$19 PP a Day for an All-Inclusive Hotel. Does It Go Better Than That?

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Yes. Last year I paid $12. Devaluations suck 🙂

Every year for the last 5 years or so, I’ve scheduled a week at an all-inclusive resort. It has become a tradition of sorts. There is something about lying by the pool or at the beach with a drink in your hand doing nothing. Agreed?

So for the second time, my cousin Timmy and I are staying at Lifestyle Tropical Vacation Club all-inclusive resort in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. As one would expect, all food, drinks (including top-shelf at one locale) and non-motorized sports are included in our stay. Although, we are paying $3 extra for using the key for our safe. Well, there is tipping, too. We tip. Some folks don’t, but I doubt that the servers will go to extra trouble of watering down your drinks if you belong to the latter category.

The best part is, it costs us $19 per person per night. Try to beat that!

The grounds are absolutely gorgeous, and the staff is all smiles. Travel doesn’t get any more budget than that, no matter how hard you try and where you look. You simply cannot get that much for this little anywhere in the world. OK, I’ll admit, I haven’t been everywhere in the world, but I have been hunting down travel deals for close to 20 years. I’d like to believe I would’ve heard.

OK, I know what you might be thinking. But before you rush to accuse me of writing an advertising copy for these guys, please read the following.

FULL DISCLOSURE:

  • I have not been paid or otherwise compensated in any way, shape, and form by Lifestyle or anyone else to write this article.
  • I have not been asked, expressly or otherwise, by anyone to write this article.
  • I have never introduced myself as a travel writer, blogger, etc. to anyone from Lifestyle or any other person or organization representing or associated with Lifestyle.
  • For all goals and purposes, these guys have no idea that I even exist.
  • The only reason I’m writing this article, is that I believe it might benefit you, the readers.

Phew! Glad we’ve had it out of the way. Let’s talk some pros and cons, shall we?

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What’s Not So Good About This Resort

Well, they don’t have these rates all year-long, and as far as I know, they don’t have them right now.

Why Is It Still Good

They have these sales several times a year, usually through their partner, Cheap Caribbean, but also via Groupon and Living Social. I believe they give the cheapest rates to Cheap Caribbean. Join Cheap Caribbean email list, or sign up for Travelzoo weekly newsletter. Every time they’re running these sales, Travelzoo has always picked up on it, at least in the last three years. The cheapest I’ve seen was $12 PP, and the most expensive was $29.

What’s Not So Good

The resort is located on the North Coast of the DR. That means it’s sitting on the Atlantic Coast, not crystal clear Azul Caribbean Sea waters. Furthermore, it’s not located directly in Puerto Plata, but in Cofresi, a quiet township, next to the Sea World. Cofresi beach, while not bad, is not really breathtaking.

Why Is It Still Good

The North Coast of the DR isn’t called Costa Verde for nothing. Ocean views are still beautiful, when the hot Caribbean Sun is shining in full swing.

What’s Not So Good

They sell timeshare. You probably figured it out when you saw the price. And they train their people to be aggressive about it. They will call it different names. A “tour of the resort”. A “welcome package”. A “ride to breakfast” (not kidding!). The only word you will not hear is the “timeshare”, and yet, this is exactly what it is all about.

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Why Is It Still Good

Because you don’t have to attend the presentation, no matter what they tell you and what they call it. And when I say aggressive, it’s not grab-your-arm-aggressive. Smile, say you’re not interested, and off you go.

What’s Not So Good

The food is bland. Don’t go if you are a foodie. Don’t come even if you’re simply picky. Seriously! People do complain about the food at the resort all the time.

Why Is It Still Good

I have no idea why people complain so much and what they expect from an All-Inclusive. I have never been to an AI that would serve gourmet food. Of course, I’m a budget traveler, so I have never been to really fancy AIs that command premium prices. In my opinion, the food at Lifestyle is just fine. I have always been able to find something I liked. Again, not a gourmet, so YMMV.

What’s Not So Good

One thing people love to hate about this place is the cast system employed by the resort. Regular guests of the hotel receive limited access—limited compared to their VIP customers, such as buyers of their timeshare packages (called VIP and shareholders). Regular guests can’t access some beaches, some pools, and some restaurants. That cast system, which never gets clearly explained to regular guests before they arrive, creates all kinds of confusions. Anyone would and does get annoyed when they are turned away from entering some areas that are “reserved for VIP guests only”. I don’t have any idea why the resort management does not clearly disclose this information beforehand. I think they hurt themselves with this approach.

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Why Is It Still Good

Because, what you do get an access to is still more than enough! This resort is HUGE! It encompasses five separate areas. You have access to two beaches, 12 pools, 12 restaurants and 14 bars. So you don’t have access to all the amenities. So what? For this price, it’s easy to forget these “exclusive” amenities even exist.

What’s Not So Good

We have come to this place twice, and both times gotten upgraded to a junior suite, but there is no way to guarantee that you’ll also be so lucky.

Why Is It Still Good

I can’t imagine a room that wouldn’t be worth $12, $19 or even $29 per person per night with an all-inclusive package. Gee, if you do get a room that’s truly horrible, rent a nearby hotel for $30-40 a day, and you’re still coming ahead.

How to Get There on Miles

We flew on JetBlue for 27,500 points each. Last year we used 20,000 Avios to get on AA to Santiago, and then it was a $100, 2hr uncomfortable ride to the resort. This time we couldn’t find a direct flight even to Santiago, let alone Puerto Plata, so JetBlue it was. Since I didn’t have any True Blue points, I transferred Amex MR points to JetBlue and got two direct tickets to Puerto Plata. That was not the best use of MR points, but it worked for me. Pleasant flight, short and much cheaper taxi ride, and I like JetBlue coach seat better than any other domestic carrier, bar NONE.  Then again, I haven’t flown Virgin America yet that everyone is raving about.

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Conclusion

Yes, they hope to sell you a timeshare. However, they do not require you to attend a presentation, and they offer you up to a one week stay. I believe, this offer is amazingly generous, because they could give less and still get away with it for the price. The access to the VIP beach with curtained beds, Jacuzzis and top-shelf alcohol is especially valuable since all moderately-priced all-inclusive resorts limit alcohol to house brands. They also run two humongous parties every Thursday and Sunday, which are open to all guests, as well.

I think their regular all-inclusive rates are about $75 PP. Would I pay this to be at that resort? Probably not. Food is not my concern, but I do love my ocean clear Caribbean blue. However, at the price-range above, this is an unbeatable value. If you’re at all interested in all-inclusive resorts, I strongly recommend grabbing this deal when it comes along, because no good thing lasts forever.

Questions? Shoot.

 

 

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Brad

Hello Andy, thanks for that very practical review of this resort. We are going to check it out in Feburary,break up the Ny winter..What suggestions would you have for transportation from resort back to santiago airport? Should we go through the resort or find another economical way? thanks for any tips!!! Brad

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