Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Crown Village Suites has a mellow atmosphere, but its time-share sales team may be too aggressive for some guests.
The vibe at the Crown Suites at Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort is a lot calmer than that at the resort's sister property, the more carefree Tropical. Being a condo-resort-style property, it primarily draws time-share-swappers from Canada (and occasionally the United States), families from Latin America, and middle-aged couples from Western Europe. There were mostly quiet, mature couples at the pool and at dinner. Only three kids played quietly in the pool area.
But the hotel tries to make its money on time-shares -- the Lifestyles sales team is notoriously aggressive with their nonstop sales pitches. At every two steps guests are reminded that their experience would be so much better if they were a VIP club member. They get personal golf carts, better booze, a private beach, and top priority at the à la carte restaurants.
Since the Lifestyle property is rather large, there is a complimentary shuttle service available 24/7. VIP members are allowed to drive themselves around in their golf carts.
The resort is in Cofresi, a sleepy town 35 minutes from the airport. Nearby, Ocean World is a popular adventure park.
The Lifestyles resort is located in the small town of Cofresi, a 35-minute westbound taxi ride from the airport.
Cofresi is a sleepy town with little beyond a smattering of hotels, the expansive (though less pristine) Cofresi Beach, and the Ocean World adventure park, one of the north coast's most popular tourist destinations, mostly because you can swim with dolphins. Otherwise, the area is a mostly barren stretch of low-rise time-shares and small public greens that host the occasional stickball contest. Though a casino and the Canadian-owned Chris & Mady's restaurant draw sizable crowds, a relative lack of activity drives nightlife-seeking tourists 15 minutes east to Puerto Plata and the gated mini-city Playa Dorada.
The beach is tiny and the sand is coarse, leading most guests to lounge in a separate walled-in area.
The Crowne Suites is located in the middle of the entire Lifestyle Holidays property, so it is the farthest from the beach -- about a ten minute walk. But guests do have four stretches of sand to choose from: the Harmony Beach, Serenity Beach, VIP Beach, and the NV Beach at the adjacent Cofresi Palm property. The first two, as their names suggest, are known for being the quieter locales, while the other two are more party-centric.
Unfortunately, the beach closest to the Crowne Suites is a bit of a let-down. The sand is a bit coarser than that at most Dominican resorts and many guests -- and most of the lounge chairs -- are a few steps up from the beach in an elevated, walled-in area.
Every suite is about twice the size of a typical New York apartment and every bit as stylish. There's a living room, dining area, kitchenette, spacious bathroom, and large bedroom with good closet space (a rarity in the Caribbean). The floor was a cool white marble, and the gauzy curtains and beige linen furniture further bolstered the modern, minimalist décor. But the walls are thin -- be prepared to get to know your neighbors. The junior and presidential suites are by far the post stylish, featuring newer furniture than their fellows.
Much to guests delight, housekeeping sprinkles flower petals over the towel swan on beds upon arrival, as well as every possible towel surface in the bathroom. There is something quite endearing and sweet about the simple smiley face they made with hibiscus petals and an extra hand towel. The walk-in shower is large and semiopen, in keeping with the minimalist décor. In the morning, the water has full pressure and is plenty hot. But in the afternoon, the water was only a little above lukewarm. With no shower door to trap the steam, guests are left shivering.
The least modern feature of the suite is the 19-inch Samsung television. Thankfully, it had lots of English-language channels, including HBO and the network's New York affiliates. Also, a key in-room feature is the mini-fridge filled with Dasani water, Coke, Sprite, and Presidente beer.
The resort has its own private pool, which is the only feature it doesn't share with the The Tropical resort. The pool here is smaller and much quieter than the main pool at The Tropical, and it also has a Jacuzzi. It's easy to read a book in peace while a couple of kids play with the giant chess set, or while other guests enjoy using the floats stacked up near the steps. In short, it's pretty boring, and really no different from a Florida condo complex.
The resort shares its other features with The Tropical resort. This includes the resort's main pool area (also pretty mellow), an attractive, full-service spa, and a fitness room filled with dated equipment.
Overall both the property and the rooms are quite clean. There are a few small blemishes here and there, including stains on the mirror and a small stain on the couch cushion, but nothing major that would affect guests' stay. Throughout the property, men were cleaning and sweeping the sidewalks -- even in the rain! At meals, an army of attendants whisked plates away in a timely fashion.
Casa Blanca, the main buffet restaurant, is across the property and shared with the less expensive, The Tropical. For lunch, they even have the Dominican national dish, rice and beans (a profound rarity in the D.R. resorts). Chefs seem to be constantly checking the food for freshness and bringing out hot dishes to add to the pans. This is a big improvement from most all-inclusive buffets.
Like many all-inclusives, the resort has a strict reservation policy for its à la carte restaurants -- Trapiche (Tex-Mex), The Blue Lagoon (Caribbean/seafood), Indochine (Asian fusion), and Bellini (Italian). Occasionally, certain restaurants are only open to VIP Club members (time-share owners). In addition, the "Gourmet" restaurant is exclusive to members and their guests. Food is decent, with Bellini tending to be the favorite among guests.
Simple, low-hassle weddings, but the food is pricey (especially considering the quality of what you get) and the reception and ceremony are both in full view of other resort guests
Honeymoon Suite: Most couples get upgraded to a Junior Suite for free.
Airport Transportation: The hotel does not provide transportation; guests will have to take a 30 minute taxi to the resort.
This is a slightly quieter, time-share-focused upgrade on the The Tropical at Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort, but it's a long walk from the beach closest to the resort and most activities. All rooms are similar to one-bedroom condos each with a kitchenette, living room, and private bedroom. Still, paying more for a kitchen in an all-inclusive just doesn't make sense.