It's been a few weeks since returning from NOW Larimar and time to write the review. First off we ended up at NOW Larimar in Punta Cana as a last minute change from Playa del Carmen due to hurricane/tropical storm. By way of background this trip was our 4th in six years to AMR properties and our seventh to an "All Inclusive" so I will hope this will put things in some perspective. Second trip to DR others to Playa del Carmen area in Mexico. Profile Family 5, kids 8-12 yrs age, mom dad young 40's but act like teenagers sometime.
First off NOW is a relatively young brand and AMR Resorts has only recently (in terms of few weeks) taken over full management responsibilities of this property from NH Real. So when you're reading reviews from even a month or so ago recognize there will likely be changes and I would suspect those changes will be for the better. My understanding is AMR will manage the property in a more western style whereas NH Real handle in a more european one. On our trip we had several nice visits and meals with upper level management of the resort and found there position on the transition from NH Real to AMR will result. It is from those conversations/meals that I can report some of those "changes".
First. The grounds of this resort are fantastic. Easily one of the prettiest interior courtyard/pool area of any AI we've been to. Beach is fantastic. Bavarro Beach is beautiful and NOW Larimar is no exception. For those that complain about some seagrass wahing up onto the beach....stay in the pool, it's the ocean, somedays there is more than others and mother nature is in control. I can tell you AMR management has hired a new beach crew that will clean the beach in the pre-dawn hours and use a tractor to "screen" the sand vs. prior practice of men with rakes and wheelbarrows. Wheelbarrows will still be used to haul grass off beach. Seagrass at this resort is no worse than any other resort we've been to.
Room. Rooms in this resort are adequate to nice. I think it depends on the building. We stayed in a preferred club regular room a few nights then moved to on of the end suites. Both had the same bedding that was average but again plenty nice. I expect linens and bedding are on the upgrade list but don't have a timeline. AMR has introduce a dream bed concept and it is available at the Secrets next door so management recognizes this may be an issue for some. Secondly our two rooms mattresses were different, one a bit harder than the other, both were firm. Again not unlike every other AI we've been to. Flat panel TV's in all rooms is a nice touch. Some rooms have clocks some don't. Both our room needed more wastebaskets. Bathroom in the end suites are fantastic. Tubs on balcony are a nice touch but we did have some maintenance issues (broken shower head/faucet). In all I have been in "nicer" rooms as well as some that weren't as nice. For us the rooms were adequate and the end cap quite was fantastic. We did have two issues with our in room safe when we moved (dead batteries in them) One call to maintenance and 20 min later fixed (nice job).
Food. How to review food. Had some wonderful things. Had some things I didn't like. Culturally and based upon supply the food in the Dominican is different than in Playa/Cancun Mexico. You are traveling expect that. Dominican menus rely more heavily on caribbean vegetables like plantains/squashes vs. cancus that's a days drive from the US salad bar growing region so Mexico tends to have better western style cold vegetable salads than the DR but this is a supply issue more than anything. There is still a salad bar at NOW that is good. We did do the lobster dinner and it was fantastic. Treat yourself and do that. Buffet hit all the marks of a Dreams/Secrets buffet and even during the week we were there changed for the better. In conversations with the new Food and Beverage manager there will be continued improvements and I suspect will mirror the Dreams/Secrets AMR style more so in future. We ate at the Japanese steakhouse on night...food tasted like ours at home, chefs tried to put on show and the kids liked it. Italian restaurant was great (try the steak dish) and my kids liked the pasta. One thing to note especially if you are traveling with kids. In the specialty restaurants if your kids want something from the buffet (nuggets, plain spaghetti, etc.) just ask the waitstaff, be pleasant and they will do there best to accomodate. Did not eat at the French restaurant. Blue water grill was great as well. In short the food is different than home. Service in the specialty restaurants is great. Sevice in buffet area is not....but it's a buffet get up and get it yourself.
Pool, pool bar etc. Great. If you can't have fun in a pool with a swimup bar then stay home. Preferred club pool was nice retreat especially for us to go to with kids as day wore on and no kid having bar patrons BAC's climbed, but again this is normal and by no means a problem. If we weren't in preferred club we could have also moved within main pool and been plenty insulated if we felt we needed to....then again mom and dad would have had a longer walk to the bar.
Preferred Club. Great lounge in main lobby. Need to have second lounge out in Preferred club building with few computers, limited bar, food etc. When we were there no (free) wifi in Preferred Club rooms, not acceptable, as this is brand standard for AMR. I was assured by new resort manager this a priority project as part of the changeover and will be a welcome change. If I were traveling without kids I would seriously consider Preferred Club for the two private pools as they tended to be quiet retreats during the day. Please note those pools though are not adults only so it is possible kids may be there with less than adequate supervision. If you want no kids, go to an adults only resort.
Shows. Same as other AI's cruise ships, etc. Can be a nice diversion if you're in the mood. Magician one night was outstanding. Not vegas, so stop complaining. Entertainment teams works hard all day. They do a nice job with the shows.
Some highlights of our trip/resort. 1) town square layout specialty restaurants is awesome. It permits you to meander around while waiting for dinner, grab a drink, listen to some music and I think brings alot of energy to the resort. Cool design. 2) Main lobby bar, Air Conditioned and one of the neatest of any AI we've been to. Especially cool when they set up one man band playing merange music. Staff here was great. 3) Sports bar. Cool touch to have a place to watch a game. Love the concept, few suggestions to make it even better: put a TV behind the bar so patrons sitting at bar can watch the game without turning around and if possible maybe a light bar snacks menu (nachos, slider burgers, chicken wings etc.). The attached bowling alley is cool but maybe sell a "weeks pass" for families if charge at all?
Room service - spotty. breakfast was great. dinner one night - fair. Delivery time, so-so. If you want your vacation highlight to be room service, go somewhere else. If you'd like a nice omlett and fruit brought to your room one morning because you have a headache from the night before it'll feel like you're in the Ritz.
Staff. Staff provide the heart and soul of any resort. In the DR the people generally are very friendly. Staff here are no exception. When customers have a "bad experience" with a staff member more times than not some fault lies with the customer. Talk to the staff like they are people....raising your hand and yelling at the waiter for a drink when the bar or water dispenser if 15 ft away from you is rude and irritating in any culture. Act that way and you will get the appropriate response. Talk to the staff about there families, wish them a good morning/evening and ask them how there day is going and you won't need to get up to refill your water. Tipping improves service, this shouldn't be a suprise. Don't complain if the guy who tips the bartenders $10 bucks a day gets his drinks faster than the person who doesn't, in the end the non-tipper will still get there drinks. Tipping is no different than any other AI resort out there. It is always important to point out staff members who make a vacation special. In our trip there were several who stand out. First and foremost, Marcileno (sp?) in the Preferred Club make our vacation special. Friendly, caring and genuinely concerned...in the hospitality business what more can you ask for, I expect under his leadership the preferred club will continue to deliver and exceed expectations. Mr. Blacky taking time to throw a ball and goof around with our kids is a little thing but very nice touch. Erme our waiter, nice job.
Did step foot in Casino, nightclub. Did use "spa" and had massage, it was ok. Main spa under renovation so I will hold judgment there.
All in all great trip, made special by Marcilleno and his crew. If I return to the DR with the family we'll return to NOW and see how AMR has improved things as I'm sure they will.
Forgive the typos and mispelled words as I'm late for work and don't have time to proof.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Step into the breathtaking Now Larimar Punta Cana and enjoy a wristband-free, excitement-filled getaway. Far from life's demands. Back to its simple pleasures. Where sophistication meets understated. And the kids have as much fun as the grown-ups. Located on over 700 yards of picturesque palm-studded white sand beach on the majestic turquoise Caribbean Sea in Playa Bavaro, Now Larimar offers all of the privileges of an Unlimited-Luxury(R) escape in an exquisite seaside setting. Savor every moment with deluxe accommodations, reservation-free gourmet restaurants, premium cocktails, pampering in our world-class Spa, endless daytime and nighttime activities and much much more. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Now Larimar Hotel Punta Cana
- Nh Hotels Punta Cana
- Nh Hotel Punta Cana
- Edenh Real Arena
- Edenh Real Punta Cana
- Edenh Punta Cana