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Reviewed 17 January 2012

Where do I start...  First, this is by far the best all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic (perhaps tied for first with Tortuga Bay - but it's about half the price).  We have to been to others in the DR, and this resort blows them away in terms of service, food and atmosphere.  I'm not sure what some of the other reviewers expect from a resort in a relatively impoverished country, but despite some minor short comings, it is the staff and friendly people of the DR that make this resort very special (Kenny, Juan, Carlos just to name a few).  The employees bend over backwards for the people staying at the resort, even while they work 16 to 18 hours a day.  They likely make less than ten US dollars a day in wages.  Not once did we receive poor attitude from anyone, and were never given "No" as an answer.  Any issues - say a keycard to a room was not working - were dealt with promptly and with a smile.  If you want stone crab claws brought to your room at 4:30 a.m. in the morning, they will make it happen (24 hour room service is included at no charge).  It may take a while sometimes, but it will get done. 
 
If you arrive expecting perfection, you will disappointed.  But truly, what resort can offer that?  There are ALWAYS hiccups when you stay at resorts.  You can find may things to criticize if look hard enough.   Accept that maybe sometimes mistakes happen and issues may arise.  It is how you choose to deal with it that will make or break your vacation.  We encountered a few 'chronic complainers' (mostly from a large country in North America) at this resort who are those demanding types.  They are the types that cannot be made happy regardless of any effort.  This resort can be held to a higher standard, and thus tends to attract those types.  You are not in Monte Carlo.  Like many people have said in previous reviews, if you want an impeccable experience, rent a private island and hire a butler that speaks English as a first language.  But even then I'm sure you would still find fault.  A little understanding and patience sometimes goes a long way.
 
This resort is amongst the quietest retreats.  The fifty-some suites really give an intimate and relaxing feel, in contrast to the larger, often crowded commercial resorts.  If you are the social type, you can meet a lot of people as you will repeatedly run into them over the course of a week.  If you want to be private, you can spend all day at the beach/spa and in your room at night, completely unbothered.  The beach is constantly groomed, and not crowded like many larger resorts.  At times, it feels like there are only staff members around.  The spa is very professional and a great place to relax.  I experienced several of the treatments, and would say they were all above average.  There are no buffets on this resort.  Just three a la carte restaurants which have various themes - Olena, which is Asian fusion, Amaya, which is international fare, and Indigo which is sort of Carribean/Italian.  All of the restaurants serve a large variety of well prepared dishes (again, don't expect Le Bernardin or L'Atelier here - be realistic).  There are 5 or 6 house wines at all restaurants to choose from, enough to make most people happy.  Oh, and if you don't see anything you want on the menu, just ask your server, and they will bring out whatever you want.  I literally ate lobster for lunch and dinner for my first four days.  You want two spiny lobster tails with a side of fries for dinner?  It may take a bit of time, but will get done.
 
PROS - Resort is peaceful, beautiful and immaculate.  Extremely clean.  Excellent groomed beach.  Sand is like sawdust, ocean is pristine.  Infinity pool and swimming pools are also very clean.  Food and liquor quality is top notch for the DR.  The staff is very eager to please and/or correct any issues you may encounter, regardless of any perceived language barrier.  Kenny is one of best and genuine bartenders we have met in the Caribbean.
 
CONS - This resort is an hour cab ride from Punta Cana airport (Trip Advisor's location of this resort is incorrect) it is North of Macao Beach.  There is no nightly entertainment other than a lounge bar where a band will play for an hour or two (this is intentional - it keeps the resort peaceful at night.  However, if you want to see entertainment, they arrange transportation to the Dreams Punta Cana for a night show during the week, at no extra charge).  There are mosquito/sandfly issues periodically.  The resort sprays often, but again, be realistic - this resort is basically in the middle of the jungle.
 
All in all, the Zoetry remains a five star resort in a relatively poor country.  Regardless of the issues mentioned in some of the previous reviews, you will not find a better place stay in the DR.  For us, it was the amazing staff that put this resort in a class all its own.

  • Stayed: January 2012
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18  Thank Melony C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 January 2012

We spent a week at Zoetry in October 2011 - had an amazing time. Relaxing, fun, romantic, private, quiet, peaceful, gorgeous, tastefully done! The food was outstanding - service out of this world. Reading some other reviews, you would thing some American visitors were shocked to have non-English speakers working there & that there was an occasional bug IN THE CARIBBEAN! (Get real people! If you want things like they are in the US, stay there!) Anyway, housekeeping was wonderful & they deserve a big thank you for keeping our bar stocked and beds made. We thought the whole stay was amazing - staff bent over backwards to make our stay outstanding. From the van to the resort, to the private horseback riding tour (ask at the front desk) to free laundry service, to wonderful room service, we had a beautiful time. Comfy bed, awesome outdoor shower, intimate setting, gorgeous beach. Four thumbs up.

Room Tip: To help tailor your room selection, you can email Lupiri Borja at reservations.zoapc@zoetryresorts.com - she was wonderful to work with. Also, their Facebook page has many pictures.
  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Kim H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 January 2012

The Zoetry is lovely in many ways, but it is not a 5 star hotel, I believe its about a 3 star. The service is uneven, many things were broken during my stay, and communicating with some staff can be difficult. A fair price for a place like this is $180 or so US per person per night as it is all inclusive. Any more than that, I would confidently go elsewhere. Here are some accounts from my visit:

CONS:

- When I arrived, the lobby was under construction and there was no furniture in the lobby and they were stripping the floor. The lobby bar was closed most of my stay because of the construction and when furniture and the lobby bar reopened, they floor was left unfinished, it would have been best to do this job some other time as the property did seem full as a wedding was there over the weekend.

- The Olena restaurant was closed for construction during my stay. Considering there are only 2 other places to eat, this was really annoying.

- Many servers and staff members do not understand any English. Ordering room service can vary from a bit annoying (talking slow and repeating the order several times) to beyond frustrating (slamming down the phone and walking to the front desk to place the order). Do not expect that your order will ever be 100 % accurate. Ordering food in restaurants is also hard, I got french toast when I wanted toast for breakfast and iced tea when I ordered hot tea. My wife wanted cereal one morning and received a bowl of milk.

- Hot water is limited, mine went out several times and only lasted 4 minutes at a time.

- The lighting at the property is very dark and shadowy. Bring a flashlight and avoid heels and flip-flops at night, especially if you have an upstairs rooms. The lighting in the rooms I can be dark. Applying makeup and shaving is difficult at times.

- Second floor rooms are treacherous to get to. The stairs to the rooms and the upstairs walkways should be totally reconstructed (they were during the LOUD maintenance for a few days during the stay which I didn't appreciate) as they are uneven, they are missing planks, and they are slippery. I could see someone getting extremely hurt going to and from their second floor room.

- I saw many roaches in my room each day.

- The mini bar was never stocked. I asked for coca coca several times and got beer.

- The hot tub and steam shower in the spa only worked some of the time.

- They were doing construction by the pool all day during 2 days of my stay. It was very loud and annoying. I traveled all the way to PC to get away from big city noise, so I didn't appreciate the sound of drills and hammers for 10 hours at a time when all I wanted to do was read a book and have a beer. I went to the beach those days and it bothered me as I prefer the pool and being close to cocktail service.

- Some staff members were kind and friendly whereas many were rude, condescending, and distracting. One young lady, I believe perhaps the F&B manager, had a horrible and aggressive attitude. She was extremely defensive about the Olena restaurant being closed when I asked.

- The staff members will enter the room unannounced if you do not leave your do not disturb sign on your door without knocking. I am very embarrassed to say that I was in the shower one day when this occurred. If you use the do not disturb sign, the staff takes it literally and will not knock even if I have ordered room service or asked for room repairs.

- My duvet cover had several holes in it. For $700 a night per couple, this is just unacceptable.

- I opted to not have daily housekeeping service because I witnessed a housekeeper looking through my hanging clothes in my closet (she seemed to be checking the labels on my wife's dresses). Even though nothing ended up missing, this gesture made me extremely uncomfortable, I believe she was scouting something. I chose to call for housekeeping and stay in the room while they cleaned.

- The food is good, not great. I found the eggs and meat to be delicious and fresh, the seafood and salads, not so much. I also liked the pizza offered at lunch and found it annoying they they didn't offer it late at night when I wanted it for a late night snack. Coffee was bleak and always cold, wine was on par with $6.00 varieties in the US, desserts were unpalatable, bread was often rock hard.

- There is an annoying rooster that wakes up the property at 6:00 am. I would have enjoyed some peace until at least 8:00 am.

PROS:

- The rooms are pretty and offer nice bathrooms. There is an iPod dock and lovely bath products. The beds are hard, but I love a hard bed, so I found them to be great. The rooms have large closets to hang clothes and lots of bathroom counter space to set up your toiletries from home,.

- The pool is very pretty and the chairs by the pool (they could use a few more) are spacious, perfect for a nap.

- When the lobby area and bar did get set up, it was a peaceful place to escape from the heat , great place to read in the shade.

- The beach is quiet and secluded. I wake up early and could be the only person by the pool and beach until 10:00 am, no fighting over chairs.

- The beach restaurant was wonderful and balmy for dinner. My favorite atmosphere to eat, they had a very nice steak, too.

Room Tip: The nicest and most private rooms are actually the least expensive ones! The cheapest rooms offer the most privacy, indoor showers, and finished roofs. The stairs and bridge for the second floor rooms are really dangerous and slippery, safer to stay on the first level.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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2  Thank BDF74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 January 2012

....to find something wrong with this property....
after reading some of the negative reviews on TA in the past few weeks I have to say that I was a bit "hesitant. when I arrived. I sometimes wonder if people writing reviews on TA actually GO to the resort!
In my honest opinion, my husband and I tried hard to be picky about this place but we could not!
I am a travel agent, we take at least 2 trips to the caribbean each winter and always stay at high end resort. I consider myself spoiled rotten :)
This place is perfect!
It is not for everybody, I have to admit, since it is VERY quiet, but this is what we wanted. Yes there was a wedding on the week we were there, yes they were by the pool and the bars, but you know what....we stuck to the beach!
Plus, on one night we decided to join in the fun! And we had a great time!

The food is amazing, the wine selection is spectacular, the service is.... excellente!!!
I actually thought it was a bit too fast at time!!
Orlando does an superb job at entertainment, in a not so easy environment since people are here to relax and unwind
Take advantage of the coffee shop, they do an amazing latte
The spa is world class
No bugs, tarantulas, crabs, lizards, elephants or lions....... :)
and yes there is an alarm clock in the room, it is actually an iPod docking station

Really, an amazing week!!! We will go back!

Room Tip: Plunge pool rooms are not worth it since they are in the shade all day
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank rouleaj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 January 2012

For the two months before our stay at Zoëtry in mid-December, I'd been reading reviews, and it seemed that the resort must mysteriously transform itself from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde and back from one day to the next. After completing our four-night stay, I think the reviews depend a lot on people's expectations. On the other hand, it seems to be quite possible for different guests to experience totally different things, even when staying at the same time.

As an example, a guest who overlapped our stay wrote of myriad mosquitoes and bugs. We never had a single problem with bugs anywhere on the resort. Our room was kept spotless. We normally sprayed our exposed arms and ankles before leaving the room at dusk as a precaution, but neither my wife nor I had even one mosquito bite during our entire stay, probably because of the merciless winds that were sweeping the resort at the time. Where did the other guest find bugs, I wonder?

Another example: Everyone is spot on about Kenny at the bar. He did wonders with what he has to work with. Our poison of preference is Long Island Tea. Somehow he made a decent one even without sour mix, using freshly squeezed limes in its place. The limes had been squeezed just a bit too hard and the juice tasted too strongly of rind, but the LIT’s were good nonetheless. The problem is that the staff at the other bar by the beach didn’t have nearly the same skill, so the quality of the drinks was markedly different at the two bars. Management: get Kenny to train the other bartenders! Then get him some sour mix and whatever other ingredients he needs, and there’s no stopping him!

The staff are extremely friendly and bend over backwards to please. The owner/manager is also pleasant and down-to-earth. He presided over the wine-pairing meal, which we enjoyed immensely. Would you love the wine-pairing if you are a sophisticated millionaire that otherwise vacations on the Riviera? You judge: the wine chosen to represent the United States was a Beringer. :-)

Everyone here is trying their darndest to make this a 5-star resort. They can’t get there, though, just by outstanding friendliness and willingness to serve. They have to up the ante with regard to the basics. For example, day after day at around the time everyone was dressing for dinner, the water would come out just barely warm enough to tolerate getting under the shower. (Room #14) There was a beautiful double soaking tub in our room (romantic, right?), but the couple of times I went to fill it, there was no hot water. Plenty of hot water is something I expect at a Motel 6 for $39.95, let alone when I’m paying 10 times that! Even the DR has the technology to heat water. They’ll never get 5 stars without it.

Another example. The first day, our room was a bit too cold for us. When we notified the desk that the thermostat wasn’t working (you could set it to a different temperature, but then nothing happened), they said that they would send someone to adjust the vents so that they didn’t blow directly on us and change the temperature. In short order, two workers arrived at our door with a 12’ stepladder. Removing the vents near the ceiling, they did some adjustment, and presto! Our room warmed up just fine! Of course, there was no way to change the temperature in the room for the rest of our stay without repeating this process. This is OK (amusing for a hotel of this category, but OK), but you can’t get 5 stars without thermostats that work, so that the guests can vary the temperature as they please. Here’s another small detail about the bathroom: although it was decorated very nicely and had romantic lighting, at night there wasn’t enough light to shave comfortably.

Another example. It was too windy during our entire stay to be on the beach, since the wind was whipping sand in your face. So, one would have liked to retreat to the pools. But the pools were impossibly cold to swim in. (And my wife was raised on Lake Michigan and is used to cold swimming!) In fact, almost no one was using the pools for this very reason. We asked one of the staff whether the pools were heated. He said they were, but we would need to speak to his superior to get the heat turned on. Well, no! At a 5 star hotel, the guests don’t need to ask the management to keep the pool at a comfortable temperature. It’s the hotel staff’s business to know what a comfortable swimming temperature is and monitor to keep the pool at that temperature. On a related issue, the hot-tub was not hot when we tried it.

Other guests have remarked about how long room service took. We had the same experience. We ordered a piece of key lime pie one afternoon around 2:00 o’clock. It finally came around 5:30, as we were dressing for dinner. This is simply a matter of not burying your head in the sand when you don’t have an item, but telling the guest that the pie has not yet been baked, would they like something else? The pie, by the way, was delicious.

As a final example, there were many delicious Mexican dishes on the menu, but they served them without salsa. I’m like, What? Most of the guests were from the US, and we expect Mexican food to be served with salsa, right? The Italian food came with parmesan cheese; such things go without saying.

Some guests have remarked about problems with the language. Although my wife and I speak fluent Spanish, we found just about everybody wanted to speak English with us. Most did pretty well. My hunch is that some of the communication problems that guests blame on an incomplete command of English may actually have been more about a lack of general experience of some of the local help. One must remember that the staff are recruited from the surrounding countryside and villages; this resort is over an hour from Punta Cana, the nearest larger town. The barista, for example, had difficulty with the concept of what a double espresso is, even though I asked for it in Spanish (expreso doble). When I asked for that, he made a single espresso. When I said, “No, a double espresso”, he was clueless about what I might mean. I had to explain to him that it meant making two shots and putting them in the same cup.

A dinner guest at a nearby table was having trouble getting the waiter to bring her some walnuts. The waiter brought out the two types of nuts they had, and since they knew we spoke Spanish, they asked us what their names were. I had to tell them the words for almonds and walnuts not only in English, but also in Spanish. In a similar vein, they had a scrumptious berry jam that was served at breakfast. I asked the waiter what fruit it was made of, and he said it was fresa (strawberry). Well, it certainly wasn’t strawberry. Two different waiters insisted it was. Later on I found out that it was actually made of mora, a tropical berry similar but tastier than blackberry. I don’t give these examples to discredit the wait staff. They were sincere, hard-working, friendly and eager to please, and it suited us just fine to interact with them in these contexts. You just shouldn’t come here expecting to get the same level of service you might get from North Americans or Europeans with a high-school education and then some extra training in hospitality or hotel management.

Yajaida was a peach, as everyone mentions. She brought us stuff to try without our even ordering it, and we immediately felt like friends. She brought us a couple of margaritas one day from the beach bar, which unfortunately were just so-so (that too-much-lemon-rind taste again). My wife went back to the bar and ordered another round (in Spanish), but this time on the rocks. This instruction was just ignored, and the drinks came frozen, like the first ones.

The first morning we had breakfast at the beach restaurant. The first thing they brought was a basket of delicious breads and pastries, but no plates and no butter. We asked for plates, although we shouldn’t have had to, and the waiter brought them right away. Later on we saw that they were bringing other guests butter, so I asked for some. The waiter explained that when we came in, they hadn’t brought the butter yet, but now it had arrived. But that doesn’t explain why they didn’t tell us right away when they brought the pastries that the butter was coming and why they didn’t bring us some as soon as it arrived.

So it isn’t necessarily the language that’s the problem; it’s sometimes just a general lack of hotel/restaurant savvy and attention to detail. But the difference between a 4 star and a 5 star rating would be precisely in such details. Some might become impatient with such things. We loved interacting with these super ready to please, well-intentioned, and humble staff members. On the upside, we certainly never felt intimidated by any of the staff or other guests during our stay.

Finally, some remarks from the peanut gallery on the facility itself. The coffee shop’s far end had wall to ceiling windows that looked out on a beautiful garden. But light-blocking curtains were pulled tightly shut every day, creating a cave-like atmosphere in the coffee shop. I asked one of the baristas why they don’t open up the curtain and let some light in. She said she’d tried it and the manager always closed them when she came around. Cave didn’t work for me. When I come for my morning coffee, I want cheery. The main barista who presided there was a bit taciturn, but I’d get depressed too, working in the dark for 8 or 10 hours. A by-the-way to management: if you want 5 stars, ante up the insignificant extra cash to buy fresh milk for the coffee. Sure, the ultra pasteurized milk may last for 6 months at room temperature, but it gives a nasty taste to the café-lattes, which otherwise would have been wonderful.

The rustic walkway that provides access to the second story rooms is quite a unique feature. I have no problem with it as access to the rooms, but it runs right in front of the beachside pool and blocks what would otherwise be a beautiful view of the palm-studded pool and the ocean beyond. No one uses this section of the walkway, anyway. It’s an eyesore and has got to go.

The rooms directly on the meandering pool are nice, but strangely, the area where one can lie by the pool is on the opposite side rather than between one’s room and the pool. A very strange arrangement.

Overall, we enjoyed our stay at the Zoetry because it was quiet, only 52 rooms, relaxed, not over-snobbish. The food was great, and having all meals served rather than buffets worked for us. The shrimp at the beach restaurant were fantastic. My lobster was perfect. The drinks were great, as long as they came from Kenny’s bar. The rooms and public areas were decorated in a pleasant, natural style and were kept spotless. The staff were always friendly, ready to do your bidding, and unintimidating. No one was hanging out for tips. We gave out one or two dollar bills here and there, but you never had the feeling that it was expected. The gardens were beautiful and well kept. It was a great place to relax and unwind.

As a footnote, we purchased our transfers via Travelocity from Prieto Tours. There had been some horror stories about the Prieto agents’ high pressuring guests into booking other tours at a meeting the day after arrival. Well, the Prieto representative didn’t even show up for his appointment with us, much to our satisfaction. The Zoëtry reception reconfirmed our arrangements, and the Prieto drivers couldn’t have been nicer.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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7  Thank Deere_Traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AlainBERTHELOT, Public Relations Manager at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, responded to this reviewResponded 14 February 2012

Thank you for taking the time to write a review, We are sorry to hear about the issues during your recent stay with us.

We look forward to welcoming you back!


Best,

Guadalupe Olguin

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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