We (group of 9) stayed at the Barceló Puerto Plata from August 20 – 27, 2013 and upgraded to the Club Premium package prior to arrival. We booked through Fun Sun Vacations and travelled on WestJet.
I was in contact with the hotel (Club Premium staff) prior to arrival with a few room requests and questions. The employees that I communicated with (Yohaira and Zoraya) were efficient and answered most of the questions that I had – thank you!
AIRPORT/TRANSFER: Airport security and luggage claim was simple and fast. We were surprisingly welcomed with a private (not requested) transfer van for the 9 of us. It took approximately 20 minutes travel time from the airport to the Barceló.
There is a DUFRY Duty Free store in the arrivals of POP airport – convenient for anyone who wants to buy cigarettes, alcohol etc. upon arrival. I am not sure how the prices compare to the PP local market, but a carton of King Size L & M Lights costs USD $29.00.
ARRIVAL: Once off the bus, we informed the bell person that we booked the Club Premium package. Within 5 minutes, we were driven with our luggage to the Club Premium reception.
At check in we were given registration cards to complete and a welcome envelope (personalized letter from the Director of the Barceló, 2 room keys, a small map of the resort and a “General Satisfaction Survey” to be completed).
I was surprised that the staff does not provide their guests with basic hotel information at check in (i.e. a la carte reservations process, Premium Lounge hours of operation, beach towels process etc.) nor was this information noted in the welcome envelope.
GUESTROOMS: Our group booked the Superior Club Premium Rooms.
2 rooms were in building 16 (#16202 and #16205) and 1 room was in building 17 (#17105). No elevators – stairs only. These buildings were located close to the Club Premium reception, Club Premium lounge and private whirlpool which were very convenient for us.
Our corner guestrooms (#16202 / #16205) had a very large balcony with 2 plastic chairs, a plastic table with an ashtray.
With the Club Premium upgrade, we were provided with 2 bathrobes and 2 pairs of slippers which were located in the closet. We also received a fresh fruit platter and a bottle of rum in our rooms upon arrival.
The room safes (no charge for Club Premium guests) were a smaller size unit with a keypad code access. The safe does not come with instructions, but a security guard was sent to assist us on how to set-up and operate the safe. The safe is NOT large enough to store a laptop or binder size items.
Our rooms were equipped with a small round table with 2 chairs, an iron, table-top ironing board, alarm clock with CD player, wall-mounted flat screen TV, luggage bench, ice bucket, full size vanity mirror and a coffee maker.
The mini-bar was restocked daily with 1 bottle of coke, 1 bottle of Sprite, 2 Presidente Beer cans, a large bottle of water and 1 small snack size bag of chips – they will only replenish what is used. Another full size bottled water was placed next to the coffee maker.
Our rooms had a large bathroom with a bathtub/showerhead with shampoo, conditioner and bath gel dispensers, single sink, bidet, tissue box, 2 drinking glasses, a hair dryer, stool and magnified makeup mirror.
The Club Premium upgraded amenities included bottles (approx. 20 ml) of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. A dental kit (toothbrush/mini toothpaste), shower cap, shoe shine sponge, vanity set (cotton swabs/cotton pads/mini nail file), sewing kit, comb and shaving kit (razor/shaving cream). Once used, these items were not replenished.
One room that was located in building 16 had ongoing maintenance issues (mainly toilet and telephone issues) which were regularly reported to the Club Premium reception. The toilet was finally fixed close to the end of our stay.
Our guestrooms were well cleaned and all items were replaced daily - we never had a problem with the replenishment of items. Our room attendants were very nice, always smiling and accommodating!
The furniture in our guestrooms was a bit dated and must mention that 2 out of our 3 rooms had a cockroach in the room. I understand that this is a tropical island, but collectively as a group we have travelled to many countries/resorts but have never experienced cockroaches in our rooms.
PREMIUM LOUNGE: The lounge was open daily from 7 am to 11 pm. It was a nice layout with a few couches, tables with chairs, a television, self-serve coffee/espresso/cappuccino and juice machines.
We enjoyed having breakfast in the lounge. The morning buffet was simple (two staple items consisted of bacon and sausage plus two additional hot items that changed daily), eggs cooked to order, a variety of breads, pastries, fruits, yogurts and a selection of cheeses and cold cuts.
The day we arrived was the only day we ate lunch in the lounge. They were serving langoustine, rice and a beef dish, which were all very tasty.
In the evenings, the lounge served two hot food items - items like mussels, sirloin tips and fried calamari which were all very good. This was in addition to a selection of cheeses, cold cuts, fruits and cookies, pastries and dessert items.
A special mention to Norberto (lounge server), who made our stay very enjoyable. No matter how busy the lounge was, it never affected the exceptional service that he provided to his guests. Thanks Norberto!
The lounge offered a variety of alcoholic beverages and it was the only area that stocked cava/sparkling wine (complimentary to Club Premium guests). The alcohol bottles were not on display, so I cannot confirm whether they served “premium” brands versus “local” brands. The lobby bar displayed bottles of premium alcohol, but was told that it was not included in the Club Premium package.
PREMIUM CLUB RECEPTION: All questions, requests etc. were handled by the staff at the Premium Club reception.
There is one laptop in the reception area with free internet access available for use.
I inquired about transportation to the Dreams Casino (located beside the Iberostar Costa Dorada) and was told that the casino would pay for the taxi fare upon arrival. The casino knew nothing about this – this happened on two separate occasions. So, FYI – the taxi fare is USD $10.00 each way.
The day prior to our departure I could not locate the Sunquest binder in order to confirm our airport transfer pick up time. I asked the Premium Club reception staff to confirm our pick-up time. The girl at the reception confirmed that the pick-up time was for 11:00 am. As per the Sunquest Representative, the pick-up time was scheduled for 10:30 am. Thankfully, we did not keep any other guests waiting as the transfer van was for our group only.
A LA CARTES/BUFFETS: We had lunch daily at the main buffet or at the restaurant by the beach and enjoyed the selection of food offered.
We were required to make same-day reservations every morning at the Club Premium reception; they were unable to make our reservations for the entire week in advance.
Collectively, we enjoyed all of the a la cartes – our least favorite was the Brazilian Restaurant. All a la restaurants are beautifully decorated.
Note that the Pizzeria a la carte is outdoors and they use many free-standing light posts around the tables for lighting, so make sure to use mosquito repellant.
One family member is a very picky eater, so he avoided the a la cartes all together and ate at the buffet every evening and enjoyed his meals.
Overall, we enjoyed the food selection at the Barceló.
GROUNDS: The resort is a good size property – everything is within walking distance. The grounds are clean and well-maintained. We encountered some mosquitos in the evenings, so don’t forget mosquito repellant!
BEACH: Beautiful beach – ample of loungers, limited palapas and tree shade available. There are many beach vendors selling various items on the beach. We met a lot of nice vendors and enjoyed conversing with them about life in Puerto Plata.
For Club Premium guests, beach towels were available daily for pick up and exchange at the Club Premium reception - no towel cards required.
WIFI: At check in, we inquired about the free Wi-Fi which is included with the Club Premium upgrade. The employee provided a slip which denoted a user ID number and a password. Each slip offers 10 hour increments of free access – additional slips are available once the 10 hours are used up.
The highlight of our trip was our visit to the Mustard Seed Communities – Hogar Immanuel. It’s a home in Puerto Plata that is dedicated to helping abandoned children with physical and mental disabilities. I contacted Hogar Immanuel a few months prior to our arrival and requested their donation “wish list” of items that they were in need of. Visiting this home and meeting the children and staff was truly a humbling experience for all of us. I must also mention that WestJet is truly a wonderful airline, as we were able to travel with additional humanitarian bags free of charge.
Overall we had a great vacation for the price that we paid for the Club Premium upgrade at the Barceló Puerto Plata.
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