Iberostar Dominicana Hotel Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Excellent, soft-sand beach
  • Clean rooms
  • Attentive service
  • Better food variety than most all-inclusives
  • 2 large, clean, free-form pools and one children's pool
  • Lively vibe and packed with activities for adults and kids

Cons

  • Crowded pool and beach (tough to get a lounger)
  • No swim-up bar
  • Less exciting nightly entertainment

Bottom Line

Located on an excellent stretch of beach, the Iberostar’s clean rooms, immaculate grounds, great service, and buzzing activities (taking place morning, noon and night) make it feel like a well-oiled machine. Sure, it’s crowded, the meat's overcooked, and the rooms and gym are showing some wear, but it's one of Punta Cana’s best deals.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Lively resort buzzing with activities, pop tunes, families, and couples.

Staff dancing in lobby
Staff dancing in lobby

In a span of five minutes, the crowded, but mellow, pool scene can go from zero to 60 thanks to the Euro remix of "What is Love" that comes blasting through the speakers. With high kicks and dance moves, a gaggle of women started another intense, daily session of water aerobics.

Ten minutes later, a group of men in their 50s and 60s flexed their muscles and posed for their wives' cameras before hitting the water for a mean game of water polo. In another corner, a diving instructor helped a couple strap on air tanks while a game of Bingo (or rather, "Bingo, Bango, Bongo") was just getting underway on the beach. There's so much to do that it verges on overwhelming -- but in a good way, with salsa bands suddenly breaking into song just outside the Higuey buffet. Lots of fun, but peace and quiet is hard to find.

Dominicana's lobby, grounds and rooms exude a 1970s Miami feel -- there's little to be found that's not of some shade of pink, orange, or green. And though nearly everything about the Dominicana could use a face-lift, especially the rooms, the grounds are immaculately manicured and impeccably clean, a testament to the army of landscapers and cleaning crews perpetually trimming, wiping, or picking things up.

With 590 rooms, the Dominicana is one of three resorts within the larger Iberostar complex. It shares its facilities with its next-door neighbor, the Iberostar Punta Cana, which is more or less the same price. On its other side is the considerably more expensive Iberostar Bavaro, and the staff there is strict about people not crossing over into the more expensive price bracket.

The Dominicana draws bargain-hunting couples and families with young children from all over the world, but primarily from the United States, Spain, France, and Germany. A friendly group, everyone seemed eager to mingle with one another in the airy, spacious lobby once the sun went down.

 Location

Wedged between two sister properties, it's a 30-minute taxi from the airport.

Located on a picturesque, but crowded, stretch of beach in Punta Cana, the Iberostar Dominicana is wedged between the Iberostar Punta Cana and Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro, and connected via a boardwalk. Guests at Dominicana equally share the facilities at Punta Cana, but not with Bavaro (though Bavaro guests can use the facilities on the Dominicana and Punta Cana properties).

There’s not much worth seeing in Punta Cana itself though -- everything to see, do, and eat is on the property itself.

 Beach

Crowded, sure, but it’s also one of the best strips of powdery white sand in the D.R.

Volleyball on the beach
Volleyball on the beach

Beach-goers who want two chairs next to each another, let alone a shaded hut, must plant their flag early. The beach here -- one of the best strips of sand in the D.R. -- fills up quickly.

There's a boardwalk stretching from the Iberostar Bavaro to the Punta Cana. Though there are security guards posted at either end of Iberostar's properties, guests could even walk over to the Riu if they wanted.

There is no drinks service on the beach, but there are several bars, restaurants, and a great ice cream stand just steps from the sand.

 Rooms

Plain, outdated décor, but entirely functional rooms that are cleaner than most in the D.R.

The Standard Room
The Standard Room

Rooms are clean, but a bit outdated. The specks of dirt around the corners come not from lack of scrubbing, but from the sheer age of this place, built in 1995 (and scarcely renovated since).

The couch, chair cushion, and both comforters on the full-size beds share the same dull floral fabric. They match the walls painted orange, green and blue. Pink-and-yellow accent pillows match the pink-and-green curtains. Translation: It's in dire need of an update, but clean.

In every bathroom, there’s a bidet, a feature mostly reserved for upgraded suites in most all-inclusives in the D.R. It serves as a reminder of the Spanish chain’s European sensibility and sanitation (something notoriously absent from most Dominican resorts).

Many of the standard rooms are located on the ground level, just steps from the main pool and a main walkway. While these rooms are conveniently close to the hotel's main amenities, they offer little in the way of privacy.

  • No in-rooom Wi-Fi.
  • Outlets come covered in thick, bulky plastic, so Blackberry chargers or most cell phone chargers won't work.
  • Older safes do not fit laptops.
  • Bottle opener in the bathroom for the four Brahma beers (plus soda and water), all free, and stocked in the mini-bar.

 Features

Huge pools (though no swim-up bar), a busy casino, and the D.R.’s most crowded fitness center.

Outdoor massages by the pool
Outdoor massages by the pool

The Iberostar's best gems are its beach and the pools (no swim-up bar though). However, they're both crowded, so don't expect this to be your haven of peace and quiet.

  • Wi-Fi only available (for a fee) in the main lobby and out toward the middle of the large central courtyard. There’s no Internet in any of the rooms.
  • 20 PCs in one of the D.R.’s biggest business centers.
  • Medium-size casino in the lobby with tables and slot machines. It was packed when I walked by at night.
  • Small, crowded fitness center located on the second floor of the whirlpool-spa building. It comes with a handful of modern cardio machines (treadmills and bikes), and well-used weights. There's always a trainer on duty, but there is a perpetual wait to get on a treadmill. Views from the treadmill are of the turquoise water, though, so the 30-minute wait is worth it.
  • The spa, in a private building adjacent to the fitness center, has massage therapists on staff and plenty of appointments for manis and pedis.

 Entertainment

Fun all day with water polo, dance lessons, and rifle shooting, but the evening entertainment is just cheesy.

Live music at the Theater
Live music at the Theater

Guests almost unanimously complain that the evening entertainment is pretty weak. Consisting mostly of bad karaoke and some live music, it's worse than most Dominican resorts.

That said, the entertainment staff works hard. There are activities scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day ranging from Spanish lessons to rifle shooting to water aerobics and water polo to merengue and salsa lessons. The classes are consistently packed and everyone seems like they are having fun.

 Family

Excellent kids' club, kid-friendly foods, and loads of fun activities -- the Iberostar is a great choice for families.

Kids enjoying the evening entertainment
Kids enjoying the evening entertainment

The small mini-club for kids ages 5 to 12 was tucked away behind the glut of shops on Caribbean Street. The kids are always out playing, though. The staff makes sure to leave a sign taped to the door with the wee ones' whereabouts ("at the pool" or "on the playground"). Hours for the mini-club are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., not including the mini-disco at the main theater from 8 to 8:30 p.m., before the adult show gets underway.

  • There's a shallow, kidney-shaped kids' pool where it's sometimes easier to find lounge chairs during the day. For aquatic kids who can swim on their own, we spotted kid-friendly basketball hoops scattered around the main pool.
  • Foods that kids love are ample, including vats of French fries, plates of burgers and enough pizzas to give Dominos' yearly quota a run for its money. There are also a few discreet ways in which to sneak fruit into their diet, say, delicious fruit smoothies.

 Cleanliness

Immaculate grounds, clean rooms, and a staff eager to keep them that way.

It seems like there's an army of staff members perpetually sweeping, raking, and manicuring the immaculate grounds of this hotel.

In addition to keeping the grounds clean, the housekeeping is blazingly quick to grab the mop when it begins to rain. The hallways in the residential buildings are lined in very orange tiles that turn into virtual skating rinks when wet.

The rooms themselves are almost as clean as the grounds and landscaping, but showed more natural signs of age like a few frays in the upholstery or scratches on the furniture.

 Food

Big buffet with great veggies, fresh fruit, and even some healthy mains -- but the overcooked meat is bad, and water is questionable.

Cheese tray at Higuey Main Buffet
Cheese tray at Higuey Main Buffet

They have the salads, starches, and sweets covered in the buffets: 16 different kinds of bread (say, dark, light, rolls, loaf, braided, seeded), eight different kinds of pizza, four pastas, three different kinds of very fresh lettuce (green leaf, watercress, and spinach), an assortment of equally fresh veggies, and a seemingly endless selection of desserts, including four flavors of ice cream. The meat, however, was overcooked, which is the case at virtually every Dominican all-inclusive.

There are six specialty restaurants, but guests need to make reservations early. (Guests at Iberostar Dominicana can also eat on Iberostar Punta Cana's property).

Breakfasts are great, with buckwheat pancakes and fresh orange juice. At dinner, the resort also has a pretty good cheese tray with an assortment of crackers, nuts, and dried fruits. At every meal, there’s a wide array of fruits.

 Destination Weddings

Iberostar only has one wedding package, and not a ton of extras, but the prices are right and the planning is hassle free.

A popular ceremony spot
A popular ceremony spot
  • Wedding Size: Up to 150 people
  • Extra Fees: fee for day pass for non-hotel guests
  • Wedding Packages: The standard wedding package includes a wedding coordinator, a bouquet and a boutonniere, two bottles of champagne, a wedding cake for 15 people, a guitar trio or pianist during the ceremony, 14 5-by-7 photos, and dinner for the bride and groom.
  • Ceremony Locations: The garden (80 people max), the beach (150 people max), or the outdoor courtyard near the shops (150 people max)
  • Reception Options: Unlike at other all-inclusive resorts, there's no extra fee for food and drinks. Small parties (less than 45 people) will have to dine along with all of the other resort guests at one of the a la carte restaurants; larger groups (from 45 to 200 people) can reserve an entire restaurant for three hours (costs vary depending on venue choice).
  • Photographers and Videographers: Photo packages range lowest (for 45 6-by-8 pictures) to highest (for a digital booklet, 100 6-by-8s and five 12-by-18s); videography packages range from a 25-minute edited video to an hourlong edited video.
  • Music: Options range in cost from a musical trio (for one hour) to an orchestra (for three hours).
  • Cocktail Parties: For an extra fee per person, you can host a cocktail party with hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and an open bar.
  • Cakes: A cake for 15 people is included in the basic wedding package, but upgrades start at a small fee per extra person, and can cost more depending on the flavor of the cake and the level of decoration.
  • Spa Treatments: The spa offers a bridal treatment, which includes a facial, a massage, a mani/pedi, and hair dressing.
  • Honeymoon Suite: No special suites; many newlyweds opt for a larger Junior Suite
  • Airport Transportation: The hotel does not provide airport shuttles; a round-trip taxi costs about $50.

 Bottom Line

Located on an excellent stretch of beach, the Iberostar’s clean rooms, immaculate grounds, great service, and buzzing activities (taking place morning, noon and night) make it feel like a well-oiled machine. Sure, it’s crowded, the meat's overcooked, and the rooms and gym are showing some wear, but it's one of Punta Cana’s best deals.

Things You Should Know About Iberostar Dominicana Hotel

Address

  • Playa Bavaro, Punta Cana, DO

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Dominicana Hotel
  • Iberostar Dominica
  • Iberostar Dominicana
  • Iberostar Dominicana Punta Cana
  • Iberostar Punta Cana
  • Punta Cana Iberostar

Room Types

  • Standard Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 590
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Address: Playa Bavaro, Punta Cana, DO
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