Will knock this into several sections so its somewhat organized in approach. We stayed at the Esmarelda but this resort (or small city) is made up of the Bavaro, Punta Cana, Ambar and Esmeralda resorts, depending where you stay you get various levels of access to the other resorts, staying at the Esmeralda allows you access to everywhere but the Ambar buffet. It is 5 kilometers to walk a circle around this place.
1) Pretrip, booked again thru itravel2000, consistently best or equal to best prices, easily can compare flights, hotels, arrival times etc on their website, as mentioned last year, call the 800 number to book, you'll get a capable person willing to help and answer your questions.
2) Went with AirTransat, no problems, no suprizes, good service etc.
3) Food, Buffets were decent, lots of food choices and types, beef was so tough you couldn't chew it but this isn't Alberta, overall well done. A la cartes in general were pretty average with the exception of the Don Pablo which was outstanding, best lobster I've ever had in my life and this is saying something where I've eaten fresh lobster right off the boats on the east coast. Email them ahead of time and book your a la cartes, otherwise you could find out its not available or you eat at 9 at night.
4) Beverages/Drinks, being our second time in PC it seems that the low end drinks are Normandy brand, this is what they will give you if you don't ask for the better selections, some sections of the resort limit whats available as part of the all inclusive, we were able to get much better brandies etc in the Esmeralda to go with our coffee's end of day than you could elsewhere. Beer is Presidente on tap, not bad but its draft non the less.
5) Facilities were excellent, well kept, clean, Esmeralda section is isolated/stand alone from the rest of the resort, you can go anywhere, the rest of the resort can not come to the Esmeralda, everything is very close, Steak House, Bella Italia, Buffet, bar(s), lobby, pool(s) all located within Esmeralda, just a few steps from the sand, beach and ocean.
6) Beach/Pool, beach is excellent, was pretty rough a few days but this is unusual. Pool is great, swim up bar and not over crowded since its for Esmeralda guests only. We went over to the main pool one day just for the change, way to many people, no room to sit, noisy as all get out, left after a while and went back to the Esmeralda, main beach is the same, common areas are too crowded to be comfortable. Esmeralda has its own area where you usually had no problem getting beach lounges etc.
7) Entertainment, show(s) in the large theatre (open air) at night, short which I like, you can sit for 1 1/2 hours, enjoy a couple drinks, take in a show and then move on, best of the week was Michael Jackson, we had heard of this in the other resort we stayed at last year so were eager to see, well worth the effort.
8) Golf course on site, if you rent clubs on top of green fee they want 220$ US for a round, I play at least once a week in Southern Ontario/Niagara Region so am an avid golfer, but no way was I going to pay this ridiculous rate for a round.
9) Staff are on the most part pleasant and willing to please, learn some basic spanish and it will go along way, these people work for somewhere around 300$ a month, and they put in huge hours, they are making their money on tips, we always take down about 100 singles, leave a couple for the maid every day, drop a single on the people you deal with daily every now and again, your service level goes up, they can make a slightly better living, everyone wins.
10) Shopping, there is a market square on the front end of the resort, a square of shops around a football size area, in the middle are carts, if you like to haggle go to the carts, be prepared to get pressured, everyone is suddenly your friend, they have learned to play on the decent behaviour of others, best to tell them give me your best price, then you tell them you will check the shops around the square and if its the best price you'll come back, they don't like this and the price comes down significantly, its all a game, have fun with it. There is a Canadian gal outside the resort who runs a store, crafts, rum, cigars, jewelry, prices are better than anywhere I've seen, silver won't change colour over time since its truly sterling, cigars are hand rolled on site with excellent tobacco, you can get a free shuttle off the resort to and from, maybe 15 minutes away, arrange with your trip provider at the tour office. Drop a couple singles on the driver.
In closing, this is a huge resort, 3 shuttle lines run from front to back to get you around, once you get the lay out its not a big deal to navigate the place, if you don't use google earth start now, you can zoom in on the resort, see the building layout, shuttle lines etc (compare to map on their site) you'll know the lay of the land before you arrive and will be more comfortable getting around.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 2 Pools Sun terrace 4 Jacuzzis Sun umbrellas and loungers Beach and pool towel service BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 3 tennis courts, 1 padel tennis court (additional charge), multi-sports court Water activity centre Motorised water sports (additional charge) WiFi access in the lobby (free) and in rooms (additional charge) Entertainment amphitheatre 2 buffet restaurants 3 speciality restaurants 3 Bars 1 Snack- bar Wedding gazebo Punta Blanca Golf Club: 18 hole Punta Blanca Golf Club, designed by Nick Price (additional charge) Pueblo Principe: Shopping and Leisure Mall with local craft stores, live music, shows, stores, bars, karaoke, disco and casino. Rooms, 570 Deluxe Junior Suite Room facilities: King size bed or two full size beds Air conditioning Ceiling fan Sitting area with sofa Terrace Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub and separate shower, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Bathrobe and slippers VIP amenities Radio-alarm clock Flat screen satellite TV Coffee-making facilities Ironing set Pillow menu Umbrella 24 hour room service Minibar WiFi (additional charge) Children Bahia Scouts The hotel is perfect for families, offering a range of facilities tailored especially for children, including the following: Mini Club for children aged 4 to 12 (at the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana) Evening Mini Disco Babysitting service (additional charge) Bahia Scouts Water park Fun Area and Adventure Park (additional charge) Teen's club (11 - 16 years) Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries Personalised menus (for celiacs, diabetics, etc.) Available on request ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Esmeralda Hotel Punta Cana