Understanding Apple’s Hotel Rating System

When you are looking for the right hotel on AppleVacations.com, you will notice we use our own ratings system as a guide to the hotels we sell, in an effort to give our customers as much information as possible to make the best hotel choice. I will often get asked, “What is the difference between a 2 Apple hotel and a 6 Apple hotel? What is a “Red” Apple versus a “Golden” Apple? What does a + sign mean? How do I know which is the best hotel for my needs?”. Here’s how I respond.

When a resort is rated with more Apples, you can expect a better quality of accommodations, amenities and services. The red Apple rating is selected by our own staff of experts who are knowledgeable and can compare one resort against the standards of all the other resorts in a given destination. Therefore, a 5 Apple in Cancun may be rated against different standards than a 5 Apple in The Bahamas. When you see the + sign, that means the hotel offers slightly superior amenities than other hotels in the same category.

A “Golden” Apple has earned the added prestige of consistently ranking the highest on our customer satisfaction surveys. The Golden rating truly reflects our customers’ experiences at a given resort on a consistent basis.

Now, how can you choose the resort that is right for you, based on its Apple rating? I have friends who only care to have a bed to sleep in, a shower to use, a buffet for meals, and a great beach. For them, a 3 or 4 Apple hotel is a perfect fit. They are there for the beach, and not very concerned with the added amenities of a 4, 5 or 6 Apple property. My doctor, on the other hand, has a wife and three children who want the full experience. They are looking for a variety of restaurants to pick from, an excellent spa and perhaps a teen disco for the kids. These customers expect luxury and they understand that they are 6 Golden Apple customers.

You can learn more about Apple ratings on our website.

38 thoughts on “Understanding Apple’s Hotel Rating System

  1. We recently did one of your Guaranteed 6 apple resorts deals. Boy were we disappointed. We were placed at Dreams in Punta Cunta and at best it was a 4. We have always looked forward to staying at a Dreams but always found better deals at other resorts. One Guest summed it up… “It looks tired!” I guess we have learned another rule of traveling go where you know but that take the fun out of traveling. I suggest that you take at look at Dreams and lower it’s rating.

  2. Dear Ms. Gilbert, I want to thank you for giving Apple Vacations your feedback. Apple Vacations takes all of our customers feedback very seriously, and are always striving to improve our services and products. I will be forwarding your comments to the proper areas within the company and to Dreams Punta Cana to make sure this gets addressed. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you should have any other questions, concerns or comments!

    At your service!

    Melissa Brown
    Manager, Customer Care
    mebrown@applevac.com

  3. Hi! We’re thinking of going to Punta Cana and using your square deal for 6 golden apples. Which hotels are in that category?

  4. Hi Teresa!

    Our Square Deals are awesome! The easiest way to get an idea of what 6 Golden Apple Hotel you are likely to end up at is to search on Applevacations.com, go to Punta Cana, and then sort by “Hotel Rating”. Any hotel that is a 6 Golden Apple is a possibility. You will find out the day of departure where you are going, which adds to the fun!

    Have a great time!

    Melissa

  5. I stayed at the RIU Yucatan in Play Del Carmen 1/24-1/24/10 and I was disappaointed, it was listed as a 4+, should be listed as a 3. the room had a mildew smell, four drawers on the dressers did not close all the way, hair dryer did not work, the showere was moldy and dark ( no place to put hair products, shower curtain ripped, towels were shagged and rough and lastly the safe was a metal box that you had to insert a key to remove a lock ( what happened to a keyless box? the food was ok, just all the same, the beach was closed due to repairs, not told of such at purchase or I would have chosen another destination. The staff said that all repairs were to be done the next day, not true. the repairs were 24 hours with the tractors making a constant beeping all night long. The pool area had so many lounge chairs that you could notmove around, as the chairs were spaced closely to eaach other. Also when I arrived I had to wait over an hour for transport to the hotel. I would say that I am disappointed and will look at othr options for my next trip.

  6. Dear Mr. Gottsponer,

    Apple Vacations is certainly disappointed to hear of the issues you experienced. We normally get very favorable reviews regarding the Riu hotels and resorts. If you would care to send your booking number, and a brief recap to: customercare@applevacations.com, we would be more than happy to contact the hotel on your behalf and ask that they look into your issues, and respond accordingly. Thank you for sharing this feedback with Apple Vacations. It is only through feedback from our valued customers such as yourself that we are able to continue to improve our services and offerings.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Melissa Brown

  7. Bookd a Six Gold Apple Square Deal Feb 8, 2010 through Feb 15, 2010. This propoerty was more lik ea 4 Apple on its best day. During our visit not only did I get sick, but so did about another 75 guests based on the resort manager. The Dream Palms team was friendly, but being sick isn’t the way to spend a vacation.

  8. Melissa,

    I have purchased a six apple square deal for a vacation in Punta Cana. As I understand the deal, there is a chance we would be staying at one of two Dreams resorts. In reading reviews on Trip Advisor I am a bit concerned to say the least… I would like your help in understanding how we as consumers can trust Apple Vacation’s rating of a Dreams Resort when both Apple and Dreams are owned by Apple Leisure Group.

    I should begin by saying that this will be my 7th vacation with Apple, and I have always been very pleased, but I have also always been very suspicious of your rating system, especially when it comes to the resorts affiliated with Apple.

    Based on discussion with other travelers who have stayed at Dreams Resorts, especially the Dreams in the Dominican Republic, as well as reading numerous reviews on independent forums such as Trip Advisor, there appears to be a consensus that the accommodations at most if not all Dreams Resorts warrant a rating of 4 Apples.

    How can I be assured that your ratings are free from bias when Apple has a clear financial incentive to inflate the rating of resorts owned by Apple Leisure Group, such as Dreams? In my experience, the interests of these related parties are almost certain to conflict with the interests of consumers… unless there is some sort of independent assurance. You said it yourself, “the red Apple rating is selected by our own staff of experts…” So just to make sure I understand correctly, Apple owns Dreams and assigns the rating to Dreams, and vacation pricing is affected by apple rating, but we should somehow believe that these ratings are free from bias without any sort of independent assurance? In fact, when I look for an independent assessment I find the rating to be a 4 apple, not a six golden apple…

    Please help me better understand the relationship between Dreams Resorts and Apple Vacations such that I can further understand how we can trust two related parties, with interests that conflict with consumers, to give fair ratings without any sort of independent assurance. I would like to reconcile Apple’s 6 apple rating of Dreams resorts with the consumer consensus rating of 4 apples.

    Kind Regards,

    Nathan Koehn

  9. Hi Nathan

    Thank you for your post. You are correct in that Apple Vacations & AMResorts both fall under the Apple Leisure Group. The statement Apple owns Dreams is however an incorrect statement. Apple Vacations does not own Dreams. Apple Vacations offers vacations to Dreams Resorts & Spas. Apple Vacations also has many other relationships with hotels in Mexico, The Caribbean, Hawaii & Europe. The breadth of product we offer allows Apple Vacationers’ an array of resorts to choose from.

    We have an Apple rating system which is two fold. The # of Apple’s you receive is awarded by the amenities offered at the hotel and range from 1 Apple Basic to 6 Apple Deluxe. In recent history, we implemented the plus (+) system as there were times that hotel was on the cusp of a rating… for example not quite a 6 but better than a 5 … so this better identifies those hotels. The Golden status is awarded to the hotels that have earned exceptional ratings from Apple Vacationers’ upon their return. There are times when a lower rated hotel has been awarded a Golden Apple. Just because they are smaller, and may not offer as many options, does not mean the staff and service is not amazing. We do not take our Apple rating system lightly. That is why it is two fold, to keep it as accurate as possible. We also take every complaint and request to lower an Apple rating into consideration.

    For Dreams specifically, you know what the ratings are. But, they have also won many other awards outside of Apple Vacations. Here is a link to their page: http://www.dreamsresorts.com/awards.html.

    On a final note. We also offer many FAM trips each year to travel agents. Agents tour these resorts, provide feedback, and see the product they are selling for themselves. We encourage every consumer to be as knowledgeable as possible and if you “Ask an Agent” this may be the best way to narrow down the hotel choice for you.

  10. I have just booked a 6 golden apple square deal and also am concerned about the review for your Dreams resorts. Since the resorts seem to be aging and customer reviews are declining, my questions is how often do you up date your apple ratings?

  11. I have booked a square deal 6-red apples. I do not see 6-red apples on this site. What are these by name for mexico riveria?

  12. Apple ratings are updated each fall, when the brochure comes out for the following year. So last week the 2011 brochures came out and now we are in the process of updating our website with all the new ratings. Here are the Crystal Apple Award Winners: http://tinyurl.com/275fyck. Also if you do a regular square deal (for example 5 Apple) you can get any 5 Apple hotel (golden or regular) and above.

  13. Hi Terry,

    Quite a few of our hotels in the Riviera Maya were just upgraded to “Golden” status based on the excellent feedback levels they received from our customers. The 6 Red Apple is a minimum, therefore, the good news is this means you should be placed in a 6 Golden instead of a red, for the price of a red!

  14. We have a trip planned to Jamaica in February of next year. I’m concerned because all the reviews of the new Secrets property say it’s not a six star. Will Apple be changing the status of Secrets before our trip?

  15. We would like thank Apple Vacations for the best honeymoon ever.Our stay was at Dreams Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Punta Cana on 9-13-10 to 9-20-10. We were treated like a king and queen. Everything from the food to the room were great! and when they say 24 hour room service……they mean it because we used it to death.

  16. We booked a 5 APPLE SQUARE deal with 10 other people in our group. We were assured by Apple and our travel agent that if we all booked our trip together at the same time, we will all be staying at the same resort. Now I am reading the contrary, this is family vacation and needless to say, we would be very upset if we didn’t get to stay at the same resort!!

  17. Hi Jill,

    I am very sorry to hear about this misinformation you were given. In order for everyone to be promised the same resort on a Square Deal, they would all have to be on the same booking number. If you could please email me your booking number to: customercare@applevacations.com I will be happy to look into this further to see if there is any way we can rectify this for you!

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, I look forward to getting your email and booking number as soon as possible.

    Melissa

  18. We are booked to leave on a 6 Golden Apple square deal on Feb 11th out of Milwaukee Wisconsin. From everything I have read (which I should have done before booking) we will be staying at a Dreams Resort. My first concern are the negative reviews. I’m hoping that they are not correct. My biggest issue (from what I have read) is the fact that it doesn’t matter if you purchase a five, five +, 6 or Golden 6 Apple we will still be booked at a Dreams. We obviously paid more for the 6 Golden Apple. So my question is why would we pay more for the same vacation? Are there other benefits for booking the 6 Golden Apple? Thank you in advance for your reply.
    Jessica

  19. Hi Jessica,

    Thank you for getting in touch! I regret if you have read any incorrect information, but allow me to reassure you that not every Square Deal gets upgraded to a 6 Golden Hotel. The Square Deals are drastically reduced and last minute inventory we put up for sale based upon availability, so it is really impossible to know from one departure to another where everyone will be placed.

    I can certainly understand your apprehensions, but again I can promise you that no matter which destination you have chosen, there is always the chance that those who bought 5 Apple Square Deals will in fact wind up in a 5 Apple hotel. Othertimes they do indeed get upgraded, but it is probably not as often as you believe.

    To answer your final question, the biggest advantage to booking a 6 Golden Square Deal is that you are getting it for a phenomonal price! So, I encourage you to go, relax and have a wonderful time realizing you are in paradise for a great price!

    Melissa

  20. Forget the 6 golden Apple Square Deal!! It is no deal! We have just returned from Mexico. We Love Mexico!
    We did the 6 golden Apple square deal this year and much to our surprise we were put in the Dreams Hotel Tulum. Funny thing is, we had stayed there 7 years ago when it had another name and a rating of 4 or 5 RED apples. Seems much the same, except a second newer pool and a new lobby with stained chairs. The Front Desk staff was extremely rude and our Apple Rep just tried to ignore most of our concerns. As some of the other responses here, I don’t understand this Golden Apple rating. No way was this hotel a Golden Apple. We have stayed in much nicer places with lower ratings, in Riveria Maya, Mexico!
    We were truly disappointed as were many others that we spoke with during our stay. I will never stay at another Dreams and I will never do a 6 Golden Apple Square deal again. Also there were guests staying at this Dreams that paid less money by just making the reservations for the hotel specifically.
    We feel the square deal is a scam and the ratings are not true.
    Apple, after many years of trusting you and making our vacation plans through you, we will now go another route for our vacations.

  21. I recently paid $2500 for a 6 square apple vacation deal in Puerto Vallarta. The hotel they put us at was rated a 6 golden apple. Having been on many apple vacations I would of rated this hotel at best a 4 red apple. After complaining I received a lousy $75 per person to use in one year. I feel they should of gave me much more for the poor service we got and they should make the certificate restriction longer than a year. Some people can’t afford to go every year. This was also a preferred hotel (which means it was a time share hotel) do I need to say more?.. They didn’t leave us alone for the first 3 days. The food was adequate, beach sucked. The hotel was at least 30 years old and run down. The new part which was for the preferred quests was a little newer. One pool was empty the entire week because it was freezing and too much garbage in it. There evening shows were poor. The held them on the pool patio, so by 5:00 p.m they where herding you out of the pool. Sorry some people like to stay in the pool past 5 p.m. Also the hotel basically closed up by 10:00 p.m., nothing to do after 10. Don’t go to Dream’s on the south end of Bay. Just so you know this was my 6 time to Puerto Vallarta…so I know my hotels.

  22. Dreams punta Cana. My friends and I are leaving today from this resort. I would recommend this place. Told travel agent want ocean front room. Was told upon arrival the property has 6 ocean front rooms. Needless to say we have a tropical view room. The roof leaks all over the building. There is remodeling construction noise at the resort. At no time did the travel agent mention this. Room was not cleaned well safe had issues and the door key/lock was not working properly 80% of our stay. The staff is friendly. The grounds are lush. But this is not a 6 golden apple resort. I have read the awards on the dreams site and I do not believe zone of them. On their website it also mentions they have a majority of ocean front rooms. Not only am I upset with my travel agent but I don’t have much faith in the apple ratings. The beach is so rocky there are signs that warn sharp rocks. It is very difficult to swim. Shame. Snorkeling at the hotel is a joke. The surf is just too rough and the visibility is horrible as a result of the waves. Our group of 11 are spread out in 3 different buildings. We have a 64 year Olson the 3 rd floor with no elevator? This is my second trip to the DR. I do not recommend this resort.

  23. Hi Paula,

    I am sorry to hear that you were not more satisfied with your trip. Apple Vacations gets very good feedback about this resort. If you would like to send your comments, along with your confirmation (booking) number to customercare@applevacations.com we would be more than happy to look into the issues you have raised. Thanks for getting in touch!

  24. We’re booked for a 6 Golden Apple Square Deal vacation to Punta Cana 08/10/11. We were attracted to what we thought was a (SQUARE DEAL)real shot at getting an up scale resort at a good price. After reading some reviews, it seems that one of the choices (Dreams Punta Cana) is low in the ranking and consistency receives negative feedback, questioning whether this property meets the high standard of a 6 Golden Apple. More importantly,it was reported that 97% of those opting for this Square Deal are assigned to this resort. We were told that we would be assigned to a resort based on availability, but if the lowest ranking resort is the one that has 97% of the the availability that is hardly a square deal. We are super seniors and are looking forward to a special vacation in a class place, but now we are concerned that we will get stuck in a less than desirable situation. How do we upgrade to avoid this possibility?

    Thanks for your assistance and your prompt reply.

    Leon & Patricia Moore

  25. Hello Mr. Moore,

    One thing that is important to understand, and that often gets overlooked, is the ratio of visitors to complaints when reading the reviews you are referring to! In reality, what you are reading is indicative of what less than 1% of people who visited Dreams Punta Cana felt about the property. However, you still have options should you wish to move prior to finding out if you will even be staying there, or perhps if and when you do get there and decide you do not like it. I see you booked through a travel agent,so you would want to contact your agent prior to travel. There will be some change fee’s involved, as well as any fare difference, but as long as there is availability, Apple is happy to place you at the hotel of your choice. On the other hand, if you do wind up at Dreams Punta Cana, and unlike the 99% of people who love it, decide you would like to switch resorts, the on site Apple Vacations rep will be happy to let you know what other resorts in the area have availability and what the difference in cost would be. You would be responsible for the taxi fare to move to a new hotel. I do encourage you to keep an open mind and remember you are there to relax and enjoy yourselves! However, Apple Vacations want you to enjoy yourself, so please do not hesitate to let the hotel ot the rep know how they can assist you! Have a wonderful trip!

  26. We purchased a 6 golden apple square deal for Punta Cana Nov. 5-12, 2012. We were put in Dreams Punta Cana. This is NOT a 6 golden apple hotel, in fact, the hotel told use it was a 5 red apple hotel. We still loved the resort, because the staff was incredible. The rooms were moldy and old, but we didn’t spend much time in the rooms. The worst part about this trip was Apple Vacations. The Apple reps are no help at all. We went on an excursion through Apple vacation that put us in a very dangerous situation. We needed medical care, and the Apple rep did nothing. I have contacted Apple several times, no one has contacted me back. Apple Vacations has no customer service and does not care about their travelers. Be very careful when booking through Apple.

  27. Hi Brittany, thanks for getting in touch. As I mentioned to you in my previous email to you, it does take a few weeks for Apple Vacations Customer Care department to the legwork needed to get an answer for you. This was also mentioned in the email sent to you immediatley upon receiving your original email. I can tell you that the hotel you stayed in is absolutely a 6 Golden Apple Hotel. Please feel free to check our website or our catalog. The status of “Golden” is voted by our customers who rate this hotel “excellent” or better through our evaluations.
    So, as you can see thought this, now our 3rd communication to you, we absolutely do care very much about our customers, and hope you find all of the additional information and detail I went into for you in my personal email to you helpful. We will be in touch soon!

  28. Funny how I stumbled to this web site while doing some research on past complaints regarding apple square deals. It’s amazing what you learn. I booked an apple 6 deal. There were 3 resorts chosen in that category for the Riviera Maya. Guess where I ended up…..at a Dreams. Shocker Eh! I believe that this square deal is a scam. Not one person writing on this blog stayed anywhere else but dream resorts. Apple vacations, I will sending you my official complaint letter ASAP thru my travel agent.
    Sincerely, Heather Marchand

  29. Dear Heather,

    Thank you for contacting Apple Vacations, we take all feedback very seriously as it is key to our continued growth and improved services. It is certainly not a scam that many, but certainly not all, of our customers who purchase a Square Deal do stay at a Dreams resort. The reason being is as we clearly mention, our Square Deal customers are normally last minute deals where we have excess inventory. As we do from time to time purchase more inventory from the Dreams resorts, it would not be uncommon then that we would have more inventory at the last minute to fill at those resorts.

    Apple Vacations regrets if you are unhappy with your choice of vacation package, and urges you to work with your travel agent to find an agreeable solution.

    Thank you again for choosing Apple Vacations.

  30. we just purchased a 6 apple square deal adults only for riveria maya leaving cle march 31. i have to new book but do not see any 6 apple adult only resorts. does that mean we could be upgraded to a 6 golden apple? and what resort are usually used for 6 apple adult only resorts

  31. Hi Gina! Great! You will love Apple’s Square Deals, they are a lot of fun!You are absolutley possible to be upgraded to a 6 Golden Apple. As far as which hotels we use for this, it is impossible to say as it all depends on where we have last minute inventory to fill. No worries though, you will have a great time wherever you land!

  32. There is nothing like a beautiful day at the beach, the sand, surf and the rays of the sun beating down on your body. Beach visits have been popular with people of all ages, and are as much of a family activity as they are an individual excursion. No beach visit is complete without spending some timer relaxing on the beach with some suntan lotion on and getting that perfect tan. ..

    Look out for our own internet site as well
    <,http://www.caramoanpackage.com/

  33. I have been researching the 6 Apple Square deal for Punta Cana after booking. I agree with most posts that Dreams seems like the designated hotel based on its connection with AMResorts. My question is what Apple 6 properties that allow children have swim out rooms. I am receiving varying responses. I think it is Dream the 2 Cap Cana resorts and Paridius Palma Real. Are there any others I am missing?
    Also when is the last time Dreams was renovated.

  34. We jus returned from our 6 Golden Square Deal. We were placed at the Dreams Palm Beach. Staff was amazing. However the resort is very ‘sub-par’. We’ve traveled with Apple vacations multiple times, and to say the least, we were disappointed. We were placed in building 6 originally, our room smelled like mildew. We were then moved to building 7, the room smelled like mildew. On day 6 of our trip, we had ants in our room. While the Square Deal was cheaper, I would have preferred a ‘true’ 6 golden apple resort.

  35. Dear Sara,

    Thank you so much for contacting Apple Vacations, we certainly regret to hear that your trip was not 100% everything you were expecting it to be.

    It would be super helpful if you would send us an email with a few more details (booking #, dates of travel, specifics)so that we can address these issues with the hotel and circle back to you.

    Please email us at: customercare@applevacations.com and we will be sure to address your concerns.

    Thanks again for providing us this valuable feedback and the opportunity to do better in the future!

    Melissa

  36. I have been to the Dominican Republic 7 or 8 times. Two of my visits were square deals. You will ALWAYS be booked on and AM Resort property (Zoetry, Dreams, Secrets, Now, Breathless, and Sunscape). I have not met anybody yet that has bought a square deal and has not been booked at one of these resorts. The Coryn Group II owns Apple Vacations and the AM Resort Group. Apple rates all of their own resorts either 6 red or golden apples. Lately they have been sticking everybody down in the Uvero Alto Beach area (Dreams, Zoetry and Breathless). It is a 50-60 minute bus ride (it’s terrible) from airport. The water, beach and area is NOT nice in my opinion. There other resort areas are much nicer (Secrets and Now). If you get Zoetry, Dreams Punta Cana, Breathless Punta Cana, etc you will be disappointed if you have been to the DR before. The Bavaro and Arena Gordo Beach Areas are MUCH nicer and the weather is MUCH better. If it is your first time to the DR…you may be impressed by their resorts no matter where you end up. I hope this helps people understand what they will be getting. I would say 80% you will get Dreams at the bad end of Punta Cana. In my opinion this is not Punta Cana.

  37. Rather good post. I simply came across your current blog site plus desired to declare that I’ve genuinely loved searching a person’s blog page blogposts. In any event I’ll be signing up in your nourish we i do hope you publish once more quickly!

  38. I’ll at once comprehension a person’s rss feed because i can’t in discovering ones e-mail registration backlink as well as news letter company. Have you got every? You should make it possible for myself understand in order that I could signed up link. Thanks a lot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>