We vacationed in the Dominican last year and chose the Hard Rock Resort and Casino as our place to stay. We do not stay in resorts when we travel, but were excited to give an all-inclusive a try. The Hard Rock was NOT a good choice for a first all-inclusive stay. Starting from the beginning I’ll tell you why.
Arriving at the Resort
After a fairly long flight, about 6 hours that included one layover, we landed in Punta Cana very excited. We had never been to the Dominican but, I personally had been wanting to check it out.
Getting through customs was no big deal and the shuttle, as promised, was waiting for us outside. The shuttle was not a Hard Rock shuttle, but a private, unrelated company. The ride was fine; about an hour or so and that included one stop at a neighboring resort.
Once at the Hard Rock, the first thing we noticed was how much empty and/or barron landscape there was between the entrance to the resort, and the lobby where you check in. I did not time the ride from entrance to lobby, but I bet it was a few minutes before we saw any resemblance of a resort; no pools, no parks, no shops, no ocean, no pretty landscaping, no nothing.
After our boring ride in, we arrived at the lobby, collected our luggage and walked in.
The lobby was very nice; very clean, very open, very big. It was a large open space, nicely decorated with tiled floors and big, open cielings. Once at the check-in counter, we didn’t have to wait very long before a receptionist was available to help us- it was not very busy at the time.
The service we received at the check-in counter was so-so. Nothing special, but not terrible either. They didn’t seem very eager to please and serve the incoming guests, but they were not rude or out of line either. So, we checked in and began our search for our building and room.
With no direction given from the receptionist other than “walk straight out that door”, we began our trek.
We walked outside of the lobby and started to look for signs or maps, or anything, that had the location of our building.
Once we located it’s location, we started walking…and walked…and walked…and walked…yep, and walked some more. Our building was about 15 miles away from the lobby with nothing more to see than a giant fountain/pool thing that you couldn’t swim in or even touch, and some more buildings with rooms. No shops, no bars, no lounges, no activities, no NOTHING!
Ok, so it wasn’t a 15 mile walk, but it was far. It was way too far considering there was litterally nothing in between except for a large, rectangle, 2 or 3 ft deep fountain…YAY! Large, empty spaces would not be what I would want for my resort if I owned one. But who the hell am I anyways?
Shuttles you ask? Or some kind of resort transportation to get to your room, you ask? Because there wasn’t any. They had just a few golf cart style shuttles, and the wait for them was ridiculous.
Anyways, we eventually find our room, and were able to offload the four suitcases, and two backpacks.
First impression of the room; it was alright. It wasn’t flashy, but not too boring. The beds were not bad, but TERIBBLY small. I am 6 ft 2 inches tall and 195 pounds; the beds were definitely not made for people like us.
In the middle of the room was a hot tub/bath tub that did nothing but take up space smack dab in the middle of the room; the bathroom was huge with the largest walk-in shower I have ever seen. So why was a big bath tub needed in the middle of the room? I have no idea.
Overall, the room was undoubtedly just OK at the very best.
Once we discarded our luggage in the room and freshened up a bit, it was time to start exploring the resort.
Right outside of our building was a very large pool, with another large pool right behind it. To the right of those pools was another pool. And to the left of the pools outside of our building pools was another pool. To the right of the pools that were to the right of our pools, was another pool. To the right of that pool was a kiddy pool with a bigger pool next to it…….confused? No need, just know they had more pools than staff.
A couple hundred yards from all the pools, was the Atlantic Ocean with a pretty nice beach that was never crowded. My only guess as to why Hard Rock thought they needed more pools than staff when there’s an Ocean within short walking distance, is because they wanted to waste more space as if there was not enough space wasted yet.
Sporadically placed in between the army of pools, were restaurants of different types; steak house, Brazilian Steak House, Caribbean, etc. None of it was very good, but I’ll get to that later.
Way back up at the main building, 15 miles away where the lobby is, was the shops, casino, and a few eating joints, as well as bars and lounges.
The Main Building
The main building was nice, I can’t lie, it was pretty nice. They kept it very clean, much cleaner than they kept our rooms.
When you walk into it, you had two choices: 1) walk to the left and enter the casino where the night club is, or 2) walk to the right where the “mall”, eating joints, and lounges are. It was a very large building.
Honestly, there’s not much to say about the main building except this; There was absolutely NOTHING special about it. Our local mall has the same stores, and our local mall has eating joints that are much better than the Hard Rock’s.
The casino? Nothing special and it wasn’t there for the average Joe Q. Public either; they most definitely cater to wealthier individuals by setting most game minimums above our bank accounts. Oh, I got tired of the Hookers and Pimps trying to get me to buy their services…No thanks!!
Thing to Do
Nothing, except play in their pools that are plentiful enough to fill Lake Havasu, or the single beach they hold as private.
I did go diving outside of the resort one day, and set this dive up through the Hard Rock…ughhhh! They found a way to screw that up as well.
So, I go up to their excursion desks and speak to a woman about me wanting to go diving. She was pretty nice and everything, but apparently doesn’t listen. Her main concern was simply selling stuff.
I told this woman that I am a certified diver and am looking for a certified PADI dive shop. I got the PADI DIVE shop, but was sent on a discovery dive with non-certified divers just looking to see if it’s something they want to continue with.
The dive was for pre-begginers; people who have never even seen a SCUBA tank before let alone, put one on. Maybe I didn’t speak clearly enough to the woman or something, I don’t know. But unfortunately, I did not find out it wasn’t an actual dive until I showed up.
That’s it. Those are your choices for things to do.
Terrible! Absolutely terrible!
I actually not one to pick my vacation destinations solely on the food, but this was ridiculous. I’m pretty sure it was all microwavable, frozen dinners that were churched up on a plate and served.
Luckily, they did have Nathan Hot Dog carts which were AWESOME! But it’s hard to survive on hot dogs for an entire week, trust me.
I couldn’t wait to get back to an airport with a McDonalds in it.
We paid $4,000 (not including flights) for a lack luster resort stay. The $4,000 was a deal also; we got about $1,000 off.
We paid a lot of money for; lots of pools, lots of empty space, so-so service, very poor food, no activities, and a bed that’s barely big enough for a child.
Would I stay at the Hard ROCK Resort and Casino in Punta Cana again? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! So so so overpriced.
Would I visit the Dominican again? Maybe. If you don’t mind spending your week wondering why they need armed military personnel all over the island with machine guns, then sure, the Dominican is awesome! Lol, ask about the armed guards and the island as a whole if you’re curious, because that’s a whole separate conversation…