Grand Paradise Samana Rating: 2.5 Pearls
Samana Peninsula, Dominican Republic

This hotel has undergone significant renovations since our visit.
We will update our photos and review as soon as we can.

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • One of the best beaches in the D.R.
  • Beautiful grounds
  • 5-minute walk to bars and restaurants in the small town of Las Galeras

Cons

  • Dingy rooms, among the worst in the D.R.
  • No gym
  • No spa
  • 2.5-hour taxi from Samana Airport

Bottom Line

Located on one of the D.R.’s best beaches, one that makes even the 2.5-hour taxi from the closest airport seem worthwhile. The bungalows and guest rooms are extremely worn and dingy, and the resort lacks luxe features like a gym or spa. But with a quality buffet and, again, a spectacular beach, most guests don’t ask for more.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Predominantly European crowd at a remote location.

Beautiful hotel grounds
Beautiful hotel grounds

At least a quarter-mile from the main road, the hotel’s grounds -- tall palms, shorter shrubs, and acres of green lawns -- are silent at night, save for the crashing water and humming restaurants.

The lobby has white marble floors and an elevated wood-beam ceiling. Children run around the lobby, grossly out of sync with the merengue music coming from an overhead speaker. Tour buses pulled up at all hours of the day and night. A large group from Montreal sipped complimentary pineapple-garnished rum drinks while porters stacked their luggage in the lobby. Overflow baggage went in the theater behind the main buffet.

According, at least, to the scuba shack staffer, guests are primarily European (French and Dutch, mostly) and Canadian. Americans, like anywhere in Samana, are rare. As one TripAdvisor reviewer warned, "Most of the staff know very little English." This is true. Instead, many staffers learn French or German.

 Location

Two and a half hours from the airport, but then you're only five minutes from great bars.

Situated in the eastern edge of the Samana Peninsula, which means a 2.5-hour cab ride from Samana Airport.

The nearest town is Las Galeras, a beachfront village with surprisingly good smattering expat bars and restaurants like Coconut Roy's Paradise Restaurant and Kiosko Las Galeras. The walk to Las Galleras takes about five minutes.

 Beach

Best in the D.R., with gorgeous sand and room for everyone.

Crystal blue water and soft white sand
Crystal blue water and soft white sand

The beach has the softest, finest sand anywhere in Samana, making it high in the running for the best beach in the D.R. The water is crystal blue, filled with boaters and kayakers. We spotted folks trying to coax their dogs into the water and kids building sand structures.

There’s an ample supply of blue beach loungers for snoozing, reading, and sunning. A former guest from Ontario noted on TripAdvisor that "there was never a lack of chairs even at the busiest of times." This was indeed the case – at peak hours, chairs in the sun and the shade were easy to come by.

However, relaxation was hard to come by given the hotel's music choice: Kat DeLuna's party anthem, "Whine Up." Pulsating beats shot across the otherwise serene sand.

The beach was fronted by a massive great lawn, which stretched for hundreds of feet toward the bluff and reached all the way to the reception area. The lawn has a staggering array of activities: horseback riding, ATVs, scuba, table tennis, bocce, and a stone and grass mini-golf course. Snorkeling, windsurfing, catamaran trips, and kayaking are also available for purchase.

 Rooms

The bungalows are awful, and the Superior Rooms are, well, inferior.

The Superior Room
The Superior Room

The hotel offers bungalow rooms and Superior rooms. Cleanliness and comfort are sorely lacking from both room types. Regarding comfort, the beds in all rooms are very hard — one could feel the springs below even when sitting on top of the pink, green and yellow bedspreads. Regarding cleanliness, read on …

The bungalows are a nightmare. As one of the clerks at the front desk explained (and repeated three times), "No one likes this room." The one-story cottages are startlingly dirty and smell of deep mildew. They lack a clock, a remote control, a showerhead, and even toilet paper. Even with all the lights on, the room was extremely dark. The tile floor was pockmarked and stained. An archaic Daewoo TV sat alongside an even older cable box. The bathroom floor and bathtub had considerable grime and mysterious brown smudges. Worse still, the bathroom walls had holes.

The bungalows do come with a modest balcony -- two green wooden chairs sitting on top of pink tiles. They’re a great spot for people watching (and escaping the room's dingy interior).

In the Superior Room, the bathroom also smells of mildew, the bathtub caulking is rotting in most parts, and in some rooms, a procession of ants paraded all over the sink. The room is dark, with just two lamps servicing the space. The TV works just fine, but the remote only (de)activated the cable box, nothing else. There’s decent water pressure in the shower, though it might take several minutes to get hot water.

The Superior Rooms also come with a balcony, many of which are on the ground floor and look out on a maze of tall, narrow palm trees and the water beyond. Furnished with two white plastic chairs, a small matching stool/table and a patio recliner, it’s a comfortable area to hang but can get especially buggy at night.

 Features

Great pool, especially for kids, and plenty of outings and activities for the grown-ups.

Guests playing pool basketball
Guests playing pool basketball

Kids and their floaties are everywhere by the pool. The tiny children's pool has nary a single swimmer. Chairs and strollers lined the sides of both full-size swimming holes (one on each end of the property). The soundtrack at both pools was slow and Latin. An in-water basketball hoop received -- appropriately -- much hoopla. The hotel offered aerobics and scuba diving lessons at the pool (one half-hour lesson per stay).

Billiards and table tennis are available on the beach and in the Sports Bar.

Pedro at the Activities Center advertised an all-day ATV trip to Playa Rincon, commonly known as the most beautiful beach in the D.R., for a fee. He also described shorter trips to local beaches and caves. "This cave," he said, showing a laminated picture, "people say it looks like ‘Jurassic Park.’ "

Kiko's Kids Club took care of daytime child care. Parents who availed themselves of the service could then go horseback riding or take out ATVs (both for an extra fee) or play shuffleboard, badminton, or beach volleyball, among other sports.

 Entertainment

Loud tunes and lame dance lessons for a sparse crowd.

Nightime entertainment at the Areito Theater
Nightime entertainment at the Areito Theater

The Areito Theater hosted the nighttime entertainment. In front of virtually nonexistent crowds, a bunch of guys in wigs and lurid, sparkling pants made half the people who did show up perform push-ups and military salutes. They also gave some folks a halfhearted merengue dance lesson. An absurdly loud speaker system blasted, "Put your hands up in the air! Put your hands up ... in the air!" Most in the small crowd seemed taken aback by the volume, and kept their hands at their sides.

 Cleanliness

Musty rooms with mud-streaked hallways.

Cleanliness is a low priority in this hotel. The bungalow room had a stained bedspread and filthy floor. The bathroom floor and bathtub were grimy and smudged. The bathroom mirror was streaked, and the fixtures were caked with grime. Likewise, the Superior Room had stained floors and ants crawling up through the sink. Several hallways were streaked with long swaths of mud. It was hours before some were mopped up.

 Food

You really can't go wrong, with two decent a la cartes and a very good buffet

Chef at El Aserradero Buffet
Chef at El Aserradero Buffet

The El Aserradero buffet serves some outstanding items, including fresh potatoes and juicy chicken. Diners line up at the pasta station, patiently piling their plates with toppings while the chef serves as quickly as he can.

Sea Scape and Michaelangelo, the two a la carte restaurants, share an open-air beachside home. Sea Scape serves seafood on blue linens while Michaelangelo, directly to the right, serves Italian on red linens. The key difference, other than cuisine, is that Sea Scape is part of the all-inclusive package, while Michelangelo is not. But most guests find the food at both restaurants pretty "average.” Michelangelo is hardly worth the extra cash.

The Sports Bar has one tiny TV propped in the far upper corner that shows sports highlights. There’s a recently installed Ping-Pong table, but its foosball table and two pool tables are clearly showing their age. While a self-serve popcorn machine got heavy use, the most popular item was the bar itself, which served large crowds and played merengue long into the night.

 Bottom Line

Located on one of the D.R.’s best beaches, one that makes even the 2.5-hour taxi from the closest airport seem worthwhile. The bungalows and guest rooms are extremely worn and dingy, and the resort lacks luxe features like a gym or spa. But with a quality buffet and, again, a spectacular beach, most guests don’t ask for more.

Things You Should Know About Grand Paradise Samana

Address

  • Playa Las Galeras, Las Galeras

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Casa Marina Bay
  • Grand Paradise Samana Hotel
  • Grand Paradise Samana Las Galeras

Room Types

  • Bungalow
  • Superior Garden View Room
  • Superior Ocean View Room
  • Superior Pool View Room
  • Superior Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 420
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Jacuzzi: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Samana Peninsula, Dominican Republic
Address: Playa Las Galeras, Las Galeras
(See Map)
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