My husband and I along with 5 other couples stayed at the Gran Bahia Ambar November 13th-20th.
Arrival to the Dominican - Was a mess!!! We were one of 6 or 7 planes arriving and you all rush into the airport and have to go through and pay the $10 pp tourist card fee. Once you get into the airport there is a huge desk where a ton of people will be hunched over, go around this as long as you filled out the sheet of paper you were given on the flight about visiting the Dominican. Then you will be in line to pay the fee and show passports. You will then be swarmed with men wanted to take your luggage for you, which ours were very helpful and we got in/out of the airport mess in about 15 minutes!!! Tip them!
Check In Process - Very Quick. We arrived around 3 PM, were greeted by the bell boys and Jorge. We were given our welcome packets with out room keys and taken to the Snack Buffet, but told only some of our rooms were ready and to wait 45 minutes. We ate, but no one ever came back to let us know our rooms were ready so we just went to them on our own. Highly recommed paying a little extra to get the non-stop shuttle transfer to and from the airport!
Room - Fantastic! Were clean and big! Nice bathroom, with whirlpool tub and glass showers. Very nice. We were in Villa 64 Room 111 (64111). This is the first floor and the hallway led right to the pool. We didn't have any trouble with noise, and our balcony view was spectacular. There was enough shrubs and trees to block us from the walkway that it seemed like a little oasis. This Villa is a great one to e-mail and request. Also, first floor is better as they don't have elevators. Our maid was great as well, so tip!!!
Food - Buffet was wonderful and had plenty to choose from. Breakfast you can have omelets and eggs made to order, lunch and dinner have different meats to choose from and pasta. Each night is a different night. Ex. Monday - American Food Night, Tuesday - Dominican Food etc. etc. Restaurants - 4 couples of our group ate at the BBQ place the second night, which had a buffet with grilled to order meats and was good. The other 2 couples ate at Don Pablo and left after an hour and a half because they had waited 45 minutes between the 1st and 2nd course. The third night we went to Don Pablo to try it again as this was supposed to be the top notch restaurant. No restaurant would seat us all 12 together, so 4 sat at one table while 8 at the other. The 4 had their food very quickly and were eating desert before the other table got their main course even though they ordered at the same time. It was not busy at the time either. The fourth night, we ate at Portofinos. This was my favorite, once again could not sit together. They were against us all sitting at one table. Fifth night, was at the Buffet which was good and the last night was spent at Santa Fe Mexican Restaurant. They had a buffet which filled us up, which is a good thing because we got the burrito and it was not good at all. Overall, pretty good experiences except at Don Pablo. Food was good, but a very LONG dinner experience and not necessarily plesant.
Beach/Ocean/Pool - BEAUTIFUL. The pool was kept up nicely and clean. The beach had plenty of chairs and huts for shade as well as palm trees. The sand is WHITE and NO SEAWEED anywhere! I never saw any! People do put towels on chairs starting at 8 AM each morning, but we never had any problems with finding seats, however we were there during the slow season. Pool Bar and Beach Snack Bar close at 5:30 PM. Pool closes at 6 PM, we stayed in the pool after 6 PM and weren't asked to leave, but without drinks it's not as fun!
Bars - For the most part were great. The lobby bar closes at 11, while all others at 5:30 PM. Drinks were good, especially the Drink of the Day.
Shuttles - Great, except for one night around 10 PM we couldn't find one and waited and waited at the main Gran Bahia lobby for one that never came. We ended up walking to Ambar in the rain. Otherwise, you usually were able to get on one as they came pretty frequently.
Tours/Excursions - We did the Bavaro Runners tour which consisted of visiting Sugarcane/tobacco/a home/school (you can't go in the school, but neat to see)/lunch/horseback riding/Macao Beach). This tour was wonderful, although it is a full day 8- 4:30 PM. Everything was wonderful, including the tour guide and driver except they were late to pick us up and we were the last stop so we had to sit in the front of the truck at awkward angles. Also, Macao beach was terrible. It was dirty, had too many vendors and was just unpleasant. Others did the Buggies/ATV tour, which they enjoyed but got very dirty. Be sure to take old clothes if you go on this tour. As a large group, we did the Sailing Adventure which included snorkling, swimming in a natural pool, and dinner. This was a half day excursion. We waited for quite awhile for something to pick us up, and finally when it arrived they didn't have enough room for all 12 of us. We had to squeeze (sitting on husbands laps and in the front seat with the driver) to get to the boat. The snorkeling was a joke and only stopped once at a reef. The natural pool was just a calm part of the ocean. We played basketball, girls vs. boys, which was fun and the tour guides were fun! Our lunch was fantastic! The best food of the whole trip..
Spa - I had a facial and a Bahia Massage. This was very relaxing. I highly recommed the facial!
Check Out - At Ambar was very smooth, but then you have to go to the main lobby to get your transfer shuttle to the airport. The bell boys are very helpful, but they don't know exact timing on anything and it seems like quite the unorganized mess, but the shuttles are set up depending on when your flight leaves. You leave from the hotel 3 hours before your departure, which seems like a long time but once you get through security and get settled it isn't that bad. Since we had a direct transfer (no stops) we were the first ones to the airport and got through security very fast! However, it's hard to know where to go and what you need at each point in the airport so it was nice being the only ones there.
Resort as a whole - Fantastic! Grounds were immaculate, and you could always see someone cleaning or working on the grounds, but I never 'heard' them! The staff was very polite and helpful. Make sure to take dollar bills for tipping purposes. It's almost impossible to get change (we only had 20's). Tipping is much appreciated here and for the most part you get better service. The night life at Ambar is pretty non-existant, but there are other things going on at the other parts of the resort you just have to travel on the shuttle to get there. They have a free shuttle to a specific shopping center in town, but that is it. If you want to go anywhere else, you will need a taxi which can get expensive. The shops on the resort have all that you need, but go to each of them before buying anything. Some will bargain and some will not. If they have a price on them, that is the price. If the item shows $0, they want to bargain so if you go to all the other shops first you'll have some power and an idea of how much you should spend.
Overall, I highly recommend Gran Bahia Ambar!
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel Punta Cana