The Samana peninsula offers a very wide selection of accommodations ranging from small privately run hotels to large luxury all inclusive resorts. The hotels vary in location, size and facilities, from deluxe, offering room service, sports, swimming pools, to fairly simple ones.
You can choose often between package deals galore, and they are most of the time cheaper than the “rack rates.” (A rack rate is what an individual pays if he or she literally walks in from the street) It can be wise to be advised by a reliable travel agent to find out what is available in the way of package-deals before booking a certain accommodation. Or check the internet and browse through the Tripadvisor site.
There is no rigid rating of hotel properties in Samana. The label “deluxe” is more than once used (or misused) when “first class” might have been a more appropriate term. “First class” itself often isn’t. However, even in the deluxe and first-class resorts and hotels, don’t expect top-rate service and efficiency like in a Hyatt or Ritz-Carlton. When you go to turn on the shower, sometimes you get water and sometimes you don’t. You may even experience power failures. This still is the Caribbean.
The winter season in the Caribbean and Samana too runs roughly from the middle of December to the middle of April, and hotels charge their highest prices during this peak period. Winter is generally the dry season on the peninsula, but there can be occasionally rainfall regardless of the time of year. During the winter months, make reservations some months in advance if you can. Especially if you want to travel over Christmas or in February, you can’t book early enough.
Before booking, ask detailed questions. Specify your likes and dislikes. There are several logistics of getting the right room in a hotel. Generally, back or garden rooms cost less than beachfront rooms, and lower floors are less expensive than the upper-floor rooms.
The off season in Samana — roughly from mid-April to mid-December (although this can vary) — amounts to a sale. In most cases, hotel rates are slashed a startling 20% to 40%. It’s a real bonanza for the cost-conscious traveler. For families who can travel during the summer period, this can be the time to spend less. But be prepared for strong sun, though, plus the risk of a higher chance of rain. Also, note that the hurricane season runs from the 21st of June to fall. Although Samana rarely is affected by hurricanes like the Bahamas or Florida are.
MAP versus. AP, Or Do You Like to Go EP?
All Samana hotels offer a European Plan (EP) rate, which means that you just pay for the price of the room. That will leave you completely free to dine around at night at other places or restaurants without restriction. Another plan preferred by many is the Continental Plan (CP), which means you get a continental breakfast of juice, coffee, some croissants, and marmalade included in a set price. This plan is popular by those who don’t like to look around for a place to have breakfast.
Another major option is the Modified American Plan (MAP), which includes breakfast and one main meal, either lunch or dinner. The final choice is the American Plan (AP), which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most resorts will save you money by booking on either the MAP or AP because discounts are granted.
Before booking a room, check with a good travel agent or investigate on your own what you are likely to save by booking on a specific dining plan. Under certain circumstances in winter, you might not have a choice if MAP is dictated as a requirement for staying there. It pays to check before and investigate.
Before booking, ask detailed questions. Specify your likes and dislikes. There are several logistics of getting the right room in a hotel. Generally, back or garden rooms cost less than beachfront rooms, and lower floors are less expensive than the upper-floor rooms. If budget is a major consideration, opt for the cheaper rooms. You won’t have a great view on the beach, but you’ll save your money for something else.
All first-class or deluxe resorts and hotels feature air-conditioning. Many Samana hotels, however, do not. Cooling can be by ceiling fans or, in more modest places, the breeze from opening windows! But this can bring mosquitoes. If sleeping in a climate-controlled environment is a must during your stay, check this out in advance with the hotel.
If you’re being your own travel agent, it pays to shop around by calling or emailing the hotel you want to go to. You can check online or call a travel agent to see where you can obtain the best pricing.
Another tip: Ask if you can get an upgrade or a free night's stay if you stay an extra couple of days. If you're traveling during the ``shoulder`` periods (between low and high season), yit is not uncommon to get a substantial reduction by delaying your travel plans by a week or 10 days. For example, a $275 room booked on April 11 might be lowered to $165 by April 18, as mid-April marks the beginning of the low season in Samana.
Transfers from the airports or the cruise dock are included in some hotel bookings, most often in a package plan but usually not in ordinary bookings. Always make sure whether transfers (which can be quite expensive) are included or not.
Make sure that you know exactly what facilities in your resort are free and what costs money. For example, swimming in the pool is always free, but you might be charged for use of a tennis court. Nearly all water sports cost extra unless you’re booked on some special plan such as a scuba package.
Some hotels are right on the beach. Others involve transfers to the beach by taxi or bus, so factor in transportation costs, which can mount quickly if you stay 5 days to a week.
The All-Inclusive resort
A hugely popular option in the Dominican Republic is the all-inclusive-resort hotel concept. Most of them are in Punta Cana. At these resorts, everything is included. You get your room and all meals, plus entertainment and many watersports. In Samana, there are also some fine, beachfront, all inclusive resorts.
Rental Villas & Vacation Homes
You might rent a big beachfront villa, a good-sized apartment in someone’s condo, or even a smaller Caribbean style cottage with a thatched roof.
Renting private villas is extremely popular with families in Las Terrenas.
Particularly if you’re a family or a group of friends, a “housekeeping holiday” can be one of the least expensive ways to vacation in the Caribbean. If you like privacy and independence, it’s a very good way to go. The best way is to opt for private homes that owners rent out while they’re away. Many places include maid service, and you’re given fresh linens as well.
In the more basic rentals, doing your own cooking and laundry or even your own maid service may not be your idea of a vacation in the sun. But it saves money — a lot of money. The savings, especially for a family of three to six people, or two or three couples, can be 50% of what a hotel would cost. The price of groceries is mostly higher than in the U.S.A. as nearly all foodstuffs have to be imported.
Especially in Las Terrenas here are quite lavish homes for rent. Prime beachfront setting for up to 20 people is absolutely no problem.
Many villas do have a staff or at least a maid who comes in a few days a week, and they also provide the essentials for home life, including linens and housewares. Condos usually come with a reception and are comparable to a suite in a big resort hotel. All of the better condo complexes have pools. Like condos, villas range widely in price and may begin at $700 per week for a modest one and go over $5,000 a week for a luxurious one.