We returned to the Ambar for our 6th visit from Dec 13-20th. We chose the Ambar because we wanted our trip to be relaxing and enjoyable and decided that based on past experience, the Ambar would be the perfect fit. Sadly we were very wrong.
A couple of weeks before our arrival, I emailed the resort to advise we'd be returning and it would be our 25th wedding anniversary. I made a couple of small requests: I asked for a third floor room in any building. As the hallways are tiled, it can be very noisey at night and early morning. And since we just wanted to relax, I felt the top floor would be much quieter. And asked for a King room rather than a room with two doubles. Upon arrival we were given black "VIP" bracelets and were told was because we've been there so often (to this day I'm not sure that there is any benefit to them and were never told anything). However, we were assigned a ground floor room. Worse than that, the room faced the other resort and the roadway where the trolleys run up and down 22 hours a day. And to make things worse, it had two double beds. Ugghh. Luckily there was a lovely lady at the front desk who was able to change the room to a King room for us. This room was in the same building but still ground floor. Not wanting to let this ruin our vacation, we accepted it and decided to make the best of it. We were disappointed though - for our 20th anniversary the resort we stayed at made us feel a little special. We had a bottle of champagne and fruit basked waiting, a banner on the door, rose petals .. you know some of those extra things. And keep in mind this was our second trip to the Ambar in 2012.
Room: The room was cleaned every day. And we tipped every day. But not once did we get a fresh flower or a towel swan or other creatures. These are the things you sort of expect as the norm when you visit a 5 star resort. Again, no big deal and not enough to bother you. However it's all the little things that add up ... and can tell you not anywhere near the experience or service we experienced on previous trips to this particular resort. Left a note in Spanish kindly asking maid for only pepsi/pepsi light and white rum. Left note three days in a row. Completely ignored three days in a row. Just enough to frustrate you.
Resort: On previous trips here, the security/staff were strict at ensuring that only Ambar guests were served at the Ambar are of the Bahia. This trip was very frustrating.. There were non-Ambar guests all over and were never turned away. In fact one day there were children swimming in the Ambar pool. No staff made any effort to ask them to leave. It was actually a group of Ambar guests who mentioned to them it was Adult Ambar guests only. We often had trouble getting a chair at the pool and realized it was because there were many non-Ambar guests filling them, as well as at the beach. Again, frustrating when we pay extra to be a guest there. I will say, however, that the resort staff are extremely friendly and as helpful as they can be when asked.
Buffet: One of the main reasons we like Ambar is because of the food. We travel 3-4 times a year and food is part of our experience. While some people are happy just finding enough food to fill up on, good food is one of our main criteria. And having been here several times before, we were so surprised at this visit. I don't know of management has changed, but can tell you that the food is not at all what we expected or experienced beore. The food by the pool beside the Portofino restaurant was great the first day, but was EXACTLY the SAME every single day. Very disappointing. The main buffet had a nice selection, but the hot food was generally barely warm. Perhaps this is the reason we both fell somewhat ill. When hot food is not served and stored hot, it can easily make you ill. We found this very disappointing. And dessert, is the same dessert every day, on every buffet and at every a la carte restaurant.
A la Cartes - we had a lovely Butler Maurice book our a la cartes for us. When we realized the night we were celebrating our anniversary was booked at the Garden Grill, we quickly went to Guest Svcs and asked to switch it for the Italian at Ambar. The gentleman we dealt with was absolutely unwilling to help us make the change and absolutely didn't care it was our anniversary. While I do like children (my business is a child-related one), I wanted to spend my anniversary dinner at in a quiet spot and at a restaurant we knew we liked. Unwilling to help us make the change, we trotted off to the Garden Grill, only to be sat in the lower level, surrounding by 5 tables of cranky children. We ended up leaving because it was so noisey and certainly not romantic, to have our dinner at the Ambar buffet. Again, just not what we expected for our anniversary. At this point we wished we had booked the Iberostar Grand up the beach.
Beach: Lovely and clean. Someone was always coming around to pick up empty glasses so everything stayed tidy. Only complaint was all of the non-Ambar guests at the Ambar beach made it often difficult to find a chair/palapa. While one of the reviews below has a coment from the Bahia staff that the Beach area is self-serve, there is actually service on the beach. We had a lovely guy come by every hour or less and took our drink order and served it with a smile, even though I'm sure he was dying of the heat. We made sure to tip him well every day. By the third day, he already knew what my husband liked, and just dropped a beer by on his travels. He was the best part of our trip - cheerful and helpful.
Privilege Club: They tried to nab us for our free tour of the new part of the resort. But we were suckered into that previously so we knew just to tell them no thanks. I just wish they'd be honest with people - it's a TIME SHARE presentation!
Medical Clinic - just beware, that even if you have medical/travel insurance, you should be prepared to pull out your credit card. We have coverage with a large and reputable health insurance company (blue cross) and were told it was not accepted and we were required to pay $700 US for two short visits. From speaking with a couple of other people, they had different coverage but were told the same thing. Just glad I didn't need a hospital as it is owned by the same company that runs the medical clinic.
So all in all it was not a horrible vacation, but it certainly wasn't what we expected based on previous visits. And based on travels to many other all inclusives (including those in DR) I would not suggest that this is Luxury as they claim. The service and food are below par compared to previous visits (first time we've been sick here) and the little things that make you feel special were completely missing. I think our next vacation in DR (this was our 17th time to DR) will be elsewhere
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel Punta Cana