We are just back today from fourth nuclear family trip and I haven't personally ever seen rats. No bugs in rooms either. Can't comment on room size comparison with other villages (there are different room types/sizes that you can book and that should be taken into account). We bring mosquito spray but usually don't apply. Agree with earlier comments that there is always stuff in warm climates everywhere (and also in other climates).
The beach is fabulous, and the GOs and Petit/Mini Club are awesome. We don't do the pool (this tends to be more crowded and I prefer to go to the beach in general).
There is a strong French presence. I actually like that, but should note that this time we met more American families than ever and that was also very positive. We speak French (non-native speakers) but 4 yr old does not so was a little more apprehensive this year than in the past re: Mini Club and the socialization aspect (this was less of an issue at age 2 and 3), but the GOs all spoke English and there was a mix of English-speaking kids in their group as well. She also made friends with French-speaking kids her age, which was neat to see. If we wanted, we could have done the stay entirely in English (as our child does). (I was surprised to see how well some of the GOs we've met previously *do* speak English, actually.)
The experience is more "international" with French influence rather than Dominican, though, I would agree with one TripAdvisor commenter there. You can certainly teach your kids a lot about both the DR and Haiti (where some of the GOs are from) prior to visiting, and maybe do a side trip with some of the older kids to see something more typically Dominican outside the club. We don't do anything terribly cultural on these trips, to be honest - oh wait, Crazy Signs! :) :)
I met one American mom this year who preferred Cancun (bigger/better rooms that better suited her family, better service at the beach, and less French influence), but her school-age kids did not participate in the MiniClub at either village, so no info/comparison on that front, unfortunately.
At the Punta Cana airport, you pay a $10/person entry fee on arrival, and submit forms that you should receive on the plane prior to landing. The entire process is fairly fast and the airport staff keep people moving. There is no departure fee, although you do fill out departure forms for each person for immigration. Taxi to/from the club is now $20 one way (for the vehicle, not per person) and takes about 5-10 minutes max on a newly constructed road that provides access only to a few resorts (have never seen *any* other traffic). Taxis are abundant and so you can definitely go this route for land transfer if you prefer.
To 2nd Kiki's earlier remark, the MiniClub team is *****AWESOME***** this year. Will post a real review later, but this is the best we've experienced in four years (and the three previous years were very good).
We are on the east coast and so it's very easy to go to PC. We've thought of Ixtapa but the connections are not as easy from where we are (so it's sort of out of laziness that we have not visited). The lack of time zone difference and ease of air and land connections is a big selling point on the travel hassle side for us. (Note you are coming from West Coast, of course.)
The village is big for those with mobility issues (we like the village layout as adults, but we still brought a stroller for 4 yr old to cart back to room at end of evening, and also for airport expediency), and since your group's needs (and preferences) could be pretty diverse, I would go with lowest or most challenging/demanding common denominator and work from there, wherever you go. I loved the Petit Club for my already-in-daycare child at age 2 and later at 3, but if the little ones in your group are not in organized care or preschool at home already this might be more challenging wherever you go.
If you decide on PC, try to book around French school holidays, as previously mentioned: http://www.education.gouv.fr/pid184/le-calendrier-scolaire.html
Keep reading reviews for background (I do) but I should also say that in spite of having visited the same village several times, I've totally worked myself up over a rash of TripAdvisor reviews (re: sickness in winter 2010, for example) and it all turned out to be a non-issue when we got there.
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