I will preface this by saying that this was our 17th trip to Punta Cana. We had experienced most of the adult only resorts at least once and have also spent time in family resorts along Bavaro Beach. This hotel has a huge advantage. Here is why: It was built back in the day. That gives it the advantage of having the campus spread out over a large section of fabulous beach- selected when no other builders were building. Instead of having a small beachfront and building way back into the bush, they simply built their resort spread out along the waterfront. That is worth a lot. Each building is set with angled balconies so that many, many rooms truly have a view of the water. Those wishing to spend a little more for a face on, 100% ocean view, should select the Ocean View rooms. I like that. You want it, you pay for it and you select that room category - and it means something. Sometimes you pay for Ocean View and you have to stand on the balcony, on a chair and peek to the left for a bit of blue in the background. This is true-blue...ocean front. The beach is large, deep, easy to walk on and there are amazing ergo-chaises that really give you a good day at the beach. No back ache after a saggy seat experience. Always a seat down there and always an amazing, interesting waterfront activities vista. Love that. Marina etc in the area.
All resorts suffer from Chair Saving. I do not know how this can be solved but greedy people, who get up early, know they will be at the beach all day, and yet save a chair poolside are irritating and....everywhere. Every resort suffers from this. Short of checking in with an attendant and losing your spot after two hours of non-use, which would have other implications, I do not know they can do. It is unfortunate because if everyone would just go to where they want to be for that period of time and not leave a place holder on the other area - it would most likely work out. Sadly, at Barcelo Bavaro Beach ( BBB ), or ANY sun destination resort - this is the ongoing issue. Not really something you can speak to within a review of this resort - universal problem. I can say that never, during a week at BBB, did we have to worry we could not sit somewhere ...the beach has a 50% vacancy rate on chairs..all the time. And that is some kind of beach - shade, sun, close to the water, up near the bar...all there. We took advantage of that and slept in - seemed like a luxury as we are often up at the crack of dawn, securing out daytime spot while choices still exist. I hate having an early morning responsibility while on vacation.
Now, for those in a panic over these bathroom reviews, I will provide my opinion. When the multi-million dollar revamp of this place was undertaken recently, they obviously decided that the area that houses the toilet and tub, which is inside its own little cubicle, would be given a band-aid treatment and not full surgery! The outer area with the sinks and counters is the most convenient we have been provided with in all of the resorts we have frequented. Dandy set up - each has their own sink and acres of counter between. We always have cosmetic bags, shaving kits etc and the fact that you can set up shop and not be in each others way was really a plus. We loved it. There is a nice stool for sitting and ..painting nails, applying make up....really super convenient and well-thought-out. Now...this business with the tub/shower. It is old. It is not the marble, walk in shower, sparkler that you get when you pay more. If you are one to laze in a bubble bath and that is a big part of your day - not for you. This is the standard, 1970's tub with shower set up. The tubs have been resurfaced with a spray treatment of some kind and it has a dull finish. There is no mould on the tiles, there is no "icky" anywhere, it is just not a five star Canadian Hotel bathroom. It is easy to figure out....we pay less, have more beach and view and we get a bathroom that, although refurbished, is not rebuilt and has no wow factor in the tub/toilet area. It's old and its clean. I like to vacation frequently and this was something I was aware of accepted and was not bothered by - but I am not a bubble bath kind of girl so....the extremely good water pressure, non-stop hot water and daily excellent cleaning of our suite was fully acceptable for me. Nuff said on the loo.
I must say that the King sized bed was fabulous. Newer than many we have slept on in resorts, excellent mattress and the linen was all cotton covered and obviously fully washable which I loved. I see many photos of two beds in some suites - we requested and had one large bed. The TV was a new flat screen - all good there once we found the converter which was standing inside a paper sleeve that showed the channels - we did not figure that out quickly! DUH.
I also read so much about people having issues with front desk, with staff etc and I don;t know why that is such a big deal. You are in Punta Cana and local people speak Spanish. If that is a problem for you perhaps you should select a country where English is a requirement to work in resorts. In Punta Cana they try but they are hired without that being a condition of employment. Over many, many visits we have learned to carry a dictionary, give it a whirl and know some key phrases. Part of the charm. When I read about the absolute frustration people express about the language I am....surprised and saddened to think that as holiday travellers they just don't get it. If that is going to rub you the wrong way and bring on long tirades in review pages....maybe you should go to Florida for your sun where English is the spoken language. Nuff on that.
One thing I regret when I go to a new, highly polished resort is the fact that I am often eating a dinner or breakfast half a mile back off the ocean in some very wonderful restaurant that could be ....anywhere in any country. Eating on the beach, morning noon and night is such a rare opportunity and you will LOVE BBB for that option. You can eat in the buffet or you can walk another 3-4 mins and arrive at the most delightful dining area that has a smaller buffet, well appointed with an air conditioned food display area with an outer section that allows you to sit in the shade and enjoy the wonders of the ocean while you dine (with champagne!)...oh my. Hard to explain. This area is fully refurbished and really a high point of this lovely resort. If you sleep late - this is where you will have you breakfast and it is worth sleeping in for! The wait for a special coffee in a lot of resorts can make it not worth the effort. BBB has the most fabulous set up of automated coffee centres where you bring your cup, push a button and le voila....super duper coffee specialties Love it. Have one on the patio of this restaurant and stop worrying about your 1970s bathtub.....LOL. This is why we come to the islands..to live on the sand and enjoy the best in food and drink in atmospheres we cannot recreate in our countries.
The bar is great. Lots of action and good drinks. Tip. It is worth. $1 a round is what we leave and we think it helps us have good service. We see lots who give nothing and they are still served nicely - not sure but over the years we have adapted that policy and we stick by it. Also the maid service folks get tipped daily. Our room is always super duper clean and we have nothing but compliments for their efforts.
Food - hmmm....well this is not Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver and they have different things to work with. The fresh fish, the vegetables, the fruit, the bread.....these are fabulous and pasta is well-prepared. We eat everything and have no problems with our digestion. I have to say that people bake themselves in the sun (which makes you sick) over-drink (which makes you sick) Eat foods they would NEVER eat at home (Which makes you sick) and then blame the resort for food issues. Drink lots of non-alcoholic beverages daily, don't take 9 hours of sun with an oil slick on you, get 8 hours of sleep and don't over eat and THEN lets talk about the food. Kind of tiresome when you hear people say their stomach is off and the food is to blame when you saw them staggering around bombed the night before. Just sayin.
To end this let me say that BBB is pleasantly retro and it has the best campus in the area. If you are going for an amazing island experience, with a huge sparkling pool and no swim up bar....(which I love - drinks are close at hand but it gets all those stand-around-all-day guys out of the water to get the next drink and...while up there - why not use the bathroom - which I fear they forget to do when they get drink after drink standing up to their shoulders in water - you know what I am saying?).....I first missed the swim up bar and then....thought it through and like the idea.
I have only one negative. I read in the sun and I carry a float that I hop on and float around in some unused part of the pool. I had it - takes up some weight in your luggage - and the signs say - NO FLOATS....darn. I was disappointed and I would say that the pool could easily handle those of us so inclined - the pool had so few people in it and the water area is vast....wish that sign was not there. I think floating is a big deal for lots of people travelling so they could reconsider that. They have the space. I have the float....LOL!
We took a whirlwind trip to BBB in February for a week - booked two days in advance and took a chance - totally a price driven decision. We were not disappointed and we have plans to return in April.
Fear not - no building is too far from the hub, the adjacent resort is fabulous and riding the trolley for some exploring - having drinks at the other hotels - all fun and ...you never have to leave the main property. I shake my head when I read these reviews and think...WTH. This is the first time I have chosen a resort that was less than 5 stars - we have been to Excellence, Ambar, RiuPalace, Secrets Royal, Catalonia and on and on and you know, if you think of this as a fabulous cottage, sitting along a crystal blue sea with great services you can get over the refinished bathtub and the fact that this is a Spanish speaking country and really enjoy yourself.
We did and we are going back!
FEAR NOT - THIS PLACE ROCKS!!