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La Romana or Ocho Rios


#1

My gf and I are in a dillema, we found 2 great vacation packages on sale in January but we dont know which one to take. The deadline to choose is tomorrow at noon- thats when my reservation to hold the price will be up. Theres a choice between the new and unopened Riu Ocho Rios and the Casa Del Mar in La Romana. Both seem very attractive. I’ve read so many good things about Casa Del Mar, I dont think I’ve heard any negative reviews yet. The new Riu Ocho Rios will have new facilities, room, beach, etc… but there is no telling how it will be since it hasn’t opened yet, restaurants may not be open yet, construction may still be ongoing… Both are about the same price for a 5 night vacation. Now being that this is a DR board, I expect to hear biased opionions favoring Casa Del Mar, but if you have travelled to Ocho Rios recently, can you give an honest review on which one will you prefer and why. Im taking into consideration both the resort itself, the beach, and the surrounding areas. We’re both in college and like to do outdoor activites such as snorkeling, exploring the town, . I read Casa Del Mar has amazing snorkeling and other outdoor activities. But on the otherhand Ocho Rios has the Dunns River Falls, dolphin shows/touching experience, and the city itself- Ocho Rios for shopping, etc… Can you compare the two? What activities does La Romana offer? Please help! ???


#2

Hey!

You are right that you will get some comments supporting Casa del Mar on this site, but on my part they are honest reviews. You should find a (Jamaican?) board and ask the same question there. You may want to decide what is most important to you and see what is offered at each place. There are a lot of unknowns going into a newly constructed resort. Part of that may be that they are purporting to offer some things that may not be there in the end. We can tell you pretty much surely what you will find at CDM. You could be surprised at Ocho Rios–pleasantly or otherwise.

There are indeed some criticisms out there for CDM. One of those is that it is a bit dated in parts. The hotel was last completely renovated in 1999. Parts of it have been dealt with more recently. Two of the largest blocks of rooms have been redone and new public facilities have been installed by the beach. If you are looking for new and fresh and unsullied, then the new resort may be more your speed. All public washrooms at CDM are clean and attractive. Food is, for the most part, excellent. The snorkeling is fabulous, and it’s unbelievable that it’s that good and right at your doorstep. The entire resort is beautifully laid out. There are 2 spas. The resort offers activities to cover most interests and easily obtained excursions. You can take a tour or a cab into the city of La Romana where you can sightsee, as well as shop. You can walk 10 minutes down the beach to the town of Bayahibe for a meal, a drink, a visit with the locals, or a picturesque walk. That said, if you want marble and ponds and sculptures and fountains, waterfalls and dolphins, you may find CDM lacking. If you want friendly faces, peaceful surroundings, excellent service, unbelievable views, not stop activity, perfect snorkeling, great food, and the calm Caribbean aqua coloured waters, you need look no further than Casa del Mar.

Can you specify what your “must haves” are and we can see if CDM is the place for you?

Kaki


#3

I will say one thing about Jamaica, I will never return no matter how beautiful the resorts, I have been offered a freebie to one and said no thank you. Reason is really one word.

Drugs!

I will say no more!


#4

I have never been to Jamaica and not sure that I would go. But I have been to Casa Del Mar 3 times this year and going back for Christmas. I recommend it highly. You can check out my pics on the link at the bottom of my post over at webshots under username baltobabe.

You are right to wonder about a brand new hotel as far as the service and food, that alone would be enough to make me choose something more tried and true like Casa Del Mar.

I hope you check out my pics, and I have send you a photoshow. Please if you have any questions feel free to ask.

all the best,
baltobabe/mt


#5

Wud,
Not disputing whatsoever what you’re saying because drugs are prevalent in Jamaica but we’ve been there twice and a polite “no thank you” was all it took to deter those dudes.
How long ago were you there? Our last visit was when we got married at Sandals Negril (Dec. '92).


#6

I agree with Wud, I will never return to Jamacia either…


#7

We were looking at Ocho Rios until our Agent pointed out that beach walking is out of the question there. It’s not like in the Dr where you can safely walk off the resort and as far up the beach as you want. She told us you basicly stay on your resort’s section of beach. They even have armed guards at the end of the resort beach section. This was not the type of vacation we were looking for.


#8

I’ve got to tell, the overwhelming ignorance about Jamaica on this forum is ridiculous…especially from people who have never been, and rely on hearsay and gossip to form an opinion.

I’ve been twice. I took just the ordinary precautions…the same ones I would in downtown Toronto. I never felt threatened for my safety, and by treating the local “farmers” with respect, I was never hassled. All you have to say is “no thanks”…if pressed, I just said I had to have drug testing at work, so I had to decline. Or…say your already “hooked up”. I never saw any “farmers” approach any family units, or groups of women, or minors.

As for the craft vendors…they can be aggressive anywhere…Mexico, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the DR.
I know…I’ve been. If you’re so thin-skinned you can’t say no, then stay home where you’ll feel safe.

Sackie…your travel agent is an ignorant tool. She/he has probably never been either.

dominicinco…go to the Jamaican forum of this board for some unbiased answers, or to the tripadvisor forums for Jamaica, or negril.com, or jamaicans.com.

Wud…to write off a beautiful country, and beautiful people because someone might offer you some “weed” is to deny yourself a truly wonderful vacation experience.


#9

I personally have not been to Jamaica but my extremely fussy sister goes every year. She stayed at the RIU Tropical last winter and they left the resort all the time to walk to the shops and the other RIU resorts. If there was anything unsafe or unpleasant about the place, believe me she would not be there. Every place has it’s good points and bad ones. Wud, I am 45 years old and travel with a group of women around the same age and we have been offered weed in the DR on two separate occasions. We were also offered money from some guy if we make him “happy, happy”. You have to take all those things with a grain of salt, if I took your attitude I would never return to the DR again.


#10

I have been to Jamacia twice and will not return…for my own reasons


#11

I have been to Montego Bay and Ocho Rios on separate trips. I found both to be very enjoyable. The armed guards on the property exteriors are for your protection. They keep the undesirables off the property.

Ocho Rios is wonderful with many things to do and see. The water is like a swimming pool and the snorkeling is beautiful. Great shopping and the Dunn’s River Falls (where you can actually climb the falls) was great. Sure, the locals will offer you drugs, but just say no, as the saying goes.

If it was as bad as some people make it out to be they would have no tourism.

To each his own.


#12

Just wanted to let everyone know that we picked…CASA DEL MAR!!
thanks for ALL your input, it really helped us choose! :wink:
We booked 5 nights in mid January, and our package incl. flight out of JFK into Santo Domingo(I know, far from La Romana but it was the cheapest flight in). We were thinking of skipping the shuttle service but I did some checking and the taxis from the airport to the resort cost around $80-90 one way for 2 people. Does anyone know if the the shuttle will make stops at other resorts along the way or is CDM the first one?
Also, what days are partys held at CDM? I read somewhere Wednesday was the beach party but correct me if im wrong.
Looking foward to going and you will see alot more of me on this board. ;D


#13

Good choice Dominic!

It depends on your tour operator whether you will go directly to CDM or stop on the way. If you have other drops, you will likely be the last on the route from SD. I am expecting to meet the same situation. That $85 cab ride is for a car of 5 people usually. You may be able to round up some others who are traveling at the same time and would be willing to share. If you chose to do so, you could even plan to do the cab ride and see if you don’t meet somebody on the plane who would jump at the chance to share with you.

The party nights are USUALLY:

Beach Party on Monday night
Manager’s Cocktail Party on Wednesday night
Pool Party on Thursday night

I have heard of times when that was shaken up and it could, of course, change at any time.

See you there!

Kaki


#14

Dominicinco, Congrats on a great choice. Though I have never flown into Santo Domingo I would imagine there might be some stops before you get to CDM. The things I have read lead me to beleive that they might stop in Boca Chico if they have any guests going to hotels there or anything that might come before CDM.

I have only travelled with Apple and when they fly into LaRomana they usually stop at CDM first and then go to IBHD which are 2 of the resorts that they book at Apple on the south coast any how that has how it has been when I have gone down.

However it works out you are going to have a blast! When are you going in January? Ms Kaki from the boards here is going to be there then! What fun!

all the best,
baltobabe/mt


#15

thanks Kaki and Balto, I heard both of you are known as the CDM Duo or so0mething of that sort. :slight_smile: I cant wait to go, im looking forward this trip more so than my family trips next month and in December. I’ll be there from Jan 11-16, Wed to Monday afternoon. I was kind of bummed out when I heard the beach party is on Mondays. Not that the whole trip is based on this party but it sounds like a lot of fun and I dont want to miss any partys. Oh well, im sure there will be other things to do…like snorkeling- do you have to bring your own snorkeling gear or does the resort provide it? would it be a good idea to bring water shoes?
and speaking of partys, are there any dance clubs at the resort?
By the way, we booked thru cheapcaribbean.com, if you know what the airport-hotel transfer setup is for them please post.


#16

Hi again!

Yeah, BB and I are quite a team!

You can get snorkeling equipment from the hut on the beach. You can only take it for a limited time each day, and it’s subject to availability. If you are keen on going snorkeling every day, you’d be well advised to get your own snorkel and mask. I like the fit of my mask and I like relying on my own standards of cleanliness for the snorkel that’s going in my mouth! You can borrow from the resort and go and clean it yourself, but then you are cutting into your time. You don’t NEED fins but since last year I bought my own. I decided that I like it better with them. Same thing with water shoes. In no way do you need them, but I’m a bit of a wuss that way and prefer to snorkel with them. You never know what you might stand down on.

There is a disco at CDM but its activity level is based on who is in residence at the time! The animation team will get it started every night but there is no guarantee how happening it will be. You can easily get a fun 45 minutes out of it anyway.

On Friday night you may want to check out the bigger disco in Bayahibe. Guests, hotel staff and local residents gather at a place called Big Sur. Make sure you have return transportation arranged before you embark on that. Once you get directions, you can walk there along the beach. Keep an eye on your drink. What am I saying! You’re from NY, so you know how to take care of yourself!

Maybe we can get them to throw us a special party on the weekend since you will miss the Beach party!!

Who is your tour operator? That may be more telling regarding a transfer.

Kaki


#17

just read this thread and can’t believe people would stay away from one of the most beautiful islands in the carribean because of pot.Am i the only one on this forum that has been offered pot in the d.r.?I have been offered it in punta cana and puerto plata,and cocaine in puerto plata by one of the “safe excursion” vendors.Jamaica does have it’s problems but so does dominican republic!!


#18

No dwynlo you are not the only one. In my post above I stated that I have been offer pot twice, once in Sousa and once in Cabarate.


#19

Am i the only one on this forum that has been offered pot in the d.r.?

I agree with the above…
drugs are everywhere…and to rule out Jamaica due to the potential of being offered is insane.
I have been approached in Boca Chica, Peurto Plata, Punta Cana, La Romana,
Santo Domingo, Bahamas, and Cuba…
Why, I can even go downtown Ottawa, and get whatever drug I want ( not that I do…)…
Does this keep me away from travelling…because some guy trying to make some money wants to sell me drugs?
Not at all…


#20

Im not too worried about getting offered drugs, that wasn’t even a consideration when I decided to go with La Romana. But to some people drugs matter and they might even base their trip on which country offers better drugs(coughJamaica) :wink: Fact is, drugs are all around us and we are all adults and know the consequences of buying & smoking that stuff.

I’ll be going travelling thru Inter Island Tours, I belive they handle the transfers. Do you know which hotels they stop by?