Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Rampant prostitution at a hotel that claims to be family friendly -- this place is a seedy rip-off.
As it is located in the D.R.'s sex tourism capital, Boca Chica, the resort posts a sign above its reception desk that states that it "caters mainly to national and international family groups, and we do not allow prostitutes on our premises." Clearly, there are some gray areas. Numerous guests report being accosted and the resort's security guards don't seem to make much of a difference. Mostly, they patrol the premises with long, black sticks warding off peddlers and the occasional stray dog. Since Don Juan's beach is public and prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic, there's little they can do.
A narrow walkway leading to the beach divides the property in half. Even in the morning, women offer visitors suspicious massages; in the evening, sexual solicitation is even more rampant. You really can't walk more than a few minutes down the beach without being offered everything from CDs to carved coconuts to Dominican flags to girls.
While the guest rooms are a bit dark and outdated, the hotel itself doesn't really feel like a brothel -- a decent pool and PADI-certified dive center are among its more redeeming qualities. But it's hard to relax on the beach when you're routinely pestered by pimps and prostitutes.
In the heart of a known sex-tourism hot spot, a 15-minute taxi from Santo Domingo Airport.
Don Juan is located in the small town of Boca Chica, the D.R.’s sex tourism capital (prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic). It’s a square piece of land bordered by the beach on its southern side, Calle Duerte (Duerte Street) on its northern side, and two resorts on either side. On all sides, pimps and prostitutes abound.
A dirty, crowded public beach with a view of a nearby natural gas plant.
Don Juan is on a public stretch of beach in Boca Chica, a town known for its sex tourism. Locals asking "Want to make baby?" and selling ‘’massages’’ are common sites. After dark, much of the beach becomes a hot spot for gay cruising.
Apart from this, the beach is quite nice. A natural reef encloses this entire stretch so that it can feel like an oversize swimming pool. On weekends, the locals come out by the hundreds and thousands.
Though the beach once had the potential to have fine, white sand, it's now completely littered with debris -- cigarette butts, plastic cups, cans, straws, candy wrappers, and whatever else. The view also sucks, what with a huge natural gas processing plant in the distance.
The bedsprings have more give than a jack-in-the-box, and the pillows are lumpier than a sack of Jelly Belly candies.
Rooms do have a lot of natural light, thanks to the open view of the pool, but come nightfall, when the lamps have to be turned on, the fluorescent glow from the energy-efficient lightbulbs are reminiscent of a dim science lab.
The outdated Daewoo TVs have fuzzy reception and only two English-language channels (BBC and BET). Others, like CNN and Discovery, are in Spanish. There was a phone, but no alarm clock or smoke alarm (the entire cover and battery were removed). The air conditioner only worked at half power, but the ceiling fan helped keep the room cool.
Every room comes with a minibar stocked with three bottles of water, one Pepsi, and one Brahma beer. The fridge itself sits on a cheap, white plastic table intended for a balcony. There is a safe in the room, but it’s not big enough to hold even a tiny, 12-inch laptop. Lock rentals are charged per day, and they’re more than worth it, considering the seediness in the area.
The dark, dilapidated bathrooms are flat-out, haunted-house creepy. Toiletries consist of one bar of soap on the sink and one dispenser of soap or maybe shampoo (it isn't labeled) in the shower. Plus, there’s a box of one-ply tissues and two rolls of really scratchy one-ply toilet paper. The towels, at least, are clean and white.
In regards to cleanliness, the rooms are one notch up from the Barcelo Capella, which is easily among the most filthy rooms ever visited by Oyster. Translation: no bugs, but everything needed a thick douse of Clorox, especially the floor, which actually needed Clorox, Swiffers and a layer of floor polish.
Top-floor rooms come with vaulted ceilings, which make the relatively small room (by Caribbean standards) seem significantly larger and brighter. Request a room on the top floor (fourth) for its high ceilings, but it is strongly recommended to book a room down the street at the Be Live Hamaca instead. The rooms there are just as dark, but significantly nicer, cleaner, and more spacious.
There are two pools on the property, both of which are far smaller and less exciting than most all-inclusive resorts.
There's a tiny gym with ancient equipment (one treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, bench, and a few weights, none smaller than 6 kilograms), a sweet bodybuilding poster from the 1980s, and no air-conditioning.
Treasure Divers, a PADI-certified dive center, is on the beach. But don't be fooled by its claims to be the "best dive center in the Caribbean." The real story is that apparently Unterwasser, a German diving magazine, voted it one of the best diving centers in the world, but the link the company provides to the magazine doesn't work and, besides, it's in German. However, some of the best snorkeling and diving is actually around Bayahibe.
Don't count on using the Internet too much here -- there are two PCs, but the center is only open busines hours.
Dirty kids' club and XXX activities nearby -- this is not a place for kids.
Calle Duerte, the main prostitution strip in Boca Chica, is only a few hundred feet from the property. This is not the place to bring children.
There’s a skeletal kids' club on site, run by a staff member who only speaks Spanish. It consists of a jungle gym, a broken television, a few arts and crafts supplies, two tables and some Mickey Mouse art on the wall. Nothing else.
There isn't a designated kids' pool, but one of the areas in the main pool is shallow enough for a small child. Similarly, the beach is calm and shallow thanks to a natural reef 200 meters from the beach.
The beach is filthy. Many of the lounge chairs had rips in them, and you couldn't wander more than a few inches without stepping on a cigarette butt or tripping over a soda can.
The rooms are tolerable, meaning there’s no pervasive stench of insect infestation, but the bathrooms contain significant mold.
Undercooked food and not much selection.
If uncooked chicken, bread covered in flies, salads dripping in mayonnaise, vats of unidentifiable glop, bowls of cucumbers and carrots (their "salad bar"), and desserts covered in some sort of whipped topping-glaze sound tasty--stuff yourself silly.
For everyone else, you'll probably stick to the burgers and pizza, both of which seem relatively safe. Likewise, the mango and papaya are typically decent, but avoid the green cantaloupe.
There is an a la carte restaurant on site, La Caleta, but food doesn't improve from one eatery to the other. The property also houses three bars.
The food at Be Live Hamaca, just 10 minutes down the road, is exponentially better than the food at Don Juan.
Located in the D.R.'s sex-tourism capital, guests should expect to be accosted by prostitutes, local hecklers, and merchants on the resort's trash-strewn beach. Small pools, dark, dingy rooms, disgusting food, and outrageous rates -- Don Juan is about the worst pick in the D.R. While it's often pricier, Be Live Hamaca is about the only worthwhile option in Boca Chica.