Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
No matter how much you drink -- and a lot of the guests are testing this theory -- it won't be enough.
Drinking seems to be the go-to activity here – there’s nothing else to do. Here's the thing, though: No amount of alcohol can make the Celuisma seem like a nice hotel. And no amount of alcohol will make the food taste good (more palatable, maybe). But that won't stop the heavily European crowd from trying. On the beach, in the florescent bar, in the Jacuzzi, or by the pool (which is surrounded by buildings), guests steadily neared bliss through inebriation.
This is one of the cheapest resorts in the Dominican Republic. It’s also one of the worst. Don't expect more than a beach, a bar, and some form of shelter.
The safe gated community of Playa Dorada.
Playa Dorada is a gated complex of 15 hotels, a golf course, a convention center, two casinos, and a shopping mall located just east of downtown Puerto Plata. The neatly manicured mini-city has horse-drawn carriages that promenade up and down the main street at all hours. It’s extremely safe and walkable, even at night -- it sort of feels like a gated golf community in the United States. The hotels in the complex range from Casa Colonial at the peak luxury end to a plethora of budget all-inclusives and timeshares geared toward families and young partiers, like Viva Wyndham, Grand Paradise, and, at the bottom of the list, the Celuisma Tropical. In the center of the complex is Playa Dorada Plaza, a two-story open-air shopping center that caters heavily to tourists with souvenir stalls, sundry and tobacco shops, a playground, and a few liquor stores. There are also a few ATMs and banks, as well as restaurants and bars including Hemingway’s, Senor Rock’s, Coco Bongo, and even a Pizza Hut.
Big, crowded beach with harsh waves and relatively calm water by north shore standards.
The beach is large, and there's a sandy walk out into the water. The Celuisma shares the Playa Dorada complex with 14 other resorts, so the beach can get a bit crowded. On the north coast, the waves are harsher and the water far less clear than on the south coast of the Dominican Republic, near Punta Cana. But Playa Dorada's shallow water is relatively calm. (It's protected by a reef.) It’s very popular with snorkelers.
There was a nasty amount of trash washed up on the beach. Crews worked to pick up the flotsam but left a lot behind. There was just too much trash to deal with. Needless to say, beach trash is a big bummer.
By mid-afternoon most of the lounge chairs are snagged. But the beach is big, and there was plenty of room to escape the masses.
Not worth spending time in, with a truly treacherous spiral staircase.
For a significant upgrade, the resort offers a two-floor king room, the Superior Room. The bed and a bathroom are on the second floor, and the ground floor has an extensive living area with a newish flat-screen TV, an empty micro-fridge, and vinyl-coated furniture. There is also a balcony that looks out on a vacant lot full of debris. The spiral staircase is clearly a hazard (especially after a few drinks). The plywood steps flexed, and the whole thing leaned toward the wall. Be careful at night.
The pool at the Celuisma is no grotto. It's surrounded by buildings, and while a few palm trees are planted in the courtyard, the pool lacks the tropical feel of most Caribbean resorts. Adjacent to the pool is a game room and bar, both ablaze in fluorescent light.
The Jacuzzi is very popular. There was almost always five to 10 people hanging in and around it, drinking beers, and having a good time.
The hotel has a small gym and spa, but treatments and services are not included in the all-inclusive package.
Cleanliness? What cleanliness?
Rooms are old and generally pretty dingy, and the property wasn’t any better. The worst example of filth is in the restrooms next to the beach. Three out of the four toilets were overflowing, but guests continued to use the plugged toilets even as urine splashed on the floor.
After intense rains, the groundskeepers were hard at work cleaning up the resort. They scrubbed walkways and raked the beach of garbage. But their efforts proved fruitless -- there was still a lot of garbage left behind.
The worst in the Dominican Republic, with an especially grim buffet.
Guests are advised to take full advantage of the free booze – it will help to cope with the buffet. The food is not good. Even the pasta bar couldn't redeem the rest of the options.
There are also 3 a la cartes on-site, including the Caribbean Cafe, which, while not great, was far better than the buffet. (This goes for all on-site a la cartes.) There's a salad bar with decent options and a few Caribbean items, like beef tips in red sauce.
All the servers were friendly, but that did not begin to make up for the food.
A cheap crash pad in the gated Playa Dorada complex, the Celuisma is fine for a Dominican bender but not much else. Basic rooms, horrid food, and one of the worst pools in the Caribbean -- it’s one of the D.R.’s cheapest resorts for a reason. The slightly pricier Viva Wyndham has much better food and features.
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