With a 24-hour sports bar, large beach, three pools, late-night snack shack, and one of the area’s only casinos, the theme of the all-inclusive, three-pearl Costa Caribe Coral is best defined as beachfront block party. Almost everything here comes with a "but." The beach has white sand and calm water, but relentless hawkers and dated water sports equipment. The 416 guest rooms are clean and spacious, but have dull decor and some maintenance issues. Five restaurants include everything from Caribbean cuisine to a buffet to Tex-Mex, but the quality of food varies and some restaurants are closed during the week. There's Wi-Fi in the rooms, but there's a fee. Alcohol is included in the all-inclusive package, but it's low quality. The price tag and the beach are the biggest selling points at the Costa Caribe Coral Hotel & Resort. For an alternative beachfront resort, check rates at the nearby Be Live Collection Hamaca.
Sprawling all-inclusive resort with a lively, party-like scene
The massive Costa Caribe Coral Hotel & Resort offers all the expected amenities of a beachfront resort in a lively, sometimes raucous, atmosphere. The scene can feel a bit schizophrenic as it changes dramatically depending on the day of the week. During the weekends, locals and college-age singles from the United States descend on the resort for a cheap, no-frills, all-you-can-drink vacation. Weekdays, the vibe slows down considerably, but it’s never quite quiet or serene. Families and couples make up the clientele.
The decor is typical of many cookie-cutter Caribbean resorts. Rows of identical thatched roof buildings -- which the hotel appropriately refers to as blocks -- are all painted in pastel yellow. Unfortunately, there are few real architectural or design flourishes to speak of, other than a water fountain with pouring jug sculptures. Outside, tall palm trees give a tropical vibe but the grass areas look patchy.
Between a large beach and a heavily-trafficked tourist road in the center of Juan Dolio
Costa Caribe Coral Hotel & Resort is located along the heavily-trafficked Boulevar de Juan Dolio in the popular Juan Dolio resort district one hour east of downtown Santo Domingo. While the road is often busy, the hotel is set back enough to minimize traffic noise and create a secluded atmosphere. There are numerous restaurants, bars, and other resort facilities within a 20-minute walk or five-minute drive. Roads are better traversed by car than on foot.
Santo Domingo’s Las Americas International Airport is 35 minutes away by car and, like many hotels in the area, Costa Caribe does not offer a dedicated airport shuttle. Larger groups may find cost effective transportation via private shuttle transfer to and from the airport as rates are typically determined on a per vehicle basis. Alternatively, taxi service is readily available between the hotel and airport; rates are often high and should always be negotiated in advance. Parking at the hotel is free and located in a secure lot.
Generic rooms with mini-fridges, air-conditioning, and private terraces
Decor in both Standard and Superior Room categories is, in a word, uninspired. Stark white walls and tile floors combine with basic, brown wood furniture in a bland, monochromatic color palette with no real island flare or splashes of color. Save for the fancy towel animals on the bed and copious flower petals strewn about, there's nothing to immediately indicate that you're in the Caribbean.
Standard and Superior Rooms are virtually identical, except that the latter offers a slightly updated decor and ocean views. Both categories are similar in size and layout and offer either two double beds or a single king-size bed.
The bathrooms are best described as serviceable with generic, up-to-date fixtures. The design aesthetic is equally basic, with a simple, monochromatic color scheme. All offer a wall-mounted hairdryer, a shower/tub combination, and generic soaps and shower products. Two bottles of water are placed on the vanity.
The list of amenities in all rooms includes mainly the essentials: a mini-fridge, air-conditioning, and flat-screen or tube-style TV. All rooms offer a private terrace or balcony (some with ocean views), furnished with two basic patio chairs and a table. The back of the in-room air conditioner vents hot air directly into the space, which is both unsightly and uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, free Wi-Fi is only available in the lobby. For an additional fee, guests can receive Internet service in their rooms, however, the pricey daily rate gets expensive quickly. The resort also charges an additional fee for use of its in-room safes. Past guests have complained about maintenance issues like loud plumbing, broken doors, and rusty hinges.
The large beach at the back of the property provides lovely views of the Caribbean Sea. An ample selection of lounge chairs is set back from the water amid rows of palm trees that provide on-and-off shade throughout the day. While seating is never an issue, areas of the beach feel a bit claustrophobic as might be expected of a 416-room hotel. During our stay, we found noticeable amounts of cigarette butts, drinking straws, and bits of paper.
Fortunately, the water is clear and warm throughout much of the year. A man-made breakwater just offshore also ensures the water is consistently calm, providing excellent swimming opportunities, even for small children. The resort provides equipment for a number of water based activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and a basic, pool-based SCUBA lesson for each guest. Additional options like Jet Skis and full diving trips are available for an additional fee. Sadly, much of the property’s water sports equipment is extremely dated, almost frighteningly so.
Dominican Republic beaches have a notorious reputation for relentless hawkers and Costa Caribe Coral is no different. Past guests regularly criticize the property for copious numbers of aggressive vendors peddling jewelry and tchotchkes along the beach.
Four restaurants and a late-night snack bar offer diverse all-inclusive options
Costa Caribe Coral is serviced by a total of five restaurants: three formal, a la carte restaurants; one buffet; and a snack bar to boot. The overall menu options are diverse, however, the food quality varies. During our stay, everything we sampled from the buffet was cold.
The Santa Fe Grill serves Tex-Mex cuisine in a large, open-air space under a thatched roof near the hotel’s third pool. The sparsely decorated space is bedecked in dated wood and rattan tables and chairs, but not much else. El Fogon is perhaps the finest and most intimate restaurant on-site. The combined buffet and a la carte menu centers around contemporary Dominican and Caribbean cuisine, with typical options like sea bass over orange and tomato puree and Jamaican Jerk chicken. The Rigoletto Pasta Club is tastefully decorated, although the overall feel is akin to a chain Italian restaurant. The menu consists primarily of typical Italian entrees, including ravioli, spaghetti with meat sauce, and various parmesan dishes. Linen tablecloths and formal place settings lend a hint of sophistication to all three a la carte restaurants, however, the atmosphere never quite rises to luxurious. During the low season and on some weekdays, the hotel closes at least two of its a la carte restaurants on a rotating schedule. The exact restaurants to be closed changes daily and are announced on a board outside the Ambar restaurant. Each of the resort’s a la carte dinner restaurants also requires formal wear. No reservations are required, however, guests may only dine at each restaurant once during their stay.
Ambar restaurant offers themed, buffet-style dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a clean, casual space with a slight Caribbean-inspired decor. The breakfast includes a wide variety of typical hot and cold options, including eggs, sausage, French toast, pancakes, cereal, fruit, juices, pastries, and coffee. Lunch and dinner options change daily, but typically include both American options like burgers and pasta, and Caribbean dishes of rice and beans and local seafood.
A small, additional snack shack called Mango's is open midday and again late-night with pizza, sandwiches, burgers, and other basic options. Alcohol is included with the all-inclusive option, but the beer and booze is off brand and past guests have complained that cocktails are watered down.
Three lovely pools, two hot tubs, and a swim-up bar
Given the mixed reviews on almost every aspect of the hotel, the three pools are surprisingly clean and well-maintained. Ample seating is provided on soft blue sun loungers on the three pool decks, though umbrellas aren't available. A ring of palm trees provides on-and-off shade throughout the day. The main pool is immediately adjacent to the full-service, swim-up Bohio Bar, with a complete menu of beer, wine, and cocktails -- ideal for guests looking to grab a poolside drink.
Spa with outdoor treatments available, small casino, and basement gym
While Costa Caribe Coral offers additional features and amenities, many are not up-to-date and don’t live up to expectations. The on-site gym is located in an all-but-forgotten, basement space that creates a dark, almost claustrophobic feel, and it's stocked with out-of-date equipment. On the other hand, InSense Spa is a definite upgrade, it provides couples massage, hair services, and facials on indoor and outdoor palapas built on a wooden pergola.
Although many gamers criticize it for its small size -- and even smaller payouts -- Dreams Casino includes slot machines, poker lessons, and table games. At night, there's a free dance show and Boom nightclub gets hopping with music and games for adults. Kids have access to a cute kids' club with a small swimming pool with water basketball, a pool table, and a playground. There's a gift shop that sells T-shirts, water toys, and sunscreen. Wi-Fi is free in the lobby.
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