I read many reviews of the Paradisus on the Internet and was prepared for much less than we found. We flew roundtrip from Newark to Punta Cana on a USA 3000 charter flight and were very pleased. Our trip was arranged through Apple Vacations so we were prepared for the "forever" trip from the airport to the hotel which never materialized. It took us 25 minutes with only one stop at another hotel before getting to the Paradisus which was great since we didn't arrive in Punta Cana until 10pm. However, our return trip was nearly 2 hours with many stops and one return stop because someone wasn't ready at their appointed time. Our flight was scheduled to depart Punta Cana at 10:50pm and was very prompt ... we had left the hotel at 7:45pm. Next time, I think we will take a cab to the airport.
First to the accommodations ... we were located on the first floor of building number 9 which is near the pool but has a view of the ocean. All the rooms at the Paradisus are split-level suites with either a patio or a balcony. Our room was immaculate and the maid service very good albeit irregular in timing (anywhere from 10am to 6pm but most of the time around noon). We left a few dollars every day and had no problems at all with the service ... clean towels every day even when we didn't need them (we usually hung our bath towels on the back of the door and would not have required clean towels but every other day), bottled water delivered by the case, and fresh flowers most every day. We were pleasantly surprised to find a coffee maker and coffee in our room (we had taken instant from home with a heating coil and coffee cups). The water pressure for the shower was better than many we have seen and nothing to complain about.
Second the food and dining reservations ... we learned from the reviews to try to make our dinner reservations before we left. I started by emailing and got all emails returned saying the mail box was full, so I faxed the dates, times and restaurants we wanted but never heard back. I then called and refaxed the information but again, never heard a word back. However, when we went to the restaurant reservation desk the day after our arrival, all the reservations we had requested and the times within 30 minutes of what we had requested were waiting for us.
We ate at the Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Grill, and Romantico restaurants as well as lunch at the Hibiscus buffet and were very pleased with most of them. I think we were most disappointed with the Japanese and the Italian. The Japanese restaurant is a hibachi style where we sat with eight others around a grill. The "chef" never once smiled or interacted with anyone and the food was average. In the Italian restaurant, we tried to order a rare steak (we had no problem with that at Romantico). On the third try, my husband gave up. I will however, give them an A for effort and politeness. The Romantico and the Chinese restaurants had excellent food and service, and the Grill had superb seafood which you select raw prior to going to your table and is then cooked for you.
We stayed away from fresh vegetables and fruit as well as from tap water and had no problems with any illness. The water served at the tables in the restaurants as well as the ice in bar drinks were all fine to drink and NOT tap water. The wine list was one of the best we had seen for an all-inclusive resort and the bars stocked a relatively wide range of brand-name liquors, unlike other places we had been that seemed to have "resort-named", watered down liquors.
As for things to do ... there are tennis courts (bring your racquets), a spa and many water sports including scuba diving which the staff will teach you if you have never done it before. There are also off-site tours which you can arrange.
If there was anything to criticize, it was the transportation from the main hotel lobby to the pool and rooms. It was very spotty ... at times we had to wait nearly a half an hour for a train to come. We had learned a few phrases and words in Spanish and only had a few problems with communications but nothing we couldn't overcome.
The grounds were immaculate and worked on daily. The pool we were told had been retiled since last year and was beautiful. We spoke with several couples who had been to the Paradisus in past years and they all commented on the quantity of staff being less than in previous years. This was attributed to September 11th and the fact that the Paradisus along with other resorts in other areas had suffered a great deal during the October - December time period. The beach was spectacular and cleaned daily. The water was quite rough while we were there but you could still swim.
The ages of the folks there ranged from a few teens to folks in their 70's and possibly older. There were many young couples also as well as families. The clientele were from all over .... many from Germany, France and South America as well as from the USA.