Our experience with the staff at Dreams Punta Cana is a mixed bag. We had great service, bad service, and very little in between. (Comparatively, the service at Beaches Turks and Caicos is consistently excellent.)
This is a Spanish-speaking staff with varying degrees of English fluency. We thought many workers seemed dazed or distracted, maybe as a result of switching between languages. Some staffers were delighted that we could communicate with them in Spanish, but others seems unfriendly no matter what. Whether you speak Spanish or not, it is customary to open a conversation with "Hola!" A little bit of politeness goes a long way.
Tipping at the resort is pretty common (but not expected). It might be a way that guests deal with a language barrier. For example, we met a couple from Ohio who wanted to take their young children to the resort's hibachi restaurant (for ages 10 and up). They offered the hostess $10 to ignore the age restriction.
Despite gratuities being "included," we never saw a tip rejected at Dreams. On the other hand, the no-tipping policy at Beaches is the real deal (we never saw a worker accept a tip).
The check-in process was long, and in hindsight, it felt like an extended sales pitch. (We were actually invited to a true extended pitch over breakfast the next day, but we declined.) After hearing about all the ways we could purchase additional services at the resort, we finally retired to our room. Then the phone rang. "I forgot to tell you, don't drink the tap water or brush your teeth with it,” the concierge told us. This was critical information because no cautions appear in the room.
Our housekeeper was friendly and did a good job cleaning our room, but she rarely came at the hour we specified during check in. Turn down service was unpredictable. One time we received a knock on the door at 10:15 p.m. (we had already gone to bed). Our minibar was well stocked for most of the trip, which was important, because the tap water in rooms is not drinkable.
We used our "Do Not Disturb" sign and door chain liberally after a member of the hotel staff opened our door without knocking (while we were in various states of undress). We didn't expect any sinister motives on her part (she was inquiring about fumigation services), but it's unacceptable to enter without knocking.
We made two phone calls to the concierge, hours apart, and both went unanswered. We were calling to request feather pillows from the "pillow menu." Then we dropped by the preferred lounge to see the concierge in person. He was a young guy who seemed to be on the phone with a friend. He covered the phone receiver and asked what we needed, and when we said "pillows," he told us that we had to call him for that. We got our pillows that evening when his shift at the desk ended.
The servers at the adults-only restaurant, Bordeaux, were excellent.
On the other hand, the servers at the resort's steakhouse, Seaside Grill, seemed like they were trying to ignore us. We didn't receive bread or water like every other table had. When we asked for those things, a server partially filled our water glasses, got distracted, and never returned.
We had consistently good service at the resort's buffet, the World Cafe. One server named Estrella was particularly friendly and attentive. We also had prompt, friendly service at Oceana, the resort's seafood restaurant.
Portofino, the Italian restaurant, had painfully slow food service and we felt abandoned. The other Italian restaurant, La Trattoria, also had slow food service, but the servers (Ydellonso and Leonardo) entertained us with drinks and good conversation.
The waitstaff on the beach never asked us if we wanted a drink or even made eye contact with us. This was disappointing.
The bartenders at Dreams have one of the hardest jobs on the resort, memorizing complicated orders, mixing several drinks at once and keeping track of patrons. Every bartender we met was professional and competent. Carlos at the Sugar Reef Bar was particularly impressive because he had a fun-loving demeanor and he never became overwhelmed, even when someone broke a glass or when he had to run to get more limes for the bar.
The maître d's at the World Cafe are some of the friendliest people we met at the resort. The maître d's at the other restaurants were sometimes friendly, but not always helpful, because they wouldn't estimate how long it would take for us to be seated. (It took 20-30 minutes on average.)
The resort has a strange (albeit, useful) quirk: Maître d's dispense mandatory hand sanitizer to guests upon entering a restaurant.
The evening barista at the Coco Cafe (open 24 hours) is super-friendly and she makes great espresso drinks. We wish that we had asked her name.
Kid's Club Counselors
Our daughter loved the counselors at the Explorer's Club and we found them to be kind and delightful young women. Some of the counselors spoke English wonderfully, but others seemed reserved around parents who didn't speak Spanish.
We took Salsa, Bachata and Merengue lessons with "Baby Face" as well as daily beach aerobics. He was a fun teacher and he remember our names. Daniel led yoga classes and always said hello when he spotted us around the resort. The activities at Dreams Punta Cana are one of the main reasons why the resort is so much fun.
Butler and Spa Service
We didn't pay the $35 surcharge for butler service, so we can't comment on it. Our daughter had her hair braided by a spa worker (also an extra charge), but we had some frustrations with this service. We arrived at the spa kiosk at 9 a.m. opening time, but no one arrived until 10 a.m.