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Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort
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Reviewed 7 January 2012

We have booked this hotel, because Nolitours website stated that it was recently renovated. But it was not the case. The rooms, including bathrooms need it badly to be renovated.

Rooms:
Large flat TV with some English channels. Mini bar filled up with 2 waters, 2 drinks, and 2 beers at the beginning of the trip. After that it stayed empty. There were 2 attempts made by the made to clean the room. One was early in the morning between 7 and 8 and the other time was just before 6pm. So if you were in the room during does times you were out of luck to get your room clean and have fresh towels.

Air condition worked only for 2 days. We went to guest service to report that it was broken. They took our complaint officially on their list. It never got fixed, despite numerous returns to guest service. We also talked to the Nolitour representative. Her response was that we have to chase the maintenance personal if we want it to be fixed and welcome to Dominican Republic.

Food:
Buffet was limited in selection and usually had to wait for it as they made very small portions. There was not much selection in fruit, you had a choice between watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, and pineapple.

For a la carte restaurants you get one reservation upon you arrival. For other reservations you have to line up each morning at the guest service to book your restaurant. Unfortunately even if you are the first one in the line, you will be placed on the waiting list. Apparently VIP/timeshare members get priority. After few days on being on the waiting list we were able to get into one restaurant. The ticket arrived at 6:05pm in the room for the 6:30 dinner.


Hotel Grounds
View is beautiful and breathtaking. There is lots of stairs, but we did not mind it. During our stay we saw a lot of people with broken legs or twisted ankles. Not sure if it happened at the resort.

There is a lot of annoying timeshare reps who harassed us every time we walked from/to buffet, beach, room, and lobby. They are everywhere. One of the reps told us to give him 10 dollars and he will no longer bother us. We did not. Another day they were making comments "Not nice Canadians" to a lot of people.

There was sewage like smell in some parts of the hotel. This is due to the water runoff that goes right through the middle of resort.

One additional annoying thing was flying chopper owned by the hotel resort that flew right above the resort 20 times a day.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank v_tek_2002
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 January 2012

Echoing what others have said.. no matter how you cut it, this resort needs a lot of work before it would be worth visiting. It is not a 4-4.5 star resort by any stretch - it is at best a 2.5-3 star and I would not recommend booking this resort through Nolitours or through any tour operator where you are not a "VIP"...and no, "Cameleon club" is not "VIP" membership.

The good:
The grounds are beautiful. The children loved the beach and the trampoline at the kids club at the Tropical next door. There is a nice kids pool with a waterfall at Cofresi Palm that they also enjoyed.

The bad:
The service was terrible. There is no communication between the people working at the resort and even less with guests.

The front desk was slow and inefficient. This isn't just "Dominican time" I'm talking about... we're quite patient - but it took many trips to the front desk to get basic things established (like towel cards, safe lock, the right room reservation.. to name a few). When you arrive things are not all put together in a nice little package and presented together. You have to ask for -everything-. No information on the resort was to be found in the rooms...no descriptions of restaurants, resort maps, amenities.. nothing.


The service here was the worst I have experienced in my travels south including a trip to the Dominican prior (Riu in Punta Cana), anywhere in Mexico I've been (Riu in Mayan Riviera, Grand Palladium in Mayan Riviera, and Intercontinental hotels in Los Cabos), and Cuba (Riu in Varadero).

The ugly:
The segregation between "VIP" members and other resort guests was unacceptable and made this resort exceptionally unappealing. I am quite accustomed to there being an adults-only area such as the Royal Suites at the Grand Palladium resorts, but at this resort you can still get excellent food, drinks and service regardless of the colour of your wristband. At this resort it is not at all the case. There is a very limited drink menu at the bars and a real task to get even one of these made well. I don't go to a resort looking to gorge myself with alcohol, but the ones I do drink it would be nice to have them made well.

The food was mediocre - I ate much better in Cuba. There is not much in the way of fruit that hasn't been handled in some way (i.e., no bananas, no apples at all, no oranges that haven't already been cut up for you).

I have never been sick when traveling south and this trip was my first. Not being a sun-lover or big drinker I was not hung over and overexposed to sun as my Nolitours tour rep warned us in our welcome meeting. I had food poisoning. Do not eat at the Pearl. Go to the Casablanca buffet to eat.

We tipped housekeeping daily and tipped for the little good service that we did have - notably at the Bellini a la carte restaurant. We heard good things about Rodizio but could never get a reservation so could not try this out. The Mexican restaurant is just plain bad - don't waste a reservation there.

Getting reservations to the a la carte restaurants was also pretty funny. "VIP" members (those who have bought into the time-share program there) had many more restaurants to choose from and could get reservations anywhere in advance. The rest of us get to fill in the cracks if there are any to fill the remaining seats. Even so, it was common for people to not get reservations for their entire stay and for those of us that did - it was not uncommon to see the restaurant half empty when being seated that evening for a meal. It did not make any sense at all.

In short - I would never return to this resort. We were severely disappointed with the trip as we had read many positive reviews for this resort when it was under different ownership. The other names for this resort were "Be Live Grand Ambar" -- this is what we booked for, then "Grand Ambar by LifeStyles" and now it seems to be called Cofresi Palm Beach and Spa by LifeStyles.

Generally, I think I will stay away from any LifeStyles resort in the future regardless of location.

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank shazzle_online
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 January 2012

Our family of four just returned from a week long vacation at the Cofresi Palm Resort (or Grand Ambar by Lifestyle). We originally booked this vacation before it was taken over by Lifestyle based on the very positive reviews from previous travellers. We were very nervous about the ownership change especially considering Lifestyle is a timeshare company. For those of you who have not yet booked a vacation, I would not recommend this resort. For those who have already booked, I will include some tips which should hopefully make your vacation better than ours. (About us: we travelled from Toronto over New Years with our two young children ages 2 and 4. We enjoy good food and usually like to experience some of the local cuisine when travelling to other countries).

1) Flight and transportation: Very smooth, no delays in our flight or airport transfer to the hotel. We were booked with Nolitours and this part was just fine. The ride to the resort is not too long, even though we stopped at the Iberostar before Cofresi.

2) Check-in and Service: We arrived at lunch time and stood in line to check-in. The rooms were not ready for any of the new arrivals, so we were told to come back around 3:00pm. We have been on many all inclusive vacations before and sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't, so we weren't too upset. We came back to check the status around 2:00pm and were given a room. After seeing our wonderful view of the road, we were not too happy as we had paid extra for an ocean view junior suite. We had to walk back up to the lobby and wait in line for another 45 minutes to try and get another room. The next room was in building 43 on the 3rd floor. It had a great view of the pool. Still not what we paid for, but we realized there weren't really any rooms that had a view of the ocean in this area. We were travelling with friends of ours, another family of four who had even more trouble getting their room sorted out. (One bed for a family of four!)

The poor communication and service at the front desk really set the tone for the entire vacation because we were constantly frustrated. The mini bar in our room was empty. We had to call to have it filled and this was only done once for the entire vacation. (our package apparently didn't include refills of the minibar). We also couldn't get a crib for our baby in our room which we had requested in advance. We kept calling housekeeping and were told one would be delivered. After a couple of days we finally went back to the front desk where we were told there were none available. After tipping housekeeping, we had a crib in an hour.

When we went to get beach towels, we found out we needed a towel card. I had to head back up to the lobby and wait again, where I was given one card. Apparently one card = one towel, which I found out when I got back down the hill to the towel hut. !@# We are a family of four, so I had to go back to the front desk and get more towel cards. I'm not sure why everything we needed wasn't given out in a welcome package right from the start at check-in. At this resort you need to ask for everything, so make sure you do and save yourself a few trips to the front desk. The other mistake made was that with our package we should have been given an extra yellow wristband which lets you into another area of the beach and they didn't give us one. It was our Nolitours rep who noticed and let us know otherwise we had no idea.

3) Food: The buffet restaurants at the Cofresi Palm (The Pearl and one down by the pool) were terrible. The food was the same every day! We could always find something to eat, but after a few days it was pretty boring. (My spouse had food poisoning and was very sick in the middle of the vacation, and our kids had diarrhea.)

The a la carte reservation system was frustrating. As a previous reviewer mentioned, Nolitours is trying to give one a la carte reservation per room upon arrival so you at least get one. We did get one, but it was for 9pm which was impossible for us with two young children so we had to give it up. Our friends did not get one upon check-in, so this is not consistent. We went super early one morning and were first in line to make a reservation. They don't start taking the reservations until 9am, and we were first so I expected to be guaranteed a reservation. Instead, we were told we were first on the waiting list! How is that possible, I still don't understand. We met people who were second and third in line and they did not get a reservation. You then need to wait until much later in the day (between 6 and 6:30pm) to get an envelope under your door to know if you got the reservation and at what time or restaurant. (You can put down your choices, but you don't know what you will get). We got to try Bellini (which our kids loved) and the Mexican restaurant, which wasn't great.

Tip: on our second last day we discovered that most of the people from our end of the resort actually walked to the Tropical via the beach and ate at the Casa Blanca for all meals. The buffet here is so much better. They actually have themes and change up the food. (this is where you can get fresh fruit smoothies for breakfast etc). I would recommend going right when it opens at 6:30 for dinner because the food runs out very quickly and they are slow to replenish. The red wine was terrible in the restaurants. We found many people buying their own bottles at the liquor store in the casino or at the shops at the resort and bringing them to the restaurants. The drinks at the bar were also not great. There wasn't a huge selection of drinks like we have had at other resorts and the mixes were all way too sweet. If we requested something "fancier" we were told you had to go to one of the V.I.P. bars. Actually at the Tropical bar there was a larger selection of drinks to choose from. We enjoyed this area all around much more than the Cofresi side.

4) Which brings me to our issues with the V.I.P. system. With Lifestyle being a timeshare resort, one of the worst parts of the vacation which I'm surprised no one else has mentioned so far was the levels of access at the resort. V.I.P. guests have access to certain bars and amenities that the rest of us do not. We had originally assumed that the Chameleon club package with Nolitours was something special and we would have extra privileges at the resort. Boy was that wrong. We were the lowest "class" of guest there.We were excited to take our kids to Scoops for ice cream but found out this was only for members. Same for the tapas bar. This is the first time I have experienced this at a resort. Normally I expect when I pay for an all inclusive vacation I get to make use of all the restaurants and other amenities. Not at this resort, and it was really annoying. If dangling things in front of us that we can't have is supposed to entice me to buy a timeshare they are mistaken.

Since we had purchased the ocean view junior suite, we did have access to one of the V.I.P. beach areas with sunbeds. (far end of the beach). We enjoyed this area as they had a menu you could order food from and a place to get sushi. One time I went up to the bar to order drinks and was questioned about which wristband I had. (it wasn't one of the sparkly gold, blue or red wristbands of V.I.P. members). I explained we had access to this area, but it was embarassing because it made me feel like we weren't supposed to be there.

We had great weather and one of the things I really liked about the resort was that you could always find chairs to sit on without having to get up early and reserve them. Our room was very nice and they made a huge effort for New Years Eve, but it still doesn't make up for the bad service, drinks, food and V.I.P. attitude. We will not be returning to this resort.

Room Tip: Rooms in buildings 41, 42 and 43 are nice and close to the beach.
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
9  Thank snarky_TO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 January 2012

Echoing what others have said.. no matter how you cut it, this resort needs a lot of work before it would be worth visiting. It is not a 4-4.5 star resort by any stretch - it is at best a 2.5-3 star and I would not recommend booking this resort through Nolitours or through any tour operator where you are not a "VIP"...and no, "Cameleon club" is not "VIP" membership.

The good:
The grounds are beautiful. The children loved the beach and the trampoline at the kids club at the Tropical next door. There is a nice kids pool with a waterfall at Cofresi Palm that they also enjoyed.

The bad:
The service was terrible. There is no communication between the people working at the resort and even less with guests.

The front desk was slow and inefficient. This isn't just "Dominican time" I'm talking about... we're quite patient - but it took many trips to the front desk to get basic things established (like towel cards, safe lock, the right room reservation.. to name a few). When you arrive things are not all put together in a nice little package and presented together. You have to ask for -everything-. No information on the resort was to be found in the rooms...no descriptions of restaurants, resort maps, amenities.. nothing.


The service here was the worst I have experienced in my travels south including a trip to the Dominican prior (Riu in Punta Cana), anywhere in Mexico I've been (Riu in Mayan Riviera, Grand Palladium in Mayan Riviera, and Intercontinental hotels in Los Cabos), and Cuba (Riu in Varadero).

The ugly:
The segregation between "VIP" members and other resort guests was unacceptable and made this resort exceptionally unappealing. I am quite accustomed to there being an adults-only area such as the Royal Suites at the Grand Palladium resorts, but at this resort you can still get excellent food, drinks and service regardless of the colour of your wristband. At this resort it is not at all the case. There is a very limited drink menu at the bars and a real task to get even one of these made well. I don't go to a resort looking to gorge myself with alcohol, but the ones I do drink it would be nice to have them made well.

The food was mediocre - I ate much better in Cuba. There is not much in the way of fruit that hasn't been handled in some way (i.e., no bananas, no apples at all, no oranges that haven't already been cut up for you).

I have never been sick when traveling south and this trip was my first. Not being a sun-lover or big drinker I was not hung over and overexposed to sun as my Nolitours tour rep warned us in our welcome meeting. I had food poisoning. Do not eat at the Pearl. Go to the Casablanca buffet to eat.

We tipped housekeeping daily and tipped for the little good service that we did have - notably at the Bellini a la carte restaurant. We heard good things about Rodizio but could never get a reservation so could not try this out. The Mexican restaurant is just plain bad - don't waste a reservation there.

Getting reservations to the a la carte restaurants was also pretty funny. "VIP" members (those who have bought into the time-share program there) had many more restaurants to choose from and could get reservations anywhere in advance. The rest of us get to fill in the cracks if there are any to fill the remaining seats. Even so, it was common for people to not get reservations for their entire stay and for those of us that did - it was not uncommon to see the restaurant half empty when being seated that evening for a meal. It did not make any sense at all.

In short - I would never return to this resort. We were severely disappointed with the trip as we had read many positive reviews for this resort when it was under different ownership. The other names for this resort were "Be Live Grand Ambar" -- this is what we booked for, then "Grand Ambar by LifeStyles" and now it seems to be called Cofresi Palm Beach and Spa by LifeStyles.

Generally, I think I will stay away from any LifeStyles resort in the future regardless of location.

Room Tip: The suites in the 40 block (40, 41, 42, 43) are quite nice. Try for 3rd floor in building 43. Suites 43308-9 have a nice view. Rooms in the 20-30 block smell of sewage as waste water flows openly in a trench running behind these blocks
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank shazzle_online
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 January 2012

This was our 7th consecutive visit to Playa Cofresi for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We had so much fun we are already counting the days until our 8th New Year’s Eve in the Dominican Republic.

We are members at Lifestyle Holidays (LHVC) so we stay there. This year we were asked to move to the new Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort (the old Sun Village). As many of you on this Board know, LHVC purchased Sun Village, did renovations and opened the new Cofresi Palm Beach in Mid Dec 2011. Due to a mix up with the reservations we did not stay at Cofresi Palm Beach; however we were shown the Jr Suites. The Jr Suites had two double beds with a large bathroom. The room was spacious with a balcony and attractive furnishings – reminded me of furniture you would see at Ikea. The rooms did not face the ocean; however the 3 story complex was on the beach front. I believe it was in the 400 section.

I agree with other posters that the check-in was very slow. This could be due to the fact that a very large tour group arrived at the same time we did and it was a bit chaotic. The whole check in process took 45 minutes and there were only 5 of us.

The grounds at Cofresi Palm Beach are beautiful and the main check in area is lovely. I found it to be more attractive than the main check in area for the Tropical at LHVC. I thought the pools were beautiful and was delighted when I found an almost deserted pool one afternoon where I could finish my book (and cry at the ending with no one noticing). The main pool at Cofresi Palm Beach is beach front. It was lively, had plenty of lounge chairs, hammocks, a bar and a restaurant all a few steps away. I would have liked to spend more time at the pool on the top of the hill (right outside of reception), time just got away from us. I did like the seating area adjacent to the reception area. Plenty of seating and a bar close by :-).

Cofersi Palm Beach is hilly; more so than the neighboring LHVC. However, I liked the hills - made for interesting landscape and the grounds are very well maintained.

I would like to go back and explore more of this property. It is different from the neighboring Lifestyle property in a good way. It feels more intimate than Lifestyle and the pools are more attractive.

We did not have any meals at Cofresi Beach, however we heard that the Brazilan restaurant was very good. All of our meals were on the Lifestyle property, only because we are more familiar with those restaurants.

Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
3  Thank JCD62
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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