Here are the few "negatives"---If you are a first time traveler to Punta Cana, it can be very confusing in the airport and at the drop off at the hotel. You have to fill out a tourist form and pay for a tourist pass in the airport, unfortunately no one on the plan or at the airport tells you that. Then when you get to the hotel, you are dropped at the main lobby of the Punta Cana section of the resort, you have to get a tram to the Esmerelda. Many people carry your luggage from the airport to the room, have plenty of singles and fives ready.
Once we checked in and got to our room we discovered that it smelled of smoke, which seemed to be in the walls, the closet, the bedding, etc. We immediately asked for a room change and were told there were none that night (it was 9 pm by that time). We left the balcony door open to try to clear the room, but then we heard noise all night. The next day all they had was first floor rooms, not acceptable for two women traveling. By the day after we were given a FANTASTIC room facing the pool with an ocean view, on the 3rd floor, with two beds, Perfect. many thanks to the desk staff, especially Judid (Judy) who was exceptionally patient and helpful.
Despite the early problem with the room we still felt that this place rated 5 stars. The staff was friendly, helpful and almost all spoke English. The Dining Room and Restaurant staff really went out of their way to make the meals fun. The bar staff were excellent and the pool bar made perfect Mojitos for me and coco Locos for my daughter.
About the pool: my only complaint was that it didn't open until 8 am and closed at 6. I would have loved an earlier morning swim and certainly would have loved a night swim (with the swim up bar open). the pool itself was delightfully warm, uncrowded and immaculately clean. And very quiet--no games, loud music, etc. We never had a problem getting a chaise, except for those in the shade of the "huts"---those seem to have been held with towels by 7 am. But my chaise was barely occupied, as I spent most of my time in the water. And when I wasn't in the water, I was at the beach.
The beach for the Esperanza is not a "private" as the hotel advertises, but it really wasn't a problem, we always got chaises where we wanted them. The beach was also immaculate, with an employee constantly picking up trash. It is a nice walk along the beach to the other parts of the resort where you can hear the pool music games, etc and take part if you wish. We actually came upon a salsa lesson on the beach--we did the lesson in the water which was great fun and good exercise. The water was clear but there was a lot of seaweed, especially at the Esperanza section. there was no effort on the part of the resort to rake the seaweed off the beach which was disappointing as they did so much else.
Food: uggh,,, The buffets reminded me of bad college food...the restaurants were mediocre at best. The only restaurant I would recommend was the Garden Grill, and that was excellent and the reason why I did not give the food a "poor" rating (although we thought that being at the Esperanza gave us access to all of the restaurants, there are some that are for Ambar guests only--and because it was the beginning of the off season there were many closed restaurants.) Make sure to reserve early. We made due with yogurt and fruit for breakfast; salad for lunch and restaurants for dinner. Frankly the hot food on the buffet looked as tho it was there for too long to be safe and much of the cold food looked too warm. The good news is that we managed to vacation with drinks, beer and wine throughout the day and came home not having gained any weight!
All, in all, a fantastic hotel, great resort and a wonderful time.
- 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 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
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Esmeralda Hotel Punta Cana