency and we had absolutely no problems with the reservations. The resort was very nice and a good option for a family vacation where you could do as much or as little as you like and having all meals and drinks provided added to the relaxation of the trip. The only problem we had at the VH Ventana was that one of the rooms had money stolen from it the first day we were there. We did get a safe which was recommended and put passports and money it in but had left some cash in a pocketbook in the room and it was stolen. When notified, the manager had the room checked and it had not been broken into which indicated that someone with a key had taken the money. When speaking with another family a few days later we learned they too had money stolen on the same day and they were several doors down from our room. The manger insisted this never happens and he would not accuse anyone who worked at the hotel. The manage was very hard to get a hold of as we were told he was in a meeting, unavailable, not at the hotel etc and then we would see him, so obviously he did not want to address the situation. He then finally said he would "not assume responsibility" and referred to it as an incident where we lost our money. Having money stolen and then having a manager (Mr. Lora) who provided terrible customer service was very disturbing! Our rep from Cheap Caribbean managed to get a free message for the person whose money was stolen. The manager did nothing to investigate the problem and he refused to reimburse for the stolen money. The rest of our stay was nice, buffet food pretty good and varied, restaurants nice but could use a few more and hard to make reservations. We did a couple excursions ATV was fun, catamaran with snorkeling is recommended and horseback riding (see Gregory on the beach for reservations) was fun too!. Some of the evening shows were surprisingly good too! Please note if you buy bottled wine they charge an extra 28% on top of the listed price for the wine...
Overall this was a good deal for me and my partner. It was his first trip abroad and first time for both in Puerto Plata (and DR). We traveled August of 2014. I saw some mixed review beforehand but kept and open mind. I felt safe here and didn't get robbed but just in case I brought a luggage lock and kept valuables locked in bag when I was away from resort. I'll start my review with the arrival in DR. For those who are unaware, there is a $10 per person fee for entering the country if you are not Dominican so bring cash. We booked transport to the hotel from the airport so we didn't have to worry about that. Very simple commuter van that went to various resorts in Puerto Plata. Also recommend bringing a water bottle/travel mug to use across the resort because cups at the bars are small. On to the resort... very aesthetically appealing and friendly (& funny) staff. We arrived on Sunday and it did not take incredible long to check-in but because it was so hot the staff brought us little fruit smoothies while we waited. Kerin checked us in and was super friendly! They offered to take our bags to the room while we finished checking in. Room had great AC running already and a ceiling fan. We were advised not to drink tap water but and water at restaurants/bar was filtered. We didn't get sick at all on this trip. Tipping is welcomed with dollar bills (dollar=widely accepted in DR) because the workers get paid so little there. Keep in mind that this place is tropical. In the morning we ate breakfast at Las Amejas and the food was good but cold items don't always remain cold for long. Lots of fruits offered at this buffet. As a vegetarian it was harder to find healthy, non-card options but we made do. Ocean Grill is good for burgers and pizza, fast food during the day, seafood for dinner or grilled veggies (we liked them). Italiano is also good Italian-style semi-formal dining. Lunch is definitely the least diverse food time as only one dining location is open. I say try them all! The beach is clean and chairs and huts are available on first-come basis but beach wasn't packed when we went, many people at the pool. Because the beach is public, there are many natives trying to sell you souvenirs and activities on the beach...don't book activities with them, do it with resort. Just say no, firmly but kindly and they will let you be. Gran Ventana will let you rent snorkel gear and other stuff on the beach for 1hr FREE so take advantage...snorkeling is possible in some areas of beach. The excursion we chose based on reviews was the DAMAJAGUAS (waterfalls). We booked with a Cheap Caribbean affiliate at the resort (Runners Adventures). Our guide Manuel and photographer aka papparazzi Felix were both hilarious and definitely earned their tips (like I said...tips are important-$2 or more). Drink a lot of water 1-2days before doing this because you hike in the jungle and it is HOT! Don't bring too much with you except money for souvenirs, tips, change of clothes, towel (hotel), and a camera because you just leave it in the van. I suggest bringning your own closed toe water shoes for this OR they let you borrow a pair of rubbery shoes. After the adventure they serve Dominican-style lunch buffet and then take you to some off-the-beaten-path artisanal wood shop. Good for unique souvenirs but I didn't bring enough money to spend there unfortunately. Many acitivities for families back at the resort including bingo, fire show, water aerobics, a concert and merengue dancing as well. They have ping-pong, bike rentals, and other games. My two favorite guys at the resort were Carlos (aka Lenin) and Victor. Very friendly and funny dudes. There are multiple resorts within the compound and even a tiny shopping mall where you can be generic souvenirs, they don't like to haggle though. ALL TOGETHER we would return and definitely recommend this place to anyone looking to get away from overly americanized touristic spots. Very Dominican here, simple and sweet.
Nice place for vacation. Clean and comfortable room with flat TV. If you want you can buy WIFI service at front desk Keep mind you need to pay for key for your room safe. FREE soft drinks in your room refrigerator. Decent food and you can make a reservation for 3 restaurants in resort. Beach good for kids you can relax. Cheapcaribian Tour representative in resort the best! He is always on time. Not Dominican time I mean on TIME! He providing all information for transportation and tours. We took a trips to: Monkey Jungle Zip line, Ocean World and Paradace Island – ALL TOURS ARE VERY GOOD! Have a worndefull time on your vacation!
The VH Gran Ventana Beach Resort is a small, clean, beautiful place where you truly get a bang for your buck! The service is excellent. The main pool can get a little loud sometimes, so I would definitely recommend spending time at the quiet pool for some relaxation time. Also, the resort doesn't own the beach property that it sits on, so locals try to sell tourists random trinkets. It can get irritating, but they respond well to a firm 'no thank you'. Make sure to make your dinner reservations at the 3 specialty restaurants as soon as you arrive, as they fill quickly and are only open on specific days. The food at both the cafeteria and specialty restaurants is excellent. I have a food allergy - not only was the staff very accommodating, but I didn't get sick once. Overall, a wonderful, fun and safe vacation!
I chose the Gran Ventana based on price and the reviews on another hotel review site. The grounds are beautiful, the beach is lovely and the staff is very friendly. I was sick of the buffet food after a couple of days and was very happy for the a la carte option. It was a nice change, but not gourmet. However, I don't think you can be too picky when it comes to all-inclusive resort food. The smoothie bar at breakfast was great, as was all of the fresh fruit. The rooms were very nice and clean, and the flat screen TVs with some English channels was a nice touch. A/C and ceiling fan were sometimes not necessary as the rooms were naturally cool (maybe from the stone exterior). I would recommend this resort to a friend who was interested in value, rather than luxury.
The resort and trip was overall excellent. You couldn't ask for better service at the restaurant and the bars. My new wife and I enjoyed the candle light dinner and the service was impeccable. On another note we were happy to get an upgrade to our room because of our recent marriage and the room was very spacious. The maintenance department had to replace the air conditioning and a fan over the bed but got it done in what I think was record time. The only and I mean the only complaint I have is the bed. You could bounce a brick off this bed - it was that hard. They did put a topper on the mattress but it helped very little. I would strongly suggest they get some different mattresses but it won't stop me from coming again next year as my wife and I enjoyed the people, the staff and the area very much. My wife broke her toe the first day there but we still had a great time, but did not get to travel off the resort but once. We went on the jungle safari and the staff of Outback and the trip was informative and made you feel very comfortable with being in a foreign country. The people of the Dominican Republic have so much culture and are rich in that they provide so much for themselves and nothing goes to waste. A lesson we Americans should take heed to. Special people we met and really enjoyed talking to - Luis - the bartender, front desk - Isabelle (great smile, funny and professional - give her a promotion - she's worth every penny, Wandi - helped us alot with our room, reservations and upgrades. Luis - our Cheap Caribbean expert - he booked us on the safari and when we had a problem - HE fixed it. Great place, great food, great staff - were coming again next year Stephen and Shawn
We were at the VH Ventana in June of 2010. I have to say the hotel was absolutely fantastic, food, entertainment the sights and everything about the hotel was wonderful. Cheap Caribbean was absolutely and positively so easy to book, so courteous and absolutely right in our price range. They were right on target with all the arrangements. Cheap Caribbean is the way to go. I have recommended all my friends to book with Cheap Caribbean when traveling to the islands. Thank you so much for this wonderful online site. We had a fabulous time in Puerto Plato and we will definitely be using this site again and again whenever we go to the Caribbean.
My wife and just returned from the Gran Ventana. We had a relaxing time, this is exactly the vacation we were seeking and this is what we recieved. Friendly and helpfull staff, good food, great beach, great snorkling right off the shore and most of all pretty Quiet! Only detaction were the beach Venders, learn "no gracias por favor" and mean it . The resort is clean, well maintained with the ocasional oops, no water afer 11PM. one time, this is the D.R. after all not your home town. We usually go somewhere new every year but we will go here again, the place is just what we were looking for. You must do the Cable car up the mtn. GREAT VIEWS. All in all a nice time was had by every one we saw. Unless you have expectations of perfection you will find the Gran Ventana a little slice heaven. Give it a try.